February 14, 2018


On this day when many people are basking in the bliss of romantic love or lamenting that they are not, I would like to offer another perspective for those of us who are not partnered. Many times I have felt very sorry for myself that I don’t seem to get to have what other people seem to have and so many songs and stories say is the ultimate experience that everyone wants, the companionship of mutual romantic love. There are myriad reasons why some of us don’t find this, or perhaps don’t have it currently, and while having it can certainly be lovely, finding romantic love does not necessarily make or break a fulfilling, vibrant life. Many people hold on to relationships that have expired or perhaps were never even all that good to begin with in order to avoid the seemingly horrific potential of life without a romantic partner. Sometimes we put ourselves into situations that are not viable and at times even dangerous because we are more afraid that we need to be held in order to be okay. And many, myself included at times, miss seeing the beauty that’s right in front of us in pining for something that we imagine would make us complete and can’t seem to find. I have been without romantic relationship for many years now, with only very few unsuccessful attempts along the way. In each case we would have likely benefited each other much more to have related as friends instead. While I still get caught up in the desire for that at times, and am not closed to the possibility that at some point I may find mutual romantic love, I have also found great peace in letting go of needing to have it, in being complete in myself.

Some of the benefits for me have been: I am very comfortable going almost anywhere alone and enjoy my own company, whether or not I engage with other people on my journeys. I have come to often prefer it, especially the ability to come and go as I please without having to compromise with someone else’s desires (other than my son, but that is another situation, and also part of why I deeply appreciate my times of pure freedom). I am pretty capable of doing most things on my own, and when I’m not, I am becoming adept at finding ways to support myself to get those things done too. I am not resentful and waiting for someone else to do their part to balance the tally, I just get it done or not. I relate well with men and women and value them as beings worthy in themselves, not so dominated by the tension of being potential sexual partners or not. I am becoming more comfortable walking away when this is not respected, and am able to take it less personally through time and practice. This helps me feel safer and more comfortable in my own skin, and in my own integrity, and sometimes wakes people up to how they are limiting the ways we may be able to relate by fixating on sexuality and romantic love. I experience the transmutation of sexual energy into vitality and creative inspiration, and sexual attraction into appreciation and connection beyond just that initial potential interest. I am often able to desire without having to obtain the object of desire and enjoy the beautiful experience of the desire in itself. Which…is freedom. My identity is not confined to being a partner and I am able to relate with whoever I want, however I want, as long as it is agreeable with the person I am relating with, and perhaps their partners  I continuously discover what I think and enjoy without the influence of others defining what is possible or valid. I have come to trust myself and am my own validation.

I’m not saying these things can’t be found in the context of a romantic relationship, monogamous or otherwise, I’m just sharing that life can be beautiful and satisfying even if you don’t find romantic love. Even if that’s not what we’re conditioned to believe, and even on a day like today. If you’re feeling alone, just know you’re not alone in being alone. And that being solo doesn’t necessarily mean being lonely. There are many ways to have companionship, including the companionship of your own heart.

On this and everyday.


desire as inspiration

When you desire something and become attached to the attainment of what you think you want it can be depleting. And torturous. Yet when you desire and don’t need to attain it can be rejuvenating. And inspiring. Which doesn’t mean you won’t receive what you desire or put any effort towards it, it just means you don’t believe you have to attain or strive in order to be okay.
Do you feel the difference?
I am starting to more and more of the time.

what i get when i let go…

When I become aware that I am chasing something, often because either I’m not getting what I think I want and/or I am exhausting myself by trying so hard, if I am able to let go and soften back into myself, making space for what I was chasing to come to me or not, I feel a sense of peace and release that can be more sustaining than when I get what I think I want by grasping for it.
Sometimes in this place of calm and openness I get what I thought I wanted anyway. And even if I don’t, I’m okay. Because I became willing to let it go.

true freedom

One of my favorite physical aspects of practicing yoga is that there is nowhere on my back I cannot scratch (I am not suggesting this is true for everyone who practices yoga :-) ). One of my favorite mental aspects is the possibility that even when I feel an itch, I can feel it and not have to scratch.
I can, but I don’t have to.
This becomes more true all the time.

