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Showing posts from June, 2008

This Love Lasts Forever

Reveries of two powerful experiences chanting and meditating this last week haunt me, as a gentle breeze by the river this morning briefly refreshes...

Thoughts and deeply held impressions of the power of Divine Love drift in and out of my mind as I recall excerpts from a song that has been playing over and over in my heart and soul...

"I feel it now, it's all around me
a silent voice I can't deny...

I close my eyes, it takes me over
a memory deep down in my soul.
And safe from harm
to be beside you.
Our light will shine upon the world.

It will last forever (this love)
It will never fade away (this love)
Never cause me pain (this love)."

So true, for Divine Love is the only constant - throughout decades and across lifetimes...

("This Love", A Hundred Thousand Angels, Bliss, 1999)

Gayatri Mantra

A group of dedicated yoginis convene in a sacred circle to chant the Gayatri Mantra...

It is perhaps the oldest prayer and chant, from the most ancient sacred text - the Rig Veda - and it has been intoned for countless centuries...

I marvel at the convergence of gifted and beautiful women I met at different times, in different circumstances, and in two studios. By Divine grace their lives have intersected. God simply scooped them all up and brought them all together to join in spiritual practice. I am awed beyond words by this.

Healing energy moves gracefully throughout the heart-felt chanting, embracing all of our stories, issues, and needs - and riding on the very breath of God...

om bhur bhuvah svah
tat savitur varemyam
bhargo devasya dhimahi
dhiyo yonah prachodayat

It is translated in many different ways:

"May the almighty God
illuminate our intellect
to lead us along the righteous path."

"Oh God! Thou are the Giver of life!
Remover of pain and sorrow,
The Bestower of happiness…

Riding the Currents of the Breath

Last night I visited the class of a very gifted teacher on the other side of the river...

It was a 7:30 PM class that was virtually packed and I later found out that some had been attending this class for years...

The class focused on the breath and included instructions on activating the various bandhas or locks as well as a number of pranayama techniques.

This teacher normally teaches an almost identical sequence of poses from week to week but with a different emphasis each time. Students have told me that throughout a session they embody the practice very deeply and that the experience is truly transformational.

We were invited to connect deeply with the breath in very subtle and energetic ways and to explore areas of resistance within our bodies. With every inbreath - particularly in challenging poses, backbends, or balance poses involving longer holds, we received very poetic instructions to expand - receive - and catch the waves - and ride them powerfully as we deepened in the pose…

Seasons Within Seasons

The insight comes - there are seasons within seasons in our lives, and lifetimes within lifetimes as well...

There are constant blessings to be found all around for those with the eyes to see and the ears to hear. Even adversity and challenges contain within the seeds of change and growth. There is always much we have to grateful for...

I thought of this as I meditated alongside a fellow devotee - feeling sweetly nourished in our shared practice yesterday evening. We were embraced by the powerful mantle of our meditation and the support of a sacred lineage of spiritual masters. We delighted in sharing experiences and stories.

This morning I read these words by Sri Yukteswar - Paramahansa Yogananda's own Master:

"Pain and pleasure are transitory;
endure all dualities with calmness,
trying at the same time to remove yourself
beyond their power..."

What wisdom in this phrase:
"Endure all dualities with calmness..."

As we move through the seasons within seasons in our lives,…

Wait and Wonder

I think of the impermanence of things and what comes and goes...

I think of a young, former student of mine - forced to sideline a surgical residency due to cancer...

I think of my cousin's only child - a son - deployed to Afghanistan...

I think of all the things we can't control in life and what is really ultimately important in life - not the pettiness that seems to be...

I think of a message received from a mentor last year:
"Stand tall in the light!"

And these words from two songs by Bliss waft into my heart and soul:

"In every broken dream there is a love
That is strong enough to heal the deepest hurt..."

"Here we go again, asking the same old questions
Facing the same stuff, wondering when its all gonna leave us alone
And here it comes again, denying we ever knew the truth
Well blame is a disease that separates you from love...
Well life is a disease that separates you from god

When you're down and formless as a cloud, drifting out to sea
Stay with the deep…

Limitless Beauty Within

Some beautiful quotes coming from several sources for this morning:

"At the heart of personality is the need to feel a sense of being loveable without having to qualify for that acceptance."
- Dr. Paul Tournier

"You, yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection."
- Buddha

"Limitless like the ocean are your excellent qualities."
- Dalai Lama

"Our inability to see beauty doesn't suggest in the slightest that beauty is not there. Rather, it suggests that we are not looking carefully enough or with broad enough perspective to see the beauty."
- Rabbi Harold Kushner

"The sun shines not on us but in us. The rivers flow not past, but through us, thrilling, tingling, vibrating every fiber and cell of the substance of our bodies, making them glide and sing."
- John Muir

"Every adversity, every failure, every heartache, carries with it the seed of an equal or greater benefit."
- Napoleon Hill

Creative Suffering

A dear friend and student sent these quotations from Joyce Rupp after having read the one posted a couple of days ago. They are a rich mine of wisdom insight, and comfort...

