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Showing posts from March, 2008

Balancing and Healing

Yesterday I had the pleasure of spending the day with Todd Norian, a gifted Anusara Yoga teacher, for a workshop on arm balances and backbends, and another on therapeutics.

This morning, as I was reviewing my notes, I delighted in the beauty and simplicity of his insights and the wonderful experiences I had yesterday in the local Anusara community.

In the morning, I shared with a wonderful teacher some of the misalignments and pains I experienced in my body. She made sure that Todd came around and worked with me in several assists that shed a lot of light and insight into my practice. I was also able to partner up with other experienced teachers who worked with me. I was so touched by the love and compassion and encouragement that was so selflessly extended to me. Though as Todd noted, all were being supportive of one another.

Here are some of things that Todd shared:

Why do angels fly? Because they take themselves lightly...You have to be willing to be silly in practicing these challeng…

Rumi: Awakened by Beauty III

The conclusion to yesterday's entry by Kabir Helminski:

Rumi was was left with a profound, continuing awareness of the awesome love at the heart of existence...

Despite his great loss, Rumi was intoxicated with the realization that love was everywhere and in everything, working its own purpose...

Rumi also had this sober intelligence that was capable of formulating a wisdom teaching, which would become a guide for the soul's journey...

And the point of every story and poem, the essence of every page, is a reality not necessarily evident to the senses, nor the intellect, but apparent to the heart:

That all of existence is the creation of love, and the purpose of that love is to reveal itself in the full magnitude of its beauty and generosity.

...He did reveal that love is the only teacher and that the lessons of love are the most significant in our lives. He demonstrated that one could live through the greatest tragedy imaginable and still trust and be true to that love...


The Pull of…

Rumi: Awakened by Beauty II

Again, here is a continuing excerpt from the article: "Rumi: The Way of the Lover," by Kabir Helminski, in the April 2008 Issue of Spirituality and Health:

Rumi knew deep in his heart, that the love he was experiencing was leading him back to the deepest level of himself and his own intimate connection with the divine...

Rumi and Shams gave themselves...to a spiritual relationship - not a relationship in which one ego fed and flattered..but a relationship that would tear each other down to his essence. Shams knew the secret of love is in...dying.


You have suffered much agony, but you are still behind a veil,
because dying was the one thing needed, and you
haven't fulfilled it.
Your agony will not end until you die...
Let your candle be extinguished in the dawn!
Know that as long as our little stars are visible,
the Sun of the world has not appeared.
Wield the mace against yourself:
shatter egoism to pieces.


The encounter of Rumi and Shams is something rare in human spiritual histor…

Rumi: Awakened by Beauty

From the article - "Rumi: The Way of the Lover," in Spirituality and Health (April 2008) by Kabir Helminski:

In the Sufi universe...beauty...awakens love. Rumi's own awakening took place in a scandalous relationship with Shams of Tabriz...

The scandal was that in a monotheistic context, in which idolatry was the greatest sin, Shams...became Rumi's God...Rumi sacrificed status...security, friendship, and family to give himself totally to this relationship:

I am in love with You.
What's the use of giving me advice?
I have already drunk the poison.
What's the use of candy?
They say, "Bind his feet in chains,"
but they can't bind up my crazy heart.


Shams had searched the world for one human being who was capable of receiving his message. Rumi was, above all, the one who was capable of receiving and passing it on to the world. They became like two divine mirrors, reflecting each other, inspiring each other to new levels of beauty and realization...


I could rea…

Rumi: The Way of the Lover

The April 2008 Issue of Spirituality and Health, has published a wonderful article about Rumi by Kabir Helminski, with some fresh translations of Rumi's Quatrains. Helminski has spend a lifetime studying the works of Rumi. This article contains a number of exquisite insights into the poet, and I would recommend any student and lover of Rumi's works to read it.

Here are some of the Quatrains for which Kabir Helminski offers a fresh translation. Some of them are well known:

Those sweet words we shared between us,
the vault of heaven has concealed in its heart.
One day, they will pour down like rain.
Our secrets will germinate in the soil of this universe.

***

Out beyond ideas of right-doing
there is a field. I will meet you there.
When the soul lies down in that grass,
the world is too full to talk about.
Ideas, language, even the phrase "each other"
doesn't make any sense.

***

Today, like every other day, we wake up empty
and frightened. Don't open the door to the study
and b…

The River and Rumi in Full Bloom

The river was in perfect stillness this morning...

