The bitter and the sweet

The bitter and the sweet

I have loved the word bittersweet since I first encountered it. I find that it describes the ebb and flow of life – also known as the flipping roller coaster of life –  perfectly.  So bitter that it bites. So sweet that it is like the first taste of nectar on the tip of your tongue. Life is more often than not a balance of opposites. Laughter through tears is something that I have experienced more times than I can count. So many feelings. Like a friend said to me once: “Brianna, you have feelings about your feelings.” July started with a beautiful bang. A book tour the length of the Maine Coast with workshops, readings and signings. My husband and I having downtime in between. My beautiful dog in her favorite place. My parents. My healing house. All good things. Delicious things really. But then life tilted and my ground shifted. In the very midst of all this beauty, joy and gratitude I had to put my beloved Shanti-dog down.  One minute soaring, the next on my knees. I will write more about my Shanti-girl at a later point. She deserves her very own post but, I know you hear me when I say: its all too close right now. My grief is too heavy on me to really do her powerful being justice. This post is about the choice I had to make about my own behavior. It is always a choice and it is mine alone to make. Two options were clearly in front of me when this drama/trauma started. I could have either gone kicking...
How Yoga has the power to change you

How Yoga has the power to change you

My favorite healing story about Yoga didn’t happen to me or one of my students, it happened to a guard assigned to me at The Baltimore Museum of Art where I ran an in-gallery yoga program.  Over the course of 8 years I taught in every part of the BMA’s beautiful collections.  My yoga rooms there were filled with priceless art – Botticelli, Warhol, Calder, Degas, Matisse – and because of the art a guard was assigned to observe the classes in order to make sure no one damaged an object. I went through three guards at first. They weren’t the right fit. The women (who made up the majority of classes) were uncomfortable with being watched. I mean who can really blame them?  It was the fourth guard, who I am going to call Melinda, that was the right fit and we worked together for the remaining years of the program. Thing was though Melinda wasn’t really having a great time at the BMA.  In fact at the time she was struggling with coworkers and attitudes and the culture in general. But I liked her and she liked me and most importantly my students were comfortable with her watching them in order to protect the art.  I asked that she be assigned to the class permanently and lucky for both of us, she was. Years rolled by. Many, many classes later I noticed that Melinda started to do some of the movements when we were standing – in her guard’s uniform, shoes on, walkie-talkie and all. That she held her belly and breathed deep when we did. That...
Create a Retreat for Yourself

Create a Retreat for Yourself

Going on a retreat can do wonders for your spirit. There is something powerful about all that space and time dedicated to one’s practice that creates a depth to the work. When I think of retreating, I think of turning inwards, time for silence, simple food, flowing through postures, my breath moving in and out, sunlight, salt water, and lavender scented sheets. Retreat isn’t just one thing – it is a layering of many small things to create an environment infused with healing. Sadly, retreats are not cheap and while I understand the reason for it, it makes it awfully cost prohibitive for the typical yogi to experience. Although I have been lucky enough to go on several extended retreats – they are far and few between. About ten years ago I started creating retreat days for myself and now I do them monthly, usually over a weekend. On those days, I retreat from my typical activities of hustle and bustle and choose to immerse myself in my practice. I eat simply, I rest and I create an environment of healing in my own home. These days have become a touchstone and an important anchor to my practice. To prepare: Clear your calendar for the day/weekend/week that you choose to retreat. Clean Your House. Clean sheets. Clean Tub. Dishes done. Groceries (stock-up on simple and nutritious food) Create a schedule of several classes or workshops – building yourself a full day immersion (sometimes all at one studio, sometimes at several studios) Arrange flowers and create a space of healing for your beautiful self – even if it is just...
Farmer’s Market Duck-Egg Drop Soup