Yoga and Snowsports as Movement Meditation Retreats 2015

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January 11, February 8 and March 15  9am – 5:30pm
The Mountain Club on Loon and Loon Mountain Resort in Lincoln, NH
for more information 603-568-5977 or deniseporterkemp@gmail.com
Buy tickets for Yoga and Snowsports as Movement Meditation
Physical yoga is a mindfulness movement meditation, helping develop the capacity to recall effortless presence at will. On these one-day retreats we will utilize yoga both as a physical tune-up for snowsports and as a way to recognize the potential of mindfulness meditation in all our activities. Physical yoga is one way of experiencing the teachings of yoga, so that we can bring these teachings into the rest of our lives.
We will begin with a morning pre-snowsports specific yoga practice to bring mobility to the joints and warm the muscles, activate effortless core strength and find our center of gravity and balance. By becoming present in the body, we also become aware with the body.
After lunch, we head onto the mountain for a half day of snowsports, utilizing the physical practice of skiing or riding in the same way we could utilize the physical yoga practice – to intentionally and sometimes even methodically bring awareness into what we are doing while we are doing it. Once we have trained our mind and body to be focused and conscious, we can let go of some of the active effort, riding the mountain by responding to gravity and the contours of the land.
I also have many possibilities for yoga in boots and right in skis and snowboards which I am happy to share with anyone interested, although no one is required to practice the yoga on snow! You are also welcome to ski or ride on your own at any time.
After the lifts close, we return to the sanctuary of The Mountain Club to decompress with apres-ski specific yoga, holding longer postures to release tension and prepare the body for the next day with less soreness and fatigue.
I will not be teaching snowsports per-se, participants need to be able to comfortably ski or ride blue runs. On each run I will offer subtle cues as focus points, and we can share our own tricks and methods with each other. You are welcome to ski with the group, and at any point, take some time on your own. I will share the way I utilize the practice of yoga to enhance my snowsports experience, to assist you in finding a practice that supports your own.
There are three separate retreats ~ January 11, February 8 and March 15 ~ come to one or as many as time and interest allows. Space is limited and you need to pre-register to hold your spot.
$100 each retreat, includes half-day lift ticket
$75 each, with your own lift ticket
posts about snowsports and yoga…
Basic Snow Yoga
Sun Salutation On a Snowboard
Sun Salutation in Skis
One Foot Strapped in Snowboard Yoga
Dynamic Lunge Sequence for Before Snowsports
Meditative Hip Opening Apres-ski Video
…poems and other writings about snowsports…


I was initially introduced to Simonne Guillerm Allen in order to teach her pranayama, or yogic breathing techniques. This was recommended by her doctors in France as a way to develop core strength and support her deteriorating back.

Simonne is an 87 year old French woman who grew up in Vietnam and spent her adult life between France and the United States, making her career as a university French language teacher. She moved from Brittany, France to New Hampshire to live with her son about a year ago.

At first we met once a week.  Over time, the breathing exercises evolved into a meditation practice. Then we started integrating yoga and movement adapted to her physical condition, accompanied by some of her favorite French music from the internet. We discussed the transition into both her new living situation and the changes in her body and independent mobility. We contemplated Yogic and Buddhist psychology and philosophy to help her adapt and find a way to access her best quality of life with things exactly as they were. It was during these meetings that she began sharing tales from her life story. I became fascinated and she became more comfortable. Her seated posture, range of motion, mood and energy level improved significantly as we continued to meet. I currently see her four to five times a week, and there is always more to do than we have time.

The first spark that led to our current project came as we were dancing to Charles Trenet videos on YouTube. We had begun dancing together, she holding my arms for balance, in order to make range of movement exercises more interesting and invigorating. While scrolling through the videos, I happened upon Trenet’s version of the poem Chanson d’automne by Paul Verlaine put to music. Simonne freestyle translated the words as we listened to the song so I could understand what what he was singing. We were both inspired by this, so we started looking through French poetry on the internet.

