Meeting our needs this July

Sharing my longtime favourite teachers with you

Recently I had a long conversation about how our needs can go unspoken and unmet, and how limiting that can be, in ways big and small. My feeling (and I may be wrong) is that this is something that is particularly prevalent in women. We are often taught as young girls to ‘be good’, to look after others, which is then layered with other expectations of external success, whether in looks, career or personal life. 

In hearing stories from friends about their own misunderstood (or forgotten) needs, this got me feeling very grateful for the tools of mindfulness, Loving Kindness, Nonviolent Communication (NVC) and mediation in general. I’m a fellow traveller, a work in progress, but I have tools now, and a toolkit that serves me well, to support me in finding clarity, connection and sometimes even energy. 

Of course, who we find to guide us when we navigate rough waters is often what makes the journey. For some it will be a mentor, a coach, a therapist, or a teacher. Great teachers in particular are people who give us not just tools to lead a better life but they create a safe space for us to explore and develop.

If you’ve been thinking you want to do something new, or you are simply curious, I am delighted to be pointing you in the direction of the people who fill my cup, so to speak. 

Mindfulness meditation 

Jack Kornfield: There is much soul and poetry in that man, and the fact he is a teacher, and a teacher’s teacher, in Buddhist lineages and secular mindfulness, is quite the gift. He reads passages of his favourite books, and tells a lot of stories, parabolas, to illustrate his dharma talks (talks about the dharma, the Buddha’s teachings). Think of them as stories about a life well lived. Very soulful and accessible, I cannot recommend his work enough. Listen on SoundCloud, or discover more on his podcast and at Spirit Rock

Tara Brach: As I was developing my Loving Kindness practice, I regularly listened to her dharma talks and meditations. Tara has a very different style and tone than Jack, her former teacher and her co-lead of the Mindfulness Meditation Certification Program, and I find that they did the right thing in joining forces, as they are very complementary to each other. It’s Tara who introduced me to the tools of NVC (Nonviolent Communication), which I have found to be life changing (and that are still helping me connect to my feelings and needs). Try practising with both Jack and Tara and tell me what you think.

Hatha and vinyasa yoga

Annie Carpenter: Annie is such a light in my world. Her keen eye and experience as a teacher is complemented by multiple practices she has learned on top of dance and yoga over the years, like somatic movement. But it’s her capacity to ask questions rather than telling me what to do that has me enjoy myself so much on the mat with her. She’s taught me to pay more attention, to listen to myself more, whether I choose to push myself or on the contrary to be softer. You can find Annie online, whether you choose to practice in person, live on Zoom or via on replay.

Kundalini meditation, breathwork and yoga nidra

Kia Miller: Kia is a wonderful kundalini teacher, whose breath work and meditations are particularly supportive when I feel out of sorts, and low on energy. I’ve never had the chance to practice ‘live’ with her although I am contemplating a future retreat. Check her out for yourself.

Yin Yoga and Barre 

Julie Granger: In a completely different vein, Julie is a fabulous fitness and yoga instructor. A former ballerina with the Boston Ballet, she is a true yoga, pilates and fitness geek. Her energy and enthusiasm for teaching is unique — which is good, because with her, you’ll often work very hard, but she only has the best intentions in mind for her students. And it is felt. So whether you want to do a bit of yin or a yoga sculpt class, or try her infamous Brooklyn Barre, I cannot recommend Julie enough. Listen to her on my podcast to get a taste of her energy.

Conscious Communication 

Oren Jay Sofer: This author and mindfulness teacher is dedicated to helping us learn to better listen to ourselves, attune to our feelings and needs and ground in presence so we can better communicate with others. His first book, “Say What You Mean”, is an effective tool that delves into mindfulness and Nonviolent Communication. Sofer learned directly from NVC Founder Marshall Rosenberg, and he has used the tools enough himself to help guide you to use them effectively in daily life. He has several online programs that I highly recommend, even if you cannot be live for the weekly calls. 

Compassion, dharma, and more 

Robert (Bob) Thurman: Yes, that’s Uma’s dad, who is a star in his own right, in the Buddhist and academia spaces that is. Thurman is a deeply accomplished scholar, close to the Dalaï Lama. He founded Tibet House in New York and, is an acclaimed author and translator of many Tibetan Buddhist texts, and most importantly, he is the most charismatic storyteller I have ever come across. For years, he was the Je Tsongkhapa Professor of Indo-Tibetan Buddhist Studies at Columbia University, before retiring in June 2019. Years of experience are certainly one reason for his powerful skillset, but further than that, like Julie above, I believe that it’s his passion and enthusiasm for the subject matter that make him the teacher he is. Bob also has a great podcast, many Ted Talks and offers multiple retreats and online programs you can sign up for. 

Ah, that brings me to my last point. What all of these teachers have in common is that they teach online, as well as IRL. 

In searching for great teachers myself, I followed my instinct and I was lucky that even before the pandemic, many of these seasoned instructors were offering online courses as an option. Which now leads us here: I am so happy to be the bridge so that perhaps you too discover their work, their teachings, their positive energy, no matter where in the world you are.

So with that said, I’d love to hear from you as we approach the summer holidays. What do you sense you need to continue (or re-start) your mindfulness or meditation journey? Do any of my favourite teachers resonate with you? Drop me a line, I’d love to hear from you.

Thank you so much for reading me, wishing you a great rest of the month and until next time. 

Much love,