Friday, July 31, 2009
I reflected on the news I had received from so many this past week - a diagnosis of cancer here, advanced Lyme's disease here - and so forth - and I could not help but think of the fragility of life. I recalled a friend sharing an expression of deep gratitude for her life, despite the many challenges she was facing. This was a simple reminder that nothing truly, is forever in this life.
Yet, instead of being weighed down by all the somber news received, I could see the light contained within each experience and piece of news received, as I watched the golden reflections of sunlight skipping joyfully on the surface of the water.
I carefully reviewed the theme and lesson from my yoga class yesterday. My teacher's theme was the play of opposites, and she deftly led us through a practice where we experienced the interplay between muscular energy and organic energy, where we rooted, in order to rise - and where we pressed our shins forward and towards the mid-line - while pressing our thighs back and apart.
My teacher spoke of the interplay between Siva and Shakti - which are commonly understood as aspects of the Divine manifested as both consciousness and its creative energy. However, Siva and his consort Shakti - are manifested and simultaneously present in the expressions of both union and diversity that are evident in so many aspects...
As surely as there is darkness, there is light - and as there is life, there is death...As we move into a new month, I have noticed that it is not as light in the morning as it was a mere few weeks ago, and we have begun our journey of slowly edging towards the fall season, and the coming winter...
There are times in our practice when we lie fallow - perhaps sidelined due to injury or other circumstances. There are times when we shine and every pose we attempt seems within our grasp. There is truly a time for all seasons in our lives...
As I emerged from the river, I noticed it did not smell or seem as slippery and toxic as it had been earlier in the week. Everything changes...The river is as much a reminder of the impermanence of things in our lives, as the very events and situations that we are presented with every day...
As I move more deeply into a new phase of my life, I am grateful for the new opportunities that are coming my way and how everything is unfolding as it should...As a dear friend noted yesterday, my fall is shaping up to be an exciting time!
Good things come to those who wait...Yes, there is a time for waiting and simply being, which slowly opens into a time of doing and expressing...
Thursday, July 30, 2009
"Student, tell me, what is God?
He is the breath inside the breath..."
This "tweet" or post got re-tweeted quite a bit, and one particular person on Facebook, wanted to see the whole poem it came from:
"Are you looking for me? I am in the next seat.
My shoulder is against yours.
You will not find me in Indian shrine rooms,
not in synagogues, not in cathedrals,
not in masses nor sacred songs.
not in legs winding around your own neck,
nor in eating nothing but vegetables.
When you really look for me, you will see 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."
I later recalled I wrote a poem some years ago that alludes to this verse from Kabir:
The Breath Within the Breath
The Divine is found
In the Breath
Within the breath.
I experience Shakti,
In the Movement
Within the movement.
Just as the Shakti teasingly dances
And arises from the deepest
Core, in my pelvis—
So She gently nudges me,
By refining my poses.
I am surprised
As my body responds
the fluidity of the Movement
Within the movement,
As I have followed
Within the Breath.
Becomes my artistic
To the Divine.
In that pause between the breaths - which the yogis called kumbhaka, a sacred place of stillness, we find the Divine...
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
Random Acts of Kindness
1. Pay the toll for the car behind you. (Be sure you’re in a cash line, now that many cars have fee scanners.) I love watching in my rear view mirror for their reaction. It’s worth every penny.
2. Return someone’s grocery cart from the parking lot so they don’t have to walk it back.
3. Let someone go ahead of you in the check-out line. Always a crowd pleaser, and your halo may begin to show.
4. Hand someone a Wet One who really needs it. Carry them in your purse and help out a frazzled Mom or a grown-up who just spilled something.
5. Return a neighbor’s empty trash can after trash day. I’ve had neighbors do this for me several times since my husband died. How sweet, well maybe not sweet smelling but …..
6. Deliver a neighbor’s paper to their door. It may save their slippers some tread. Do it for one entire week and you’ll have them really stymied.
7. Wash a random car windshield at a gas station. They will be shocked but see life more clearly.
8. Rake someone’s yard, pull some weeds, or mow the lawn. If you live someplace cold, shovel someone else’s sidewalk.
9. Bring a container of hot herbal tea or gourmet coffee to work and pass it out to your co-workers.
10. Leave a kind, unsigned note on a car windshield of someone you know is having a tough day.
11. Write a thank you note to a serviceman or two. Seek addresses through the USO.
12. Mail a card to someone in need, without a signature. Sign it “Someone who cares.”
13. Take a photo of someone who is at a special place without a camera. Then get their address and mail it to them. They’ll love you for it, even if they don’t know you.
14. Offer to photograph a couple or family group together so the cameraman or woman can be in the photograph. Take several, then turn the camera on yourself and take a shot just for fun. It will give them something to show their friends at home of that crazy girl they met on vacation.
15. Pick up a free balloon where offered and then randomly give it to someone who looks like they could us a lift to their day.
16. Bring an extra bottle of water (still sealed of course) along on a walk or hike and offer it to someone who looks thirsty at the destination spot.
17. In a restaurant, pull out the chair for someone being seated nearby. Then hand them their napkin.
18. Give up your taxi willingly to someone else seeking fare. Boy will they be shocked at this small random act of kindness.
