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Showing posts from April, 2008

Happiness

On this last day of the month of April and a magnificent spring, some words of wisdom from Paramahansa Yogananda on the subject and true source of happiness:

"In a time of misfortune I heard Thy voice, saying:
'The sun of My protection shines equally on thy
brightest and thy blackest hours. Have faith and
smile! Sadness is an offense against the blissful
nature of Spirit. Let My life-transforming light appear
through the transparency of smiles. By being happy,
My child, thou doest please Me.'"

"The laughter of the infinite God must vibrate
through your smile. Let the breeze of His love spread
your smiles in the hearts of men. Their fire will be
contagious."

"You have the power to hurt yourself or to benefit
yourself...If you do not choose to be happy no one
can make you happy. Do not blame God for that!
And if you choose to be happy, no one can make you
unhappy...It is we who make of life what it is."

"A strong determination to be happy will help you.
Do not w…

Opening the Heart

As I review, revise, and expand my notes for an forthcoming workshop I will be offering at Willow Street Yoga, in Takoma Park, MD, on June 7, titled - "Balancing the Chakras with Asanas and Healing Practices," I am amazed at how we often teach what we need to know or revisit.

As I journey through the individual chakras - the seven major energy centers we have in our bodies - I am essentially reviewing much of my life, my tendencies, my weaknesses, and my strengths.

I am excited to have this opportunity to do this workshop and take it in a slightly different direction than when I offered it previously. There is so much more material available that makes the chakra system and what contributes to its imbalance much more accessible. And I can now share many more practical and specific suggestions for achieving a more balanced energy system that I did before.

Yes - we teach and review what we need to learn - or perhaps embody on a deeper level...

As I reviewed the Chakra Balancing wo…

Gratitude, Blessings, and Inner Spiral

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Inner Spiral is the third of the Anusara Yoga Universal Principles of Alignment. You create an opening and widening in the body by taking the femur bones in, back, and apart.

I thought of how "Opening to Grace," the First Principle - creates the initial opening in the body. Then with the Second Principle - "Muscular Energy" - we hug into that sweetness.

I then realized how working with Inner Spiral would create a greater opening for blessings and gratitude to flow into our lives - which is my theme for the week. The practice itself, is an opportunity to embody gratitude and count one's many blessings in life.

As I reflected on my syllabus and practiced it several times, I received insights as to how to do some self assists to embody the action of Inner Spiral. I was excited as I allowed my body to slowly soak in the subtle, but wonderful experiences these assists provided...

I ended my classes with the song, "Prayer 2000" by Eliza Gilkyson, from her 1997 …

Silence as Language of the Heart

In his book, The Spiritual Practices of Rumi, Will Johnson writes the following:

"The Sufis have a beautiful word for the mystical communion that two openhearted practitioners can enter into when they come into each other's presence.

They call this communion and sharing sohbet...

The word has most often been thought of as an extended mystical conversation in which two seekers after God come together and speak openly to each other about mystical matters...

In the purest shohbet, words are not used as the medium of communication...The primary language of the heart is silence."

And these verses from Rumi:

"Be silent.
If someone tells you there is no speech possible
Without words or sounds,
Don't listen to him. It's not true.

Be silent.
Without the bread of God
And the wine of annihilation, that word and that
Alphabet are like two or three empty cups at best.

Be silent.
Speak the meaning without the alphabet.
If you can,
Say it without words, so the heart
Can take over the conver…

Stillness and Silence

In the book, Stillness Speaks, Eckhart Tolle presents some incredible gems of insights delivered in a "sutra" like fashion, so reminiscent of ancient yogic and Hindu texts:

"Look at a tree, a flower, a plant. Let your awareness rest upon it.
How still they are, how deeply rooted in Being.
Allow nature to teach you stillness."

"When you look at a tree and perceive its stillness,
you become still yourself.
You connect with it at a very deep level.
You feel a oneness with whatever
you perceive in and through stillness.
Feeling the oneness of yourself
with all things is true love."

