Seasons Change

After the 12:15 expanding class I walked outside and felt the all-of-a-suddenly cold air grip ahold of me— the sudden remembrance of the seasonal dance… doing its thing, doing what it does, cycling around, summer to fall to winter to spring… and here we are… cycling around, as all things seemingly do…

In Tucson we all yearn so eagerly for the cool air that winter brings, and then when the time comes everyone complains that it’s cold… hahaha… so it goes…

Change is what’s always already happening, and yet here we are… experiencing it…

Do you resist the change?  or do you roll with it?

Great teachers declare, “If you resist what is, you suffer.”

Mr. Lee Lozowick said, “Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional.”

In other words, as Christina Sell once said, “Don’t freak out about your freak out.”

Pema Chodran advises us to “Lean into it.”

And yet… here i am… suffering a bit.. feeling resistance to what is.  The current is carrying me to other adventures…not better or worse, just different.  Different is unknown and therefore Ms. Mind labels it as uncomfortable, something to be avoided at all costs.

But I know myself better than that.

All great things in my life have arisen out of facing such discomfort, and as one of my first great teachers, Ms. Ulla Lundgren said, “feel(ing) the fear and do(ing) it anyway.”

Off to Never Never Land…

Or Phoenix, as it were… Starting January 2nd I begin acupuncture school, and play with turning things a little upside down and seeing who I am in that circumstance… just like yoga.  And so we see it’s all practice.  And it’s all a metaphor.  We practice and practice, for what?  For more practice.  For what?  So we can practice some more in a different situation.  Ms. Manorama D’Alvia said, “Your life is for figuring out your life… No one is going to do it for you.”

At this stage of the game I find myself looking for any reason not to go, I found myself just last night on the UofA website exploring different options I could pursue here in Tucson and therefore justify my staying.  Breathe…Breathing… Each class has become such a magical, meaningful, rich experience.  Each student I touch, each gaze I meet, I feel its significance because I see the end.  … And each end is the beginning of something new… Mr. Douglas Brooks taught to focus on what you are moving towards, rather than to focus on what you’re moving away from.  It’s a beautiful life teaching.  I learned that in skiing so long ago!  Haha.  Look in the direction you want to go, rather than the tree you’re aiming to avoid!  Sigh… This isn’t the end.  I’ve set up with YogaOasis to teach TUESDAYS: 11am Yogahour, 1215 Expanding, and 415 Yogahour, as well as a workshop every month.  I’ll be available on social media, checking in and sharing upcoming classes, workshops and retreats elsewhere as well.

My heart hurts, but I practice having faith that it’s for the best.  I love you. Thank you for being a part of my path, for sharing this journey with me.  Please stay with me as we continue on down the road.  Love and Gratitude.

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right right

To think that… (one of those pauses to gather thoughts that unintentionally add suspense… yeah, like that) one is worthy of such wonderful things almost feels arrogant or assuming, maybe presumptuous is the word… and thennnnn we listen, or rather read, and maybe hear the words spoken inside one’s own head, the wise, simple and profound words of DR Butler, asserting that our life is what we focus our attention on, and the realization dawns on the horizon, peeks it’s brightness from yonder in the distance, that wasn’t really distance at all, cuz it was always already just right here… and so here it is… and here we go… for the ride that is our life, and we are in charge, so to speak, in the driver’s seat, steering the way, the direction of our day, the plan for our lifespan is moment by moment creation…like poetry we create reality with words, with images painted with words, with daydreams dissected letter by letter and put back together like a puzzle… puzzling isn’t it to conceive of such great, vast, infinite power right at one’s fingertips, or yes, lips, all in how we think, see, speak, move, act. … behave….

hmmmmm… makes me think of bee hive… yeah like the hive that was mysteriously attached to my house for that brief period… lessons there… lessons everywhere… are we paying attention? are we learning anything yet? bee hive… bees… bees are all connected by the queen bee…. all is done for the sake of her (god) and the hive (everyone, the collective, the universe–which is ultimately all god), and there’s a communication (by dance, come to find out!)… as if they are all connected.

similarly, we humans are all connected, and there is no separation by time and space… (or so is claimed by some great teachings, like in DR Butler’s The Course).

…put this into practice .. don’t just theorize, philosophize, and discuss lofty ideals. this shit is real.. who and what we are….real and also unreal, like the side mirror, things are not as they appear to be…similar, but different, manorama says, “feel it, feel it, feel it”… pema chordran invites one to lean into the discomfort, as my sweet camille friend reminded me today, “lean into it.” scott marmorstein said, “be the light.” and so we do, offer light through our thoughts, through our words, our deeds … and as Thich Nhat Hanh teaches, they all merge as one and become prayers. my buddy, billy quoted someone in the buddhist community saying, “right thoughts, right words, right deeds”… something to that effect…

and what’s the effect?

i’m reminded of a quote from a child’s book a friend gave me, “sometimes everything being right makes a kind of a sound.”

