The River and the Heart

This morning, I enjoyed lazily floating on the river for a while. It was breezy and much cooler, and a joy to momentarily escape from the intense grip of the oppressive heat of the summer thus far...

I had the river all to myself, and the bass were happily jumping, dancing, and splashing about. It gave me great joy to witness the lightness of their play and hearts!

I took the time to reflect on some insights that Suzie Hurley, my yoga teacher, shared in class yesterday. She spoke of how in the Native American tradition, each of the four chambers of the heart symbolizes the qualities of being clear, full, open, and strong. And she added a fifth chamber or element - which she felt completed the picture - that of lightness...

A strong heart implies the expression of true courage. A clear heart implies one has generally let go of biases. With a clear heart, enlightened assessments are made that are free of blame and judgment. A full heart is one that embraces love for itself and others, and an open heart is one that deeply connects and feels, and embraces life with acceptance and wisdom. Suzie, my teacher, added her own fifth chamber or quality, and that is, the ability to engage all of these aspects with a certain lightness of being...

As I floated on the river this morning, I thought of the river, and how it too, must have a heart. This river has been a silent witness to the many trials and tribulations, and facets of my life over the last three years. And, it is important to note, that I have never stepped into the same river twice!

Back in the winter of 2007, when I began visiting the river every morning to do my meditations, I sat on a lonely bench overlooking the river. Then, I eventually progressed to sitting on rocks a mere footprint away from the river's edge. I sat there through every season, until the river beckoned me, and invited me in to its healing waters. For nearly a year and half, I systematically paddled upstream and through my emotions, always charting the same path, until it released me...

This year, the rocks where I once sat are obscured by huge trunks that floated down during the spring after the massive and historic snowfall we had in the winter. It is now a much different shoreline from the one I came to intimately know, as only a lover knows... And today, I noticed the lonely bench where I once sat has been removed. A patio of sorts is being constructed instead, which will house many picnic tables. So, this beautiful spot will no longer have the contemplative appeal and draw for me that it once had. But then, I have not sat on that bench for nearly two years...

This week, I read so many articles and posting about my yoga teacher, John Friend. Some of it was very beautiful, and a testament to the impact the system he founded has had on so many. But there have been other individuals too, who have written and posted disparaging and down right mean cartoons as well. And I can't help but wonder how that serves anyone, especially if you are a teacher yourself, and have students that look up to you, and see you as an example to follow. As teachers, we have a sacred responsibility to embody the ethics of our tradition to the best of our ability, especially if we truly acknowledge the spiritual roots of our practice.

I decided on this river today, to commit once again, to improving certain areas of my life with a full, open, strong, clear - and lighthearted heart. Everything that is of value to us resides in the heart. In its secret chambers resides our deepest essence, and it is there, I believe, that we also encounter the Divine...

As the waves gently carried me back to the boat launch area, I gave thanks again for my weekly yoga teacher, Suzie Hurley, whose joy and enthusiasm, and genuine love and concern are such a blessing to me. I thanked God for John, and his impact on my life. I thanked God for those wonderful friends that have entered my life in the last 8, 5, and 3 years of my life - for they are truly friends of the soul and heart. I thank God for having steered me towards a local and a larger yoga community that is overwhelmingly positive, and supportive, and is a reflection and testament to its founders. And I thank God for the experience to feel every aspect of my heart richly and deeply, for it all leads to greater clarity, fullness, strength, openness - and ultimately, a lightness of spirit and being!

Comments

Julie Taylor said…
A lovely blog thank you.
I have also been reflecting on the variety of comments offered on the NY Times article. It is important as John said to be clear about what the truth is - a lot of energy is spent on people reporting on things others have said, or on opinions with an unclear basis or judgemental intent. The power of the word is a big trap - if we all stay connected to the bigger picture of Anusara then all these 'fluctuations' will disappear like 'clouds in sunlight' (I think a translation of a Rumi poem is responsible for that line!).
I think there is much positivity to come out of all this..
Thanks again, Blessings, J
Olga Rasmussen said…
Thanks Julie, I couldn't have said it any better! blessings back at ya! Olga

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