I realized that in a few short weeks I would no longer be able to see across to the other side of the shore so easily - once the trees were all in bloom...

No longer would the river be stripped and raw - and naked - but clothed in majesty!

I sat and meditated on the first Reiki precept and chanted the first mantra as well in preparation for for my monthly trade of a massage (for me!) and a Reiki session for my friend Kelly B. - a gifted massage therapist who also literally brought me a whole class of wonderful women new to yoga - which I have the pleasure of teaching on Wednesday mornings. They have been a most delightful group!

As I enjoyed the crisp and clean air on the one quiet morning I have this week - I again reflected on Rumi who - as the book Call to Love by Andrew Harvey so aptly states:

"He knows everything about love...
All the suffering, all the ecstasy, all the beauty."

Here are a few more selections from that book:

In…

Call to Love

While I was in Charlottesville, I bought a wonderful book titled - Call to Love: In the Rose Garden with Rumi, by Andrew Harvey. I also read an article about Rumi I will be referring to in my next posts.

This small tome with exquisite photographs of roses by Lekha Singh, seemed an appropriate book to read and savor on a glorious weekend with so many trees in full bloom.

Here are some excerpts of these poems by Rumi:

The soul's extravagance is endless.
Spring after spring after spring...
We are your gardens dying, blossoming...

***

While the image of the Beloved burns in our heart
the whole of life flows in contemplation.
Wherever union with the Beloved exists
there is, in the middle of the house,
a flowering rose garden...

***

Love drives you mad
from revelation to revelation
through ordeal after ordeal
until humble and broken
you are carried tenderly
into the heart of the rose...

***

Before a flower can open in the rose garden
thousands of thorns come to pierce it.
Although the soul has received only …

The Yoga of Jesus

Image
There is a wonderful review of The Yoga of Jesus: Understanding the Hidden Teachings of the Gospels, by Paramahansa Yogananda in the April issue of Spirituality and Health. The review was written by Kristine Morris and Erica Lee, and here is an excerpt from this review on this glorious Easter Sunday...

Paramahansa Yogananda, spiritual leader, author, and founder of the Self-Realization Fellowship, reveals the unity between yoga and the teachings of Christ. He shows that the mission of Jesus was to awaken consciousness of the divine in each of us, and this, he believes, is what is meant by the "second coming of Christ."

In this compilation of writings, previously published as the two-volume work The Second Coming of Christ: The Resurrection of the Christ Within You, Yogananda teaches that when Christ-consciousness awakens within us through meditation, we know in our very being that God is only a heartbeat away, to be met in the silence of the soul. The author states that "…

Spring Time in My Soul

This early afternoon, my husband and I, drove down to Charlottesville, VA - to spend Easter with our son. The drive down was sunny, warm, and beautiful - and cherry trees and and Bradford Pears were in full bloom upon our arrival.

Before leaving this morning, I checked my email and received a pleasant surprise. Friends in India, who have just launched a Ezine on Malayalam Literature and Arts, published a few of my poems. I reproduce them here:


Spring Time in My Soul

I sense new beginnings -
the seeds of spring
silently gestating
within my heart
and soul

buds,
noticeably evident
on limbs
impatiently waiting
to blossom
by the banks
of the river

winter ebbing -
not yet over,
though
it is already
spring time
in my soul


Transformation

Transformation
is a dance
between Being
and Becoming

The old self
was broken open

I give birth
to the True Self

In the Stillness
I come home
to the Sacred Source


Intersection

you and I
intersect
where Spirit
and matter
touch -
and where
illusion
dissolves
into
what is Real

For the web site to Kanikkon…

Intentions

There was much discussion about the Power of Intentions during the Reiki training I attended last weekend. Certainly many books have been written on the subject as well.

As I was cleaning out the papers on my desk - I found this from a newsletter sent by The Chopra Center in January:

Intentions are the seeds of consciousness, or spirit. They have infinite organizing power and orchestrate everything that manifests in the universe. Like real seeds, intentions can't grow if you hold on to them.

Letting go is planting them in the depths of your consciousness where they get the nourishment and support to grow and develop. The Law of Intention and Desire lays out the five steps for cultivating and fulfilling your intentions with effortless ease:

1. Center yourself in restful awareness. This means entering the gap or silent space between thoughts - that boundless, eternal field that is your essential Being. The most powerful way to enter the silence is through a regular meditation practice.