Farmer’s Market Duck-Egg Drop Soup

There is a great Farmer’s Market in my little town.  I go every time its open, even through the winter months, because at the very least I like to buy my eggs there. I believe that happy birds produce better tasting eggs.  Don’t believe me? Run a personal taste test for yourself with a small-farm fresh egg vs. one produced in a large-commercial-farm, then make up your own mind. Today is a blustery day here which is abnormal for May in the south.  Having just come back from a 48-hour whirlwind visit to NYC where I walked 22 miles, visited with friends and squeezed in four yoga classes, it was the perfect Saturday to be completely cozy and do some self-care. I wore extra layers and laid around in the hammock, took a nap and made some yummy Duck-egg drop soup with ingredients I bought this morning from local farmers – all of us in the sunshine. Egg Drop Soup has just been put into permanent rotation.  In my younger years I ate it a lot from Chinese Take Away but in my lifestyle – where food is medicine – it had never once occurred to me to make it. Recently I had a craving for it, read a few recipes on the Pinterest and went for it. Not only was it DELICIOUS but it is simple, forgiving (meaning lots of ingredient options) and quick – less than 30 minutes quick. Duck-Egg Drop Soup 4 Duck Eggs whisked (or 6 Chicken Eggs) 4 cups Veggie Stock (homemade is best but store bought is just fine. You can also use...
An Afternoon with a Healer – Book Signing for Healing Footstep to Footstep

An Afternoon with a Healer – Book Signing for Healing Footstep to Footstep

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 24, 2017 Brianna Bedigian Quiet Winds, LLC 240-409-2722 info@briannabedigian.com  Spend An Afternoon with a Healer Book Signing and Sound Healing with Crystal Singing Bowls Saturday, April 29 in Davidson   Davidson, NC (March 24, 2017): Local author and healer Brianna Bedigian will be hosting a uniquely restorative reading of her book Healing Footstep to Footstep at Main Street Books in Davidson on Saturday, April 29 from 4:00 pm – 6:00 pm. During this offering, Brianna will interweave excerpts of her writing with the pure sound of crystal singing bowls, aromatherapy and guided meditation. Crafting a multi-sensory healing that will leave guests refreshed from the experience. William Rollow, MD, MPH from the Center for Integrative Medicine, University of Maryland School of Medicine had this to say about Brianna and her book, “How do we heal? Although each path is different, some footsteps are common: intention, acceptance of responsibility, turning toward the eternal, practice, support, doubt and darkness and pain and fear. Brianna knows how we heal.” Healing Footstep to Footstep is for anyone suffering with an illness – emotional, spiritual or physical. The willingness and intention to heal despite exhaustion and pain are often absent in stories of healing journeys. The reality is that healing begins one step at a time, often slowly and with acceptance of the self. Through storytelling, recipes, yoga lessons and meditation exercises, Brianna takes us on a journey of Self, where all healing begins. Available April 25, 2017 on www.amazon.com. About Brianna Bedigian Brianna Bedigian is an author, artist, teacher and healer who utilizes her personal journey, and years of formal...
Breathing in I calm my mind

Breathing in I calm my mind

“Breathing in, I calm body and mind. Breathing out, I smile. Dwelling in the present moment I know this is the only moment.” ― Thich Nhat Hanh, Being Peace I often return to Ticht Nhat Hanh’s beautiful teachings on presence and peace in times of personal unease. His words help me, to: calm myself, turn inward, tune in, and serve as a reminder to wake up. His simple teachings are a firm reminder to: be here, now. Recently, as part of my practice, I listened to an interview between him and Krista Tippett on: On Being As an aside, I listen to On Being, a lot – which is why I have noted it before. One of my self care rituals is to rest supine in a restorative pose and listen to this brilliant show, where beings – from many disciplines – wax poetic about their beliefs, their thoughts, their motivations. Its fascinating really. Its definitely worth discovering. An additional aside, self care becomes MORE necessary during difficult times. What simple things are you doing today to take care of you?   Right now, I am finding the energy of the world very chaotic. Currently, there is a lot of strife, upset, and intensity in our country and abroad. There is a lot of fear.  We are living in a very tense and intense time both politically and socially. For me, the landscape is proving more and more difficult to navigate. As a librarian and historian I am finding it challenging to wrap my mind around the notion of “alternative facts” or that one religious group should be the...
Simple Soup

