Showing posts from July, 2008

The River is Wide II

This morning, a mother and her daughter took off in kayaks in the early morning light...The water and air was very still - and I sensed we would have another hot day on tap! Yesterday the movers came and moved all the equipment and furniture to the new studio. I laid down mats and re-calculated the space and noted I could accommodate 24 comfortably. As I shot the breeze with my partners in this venture, I realized it felt very much like home. We delighted in some of the decorative purchases and touches we had made... Today is another full day, but I was present and felt very rested down at the river this morning as I did all of my sundry river meditations. I end this month surveying the vast expanse of the river and thinking of all that the river has been to me these many months - and of this song that I been singing to myself, over and over again. Every time I come to the river, it seems that the first thing I "hear" inside of me is: "The river is wide..." So m

The River in Summer Haze and Gratitude

I arise in the waning darkness and do my morning meditation, then head out to the river before embarking on my long trek to the other side of the river to sub at the studio which is my spiritual home... I encounter a group of six gentle deer and we spend some time looking at each other very intently in the eye. I feel we are all one - there is no fear - only love... Though I have come to the river earlier than usual, I watch an experienced kayaker instruct a "newbie" and I listen closely to what he says, mentally taking notes. In almost moments they disappear to the other side of the river, and I sit in the stillness and haze, indicating it will be very hot today... Fish jump here and there - and the river looks like a plate of glass - and for a moment I feel myself "walk" on its surface - longingly looking towards the other side... I give thanks for the opportunities of this day - to teach - and to start anew... I arrive early at the studio and take the s

Sacred Space

I arise and go to the river early... There is not a car or soul in sight...I commune with the river in the anticipation of dedicating a sacred space...There are signs everywhere of today's significance, easily missed by the non-observant heart... Keys received - opening doors to sacred space - and to a new spiritual home - and a new phase in my life... I enter in silence and pray a variation of Yogananda's Prayer: Dearest God - lineage of beloved gurus, saints, angels and guides; May thy love shine forever on the sanctuary of my devotion-- and the devotion and dedication of all who come to this sacred space that we may all be able to awaken thy love in all hearts... Drops of holy water from the Mother Ganges and from the shrine at Lourdes cleanse and sanctify this sacred space... Fragrant holy oil anoints every corner of both rooms... I bow in reverence and offer up my Kriya practice in this space, with the magnificent spiritual eye of God more visible than it has bee

Ten Thousand Joys and Sorrows

My heart has been elsewhere these last few days...Imagining moments, experiences, breakthroughs, that were not my own... The deep ache of loss permeates everything, but I know, as I prepare my comments for the class I will teach this week for another instructor - that the Buddha taught that we are each given ten thousand joys and ten thousand sorrows... In the midst of my own sadness, two students connect with me and express deep felt gratitude for experiences and breakthroughs in a workshop that I had prepared them for...Yes, their gratitude melts into a joy flowering forth from my sorrow... Tears flow, reminding me to keep my heart open - when what I want to do is to close up tightly. This is what I will teach this week, and it is what I must learn again, and again, and again - how to remain open, despite everything that life offers us... I think of Tony Snow, the Press Secretary who died recently - born in 1955 like I was - who said that getting cancer had been his greatest ble

Love Greater Than Pain

I am not where I thought I would be this morning...But I am there in my heart...Perhaps even present in other hearts... I review the wise counsel and insights given to me by a mentor who traveled from afar and recommended some materials for my healing journey... I am saddened by the passing of Randy Pausch, the professor, who filmed his "Last Lecture" and moved the world by reminding us all, of what is really important in life... I still mourn so much and yet rejoice in new experiences as I delight in seeing the studio that will be my new home - as it is nearing its completion... I review my theme and comments in preparation for subbing at the studio that is my spiritual home - honored to be invited to teach there - nervous about my first experience doing so - wanting to give back just a bit of what I have received... And I remember a message received and remembered at the river the last few mornings... Love Greater Than Pain the river speaks its wisdom-- as an