19. Take a cake or casserole to the local firestation to say thanks for a job well done.
20. Deliver Christmas gifts to the doorstep of a friend you know who has little give their children that year. Have an unknown “Santa” deliver them.
21.Bring along a bag and gloves and pick up some trash along one of your city streets. Maybe it will spread. We did this once on a trashed deserted island- Wow!
22. Now that my husband spends his birthdays with God, I find a charity and give them the amount of money I would have spent on David’s gifts. I write them a letter and they often send me a thank you card. I place the card on the Christmas tree (his birthday is at Thanksgiving) and we open it last on Christmas morning. Somehow it feels like David is present and the family awaits discovering what charity benefited by David that year.Why offer unconditional, just because acts of kindness? Because the world needs it, and so does your mojo!
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
Though the river was somewhat repulsive to me when I visited it this morning, I still tried to see the beauty that had first drawn me to come inside this river. I thought of the river as somehow reflective of relationships in its various stages. There are times in our lives that our most cherished relationships suffer - and take incredibly different turns - heading down paths we might never have imagined - resulting in our greatest heartbreaks and disappointments.
This river has been beautiful - at times so very reminiscent of the springtime of a relationship. Sometimes it is in deep freeze, as it was this past winter, once more mirroring a different phase of our lives.
The river was inviting me to let go once again, and to go with the flow. Earlier in the morning I read these words in a blog titled, "A Gutsy Guide to Getting Your Mojo Back," by Lissa Rankin:
"Now, I go with the flow, and magic is happening. As long as I lie back, float on the river, and breathe in the lovely lavender scent of surrender, doors keep opening. What surprises me is that the doors are not necessarily ones I would have opened myself, yet the openings continue to lead to beautiful meadows of insight, peace and love I might never have explored. By surrendering and trusting the Universe, I leave room for the unexpected, and because I’m not so tired from struggling all the time, I have the energy to explore uncharted waters."
I could think of no truer words and I thought of this - and so much more as I recalled the beautiful wedding that I attended on Sunday. The bride, had been raised Catholic and she married a young Jewish man. The wedding was held outside, under a beautiful grove of trees.
The Rabbi was a wonderful young woman who did an excellent job explaining and translating the Hebrew for those of us not conversant in this ancient Biblical language. At various junctures, passages from the scriptures familiar to both Jews and Christians were incorporated.
I share these notes from the wedding program:
Please join us in this prayer of thanksgiving:
Blessed are you, our God who has kept us alive, sustained us, and enabled us to reach this season.
Blessing of the Wine
The bride and groom will use the kiddish cup that the groom received at his bar mitzvah.
Vows and Exchange of Rings
The bride and groom will conclude their vows by repeating:
'ani l'dodi v'dodi lee,'
"I am my beloved's and my beloved is mine,"
and comes from the Song of Songs.
Breaking of the Glass
When the groom stomps on the glass, it is traditional to shout:
'mazel tov,' meaning 'good luck' or 'congratulations!'
The chuppah or canopy, represents the home that the new couple will create together. It is open on all sides, symbolizing hospitality and allowing the couple's family and friends to support them. The canopy on the chuppah is from the bride's maternal great-grandmother's wedding dress. The bride's sister and her husband were married under the same canopy.
Breaking a glass is a traditional part of a Jewish wedding ceremony. There are many different interpretations of this ritual, but we view it as a way to remind us that joy and sorrow co-exist in our lives and world.
Following the ceremony, the newly married couple will go into yichud, or seclusion. Jewish custom calls for a newly married couple to spend a short time together alone, contemplating their marriage and celebrating privately."
I was very moved by the service - its simplicity and beauty, and the sheer joy of the occasion. A good time was had by all. It inspired this poem I wrote when I returned from the wedding:
I Am My Beloved's
“I am my beloved’s
and my beloved is mine…”
“Ani l’dodi v’dodi lee.”
An ancient longing arises
From the deepest crevice
Awakened within the soul,
And carried across oceans
And seasons and lifetimes
Such a beautiful verse
From the Song of Songs,
Spoken by lovers
United in soul and heart,
From time immemorial
To this present moment
And Love received
Is never lost,
For all longing
And all Love
Is an expression
Of the Divine
“I am my beloved’s
and my beloved is mine…”
“Ani l’dodi v’dodi lee.”
Yes, now and until
The end of Time
Monday, July 27, 2009
Robert S. Marston, Jr.
In your life
A new day is dawning
Awaken and touch the beauty
Wherever you've come from
Whatever you've been
New possibilities beckon
Right here and now
Awaken and make them real
There was a time when you held in your heart
The most magnificent of dreams
A time when life seemed to carry
Endless promises and possibilities
Those dreams are still with you
Awaken and bring them to life
What you long for
Is longing for you
What you dream of
Is what you are meant to create
The doubts you have exist only in your mind
The anxieties that seem so burdensome are of your own making
Now is the moment to awaken,
and allow those doubts to melt away
Awaken, and dive deeply into the beauty of this moment
Allow your spirit to fully experience the richness of it all
Allow peace to fill you completely
Let it touch your deepest longings
Let it bring those longings to life
Your most treasured possibilities are real,
If you will simply let them live through you
Awaken to this moment, and life begins anew
Reach inside, and allow
your most treasured
dreams to awaken with you
Into a bright and shining new day
Remind yourself again and again
Of how beautiful life can be
Remind yourself again and again
That you can make it so
Step boldly and lovingly forward
Into this day
You've already come
So very far
You're stronger, more experienced
and more determined than ever
To fulfill those longings
That tell you who you are
Now is your moment to create real meaning
Now is your moment to awaken
And to truly and fully live
~ ~ ~ ~
May you awaken more deeply, in your own life today!
