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Showing posts from September, 2008

Surrendering to the River in Fog

I arise and meditate in the sheer anticipation of launching into the fog soon - something I have never done before - knowing that Grace and I will offer ourselves to this enveloping and swirling veil, so symbolic, on so many levels...

I launch into the river on a crisp and cool morning with a fog so thick I cannot see to the other side. I begin to paddle and am startled by a large bass that jumps out along the left side of Grace. It looks me in the eye - and I am momentarily confronted by my fears. I want to hug the shoreline and do so for a while, but the fog is calling me to join it, much deeper within...

I know my island is on the other side and I must go, so I let go of holding on - and paddle into the thick mist. If this is not surrender, I don't know what is...

I let go - I go in - I open to grace...

I paddle upstream for a while navigating the waters of my life and watching the misty fog dance and skip on the surface of the river accompanied by a flock of black birds - willing …

Let Go of Holding On

I go to the river - compelled by a force and an urge greater than myself and which I cannot resist, even though the river is murky, and dirty and filled with debris. I cannot see to the bottom, yet the clouds overhead are reflected in the dark and opaque waters.

If the river is a metaphor for my life - is this another sign? All of my intuitive friends would unanimously agree it is so...

I see one heron flying off - but I do not think it is the one I have connected with because it is no where near the place he usually inhabits. I do not see him today - but I think I hear him calling out to me when I paddle back to the launch area ...

I paddle upstream, somewhat repelled by all the debris floating on the surface as I repeat a line from my entry yesterday:

"Let go of holding on--
and hold on to letting go..."

I repeat it over and over again as I paddle. It is a mantra. So simple, but so hard to practice and embody...

I reach my favorite spot and meditate for a while and then float dow…

A Beautiful Intention

I received this recently in an email. It contains some beautiful thoughts...

Choose Once Again...
To be Well in a world that idolizes disease...
To be Happy in a world full of sorrows...
To be Free in a world of apparent bondage...
To extend Constant Blessings in a world that condemns...
To be Joy-Full in a world of pain...
To Feel Time-less in a world bound by time...
To Breathe in a world that attempts to take your breath away...
To be At Peace in a world at war...
To Live as an immortal Being
in a world of mortality.

Embrace your innate Holy-ness
by pouring Light and Love over and upon
all mundane things--
As you Awaken...
as you take care of your Holy Body Temple,
as you bathe, as you speak, as you eat and drink,
as you offer work, as you walk upon the earth,
as you encounter all living beings and things,
as you rest and sleep...
the way to overcome and transcend the world
and its illusory nature and limiting energies
is to experience every-thing and every-body
as sacred...a constant sacrament.
Let Forgiv…

Salutations and Meditations

I arise before dawn and yearn to go down to the river because there are always so many lessons for me there. As I shared with a friend earlier this week, in the midst of so much unsettling, the river is teaching me to go with the flow...

The morning starts out foggy, but quickly becomes muggy and I prepare for the joyous moments to come by delving into meditation...

My student arrives on her 60th birthday. She wants to begin her day and birthday celebration with a practice. I share with her my plans for her today - it is a practice that a dear friend shared with me a few years ago - that another dear friend in turn shared with her...I pass on the beauty of this practice that has now been passed on to many...

It is a practice done in silence...

Today is a day for giving thanks, for remembering, and for going deep within. I practice with her to offer my own support, but I also offer my own prayers - for my nephew on his birthday - and another friend turning 74 - while she dedicates her pra…

Darshan and Mahasamadhi

I still bask in the experiences of this week. Many special moments...

And today is another special day, for it is the Mahasamadhi of Lahiri Mahasaya, the Great Guru in Paramahansa Yogananda's lineage who was entrusted with bringing the gift of Kriya Yoga to laypersons for the first time. It was the deathless Avatar, Babaji, who came to Lahiri Mahasaya - himself a lay man - commanding him to share this sacred path that had previously only been disclosed to yogis advanced in the practice of meditation.

A "Mahasamadhi" is a conscious exit that a guru makes of the body, and the word itself means ecstasy. The Guru's energy and presence are available to the disciple in a very special way on this day.

Yogananda had these beautiful things to say about the guru-disciple relationship which I wrote about in March:

"The friendship that exists
between guru and disciple is eternal...

It is the duty of the guru and disciple
to be loyal to each other,
not only in one life,
but for many…

The Gift of Darshan

I went to the river very early this morning to launch myself and Grace.

It was cold and breezy and overcast - and the water was restless. Rain was in the forecast, so I wanted to beat the weather and get into the river as soon as possible.