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forbearance and the “me” factor

“some of god’s greatest gifts are unanswered prayers,” sings good ol’ Garth Brooks.

i face inner struggle… resistance to what is… urges to fall back into familiarity in the face of the big bad scary (insert suspenseful horror movie background music) UNKNOWN. (scream)

dramatic i know… it keeps me entertained though, and man, if we can’t be entertained by the endless happenings on the stage of life, it’s going to be a bad movie! and i want my money back!

i felt like that this morning at my Bikram class. despite all my years of asana practice, and my experience as a teacher, i was that student who hated everything in class today — myself, my appearance, the teacher, the smell of the carpet, any excess talking from the teacher, any corrections received from the teacher, and especially the bee keeper lady who kept me up late waiting for her call and then also woke me up at 2 am and proceeded to talk way too enthusiastically for the time of night and act as if it was completely normal to do such things at 2am and behave in ways so that i judgmentally dub her as a drug addict…hmm that’s a whole other thing… the point is, Bikram is a set sequence of 26 postures in a really hot room that’s always that hot! the variables are dramatically limited; we’re down to the teacher, the time of class you attend, and you. you (or me rather) (er uh i…) can contain numerous variables — what we eat, quantity and quality of our rest, regularity of practice, knowledge of alignment, attitude, will power, inner resiliency, the quality of our patience and forbearance.

forbearance really hits the nail on the head: “patient self-control; restraint and tolerance.” ooooh! tomorrow’s word of the day!

first, variables…. so when the variables are minimized it’s very easy to see that when you have a “bad” class, it’s not the sequence (again, in Bikram it’s the same every time), its not what the teacher says (most of Bikram is scripted— yet the teachers still ad lib, and that can be aggravating), it’s probably not the time of day, (unless you know you’re a morning person and you go at night or vise versa, but that still falls under the “me” factor), it’s you! my friend used to say, “what’s the common denominator in this equation?” (it’s me… er you)… sigh… so there’s that… it was me. it was me the whole time, and i knew it. i got through the class. savasana was so restful. i literally melted into my mat/towel. i was very grateful for un-talkative ladies in the restroom. and yet it seems that may be some of what i needed– some interaction. for on my car ride from the studio i made a couple of phone calls, one to my paw paw who i don’t get to talk to much. i adore him. he lives up in minnesota with his lady and they often make crafty things, like right now they call it “lawn art,” pretty flowers made of various metal scraps that they paint. i’m always impressed with his interest in life, his continual creativity and quest to be involved. just getting to talk to him briefly started to shift my mood.  then i called two girl friends and my twinny and left them nice messages. much better… i dorked out at Wholefoods… mission: drink green juice first after Bikram, cuz otherwise i might dive into an all out binge… (“know thyself”) (“forwarned is forarmed” – Lee Lozowick)

also, one of my girls facebook messaged me and shared some of her honest suffering. initially i see the surface of it as different than me. as i sit with it though, i see her suffering is the same as mine, despite varying physical circumstances. this realization helps me to settle, feel a sense of connection, and thus have compassion. instead of wallowing in my ick, i can reach out and write her a message to offer her some connection, love, and hopefully share some wisdom, for so often in reaching out to others i share exactly what i need to hear.

(i’m going to do that now) (stay tuned… unanswered prayers… then forbearance….)

and we’re back!… (uproar of applause)

chuckle chuckle… so back to the song. i’m a not-so-in-the-closet country fan (i was raised with it in the background), and this lyric came to my head today after reading my friend’s facebook message, “some of god’s greatest gifts are unanswered prayers.” gotta love garth brooks… or you don’t and you just judged me and decided to stop reading my blog and never look back, and probably defriend me on facebook and certainly talk poorly about me behind my back… blink blink… … … blink…

anywayz…

unanswered prayers– the gist of the song is that the singer’s life turned out beautifully and perfectly and he only realized this when he saw an “old flame,” the one he’d always wanted and prayed for, and yet when they saw each other at this stage of life they had little attraction and nothing in common. “just remember when you’re talking to the man upstairs, that just because he doesn’t answer, doesn’t mean he don’t care.” the point: we face discomfort in the face of not getting what we want…

(reminds me of another song, by wah: “she gives you what you want and hopes that someday you’ll want to take what she has to give.”)

… subsequently we feel anxious urging toward that familiar place of comfort. yet, that place of familiarity is not where we grow, says DR Butler… he says, “We can no longer afford to allow ourselves to be hypnotized by familiarity. To allow the familiar to continue to be the fundamental reality is like functioning in this world asleep. When we do this we unknowingly create outer appearances of our fears and anxieties — all because we have no awareness or appreciation of the power of attention, the effectiveness of a conscious intent, and the final declaration of will.” (from Living in the Truth of the Present Moment.)  so, the consequence of choosing to be in the unfamiliar for the sake of “waking up,” as they say, is that you feel uncomfortable… “comfort” was a yogahour word of the day a few weeks ago. i discussed how it was an advanced concept that the yoga asana should be “steady and comfortable”, as stated in “the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali,” for only through dedicated practice over a long period of time does one accept, and thus get comfortable with the sensations that arise in the midst of transformation.

