Showing posts from February, 2009

May The Lord of Day Grant Us Peace

We arrive at the end of a month full of special graces. I marvel at the blessings bestowed, the connections made, the gifts of the soul received, and the clarity of heart and perspective granted. I am filled with the Presence of the Divine, and a Love that lasts forever... I wish to usher in the new month arriving, and heralding the coming of spring and the regeneration and newness of life, with a blessing from an ancient text, the Taittiriya Upanishad: "May the Lord of day grant us peace. May the Lord of night grant us peace. May the Lord of sight grant us peace. May the Lord of speech grant us peace. May the Lord of space grant us peace. I bow down to the Divine, source of all power. I will speak the truth and follow the law... May the light of wisdom illumine us. May we become united with the Lord..."

A Good Teacher is a Good Student

Every year, Anusara Yoga certified teachers renew their certification by having a colleague take their class. It is a wonderful way of affirming what is good in one another's teaching, and a wonderful way to give and receive support. It is also a way to improve our teaching skills. Yesterday, I had the honor to do this process for my own teacher, who is truly a master of her craft, and who has taught legions of yoga students for decades. But besides being a Master Teacher, Suzie Hurley, the owner of Willow Street Yoga Center , where I have taken my own yoga classes for several years, is the consummate student, and this to me, is the sign of a good teacher. She and I sat side by side in my previous teacher's class for a long time. And, I have been with her as she has taken many workshops, including some as a "beginner," even when some of her own teachers were apprenticing that particular workshop. A teacher must always be willing to take classes with a beginner'

Feathers on the Breath of God

I go to the river, not once, but twice today... I go to the river, because I am one with it, and I miss it...The river is my breath...It animates my soul... I go to the river before crossing it further downstream to go to my yoga class, which is both joyous and playful. I will leave it exhilarated... The river is still, and a flock of white birds seem as though they are meditating on the water - some of them glide here and there effortlessly and gracefully, in slow motion. There are so many of them - as I have never seen before - and most are floating on the water perfectly still - like monks - they populate this river - as far as the eyes can see all the way upstream... I come back to the river in the late afternoon, and launch Grace. The river is still inhabited by these silent birds that soon fly away as I, and a couple of other kayakers invade their solitude... For only the second time this year, I am in the river, and physically and organically, one with it... I paddle

Maha Shivratri and Ash Wedesday

This is a week that has seen special days for both Hindus and Christians... Monday, Hindus celebrated Maha Shivratri - or the "Night of Shiva." A poison came out of the ocean which could have destroyed all of creation. The other gods prayed to Shiva to protect their lives by consuming this poison. Pleased with their prayers, and out of compassion for living beings, Lord Shiva drank the poison but it was so intense that something was required to cool its effects as his throat became blue. Today, Christians celebrate Ash Wednesday , ushering in the liturgical season of Lent, which mindfully and prayerfully commemorates the passion, the death, and the ultimate resurrection of Jesus. Both of these days are evocative of salvation on some level for the spiritual adherents of these two traditions. I recently read the book, Our Lady of Kibeho, about a series of Marian apparitions that occurred in Rwanda about a decade before the ethnic genocide took place there. I was so surpr

One Step and One Breath at a Time

I take a moment, to literally drive by the river, on my way to breakfast. There are deer everywhere, and the river currents are strong. I don't have time to stay for a visit, but I needed to somehow connect to the river, at least visually, if not organically. Someday soon, Grace and I will launch into its healing waters again. I drive home, after meeting a dear friend and companion on the spiritual journey - a brother - whom I have not seen in a while...We have a heart to heart over brunch, and review where we have been in the last several months. We are connected deeply and it is always a joy to be in each other's energies... As I drive home after brunch on this beautiful sunlit day, I listen to a song by Bliss , that seems to capture perfectly what I feel and where I have been: "A mind so haunted is bathed in such bliss I'd trade the world for a moment of this... The veil is lifted, illusion has died The voice of the angel is calling tonight I see the dawn...

Emptiness and Fullness

This morning, I connected my theme of "emptiness and fullness" with engaging kidney loop - as we worked through a flow of twisting poses. I remarked to my students, how so often we must come to a place of emptiness - before we can experience being full. We must let go of what does not serve - to invite in what will nourish us more deeply... Twists have an amazing effect on the body - releasing toxins and promoting a better flow of nutrients in the body. They have a very cleansing affect. But to maximize the healing effect of twists, we must create space and extension in the body first. Kidney loop , one of the seven energy loops of Anusara Yoga , brings our awareness to our back bodies, where we initiate the action of the pose. Activation of this loop creates the necessary fullness in the back body. But we must first empty, and surrender - from a place of humility... I thought about my theme and sequencing yesterday afternoon as I browsed at Border's looking for two b