© 2006 Ralph S. Marston, Jr.
On the web at http://awaken.greatday.com
Friday, July 24, 2009
The host of this meditation group that I have been attending now for a couple of years is a gifted therapist and friend. He always begins with a little talk on a particular topic, and then we meditate together. Those who come regularly, all follow and embrace the teachings of Paramahansa Yogananda, each in their own way.
The evening began when we were asked to share our experiences of loving unconditionally and how that felt to us.
Our host shared with us the experience of having recently met a well known and published author in the healing community, and noting how despite all his successes, there seemed to be a deep sadness in his eyes. He told us, how in that moment, he wanted nothing more than to convey God's unconditional love.
How do we love unconditionally? Very simply, when we behold the Presence of God in everyone that we meet. This may seem like a difficult and insurmountable task, but really, it is not. It is our resistance to loving unconditionally that creates the difficulty and the tension we seem to embrace in our lives.
To love unconditionally means we see who everyone really is at their deepest essence. We do not see them with our eyes or through our filters - but we truly see them as God sees them - as nothing more and nothing less than the essence of Divine Love.
We were invited to connect with God as Unconditional Love, and to go into our meditations. I had a sense of the immensity of God's Essence, permeating everything in the universe. I could perceive myself as simply a loose federation of atoms and waves of loves colliding in a gentle and loving way with other atoms and waves mixing in a soup where God and individuals were indistinguishable. And while it may have only have lasted at hour or so, it was a beautiful reminder of our essential oneness.
I wrote two poems yesterday - one before the meditation, and another after, that captured my thoughts and feelings. Earlier in the day, I had reflected on the immensity of love we sometimes feel but perhaps cannot adequately express.
May we all strive to love more unconditionally - for in so doing - we collectively bring this world into Paradise as a reflection of the Unconditional Love of the Divine!
Immensity of Love
there is an immensity
of love inside
that I cannot hide
with all beings
and all things
there is a vast ocean
of love inside
that I cannot hide
clamoring for union
with all beings
and all things
there is such an immensity
of love inside
that I can no longer hide
As God loves,
That is Unconditional Love
When we see God
In every soul that breathes
And every act of creation
We Love like God does
Love like this is easier
It is our resistance
To the river of love inside
That becomes a labor
"Let your love be like
the misty rains,
coming down softly,
but flooding the river."
As God loves,
Is Unconditional Love
(Quote comes from a Malagasy Proverb)
Thursday, July 23, 2009
Tantra is an invitation to stretch our consciousness, our perspectives - and our perceptions. It also gives us the opportunity to accelerate our personal growth and transformation.
The second part of the word, "tra" means technique or technology. Therefore, Tantra is a technology for transformation and growth. Anusara Yoga practitioners have a wonderful and elegant system that not only brings the body, mind, and spirit into alignment with the Divine - but is a vehicle for profound transformation on all of those levels as well.
As we began class, we were invited to set an intention for our practice. Perhaps we had a relationship that needed to heal, or perhaps we wanted to let go of something in our lives that was standing in the way of deeper growth in our lives.
This invitation spoke to me very deeply, because I had come to class with both of these issues very much in mind and had already planned to offer my practice for a friend celebrating a birthday.
We were challenged to open and ground and led to revisit our intention at various junctures throughout our time together, and especially during the end of class when we surrendered in savasana...
Hatha Yoga is a tantric practice that evolved as a way to experience liberation in mind, body, and soul. Throughout the class I found myself reflecting on the meaning that the word "tantra" most commonly elicits - "to weave."
When we open the doors to transformation, we enter into a dance where we co-create with the Divine and together we give birth to a rich tapestry that symbolizes our essential oneness...
In this week, of the special energies of a solar eclipse, and of many dear friends celebrating birthdays, I was moved to write this poem for one friend, and it seems appropriate to share it here, as we continue to grow and weave our own insights into a strong foundation...
May You Weave
may you weave
the sacred energies
of your special day
into something beautiful
may you weave
a rich tapestry
to embrace you fiercely
in God’s Protective Love
may you weave
a holy web of blessings
to nourish your spirit
throughout the coming year
and may you delight
in your soul knowing—
“The cloth God weaves
never wears out.”
may you weave
a sacred offering,
and may you find solace
in the Beloved’s
in each fiber
and in every strand
(Quote is from Rumi)
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
From a "tweet" on Twitter:
"Scientifically, the Sun, the Earth, and the Moon are in straight link during a Solar Eclipse and the Sun seems to be "overshadowed." The New Moon occurring during the Vedic months of Aadi (July-August) is very special and signifies a divine time shift and is a perfect opportunity to connect with ancestors and get incredible blessings...
