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Showing posts from June, 2009

Alone on the River

It was beautiful on the river this morning. The water was as calm as its been in a long time, even though it is still pretty muddy from all the rain we have had. I have not been able to get a glimpse of the riverbed - except for a brief one when I emerged by the boat launch.

I paddled today with a minimum of effort, and once more found myself heading upstream in the middle of the river...Humm....

I watched a blue heron fly over me - and then slowly and gracefully amble its way along the banks of the first island I tend to paddle towards. When I rounded the corner of the island and reached that place between islands and straddling two states that I love, I saw a much younger heron perched on the corner, surveying the river upstream...

As I floated for a while, I reflected on how it has nearly been a year since I bought Grace, my kayak, and came into the river, very unexpectedly, after nearly a year of meditating by its banks. My journey began with me sitting by a bench for about nine mont…

Walk Around the Lake

On Friday, I was in the water by 6:30 AM, and it was absolutely delicious. I came back and sat for a two hour meditation that was just as exquisite. When I came out of my morning meditation, I found an email waiting for me in my inbox from a friend who had been kayaking around the lake that is very close to where she lives, about the same time I was kayaking in the river that is just as close to where I live...

Frederic Brussat and his wife Mary Ann have a lovely website which features all kinds of wonderful and inspirational insights and suggestions - all related to spiritual practice. In one section of their site, they list a number of suggestions for summertime practice. Here is an entry on this list:
23. WALK AROUND THE LAKEIn one of his poems, Wallace Stevens observed: "Perhaps the truth depends upon a walk around the lake." Ponder that thought as you circumnavigate a lake, a pond, a field, or even your block. Just the experience of moving puts things in perspective and e…

Favored Prayers

An affirmation arose in my heart during my yoga class on Thursday. It has merged with a prayer and has now become a mantra - repeated in the depths of my meditation...

While I will not record it here, this simple mantra bears similarity with several prayers that have been my favorites, at various junctures of my life. The first one, is one I have loved since I was in my teens, and it has found its way back into the cave of my heart once more - and has been whispered fervently for several weeks...

The second was a favorite in my twenties, while I worked on my M.A. at St. Louis University, a Jesuit institution, and moonlighted as a liturgical musician. I often played and prayed a musical rendition of this prayer...

The third comes from a beloved mystic - who was beatified on my 50th birthday, which I celebrated in Paris. I began that Sunday morning by exploring Notre Dame during Mass, never feeling as much energy in a church as I did in that one. Significantly, my 50th fell on a Sunday, th…

The River Calls Me in Darkness

The river calls me in darkness...I cannot sleep...For days it seems to elude me...Is this a new pattern in my life?

I arise and am in the water paddling upstream very early in the morning. Once more, I angle up the river by paddling in the center, something I never really do...And once more I sense the river is urging me to seek balance...

It is hazy, quiet, and as still as the river has been in a very long time. The surface of the water is covered with many little pools of bubbles, looking almost as if someone has spit into the river all over the place. It reminds me of the physical - as well as the spiritual act of purgation - a step on the ladder of Divine ascent - reaching out hungrily towards illumination...

My soul is in such need of illumination...

I paddle and an interior voice prays and sings a song by Cat Stevens:

"I listen to the wind,
to the wind of my soul.
Where I'll end up, I think
Only God really knows..."

I am in a place between places - once more in "kumbha…

From the Soul

I've spent a portion of this day putting the finishing touches on a series of yoga classes I am going to do for clergy men and women at the Virginia Theological Seminary. I am excited because it allows me to combine my two loves of yoga and spirituality. During the course of three days we will dance our way from the practice of yoga as one that contributes to greater wellness - to one that is best expressed in the physical embodiment of prayer.

From time to time during the course of the day, I have checked for inspiration here and there from my various online friends. It seems we support one another sometimes in ways that are both unexpected and timely.

These are some of the morsels that fed my soul today...

"When you do things from your soul,
you feel a river moving in you, a joy."
- Rumi

"Dream big! Journey far!
But inhabit each step
…with joy!"

"I live in the hope of meeting HIM
but the meeting is not yet.
There is the agony of wishing,
my heart wander…

A Drop in the River

I awaken early, and the river calls - it draws me strongly - even before my meditation cushion does. So I follow its urgent beckoning, and arrive at a river that is still, and quiet, and empty, with these words of Rumi, skipping in my heart:

"You are not just a drop in the ocean,
You are the mighty ocean in the drop."

