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Embracing the Season of the Silent Night

Embracing the Season of the Silent Night


The season of the silent night is here as I watch the winter snow fall so softly. A white blanket of profound beauty greeted me in the early morning hour. It’s a divine opportunity to be quiet, cancel my active day and be still.

Ahh..the best of being is in a safe warm home. However, my empathic heart is holding space for those less fortunate, whether they be stranded at a crowded airport or left homeless with the whimsy of mother nature’s wrath.

The extremes of climate change are present in everyday living and once again, I am reminded how fragile the ego is to the power of nature. Humble to the forces that are so out of my control. Giving myself permission this morning to gather space for deeper self reflection and push pause on the “to do list” that occupies my chattering mind. I enter a place of sweet reminders that life is precious and rushing is so abusive to the soul. I long for more days like this that have offered a permission to “not do”.   

This past year was filled with many blessings; and yet, I am so aware of the loss and grief that come with so many people’s hearts breaking. It was a year with many souls struggling to make peace with letting go and the uncertainty of solid ground.

The gift that I can give is to offer my profound enthusiasm for living life regardless of what chaos surrounds us in the moment. I greet each day with possibility for adventure and wonder. I make a true effort to see past my judgments or bias memory to view each soul as intrinsically kind.

I feel in our world today there is a sales pitch for Pollyanna naivety and that we market the idea of “happiness” as a product of manipulation. I am fully aware of all the horrors of human behavior acting from its bias fear. I just have chosen to stay in the witness of holding the opposites and choosing to see the world with possibility for higher good. It doesn’t mean that I don’t suffer at times with the confusion of doubt that will arise when I am tired, too distracted or confused. I too am very human and need to practice what I so love to teach—the tools of yoga. I am no guru or saint; yet I love to hug, greet and listen to another human being going through the pain of living.

Life will not give us only one flavor, and it is never a straight line. The many spirals will continue to break our hearts open. Our obstacles and challenges must be acknowledged. I refuse to offer a quick fix of distracting the mind with all the various ways we find to avoid the experience of feeling. Sadness of tears brought me to my knees in deep grief and pain is as much my life story as my joys of laughter and moments of pure ethereal bliss.

I refuse to rescue someone from their own sense of empowerment. I want to inspire each person to commit to their deepest desire in an effort to grow. To move forward as the soul propels itself deeper into an awaken state of self actualization. It takes patience, acceptance, and forgiveness. Not in the capacity of the intellect to go there but into the free fall of being held by the profound and mystical presence of a fully conscious soul. The path is to alleviate the suffering of the mind, not to harm it with anesthesia.

I have now realized that teaching yoga is not just to "feel good" but an opportunity to dig deep into the dark places of unconscious behavior. To change behavior can be just another form of abuse without first becoming aware of the hidden thought behind the action.

To make conscious one’s thoughts is the practice of listening that arises when opportunity for stillness is honored. Intention to be still, quiet and focus the roaming mind away from its daily identity of doing. Just as today offers opportunity as a “snow day” for me to share my heart. Permission to unplug and share my inner landscape.

I spent years resisting teaching any teacher training courses. I have always considered myself a practitioner of healing and never wanted to offer just an outer persona as teacher. But I realized that the course is an opportunity for students to learn the history, the philosophy, the function of the poses, and the many ways the mind needs to be refined. Teaching the course, gives students a way to help heal their own story and move into the joy of being enough.

I hope that I inspired a renewed commitment this season to embrace the quiet and the beauty of a silent night. Extending a heartfelt blessing to everyone in our community and beyond that may we will willing to embrace the fullness of life with passion, joy, and a renewed sense of wellbeing.

YAF in the News: The tools of Yoga Being Used to Help with Anxiety this Election Cycle

YAF in the News: The tools of Yoga Being Used to Help with Anxiety this Election Cycle

Check out this article in Chicago Tribune by Kate Thayer on a way to know the tools of yoga are being used to ease our troubled thoughts and moods during this cycle of politics and elections. Laura Jane Mellencamp and Ann Walther contributed.