Simonne mentioned that she had memorized some poetry throughout her life, which gave me an idea. Although her recall of past events is often extremely precise, her ability to imprint new memory is waning. I recalled hearing that some people find “passage meditation” in the tradition of Eknath Eswaren improves memory. Passage mediation utilizes a memorized passage silently recited internally as a focus point for the mind, the way we often use the breath as a point of concentration in meditation. Although this style of meditation typically employs spiritual writings from a wide range of traditions, I knew it would be difficult for Simonne to memorize a new passage. I asked if she remembered any poetry enough to try it. She said yes, and immediately recited aloud Harmonie du Soir by Charles Baudelaire. In full, en francais.

We each brought our head, neck and spine into alignment so that our posture felt somewhat weightless and stable, and sat for awhile. She in her chair and I on the floor, she internally reciting the poem and I the Mahamrityunjaya Mantra – a Shaivite predecessor of sorts in meaning to the Serenity Prayer. It went well. I asked her to translate the poem so I could understand, and so she did, aloud, as I typed it into the computer. Our excitement was palpable. I left her with a copy of the translation to edit, and another poem to translate while I was gone.

She has been at it ever since. She direct translates first and then plays with it to make it sound clear in English, while staying as close to the original text as possible. We look at other English translations sometimes for inspiration and as a dictionary of sorts, and yet her versions are often unique and I typically prefer them to what we find in books and online.

And the poetry is beautiful; Baudelaire, Verlaine and Victor Hugo are our favorites so far. She recently translated a Verlaine, En Sourdine, which I discovered was the inspiration for a song composed by Debussy – one of my favorite composers, who we had been listening to while doing slow range of movement yoga in her chair. Looking further, I realized that poetry was often a muse for Debussy, which has led us into an interesting inquiry into the social history of the time period in which these artists were creating, gleaned from their personal histories and the medium of their art. Clair de lune, one of Debussy’s most famous compositions, is also a musical interpretation of a Verlaine poem. This translation is less distinct than many of her other efforts, as the original French is more straightforward than some of the other poems she has worked with, most notably Mallarmé, another muse of Debussy. Yet it is one of our favorites.

Enjoy! We sure do.

translated by Simonne Guillerm Allen

Your soul is a chosen landscape
Where charming masqueraders and jesters go
Playing the lute, and dancing, and almost
Sad beneath their fanciful disguises

All sing in a minor key
of victorious love and the opportune life
They do not seem to believe in their happiness
And their song mingles with the moonlight

With the still moonlight, sad and beautiful
That sets the birds dreaming in the trees
And the fountains sobbing in ecstasy
The tall slender fountains among marble statues.

Clair de lune
de Paul Verlaine

Votre âme est un paysage choisi
Que vont charmant masques et bergamasques
Jouant du luth et dansant et quasi
Tristes sous leurs déguisements fantasques.

Tout en chantant sur le mode mineur
L’amour vainqueur et la vie opportune
Ils n’ont pas l’air de croire à leur bonheur
Et leur chanson se mêle au clair de lune,

Au calme clair de lune triste et beau,
Qui fait rêver les oiseaux dans les arbres
Et sangloter d’extase les jets d’eau,
Les grands jets d’eau sveltes parmi les marbres.


A definition of yoga could be the continuum that spans and contains both extremes simultaneously, balancing at the center. The equal and opposite polarities complementing and defining each other rather than canceling each other out.

We experience this with physical hatha yoga asana…finding the place where the pairs of opposites come into balance ~ left and right, front and back, grounding down to find leverage to lift up with ease, expanding out from and holding strength at the center, strength and flexibility, inhale and exhale…each pair two sides of the same thing. In this balance, the posture becomes self supporting and active effort can relax. And as the yoga sutras and other teachings suggest, when we bring ourselves into this balance, spontaneous presence, effortless awareness, a meditative state, pure consciousness, a deep underlying silence, spaciousness, insight, arises.

The events of my life often embody this principle, equal and opposite extremes balancing each other. Either side alone feels almost overwhelming, yet together they make a balance that brings insight. Perhaps this is life, and sometimes it is more obvious than others.

These pinnacle times, like physical yoga, give us the experience of the potential of this balance. All sides of the spectrum, simultaneous, defining rather than canceling each other out.

We are the synthesis, the balance that holds all extremes.

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