For all of us on a personal level, eclipses signify change. It is a time for new beginnings and our ability to adapt to change will be tested to the limits. Responding graciously and keeping a positive outlook to new events and relationships is most beneficial..."
I sent this information to one of two friends who were celebrating birthdays yesterday. She had spent most of the night in meditation and connecting very deeply to family members that had passed on, including some of mine. She totally resonated with everything that was in the full piece that I sent to her.
I found myself moved to meditate more myself as well. Whether or not one believes that the stars and planets in the heavens have any bearing on our lives, events such as the solar eclipse have a way of eliciting awe and wonder in us, and also gratitude for being part of this magnificent divine playground.
Today is the Feast of St. Mary Magadelene, and here is a beautiful prayer for this feast:
whose blessed Son restored Mary Magdalene
to health of body and mind,
and called her to be a witness of his resurrection:
Mercifully grant that by your grace
we may be healed of all our infirmities
and know you in the power of his endless life;
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and forever.
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
We spent quite a bit of time talking about meditation and the effects that that a meditation practice has on us.
For example, meditating for as little as 3 minutes will increase blood circulation and distribute endocrine secretions throughout the body.
Meditating for 7 minutes will begin to generate ALPHA waves in the brain which have a more calming effect on the mind. Long time meditators generate GAMMA waves which are even deeper and more elusive that the THETA waves that most advanced practitioners aspired to attain...
Meditating for 11 minutes enables the parasympathetic and sympathetic parts of the brain to become more energetic and balanced.
Meditating for 22 minutes relieves one of anxiety-producing thoughts and starts to bring one greater clarity.
Meditating for 31 minutes brings balance in the endocrine system in one's body - and this effect lasts the whole day and is reflected in changes in mood and behavior.
In addition, meditating on a regular basis yields the following benefits:
- Reduces blood lactate in the body, which is a symptom of stress
- Improves vision, hearing, and regulates blood pressure
- Reduces heart disease
- Releases DHEA, a youth-related hormone
- Regulates sleep patterns
- Reduces anxiety and depression
- Improves post-tramatic stress syndrome.
Paramahansa Yogananda taught that meditation enables one to release karma as well! This is certainly a very valuable benefit.
If you have never meditated, consider starting with one of the many CD's availabe that teach relaxation exercises. Then try exploring several meditation paths until you find the one that is the right fit. It took me decades of dabbling in several styles before I found my path and felt like I had truly come home to my heart. Committing to my path has profoundly altered the landscape of my life and soul.
May you be blessed by finding a path that speaks to you!
Sunday, July 19, 2009
I am off to teach a workshop on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali today, but I wanted to share both a poem and some quotes on grace, so that all who read this blog on this day may open to grace more deeply....
I tell my students—
when you Open to Grace,
you say yes to the whole
river of life
in all its permutations
When you Open to Grace,
you open to all the opportunities,
the gifts and the challenges
that life brings you—
for each one contains the seed
each experience contributes
to making us who we are
I tell my students—
Open to Grace, and say yes!
To the whole river of life!
Grace is something you have become -
it made you."
~ Douglas Brooks
"Grace is always available -
but are you open to it?
Grace wants us to live fully
and feel the magic of life."
~ Todd Norian
"May you open your arms
and receive the full abundance of blessings
Grace has in store for you."
~ Todd Norian
"Know that Grace has the power
to transform everything you aspire to,
so aspire to the highest
and offer yourself to Grace."
~ John Friend
"Grace will hold you
every step of the way."
~ John Friend
"When you open to grace -
you say yes to the whole river of life
in all its permutations."
Saturday, July 18, 2009
I managed to spend a little bit of time on the river on Friday, knowing it might be a few days before I would get the chance again. As always, the river did not disappoint, and the blue heron made his appearance as he usually does.
Still, even, though I haven't had the time I would like to write and share so many wonderful things that are happening, I have managed to be touched here and there by some quotes that I wish to share...
is to bring Eternity into Time."
~ Evelyn Underhill
"Who is this following me everywhere?
It is my ego self. My Lord, I am ashamed to come
to your door in his company."
I saw my Lord with the eye of my heart,
and I said: "Who art Thou?"
He said: "Thou."
~ Mansur al-Hallaj
"When you become a blessing to others,
everyone becomes a blessing to you...."
~ BJ Galvan
"All beings are words of God, His music, His art.
Sacred books we are, in our souls."
"A single thought.
The ruby glow of a hummingbird's throat.
The whirl of galaxies.
Everything is the flow and dance of energy."
"Keep knocking, and the joy inside
will eventually open a window."
Thursday, July 16, 2009
At one point he shared, that all longing we have in our most significant relationships is really a longing for God. Indeed, all of our relationships - whether they are ones we truly feel fulfilled in or not - are simply a highway to God.
In other words, when we love someone very deeply and yet feel estranged from that person - we should be able to look deeply into their eyes - and see past them to God - for that person is really showing us the way there, in their own unique way, and through the lessons they are in our lives to teach.