Deep Water Passage

Last night, I finally allowed myself to finish reading Deep Water Passage: A Spiritual Journey at Mid-Life by Ann Linnea, where she documents her experience of being the first woman to kayak around Lake Superior over the course of 65 days. The journey was fraught with dangers, but the spiritual awakening she experienced changed the course and direction of her life. Once again, there were passages I resonated with, and which were reminiscent of experiences I had in my life this past year, and in my visits to the river... "When we can hold council with fellow creatures of all species, then we are beginning to understand the presence of sacred in our lives. But the most challenging creature to hold council with is our own kind... When two creatures meet as naturally as lake lapping against shore, or river flowing into sea, there is a melding, a magic that transcends the everyday. I felt myself drawn forward into understanding Mystery and Higher Purpose. I felt myself anointed and

Guardian Angels

I am nearing the end of my re-reading of Deep Water Passage , not wanting it to end! Last night I read the next to the last chapter, a very touching one, entitled "Guardian Angels," which deals with a couple of special visitations that Ann Linnea receives...It also contains these quotes which spoke to me - the first one of these is a re-posting from a couple of days ago, but it continues to speak to me so deeply: "There comes a time in our lives when we are called to believe the unbelievable. If we allow ourselves to believe, we open the door to the infinite possibility of who we might become... Sometimes when we have been called into other realities, it is so unnerving that we must immerse ourselves in normalcy and ponder the immensity of the experience... The longer I watched, the more my body resonated with a feeling of connectedness to everything around me - the night sky, the stars, the silhouettes of boulders, the lapping of waves on the shore... It was as

Celebration II

This has been a week of connecting with many people from various phases of my past - most of them celebrating birthdays... One of them - is a friend I have known since I was nine - who was always interested in metaphysical things... Another was my best friend in my late teens and early twenties... A third was my college roommate... And still another - was a friend from my mid twenties to mid thirties... And the last one - is from my late forties to early fifties... As I sat by the river this morning and recited 51 "Hail Marys" for the friend turning 51 today with a strong devotion to this prayer - I reflected on how people come in and out of our lives - and how so many significant people in my life have had birthdays at around the same time...I thought of all of those who have touched my life in one way or another and wish for all of them this blessing - dedicated to a very special person on her birthday: "May your coming year be a good one-- rich and full, and


Ann Linnea, in her book Deep Water Passage: A Spiritual Journey at Mid-life writes about her experience kayaking around Lake Superior. I found it very symbolic that she named her boat Grace. I thought of her boat as a vessel of grace as she undertook this very dangerous journey. Here are some passages from parts I read last night: "The instruments of our bodies, when fully tuned and aligned, move with a grace and rhythm that is holy. In that holiness we are capable of our greatest actions. In those actions our lives become Spirit Song... Mindfulness is so important. Whether in ecstasy or storm, we must be totally present to the moment, ready for the sudden shift of wind or mood or energy... There comes a time in our lives, when we are called to believe the unbelievable. If we allow ourselves to believe, we open the door to the infinite possibility of who we might become..." As one committed to a sacred practice of meditation and yoga, these three passages spoke to m

River Song

This morning I woke earlier than usual looking forward to sitting at the river about an hour earlier than I usually go. I was struck by the amount of litter left on its shores and wondered how anyone could come to behold the river's beauty and yet not respect it. I came with a heavy heart, so many things weighing down on me... Last night, I read another chapter in the book - Deep Water Passage: A Spiritual Journey at Midlife by Ann Linnea, about a woman who decides to kayak around Lake Superior - a very dangerous journey. I have been slowly savoring my re-reading of this wonderful book, reading a chapter periodically, when I have the time to do so. In the chapter I read last night, there is a poignant moment when Ann's children beg her to abandon her journey and come back home. She is torn, yet she reminds them of many adventures they took together, vowing to not come back until whatever lesson needed to learned was learned. As I sat on a big rock, a footprint away from t

Let the River Run

Last night, as I reviewed the 90 plus pages of poetry that I have written so far this year, I was struck by how poem after poem made references to the river I visit as often as I can, as well as to the ocean into which so many rivers spill and merge. It is a motif that I revisit over and over again almost to the point of being haunting. There is a relationship I have to the river I cannot really explain. Yet it somehow discloses so many deeper parts of me that simply go unexpressed. The river itself has its own seasons, often mirroring what I need or am experiencing... I thought of the symbolism of water, how at times it is cleansing, and how it also baptizes and anoints, and quenches thirst. Before retiring, I quickly skimmed a book I just picked up as a summer read: Girls Like Us: Carole King, Joni Mitchell, Carly Simon - and the Journey of a Generation. As I flipped through the last section of the book I noticed it was titled: " In the river I know I will find the key &qu

