I met Bryonie Wise because of our mutual interest in natural dyes and yoga. Bryonie is a pretty awesome human who wears her heart open with vulnerability and bravery and her written words beautifully reflect this and often leave many saying yes! I know that feeling, that raw feeling that I never let the world see. She writes with an honesty that inspires others to open up their hearts and let them beat.
ZN: Bryonie, you are a writer and a yogi, and used to edit for Elephant Journal. What is your favorite article ever published…of yours and of someone else’s?
B: That’s a tough one to answer—because we shift & change so much in any given moment that what we need to hold our hearts changes, too.
I wrote it after being let go from one of my first big teaching jobs; I was heart-broken, disappointed in myself, doubtful of my abilities & terribly afraid of the loss of income & how it would affect my life.
It was one of those rare times where I sat & the words literally poured out of my finger-tips, as if they were being main-lined straight from my heart. My thinking-brain let my feeling-brain do the work—I didn’t have to force the words or coax them—they just came.
Our heartbreak, our sorrow, our pain—are all gifts to transmute & transform.
ZN: What come first for you, yoga or writing?
B: They come hand-in-hand, heart-in-heart.
One cannot exist without the other, for it is through the movement of body that the words rise up & it is through the words rising that I create more space to move into.
ZN: What drew you into yoga and what practices are you inspired by?
B: The grief I experienced after my mother died changed everything—a big part of me died, too & for a long time I was lost in the shuffle of grasping onto who I used to be.
Finding yoga—learning how to breathe & move & still—quite literally saved my life.
Practices that inspire me, in no particular order: all forms of movement, the act of creating, shamanism, moon rituals, dog snuggles, reading, sitting.
Each in it’s own, a practice to cultivate.
ZN: You just published your first book of poems, Heart Roar: A Book of Tiny Prayers. What inspired this book? What is it about? Could you give us a sample of one of your poems? Do you have a link for people to purchase it?
Heart Roar: A Book of Tiny Prayers is a curated selection of poems (prayers even) little snippets of writing I created over the past year & a bit.
Here is a little taste:
“If I have your ear & your heart is so inclined, I would ask you to lie in the grass under a canopy of trees with me, side by each.
Here we would stay, arm in arm, safe as can be, as you tell me the story of the day you were born and when roots grew out of your feet and when your heart began to beat.
Maybe you’d tell me about your first smile or the first time you heard yourself laugh & how hearing the vibration in your body made you ripple with more laughter.
When our own giggles subsided, you’d tell me the truth about the things that keep you awake at night & push slumber too far away; as the words fall from your lips, I would slide my arms around you & just hold you & if a tear drop or two slid down your cheek, I would listen as they found their way into the ground beneath us & hold you closer, still.
Maybe we would lie there all day & into the night & more stories of all-the-things we think we could never say would find life & as we let them go into the air, your heart would become lighter & so would mine.
Lying there, under the shine of the moon, as the stories found freedom & forgiveness, we would draw maps in the stars of the road less traveled & as the moon becomes the sun again, our hearts will have stitched their way together as a new language is born.”
The first reason I write is because I have no other choice; creative expression has become essential to my evolution as a human being & there is nothing but to let them go, out into the world.
Through the act of sharing them, I have learned just how much we need each other as humans who are trying to figure out this thing called life.
Knowing we aren’t alone in our struggle, giving voice to our shame, sadness, doubt or joy serves to break down the barriers we’ve built up over time. To admit our humility openly gives us freedom & dissolves this idea that we are separate from one another.
ZN: You have been raising money for Global Seva Challenge, tell me what is it?
Each year, a different country & focus is chosen & relationships are built with partner organizations that are already on the ground to supporting communities in crisis.
This year, our focus is female genital mutilation & early childhood marriage in Kenya & the project is being coordinated by The Village Experience. Funds raised support building two safe houses.
Both organizations were started by women who underwent the procedure of female genital mutilation when they were young girls.
They offer a safe harbour for those that need it—&, maybe even more importantly, they are developing other rites of passage that are less violent to the female body but still honor the transition into womanhood.
ZN: What inspired you to take on this particular project of giving back?
B: I believe, in my heart of hearts, that we are all in this together.
And, it is my responsibility as a woman living with relative freedom to use my privilege & access to resources to do what I can to support other women who are not afforded the same right to choose.
We are each other, no matter the lines that are drawn to separate us.
ZN: What are some of the challenges and amazing experiences you have had raising funds for this?
B: In a very different way than creating a book, self-publishing it & releasing it into the world creates vulnerability, so too does asking for help.
Repeating over & over again the words “female genital mutilation” in a public platform seems to send people running & I worry that we are exhausted by the amount of crisis & trauma in our world.
We close our hearing, our seeing & our feeling, because we can’t hold it anymore.
How can I keep imparting what I learn without fear-mongering or triggering a guilt-response? How can I make this cause accessible, in an embodied way? How do we translate experiences that women on the other side of the world go through regularly into something that we can comprehend in our culture & spur mindful action?
Lastly, one of the amazing experiences throughout all of this is witnessing the generosity of the global community. I’ve experienced a giving that would soften the hardest heart.
ZN: What is the link to your fund raiser for anyone who feels inspired to be part of you reaching your goal?
B: If anyone is interested in making a donation or hosting a fundraising event to support my efforts, they can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org