During the coronavirus crisis, Rachel's regularly-scheduled classes are held virtually over Zoom. The logins for all classes are on this password-protected page -- email Rachel for the password.

Here. Now. Listening. Learning. Growing.

Here. Now. Listening. Learning. Growing.

Here. Now. Listening. Learning. Growing.

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I lie down on the floor and breath and just allow myself to be swallowed whole by love. It feels almost as though there are living, breathing currents beneath me as my breath rises and falls and my heart over flows.

I am almost overwhelmed by gratitude and the acute awareness of how love and pain can feel so alike. This enormous longing the soul has for life! Vast. Deep. Wide and all consuming. It is so easy to mistake this longing for life, this recognition that God longs for us to long for God as an insatiable need to fill a hole. We mistake this hole for material objects, (in my case books) food, drugs, alchohol, going to retreats (another one of mine) and much more. Simply allowing myself to breathe and allow this longing, this love to wash over me and through me is hard and amazing and my face is wet with tears that flow unbidden from some deep well.

In the ebbs and flows, peaks, valleys and plateau’s of life, mine right now feels very rich and full. I have had an amazing summer of transformation being in fellowship with so many beloved people all over the planet! I hold this in my heart which feels like it has expanded and grown greatly. (much like my perimenopausal waist line!).

I sit with this desire after this intense time of travel, teaching, connecting and learning to wipe the slate clean, let go of everything I think I know well and have fresh new eyes, ears, tastes and awareness. This idea of growth is I believe what is being birthed from sitting in meditation (or lying on the floor in happy tears) and integrating these experiences of being and navigating in new places, meeting new people. This time of stepping completely outside the daily life which even for a self directed person in the healing arts where my day often involves teaching yoga in prison, teaching a public class, seeing hospice patients with my harp, teaching dance at the university and holding home office hours in pajamas occasionally taking dance breaks to 2Pac, creates a spaciousness in the mind.

A recurring thought that arose often in the intimacy of travel, in airports, on the planes themselves, on trains, the metro in DC, street cars in San Francisco, the busy markets in Brisbane is how beautiful it is we can all be these close spaces together regardless of ethnicity, language, belief system, age, gender identification, sexual orientation, ability, etc….

Right now, as heated debates on immigration take place in this (excruciatingly slow) season of the Presidential election, the irony is not lost on me that the only peoples that can truly call themselves American are fighting for their land to remain free of the pipeline that can likely be a source to contaminate their water. The shame of our history in the very boundaries drawn by power returns as dogs and weapons are held before people. The people that have been here the longest.

Part of my own letting go involves letting go of what I was taught about history. I have to be willing to listen to the hard truths of people that have been exploited and oppressed by those who created the stories that make for what is called our history. But there are other stories. These stories. Ruby Bridges story. Harvey Milk’s story. The stories of more than 100 unarmed black men killed by police in 2015. ¬†The stories of the police that were massacred in Dallas. The stories of many. We have to be willing to hear each other’s stories. Even if it makes us uncomfortable. ESPECIALLY if it makes us uncomfortable.

I believe if we are willing to let go of what we think we know and listen deeply to each other, we can be a shining example in a world gone mad. I believe this is what Jesus meant when he said to come as a child. Come, with openness and receptivity.

I love life so much. I value life and the gift that it is, each day I am given and each breath. I believe all of life is sacred and valuable regardless of ability, socioeconomic status, age, and all the other categories and identifications. It is also more and more obvious if I let go of what I think I know and ask questions about the experiences of others and listen that I am increasingly aware that all life is not as valued by dominant culture. One of my biggest eye openers was having a daughter with spina bifida and recognizing the world is created by and for able bodied people. It took an enormous struggle and legislation so people like my daughter could navigate through schools and other buildings. In a world that moves fast and values quickness and efficiency, she moves slow. Please ask me about value here.  This is but one example and we can look to race/ethnicity, gender, class and so on to see who has had to fight for basic rights and access to essential resources and who has not.

Grounding steadfast in love rather than the often divisive self righteous language in the social justice community is an ongoing challenge for me. This is why the practice needs to be from the inside out rather than the outside in! Seeking social justice is my life’s work. I am grateful for several grounded communities that are willing to have the uncomfortable conversations, taking deep breaths, connecting, loving, not afraid of change, are willing to admit when they are wrong, don’t know something and want to live and act ethically, joyfully and create a world we all want to live in. (Some of us on a farm with goats) Here. Now.

ABOUT AUTHOR

Rachel Allen

Rachel Allen, B.A. Political Science/Sociology, is a Certified Music Practitioner, Sound Healer, Reiki Master, and Registered Yoga Teacher with a trauma informed/social justice framework. She has 20 years experience of working with some of the most amazing people on the planet; hospice patients and their families, patients in a variety of health conditions, survivors of sexual abuse, adults with mental illness and most recently, incarcerated women. Rachel is also passionate about supporting and working with caregivers to reduce burnout and compassion fatigue. Locally, Rachel teaches Creative Movement at Saint Francis University in Loretto, PA. Regionally and nationally, she teaches and presents at conferences and retreats, weaving live music, yoga, and creative movement into themes of compassion, self acceptance, and transformation. Rachel is committed to engaging people from all walks of life in the healing arts to create healthy, diverse, and joyful communities.