"When we learn how to say goodbye,
we truly learn how to say to ourselves and others:
'Go, God be with you.
I entrust you to God.
The God of strength, courage, comfort,
hope, and love, is with you.
The God who promises to wipe away all tears
will hold you close and will fill your emptiness.
Let go and be free to move on.'"

"When our suffering refines us
in such a way that it leads to inner change
and transformation that positively affects our lives
or that of others,
it becomes creative suffering."

Expansion III

The river is a constant. It supports and sustains. It receives all the prayers and meditations of my heart...

I sit in meditation against the lone bench by the river launch and expand my back body and receive its support...

Expansion

the side body
rises--
to meet the kiss
of the inner body
expanding brightly

breath sent
to the back body
opens--
and inflates kidneys,
and for the first time
I understand
what it means
to express the pose
and the practice
from the inside

Weaving of Our Days

On this early Sunday morning, before I leave to teach a workshop in Annapolis on the Bhagavad Gita, I read this quote by Joyce Rupp in an article written by a nun whom I have known for more than half of my life:

"When did you first weave
your way into my life, Beloved?...
I do not know the precise moment.
Perhaps there never was one.
More, it seems to me are
the countless ways you enter,
thread by thread,
the pattern of my days."

In our busyness and commitments and responsibilities, years will spill into years, hardly noticed or marked, unless we consciously sanctify that time. In Sr. Mary Frances' words:

"The weaving of our days continues,
and we pray for the Grace to recognize
the Beloved in each strand."

Child

I awake in the silence of the early morning and offer prayers for a child I love very much.

She is forever in my heart and soul...

Love, and Divine Presence flood my soul and a song reminds me of this beautiful child on such a magnificent morning, without a cloud in the sky - and so full of promise...

Child

Check, whose smile do you wear?
Whose words do you speak and do you walk them well?
Ask your heart, do you know who I am?
Do you hear the child who wants to run with the wind?

Joy, do you know how it tastes?
Do you know how you feel, right here, right now?
Ask your heart, where did I go?
Can you find the child who wants to run with the wind?

Take a glimpse of God along the horizon
Know that somewhere there's a place called home
Hear the message from the corridors of heaven and go Running safely
To the arms of the one you love

Dance, let 'em know who you are
Wear your love on your sleeve and diamonds in your eyes
Tell your heart, I know who I am

You will hear the child who runs with the wind
Y…

Expansion II

Life is a series of experiences of contraction and expansion. It is reminiscent of two of the principles of Anusara Yoga - Muscular Energy and Organic Energy. In the first, you hug the muscles to the bones, and draw energy from the periphery to the core - and towards the midline - allowing it to pool into the focal point of the pose. In the latter - you extend out from that focal point organically - yet not letting go of the action and experience of drawing in.

Indeed, all of the Universal Principles of Alignment of Anusara Yoga embody this constant oscillation between expansion and contraction. it is nothing more and nothing less than the dance of our spirits.

When we venture forth - when our spirit soars - we still have to draw into ourselves, tapping into that limitless reservoir that is our Essence. It is here where the Divine resides within us. Jesus did say - "The kingdom of Heaven is within you."

But there is always this dance - between drawing in and expanding. This is …

Returning Home

Every morning I approach the river with a certain expectation. What will it look like today? I have photographed the river in so many different moods and seasons. I crane my neck to see up ahead as I come around the bend - wondering if the waters will reflect the state of my soul...

The translation of an Indian poem wafted through my soul as I connected to my memories of the river later in the day. My quotidian sojourn to the river is like returning home to my soul...

I imagined these words being sung to God...

Returning Home

Sometimes I remember that moment
That moment
When the one entered my life
And made me belong to him

He taught my heart to sing
He taught my mind to fly

When the dark night surrounded me
That is when He called for me
Come child come
Return to your home
Return to your home

I resisted
I turned my face away
And yet He never left me
He called out to me again and again

He never turned His face away
He remained my true support

With His vision He carried me far beyond
He gave me care
He gave m…

Boundless Like the Ocean

Yesterday, I began my morning meditation with this beautiful quotation from Paramahansa Yogananda:

"The Ocean of Spirit has become the little bubble of my soul. Whether floating in birth, or disappearing in death, in the ocean of cosmic awareness the bubble of my life cannot die. I am indestructible consciousness, protected in the bosom of Spirit's immortality."