(((in the new super man movie superman’s father tells him (us): continue to push limits, test your limits, to see how strong you can get )))

so this too applies to our lives (for doesn’t it all?), in that in the discomfort of our life’s MG9952-Mcircumstances we have the opportunity to fall back into old ways, old habits, and tendencies for the sake of comfort, ease, familiarity, OR we have the opportunity to endure the discomfort with strength and sensitivity– not a teeth grinding sort of endurance, but rather an openhearted willingness to feel the gift of the moment. (manorama says in a decrescendo ending in a breathy whisper, “feel it. feel it. feel it.”) for that is what every moment is, a gift. and as we unwrap the gift fully in the moment, we receive as much as we are ready for, (or as much as our curtains’ openness allows for the light to poor in– Swami Gurumai Chidvilasananda). and this readiness expands as we practice being with whatever unfolds in the moment. thus it was all there the whole time, “always already there,” as Mr. Paul Muller Ortega says, and it is our perception that expands (HA! again! the “me variable!!!”)

(took udu doggy fer a walkee. nice night! big moon! it’s actually called a “supermoon!” yep, not making it up… two people confirmed it who don’t even know eachother. lol … it’s supposed to be the biggest moon of the year… and of course there’s symbolism there, right hippy?! the notion of dark becoming light. and how this moon at it’s brightest represents how we too have the capacity to achieve our fullest potential and shine at our brightest…. man this goes right along with what i’ve been writing about. so perfect, of course)

back to the point (Manorama moment…what’s the point?)

now on to forbearance…

such a fine definition my computer dictionary offers! “patient self-control; restraint and tolerance.”

this is precisely what yoga offers us the opportunity to cultivate (and it is always an offering, an opportunity, “an invitation,” as Mr. John Friend used to say… it’s never an obligation… for we don’t have to do anything, life beckons to us and we always have the option to refuse. to decline… to say no… hmmmm… but why not say yes? … and see what happens… fyi, you’re probably going to get uncomfortable… hahahaha). patient self-control; restraint and tolerance. the Bikram practice in a relatively small room heated to or over 105 degrees Farenheight, in which students face a large mirror, are not supposed to talk, fidget, wipe sweat, or even drink unless at a specified break… needless to say, all your buttons are pushed… and then what…? Ha!… this is an instance in which peer pressure is of great service. (do i really want to be the only person scowling and making a fuss?) you can really tell the newer students, as they’ve not figured out these subtle rules that you learn as you go… no body really tells you overtly, you just learn as you go, and everybody begins to conform in this beautiful synchronized unity that perfectly exhibits the very definition of yoga. (so i’m on a Bikram kick right now… doesn’t mean that other styles don’t offer these attributes, it’s just that this is the style i’m focusing on right now. i’ve experienced the same phenomenon in the Ashtanga method, and in Yogahour with Darren Rhodes, and in certain teacher’s offerings of Anusara Yoga, and John Friend and Desi Springer’s “Roots” Practice…) i learn to not express my emotional outbursts through mindless fidgeting, dramatic facial expressions, or talking. i come back to tadasana (steady mountain pose –the steadiness offered from within my own self), and seamlessly onto the next pose. these styles of practice are a beautiful metaphor for life, in that it’s always on to the next thing.  (reminds me of a time Christina Sell was teaching about inversions and quoting one of her teachers said, “Don’t freak out about your freak out.”)  in Bikram they say, “Let it go.” In a recent Lesson from DR Butler, he commends the “many principles of Truth exemplified in the world of sports,” and he quotes head football coach at Cornell University, a former Rhodes scholar, and ‘very intelligent man,'”To me, the number one thing is to play the next play and forget the last one. The last play is not relevant to the next one. The most important play of the game is the next one, not the one already behind you. You have to learn to forget quickly. It does not matter what happened before — drop the baggage, drop the pressure, and just play.” on to the next moment. may we move into each moment untethered to the drama of the past…

…through the practice i face my thoughts, my emotions, my “ways of being”… and practice moving in the face of them…

i continually recognize my tendencies to think poorly of myself, to talk badly to myself, to want to quit, give up, to be tempted to wallow in self pity, to feel isolated and singled out, uncertain, overwhelmed…(this helps me to feel profound connection to my students, especially the beginners and to really appreciate the intensity yoga presents in a matter-of-fact sort of way, like, “here it is.  here’s the path.” the rest is up to us… walk it, or don’t– no judgement.)

and then there’s the next pose, and tadasana, and the next one, and tadasana, always coming back to center — physically and mentally.  through practice i can now recognize which postures the final postures, signaling that class is closer and closer to savasana (which ultimately means death — how much we long for this relative peace, ease, and comfort!). this familiarity with the set sequence brings a sense of calm to the mind, knowing the finish line is near… (i always hear my twinny’s voice — which funny, sounds like mine… “you can do it steffi, you’re almost there”) and the pranayama comes and then we die…

the end… you’re dead “did you do.. did you do all you could?” (sings Ani Difranco)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Asana Junkies day 2:

5.17.13

Day 2 San Marcos, TX:  Asana Junkies with Christina Sell

i’m feeling much better today!

and i’m grateful for day two! day two always feels better. aside from the obvious benefit of a good night’s sleep, there is benefit in the merging of individual energies into a group energy. by the end of the workshop we’ll feel like good ol’ buddies.

