The Institute for Spirituality and Health
Exploring the connections between spirituality and health.
blog-header.jpg

Blog

Spirited Words

See below for a collection of reflections, writings, essays, poems, and other contributions that the ISH community has submitted over the years. We hope you enjoy.

If you are interested in submitting a piece to our blog, please contact Anyang Anyang <anyanganyang@ish-tmc.org>. We publish writing that relates to our mission of enhancing well-being by exploring the relationship between spirituality and health.

 

Yoga for Self-Acceptance

We are inherently whole. On the surface, this seems like a statement most would agree with - especially today. Quotes like “you are enough” and “you’re perfectly imperfect” permeate the self-help, self-care scene. However, on a deeper level, the engines of our society work by appealing to our sense of lacking. At the same time as the mantra of “enoughness” reverberates through our awareness, we simultaneously feel a pull towards the next thing to do, or get, in order to become a “better” version of ourselves. While we might be trying desperately to truly embody our innate wholeness, in most cases there are very few external supports for simply “being.” The natural human inclination to compete, to compare, and to self-criticize is so insidious it even appropriates practices like yoga and mindfulness and makes spirituality yet another goal-oriented rat race. Whether we are holding ourselves to impossible internal standards, trying to one-up the person on the next mat, or hoping to gain more attention on social media, we constantly find ourselves caught up in the same game in different areas of our lives. To step into and live from a place of enoughness is actually quite radical.

Five years into my journey with meditation I took an eight-week course on mindful self-compassion, a program created by Kristin Neff and Chris Germer, taught by Gwen Brehm. This was a game-changer for my practice and by extension, my life. I realized constrictions, judgments, and damaging expectations I had imported and fostered in my practice. I now understood the famous Buddhist analogy of a knot that keeps getting tighter if one tries to untie it by tugging its loose ends. The practice of self-compassion was the exact opposite - a warm, spacious accepting that allowed and continues to allow the proverbial knot to loosen and release spontaneously and organically. This allowed me to access more frequently the space of radical “okayness” that resonates as deep truth for me. I adopted this approach of coming into relationship with the self from a foundation of unconditional acceptance as my orientation to all my other mind-body practices which has enriched my life and relationships so much I felt led to share these practices with others.

How do we bring the belief of our innate wholeness, our intrinsic self-worth, into our lived moment to moment experience and what might that look like?

Enter Yoga for Self-Acceptance - a course I will be teaching this fall at ISH. In this course, beginning with our relationship with the body, we use practices drawn from yoga, qigong, Buddhist meditation, and mind-body medicine to cultivate a felt-sense of “enoughness.”

In my experience teaching this course, it this sense is different for everyone at different times but, often, there unfolds a quality of openness, authenticity and freshness when the practices really land. We get to meet hidden parts of ourselves, release old patterns, and open ourselves up to the organic present with a softer hold on our agendas. And we might perhaps find these changes mirrored in our relationships with others. When we touch our innate sense of wholeness, we invite others into that same depth simply by being.

knotcrop.png
 
anyang.png

Anyang Anyang
Anyang Anyang is the ISH Mind-Body Coach. In the role of mind-body coach, he teaches meditation, mind-body medicine, yoga, indigenous healing techniques, Tai Chi, and Qigong to the general public and to niche populations with specific unique considerations. All of his work is deeply informed and sustained by a strong connection to spirit and a personal integral practice. Anyang is a certified 200hr NACYT, and Certified Tai Chi Easy Practice Leader.

 
I have taken many beginners yoga classes over the years, Anyang’s class was the first where I actually felt the mind, body, spirit connection. He truly teaches the core principles of ‘yoga’ — being ‘yoked.’

His integration of physical movements with mental and spiritual exercises led me to ask him to coach me individually. I will not become a yoga teacher, but I left his class honoring my life journey in a new way. I gained a more introspective approach to yoga rather than competitive.
— Hilda R. Davis (Yoga for Self-Acceptance Attendee)
Sara MooreComment