Later in the day I received these quotes from The Inner Journey:

You Are Bigger Than You Think

"He who would be serene and pure, needs but one thing, detachment."
- Meister Eckhart

We are the ocean - vast, deep, powerful and rich. Nourishing and nurturing. Dive down into the dark stillness of being. Sense the rising and falling of surface thoughts and emotions, sometimes gentle, sometimes violent. Always shifting. Always in motion. Draw back and watch the waves of your life at play. Know you are the unfathomable depths - surface agitations can't disturb you. Know that you are bigger than the little things…

Deep Healing Waters

Last night, late into the night, but before midnight meditation, I re-read portions of the book, Deep Water Passage: A Spiritual Journey at Midlife, by Ann Linnea.

I read this book more than a decade ago I believe, when I was about to turn 40. I realize now, so much was lost on me at that time. There were experiences I had not had yet.

Ann Linnea, the author of the book, decides to kayak around Lake Superior during the summer of '92 after the loss of her best friend, and during a time she was also facing some critical issues in her marriage and life.

I thought of the book this morning down by the river after I finished my customary river prayers and meditations. The recent interest in taking up kayaking by different friends urged me to find this forgotten volume among my stack of treasured books.

During a particularly dangerous phase of paddling on the lake and coming close to losing her life, Linnea calls a friend from a pay phone and shares her experiences, her vulnerability, and he…

The River in Silent Summer Stillness

It was as quiet and still down by the river as I had seen it in a long time. It felt truly delicious and was exactly what I needed this morning.

The clouds and the trees on the banks of the far side of the river were vividly reflected in the water. The inlets and coves on that side seemed less distant - and yielded richer details. I could see all the way down to the riverbed. Everything was crystal clear - like the goal in meditation. If only my mind and heart were so still. It was silent except for the joyous chirping of birds. I enjoyed this silence and let it envelop me and my thoughts.

Silence is such an important part of the spiritual journey. Interior growth often takes place in the heart of silence. I find myself called to increasingly greater silence in my life.

Here are some quotes on silence:

"Growth takes place in a person by working at a deep inner level in a sustained atmosphere of silence."
- Dr. Ira Progoff

"Only when one is connected to one's own core is o…

The Innermost Heart

As I prepare for a workshop on the Bhagavad Gita, I decided to review some new translations and editions of this timeless classic, and have been particularly moved and entranced by Graham M. Schweig's new translation - Bhagavad Gita: Tthe Beloved Lord's Secret Love Song.

His textual illuminations were brief but packed with delicious insights and so many priceless gems. It inspired this poem:

The Innermost Heart

The Supreme Secret
of the Bhagavad Gita
Is God's yearning
for the love of souls

The Yoga of the Gita
Is nothing more
And nothing less--
Than the Yoga of the Heart

The heart is a hermitage,
And within our innermost heart and realm--
Is our most Secret Chamber
And Sanctuary for the Beloved,
Where Divine yearning for our love
Is fully consummated

Herein lies the Supreme Secret
Of the Gita:
We are loved fully,
Deeply,
And unconditionally by God:
No other love satisfies.

When we listen
To the sweetly intoxicating
And Immortal Song
Sung by the Beloved,
We are passionately driven
To commune in the m…

Say Good Morning to God!

I wake at early dawn - my heart full and heavy with thoughts and memories...

I prepare to meet a wonderful student who graciously travels from afar to deepen her practice. We have both grown together - she and I - as a practitioner and a teacher.

My student blossoms
and beautifully opens
in Trikonasana,
strongly rooting
and arching into a backbend--
her fingers shining brightly

She roots
and explodes radiantly
and organically
in exquisite body prayer,
as her voice spontaneously
and blissfully proclaims:
"Say good morning to God!"

There Are No Limits

These wonderful quotes were received today from The Inner Journey and I found them so appropriate. They are wonderful reminders that so much more is possible - if only we dare to seek it and allow it...

"If you're proactive, you don't have to wait for circumstances or other people to create prospective expanding experiences. You can consciously create your own."
- Steven Covey

"Nothing is lost upon a man who is bent upon growth; nothing wasted on one who is always preparing for life by keeping eyes, mind and heart open to nature, men, books, experience - and what he gathers serves him at unexpected moments in unforeseen ways."
- Hamilton Wright Mable

"Nurture great thoughts, for you will never go higher than your thoughts."
- Benjamin Disraeli

Every Minute is Eternity

I spent a very long time down by the river this morning after meditation, pondering things in my tender heart, and revisiting the changes that began about a year ago in my life. I could never have imagined I would be where I am now. I thought of loss experienced at so many levels - but how loss is necessary for growth sometimes.

