Nuggets From Denise Bonnaig's Call
Posted by Bela Shah on Dec 1, 2018
“Ignorance just means you don’t know that there is a way out of your suffering.” At once a lawyer, life coach, yoga teacher, and mother, Denise Bonnaig has been force of transformation in the lives of many. As a lawyer, Bonnaig works to give voice to the voiceless in the contexts of civil rights, immigration, and workplace litigation. She is also owner and teacher at Princeton Power Yoga and a life coach. What holds the threads of Bonnaig's work all together is a commitment to personal transformation. Her work is to help others “transcend limitations, transform wounds into love, power, forgiveness, and gratitude.” Her work as a trial lawyer, yogini and spiritual guide (not to mention her “life experience as someone who has experienced illness, death and has raised three successful black men ... against all odds”) has been inseparable from her own journey toward self-understanding.
We'll post the transcript of the call soon, but till then, some of the nuggets that stood out from the call are below!
“Life was just a struggle, nonstop. Then something beautiful happened to me. That's the beauty of yoga and everything changed effortlessly.”
“I would not allow my mind to fight cancer because what I learned form the Buddha is “what we resist, persists”.
“I was inspired by Marianne Williamson, who works with AIDS patients to write love letters to the disease. I wrote a love letter to my cancer. To the cancer, I said, "We are sharing this body together. You came in and we are sharing it. You do your thing, I do mine. I'm not going to bother you, you're not going to bother me. You be and I am."
“The benefit of meditation on how I practice law was a benefit I had not intended. My relationship to opposing counsel (in the past I called them my adversaries), that relationship changed overnight. Without bitterness and with normal interactions, what that leads to is a lot more mediation, a nonviolent mediation where we talk about the issues with more understanding, with more compassion. There is no need to fight. We are all the same. We are one.”
Question: How do you reflect your transformation in the way that you coach others? "Yoga showed up once again.My approach to coaching is FUGT, which stands for Forgiveness, Unconditional Love, Gratitude, Trust. Through this process the person is empowered.”
“Happiness doesn't come from the outside, it comes from within. When you take responsibility for what is, you are in charge and you can change things and turn things around.”
“Through mindfulness, it's not that we don't seek vindication for injustice. But we do what the law allows us to do without bitterness. We remain kind trying to do the right thing.”
“Every year I go to Vipassana to reset. The negative thoughts that come to my mind don't go away but I train myself to become aware of the thoughts without attaching to them. I let the thoughts go. That is something that I practice constantly. It's not easy, but it's helpful. It takes a commitment and I have agreed to commit to it because it has helped me.”
“Whatever the problem is, there is a way out of suffering. When I feel angry or sad, I don't resist it or run away from it. I make the decision to let it go. Life is a decision.”
“When you change your way of being, others notices. It takes two to fight. This is not imposing mindfulness techniques on other people.”
“My vision for the future: We can work together. There is a quote from Rumi that comes to mind, "I, you, he, she we, in the garden of mystic lovers.” The question is always, "How can I serve?"
“Before meditation I had my gloves on all the time, all I saw was fighting and winning. Now: two parties, two stories, trying to find truth. Mostly truth is in the middle. Now I’m not going in the room with the objective to fight. Now I'm going in to work things out.”
“You can train your mind to let go of what holds you back, to let go of the suffering.”
You can learn more about Denise, including her authentic coaching practice, on her website. The audio recording for Denise's call will be made available soon, please check back here. Lots of gratitude to all the behind-the-scenes volunteers that made this call happen!