our car ride to Christina’s School of Yoga was less hectic today: three yogis and a ramp. the ramp foreshadows the inevitable backbend play/work ahead. tea time is chatty time and our chit chat, although delightful, made us late for our morning puja. Christine handled it well with a smile and an anecdote about her days at Prescott College. she paraphrases one of her teachers, “You cannot not communicate. your behavior communicates.” a very important teaching that can serve to call us to attention. what is my behavior communicating? … …

light poured in through the studio’s high windows, so perfectly aligned with the mood of the room it was like a soundtrack. as we participated in our chanting, pranayama and meditation, the previously grey sky offered us bright rays of light in return.

the morning session was 10am until the end of the world… there’s no limit on backbends! the practice was sweaty and slippery! by the end of class Miss Tanya looked like she jumped into a pool! she was so excited because she got some air in one-armed Mayurasana. Miss Christine had some vocal breakthroughs in Viparita Chakrasana (hence the ramp) today as well! the general sequence: standing poses, belly down backbends, handbalancings, more backbends and more backbends. it was a hybrid of Iyengar meets Bikram minus the high heat. we made our own heat! the mood was ferociously playful!

Christina talked about the strategy of using the pose to prepare for the pose, not for beginners, but more intermediate/advanced. i remember in my earlier days of practice and teaching i’d prepare and prepare and prepare… and sometimes due to time constraints, never even make it to the pose! so now, i just accept that the first urdhva dhanurasana might feel crappy (for example), but I can use the alignment and actions I know to free myself in the pose. (Tanya smiles and says she always anticipates this moment in class…) just like in life! i can apply the cumulative lessons i’ve acquired to the current circumstances in order to shift my perception, and thus free myself in the moment.

Christina and Darren often quote a Lee Lozowick saying, “Forewarned is forearmed.” i thought about this as i anticipated upcoming poses in the sequence… we can’t choose the sequence offered by the teacher, but we choose how to engage within what is offered. … especially within a sequence that i’ve done before, i can anticipate what’s coming and prepare myself physically, and most importantly mentally… how do i look at/approach what’s coming? with dread or persistence? persistence is “firm or obstinate continuance in a course of action in spite of difficulty or opposition, continuing steadfastly.” … … …

regarding sequencing: (of poses or circumstances of our life, cuz hell, isn’t all a metaphor… Miss Manorama says, “Look to the metaphor.”), how do poses relate to each other? christina sell likes to sequence from Mr. Iyengar’s Light on Yoga (so fantastic, because that’s how I love to practice! the book is an empowering guide!) and in her teaching of these sequences in recent workshops I’ve attended, she emphasizes how it’s not a “peak pose” strategy, but rather do what you can do in the pose your in and see what it offers you for the next pose. further, Miss Christina Sell invites us to just do it a couple of times and try it again tomorrow. rather than get too hung up on “getting” the pose no matter what, she stimulates a healthy level of detachment. in our day to day living may we expand our awareness to see how the struggles i endure on this day grant me virtues and thus serve me for future endeavors.

lunch showed up with no excuses or justification… ha ha… it was just late, and it accepted full responsibility… a welcome change of clothes, Christine Lee and I dove into preparation for our November Coata Rica retreat. she also received some acupuncture from Mr. Kelly Sell, Miss Christina’s very kind husband.  he’s so supportive and such a sweet presence.  in addition he also offers us acupuncture in our breaks!

afternoon session: restoratives, inversions, forward folds, hip openers, and great discussion.

Lululemon Outlet Store!!! uh oh! …

damn neon and fluorescent colors are super see through and you can see my tattoos right through them! and yet, i bought them anyway… so there’s that…

evening brought dinner, more flyer work with Christine Lee, and facebook entertainment.

we’re so looking forward to our first retreat together! side note: we’ve decided that between the two of us, we’d make the perfect yogi. we’re complementary. i’m grateful for our partnership. she’s quite a gift in my life.

what a fabulous day! Again, I’m so grateful to be here. I’m honored to be with such amazing, strong, inspiring women! Yeah, it’s all ladies! Oh, and Kelly. :-)

 

 

 

 

pade pade

Monday 4.29.13

 

I feel a new surge of creativity arising within me. An excruciating discomfort welling up from within me that can seemingly only be soothed by writing, reading, sleeping, and drinking copious amounts of tea … (although being of service during the workshop soothed this feeling immensely and talking nicely and encouragingly on my so-seemingly long bike ride home also helped.) (i think that eating is going to fix it and it never does… but gosh i’m a determined one. persistent, i’ll give me that.)

The rune i drew this morning affirmed this new inner state. i always feel excitement and awe at how right on the runes always are, ready or not. They direct my consciousness to what is going on beneath the surface that I may be neglecting to notice. For that i am deeply grateful.