I looked with longing to the other side of the river wondering what was on that side - almost wishing I had telescoping eyesight. What treasures and secrets might be hidden on that side?

I observed the furtive squirrel that approached me with trepidation, and the bird that eyed me from its precarious perch.

And I also thought of this wonderful quote by Paramahansa Yogananda which brought so much solace and how it contained layers upon layers of insights to unpack:

"Every minute is eternity
because eternity can be experienced in that minute.
Every day and minute and hour is a window
through which you may see eternity.
Life is brief, yet it is unending.
The sou…

Peace All Around III

The readings on peace in the Spiritual Diary of Paramahansa Yogananda have drawn to a close. And yet the theme continually crops up for me - even though peace has been a bit more elusive of late.

I managed to find a bit of it down by the river early this morning - despite the many motor boats I now realized I would have to learn to co-exist with during the lazy and hazy summer months.

Here are some of Yognanda's wise insights on the state of peace:

"Live each present moment completely and the future will take care of itself. Fully enjoy the wonder and beauty of each instant. Practice the presence of peace. The more you do that, the more you will feel the presence of that power in your life."

"The peaceful individual remains calm until he wants to work...You must always be calm, like the pendulum that is still, but ready to swing into action..."

"Affirm divine calmness and peace, and send out only thoughts of love and goodwill if you want to live in peace and ha…

Bloom Where You Are Planted

Yesterday I encouraged my students to bloom where they are planted. This theme followed the previous week's theme of planting seeds.

We may not always choose the set of circumstances we are in. But we can always choose to bloom where we are planted.

When we have tilled the fertile soil of our hearts and planted seeds which then germinate under proper care, blooms will emerge at the most opportune time.

We cannot always choose what our life will look like - or control what happens - but we can always choose how we react to things. We can accept what is - and recognize the wisdom of Divine intervention and forces unseen, constantly at work in our lives.

True happiness and peace arises when we accept things as they are as the great "Serenity Prayer" by the theologian Reinhold Neibuhr so wisely states:

"God, grant me the serenity
to accept the things
I cannot change;
courage to change
the things I can,
and the wisdom
to know the difference."

This is the part of the prayer we a…

The River in Summer Heat

It was very hot when I went down to the river this morning. I couldn't help but think of the times last fall and winter when it was so windy and cold that it cut through me like a knife.

I watched a lonely kayaker launch herself into the water and quickly disappear. I wondered what it would be like to be somewhere in the middle of the river or a more isolated place along its banks and just simply meditate - surrounded by nothing more than the water, the sky, and the birds. I imagine it would be simply delicious.

Recently, I had a young and beautiful yogini friend who regularly leads yoga and kayaking retreats in Mexico tell me she would teach me this sport. She said - if I was going to learn how to do it - I might as well learn the right way. I wonder if I am showing my ignorance by asking - how difficult can it be to learn how to do this?

Yesterday we went to pick up some furniture at an outdoors supply store for our deck - and I was fascinated by the diversity of kayaks displayed o…

Change and Standing Still

This morning, as I read the paper, I was struck by these two paragraphs in Hillary Clinton's historic concession speech after her quest for the Presidency of the United States came to an end:

"When you hear people saying, or think to yourself, 'if only' or 'what if,' I say - please don't go there. Every moment wasted looking back keeps us from moving forward...

Life is too short, time too precious, and the stakes are too high to dwell on what might have been. We have to work together for what still can be."

While she was speaking of her own experience of losing the nomination, it was evident that there were incredible lessons in there for all of us.

How many times do we ask ourselves - "what if?"

How often do we spend our time looking back - not only dwelling on the past - but consumed by it? Life is truly too short to limit ourselves and the endless possibilities that exist for us by looking back and over-analyzing events - something I have alwa…

The Four Agreements

A wonderful student and friend reminded me after my posting on Gandhi's 10 Fundamentals to Change the World, that these principles bore a lot of similarity to the basic tenets of The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz - a book that was very popular a few years back. So I will summarize the points here:

1. Be Impeccable With Your Word
Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love.

2. Don't Take Anything Personally
Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won't be the victim of needless suffering.

3. Don't Make Assumptions
Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness and drama. With just this one agreem…

A Journey of the Heart

Yesterday, on a warm day, as I drove around between acupuncture and rolfing appointments with my windows open, while sipping on the free smoothie I had just earned - I thought to myself: "It doesn't get any better than this!"