Metaphysical Musings

Yesterday I had the chance to visit with two musician friends. Going to their house is always a treat. There are musical instruments everywhere - a Steinway in the dining room, and guitars and wood wind instruments in every corner of the house. There is a recording studio in the basement as well. One of my friends is in the process of exploring a very interesting theory. He feels that tonality in music is analogous to the role the ego plays in life. He came to this awareness while studying Stravinsky's music and noted how Hitler preferred listening to Wagner and marches. He contrasted this with various atonal movements in music. I have always found his own musings very interesting and extremely stimulating. Often he comes up with ideas that I think would revolutionize the way we look at the relationship of music to life - if only he would take time to write it all down. Once I remember being fascinated as he illustrated the patterns that certain sounds make and how they connect to

Yoga for Everybody

Yesterday I had the opportunity to reconnect with a yoga teacher I have known and not seen for a while. While I pursued studying and teaching Anusara Yoga, she chose instead to study with Baron Baptiste. Each one of us found homes in very different traditions, but the things that drew us there were very similar - the spiritual dimensions of the practice, the experience of the practice as a meditation in motion, and the experience of community. We also spoke of a mutual friend who had chosen to study with Shiva Rea and was in the process of completing her advanced training with Shiva. We shared some teaching strategies and my friend told me about how her studio teachers meet and practice on a weekly basis. This week in their meeting, they explored having to teach under certain conditions - for example - stripping down instructions to essential languaging and giving students only two words to convey the action wanted, or the heart quality emphasized. At one point they explored teaching

The River is Wide

This morning, for the first time all year, someone was sitting on "my" bench down by the river. So I walked down the uneven path to the river and sat on a rock less than a footprint from the water. It gave me a very different perspective there. I thought to myself - like the song: "The river is wide". I felt on a par with the river - maybe not its equal - but in a different relationship to it. It was slightly breezy and peaceful and very quiet. I observed the tiniest life forms moving very freely in the water, and I wanted to stay there all morning. I experienced a connection to the river that was different. The wideness of the river made me think of the yoga workshop I attended this past weekend and my own class on Tuesday. Both of my teachers worked on very similar things and tried to get me to embody more deeply the same action. In Anusara Yoga we have a mantra that is often used: " Shins in, thighs out! " It is a refinement of the second of the


At the beginning of every new yoga session, my teacher picks a theme for the whole session which she introduces in the first class. This session it is celebration. My teacher spoke of the many opportunities we have in life to celebrate - even in the midst of loss - which she herself had recently experienced. Some times we receive the greatest gifts from what seemingly appears to be insurmountable circumstances. She spoke about the evening primrose - and how it blossoms in the evening almost unexpectedly. She shared how she had met someone who wanted to pull these flowers out of her beds because she did not know of their beauty. But an elderly neighbor counseled her against it - saying that in a year or two there would be beautiful blossoms - that would reveal their beauty for a moment. My teacher told us the flowers did bloom - a year or so later - on the first anniversary of the elderly gentleman's death. And she also spoke of bringing her own children on a pilgrimage to the si

God is Always Ready

Here is another insightful and comforting poem by Meister Eckhart, the 13th century medieval mystic: God is Always Ready God is always ready, but we are unready; God is near to us, but we are far from Him; God is within, but we are without; God is at home, but we are strangers.

Effort and Surrender

I just spent three wonderful days with one of my favorite Anusara Yoga teachers - Desiree Rumbaugh. I have been studying with her on and off for almost a decade. On Friday morning I attended a teacher's practice which was well paced and was an opportunity to discuss the nuances of the Anusara teaching method and principles. We bantered back and forth agreeing and disagreeing - and sharing what worked and what didn't in our teaching as we progressed through increasingly more challenging poses. I did experience a few breakthroughs - and was able to do Ganda Bherudasana for the first time with an assist from Desiree. It is a rather bizarre looking pose - and feels equally extreme in the body! I found myself going much deeper into backbends than I had in a year - because I had been protecting myself from the intense emotional releases that backbends can often cause. I felt freer and got some wonderful insights in the principles and how to deepen the experience of them in my bod

