Showing posts from October, 2008

I Come to the River a Year Later

I come to the river this afternoon, on the anniversary of my coming here for the first time - with so many memories of experiences and lessons learned - but especially recalling that day, a year ago - spent with the one who first brought me here, suggesting it as a meeting place... I come to the river in the afternoon after spending the late morning with a gifted therapist and healer who reminded me that the things that happen to us are not good or bad in the mind of God - even though we may label our own experiences as good or bad. We must learn to see ourselves as God sees us - in all our beauty and magnificence, and know that everything has a purpose in God's infinite plan... I go deep into meditation and hear the message: "I am with you always, until the end of time..." I come to the river after over a week of not being able to immerse myself and Grace in its healing waters... I come to the river after two nights of dreaming of being in water... In one dream, I h

The Grace of Water

I meet the friend who wrote the poetic musings - "El Rio" that I shared in a recent blog. We go down to Riverbend Park to experience "her" river farther downstream than where I go and experience "mine..." The river is beautiful here - it is much different in terrain. It is calm in some parts, but there are also rapids, and I wonder how Grace would navigate such waters. How would I? We speak to a woman in the Visitor's Center about kayaking, and she invites me to consider working with a certified instructor in a program they run in the summer with novice kayakers. They need volunteers to keep the program running since they are facing severe staffing cuts. I cannot imagine doing this - I have no basic learned skills, since I have basically taught myself. Yet this woman thinks I could do it and takes my name and contact information... My friend and I head out to walk the trail leading to the rocks where she surveys and communes with the river. We shar

Slouching Towards Winter

The last few days have been very windy and cold, and I have found myself wanting to hibernate and be more domestic - running errands, cleaning and clearing various corners - and even re-potting three African violets that had grown together for years! I invited them to accept the physical separation from their sisters as a good thing so that they could continue to thrive to their hearts content in their own playground! I've been mulling over a few things from Yogananda's writings of late, which as always, have come at precisely the right time and moment: "The happiness that people look for in this earth does not endure. Divine Joy is eternal. Yearn for that which is lasting, and be hardhearted about rejecting the impermanent pleasures of this life. You have to be this way. Don't let the world rule you. Never forget that the Lord is the only reality... You true happiness lies in the experience of Him." "You have to turn to God sometime, so isn't

Autumnal River Blessings

I so looked forward to paddling today - but I found it too windy and overcast - and I chose to exercise caution... I shared the river yesterday morning with a former high school student of mine - now a beautiful and radiant young woman - who traveled from afar to study Reiki with me. She wanted to see this river that has captivated my heart and soul... I go to the river this afternoon, and speak to a rower emerging from the waters who describes the kind of water and currents that he encountered. He says anybody can paddle while it is sunny - but by not going in now - I would miss some of the finest waters of the season. Still, I feel mine was a wise choice. I am chilled to the bone and do not feel I would have the endurance necessary. There is always a right time and I will find it once again... The leaves are peaking and I yearn to cross the river and entertain this explosion of color in all its majesty. I reflect on the beautiful quotes embedded within a heart-warming and inspi

River Currents

I enter the park attentively, for there are deer wandering about very slowly everywhere... One stops in the middle of the road and stares me down and will not budge. I wait until he decides he feels like moving on. None of the deer seem all that interested in me - or concerned in any way with my presence. It is as if I were a family member that is often overlooked or ignored... The river is calm and very still - no discernible movement in the waters as I sit on my rock and survey the others that are normally submerged. I begin my prayers and the wind kicks up, and within moments I suddenly notice the currents moving upstream! The currents not only move up the river - but towards me as well - wave upon wave heading towards me - gently breaking and dissolving at my feet. There is a message here for me, and I am filled with God's Presence... I pray for a little girl who captivates my heart and whose birthday it is today, and a friend who lost her mother mere months ago, and now fa

River Dance

I arrive at the river in the late morning, and it is a beautiful - but cold one indeed - so I slip on my booties for further insulation inside my crocks... It has been a while since it rained so the river is very low. I think that I could literally walk across it to the other side and imagine myself doing so. At one point, I curiously plant my paddle into the riverbed and find that in certain spots it is only a half paddle or less deep! I am grateful that Grace's underside is pretty flat - she doesn't have much of a protruding keel... There are so many rocks and boulders lying at the bottom as well as different variations of grasses growing everywhere...Some seem like very long tresses that the river appears to gently comb... Then there are the grasses that are more ominous and appear like dark tentacles. I shiver at the thought of the recent dream I had where the tentacles lured me and held me captive as I struggled to release myself from them - the symbolism in that dre

