Why have a practice?

Hi Reader,

Welcome to your latest Dispatch!

Enrollment for ✨Into the Wilds✨is coming up soon!

Before I launch into this month's contemplations, I wanted to make sure you know that my IFS skills-building group program, ✨Into the Wilds✨, is returning in the New Year.

Using experiential exercises and thoughtful group support, Wilds is all about uncovering ways to work with your internal system to create more ease in your life so you can show up boldly and authentically in all your spaces (home, work, community, and beyond).

Key Dates:
Enrollment opens on Oct 2.
Live Program Dates: Jan 11 & 25; Feb 8 & 22; Mar 7 & 21; April 11 & 25, 1:00 - 2:30pm (EST/NYC)

If you're keen to join, click here to get on the waitlist to get an enrollment reminder.

And now, back to the show...

Last month, I assisted my teacher, Sarah Powers, in her Insight Yoga primary-level training hosted here in the DC area. The last time I saw her in person was 2019. It was such a privilege to soak up her wisdom and be in the company of fellow practitioners.

As part of my duties, I get to read everyone's homework essays. No, really, I enjoy it.

Other people's takes on my beloved practices re-inspire me. And I feel nourished by the sense of community these essays engender. These are my people, and I get an intimate peek into how they think about the value of this work that we all care about.

The essays point to one essential question: Why do we practice?

Why yoga? Why meditation? Why investigate the workings of the mind?

We could point to the research. There's a lot of it out there. We're toning our bodies, sharpening our minds, and healing from old wounds. We're growing our window of tolerance, cultivating better emotional regulation, harmonizing life force energy, and slowing down our reactions to make room for more skillful responses.

All good stuff. But why do we even care about all that?

All the research in the world doesn't measure what we just know each time we take a mindful breath: these practices make us feel better.

Sometimes immediately.

Take a moment — right now — to slowly inhale and exhale with your full awareness and attention.
Try it again, this time with one hand on the center of your chest.
Wow, that's powerful. And so simple.

Sometimes it takes a while.

Most meditators will admit that sometimes their sits feel more like mental cage matches than spa soothing treatments. And yet, even with all that inner wrangling, when we get up off the cushion, there is something about not giving up on ourselves that grounds us. I can't say why, but I still feel better after a terrible sit than having not sat at all.

Similarly, strolling around with our inner demons and investigating why we're so hard on ourselves is painful. And yet, every time I embark on an inner quest, I return feeling like someone took a big rock out of an imaginary backpack I'm lugging around.

Here's what I think: wanting to feel better is enough of a reason to practice. Wanting to feel like you can get out of bed and meet this crazy, tumultuous moment in our lifetime is enough.

"But Jen," you might ask, "isn't this kinda selfish?"

Nah. Because what happens when we feel better? When we feel more connected, grounded, and lighter?

We have more juice to show up for what we care about - our people, communities, and causes.

Try this on for a practice phrase: When I feel better, I show up as my better self.

This is the direct line between what we do on our mat and helping to make things better for others.
Another variation: When I feel better, I have more energy, see more possibilities, and can consider things beyond my own needs.

When we feel rotten, we lose perspective. Focus on yourself. Feeling better will help you zoom back out.
One more variation: When I feel better, I'm not the problem in the room anymore.

When you care for yourself, you create space for others to get help, whether from you or the people focused on you before.

You, me, we all deserve to feel better. Feeling better is enough of a reason to practice.

The Latest from Skillful Means Podcast

We have published some great guided practices since the last Dispatch. ICYMI, check out:

Tonglen: I share a potent Tibetan training in compassion — inner alchemy to transmute suffering.

Portals of Mindfulness: Annie invites us to approach small, ordinary moments as portals that reveal hidden treasures and simple awe.

Delighting in Joy: I share an approach to Mudita (rejoicing in others' good fortune) to promote to ease the suffering of loneliness and isolation.

Practice Yoga With Me

Yin Yoga & Mindfulness
​🌀New Time
Online, Mondays 6:30-7:30pm EDT (NYC)
​ - Starting Sep 25.
{Regular time (6pm) on Sep 18}
I'm making a small adjustment to this class. Starting Sep 25, we'll start a half hour later.

This month, we're exploring Impermanence through the fluctuating sensations that punctuate our experience in the poses. Pay What You Can.

Gentle Yoga & IFS Inquiry Fall 8-Week Series
In-Person, Saturdays, 10-11:15am
Arlington, VA @ Heartswell
Using gentle movement and the quiet, still poses of Yin Yoga, we'll create internal space for embodied inquiry and deep listening as we engage with our Parts to reveal and unravel conditioned patterns in our lives.

Insight Yoga Online Community
Online, Sunday, Oct 15, 10-11am EDT (NYC)
As part of the Insight Yoga Online Community (IYOC), join me to explore teachings on working with anxiety in life and meditation.

These Sunday classes bring together practitioners around the world who are interested in the rich intersections between yoga, Buddhism, and psychology. Each Sunday, tune in to enjoy a 60-minute workshop exploring various themes led by an endorsed Insight Yoga Teacher who will weave in a brief talk, meditation, optional yin poses, and/or inquiry.

With Metta,

Dispatches from The Wilds

I guide seekers, space holders, healers, and social change-makers through their inner terrain with shame-free embodied practices rooted in timeless wisdom and science. Let's connect - sign up for my free Monthly Letter below and check out my other free resources.

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