Paddling was not effortless - and at one point it was actually work. I felt tossed around and wanted to hug the shoreline, tinges of fear surfacing.

I didn't manage to make it as far as I normally do, but I did approach the section of the island with beautiful wildflowers hoping to see the heron. I don't if it was "the" heron - but I saw one just moments later, surveying all that his eyes could see. I floated for a while, and then he flew off...

I have just had two of the most incredible days...

Yesterday I had the opportunity, the honor, and the gift to receive darshan with Mother Meera.

"Darshan" is translated commonly as: "to see with reverence and devotion." It literally means sight and implies receiving a glimpse…

Personal Power

This comes from the latest Inner Journey Newsletter:

"The deep root of failure in our lives is to think, 'Oh how useless and powerless I am.' It is essential to think strongly and forcefully, 'I can do it,' without boasting or fretting."
- Dalai Lama

Angeles Arrien says that whether we are male or female, we need to develop three kinds of power. People who hold these three powers cannot be ignored.

1. Power of presence - Being really present in each moment
2. Power of communication - Speaking my truth
3. Power of position - Being willing to take a stand

"A man's true state of power and riches is to be in himself."
- Henry Ward Beecher

"We are no longer puppets being manipulated by outside powerful forces; we become the powerful force ourselves."
- Leo Buscaglia

The Snake and the Mouse

My mother spent a lot of time with my two young nephews this summer - something that both of my parents do every year. Before she returned home, she told me a most amazing story.

My nephews decided that they wanted a snake as a pet, so they got one.

It turns out the snake needed to be fed a live mouse every week.

One week, the snake had a mouse placed in its cage that it did not eat. The days went by, and still the mouse remained in the cage. Over a period of about three weeks, the snake and mouse seemed to hang out together. They slept together, and literally seemed to have become friends!

Eventually, the snake was released into the yard because it would die if it did not eat. Since my sister and her husband own ten acres out in the country, this did not seem to be an issue. Once released, the snake took off and made himself at home in the broad expanse of tall grasses and trees in the back yard, and has not been seen since.

The mouse - on the other hand - remains in the cage, and is now …

River Thoughts II

This morning I made a quick stop at the river before going off to class to see what it was like. It had been foggy in the early morning, but by nearly 9:00 AM it had totally burned away.

The river was still - like a plate of glass - and I so longed to get in it. The river drew me - I could not go and teach before first seeing it and at least visually connecting with it. The river now sustains me, and indeed I feel, it animates my very soul. I watched longingly as one kayaker reverently launched himself into its healing waters in the process of deep cleansing.

I did return at 11:30 AM and the river was still like a plate of glass. As usual, I paddled upstream to my favorite spot, now taken over by the underwater grasses, which is supposed to be a good thing from what I read. Yet the insight that came to me was that these grasses seemed to be choking the river as much as some of my repetitive thought patterns were...

On the corner of the island that I usually pass, stood one lone blue hero…

Saying Yes to the Full Spectrum of Life

I got up very early this morning, and it was so foggy that for a moment I yearned to take Grace to the river. I have never been kayaking in the fog. It was so thick and misty, and seemed to swirl around magically like it had a life of its own.

But instead, I had the joy, pleasure and honor of subbing for large yoga classes at the studio across the river where I study. I realized it had been a year since I had taught a couple of groups of nearly 30 students and it was wonderful to see that I had not lost the ability to move around a room and quickly scan for the major mis-alignments and suggest the necessary adjustments. There is an energy that comes from being in a large group that I love.

It was the first class of the session, so the teacher had asked me to work on some variation of "Opening to Grace." I chose to focus on opening to grace as saying yes to the full spectrum of life.

When we say yes to to life - we say yes to everything - the things we like - and the things we d…

Yogananda Gems

Every day, I begin my morning meditation with a reading from Yogananda's writings. Here are a couple of recent gems:

"Your new work should be your only concern now. Do not feel attachment to the old. Accept changes with equanimity, and perform in a spirit of divine freedom whatever duties come your way."

"First meditate and feel the divine Presence; then do your work saturated with the consciousness of God. If you do this you will never become tired. If you work for your Divine Beloved, your life will be filled with love and strength."

The messages, are always timely...

River Meditation: "I and the Father are One"

As I mentioned in my posting yesterday, I love to meditate in a certain special spot in the river which I reach by paddling upstream. I do a special practice and then allow myself to float downstream for a while. At the end of my practice, I often repeat to myself, over and over again the following sacred mantra suggested by Yogananda:

"I and the Father are One."