Speaking of grateful, my workshop this weekend was such a supreme high point in my life. I am overwhelmed with deep, humble gratitude at those who supported its happening and those who attended with bright eyes, willing bodies, and open hearts. I am grateful I rode my bike both mornings too! I aspire to get back into riding to work every time. Mondays, eh, maybe… lol. I get out late, so that’s a tough one for sure. But definitely tuesday, a fun-and-free-day-off wednesday ride, thursday, friday, and sunday… sundays are super full and challenging too… so we’ll see…

ha! and that’s how it goes. high aims, and then there’s life. then there’s life as it is. it’s always happening… Mr. Lee Lozowick said, “Good enough is good enough.” This can challenge the mind, and tempt one towards complacency, and yet, we still aim high. like so many profound teachings, it’s a paradox. Manorama says, (paraphrased) if you aim too high, you thwart your practice. She supports slow, steady progress, and consistency in practice, as all great yogic teachers propose. In Mr. BKS Iyengar’s Light on Yoga, he advocates abyasa: steady, constant, uninterrupted practice over a long period of time (paraphrased). and life happens, so we do what we can from where we are at. “pade pade,” Manorama says, which means “step by step.” by one step at a time we get to where we are going.

(HA! and then life happens! Like, I have to take my doggy, Udu, for a walk.)

to be continued…

……..

and so then what?

life keeps on happening. and the lessons we derive from these innumerable events, this endless cycling of opportunities is up to us. i am responsible for my life. nathaniel hawthorne, as quoted by DR Butler in the lesson I’m currently on,” Of all our responsibilities, the greatest is being responsible for our own happiness.” Manorama says that no one is going to do it for us. She says, “Your life is for figuring out your life.” Amen.

 

I took some time for myself tonight. that’s challenging for me, so it seems…

There’s something really powerful about time with yourself. about time to just feel, to get to know who you are and how you react, to feel that space of potency between thought and action and that powerful place when you can choose to fall back into what you’ve always done or choose something new… and then to stay diligent there… and there… and there…

 

This power of reflection is inherent in the silence, in the quiet time and yet so present in our interactions with other people, other things. For in all of these people, all of these things, we see ourselves. We get the opportunity to see our reactions and see what we like and dislike in others. It’s exactly what we like and dislike in ourselves. what we run from, hide from, and ignore in others is exactly what we’d like to discard from ourselves.

Ha! and that’s what makes it so easy to ignore red flags… or what i like to call, “painting the red flags green.” ha ha ha…

and as “they” say, “more will be revealed.”MG9952-M

 

 

Om Shri Ganeshaya Namaha

D.R. Butler says: “In this moment we have the power to choose anything.”

 

(Bjork remix of “All is full of love” plays in the background)

 

I weave the song into the spaces between my thoughts… and interrupt the thoughts with it, for the truth is in the lyrics, and the untruths are in my thoughts, my silly melodramas, as DR Butler would label them. It is fascinating and a little disgusting to see how addicted people or more specifically, I, am addicted to suffering. In 12 step programs it’s called good ol’ self-pity… one of the things we can pray to be removed by God… In the story of Ganesh, or at least some interpretations that have been passed down to me,

 

(another Bjork remix of “All is full of Love” begins… yes, I have a few of them… Ha! You gotta do what you gotta do, ya know?!)

 

Anyway, back to Ganesh, He is known as the ‘remover of obstacles’ in the Hindu pantheon of dieties, and simultaneously he is the obstacle in your path. As such, he is your gift. He is the threshold, what you must pass through, so to speak, to get to the other side, or in other words, he is the opportunity for your growth, or betterment.

 

(another remix plays… this one has strings in it…nice)

 

A threshold is simply a threshold, a gateway, an opening. We can choose to step through the gateway, and thus work through whatever muck happens to clog the doorway (Ganesh), or we can turn away from it in search of a more preferred path.

 

(this remix has more of a beat to it. pretty fun) (sorry, i should stop with these parenthesis…)

 

Another teacher of mine, Manorama, says, “Yoga is not about meeting our preferences.” And golly, don’t we have loads of preferences… i prefer it to be a breezy 79 and sunny with li’l cloud puffs in the sky and plenty of colorful spring flowers, quite like we have right now in Tucson! To me, right now it’s just perfect! Well, outside anyway… Ha! and so that’s just it! Yes! It’s so pleasing outside and YET! I can stilentertain a fuss between my ears!

 

(speaking of fuss, this remix is not my favorite…)

 

The lesson is, as I’ve heard several teachers say, it’s easy to get enlightened when the circumstances are just right, away from distractions, obligations, responsibilities, funky remixes… lol…, but the true path is in the here and now. The real work to be done is in the midst of our lives, when our personalities are flaring up in the ways the do, and Ganesh, with his big ol’ belly grins in our path. And he grins because he’s delighted, just being there, in the experience, for its sake. We can take that grin however we wish. But let us not get distracted by the handsome grin… The point is that there is an obstacle in the path. Where am i going? What is my goal? What is the point? Remember. Come back to the point. Elephant? No, opportunity! Gateway into something more. How we engage this opportunity determines the next opportunity, the next challenge, the next obstacle. And so it goes, like an obstacle course, one that is specially crafted to refine us into our best version of ourselves. (as cheesy as that sounds.) We can get better because of each challenge faced, each obstacle overcome, most ESPECIALLY if we believe that it’s for the best. If we believe it’s going to knock us down it will. If we practice faith in our own evolution in the process of our work we rise. Conversely, if we practice self-pity, despair, hopelessness, escapism, etc, we fall. And yet! Falling is another obstacle. Do you pick yourself back up? How do you pick yourself up? Manorama says it is a reflection of your practice, how you pick yourself up. In the words of Peter Tosh, “Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and start all over again.” “And suddenly everything has changed.” -Flaming Lips. So we start over again with shifted perspective, enhanced awareness. Every moment is fresh, like a new dawn.