The Healing Power of Touch

When I was in Cape Cod this summer, I read an article about an elderly man who used the healing power of touch - hugs, and kisses - to help bring his wife back from the grips of Alzheimer's. I had forgotten about the article, but when I was organizing a pile of books, I found the article that I had saved. The gentleman, Sol Rogers, visits his wife and climbs into bed with her, sings to her, and simply loves her, telling her how much he cares. Over time, his wife Rita's behavior has improved remarkably. She is calmer, communicates better, and has regained some mobility, according to the August 10th article in the Boston Globe . As his wife's condition worsened, Sol became very depressed. So he started climbing into bed with her, talking to her, engaging her in whatever conversation was possible, and just holding her, and he found that only did his depression lift, but his wife became more responsive and mobile as well. A doctor interviewed for the article pointed out tha

Reflections by the River in Autumn

I do not have the time to paddle today, but steal away to the river for a brief visit anyway. It is so hard to stay away... The air is crisp, and clean, and the water table is low...Mounds of fallen leaves cling to the shoreline and unfamiliar rocks are exposed that normally lay hidden under water... I drive in to the park with my coffee in hand, reflecting on how one of the things I have always been good at is connecting - always tracking people down, staying in touch, and bringing others together. As people from the earliest decades of my life continue to pour back into my life, I am mindful of what a small world this really is! In moments, Reiki meditations waft down by the river where there is not a soul or car in sight... It is ironic how I have felt so much dis-connection in the midst of birthing deeper connections - and the insights comes - that one experience needed to be embodied to give birth to the other... I reflect on how difficult it is to conceive that we are t

Accepting, Allowing, Surrender

The first freeze of the year arrives, but it does not stop me from going to the river at noon... I launch Grace and marvel at how for the first time, I can see all the way to the bottom of the riverbed far and wide and am fascinated by its topography. It is like seeing with new eyes or with magnified peripheral vision. I can see with a clarity that is coming from embodying more deeply the qualities of accepting, allowing, and surrender... These are qualities of opening to grace I will explore and use as class themes for the next few weeks. Images come to mind of teaching this morning, and examining the many nuances of acceptance as we worked very deeply with a few poses... I paddle and note that the riverbed yields its secrets - and I marvel at its depth, and breath - each stone truly unique in its size and shape. I wonder how long they have lain at the bottom... I can see the remnants of shells here and there, and I follow a lone bass hugging the riverbed closely, but wandering sl

Opening to Grace - Again, and Again!

I have spent two days typing my notes from the Santa Fe workshop that I just attended with John Friend and about 120 other rocking members of the Anusara Yoga kula or community. I was amazed at how over and over again I read things that were really messages for me - and how it pertained to the First Universal Principle of Alignment in Anusara Yoga - "Opening to Grace." This principle just never gets old for me. There are layers upon layers to be uncovered, absorbed, and imbibed - again and again! I will share a few quotes from my 25 pages of notes: The First Universal Principle of Alignment of Anusara Yoga is to open to and receive the shakti that is all around us - rather than first assuming the approach or perspective: What is wrong with this picture? First - we must practice being open - and then we practice receiving - and finally paying attention. OPEN - PAUSE - FEEL IT - Choose to align with it! We always need to send out blessings for everyone has a lesso

The River at Dawn

I awaken in the deepest and darkest part of the night and cannot get back to sleep, so I pray - "Hail Mary's" and "Our Fathers", and feel sweetly embraced - as if covered in a mantle of peace and comfort and protection - granted by my fervent supplications... A friend sends me a newsletter - Make a Difference with Compassion - by Mary Robinson Reynolds - reminding that we should give thanks for what is good in the midst of so much news that highlights fear and lack and dismay. The reading speaks of Jesus who wisely counseled: "Ask, and it shall be given to you. Seek, and you will find. Knock, and the door shall be opened... If you know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him." If one's faith is big enough, and strong enough, one needs to only ask once, though most of us may need to ask several times...Scripture also teaches that if we had faith the size of

The Healing Power of Intention

As often happens, I receive the same message about the healing power of intentions from several different sources. This was also the focus of the latest newsletter from the Chopra Center, and I excerpt from it: "You are what your deepest desire is. As your desire is, so is your intention. As your intention is, so is your will. As your will is, so is your deed. As your deed is, so is your destiny." - Upanishads Intention is the starting point of every spiritual path. It is the force that fulfills all of our needs, whether for money, relationships, spiritual awakening, or love. Intention generates all the activities in the universe. Everything tha we can see - and even the things we cannot - are an expression of intention's infinite organizing power. As the ancient Indian sages observed thousands of years ago, our destiny is shaped by the deepest level of our intention and desire. Once we plant the seed of an intention in the fertile ground of pure potentiality, o