2…

Space and Connection

This morning I received via email the latest newsletter from the International House of Reiki. Two of the poems I wrote after the wonderful experience of taking the Shinpiden (Reiki III) training with Frans and Bronwen Stiene were published in it.

I am both honored and humbled!

Here are the two poems...


Space

we go into that
Space
of emptiness
and formlessness--
which is at its essence
non-dual
and unconditional

three days
of spiritual practice--
meditating,
chanting,
healing,
and letting go
of all that does not serve

in utter nakedness

we step into that
Space
that sustains
and animates
the Soul

Connection

kindred souls
on the journey--
we are,
dancing playfully
and delightfully
in each other's energy

our paths cross briefly
but brilliantly--
shared sparks
of the Divine

shared awareness
and insights,
mingling,
in a sacred gathering
made possible
by your generous and
compassionate heart
and God's
good pleasure

Drink Deep

I feel as if the last couple of weeks I have been invited to drink from a deeper well...

Here is another selection from Women Pray:

"O to continue to drink deep
of the streams
of the great salvation,
until I wholly lose the thirst
for the passing things of earth;
to live watching for my Lord,
to be wide awake when he comes,
to open to him quickly
and enjoy his likeness
to the full."
- Ann Grriffiths

It strikes me that this is a perfect reading for Holy Week...

What I Learned About Reiki

This morning I returned to the river after an absence of several days and I reflected on the incredible gift of an experience that I had received in the opportunity to study Reiki with Frans and Bronwen Stiene of the International House of Reiki in Australia.

Frans and Bronwen are the authors of the Reiki Sourcebook - which is the best resource on Reiki currently available.

Reiki is often translated as "Universal Healing Energy," and the way this healing modality was taught by Mikao Usui - its founder - and how it has been taught and practiced in the West is quite different.

Most of us in the West have learned Reiki as a method of hands on healing. But according to the way Usui taught, this was a secondary aspect that flowed from Reiki primarily being a spiritual practice.

I was moved beyond words as Frans went into a sacred space to do attunements and healings. He is one of the most grounded, compassionate, real, fun, and spiritually present persons I have ever met, and I feel …

Devotion II

Here is another excerpt from the writings of Mechthild of Magdeburg from the book Women Pray:

"Love penetrates the senses
and storms the soul
with all its power.

When love grows
in the soul,
then it rises up
with great longing to God,
and flowingly expands
to receive the miracle
that breaks in upon it.

Love melts through the soul
and into the senses.

And so the body too
gains its part
and conforms in all ways
to love."

- Mechthild of Magdeburg

Devotion

One of my favorite books is a small tome titled - Women Pray: Voices Through the Ages, from Many Faiths, Cultures, and Traditions, by Monica Furlong.

The following prayer is from one of my favorite medieval mystics - Mechtild of Magdeburg:

"And God said to the soul:
I desired you before the world began.
I desire you now
As you desire me.
And where the desires of two come together
There love is perfected.

Lord, you are my lover;
My longing,
My flowing stream,
My sun,
And I am your reflection.

It is a rare
and a high way,
Which the soul follows,
Drawing the senses after,
Just as the person with sight leads the blind.
In this way the soul is free
And lives without the heart's grief,
Desiring nothing but her Lord.
Who works all things well."

This prayer arose from a soul in deep devotion...

I was reminded several times this week about what devotion means, especially last night, as I sat in a meditation group led by Dr. Rick Levy, a gifted therapist, healer, and author of Miraculous Health: How to…

True Teachers

I received notice of the passing of a well known yoga teacher, Alice Slattery, who died rather unexpectedly.

A colleague in the Anusara Yoga community noted that this teacher impacted many lives:

"She is a wonderful reminder of how we as teachers
can and do make an impact on students' lives
even when we might not know it."

This quote exemplifies not only Alice's life - but that of all true teachers:

"True teachers
use themselves as bridges
over which their students cross;
Then, having facilitated their crossing,
joyfully collapse, encouraging them
to create bridges of their own."
- Nikos Kazantzakis

Let us today remember someone who created such a bridge for us.

But let us also remember to be that same kind of bridge for someone else as well - and thus leave this world a better one than the one we came into...

Contemplative Musings

I am graced with the opportunity to share aspects of my sitting practice with a contemplative...

I am reminded that:

"Meditation techniques
may bring you to the door
of Divine Presence,
but it is your love and devotion
that opens that door...

"Continue developing an inner relationship with God
so that you can perceive His deepening Presence..."