But these are the words that my heart hears instead:

"You are not just a drop in this river,
You are this mighty river in the drop."

Can it be true? Am I really this body of water in the drop? I know this is what Yogananda so often teaches in his writings. It is a lesson I have been struggling to learn and embody...

I paddle away from the launch area and travel up the center of the river - something I rarely do. Perhaps it is a message for me to seek greater balance in my life. This seems to be a kind of perennial message for me. Yet this paddling upstream in the center is also symbolic of uniting two halves of my life...

It is warm - with a shot of cool air…

Peace Prayer

This beautiful prayer was posted by a wonderful soul I've met through Twitter by the name of Pamir Kiciman, who is shining light into the farthest corners of cyberspace. It is so appropriate for this moment in time when the world is witnessing conflicts on so many levels.

Yet, it also speaks to the heart, and quietly addresses many of the internal conflicts that simply go undetected by others, and which often silently fester within...
Peace Prayer by Lama Gangchen RinpochePeace to the inner and outer environments.Peace to the five elements within and without.Peace to this body.Peace to this mind.Peace to this huge ocean of emotions and feelings.By the power of the truth and for the happiness of all beings,
may we have a culture of peace,
a society of peace, a world of peace,
where we can have days of peace,
nights of peace, sleep with peace and dreams of peace.By the power of the truth and for the healing of all beings,
may we have peace in all moments
and in everything.

May this P…

Going into the Heart

I arise at the first light of day to sit for my morning hour of meditation, followed by espresso and a peach. I check online briefly, and catch up on what is happening in Iran...

I am amazed at the incredible solidarity of so many in the vast online community with the people in Iran, and bowled over by how social networking sites and communities are enabling us all over this planet, to connect in a much deeper way. The world is truly getting smaller...

I long to make a stop at the river to visit, and see how it is after a few more days of rain. But while I will not merge and become with it on this day, I will cross it and find spiritual nourishment on the other side of its banks...

It is a quiet morning, and I ride to the other side of the river to take an Anusara Yoga class with my friend Cheryl, who is magnificent, and who has the most contagious and joyous laughter I have ever heard.

She invites us to go into our hearts and to express a quality of the heart in our practice - to such an…

All is Well - On Land and on Water

I emerge from over an hour of deep meditation in the early morning quiet and feel deeply nourished in my soul and heart...

The sky begins to darken, and I know it will rain once again...

I think of my visit to the river yesterday, ever so briefly...I have not been able to connect with my beloved river much of late - the rains and the strong river currents keep me side-lined and on solid ground - not water. Yet in my heart of hearts, I know our time together will come again soon - and we will commune and merge as one, once again...

I am warmed by several instances of feedback that I receive, where friends and students were aided therapeutically, and I rejoice in the incredible recovery a life-long friend is making from a complicated surgery...

I bathe in beautiful messages and quotes after my meditation as I drink my espresso, and I savor this message, which a friend passes on. I read it personally, as if it had been sent to me from God. It is a wonderful message to receive and imbibe, par…

Letting Go of Negativity

I received this quote from a friend this morning, and I thought I would share it because it spoke to me of work I still need to do on so many levels.

As often happens, this comes to me at a time I am reflecting on the subtle ways that negativity plays a part in my thoughts and words - and how I might simply write off some of those as harmless. But the truth is, they are not, for in the final analysis, we are all connected. Everything we do, or say - or think - has an impact for it sends out a vibration that first resonates within our very cells and internal pathways, and then ripples out, touching others, and affecting the vibrational fields of those near and far...

This is such a hard, but very important lesson to learn, and it is precisely what Judith Orloff, MD, discusses in her new book: Emotional Freedom: Liberate Yourself from Negative Emotions and Transform Your Life, which I am currently reading. The book presents a road map for doing this very important work of letting go of th…

Softening into Summer

This morning, after emerging from a delicious meditation and practice that spanned a couple of hours, I checked my email, and found Jamie Allison's newsletter in my inbox. I have referred to her newsletters before on this blog.

Jamie is a certified Anusara Yoga teacher in Colorado, and one of the first Anusara teachers I had the privilege of studying with back in the late '90's, when this wonderful system of yoga was just in its infancy.

I will excerpt part of her newsletter:

"Dear Friends on the Path,

Here at Ananda Tandava Retreat Center, spring's loud frenzy has softened into summer's promise of sweet, ripe, contentment.

