Marianne Elliott

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Kick at the Darkness: a guest post from Amy Brathwaite

Saturday, March 7, 2015 by Marianne Elliott

I rushed down the bustling sidewalks of the Lower East side, chasing the golden sun as it dipped below the street signs ahead. I had five minutes to make it across seven city blocks. I’d arrived in New York hours earlier, to kick off what would ultimately evolve into a short documentary exploring the implications of humanitarian aid work. It was hard to conceive that it had only been weeks since I concluded my successful crowd-funding campaign.

Here I was in New York City enroute to Port-au-Prince with a camera in hand and a tug in my heart.

As the campaign unfolded, I received an email from Marianne Elliot, former human rights lawyer and author. She invited me to join a group of Aid Workers focusing on wellness and resiliency. I was touched that my project resonated with a woman of such strength and experience. In what felt like an orchestration of fate, Marianne was arriving in New York the day after me to kick off her North American book tour for “Zen Under Fire”. We arranged to meet in the Lower East Side for a 45 minute meet and greet.

I managed to make it across the seven blocks just in time for our meeting and quickly realized that this would be more than just a meet and greet—I instantly felt the warmth of connection. We walked through the humid, vibrant streets of Manhattan and Marianne told me of the Garrison Institute, an organization she worked with to develop (a contemplative-based) resiliency training for aid workers. She proposed a screening of my yet-to-be-made documentary at the Institute when it was done—I was humbled and buoyed by this new community.

It was in that moment that I recognized the magnitude of the connection.

I had yet to conduct a single interview but Marianne’s enthusiasm and confidence allowed me to confirm that this project not only had the capacity to emote but was needed in order for myself and others to heal.

Fast forward 14 months from that warm New York evening, I released my documentary “Kick at the Darkness” on a warm September evening in Calgary, Canada. As promised, the day after my screening in Canada, the Garrison Institute screened the 10-minute “Kick at the Darkness” for its donor community.

The journey continues to unfold in unexpected and breathtaking ways. I can’t help but feel that connecting with Marianne has not only contributed to my expanding network of connectors and champions, but also gave me the reinforcement I needed to get this far.

Incredible opportunities have unfolded since September, though a big part of this journey has been surrendering to the uncertainty of what comes next. I’m working to carve out clarity, to shape, to mould, to ask, to listen, to be scared and work through the fear. What have I learned through the process? That courageousness does not always look like we think it might. That saying ‘I don’t know’, removing layers and allowing yourself to be nakedly vulnerable and beautifully imperfect takes muster. That being scared and brave in concert is possible.

This journey is about healing, sharing, connecting and providing a platform for others to kick at the darkness—and heal.


Amy BrathwaiteMeet Amy.

Much like her fierce curls, Amy never stays in one place for very long. Her candid curiosity and enormous capacity to care have taken her to the farthest flung places on the globe. Her formal education took her to western Canada, Denmark and the north-east of England, but it’s the living that happened in between classes that shaped her into the gypsy soul she is today.

Since 2011, Amy has lived in Calgary, her sanctuary near the Rocky Mountains. She spends her days slinging her camerawork for hire, practicing yoga, dancing and connecting with her community. Her most recent work “Kick at the Darkness” tales of her journey of experiencing the mental health implications of humanitarian work and creating dialogue within the aid community. More from Amy at

“On the All of It” – Going Om

Thursday, November 6, 2014 by Marianne Elliott

Quite often these days, publishers contact me asking me if I would read a book they are about to publish and review it here on my website. Whenever they do that I think ‘Are you really offering to send me books to read, for free? Does life get any better than this?‘ And then I think, ‘Do […]

The secret to a good life: know your why

Wednesday, November 5, 2014 by Marianne Elliott

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while you know I’m a runner. Sometimes I’m a dedicated runner. Sometimes I’m an ecstatic runner. Sometimes I’m a driven-by-the-desire-to-break-my-own-boundaries runner. Sometimes I’m even a reluctant runner. But in my heart of hearts, I’m always a runner. This past weekend I ran a half marathon with my […]

Tara Mohr on Playing Big

Sunday, October 12, 2014 by Marianne Elliott

The first conversation Tara Mohr and I ever had, about four years ago, was about her desire to write a book (I was writing Zen Under Fire at the time) and how she was confronting the fears, doubts and challenges that come with the kind of ‘playing big’ it takes to do so. About a […]

Yoga and Body Image

Thursday, October 9, 2014 by Marianne Elliott

Today my dear friend (and 30 Days of Curvy Yoga co-teacher) Anna Guest-Jelley has a beautiful new book being released into the world: Yoga and Body Image: 25 Personal Stories About Beauty, Bravery & Loving Your Body. I love everything Anna touches, and am honored to have a chapter in the book on how shame found me on the yoga mat.

Justine Musk on ending the quest for perfect

Saturday, October 4, 2014 by Marianne Elliott

As a party of my 30 Days of Yoga retirement party, today we’re revisiting a brilliant post from Justine Musk.

Justine’s writing regularly arrests my aimless internet clicking (I know I’m not the only person who gets caught in that loop), picks me up out of my seat, turns me around and sets me down again with my spine straightened and my commitment to being utterly true to who I am reinforced.

I love this post not only because it starts on a yoga mat, but because it speaks to one of the most potent – and revolutionary – gifts yoga has given me: the ability to see myself as whole. When Justine writes that greatness lives in the spaces in between, and that releasing the need for perfection allows us “to step more fully into them.” I wanted to cheer. And I wanted to roll out my yoga mat and step into some of those spaces again.

Rachel Cole on our relationship with ourselves

Friday, October 3, 2014 by Marianne Elliott

A quick reminder: Registration for the last round of 30 Days of Yoga closes tomorrow! I’ve been practicing yoga and meditation for a decade, which means I am pretty in touch with my own feelings, hungers and desires. I know what I need. But until I spent a day at a Retreatshop with Rachel Cole last year, […]

Why my yoga practice & teaching is part of my humanitarian work

Thursday, October 2, 2014 by Marianne Elliott

Today we hear from Amanda Scothern, my co-teacher for the 30 Days of Yoga for Aid Workers course (which begins on 6 October). Amanda has been working in the the humanitarian sector for 15 years, practising yoga for 10 years and teaching yoga for three.   Why my yoga practice & teaching is part of my humanitarian work […]

Michele Lisenbury Christensen on her yoga practice

Monday, September 29, 2014 by Marianne Elliott

Registration is open for what will be the last session of my 30 Days of Yoga courses. As I retire these courses, I’ve asked a few friends to join me in reflecting on why yoga and meditation are so crucial to their lives. We started with Susan Piver and today we’re turning to Michele Lisenbury Christensen; I think you’re really going to […]

Susan Piver on mediation, sadness & music

Sunday, September 28, 2014 by Marianne Elliott

Registration is now open for what will be the last session of my 30 Days of Yoga courses. I first offered this course in January 2010 because I needed to get into my own regular home yoga practice as part of my yoga teacher training certification.


Four years, five new courses and many thousands of gorgeous online yogis later, it’s time for me to retire these courses and concentrate on my work in human rights and social and environmental justice, and on teaching and supporting others to cultivate the courage it takes to step into the change-maker role that is calling you.

As I retire these courses, I’ve asked a few friends to join me in reflecting on why yoga and meditation are so crucial to their lives. We’re starting with Susan Piver by looking back at a post she wrote last year around this time.

I deeply appreciate Susan’s perspective, especially when it comes to her take on how meditation allows us to be in the world. This post is all about the potency of connection and how it allows us to see, feel and be with suffering while also allowing us to access the comfort and beauty can bring. Yoga has opened me to both.

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