With political angst running high as midterms approach, voters on both sides worry: What if things don't go my way?

People on both sides of the political spectrum describe feelings of angst as the midterm elections approach. While Democrats are still reeling from Trump’s victory, those who are more conservative say they still recall a long eight years of feeling unrepresented under President Barack Obama.

Laura Jane Mellencamp said she often hears from her students about their reaction to the political divisiveness of the country. The political climate has people riled up, she said, and looking to her to help calm their nerves. Attendance is up at Mellencamp’s studio, Yoga Among Friends, in Downers Grove.

“They are coming in with great sadness or anxiety … to the point where I see people having more migraines or stomach disorders,” she said. “It’s definitely affecting people’s well-being.”

Read the full article>>

Our world needs all of us to join in loving kindness and to forgive ourselves for learning wrong.

Our world needs all of us to join in loving kindness and to forgive ourselves for learning wrong.

Our world needs all of us to join in loving kindness and to forgive ourselves for learning wrong.

This past week has been one of incredible sadness for the state of mind acting out in violence. As a teacher, mother, and friend of many, I make the effort to be living in a state of consciousness where I am fully awake to the witness of my thoughts. I am asking my little self, “Is that thought bringing you into a better place of ease or is that thought colluding with the worry and fear of what your eyes are seeing?”

My outer self is being bombarded with profound images and sounds of hatred, provoked by the extremes of radical thought. It is taking greater effort to come back and delink from my reactive habit of presenting anger and rage. I am hurting deeply. 

The pain I feel is immense, and yet I am also holding amazing love and compassion for all beings as I am experiencing their pain. We are all in this together! While I want to separate and judge, I need to be fully engaged in the world and take part in my daily roles. I cannot go live in a cave and isolate. 

I am living a path of Karma yoga in service to the life I have been given. I just have to make choices and it starts with my thoughts. From every thought I have, I move into sound and action. I ask myself, “Is this thought leading me in better direction or am I only feeding the small mind of ego wanting to be righteous and react with unkind tones?” 

Habits of behavior are learned. If I continue to feed the mind that is afraid, I only resist LIFE. I fall into life daily with my practice and yet the outcome in not mine. I want a place that feels alive with a radiant sense of belonging. We all want to be seen, feel valued, and be honored as human beings. In a world today where we separate and judge ourselves on the outcome, we rate our effort "not good enough" if it isn’t  seen. We value the product the winner, and the loser is the one without the stuff of material worth or without a personal relationship.  


I want a shirt that has a huge “L” imprinted on the front. I am claiming that letter as my true self; it stands for love, laughter, light, LIFE! Let's choose the word that arises from the right thought and be the action of that which moves the heart forward. 

Our world needs all of us to join in loving kindness and to forgive ourselves for learning wrong. I invite you to chant, sing, write poetry, breathe into the right brain, and activate the space that cultivates consciousness, the space of awareness and love. I invite you to practice being awkward to the intellect of the left brain and begin to live life in a mind balanced between intellect and your greater intelligence. This is the gift of being present.

In a time of turmoil and unrest, practice daily coming back to stillness. As winter's darkness approaches, make a commitment to light your inner candle and feel the grace of the illuminated Self expand and send that vibrational tone by chanting OM. As Gandhi would say, “Be the change, you want to see in the world”. 

Hope is not in the intellect, for it will judge and argue until I find myself spinning down the drain of despair. I will simply thank my mind for the thought and not engage to change it. Instead I invite my awareness of the thought (or emotion) into my practice by thanking it and then immediately choosing to feel the opposite as a somatic experience. 

When you place the mind into the body with the breath (or touch or sound or mantra), you begin to feel the sensory sensation of being present. Your heart expands and becomes fuller, and you experience your true self resting in the heart. Try it. From this place of aliveness, begin your day being truly SEEN. 


Laura Jane