SONY DSC

 

let go…

really!? 1.19.13 already????

time floats by….

best to be in the moment either way…

it’s just perfect, just as it should be…

 

that reminds me:

 

quote from dr butler:

“Listen to the ways certain people who consider themselves to be ‘on the spiritual path’ might speak. They repeat homilies and platitudes like: We are all one. God is love. Everything is a play of Supreme Consciousness. Yet there is very little actual practice of these principles of Truth in moment-to-moment life. We learn to think certain ways that we presume are ‘more spiritual’ than the ways we used to think. Yet do we actually live our life differently than before? Do we experience ourselves and others in a greater way? Do we truly see the divine play in everything?”

 

Important things to contemplate… (these are yes… i chuckle, cuz i accidentally talk like yoda sometimes…) Like in 12-step recovery they say, “we practice these principles in all our affairs.” Very important, this consistency. To be a good person in one arena does not guarantee the same integrity will be available to you in another situation. It’s our responsibility to work to cultivate this integrity as our preset point. Paul Muller Ortega, one of my teachers, says that we have an ‘identity assemblage point,’ or you can call it ‘ego’… the point is the place where we collect who and how we are… and according to Paul, this point shifts with practice. He specifically refers to meditative practice, but I believe any practice applies. For what is practice but cultivating new habits, retraining our tendencies, rehearsing. Whether it’s asana, meditation, pranayama, tai chi, kung fu, aikido, playing a musical instrument, writing, climbing, recovering from addiction… it’s a process of training. Training and retraining, for the mind is so forgetful! Practice helps to build strong connections in the brain, so that the default position shifts. Manorama, another of my delightful teachers says (something to the effect of), “you practice everyday even when you don’t need it so that when you need it its there… or something like that *** look up that quote*** so we practice on the days and at the times that it seems unnecessary, inconvenient, tedious, monotonous, unfruitful so that it becomes our first programmed response to be in the way we have practiced. For example, in yoga asana we practice smooth breathings to promote clarity in the mind, freedom in the body and yet some poses demand shallower breathing for their successful consummation. Through practice, the mind has been trained to be clear and calm, so when such an occasion arises we can sip the air and still maintain inner steadiness, rather than react in an undesirable way. If however, the breathing, and thus the mind, has not been trained default position wins and freak-out occurs. Silly, funny, and so true… How this applies in every situation! How are we training ourselves? What is our default? do we wash the dishes or leave them sit for days? Do we offer compliment when the thought arises or do we let the opportunity pass? Do we help open the door for the older woman with her arms full or watch until it’s too late and regret missing the chance to be of service, always committing to do it next time. … … … DR Butler quoted one of his teachers and so now i quote his quote (chuckle chuckle) “If you wait, you wait forever.” so profound. do it now…

 

there’s this lovely plant in front of the window where i write. i always admire the new growth. it’s exciting to see! as pleased as i am to witness and marvel at it as simply that, it comes to me now as such beautiful symbolism… new growth is always happening… every day we are growing. every day we are shifting and evolving. and so, what are you cultivating?

 

We can just as easily cultivate misery as we can delight. It’s a choice that needs to be consistently re-chosen! In the tradition of Gurdjieff and the fourth way (I’m no expert, just read some and heard a little…) there’s a concept of multiple facets within oneself, various selves, so to speak… versions of yourself. Further, the same aspect of yourself that choses with such high resolve to do such-in-such is not the same version of yourself that later, or amazingly even not so later, decides to completely disregard those very same aspirations. In a recent workshop with Christina Sell she said that we aim to bring more and more of ourselves together, to reach our intention, so that more and more of ourself is united toward the same goal. I appreciated her offering as it resonates with my own experience.

It seems like devoted, disciplined practice over a prolonged period of time can positively impact the other aspects of self. Once the rebellion of other sections is acknowledged and accepted, and if discipline remains constant, things shift… This reminds me of massage– when there’s a “knot” in the tissue i can apply pressure to the point and after a while the tension just releases, that which was resisting lets go. Similarly, the more discipline is followed, practice is maintained, the more the contrasting aspects of self “fall in line.” … our default position shifts.