The pace is slower, the days are longer, and there is time to play and engage in one's heart's desires. Our outer protective sheath, no longer needed, falls away. We expose ourselves to the gentle caress of an afternoon breeze. The sun kisses our skin as a reminder of the luminosity at our core.

Summer soothes us with the lazy hum of inse…

An Ocean of Wisdom

I cannot go paddle today, for it is raining outside. Once more it rains, and I sense the water is deeply cleansing something in the profundity of my soul...

Yesterday I visited the river just to see it, and smell the air, and note how high the waters were. They have receded somewhat...

As I took in the sights, I reflected on the incredible session of craniosacral therapy that I had just returned from with a gifted therapist, and I delighted in a new found sense of freedom in my body. The releases were truly divine, and my psoas muscle felt more lengthened and happy and free - than I could ever recall feeling it. It literally seemed to jump up and dance for joy as so much tension along its path was released.

Today, I cannot paddle, but on some level - I connect with the vast ocean of insights that the river often yields. As I sit at my desk, in the "Purple Room," that is the sanctuary of my soul and where I practice and meditate, and write - I take a break from reviewing my less…

Every Day is a Miracle

I emerge from an hour in deep meditation - spent in the company of a chorus of birds singing...I feel somewhat altered, and it takes me a moment to get my bearings...

I go downstairs - the house is quiet, and eat a peach and make myself some espresso - and I think to myself - what could possibly go wrong on a day that starts like this? Life is good! This is a delicious start to the day, and it is also auspicious for me, for the number 108, makes its presence known...

I take a moment to read beautiful "tweets" left for me by fellow "twittering" companions on the journey, and will share some of these, to perhaps, brighten your day, touch your heart, and put a smile on your face...

"Trees are Earth's endless effort
to speak to the listening heaven."
~ Rabindranath Tagore

"You can't cross the sea
merely by standing
and staring at the water."
~ Rabindranath Tagore

"Honesty and transparency make you vulnerable.
Be honest and transparent anyw…

Living Fully

Yesterday I had the honor of subbing in my yoga teacher's class. This is a wonderful group of dedicated students and it was a joy to spend the time with them and see them beautifully expressing their poses from the inside out.

I began class by noting how Suzie Hurley, is really the best of the best - and certainly - I could not hope to fill her shoes. She is a teacher who exudes joy and is so present - in a way I had rarely experienced in a class. I told the students, they were so lucky to be here and have her as their teacher.

Earlier this week, I received several newsletters from various studios. But it was only this one I found truly inspirational. It was only this one that touched my heart and soul. I will excerpt a few paragraphs and encourage you to go to Willow Street Yoga Center's website to read the whole thing, because it is truly beautiful:

www.willowstreetyoga.com

"We all want to live life as fully and as happily as we possibly can. For myself and many others, the…

Olga Rasmussen's TwitWall

The River at Peace

The longing I have to go to the river consumes me, and I awaken several times in the dark before dawn in sheer anticipation of visiting it...

In the early morning, Grace and I head down to an almost pristine setting that is so different from what I encountered on Sunday. I come in search of peace, and it is gloriously evident in all my surroundings...

I push off, and paddle upstream nearly effortlessly, with very few interruptions to my cadence. I am determined to reach my favorite spot between two islands and the riverbanks of two states...

A magnificent heron flies from the Virginia side to the island on the Maryland side, gliding gracefully, a few feet above the waters. I see some bass flipping about. It is quiet here - except for the birds singing joyously. I pass one fisherman as well.

I paddle upstream, determined to round the bend and work through some deeply held feelings. As I approach the clearing of waters that is both sacred and healing to me, I notice the heron is perched on …

I am the Dawn - O, America!

I want to rise and go to the river early, on this morning...It is calling me - gently pulling at my heart strings...but I am tired, and it is thundering, and I lay in bed instead, overcome with a very deep longing that will not abate and permeates everything...

I am filled with the magnificence of last night's music - listening to Celtic Woman at Wolftrap Center for the Performing Arts - under the stars which on this night are hidden under a warm blanket of clouds...

This is my third time hearing them in this same venue - and memories of those years come flooding back - especially the first year - because on that day, a great soul transitioned...

So many beautiful songs do I hear - ones I know by heart - others are new gems that will quickly become beloved treasures...