Right Attitude

This morning, before I left for the last portion of a three day yoga workshop, I read this beautiful reading from Paramahansa Yogananda's writings: "Avoid a negative approach to life. Why gaze down the sewers when there is loveliness all around us? One may find some fault in even the greatest masterpieces of art, music, and literature. But isn't it better to enjoy their charm and glory? Life has a bright side and a dark side, for the world of relativity is composed of light and shadows. If you permit your thoughts to dwell on evil, you yourself will become ugly. Look on for the good in everything, that you may absorb the quality of beauty."

Conscious Breathing II

Here are some more insights from my notes on the class I observed a couple of days ago that I referred to in my post yesterday morning... "You must be conscious of putting your mind, body and breath together. It is important to do this - so the body doesn't tighten in the poses. The more consciously we breathe - the more we expand - so let us focus tonight on the relationship we have to the breath. Every breath is a gift of life - it is about opening - and softening. Breathing in reflects an inward flow - while breathing out - reflects an outward flow. Everything in nature is an expression of these currents - an inward and outward flow. The breath creates balance and harmony in the body. Press the palms of your hands together and give thanks that we are the recipients of this life force - this prana - of which the breath is only one aspect..."

Conscious Breathing

Last night I had the pleasure and honor of watching a Master Teacher share her enthusiasm and love for yoga with brand new students. I was in awe of how she transmitted this love and how she wove her theme into this very beginning practice. She focused on the idea of conscious breathing and deftly wove it into the first principle of alignment. She encouraged her students to be the recipients of the breath and its gift of life as they moved through the poses. I learned so much from observing this gifted teacher. I entered her room with a beginner's mind and came away enriched and filled to the brim. It re-ignited my passion for this discipline and desire to be a good teacher as I face new students again next week.

Lives within Lives

The last two mornings down by the river have been interesting... Yesterday, a group of young boys were preparing to launch about 15 kayaks into the water, under the supervision and instruction of what seemed to be very capable teachers. The day was overcast, and as I left the park it started to rain and I wondered whether they launched or not. Today there were two guys filming what seemed to be a car commercial, in addition to the various others who drive their cars around with their music blaring, or who sit in their cars talking. One guy walked to the picnic bench feet away from me and just sat and smoked. As a former psych major, it is so interesting to observe the many behaviors on display. As I drove into the park this morning, I thought of how complicated our lives can be - how there are many phases to our lives - in essence - there are lives that we live within our lives. We are such richly textured beings! I regularly read a newsletter called: What's Up on Planet Earth?

Expands His Being

Last night I fell asleep to a meditation CD that was made in cooperation with the Dalai Lama, and seeks to replicate the brainwave patterns of advanced Tibetan Monks who emit GAMMA waves in deep meditation. The experience I had was beyond words... This morning I re-read this beautiful poem by Meister Echkart, and found that it touched upon some of the experiences that I had: Expands His Being All beings are words of God, His music, His art. Sacred books, we are, for the infinite camps in our souls. Every act reveals God and expands His being. I know that may be hard to comprehend. All creatures are doing their best to help God in His birth of Himself. Enough talk for the night. He is laboring in of me; I need to be silent for a while, worlds are forming in my heart.

Did You Find Joy?

The latest issue of The Inner Journey contains these two quotes: "The future, and higher evolution, will belong to those who live in joy, who share joy, and who spread joy." - Torkom Saraydarian "Man loves because he is Love. He seeks joy, for he is Joy. He thirsts for God for he is composed of God and he cannot exist without Him." - Sathya Sai Baba I found these quotes particularly relevant this afternoon as I painted my son's room a bright yellow. He has moved out now, and I wanted to turn the room into the combination of another guest bed room/sitting room/reading room. I thought that picking this bright color would be uplifting when I felt down and when the skies sported a dull winter grey. The Inner Journey Newsletter notes that joy is the energy of love, and is also the highest vibration on the planet. If we vibrate with joy, we will attract joy. As noted before on this blog, the ancient Egyptians saw Joy as a sacred responsibility. Upon th

