Yoga and Mindfulness Practices

Early on in my career as a massage therapist I realized if I was going to last in this profession for an extended amount of time I would need to treat myself as an athlete physically. At first this was icing in the evening when I got home and getting regular massages for myself. Then I learned excessive simple carbs were contributing to inflammation in my joints. Slow and subtle diet changes would continue and still do today. 

Then came yoga. Although I had already dabbled in the practice of yoga periodically growing up (did I mention my parents were meditators?) it didn’t really take hold for me until my twin daughters were born in 2007. By this time I was 34 and ten years into my busy massage career and struggling to find balance.

It was the perfect age and/or storm to really notice the benefits. And those benefits began to come in abundance with the yoga practice.

It seemed to me that if I could help more of my clients help themselves then maybe they wouldn’t need so many massages. 

In 2014 I began a 200 hour yoga teacher training program with Joonbug Yoga School so I could selfishly take my knowledge of bodywork a little deeper. I had no intention on teaching at the time. However, it would seem later that the community was ready and I was approached to teach a group out at HCC a local community club in our area. Throughout these few years I would develop my skills as a yoga instructor and discovered a way to integrate my meditative teachings from my own personal practice. Over time this information would just flow effortlessly and I found myself wondering if it was me, or the meditation teaching. 

Since 2005 I have kept a steady yoga and meditation practice in my life and enjoy sharing my knowledge with others. 

Becoming a Coach for Meditative Practices

In 1980 at the age of 5 my parents, practitioners of Transcendental Meditation gave both my sister and I the gift of meditation. Yes, we were very young and our meditative practice was catered to children. 

A walking mantra and just the simple technique of reciting the mantra while observing thoughts as they come and go like clouds. It was perfect for any young child that hadn’t developed an attention span yet. I remember it was a simple and beautiful ceremony that included incense, a handkerchief, and fresh flowers. That’s about all I can remember at that age but it must had been special to me or I would never have been able to remember that. I was only 5 after all. 

Meditation was a normal thing in my house growing up. It wasn’t something I ever considered strange even back in the 80’s. I was just a kid with normal parents right?

I say this but it did become apparent over the years that it wasn’t the norm for most and I think I may had become more quiet about it as I got older. 

That being said my childhood meditative practices were always filled with beautiful experiences. It was a place to find peace and the answers to all my questions would seem to flow from a spring from within. Even though I could never seem to put my finger on exactly what it was I just knew somehow my life was so much better because of this silent practice. 

In my teens and early twenties I began to wonder how long I could sit in meditation for. Since I never seemed to want to leave it once I was in that sweet state of pure awareness I began considering retreats but by the time I was 25 my career was taking off and running away to a retreat seemed trivial at the time. The experience would have to wait 20 more years. 

In the fall of 2017 it finally happened. My girls were old enough to be up for the task while mom went on her first 10-day silent meditation retreat through the NorthWest Vippassana Center. There I would engage in zero worldly activities while I sat in meditation for up to 10 hours a day. It was to say the least, one of the most extraordinary experiences I’ve had. It was everything I had hoped and more. The time to go in and do that sort of excavation on the subconscious mind should be a readily available experience for all in our western culture.  

I came out of that experience almost knowing it was time to teach. All I had was my life experience but I didn’t know anyone else who had been practicing as long as I had or for that matter as early of an age as I had. I really began to wonder about the effects of these meditative  practices on an adolescent developing brain. 

My memory and retention of information was acute and I always seemed to know what my heart intelligence needed me to know at the most important times of my life. I also began to understand my inner reality as deeply as I knew the external reality.

This was paramount in teaching and fluidly articulating ideas and concepts to clients and students. One cannot teach what one doesn’t understand. 

More important for me I began to see and experience our more subtle reality that which is pure energy. This makes teaching so much easier since everything is energy we work from this foundation and go up from there. 

Since the NW Vippassana center I have regularly been teaching or speaking at local events such as yoga retreats, teacher trainings, high schools and community colleges. As much as I enjoy sharing the benefits of massage with my community I also really enjoy teaching about the physical body as a whole energy system. All wired beautifully with its nadi’s, meridians, nerve plexus, and chakra centers. Each of which have a base or seat of consciousness to unfold within our lives in a healthy manner to best help us attain wisdom and growth. 

Sometimes these centers become blocked and we grow stagnant in our choices to expand out of our situations that may not be contributing to our health. 

Often times the inability to make new and different choices for oneself is directly related to the health of our nervous system and our ability to control our stress response. When we are in a stress state we block the flow of pure awareness. When one relaxes our awareness expands to see the bigger picture without an emotional response. Meanwhile we are open to creative ideas that take us into new territory.

Fortunately, all these techniques are readily taught to the average layman through the study of yoga and mindfulness training. I enjoy sharing with the community the teachings and techniques that have so greatly enriched my life and look forward to teaching workshops at the yurt in the coming years.

The Magic of a Circle

I am often asked, "Why a yurt?"

Although I wasn't quite sure how to answer that question initially when we began to pursue the idea of a yurt, our intention was to create a space appropriate for healing, yoga, and meditation which called for something Zen-like. The answer today simply unfolds itself to me effortlessly.

It's just the magic of a circle. It's sacred and complete in and of itself. The space is pure, and reflective in bringing oneself back to a state of completion. The practices that individuals pursue in their personal healing have as much to do with their state of being and the space they hold around them. 

The yurt holds all of this potential for that sacredness within its beautifully-crafted wood lattice walls and peaked ceilings. 

Whether my clients are lying on their back gazing at the clouds rolling by through the dome, or in deep meditation listening to the sound of nature outside, I know they are truly being nurtured by the space that holds them so closely to the earth. 

In the yurt we are not severed from nature by thick walls, electrical conduit, concrete, and sheet rock. Building a yurt does not compromise the integrity of the land that it is placed upon. It's simple, affordable, and has minimal maintenance, when compared to a stick-built house. The space flows with the natural beauty around it.

Throughout our indigenous history, great gatherings have always converged in a circle where everyone is equal and all ideas are shared. It seems to me that the circle is a worthy space for finding connection, completion, and wholeness.

Jennifer Rosendale, L.M.P.
Avalon Yurt Sanctuary