"Silence is helpful, but you don't need it in order to find stillness.
Even when there is noise, you can be aware of the stillness
underneath the noise, of the space in which the noise arises.
That is the inner space of pure awareness, consciousness itself."

I pondered the depths of these insights and juxtaposed them with some of Rumi's verses, taken from the book, The Spiritua…

Connecting to Joy

At the end of yesterday's entry I spoke of inviting my students to experience a greater awakening and joy in their practice.

At the end of his recent newsletter, Todd Norian, a Senior Certified Anusara Yoga Teacher makes these suggestions for connecting with joy if you are having a bad day or simply can't experience joy in the present moment:

1. Take a time-out from the activity of your day.
2. Do some yoga in a quiet, uncluttered space.
3. Ride the waves of your breath as you move and stretch.
4. Give your mind a time-out from having to figure everything out...
5. Go into your right brain and merge with the flow of breath and body sensation.. Be in the Present Moment for at least 20 - 30 minutes a day.
6. Consciously choose to open to Grace and turn it over to the Divine.
7. At the end of your practice, sit in total silence for a couple of minutes and receive the blessing of the Divine. Then repeat these affirmations to yourself several times:

I am worthy.
I am great.
I have the seeds…

The Art of Theme-ing

Every new yoga term, my teacher picks an over-arching theme for the session. Last term it was: "The Sky is the Limit." This session it is: "Everything is Pulsation."
Yesterday I heard from a new friend I made in Sarasota - a very talented yogini - who shared that her theme for the week was freedom. She focused on the inner and outer spiral of the arms and used birds as a metaphor to teach the action of the rotation of the arms.
I am always fascinated by the themes that my friends and fellow teaching colleagues choose to explore in their yoga classes. It is truly a work of art to weave themes into one's classes flawlessly, and we all do it in unique ways. Some teachers truly have a gift for doing this.
What many do not realize - is that it takes a tremendous amount of effort to weave themes into a class - and to sequence a class according to the theme and the action and principle of alignment you want to focus on. It can make a difference between a class that is me…

Blessings III

And here is one last blessing from John O' Donohue's book - To Bless The Space Between Us - A Book of Blessings.
May these words bless your day and surround you with angels!
A Blessing of Angels
May the Angels in their beauty bless you. May they turn toward you streams of blessing.
May the Angel of Awakening stir your heart To come alive to the eternal within you. To all the invitations that quietly surround you.
May the Angel of Healing turn your wounds Into sources of refreshment.
May the Angel of the Imagination enable you To stand on the true thresholds, At ease with your ambivalence And drawn in new directions Through the glow of your contradictions.
May the Angel of Compassion open your eyes To the unseen suffering around you.
May the Angel of Wildness disturb the places Where your life is domesticated and safe, Take you to the territories of otherness
Where all that is awkward in you Can fall into its own rhythm.
May the Angel of Eros introduce you To the beauty of your senses
To celebrate you…

The River in Early Spring

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I went down to the river this morning after an absence of over a week. We have been having a lot of rain and the river was flooded beyond its banks and purging debris. But it was beautiful to see the leaves beginning to unfurl and open to the touch, the warmth, and love of the new season!
The river and I have been steadfast companions these many months. I thought of this as I did my Lovingkindness and Reiki meditations...
I thought of the many experiences I have had over the last few months - some difficult, some unexpected, and yet the many instances of love and grace. I marveled at the many gifts received and opportunities that have arisen - all sent by the Divine...
These blessing from John O' Donohue's To Bless the Space Between Us, seem appropriate here:
Excerpts taken from - For An Exile
Now is the time to hold faithful To your dream, to understand That this is an interim time Full of awkward disconnection.
Gradually you will come to find Your way to friends who will open Doors int…