There was no other moment than this one, as I listened to selections from the soundtrack of Sex in the City: The Movie. One beautiful song filled and overwhelmed my soul and my senses as I zeroed in on the lyrics. This delicious song, exploded with beauty and sensuality and conveyed the essence of the group's name: Bliss! I couldn't get enough of it as I played it over and over again...

Kissing

"The red light of the sun
slowly descending,
The sky is all I see,
it is never ending.

We could fly,
You and I.
On a cloud,
kissing, kissing

The wind plays with the leaves,
The weather turns colder,
But as long as we believe,
Love doesn't get older.

We could fly,
You and I.
On a cloud,
kissing, kissing.

On a journey of the heart,
there's so much to see.
And …

Gandhi's 10 Fundamentals for Changing the World

I found this gem buried in a newsletter I received from the Institute for Noetic Sciences. It comes from a blog that elaborated on these 10 fundamental principles that Gandhi extolled for changing the world. Here is summary of those principles with accompanying quotes from Gandhi's writings...

1. Change yourself.

"You must be the change you want to see in the world."

"As human beings, our greatness lies not so much in being able to remake the world - that is the myth of the atomic age - as in being able to remake ourselves."

2. You are in control.

"Nobody can hurt me without my permission."

3. Forgive and let it go.

"The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong."

"An eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind."

4. Without action you aren't going anywhere.

"An ounce of practice is worth more than tons of preaching."

5. Take care of this moment.

"I do not want to foresee the future. I a…

Being Peace

I continue to read Yogananda quotes on peace - and it seems this theme, virtue, or quality keeps coming up for me, everywhere I go, and in everything I read.

Last night I received the latest newsletter from the Chopra Center, and it too - focused on peace. In fact, the suggestion was made that if everyone forwarded the newsletter to at least five people, in literally no time at all, millions will have been touched by a piece of peace. I will include the link to the newsletter so that you may read it in its entirely and pass it on.

The newsletter contained this quote from Lao Tzu:

"If there is to be Peace in the world,
There must be Peace in the nations.

If there is to be Peace in the nations,
There must be Peace in the cities.

If there is is to be Peace in the cities,
There must be Peace between neighbors.

If there is to be Peace between neighbors,
There must be Peace in the home.

If there is to be Peace in the home,
There must be Peace in the Heart."

And as the newsletter notes:

"If…

Planting Seeds

This morning, as I shared coffee with a friend on her wonderful porch and related to her the many blessings I had experienced in the last few months, I was reminded of the theme I had chosen this week for my yoga classes - "Planting Seeds..."

A seed represents pure potentiality. Eventually a seed becomes a tree which in turn blossoms. There are times in our lives which are appropriate for the planting of seeds - which are representative of pure potentiality. The yogic sages teach that we have within us everything that we need at any given given moment to know what we need to know and do what we need to do...

Seeds can blossom through a dedicated practice - giving life and self-expression to the pure potentiality that is contained within. As I watched my students practice, this was so evident to me. I invited them to till the soil in the back doors of their hearts and to prepare the beds for these seeds to explode in the self-expression of the pure potentiality within their liv…

Peace All Around II

There is no greater gift I believe - than the gift of peace....If you have peace - you have everything, for it truly colors everything.

On this beautiful and magnificent morning I stole a few moments before my morning classes and went down to the river anticipating a delicious time meditating. But it was not quite to be. It seemed every rescue truck in the area had gathered for the practice of some maneuvers or something. I walked around for a few moments, but it was not the quiet place I had imagined...Still, there was some semblance of peace there, and the beauty and radiance of the morning was simply beyond words.

I began my morning meditation by reading these inspired words by Paramahansa Yogananda:

"Peace is found in surrender to good through devotion.
People who are loving, who practice stillness,
who delight in meditation and good actions,
are really peaceful.
Peace is the altar of God,
the condition in which happiness exists."

May you find, experience, taste - and give and ex…

Peace All Around

What a wonderful way to start a new month - with feelings of deep, abiding peace all around!

The morning is quiet and pleasant - and more blooms are emerging in my garden...

Soon, we will take my son out for brunch on this, his 23rd birthday!

I begin the morning with these wise and beautiful words from Paramahansa Yogananda on the fruits of a dedicated meditation practice:

"Fix your mind inwardly between the eyebrows [as in meditation] on the shoreless lake of peace. Watch the eternal circle of rippling peace around you. The more you watch intently, the more you will feel the wavelets of peace spreading from the eyebrows to the forehead, from the forehead to the heart, and on to every cell in your body.

Now the waters of peace are overflowing the banks of your body and inundating the vast territory of your mind. The flood of peace flows over the boundaries of your mind and moves in infinite directions."
- From Metaphysical Meditations