The Shack and Taking Chance

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to offer a retreat to teachers with several other gifted healers, in a new healing center envisioned by one of my friends. I taught a yoga class and then offered Reiki sessions continually in 20 minute segments, for a couple of hours. It was a wonderful experience, and I found myself going into a deep, meditative state... In the afternoon, I lay in bed and finished reading The Shack - a book that had been recommended to me, by a couple of students. It took me a little bit to get into it, but the last third of the book was truly rewarding and moving. As a former theologian, I was very interested in many of the discussions in this book... The book is about a man whose young daughter is murdered, and his return to the site where it occurred, to meet with God. His encounter leaves him totally transformed. This book is really about changing one's perception of God, and the importance of experiencing healing and expressing forgiveness on many differen

Divine Love IV

Today, the series of beautiful readings on Divine Love in Paramahansa Yogananda's Spiritual Diary ends. Tomorrow, we move on to the subject of humility, which is a fitting successor to these... "If in the darkness, the mind never wavers, if love and longing never grow weak, it is then that you prove to yourself that you really have the love of God." "God's love is so embracing that no matter what wrongs we have done, He forgives us. If we love Him with all our hearts He wipes out our karma." "God understands you when everyone else misunderstands you. He is the lover who cherishes you always, no matter what your mistakes. others give you their affection for a while and then forsake you, but He abandons you never. In countless ways God is daily seeking your love..." "The love of God cannot be described. But it can be felt as the heart is purified and made constant. As the mind and the feeling are directed inward, you

I am Empty, I am Full

Today, as I ran around wrapping up errands and routine appointments, I thought to myself - "I feel full." I also reflected on how I had encouraged my students this week to soften as they opened to grace - but from a place of fullness. I wanted them to feel heavy with this sense of fullness. Later, as I organized and attended to a myriad of tasks as I sat at my desk, I came across this newsletter by Amy Weintraub, the creator of LifeForce Yoga . Amy's newsletter is called: LifeForce Yoga for Depression News , and I am providing an excerpt: "When I look inside and see that I am empty, that is wisdom. When I look outside and see that I am everything, that is love. Between those two, my life turns." - Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj "For many years, I wondered if there was a way to reconcile the Buddhist notion of emptiness with my own experiences on and off the mat of fullness - my sense of connection to everything. When I came across this quote by the

Such is the Giving of God

I received a newsletter today from a wonderful community of Visitation nuns that live in Minneapolis among the poor. I know most of them personally, and taught with a couple of them, when I was just 25 years old, staying there through my mid-thirties, until I re-located to the Washington D.C. area, to teach at the Visitation school in Georgetown for 12 years. One of the nuns, who was my department head at the time, just celebrated her golden jubilee - 50 years as a professed nun. She chose this quote for her anniversary invitation, and it touched me deeply: "Such is the giving of God, it gives us the power to give of ourselves." - F. X. Durrwell This coming year, Visitation nuns celebrate the 400 anniversary of their founding by St. Francis de Sales and St. Jeanne de Chantal. One final quote on this newsletter also spoke to me: "During this year of the Visitation, let us renew like Mary, the spirit of generosity and gentleness to others..." - V. Vigue

Cleared for Inversions - Yeah!

On a very beautiful, but cold February morning, I ride out to see my ophthalmologist, after a long and delicious meditation, to check my right eye for one final time for a condition being monitored since November... I remember the sage words of a gifted Anusara Yoga teacher, BJ Galvan, who suggested my condition invited a greater sense of vigilance... I am cleared by my doctor to begin my practice of inversions once again, and feel truly joyful! I also check that a meditation technique I practice isn't having any effect on my eyes... I ride home, stopping to pick up my McDonald's coffee and to be in the sweet energy of the beautifully radiant woman who is always so graciously attentive and kind. In my heart of hearts, I know the world is populated by many more like her, and that in spite of everything, this is a wonderful world to be in... I continue on to the river to breathe in that magnificent crisp air, and to give thanks. There is no one there - and I briefly consi

The Power of Grace II

On a brilliant, but cold February morning, as I lead my yoga students through a flow of backbends, I share with them the very lesson I have struggled so hard to learn and embody, for we teach, in order to learn that which we must know... Of all the qualities of opening to Grace, the one I choose to emphasize on this day - is that of softening, as I say to them: “If you open to the power of Grace, you open to Love in all its permutations.” In order to open to the power of Grace, we must first soften and then hug into the sweetness of that opening Opening to the power of Grace opens the doors to transformation Opening to the power of Grace connects us more fully and deeply to the Divine Opening to the power of Grace enables us to experience human love, and Divine Love in all its permutations I invite my students to become the very embodiment of opening to the power of Grace— embracing and reflecting Love in all its permutations I come home after a wonde

And I Dance

I awaken, after a blessed day filled with wonder and sacred graces on this earth plane, and I dance I awaken, from lucid dreams and the exquisite joy experienced in the unexpected visitation of Great Love, and I dance I awaken, after deeply communing with Divine Love in meditation lost in rapturous bliss, and I dance I awaken, after experiencing the most profound and esctatic union and glimpsing untold beauty, and I dance I awaken, after the delicious merging of kindred souls soothed in the gift of its healing balm, and I dance I awaken, to a haunting melody its sweet lyrics reverberating in my soul, over and over again and I dance... I dance, and I dance-- led by Spirit, led by Grace, in Sacred Union, my soul, so long in mourning arises from the slumber of deeply held grief, awakening to love and to life, and I listen to music-- I feel it, I sing to it, and I dance, and dance, once again... "Your love like wine tasting sweeter to me ev