Blessings II

Here are some excerpts from different blessings from the book, To Bless the Space Between Us: A Book of Blessings, by John O' Donohue...
Blessed be the longing that brought you here And quickens your soul with wonder...
May your listening be attuned To the deeper silence Where sound is honed To bring distance home.
May the fragrance Of a breathing meadow Refresh your heart And remind you you are  A child of the earth...
May your inner eye See through the surfaces And glean the real presence Of everything that meets you...
Awaken to the mystery of being here and enter the quiet immensity of your own presence...
May you listen to your longing to be free...
May you allow the wild beauty of the invisible world to gather you, mind you, and embrace you in belonging...
For Absence
May you know that absence is alive with hidden presence, that nothing is ever lost or forgotten.
May the absences in your life grow full of eternal echo.
May you sense around you the secret Elsewhere where the presences that have left you…

Blessings

Last night I curled up with the book - To Bless the Space Between Us: A Book of Blessings - by John O' Donohue.

John Friend, the founder of Anusara Yoga, recently shared at the teacher training that I attended, that to bless our students is a very powerful and important practice.

I have a friend who always signs her letters "Blessings." I have several other friends who do this regularly as well. John Friend signs his emails and newsletters in the same way. I have always sensed the power of words sent as a blessing.

John O' Donohue says this in his book:

"When a blessing is being invoked, time deepens until it becomes a source from which refreshment and encouragement are released...

Whenever one person takes another into the care of their heart, they have the power to bless...

It is such a privilege to have people who continue each day to bless us with their love and prayer. These inner friends of the heart confer on us inestimable gifts...There is such unusual beauty …

Inspiration, Expansion, and Grace

I have spent the day reviewing so much of the recent training I did in Sarasota, and have been experiencing one "aha!" moment after another.

I also got caught on emails and read Todd Norian's newsletter. Todd is a senior certified Anusara Yoga Teacher.

I had the pleasure of experiencing his teaching at the end of March. He also assisted me in a number of poses at that time. At one point, I thanked him for his newsletters which I have always found to be very inspirational. Todd is a very sweet, loving, and humble soul - and it shows in his teaching.

I thoroughly enjoyed my time with Todd when he was at Willow Street Yoga in Silver Spring, MD, recently. As I read his comments, I realized that I have felt that way after teaching my own classes and workshops. And his comments echoed many of the sentiments of this past week for me as well. Todd spoke of coming back home totally inspired after having taught the workshop I attended. It was truly special for me - as I know it was f…

Love From Rumi

It is good to be back home after an incredible week of so much love and beauty - and cohesion - and union...

I am full to the brim and grateful for all of God's good gifts...

I end the day content and with beautiful melodies in my soul and poems by Rumi in my heart. I share this one...

Behind the Scenes

Is it your face
that adorns the garden?
Is it your fragrance
that intoxicates this garden?
It is your spirit
that has made this brook
a river of wine?

Hundreds have looked for you
and died searching
in this garden
where you hid behind the scenes.

But this pain is not for those
who come as lovers.
You are easy to fine here.
You are in the breeze
and in this river of wine.

Ahhh!

The Art of Adjusting II

I have just concluded three days of one of the most exquisite yoga trainings I have ever done with John Friend - the founder of Anusara Yoga - on the art of adjusting.

The Anusara community here in Florida is nothing short of outstanding. It is truly one of the most vibrant and welcoming groups I have ever encountered. They are serious and dedicated practitioners with very big hearts and I feel totally at home among them.

The sequences of poses we worked on over the course of three days were masterfully designed to open us energetically in very deep ways. As I reflect back on the course of the three days I realize that no pose we worked on was an accident - not even the pose John chose to adjust me in during a demonstration. I recognize the pose was meant to root and ground me more deeply in a time of much change and evolution.

When I woke up this morning, I noticed I that I carried my body differently and that certain patterns of behaviors - or samskaras - had some how been subtly alter…

The Art of Adjusting

This morning I began the first of a three day training on "The Art of Adjusting" with John Friend - the founder of Anusara Yoga - in Sarasota, Florida.

The venue is the Mote Center and we are practicing in a room surrounded by glass walls overlooking the bay. It is absolutely exquisite!