It reminds me that I am one with everything - even when I do not feel this sense of oneness. I believe that the more I repeat it, the more I embody it, and the more my cells begin to receive and reflect this blessed message.

Yesterday I found myself adding the following to my meditation:

"I and the Father are One.
I and this river are one.
I and the herons are One.
I and the trees are One.

I am one with everyone.
I am one with those I love.
I am one with those I have difficulty with.
I am one with those I have hurt.
I am one with those that have hurt me.

I am one with my pain and my sorrow.
I am one with the pain and sorrow …

River Lessons

Today, as I met a dear intuitive friend for breakfast - someone I like to refer to as my "guardian angel" - I shared with her how the river has been the only constant companion in my life in the past year.

She nodded affirmatively, saying to me - "Yes, it ebbs, and flows, but it is always there."

This afternoon, when I got out into the river, I couldn't help but observe how dirty and murky the river has been. There is this residue clinging to the shores and sometimes floating on top of the river. It almost seems to to me as if the river is in the process of purging. According to the ancient Indian science of Ayurveda, it is important to detox and cleanse as one transitions from one season to another, so perhaps the river is preparing to enter deeply into the Fall. I have been thinking of how best to do this myself and once more, I found the river mirroring my own life and the state of my soul...

As always, I paddled upstream to meditate in my favorite spot and the…

Emotional Freedom

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The latest issue of the Chopra Newsletter is titled "Emotional Freedom" and it has this to say:

"Every emotion has a beginning and an end. Like an ocean wave, even the most painful feeling crests and dissipates. Even the happiest moment reaches a peak, then passes into memory. Emotional suffering only arises when, in our confusion, we block the natural flow of emotions by clinging tightly to resentment, grievance, and even desire.

Emotional freedom, on the other hand, is the ability to ride the waves of pain and pleasure without getting mired in either. Although this may seem like a special talent possessed by only a few, it is a process and a learnable skill. In this issue of Namaste, we invite you to explore the tools of emotional freedom...

In the yogic tradition, mudras are hand postures that direct the subtle flow of energy or prana throughout the body. Joining the hands and fingers in various configurations creates a circuit that allows energy to flow to different pa…

Embodying the Light III

Even in the midst of a busy day running errands, I found time to go to the river and launch Grace for the first time in a week at nearly 4 PM in the afternoon. The day was breezy and cloudy, but beautiful - as it always is - and quiet. I am amazed at how often I go to the river and do not find others there. Paddling was effortless, like delightful gliding, and meditating as I floated downstream did not disappoint!

Yesterday I noted how the ego resists embodiment as discussed by Stephan Bodian in his book, Wake Up Now. Today I will focus on what he suggests for supporting the embodiment process:

"...Full and complete embodiment is available right here and now when you let go, stop resisting and controlling life (including the so-called embodiment process), and allow everything to be just the way it is...

You can't 'do' letting go - it just happens naturally as the light of awakening illuminates the innumerable places where you're still holding on. If there's any s…

Embodying the Light II

It was good to go down to the river if only for a few minutes this morning and visit very familiar ground. It was very breezy and the water was choppy, which made me feel better about not being able to go in. I had a very busy day ahead.

In Wake Up Now: A Guide to the Journey of Spiritual Awakening - Stephan Bodian notes how the ego resists embodiment. As a therapist, he explains the role and function of the ego and how it can circumvent our awakening process and our ability to live authentic spiritual lives from a place of integrity.

"Pay attention and you'll notice how often you resist what is and try to get things to be different from the way they are. With friends and family, you may monitor your words and actions to make sure you elicit the love and approval you crave...Moving through your day, you may control the environment constantly to maintain the most comfortable state of body and mind...

...As awakening deepens and spreads and you live more and more consistently from…

Embodying the Light

Stephan Bodian, has a wonderful chapter in his book - Wake Up Now: A Guide to the Journey of Spiritual Awakening - titled - "Embodying the Light." I finally came around to finishing this book, having chosen to "savor" the final chapters. The trip to Palm Springs gave me the opportunity to finish this book and read Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor's My Stroke of Insight, which I will write about at some point.

The chapter in question in Bodian's book begins with this this wonderful quote that I think summarizes what many of us need to learn and "embody" if we are to live without suffering in our lives:

"When I cease to own (physical or emotional pain),
I liberate myself from its bondage
and see it simply as it is."
- Tony Parsons

I've chosen to highlight some of the sections of this chapter that I found particularly significant:

"Many seekers think of spiritual awakening as an instantaneous transformation that emerges fully formed and never devel…

Joshua Tree

We traveled to Joshua Tree National Park - where the Mojave Desert collides with the Colorado Desert - joining together as extensions of the greater Sonoran Desert - which embraces Arizona and Mexico as well.