Crossing the River Bravely

I paddle upstream in the early morning coolness, marveling and reflecting on so many unexpected recent events...Most of the time, my mind is distracted by expectations that cloud my ability to see the unexpected... A friend shares, that expectations are pre-meditated resentments, and I think of how much pain and suffering comes from focusing on expectations... Friends and students from various stages of my life come flooding back into my life in most unexpected ways - thanks to Google and Facebook . I am tracked down and hear from many I remember fondly...How ironic that in a year when so many "exited" my life, others come back, pouring in... My life has taken very interesting and almost radical turns over the few decades... I briefly contemplate a whole battery of medical exams, MRI's, and PT sessions I must undertake and know that it is all for the best, trying not to dwell on these details... Then I reflect on these words, uttered by the Buddha , and their releva

Expanding Light and Being Grateful

This week, I invited my students to work slowly, but deeply in their poses, by focusing on the breath. We didn't do as many poses - but we worked them over and over, noticing where the breath flowed, and where it got stuck. As I had them inhale - I asked them to visualize their essence as a white light within, growing more fully with each inbreath - and expanding outside of the confines of their physical bodies, into the room, and beyond. With every outbreath, I asked them to visualize their physical form draping and hugging into the sweetness of this inner light burning brightly within. Imagine if we all visualized ourselves as expanding light. At some point our lights would merge into one and there would be nothing left but light! It seemed to me, that the more we experienced ourselves and each other as light - the more grateful we would become. In the midst of so much negative news lately, a grateful heart and an expansive inner light are welcome experiences. Later, I read t

Mist and Fog

I watch the remnants of the early morning fog - a fine mist skipping and dancing on the surface of the water, burn off - slowly and delicately. I come here, to the river, unexpectedly, after a cancellation in my morning schedule... It is chilly, but comforting, and I am glad to be here. I have missed coming here on almost a daily basis. I watch one lone paddler take off downstream - a place I have yet to explore... I think of how I was first brought to this river - and by whom - and how it brings such solace in my life. It has been a great gift in the midst of so many transitions...I'm sure, that on some level, it was foreseen... I reflect on how everyone carries some pain in their life - physical or otherwise - how sometimes it is obvious, but how many times it is far from evident... I think of a beloved former student and medical doctor, in the prime of her youth - committing to marriage this week, despite the cancer ravaging her body - daring to live in hope despite the

Back on the River

I return to the river after an absence of over a week. Though it is Columbus Day, I have the river to myself... The leaves are beginning to turn - yellows predominating here and there and everywhere - things starting to dry - we have truly entered into the "vata" season... I review some of the insights gained from my training in Santa Fe. I think of how important the breath is in our healing and in the practice. I have not been as attentive of the breath as I should have... I meditate and float, and rejoice at having tracked down a long lost friend from my youth - a man I have loved throughout the years and never forgotten... Maybe there could have been more between us - or maybe there was in another lifetime...I am saddened to learn of his health, intuitively having sensed for some time that something was amiss...I think of how people come and go in our lives, leaving imprints and even scars in our hearts and souls... I have missed coming to the river. It feels so c

Opening to Grace - Redux

I am up before 5 AM, ready to begin my long trek home... There are always insights in every training for me, and this time - the over-riding message is simple: opening to grace...I need to deepen in this practice in so many ways - and in so many aspects of my life - not just in the practice... There are are parts of me that have simply resisted this - consciously and unconsciously... I had the blessing of being surrounded by world class yogis and yoginis - not just in terms of their practice - but in terms of the beauty of their hearts... Every time I hung back with some trepidation during some assist, someone would approach me, encouraging me, saying you can do this, and compassionately talking me through it... So much that can be said but will be left unsaid... What a beautiful community! So many blessings!

Opening to Grace

The day is dawning on the last day of the training, and though it has been a wonderful experience sharing with members of the larger Anusara Yoga community, I am missing home and ready to return! Yesterday was magical in many ways. The theme for the morning was appropriately, "Opening to Grace," which we worked on by focusing on softening in the thickest part of the thoracic spine at the base of the shoulder blades - the very root of the heart - where we tend to harden. We worked by creating greater opening, lengthening, and extension in our bodies. It was amazing to see how deeply we all could open as we did rather nuanced assists I had not seen or done before - such as helping each other balance in handstand or forearm balance by simply pressing on the occiput of our partners or at the base of the shoulder blades. We were constantly reminded as teachers to say and live the very essence of this mantra: "Let my will serve thy will," for it would lead us to great

Transformation, Releasing, Healing

Yesterday, I thought about how this whole training is about transformation, releasing, and healing, on so many levels. I noticed that I carried my body differently - just as I did after the training on the "Art of Adjusting" in Sarasota, in April. One of my yogini friends shared with me how one of her teachers simply uses yoga and the breath - to work out the issues in his body. He believes that no other type of bodywork is needed. In this workshop, we work with some of the most basic poses - but we are working much more deeply and subtly with alignment - sometimes almost spending nearly an hour on one pose as we learn to soften and increase our sensitivity to the Shakti energy flowing through us. I have experiences of poses that are different - and deeper and richer than I have ever imagined. Transformation is not always easy. As John Friend noted yesterday, the cycle can be painful - and if you have emotional clinging to something, the suffering you experience will be gr