This event is being hosted by my first yoga teacher - Betsey Downing, a wonderful yogini who gave the most inspirational welcome and introduction. I have known her for 13 years and it has been a beauty to behold how she has blossomed as both a teacher and practitioner - always in search of deeper knowledge and growth with a beginner's mind.

It has also been wonderful to see old friends and be warmly embraced by the Sarasota Anusara community whom I had the pleasure of teaching and studying with on several occasions in the last couple of years.

We came together as a community on this first day and opened our hearts to one other. By the afternoon, even our chanting was so in sync.

I want to shar…

Inner Space

I have arrived in Sarasota for a week to primarily spend my time at an Anusara Yoga teacher training on "The Art of Adjusting." Since arriving I have taken a yoga class locally at a wonderful studio - Garden of the Heart Yoga, and have already seen many friends. I am looking forward to soaking in new insights and being nourished during this training over the next few days. More to follow on that.

But for now - more from Eckhart Tolle and The New Earth:

"Space consciousness means that...there is an undercurrent of awareness. Awareness implies that you are not only conscious of things..but you are conscious of being conscious...

Whenever you are upset about an event, a person, or a situation, the real cause is not the event, person, or situation but a loss of true perspective that only space can provide. You are trapped in object consciousness, unaware of the timeless inner space of consciousness itself. The words 'this too, shall pass,' when used as a pointer can re…

The Joy of Being

The more I delve into Eckhart Tolle's A New Earth - the more I realize how there is really nothing new under the sun - for the essence of his teachings mirror the essence of not only quantum physics, but many classic spiritual texts of the Eastern tradition - including the writings of Paramahansa Yogananda, and the Reiki practices and teachings I am immersed in. It is wonderful to see how it all comes together - and how everything reinforces everything else. At the same time, I find myself making many connections on so many different levels. It's almost like coming home...

Eckhart Tolle tells the amazing story of seeing Stephen Hawking while he was a student at Cambridge and not knowing at first who he was. This brilliant theoretical physicist has lived with ALS for a long time. But once, while Tolle held a door open for him, he looked into his eyes and was struck by the clarity of them. Tolle was moved hearing that when asked about his life, Hawkings once responded: "Who …

i carry your heart

Yesterday, I was reminded of one of my favorite poems by e.e. cummings...

I heard a brief reference to it - as a joke in a movie - and it made me want to look it up again. While it is often trivialized - I find that it is beautiful in its simplicity and I reproduce it here:

i carry your heart with me (i carry it in my heart)
i am never without it (anywhere i go you go, my dear;
and whatever is done by only me is your doing, my darling)
i fear

no fate (for you are my fate, my sweet) i want
no world (for beautiful you are my world, my true)
and it's you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life; which grows
higher than the soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart

i carry you heart (i carry it in my heart)
- e.e.cummings

I was fascinated when I did a google search of this poem to…

The Breath, Silence, and Appreciation

Eckhart Tolle says, that taking one conscious breath is a meditation...

How often do we consciously breathe?

Yesterday, I reviewed some things I wrote and collected three years ago, and I was struck by this quote that I remember using in a class I taught back in the Spring of 2005:

"Just follow the breath.
Learn it.
Taste it.
Feel it.
Surrender to it.
Let the breath be you.
Feel yourself the breath.
Melt.
Fuse.
From the sleeping state
to the waking state.

Let yourself be taken to God."

And some other quotes, also used in classes:

"The distant shores of silence
begin at the door.
You cannot go there like a bird.
You must stop,
look deeper, still deeper,
until nothing deflects the soul
from the deepmost deep."
- John Paul II

"Every time you appreciate something,
every time you praise something,
every time you feel good about something,
you are telling the Universe:
'More of this please!'
A desire to appreciate is a very good first step...
and as you want to feel appreciation,
you att…

Blessings Abound Everywhere

Blessings abound everywhere...

If we have the eyes to see...And the ears to hear...