I am told:

"Call upon God and flood your heart
with His blessings!
Feel yourself showered by them!

Don't try so hard in your practice -
but have endless patience with yourself!

Enjoy the journey! And let go of the goal.
Be happy now - under all circumstances.
This is how we learn to be even-minded.

Learn selflessness
by giving up your own self interests..."

Beautiful words spoken
by an Instrument of God's Love...
A message sent from Heaven,
inviting deep reflection...

Peace Within

I am reminded by a friend - of these classic words by the Rolling Stones:

"You can't always get what you want,
but you always get what you need."

I reflect on so many messages coming to me from so many sources - not from the places I want - but from the unexpected ones that I need...

I review some email in a folder as I organize saved content on my computer and am led to one written almost three years ago, containing this stunning quote.

It was a message for then.
It is a message for now.
It is a message for always...

"May today there be peace within.
May you trust your highest power
that you are exactly where
you are meant to be.

May you not forget
the infinite possibilities
that are born of faith.

May you use those gifts
that you have received,
and pass on the love
that has been given to you.

May you be content knowing
you are a child of God.

Let this presence
settle into your bones,
and allow your soul
the freedom to sing,
dance,
and to bask
in the sun."
- Unknown

It is a message that…

The Long Time Sun

Friday night I had the sheer pleasure of experiencing "kirtan" again with Snatam Kaur and her band of friends who are doing a World Peace Tour of their music. They sat under a beautiful banner emblazoned with the words:

Peace in your heart,
Peace in your home,
Peace in the world.

Kirtan is a form of call and response chanting that is very healing and spiritual and sacred in nature. Snatam and her friends believe that kirtan is Divine Vibration at its essence - and that it can bring peace and healing to the planet.

Snatam sings like an angel and every time I hear her sing - I look forward to her improvisations on the lyrics.

These lyrics were added to Ek Ong Kar Sat Nam - a mantra which simply means that God is one:

"Ek Ong Kar
God is One.
Follow your heart,
Awaken your soul,
Fulfill your destiny."

This is certainly a beautiful message...

Snatam also led the children in a song that incorporated sign language. Here are the lyrics for that piece:

"When the sun shines,
The sun s…

Mahasamadhi II

Today is the Mahasamadhi of Sri Yukteswar who was Paramahansa Yogananda's own guru.

There was a very moving celebration of this great event at the local Self-Realization Fellowship community.

The lector this morning noted that Mahasamadhi means - ecstasy: It is the Union of Spirit with the Infinite. And furthermore, the Guru's energy and presence is more available to his devotees on this day.

Excerpts were read from the Autobiography of a Yogi - more specifically from chapters 40, 42, and 43. These chapters narrate the meeting of Yogananda and his guru after a separation of many years, his guru's passing, and his visitation from the other side some months later - which are among my favorite portions of the book.

These passages come from this wonderful tome. I have always found the first of these - words spoken by Sri Yukteswar to his disciple Yogananda - quite moving and comforting:

"I will be your friend
from now to Eternity,
whether you are on
the lowest plane,
or the highes…

Mahasamadhi

The river was still a little restless this morning and overflowing its banks. The boat launch was under water almost to the parking lot...

Debris still flowed downstream occasionally...

I felt the river was still purging...

Today is the anniversary of Paramahansa Yogananda's Mahasamadhi - when he consciously left his body after his work was done.

There are many wonderful and fascinating stories of great gurus and enlightened being leaving their bodies consciously in the book - Graceful Exits: How Great Being Die - written by Sushila Blackman.

In this gripping narrative, Blackman tells the death stories of Hindu, Tibetan, Buddhist, and Zen Masters and the often incredible circumstances surrounding their deaths. Blackman herself, died shortly after completing the book, in a manner that was no less graceful and beautiful.

The readings in Yogananda's Spiritual Diary for the week all focus on the "Guru-Disciple" relationship - which is considered a very sacred and special bond …

The River Prepares for Spring

The river is wider than usual and is overflowing its banks...

The water is murky and rushing downstream - urgently...

Huge pieces of debris are being carried away - tree trunks and limbs and all sorts of garbage...It is truly surprising to see all the things that are floating downstream with such incredible haste...

I have never seen the river like this before...It is truly in a purging mode - letting go of all that is not serving it and that occludes its beauty, it true nature, and silent stillness...

I try to look upstream and can see no end in sight to all the stuff that is being carried away...