It is a place of great silence and relentless sun - and it is very different from any of the parks I have ever seen - so many different and fragile eco-systems. The park is populated by a grand collection of Joshua Trees - very unique, and slow growing, as well as many varieties of yucca plants, and rock formations that are grand and overwhelming at times.

I found myself letting go of everything that had been pressing upon me for a while as I entered fully and deeply into the present moment and felt genuinely happy for the first time in a long while. Nature never ceases to amaze me. Every landscape is a unique canvas for the magnificent artistry of God.

"Happiness cannot be traveled to,
owned, earned, worn, or consumed.
Happiness is the spiritual experience
of living every minute…

Ol' Blue Eyes

My husband had a meeting today in what was once Frank Sinatra's compound in Palm Springs. In the afternoon, I joined him and others for a private tour of the place. It was fascinating indeed!

When Sinatra sold the place, he sold it with all its contents - and all his movie and music memorabilia as well. The walls of the many buildings in the compound were almost totally covered with posters, playbills, paintings of his friends, framed disks and album jackets. Sinatra's book collection was very telling as well. He had a fine collection of art books and enjoyed reading Michner and Morris L. West. One of the buildings had been transformed into an art studio and many of his own creations were framed.

The people in the group were more interested in seeing the room the Marilyn Monroe stayed in - complete with some of her dresses, shoes, and accessories hanging in a glass enclosed closet.

I found other things more interesting - such as the plaque on the door to Sinatra's bathroom. I…

Stuck in San Francisco

I shouldhave beenin Palm Springs by now. Unfortunately, the plane to San Francisco had mechanical difficulties and we had to switch planes after waiting on the plane for two hours. We missed our connection and were initially routed to Vegas - and then to Los Angeles before going on to Palm Springs. So much for a day there before my husband's meetings! It's made for a day of a lot of waiting!

As I was reading the "Home" section of the Washington Post this morning, my eye caught an article talking about painting a room yellow:

"Yellow is a color emblematic of transition...Yellow is a feel-good color..."

Humm...I sort of knew that...

Mellow Yellow

I spent the afternoon painting my bathroom the brightest, most intense yellow you have probably ever seen. One way my son describes it is as "highligher yellow." The other way he describes it is not fit for print.

Painting is very therapeutic and healing. I often do it when I need to shift things inwardly. Or, as a result of shifting things, painting will often follow.

Painting also draws one deeply into the present moment - the only moment there ever is...

"Why not concentrate on the now
instead of hoping for better times in the future?
Why not understand the now
instead of forgetting it and hoping for the future?
Isn't the the future just another trap?"
- Anthony De Mello

"Nothing is worth more than this day.
You cannot relive yesterday.
Tomorrow is still beyond your reach."
- Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe

The River is Wider

I got to the river later in the morning, hoping to beat the anticipated rain. The river was wider - but also very murky. It was hard to see inside of it. But once again, I was there by myself.

I can't begin to explain what it is like to be there - in the middle - to hold a blue heron's gaze - and hear nothing but an occasional fish flap in the water, the buzzing of insects, and various bird calls. Going to the river as much as possible - even for an hour - has become an imperative.

Grace was absolutely filthy when I pulled her out. I spent some time cleaning her up today. The murky water reflected to some extend how I have been feeling inside. Yet being in the river is always calming and grounding and a constant reminder of how lucky I am to be able to come and enjoy this beautiful landscape all by myself.

Respecting the River

Early this morning before going off to teach, I stopped off at the river. Because of all the rains, the rocks I normally sit on were totally submerged. On the other hand, the river was as still, and calm, and wide as I had seen it. When I first got there, it was misty and foggy on the other side, but then it gradually lifted. The water was like a plate of glass and I longed to get inside of it.

I did finally get into the river around 2:30 PM for about an hour. When I first got there, I heard a man instructing a couple of other guys in Spanish on how to use jet skies. But what impressed me was how he tried to convey a respect for the river. He emphasized a few times, how a lack of respect, particularly when using jet skies, could lead to a lethal situation.

He also noted how important it is to note the conditions of the river - something I try to gauge before going into the water myself. Knowing one's limitations and strengths are very important. And of course, playing it safe is al…

Seek Only Union

Yesterday I had both the pleasure and the honor of officiating at a friend's wedding. She is a beautiful and magnificent yogini and yoga teacher. We had to go with the flow and change plans because it had rained all day due to Hurricane Hannah.