I think of all the beauty that is in this world - if we only have the eyes to see and the ears to hear - as I imbibe one song after another - so many of them offering such profound messages of hope, of unity, and of lov…

The River Teaches So Many Lessons

I have been yearning to get inside the river for some time, but the near deluge of rain that we have been experiencing this past month has made this difficult. Yesterday, I decided to go for it, even though it was Sunday, and a day I normally tend to avoid because of the numbers of people that tend to visit the park.

I rode into a packed park which immediately felt like it was such a different place energetically. The river was swollen and muddy, and very crowded. I soon discovered that were at least a dozen jet skiers in the water.

Grace, my kayak, and I - tried to maneuver our way over to the first island - but we never quite made it that far. We tossed this way and that, and the skiers, did not keep what I would consider to be a safe distance. I felt overwhelmed, under-gunned, and drowned out by the deafening noise.

I couldn't help but wonder how the wild life reacts to all this noise and behavior. I found myself becoming increasingly angry and frustrated, and then - I simply hear…

Sacred Song and Chanting

There are no boundaries between the late of night - the deepest evening, and the very early morning...They are separated only by the presence of light and the sweet song of birds in the morning dawn - though the light is never absent from my soul...

I am filled with an evening of Divine Kirtan, sacred chanting with Snatam Kaur and her friends - and my own as well - sacred souls on their own most holy journey who have gathered here to be nurtured in soul and heart and mind...

I am touched deeply by the souls uniting their voices and hearts in sacred song...There are truly no strangers here as we offer our prayers for peace in this world...

The sacredness of the chanting spills over into my evening, as I lay in bed, with tears of devotion mingling with the deepest and most heart-felt of prayers, merging with the voice of Snatam Kaur, singing her new song, "Crimson:"

"My eyes are damp
with the nectar of the Lord
My soul is filled
with His Love

He tested my heart
with His touchston…

I am Empty, I am Full - Take Two

On Thursday, my yoga teacher honored me by re-visiting a theme I had used in a class she had observed a few months before. Every year, Anusara Yoga teachers, both certified and inspired, need to be observed by a colleague to maintain their status as Anusara Yoga teachers. It is a wonderful opportunity to experience someone else's teaching, and to share areas of strength, and those that could use some refinement as well.

My teacher used the theme I had used on that occasion - "Emptiness and Fullness", my comments, and a poem I had written - but she worked with a different class template, category of poses, and principles of alignment.

It is so interesting to hear someone else take your theme and comments and spin them in a different way - or read your poetry out loud, in their own rhythm and cadence. I only ever hear what I write in my own head - so it comes alive and is possessed and held captive by another's heart when it is read by someone else. My teacher, Suzie Hur…

Wisdom Points - Text

These are the points that are made in the in the slide show - "Wisdom Points." I found it valuable to copy them down to savor more fully and reflect on them more deeply. Enjoy!

Wisdom Points by Ajahn Chah

You are your own teacher. Looking for teachers can't solve your own doubts. Investigate yourself to find the truth - inside, not outside. Knowing yourself is important.

These days people don't search for the truth. People study simply in order to find knowledge necessary to make a living, raise families - look after themselves, that's all. To them, being smart is more important than being wise.

If you listen to the Dhamma teachings but don't practice, you're like a ladle in a soup pot. The ladle is in the soup pot every day, but it doesn't know the taste of the soup. You must reflect and meditate.

Only one book is worth reading: the heart.

When one doesn't understand death, life can be very confusing.

If you let go a little you will have a little peace.…

Wisdom Points

Check out this SlideShare Presentation: Wisdom PointsView more OpenOffice presentations from Oh Teik bin.


Siva Nataraja - The Lord of the Dance

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The manifestation of Siva that has most appealed to me is Siva as Lord of the Dance. Years ago, as a liturgical musician, one of my favorite songs to play was the Shaker song - "The Lord of the Dance," and I made a blog entry in December of 2007 on the interplay between these two.

I include the comments sent to me by Dr. Manoj Challam on the meaning of Siva Nataraja:

SHIVA NATARAJA – THE LORD OF THE DANCE

Life is Uncertain.Anything can happen anytime to anyone of us.The real question is how does one live such a life of uncertainty with Certainty?

By Embracing the Dancer, the Shiva Nataraja, the Joyous Dancer.Nata means the Dance and Raja means King.

This is the dance of creation and destruction of the Universe that each of us co-creates.On one hand, Shiva holds the Damaru, the Drum, the pulse beat of Creation.Time and Space comes from this beat.On the other hand, Shiva holds the fire, the fire in the belly we need in order to do a radical transformation in our lives, be it a new …