Even in relationships where we are totally happy and we feel totally satisfied - we still need to look into the eyes of that person - and realize that they too are a highway to God. For no human relationship can ever be an end in itself. We are not meant to find our total fulfillment in another human being.
My friend suggested taking all of that feeling that embraces and warms us when we are in love and directing it towards God - and as I have become so fond of repeating in meditation - realizing that God alone suffices. Truly, every longing for fulfillment in a human relationship - whether we acknowledge it or not - recognize it or not - is simply our deepest desire to be in union with the Divine. We are simply remembering our home and our true nature.
I found myself pondering these insights very deeply last night as I meditated, and found that it helped me to shift some energy in various situations that were so in need of it.
I have also been drawn to meditate longer and more deeply of late, so I have not written as much in the last few days. Many of the postings on Twitter that have spoken to me today, have been on the topic of silence - which is so fundamental to the experience of meditation. I now realize, that silence too - provides a direct highway to God...
is so like God, as silence."
~ Meister Eckhart
Be secluded in your secret heart house,
that bowl of silence."
"Make me Silent,
that I may eloquently
converse with Thee."
~ Paramhansa Yogananda
"Love is the silent conversation
between two souls."
"The soul always knows what to do to heal itself.
The challenge is to silence the mind."
~ Caroline Myss
"In silence and stillness we are only empty
of who we are not...
the space resounds with who we truly are,
oneness and LOVE!"
"The eye of a silent heart
will see into great depths,
and the ears of a silent mind
will hear untold wonders."
~ St. Hesychius
"If silence is the doorway,
then love is the key."
Monday, July 13, 2009
When we open to grace we open to life and all its permutations, experiences, and all that we are presented with. We recognize that there is intrinsic goodness in everything, and even the challenges that life presents us with are invitations for us to grow.
I came home today after class wishing I had time to go see Ammachi - the hugging saint from India. It has been years since I have been able to do that and it would have been an excellent experience, but I knew I really couldn't fit it in between teaching my two classes.
So, instead, I headed out to the river - and then came home to finish my painting.
I seem to do both - paddle and paint - when I am in transition in life...
The Potomac River was low and overridden with algae and the hydrilla was starting to peak through the surface of the water. The river was also very filthy and smelled, and I almost didn't want to go inside it. But I did, and soon was paddling upstream. I didn't go nearly as far as I normally go - but just enough so that I could glimpse that place between islands and two states that I love. I paddled half way to the point I normally go - and then just floated downstream slowly, in the noonday heat.
The river very much teaches one to be in the present moment - attentive to one's surroundings and what is - and for me, it has the ability to pull me out of dwelling in the past, or worrying about the future, two tendencies of mine.
I came home to finish painting and was pleased with the way the room looked. Last night my son and a friend came over for dinner, and both liked the color and found it soothing. My son's friend tried to egg him on to take yoga, something he has always resisted. At one point, I was asked to demo a yoga pose, so I popped up into a handstand - even after a couple of scotches on the rocks. I would not recommend doing that however!
I taught, I paddled, I painted. Now I am going to review my notes for a workshop I am teaching this weekend. In all that I do, I seek, even though imperfectly at times, to open to grace, and to the whole river of life!
Sunday, July 12, 2009
I had a friend come over and look at it yesterday, after I had finished painting somewhere between a half and three quarters of the space. I needed another set of creative eyes to look at that space and aid me in decorating it.
It has come together very beautifully. The color is exquisite - so much lighter than the rich purple of my Sacred Space which is where I spend most of my days when I am at home. This space is my own personal practice area - where I do my asanas and sit in meditation. It is also where I write - surrounded by many icons and murtis, and a huge collection of incredible crystals. It a room people enter and immediately are overcome by the vibrations it reflects. Those who are more intuitive, often pick up on the beings that inhabit the space as well...
I painted my new teaching space with music by MIchael Jackson blaring, as well as the luscious melodies of Marcome, my new favorite.
One song, titled "Seven Seas" filled my soul, and spoke to me so very deeply. Here is an excerpt of that song:
got a feeling our love has gone astray
together we sailed the seven seas
Will our feelings dwell on yesterdays?
Take me for the ride of my life
feel the yearning.
Could we share..?
Won't you look inside me as I will you?
All our deep desires can pull us through
Together there's no fear we can't face
Never doubting we can sail again
Take me by the hand, let us dance
Set our souls free in a trance of romance
Just enfold me in the warmth
of your arms drifting slowly..."
This song spoke to me of human love - but also of Divine Love. I thought of meditation taking one for the ride of one's life - much in the same that human love can do. I thought of the yearning to be deeply possessed by God - as one might desire of another...
I thought of these things as I finished up my painting, knowing that that the only thing that awaits is my sanctifying this sacred space with a meditation...
I end, with so many references to the healing graces of water shared by my Twitter friends:
The ocean takes care of each wave
till it gets to shore."
"One should lie empty, open,
choiceless as a beach -
waiting for a gift from the sea."
- Ann Morrow
"My bounty is as boundless as the sea,
my love as deep, the more I give to thee
the more I have for both are infinite."
-Shakespeare (Romeo and Juliet)
"Those who don't feel this love
pulling them like a river,
and who don't drink dawn
like a cup of spring water,
let them sleep."