The Eight Limbs of Yoga

Every student of yoga at some point learns about the Eight Limbs of Yoga which are outlined in Patanjali's Yoga Sutras. As I was cleaning out and organizing stacks of my notes yesterday, I came across this wonderful interpretation by Paramahansa Yogananda. Bear in mind that volumes upon volumes of commentaries have been written throughout the centuries on each one of these limbs, and yet here is a brief summary that is accessible, easy to follow, and which also lays out the basic tenets of Kriya Yoga as taught by Yogananda. The roots of this ancient yogic science, described in both the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali and the Bhagavad Gita , are easily evident to those who have initiated into its sacred mysteries. Recently, as I re-read both texts in preparation for various presentations, I marveled at the insights these sutras from two very ancient scriptures now yielded as I considered them from a different perspective and from an established sitting practice in a particular lineag

Our Truest I

Meister Eckhart is one of my most favorite medieval mystics. He was a 13th century German Dominican who is perhaps most famous today for this verse often quoted by Oprah: "If the only prayer you ever say is 'Thank you,' It would be enough." This brief verse became the cornerstone of a whole "gratitude movement" in the mid to late 1990's, especially popularized by Sarah Ban Breathnach and her classic work - Simple Abundance - A Daybook of Comfort and Joy. Here is another brief poem that caught my eye this morning: "I AM can be spoken by no creature, but by God alone. I must become God and God must become me, so completely that we share the same 'I' eternally. Our truest I is God." A beautiful poem that invites much deeper reflection. I see much that resonates with the writings of Paramahansa Yogananda, which I continue to delve into.

I Cannot Dance

Another poem from Mechtilde of Magdeburg, the medieval mystic, on this magnificent 4th of July... I Cannot Dance I cannot dance Lord, unless you lead me. If you want me to leap with abandon, You must intone the song. Then I shall leap into love, From love into knowledge, From knowledge into enjoyment, And from enjoyment beyond all human sensations. There I want to remain, yet want also to circle higher still. May you always dance the exquisite dance of the Divine!

Embracing Freedom

The latest Namaste newsletter by the Chopra Center has a wonderful article on embracing freedom. It notes that some of the most amazing and significant stories are about people who journey from bondage and exile into freedom. I find this quite appropriate on the eve of the celebration of our nation's birthday. The newsletter also contained this wonderful quote by Hafiz: "We have not come here to take prisoners, Or to confine our wondrous spirits But to experience ever and ever more deeply Our divine courage, freedom and light!" We all yearn for freedom - it is part of our essential nature. As the article points out, ancient yogis recognized that the source of a lot of our bondage is due to our conditioned thoughts and responses - something that Eckhart Tolle's book - A New Earth - also recognized and examined in depth. Freedom ultimately lies in the experience and full expression of the present moment. As we celebrate this July 4th, let us all be more deeply

God Speaks to the Soul

This is an interesting time of the year to go visit the river because there are many boaters and people who go to the park and the boat launch in particular. Some park in their cars, talking on cell phones, often smoking - others sit in their cars with the windows down and music blaring. It seems rather odd to me and it defeats the purpose of seeking stillness and silence and connecting with nature. It certainly is a reminder that we are all at different stages of awareness - or lack thereof. I even notice the birds are very quiet during those times... Last night I came across this beautiful poem by Mechtilde of Magdeburg, a 13th century Beguine and mystic... God Speaks to the Soul "And God said to the soul: I desired you before the world began. I desire you now As you desire me. And where the desires of two come together There love is perfected. HOW THE SOUL SPEAKS TO THE SOUL Lord, you are my lover, My longing, My flowing stream, My sun, And I am your reflection

Look to This Day

I begin a new month, and in many ways, a new year - one cycle completes and another begins... I sit in meditation with the anticipation of all the gifts that life brings, the opportunities of this day, and portions of this prayer - this poem - that arises in my soul... "Look to this day: For it is life, the very life of life. In its brief course Lie all the verities and realities of your existence. The bliss of growth, The glory of action, The splendor of achievement Are but experiences of time. For yesterday is but a dream, And tomorrow is only a vision; And today well-lived, makes Yesterday a dream of happiness And every tomorrow a vision of hope. Look well, therefore to this day; Such is the salutation to the ever-new dawn!" - Kalidasa