This week, between teaching sessions, I have enjoyed walking the labyrinth, seeing friends, strolling by the waterfront in Old Town Alexandria, napping, reading a novel, and being touched by a number of programs.

I continue to listen to the web casts on A New Earth and find myself more and more deeply engrossed in them.

Earlier this week I saw Oprah interview Vivian Stringer, the basketball coach who just wrote her memoirs, Standing Tall. She coached many women's teams to victory - but more importantly than that - mentored many young women. Her own life was struck by much personal tragedy - including a disagnosis of breast cancer - which she shared with no one but a stranger so as to not inflict more pain on her children and family, particularly after the loss of her husband.

I was moved by her courage, and strong principles. Many will remember that her team was humiliated by insensitive comments made …

The Pain-Body

One of the most interesting and thought-provoking discussions to come out of Eckhart Tolle's A New Earth, is the acknowledgment that we all have a pain-body.

Tolle explains how the voice inside our heads often takes on a life of its own. Many of us are trapped in our thoughts and we tend to re-hash the things that happened in the past over and over again. Our bodies respond to these thoughts with emotions - and our feelings may often be registered physically before we are even aware of them.

Negative emotions are toxic and they interfere with balance and harmony in our lives.

Tolle points out that the energy field of emotions that are still living inside of us is what constitutes the pain-body, and it is a reflection of our egoic state.

Besides our individual pain-bodies - many of us all participate in collective pain bodies by virtue of our race, gender, ethnicity, and even family. We have an "en-coding" that can be passed on from generation to generation.

I had an interesti…

The Inner Body

Eckhart Tolle, in his book - A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose - speaks of feeling the inner body as a way of connecting to the present moment.

You can experience the inner body simply by focusing on your hand - and feeling the energy there - your hand perhaps tingling with warmth or some other sensation.

Later, you can focus your awareness on other parts of your body where the experience of aliveness might be more subtle. In some meditation traditions, one learns to literally "hear" the blood rushing through the veins, or the cerebral spinal fluid coursing through the spine.

Focusing on the breath however, is a simpler way to bring oneself back to the present moment - it is more accessible and does not require years of practice. This simple technique can quickly bring us into stillness - and automatically connect us to the present moment.

Tolle's discussion on the inner body made me think of the First Universal Principle of Alignment in Anusara Yoga - "…

A New Earth

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Like millions of others, I have been reading Eckhart Tolle's A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose - and following the weekly 90 minute web cast on the book hosted by Oprah.

This is a book that is meant to transform lives - it enables the reader to live more consciously and fully in the present moment - resulting in a lack of identification with the ego.

Tolle reminds us that life will always give us whatever experiences we need in order for our consciousness to evolve. His book also shows us how to cultivate a deeper awareness in our lives by living more fully in the present moment and ceasing to identity with form. When we move towards formlessness, we move into the realm of Being.

I am amazed by the depth of the questions asked during this web cast - and by the sheer numbers of individuals who are resonating with this book. One person recently described it as a manual for life. Everyone has recognized what an unprecedented event this is - with individuals from every co…

Compassion

For the last several days I have been appropriately reading different selections on the topic of compassion from Paramahansa Yogananda's writings. Here are a few of these selections I have found memorable, useful, and inspirational:

"Compassion towards all beings
is necessary for divine realization,
for God Himself is overflowing
with this quality.
Those with a tender heart
can put themselves
in the place of others,
feel their suffering,
and try to alleviate it."

"O Lord of Compassion,
teach me to shed tears of love
for all beings.
May I behold them as my very own--
different expressions of my Self.

I can easily excuse my own faults;
let me therefore quickly forgive
the failings of others.
Bless me, O Father,
that I not inflict on my companions
unwelcome criticism..."

"Thy divine light is hidden
in even the most vicious...man
waiting to shine forth
under the proper conditions:
the keeping of good company
and ardent desires of self-betterment.
We thank Thee that no sin is unforgivab…