"A lifetime without love
is of no account.
Love is the Water of Life."
Yes! Love is the Water of Life!
Friday, July 10, 2009
I first met MahaDevi when she was known as Sandy, and the Divine was inviting her to take a radical turn in her spiritual path. Our lives intersected during a workshop on yoga as body prayer, hosted by the magnificently gifted Iyengar Yoga teacher, Carolyn Bluemle.
When the invitation arrived in my inbox to attend this ceremony, MahaDevi's first public event as a teacher, I felt a strong desire to attend. We have companioned each other during major transitions in our lives - each one of us acting at times as teacher or student to the other...
In her email, MahaDevi invited the participants to consider why this day was important, and I will excerpt from that email:
"Guru means: That totality that is beyond duality, beyond light and darkness, and yet not separate.
Purnima means: Perfection, that which is UNTOUCHED.
Guru Purnima Day is the night of the Full Moon, this year falling on July 7th. People gather on Guru Purnima Day all over the world to ultimately celebrate the CALL of the Heart to Realize One's True Nature and also to express one's deep gratitude and Love in recognizing their Spiritual Master. Historically disciples have traveled great distances to be with their Masters on Guru Purnima Day.
This gathering is open to all who feel the call of the heart to awaken to their True Nature...
The Guru Disciple relationship is a profound one, and far beyond any concept. It is an everlasting marriage in Totality, rooted in Unconditional Love. At Guru Purnima we renew this sacred marriage and we make it stronger in the widest sense by receiving a "Guru Thread." This thread is place on the wrist and is not taken off, staying there until it disappears or dissolves on its own."
The evening was filled with magical moments. MahaDevi drew a card as she meditated prior to this event - and half a world away, her own Guru drew the same card for the event. It was signficant for me - because this card spoke of completion, cosmic union, liberation from bondage, and burning of karma, all of which have been major themes for me these last couple of years.
A central part of the ceremony involved a fire ceremony where we burned either prayers or requests, letting their ashes rise like incense to the Divine. My offering to the fire wrote itself as a true outpouring of my soul...
Together, MahaDevi and I worked together offering the Guru Thread to those drawn to receiving it. Then we cut and tied the thread for each other...
The next day, we shared with one another the impact of the experiences of the evening - noting the roles we had played in each other's lives - and truly honoring the depth and mystery of our meeting, our relationship, and the support we have given each other. With the thread, we both felt a transmission of energy, of power, and a sealing of our commitment to our paths...
She sent me pictures of the event, and there were noticeable orbs in the pictures, and it was touching to see me sitting East - as I observed my burning prayer-request dissolve in the fire pit.
I end, with this poem I wrote about the experience:
Guru Purnima: Night of Perfection
prayers rising like incense—
burning in the Sacred Flames
of a shared ritual
begun at 7:07 PM
on this day of 7-7,
under clear skies
and the Full Moon
the recommitment to a practice
and a lineage of Gurus,
and a more fervent dedication
to seeking and embodying unity
messages received in so many ways—
this is a time of liberation
and release of karma
a sacred Guru Thread received
and given, by two souls
joined as One—
called to walk the same Path,
yet taking different routes,
a transmission given
as a thousand horses
run through kindred spirits,
brought here to this point in time—
one soul initiated as teacher
and the other anchoring the energy
a new teacher comes into her own,
and is acknowledged
the gift of a parting kiss
seals the sacred union
of two souls doing God’s work,
merging and parting
in a state of Oneness
what wonders the Lord prepares,
and what gifts he bestows
for those who come willingly
to the doors of His Sacred Heart
and lead others to drink well
from a sacred well
Thursday, July 9, 2009
Later in the day, I read this wonderful blog by Lisa Schrader, and wish to post a link to it here, because it so reminded me of my experiences on the river:
Here is the text to this blog entry:
"It is dusk when I arrive, over bleached rocks dry and white, at the river’s edge. Shadowy enough that I flinch when lizard scurries under brush and bat swoops across my path.
Self-absorbed and squatting there under hypnosis of water rushing-its-hushing-by, instinct jerks my head toward the periphery as a young doe emerges. She halts. We stare at each other. And stare longer. Until I get bored and look away. I usually give up before they do.
The light glows peachy on the pines, cedars and oaks, dense, immense and ancient on the mountain. I can hear the voice of Cella, an artist I know who paints magnificent canvases of roses, “It’s called the ‘gloaming,’ this time of the day when the light is just like this.” I remember how she looked at the light the way others worship deities.
Young doe begins to cross the shallow river (I must have missed her drinking). She makes a purposeful line to the opposite bank, moving carefully, deliberately, rhythmically. I can feel her intimate communication with the water. She is a part of its rhythm. She falters very little and hesitates only slightly as she makes her way through current, crevice and slippery rock to the other side.
Must be those stylin’ hooves she’s got and those long, lithe gams. I imagine the spectacle of making the same crossing: wobbly-cursing-slipping-falling on my ass in a big dramatic splash-river retreads flying in the air-yelling-whining about the cold-freaking about losing control in the current-some hurrah of aggrandizement upon completion. I smile about how ridiculous it is to be human.
