Rest in the Mess: A December Specialty

How suprising (or not) that this same topic is here for me again this week: Resting in the Mess. Maybe it was the way we had to rearrange the whole front room to accommodate our Christmas tree which led to the dining table being so covered in stuff we had to eat dinner on the couch. Or maybe it was the piles of dirty laundry accumulating since I’ve let it go over the past few weeks, choosing instead to spend time with houseguests and visiting family. Or maybe it was the blue corn chips my son dropped which were crunching under my feet as I tried to clean up the pile of dirty dishes. It seems to be the week of the year I always need to remind myself of the possibility of resting in the mess and relishing the imperfect beauty of reality. Because it’s also beautiful. I’ve never seen a human more filled with holiday spirit than our boy. The messy living room smells divine with the Grand Fir in there. The time with dear friends and family has been wonderful, even though I’m behind on laundry and email and all that stuff I think I should be doing. Here’s a piece I wrote last year at this time (and also 3 years ago at this time) which brought a smile to my face. I hope you enjoy!


First – a couple quick notes:
1. Women Embodied Live is now open for registration! I have 3 spots left. Is one for you? Please see details below or here.

2. We are delighted to be co-creating an event with our colleagues fromMindfulness Utah as an offering to our community. On Saturday, December 10th, we will be hosting a retreat day as a fundraiser for the Utah Food Bank. You can check out all the details here.  Please note: This Event Is FULL! If you’d like to be on a waiting list, email me. :)

3. Nan Seymour and I are currently making plans for our September 2017 retreat in New Mexico. I’m thrilled to report that this one will likely be happening at Ghost Ranch. Details are being firmed up. Many people shared they want to join us next year. I have a feeling this will sell out! Please let me know if you’d like to be on an early notice list for New Mexico next September!

Rest in the Mess + We Think Alike

written by ERIN on DECEMBER 10, 2015


You know what’s funny? When I sat down to write this morning, a few things bubbled to the surface of consciousness. A quote from my teacher Tenzin Wangyal which I have hanging above our bathroom mirror as a reminder. It reads,

“Attention to openness is the best medicine. 
Mind is always open and clear.
Are you aware of it?”

Good question, right?

And I also wanted to write about the December crazies – the glossy magazine spread/Pinteresty images of perfectly decorated homes, holiday crafts, gorgeously wrapped gifts –  and to contrast these with the reality of my kitchen that has a pile of unwashed dishes (our new dishwasher finally arrives tomorrow, yay!), the large laundry piles I’ve just sorted and spread all over the laundry room floor, the gifts I haven’t bought (let alone wrapped!), and how I’m wondering – Why do we do this crazy modern holiday stuff?

And then a thought occurred to me. “Hey, I think I’ve written about “Resting in the Mess” before.”
You guys, it’s hilarious!
I found the post from 2 years ago. It includes photos of my dishes and laundry, ruminations on holiday images of perfection, and even that same quote from Tenzin Wangyal.
Wow. Me, myself and I? Apparently we think alike, especially during early December. 

So instead of saying it all over again, I’m going to repost this baby I wrote in 2013 because apparently, it’s exactly what I needed to read today. (Thanks past self!) I’m hoping maybe you will enjoy it too. :) Cheers to resting in the mess!


And now…..
a note from Erin (originally written December 2013) 

My beloved Carl is in the midst of a silent week-long meditation retreat with one of our teachers, Reggie Ray, in the still and spacious environment of Crestone, Colorado. Carl and I sometimes joke that we share a brain, and certainly share consciousness, and it’s been so wonderful to have a part of me receiving that deep peace that Carl’s steeping in.


And along with that? The mess. :)


The mess of things not being how I want.

The mess in the kitchen where Mesa and I baked cookies together and I didn’t complete cleanup fully before his bedtime, when I fell asleep too.

The mess of holding space for a child’s emotional upheavals, which have a little extra holiday-sugar fuel.

The mess of a childcare snafu and having to cancel clients.

The mess of shoveling snow 3 times already this morning after making a breakfast and lunch for my boy (amongst the cookie-baking mess) and getting him off to school, which means a late newsletter.

The list of holiday presents I haven’t ordered yet bubbles up in my consciousness now and again….

(And I’ll tell you, we do a majorly low-key holiday! I can hardly imagine the breathing patterns of people who go all out…)


My standards of perfection can torture me to no end if I take them seriously. And so I’ve been saying to myself this week, “Rest in the mess.”

“Rest in the mess.” 

I have a little sign I put above my bathroom mirror years ago with a quote from another of our teachers, Tenzin Wangyal. It says,

“Attention to openness is the best medicine. 

Mind is always open and clear. 

Are you aware of it?” 


I love this.

And it’s how I can rest in the mess.

I feel Carl sitting in that meditation room in the Blazing Mountain Retreat Center with an incredibly spacious view of the San Luis Valley…. It reminds me of my own spacious awareness, and I can rest, even in the mess.

I’d love to share with you a favorite poem, one I know by heart, (perhaps because my heart needs to hear these words on a frequent basis.) I know we’ve shared it here before, but for me, it’s one I never tire of.

Mother of Us All

Mother-of-us-all prays to free us
from our image of perfection
to which so much suffering clings.

When in the shadowy mind
we imagine ourselves imperfectly,
praying to be freed from gravity
by enlightenment, she refines our prayers.

Putting her arms around us
she bids us rest our head on her shoulder
whispering, Don’t you know
with all your fear and anger
all you are fit for is love.

-Stephen Levine

In mid-December, and while having a single-parenting week, I can totally relate to the “image of perfection to which so much suffering clings.” 

I imagine perfect days which flow easily, no tears on the way to school, I get everything done on my list, including meditation and exercise before my son wakes up. (I haven’t had one of those days yet this week!)


Do you have those images of perfection too? 


It’s such a great reminder that I can rest my head on her shoulder. For me this means in any moment, I can feel the support of the ground – the great mother, and receive that support with my whole body.

And remembering that with whatever fears or disappointments are circulating in my body-mind, all I am fit for is love.

Care to join me in resting in the mess, and sending love to the parts that are struggling, inner or outer?


As Rilke said so gorgeously,



“Perhaps all the dragons in our lives are princesses
who are only waiting to see us act,
just once, with beauty and courage.
Perhaps everything that frightens us is, in its deepest essence,
something helpless that wants our love.”


With love,


Thought I’d include some current seasonal photos, including one of our boy spontaneously meditating outside the pool at Snowbird, and Yoda hovering over the ice dragon at the top of our tree. I’ll spare you fresh photos of my laundry and dirty dishes. :)

And one last poem I’m thinking of today, along with a helpful “note to self.”

Ten thousand flowers in spring,
the moon in autumn,
a cool breeze in summer,
snow in winter.
If your mind isn’t clouded by unnecessary things,
this is the best season of your life.

– Wu Men (translated by Stephen Mitchell)

Note to self – please don’t cloud your mind with unnecessary things.
May we remember….

Wishing you peace and great heaps of kindness,


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By training and profession, I am a somatic educator. Over the past 25+ years I have trained in and taught modern dance, tai chi, Indian and Tibetan yoga, yoga therapy (specializing in back pain). I completed a 4-year professional Feldenkrais training in 2007 and a 3-year Embodied Life training in 2014. I also study and work with somatic meditation and the profound practice of embodied inner listening known as Focusing.