Simple Soup

I love simple food and I am especially fond of simple soup.  There is something so nurturing about a pot of something simmering on the stove and filling the house with its aroma.  This soup is about as simple as it can get and doesn’t contain cream or flour so it is both vegan and gluten free.  Next time you have a friend on a limited diet dish this decadent and creamy soup up. Brianna’s Potato Leek Soup 2 leeks, root and top 1/3 removed, sliced into 4″ pieces 4 Potatoes, peeled, rinsed and quartered 4 stems of Thyme (remove stem) 4 stems of Rosemary (remove stem) 4 cloves garlic, peeled 6 cups veggie stock (homemade stock is best) Salt and pepper to taste     Remember: nothing has to be cut perfectly because it will be blended. Bring this pot of goodness to a boil then immediately turn down the heat. Allow this to simmer for at least  45-minutes or longer. The potatoes and leeks should both be soft.  If you have one, use an immersion blender, or transfer to a blender in batches, and blend this simple soup to a creamy consistency. Personally, if I have time, I like to make soup a day ahead and reheat it before serving.  I find that letting the soup rest really allows the flavors to combine....
15 Years Have Passed

15 Years Have Passed

I think that we can all agree that on September 11th, that heart breaking beautiful day, we awoke to one reality and went to sleep in another. In the fifteen years since, on each anniversary, I always take time to say a prayer and honor those that passed in my own simple ways.  The emotion of that trauma hovers below the surfaces and each year there are tears. I did have a number of friends in NYC that day and many of them worked in the towers – luckily, all of them survived.  Like many, I spent the majority of that day in absolute shock. Calling anyone I could think of to give me information about my loves.  I had just moved to Pittsburgh for graduate school in Library Science of all things – I mean seriously what was my younger self thinking with that? As the Towers fell I thought that I couldn’t have chosen a worse thing to study.  Although it is an of service degree it became immediately apparent to me that it wouldn’t be of service enough. I almost dropped out. The week after 9/11 as I moved through the reality of living near no one I actually knew, I remembered thinking that this is why people go to church.  Church provides instantaneous community and I decided to seek out a yoga studio to help me deal with the trauma of my changed reality. Although I had been practicing for years already, my practice wasn’t deep, and I decided to make it so. I decided to practice daily and to use Yoga as way to...
The practice of Restorative Yoga and its power to restore you

The practice of Restorative Yoga and its power to restore you

I found my way to Restorative Yoga several months into my battle with chronic fatigue. Up till then, I loved power yoga and had a type-A grip on my daily practice.  As my illness progressed, I began to recognize that my practice was depleting me rather than supporting me. At the time I held the notion that Yoga had to be taxing to truly constitute a practice.  Rest at the end, work-it the rest of the time. In order to shift to a truly Restorative Practice the first thing I had to do was broaden my definition of Yoga.  Not the easiest of shifts for me. But one that as I transitioned through it began to inform my current beliefs around Yoga, its practice, and its teaching. Interweaving a Restorative Pose into your daily life is a powerful form of self-care. Although the object is always a supported rest the poses can require as little as a blanket to as many as twenty props per student. Like other forms of Yoga there is a vast array of postures that may be practiced.  The trick is having enough props and enough help to ensure each student’s comfort.  The more elaborate the pose the more time required by the teacher to assist the student. This is a labor intensive style of teaching and one where the devil rests squarely in the details. Recently I was honored to teach a segment on Restorative Yoga for the University of Maryland Medical Center’s 500-hr Teacher Training (TTY). I focused my portion of the TTY on postures that required a minimum of six props to...
My Harmonium and Me

My Harmonium and Me

When love first tasted the lips of being human it started singing. ~ Rumi If you have come in contact with me in the last three months chances are I have talked to you about my Harmonium.  I have a knack for working it into most conversations. It is entirely plausible that  I have even bored you with a picture or two. Last fall, I was feeling very uninspired by my practice. For several months it was as though my practice was completely void of joy. I was literally slogging through it. Forcing myself daily to make it to my mat. In November, when I taught my annual retreat I decided to shift its normal curriculum to include a workshop at a local studio. I really enjoy Rachel Nixon’s classes and I knew her focus on Bhakti (the yoga of devotion) would be right up my students alley –  especially as they all love to chant. At the workshop, Rachel played a harmonium that she had recently purchased.  She was a novice but she accompanied us during multiple chanting practices and she did it well.  I left that workshop so inspired. I left WANTING A HARMONIUM. I can now play the scales. Chords are coming. Songs will soon follow.  Adding the harmonium into my practice – and broadening my practice to accommodate it – has been so rewarding. I now undertake to do my practice joyfully!  How are you feeling about your practice? Are you inspired? Or are you in a rut?...