 

thirsty

i’m just going write for a minute to gather myself… there’s nothing wrong except in the way i am thinking about events and circumstances (i hear the teachings in my head)… everything is fine in the moment… but then why this ache inside? i want to cry and i feel an inner sinking… empty… i suppose depending on the perspective, it could be beneficial… (ha! this sinking…) to be empty is to have space within, to be open and hae room for new things, new information, growth, wisdom, insight. Gurumai Chidvilasananda shares in her book, The Yoga of Discipline, how it is ideal to only eat until the stomach is 2/3 full (or whatever the fraction was… 3/4 maybe? ha! that’s what i’d prefer) so as to leave hunger for God. so rich, so beautiful. Manorama said that the teacher cannot give the student thirst. they have to bring the thirst. the thirst is the gift. our yearnings, our thirst, our suffering motivates us, drives us to act. its so intense. this human condition — embodiment, like a wild animal, waking up to find herself in a cage, disoriented and confused, lonely and scared. we’re right where we are, doing what we’re doing, with every experience manifesting from within this cage and the only thing to fear is the wild animal in the cage… (eye roll… profound… but almost feels right)

… sigh… satisfaction there… in the pause… in the space between.

when there’s no where else to go, you can’t get away from the caged animal, at a certain point it’s surrender or death (whatever that means)… dear friend quoted a poem, “you were once wild and free, don’t let them tame you.”  hm… can’t we be all?  i mean wild and free and tame…

… we’re the ones to tame ourselves …to be truly free– at least that’s how this analogy goes– we tame the animal or it eats us.    … and by ‘we’ i mean ‘i’ and by ‘us’ i mean ‘me.’

head bowed.

 

“ma!”

i’m touched by Manorama’s profound analogy of a flame always seeking upward movement. she so delicately held a match and moved her hand to different angles to demonstrate how no matter which way she turned her hand the flame continued reaching upward… this morning i reached…. a familiar reaching… into whatever it is… the depths of myself, god, the cosmos, the supreme, the universe, whatever, (it doesn’t matter what you call it)… and i received. so fully i receive. always. and i’m profoundly grateful. … reminds me of another story Manorama shared in a recent workshop in Austin, TX at School of Yoga San Marcos, she loudly hollared “Ma!” several times, to convey the almost annoying, needy way she called out for her mother… so funny, because when her mother finally came from across the house all she wanted was a glass of water. the way she told it built the suspense, as she does so well, and her mother, miffed, got her a glass of water. all this to hit the home run: “when i called out she always answered.” …made me want to cry. Christina Sell’s words in a recent intensive… or workshop or something (heh heh i lose track…) she said that whenever she asked for help, god (or whatever you call it) always helped. so powerful…

my experience aligns, in that when i seek, i find. i’m learning that the more i practice calling out, asking, seeking, during non-emergency times, the more smoothly my life operates.

for example, today i was just over the ‘bleh’ in my head. i noticed like a rut (or a rot!) building up of anxiety, self-doubt, worry, fear, cycles of insecurity… bleh, i was just done with it. i greeted my planteez with good morning wishes and took my dog for a little jog. for my morning practices i settled myself into the present moment, focusing on my natural breath and i was gifted with renewed lightness. heh heh… it worked! a sense of accomplishment is motivating on the path. it offers proof to persevere. sunday’s are my big day, four classes, but it went so well! my word of the day was ‘attract,’ as in, ‘what are you attracting into your life?’ if you look at your life and you dig it, feel such gratitude, etc, keep up the good work! a mentor said, “if you keep doing what you’re doing, you’ll keep getting what you’re getting.” simple and profound. (isn’t that how it always seems to go). accordingly, if you are displeased with your life, if you feel sad, depressed, hateful, etc, your life is reflecting what you are putting out. not to say it is your fault. it is however, your responsibility. even if you set aside the whole “material realm thing” for a second, and see that the way we frame things in our own noggin dictates our experience of it. how are you speaking about events in your life? how are you thinking of the people around you? how do you view what’s going on with your physical body? your health? your thoughts? again, not to blame, but rather, to empower. a friend shared some of her story tonight and it inspired me. our life is ours to do whatever we want with it. we can absolutely slink down in depression, self-pity, anger, fear, etc. that’s always an option. but is that what you really want? (and is what you’re doing working?) i certainly want “the happy.” and i have a deep faith that “the happy” is attainable, that it is always available to me, depending upon how i engage this present moment. and this one… and this one and … yeah, you get it.

in the practice we had a lot of fun!  it was a great sized class!  “the usual suspects” and a couple of new ones!  like pretty little jill and dear patricia and sweet sarah.  we played with surya namaskar, inversions, mellow-ish (ha!) hip-openers like akarna danurasana, kurmasana, eka pada sirsasana (leg behind head), and some backbends (12 of them), drop backs, and a couple of us ventured into the land of viparita chakrasana.  we ended with sweet, mindful breath watching.  perfect.

it was a good day.  i rode my bike and i love riding my bike!  at the end of my long day i returned home to find a dear friend  walked my dog for me and  bought him a new water bowl that will ensure he has plenty of water as the summer sun warms tucson.  i made a banana, apple, greens smoothie,  i spent time with good people, and i came home and had the freedom to write.  i’ dig what i’m attracting.