The river - like the practice - is a metaphor for life - constantly providing lessons...

Thoughts come of Eckhart Tolle's book - A New Earth - on the transformation of consciousness - and all that he wisely teaches about how the ego distorts and thwarts our consciousness and acknowledgment of the True Self...

More thoughts flow on how the essential yogic scriptures and teachings, and texts suc…

Expanding our Consciousness II

Concluding remarks to yesterday's blog and this week's theme:

The longer we practice - the more we learn about ourselves and our limitations and tendencies - and especially how we box ourselves in.

What happens on the mat is always a metaphor for what happens in our lives...

Listen to the following Yoga Sutras as interpreted and re-imagined by Nischala Joy Devi (1.18, 1.21, and 1.22):

"With continued awareness [and I would add practice], we identify only with pure consciousness residing in the heart.

To the dedicated and devoted, the Divine truth is revealed.

Spiritual consciousness develops in direct proportion to one's dedication."

Our consciousness expands as a result of our devoted practice. For some of us it may mean an asana practice or a meditation practice - or both. It is our dedication to this practice come rain or shine that will connect us to our hearts and open the door to transformative experiences in our lives over time...

Nischala Joy Devi shares these wo…

Expanding our Consciousness

This week I used the theme in my classes that I had used for an asana portion of my workshop on the YogaSutras last month:

Expanding Consciousness in the Heart Through Devoted Practice...

In order to deepen and embody greater Consciousness in the practice it is necessary to first consider why we practice yoga.

According to Anusara Yoga, we practice:
To know who we are - and to know the essence of our True Self - which implies that we must deepen and embody our conscious awareness of who we really are.And for the sheer delight and enjoyment of the practice.
Nischala Joy Devi in her book - The Secret Power of Yoga - which I referred to last month, notes that this secret power is knowing that we are really divine in nature - truly made in the image and likeness of God.

She interprets Sutra 1.2 beautifully from a more feminine and life-affirming perspective:

"Yoga is the uniting of consciousness in the heart."

"Chit" is the Sanskrit word for consciousness, and Nischala Joy Dev…

Open to Grace

My weekly planner had a nice explanation of Anusara Yoga for this past week. These are some excerpts from that book:

Start the week with Anusara Yoga, a heart-centered approach to your daily practice...

The practice centers on the Universal Principles of Alignment and [is] epitomized by a "celebration of the heart, as well as an acknowledgment of the good in all people and all things."

The poses in Anusara Yoga are expressed from the inside out with a deep awareness of specific postural alignment balanced with spiritual dedication.

On the mat, open yourself to grace with an intention to flow with the supreme consciousness. Approach each asana with an attitude of softhearted devotion. Draw muscular energy inward from the earth to increase energetic alignment, stability, and strength. Experience the energy spiraling inward and outward, from above and below, as it moves through your core.

Cultivate expansive awareness. Breathe flexibility and freedom into your poses. Imagine a warm…

Reflections on Effort and Consciousness

These quotes come from recent issues of The Inner Journey and relate to so much recently addressed on one level or another...

"It is not by your actions
that you will be saved,
but by your being."
- Meister Eckhart

"People ask
what must they become
to be loving.
The answer is 'nothing.'
It is a process of letting go
of what you thought
you had become
and allowing your true nature
to float to the surface naturally."
- Stephen Levine

"The greatest discovery
of my generation
is that man can alter his life
simply by altering
his attitude of mind."
- William James

"Utilizing your conscious mind
to direct subconscious mind
to enter into communication
and harmony with the universal mind -
is the secret of personal power."
- Delfin Knowledge System

Trust

I awaken early and sit in preparation for a long day...

First, meeting with a dedicated private student who is blossoming beautifully in her practice...she honors me with her yoga!

And then - initiating students into Reiki - the first of two groups this weekend...

It is a new day - and a new month...

It is finally March...

I can hear the birds as I sit...They seem full of joy and anxious for winter to be over...

I too, wish for "the winter of my discontent" to be over...

I check mail quickly and receive a newsletter from someone I have bought crystal bracelets from in the past...

If we trust - messages come from everywhere...

They come from wherever they need to come...

For me, that often means - in emails and unexpected places...

I read:

"Grace and abundance
surround me like a soft embrace,
the warmth I feel emanates
from the essence within.
I know no other feeling
but a deep sense of peace."

I know trust has not come easily of late...I mentioned it yesterday...

And then, in another…