While I waited for preparations to be completed, I spoke to the bride's dad for a while. He shared with me how he lives near Lake Michigan and I discovered he bought a kayak around the same time that I bought Grace. He was extremely interested in knowing how I felt the very first moment I pushed off into the water - his questions were probing and exacting - he wanted me to explain what I felt and what I experienced in detail. No one had asked me this before, and I found myself telling him things that were so deep within me. We also shared our experiences of being in the rhythm and the flow with the bodies of water we both visited, and how effortless paddling can be when you let go and surrender and find your stride.

Shortly afterward, the…

Prana

Yesterday I mentioned prana briefly.

The latest newsletter from the Chopra Center has this quote and this to say about prana:

"Are you looking for me?
I am in the next seat.
When you really look for me
You will find me instantly.
You will find me in the tiniest house of time.
Kabir says: Student, tell me,
what is God?
He is the breath inside the breath.
- Kabir

"In Vedantic philosophy, prana is the life-sustaining force tha flows through our bodies...In Sanskrit, prana means breath. And it is our breath - each breath - that keeps us in constant dynamic change with the Universe. This energetic life force that moves in us, out of us, within us, and through us, is ever present in our extended bodies as well, swirling with the wind, exploding with the surf, swaying with the trees, and rolling through the blades of grass. Prana exists in every being and every piece of this planet that has life within it."

As I listen to the rain softly beating down on this overcast Saturday morning, it…

Aligning with Grace in the River

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Today I went and bought a seasonal pass for the river so I won't have to pay the launch fee every time I go into the water. Wanting to get my money's worth, I headed out to put Grace in the water this afternoon. Besides, Hurricane Hannah is supposed to make landfall and come through the area tomorrow, and it may be some days before I get a chance to get back in.

Earlier in the day, I spoke to a yogini friend who was inspired to go out and buy a kayak herself. She too, lives near Algonkian Park where I access the Potomac River. Buying a kayak was something my friend had wanted to do for a long time.

I recently ordered bumper stickers and a hat embossed with my web site's logo - "Aligning with Grace." My husband laughed and said - "You are really getting into this marketing thing!" I placed one of the bumper stickers on my car, and another right on Grace's front deck as a reminder that my time on the river is more than just a sport - it is a meditative …

Effort and Surrender

A common theme that is used in Anusara Yoga classes is effort and surrender. In a lunge for example - you inhale, hug to the midline and charge your back leg with muscular energy - and then you exhale - and soften, surrendering to the square of the front knee, drawing your hip crease back and extending from your core - the focal point of the energy which first draws in and then draws out - moving the heart forward and lengthening the back leg. Effort must preceed surrender. And you cannot have one without the other.

I thought of this as I paddled in the river this morning. I went farther upstream than I ever had and found that it required less effort on my part than it has previously.

It was a beautiful morning, and for at least an hour there was no one the river beside myself. After paddling up the third island and trying to see how far it went, I reached a pre-determined spot and then turned back until I reached my favorite place in the middle of an "H" - where I could see b…

The River and the Labyrinth

What a different place the river is when summer officially ends!

The air was crisp, and when I arrived at the parking lot, there was not a car or a person in sight.

I was a little disoriented at first. The water levels had risen, so the rocks I normally sit on were partially submerged. Yet, it was so peaceful. The river looked like a plate of glass and the sky, the clouds, and the trees were reflected in it.

I could hear the joy and freedom in every bird singing back and forth on both sides of the river. I could not bear to leave after my meditations, but I needed to go teach. On my way out one lone kayaker arrived and I simply said to him: "You have the river all to yourself." He smiled broadly in simply acknowledgment. We shared a moment of deep knowing: We both sought the same solace here.

Around noon I headed off to walk the labyrinth, something I have hardly found the time to do this year. I met a friend who is a member of the church where I walk the labyrinth, and then we …

New Beginnings

Today, I take a moment to breathe as I prepare to embark on a new journey and usher in a new month...

Tomorrow, I open to grace and let go...

Today, I prepare...

Tomorrow, I step into a new studio to teach...

Today, I make an offering of my heart...

Tomorrow, I offer my soul...

Today, I meditate in anticipation and give gratitude...

Tomorrow, I teach in a new place and a new way, and walk the labyrinth...

Today is tomorrow and tomorrow is today...

There is no past and no future...

Only this moment to which I have been led...