As I write this, it is nearly 2 PM, and the bells are chiming, calling the nuns to prayer. Yesterday, was a day that moved a lot of energy for me, as well as for many others, and we began this day by sharing those experiences. This property sits on a bed of rose quartz which opens and heals the heart chakra, so it is a very energetic site that can support the healing work we are doing. I am always amazed at how supportive people are at these trainings. There is something about this community that is incredible. Over time, there is a cohesion, respect, and support, that Anusara Yoga teachers have developed for each other. Those attending are very in tune energetically, and we are walking with each other on our various healing paths. I am continually touched by the depth of insights, sharing, and openess within this community. For example, this morning, a beautiful yogini noted how this is Yom Kippur, and how the day is tied into ahimsa (non-violence) and forgiveness. On this day you

Bhakti on the Outside

The internet connection at my inn has been somewhat uncooperative, so I brought my laptop to the workshop venue and decided to write for a bit during lunch and then go for a walk. This training is being held at the Monastery of the Immaculate Heart of Mary - a home for Carmelite nuns living at the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. This morning's session focused on cultivating our vision by creating a greater opening in the neck and shoulders. We were also encouraged to increase our power of visualization and to soften our hearts by seeing others. We were urged to cultivate our bhakti (devotion for others) on the outside before cultivating it for ourselves. In others words, it is easier, as the Bhagavad Gita points out, to experience love and devotion outwardly, before we can experience it inwardly for ourselves. There are of course, different schools of thought on this. Some would suggest cultivating lovingkindness for ourselves first before we can do it for others.

Grace and Acceptance

I have been in Santa Fe now for a couple of days, having arrived late on Saturday to acclimate to the altitude - which was a good thing - because yesterday I was naseous and lightheaded for most of the day. But, I took some recommended drops which made all the difference. Today, was the first day of a training in advanced therapeutics and energy with John Friend. It was a fairly intimate gathering of yogis and yoginis, and we focused on seeing and sensing energy and its various flows, in very basic poses and simple, but powerful exercises. John began by saying to us that he wanted us to be able touch with our eyes and sense with our whole beings. He wanted us to learn to open up more and to cultivate a greater ability to listen. He spoke a lot about the exchange of energy that occurs between a teacher and student and how to work with it more effectively. The experience of the training is very subtle, at a much slower pace, and much more relaxed and introspective. I am also enjoying

Living for Others

While I was in Palm Springs in September, I read a wonderful article in the paper about a therapist who is 99 years and still in private practice. She is a woman who has seen much and gone through much. I excerpt this material from an article written by Steve Lopez for Los Angeles Times on September 14, 2008. "I was put on this Earth to accomplish certain things," says Hedda Bolgar, a psychologist and psychoanalyst. "I'm so far behind I can never die." She led her interviewer into her office, where she meets with clients, some of them therapists themselves, and whatever burden they carry into this room - the lost of a spouse, regret, guild, fear of death - Bolgar knows something of the experience, having lived through revolutions, war, and famine. She left Vienna the day Hitler came in. Her parents were friends of Carl Jung and urged her to work to meet society's unmet needs. The secret to a long and healthy life, Bolgar says, is to be a citizen of the w

Connecting to Heaven Through Earth

As I paddled upstream later this morning, on my way to explore a portion of the river I have only been to a few times, I thought of how God gives you exactly what you need when you need it - whether or not it is what you want. In the last few days I have connected with several friends I have not seen or written to in months. Yet each came back into my life at precisely the right time with precisely the right message - each one unexpectedly - but each one contributing a greater clarity to the mosaic of my life. I also reflected on the insight from a friend who noted that paddling into the fog took a tremendous amount of risk and that it was also symbolic of the risks I have been taking in life. Often while I am on the river, I recite the Reiki Precepts. One of them exhorts us to be true to our way - whatever that may be. My own yoga teacher reminded me of this after my return from the river, which was simply exquisite this morning. I have not seen the heron - but I unexpectedly came

El Rio

This morning was simply beautiful - cool, breezy, fresh - a typical fall morning... I stopped by the river on my way to an acupuncture treatment and noticed that the river was vibrant, and nothing but undulating waves. Leaves were casually being released into the waters by surrounding trees, and they floated downstream effortlessly... I watched two kayakers take off on a bumpy ride and disappear... My rocks were under water, so I found another one to sit on and do my meditation as my senses took in the beauty of the landscape and the morning. It never fails to amaze me how the river can look so different each time I come... A friend and former student of mine has also been going to the river on a regular basis this year - though she accesses the river at another park farther downstream from where I do. She has developed her own relationship to the river and her insights, which she has periodically shared with me, are nothing short of breathtaking and enlightening. Recently, she wr