I cup water in my hands and splash my face. The intensity has me catch my breath. I keep washing my face until the water feels like it has penetrated my spirit and the cobwebs are floating down the river.
Refreshed, somewhat reluctant, I turn away from the fading warmth of the bank to make my way back home. I am stopped by a crescent of new moon standing out bright white in the pink purple velvet sky. I feel my bursting heart. I open to the throbbing pulse of love and joy. I surrender to the annihilating ecstasy of beauty. I allow the tears of gratitude to flow.
We never step into the same river twice."
Wednesday, July 8, 2009
I have been touched by some quotes today, so I will share some of those, hoping they will touch you as well:
They are in each other all along."
"I have one small drop of knowing in my soul.
Let it dissolve in your ocean."
"Just to be is a blessing.
Just to live is holy."
"The road to enlightenment
will eventually take you to a point
where you remember
what you have always known."
"The things that happen to us do not matter;
what we become through them does."
- Sri Gyanamata
"Perfect love casts out all fear."
- Anthony de Mello
At the touch of love everyone becomes a poet."
May you enjoy the rest of your day! It was simply exquisite here!
Tuesday, July 7, 2009
I cannot sleep - too much is weighing deep down in my heart, so I head for the garage, pick up Grace, and I am in the water by 6:30 AM...
It is quiet down at the river. This is truly the the river of my life - mirroring every shade of color my soul reflects and every season I have known. I paddle straight into the mist that I see along the banks of the river on the Maryland side that seems to be fed by the shade of the trees.
The mist is delicate and fleeting. As soon as I approach it, it seems to disappear, and I realize it teaches me how the thoughts and perspectives I hold on to so strongly are just illusions - they too cannot be captured and are as fleeting as these thinly parting veils of swirling and dancing mist...
I do not succumb to following my regular path, but instead I embrace a different trajectory on this river, heading clear across to the Maryland shore, paddling upstream from there. I am between states and the other side of the island and a more elusive shoreline. This is a different spot in the river - one I am less familiar with, and it seems symbolic of my being at a crossroads once again...Who knows where I am going? So many givens have evaporated like the mist before me - slowly being devoured and dissolved by sunlight. If only all our deepest concerns and burdens could lift from us in much the same way...
I feel stillness and peace here - my soul fed by brief quotations offered as blossoms by radiant souls filled with light...
do things mirror themselves undistorted.
Only in a quiet mind
is there adequate perception of the world."
- Hans Margolius
"Give up to grace.
The ocean takes care of each waves
until it gets to the shore."
"When you do things from your soul,
you feel a river moving in you, a joy."
I come to the river to rejuvenate and find peace - and ask questions and seek guidance...
I emerge from the river with the song "River of Life" haunting me - every line bursting forth from my heart like an exclamation. Like the title of the album it is from - I am reminded that this river is also the "River of Soul' - of my soul...
The artist, Marcome, who composed and who performs this beautiful song introduces it simply with these words:
Let the water revive you.
Bring your spirit to the water.
Live, laugh, and love!
We have only just begun!"
I am water, and this morning I seek replenishment at the mouth of a river that has been a reliable soul friend and companion....
"When I wade in the river
It revives me and flows through my mind
Then I feel like the river
And my body’s more fully alive
I can fly on a wind-cloud
To my love who in time waits for me
When I dive in the river
Let my wishes all float to the sea
When I look in the ripples
I can be all the love that I feel
Oh! My heart’s like the river
Find my soul in my waterfall dreams
When I float in the river
I’ll be more than I’m now when I’m dry
Hear the flow of my heart strings
Feel the pulse bring us closer in time
Oh! My heart is the river
Let your love flow and blend into mine
Flowing into you
Come and run in the river
Let the waters rejoice in your life
In my heart beats the river
Full of laughter for love and for life
Flowing into you."
Monday, July 6, 2009
I had planned to use a particular theme in my yoga class this morning, but decide to change it mid-stream during my meditation, and instead, I invite my students to honor their own teachers - and their teachers' teachers - for we are the sum total of all the people that have touched us. We have been formed by an intricate web of connections spanning back into antiquity. We are who we are - because of legions who came before us. We are the children of all of our spiritual guides as well - those known and unknown - seen and unseen...
I tell my students that we are teachers and students to one another. And every teacher truly knows - that we teach in order to learn more fully, and understand more deeply.
As a former teacher of theology, I recognize that I have also been shaped and molded by the lives of the young women that I taught for two and half decades, many of whom I am reconnecting with once again through the incredible opportunity of social networks...
As I lead my yoga students through a vinyasa - a sequence of poses coordinated with the breath to warm up, I ask them to remember those teachers that have been most significant to them - inviting them to bow in gratitude to all of them in uttanasana.
Our teachers are not always educators in a classical sense. They can take the shape and form of our children - our spouses or our friends. They hold up a mirror to our faces, reflecting to us where we are - and where we need to go.
Our teachers can especially be those we have difficulty with - or experience conflict with. They can also be those we are estranged from and no longer communicate with. They have come into our lives to teach us lessons we must learn, and we must honor them for the work they have played in our lives...