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Thumbs up

ok, so no fooling… i’m freaking out to a small degree regarding money and finances in general and I keep reminding myself to trust in the universe, to have faith in my being provided for each day, each moment. I keep going about daily business even after I work out some financial details and blatantly face the fact that after I pay my mortgage I will have $300 with which to pay other bills, eat, buy gas, and essentially live for the next two weeks.  After teaching I received a call from my sister, Staci, and after chit chat she informed me that she has $1000 for me!!! Yeah! no shit! I wanted to cry and sing and dance all at once! My faith in God is absolutely blaring and flashing like a vivid neon sign. I have been praying about my financial situation and here it is! Yeah! Turns out I previously lent her a little more than that and she’s just paying me back! Rad! And then! Handsome coffee man gave me a free coffee! HA! I’m so grateful! I’m so supported and so taken care of, as long as I’m tending to me and my highest self, as opposed to my lower self that is needy, codependent, and addicted. It seems as though I’m making the best decisions, even as I face the discomfort of being alone, of being anxious, uncertain, and troubled with an inordinate amount of empathy and self-doubt. Lately I’ve been experientially realizing how necessary the discomfort is. By this I mean that like most human beings, I tend to want to avoid discomfort at all costs via alcohol, drugs, food, sex, tv, video games, drama, etc…and it’s precisely that avoidance that prevents the lesson from taking root. (I think of that Ani Difranco song, “Marrow,” she sings, “The answer came like a shot in the back while you were running from your lesson, which might explain why years later all you could remember was the terror of the question… and I can’t believe you let the moral go by while you were sulking in the product placement…” i checked; I didn’t remember the exact lyric)

So i was dorking out yesterday thinking about how Pandora is like life. (cuz isn’t everything simply a microcosm for life?) I thought it’d be a brilliant yoga theme and blog entry, but then I didn’t make time to write my blog entry yesterday, my day off, cuz i was busy walking my dog, meeting a few friends, getting coffee, hula-hooping (yeah!), roller-skating (uh-huh!), running with my dog in what seemed like the tornado in Wizard of Oz, making kale chips, grocery shopping, checking Facebook… …. ha! there’s always something, no?.. so i taught it as a yoga theme today and realized it would have gone over much better had i spent that time writing about it yesterday… yeah… so anyway. i’m here today… and i blog…

On Pandora there’s the thumbs up symbol and the thumbs down symbol. Right. So you pick your artist, Pandora plays similar things within that genre and a person can specifically tailor a radio station to their liking with these two icons. It took me a little while to figure this out. I know, shoosh… Initially I listened to whatever was played just like I would listen to a radio station. I would tolerate the annoying songs and just deal with agitation or press the forward button to skip to the next song. In retrospect I see I was avoiding responsibility for creating the station the way I wanted it. I have this tendency to feel bad, like i want to give the song a chance, so rather than thumbs down it, I’d just move on. Soon I realized you can only skip ahead five times… (yeah, funny. I wonder why it’s only five)… (maybe i’m overanalyzing this)

You can create your universe by the was you interact with what is presented to you in the moment. If you like it, embrace it, affirm it, engage it. If you don’t like it, it’s important to cultivate the skill to assert yourself and to choose something else. Otherwise you keep listening to songs you don’t really like; you experience a world that just happens to you, aggravates you, and you tolerate it passive-aggressively rather than manifest a moment of your choosing, a life of your dreams… sigh…. (drift off in la la land)…. …

With regard to yoga poses though, we face a little bit of a dilemma. It’s not as though you can “thumbs down” a pose and you don’t have to do it. rrrrrrright…. Some people do, and you absolutely can in your own practice, but that’s surely not how you get better at the challenging poses or how you cultivate virtues such as perseverance and patience (i’m up to ‘P’ in the dictionary, ha!). (and this may be a whole separate issue, but often by pracicing poses we don’t like we get better at the poses we do like.  For example by doing dreaded core work our backbends get better.) The teacher has a plan, and we, as students might not know the bigger picture and/or don’t dig this plan.  It’s her plan, not ours. Being a student in the class, in fact, choosing to be there, we are choosing to work on what is presented. The plan is for our benefit, for our upliftment. Thumbs up.  That is the challenge. Discernment within yoga practice would be discerning what is pain from what is intense sensation. Rather than avoid that which presents intense sensation, (viewing it as pain), we can delve into it with our breath, explore it and feel it… feel it… feel it… and consequently learn and grow… evolve, get bigger because of the challenge. The option always exists to see it as pain, to complain, avoid, justify, distract… and stay small, or even to contract further in the face of challenge. We always have a choice…

Dr. Douglas Brooks says, “What a difference a difference makes.” While choosing thumbs up or thumbs down on a Pandora station seems inconsequential and trivial, even silly… (like come on, where are we going with this? ha! I know!), this is what we do moment to moment by the way we interact with our surroundings, by how we engage with what is presented to us in the moment. So that what is presented becomes that which we choose. With discernment we choose to affirm, maintain, or further cultivate that which we like, that which enhances our experience of life. In many cases, the thumbs down option just happens because by saying yes to something, you’re necessarily saying no to other things. However certain things require a thumbs down. In this “relative” world of manifest things not all things are created equal. It’s not all the same. Some things are better than others. You like some things and not others. In order to fully say yes to oneself and one’s life, we must enact the thumbs down option… without feeling bad… (errrrr i suppose it’s gotta be ok to feel bad, cuz it just happens and we can accept that too. We’ve got to be ok with feeling bad, being in that discomfort, because like yoga asana, that’s how we evolve.) I hope this is helpful to more people than just me. As beloved Manorama teaches, look to the metaphor.

 

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