I go to walk the labyrinth after class, and as so often happens, I have the labyrinth all to myself. I am able to sit in meditation in the center for over an hour, totally undisturbed, in deep communion with the Divine and the spirit of my teachers past and present. As I walk in towards the center - so many insights come to me...I sit and lose myself in the center and call upon my personal lineage of gurus who are part of my meditation path - asking for their blessing and guidance - that I may do the work I still need to do in life and learn the lessons that I must learn...
My heart sings in gratitude as I silently and inwardly chant over and over again:
I bow to the Divine Light
who is the True Teacher Within."
As I emerge from my meditation and walk out of the center of the labyrinth, I hear Julian of Norwich whisper into my ears, as she does, in every moment in my life that has been crucial:
and all shall be well,
and all manner of things shall be well..."
And so it is...
Saturday, July 4, 2009
The readings in Paramahansa Yogananda's Spiritual Diary for the first week of July provide rich insights on this subject...
not by the compulsions of desires and habits.
Obeying the ego leads to bondage;
obeying the soul brings liberation."
"Before you act, you have freedom,
but after you act, the effect of that action
will follow you whether you want it or not.
That is the law of karma.
You are a free agent, but when you perform
a certain act, you will reap the results of that act."
"Man's freedom is final and immediate,
if he so wills; it depends nor on outer
but inner victories."
"The way to freedom is through service to others.
The way to happiness is through meditation
and being in tune with God...
Break the barriers of your ego;
shed selfishness; free yourself
from the consciousness of the body;
forget yourself; do away
with this prison house of incarnations;
melt your heart in all, be one with all creation."
Happy Independence Day!
Friday, July 3, 2009
My husband continued on standby - but my son and I did not get on a flight until later that night. After having been up since 4 AM to meditate, I was exhausted.
I suppose some would look at that time spent in the airport and consider it wasted time. On the other hand - there was nowhere else I could go or be. So, my son and I enjoyed each others' company over margaritas and beer, and I was able to re-connect on the phone with a Chicago friend.
In many ways, yesterday was an invitation to live in the present moment. I found myself connecting to and talking to people in many lines I had to be in. I would never have met these people otherwise. Everyone was in the same boat, and most were simply making the most of it. People were friendly, and guards were let down.
Today, as I reviewed the suggested summer spiritual practices from the Brussats' website that I referred to a few days ago, I found this entry:
7. WASTE SOME TIME
"It does no good to think moralistically about how much time we waste. Wasted time is usually good soul time," Thomas Moore has observed. Summer is just the right season for idleness and just messing around with things. Quit doing and revel in just being."
This was a good reminder for me of what I have always loved about summer, especially all those years I was an educator. The summers were times to simply be.
I used to tell my students when I was still teaching theology, that prayer was "the art of learning to waste time gracefully" - a definition I borrowed from Thomas Green, SJ.
Pay attention this summer to moments you may have to slow down, and waste some time!
Wednesday, July 1, 2009
This comes from today's issue of the newsletter Jewels in the Lotus, and I thought it is a perfect way to begin this month. Thank you Cathy for your words!
"Imagine living your life as your higher self all the time. Imagine being able to make choices from the heart quickly and easily. Imagine being able to allow others to be just as they are. You easily speak your truth without conflict or confrontation. Life flows along and you handle all the challenges with grace. There is great peace in your heart and you are in tune with your breath. Joy and peace are your natural state. Your vibration is high and love is all around you. Decisions come from a deep place and one that is steeped in unconditional love. Actions and words are combined with your radiant power and you own this power fully.
Sounds amazing? It is and at can be when you live life more fully as your higher self. When you access this state of being in your daily life, it changes the way life flows.
Many of us can reach this state in meditation or even in relaxation, but the tricky part is to carry that level into the physical world and into our daily activities. There are others who are so stressed out in daily life that they have trouble turning off their brains. One way that helps me is before I get out of bed each morning- I take 3 full deep cleansing breaths. I ask to act with love, guidance, wisdom (add any other positive trait)- and to go through my day meeting challenges or situations with grace and ease. Sometimes it works, and sometimes…not so much. The point is to stay in each present moment and not beat yourself up over any perceived mistakes.
When you think about it, many people have difficulty doing what honors them most. We have expectations of ourselves and of others that are not always met. So what is the best way to handle life? With wisdom and love. And, how do we move forward from here?
Taking a broader perspective of your life and the higher purpose of all the events in it, will help you see beyond the ego- and will help you incorporate the lessons into the highest potential. From this vantage point, you can see the world view instead of the "little me" view. This expansive view will lead to acceptance and understanding. Allow yourself time to integrate and rejuvenate. Treating yourself with wisdom and love offers you the opportunity to forgive the past and move forward."
13 keys to living as your higher self
- release judgments (of yourself and of others)
- breathe deeply throughout the day
- don't hold on to anger, resentment, or guilt
- be in the present moment
- hold joy in your heart
- allow yourself to feel whatever emotion comes up
- leave your past behind.
- surrender trying to control life
- stand solid in your core and true to your heart.
- stay connected to your inner self as often as you can
- be very grateful for all the blessings that are manifest in your life
- clear out old emotional baggage
- see the beauty and joy in all things