The Greatest Romance

In the dark and late of night, on the eve of St. Valentine's Day, I listen to classic love songs sung passionately by Natalie Cole - delicious lyrics wafting in and out of my ears, stirring deeply in my heart and soul, bringing to mind so many treasured love songs, as I lose myself in these lines I now hear and once sang - eliciting memories of my greatest and most poignant experiences of human love - of loving most fully and deeply - moments calling me into greater union with Divine Love...So many feelings, freely flowing like a stream of emotional consciousness, transporting me from where I am into higher states and planes... "Even though its been so long my love for you keeps going strong I remember the things that we used to do... I try to deny it but I'm still in love with you I miss you like crazy..." "I never thought I could make it I can't believe the hell I've through Couldn't see the light at the end of the tunnel I didn't kno

Wisdom from the Upanishads - The River of God

I picked up Eknath Easwaran's translation of The Upanishads, while I was at my yoga class yesterday afternoon, to add to my collection of Upanishadic translations. This particular volume is so much more accessible than the ones I already owned, and I would like to share some passages that spoke to me as I thumbed through the text in my first cursory examination. I look forward to curling up with this book, and giving it my undivided attention. The inside cover of the book has this wonderful explanation of these ancient texts, which are collectively known as the Upanishads - the core teachings of Vendanta . The word Upanishad means - " sitting down near ," and implied that these teachings were received at the feet of a master or teacher: "Over two thousand years ago, the sages of India embarked on an extraordinary experiment. While others were exploring the external world, they turned inward - to explore consciousness itself. In the changing flow of human thought,

Back on the River Again!

The days continue to be glorious and magnificent - reaching nearly 70 degrees yesterday. After a series of routine check ups, I went to the river to survey its state. The ice was gone, the day was breezy, and the water inviting... I went to pick up a new yearly pass for the boat launch - then headed home to get Grace. We spent about 45 minutes on the water and it felt delicious! The water was a little choppy and there was a bit of a wind, but I didn't paddle far. I made it out across to my island briefly, but mostly I just floated - I did a brief meditation, and chanted the mantras that are currently touching my heart and soul, embraced by the healing but very cold waters... I gave thanks for everything, and felt the newness of being that has been emerging, hold me captive...

The Power of Grace

"You are the proof of Grace. Grace is something you have already become. The evidence is that it could have done anything. But it did you." - Douglas Brooks "Love life. You are here to love life. That's what the Tantra is offering; the opportunity to step fully, ever more deeply, every day, in every breath, into the possibility of savoring the gift of embodiment; of realizing that the Universe gone through all of this trouble to make you. That you're not here to get something, or acquire something, or achieve something; but merely to taste, to savor the gift of the conversation of the heart. And let that be enough to let this message of love in." - Gopala Iyer Sundarmoorthy (Douglas Brook's teacher) I received both of these quotes in Todd Norian's newsletter. Todd and his wife Ann, are Certified Anusara Yoga teachers, who are both gifted and inspirational, as their newsletter often is as well. Todd shares a story in the

When Great Love Comes

As I noted yesterday, I explored the notion of what is real and unreal in my classes this week - emphasizing how the practice helps to dispel delusions. I reflected on this myself as I reviewed some of what Paramahansa Yogananda wrote on the subject. Everything I read touched me deeply, and these are some of the thoughts I had: "What is real? All that comes and that is sourced from the Divine is real. That which comes from the material world is unreal... What is connected to the Divine is eternal. What is connected to the earth plane, passes.... The more we connect to the Divine, the more clearly we will be able to see what is real... We make that connection by seeking the Divine deeply in meditation. Only then will He reveal Himself. But we must search, and look, with unceasing dedication. Nothing else will satisfy... We must recognize that God's Presence is in all things, and in all places - and at all times..." I read this passage from Yogananda over and ov

From the Unreal to the Real

The last few days have been so magnificent - beautiful, sunny, warm - and I've had the pleasure of listening to the joyous chirping of birds while sitting during my morning meditations. I thought to myself, as I heard them this morning, how wonderful it is to be alive! Yesterday, I went down to the river to see if more of it had unfrozen, and indeed it had. Just a few feet were remaining alongside the riverbank. Still, there were people walking on the ice, which was not smart. I watched with interest, taking in the way a very experienced kayaker maneuvered himself over the ice and onto the river... He slid his kayak over the ice and deftly launched himself sideways onto a river with very strong currents. Shortly before getting into the water, this kayaker talked a couple of very inexperienced men out of going into the water. They were not properly attired and he impressed upon them that the water temperature was 37 degrees, noting the impact it would have on them. The currents we

Inner Renunciation III

I was gifted with the opportunity to meditate with two friends this week - each one deeply devoted to their meditation practice. Yesterday, a spiritual brother and I shared the impact and insights that the readings on renunciation were having in our lives. As sojourners on the earth plane, we are constantly being reminded that there is more to life, and that we have to slowly divest ourselves of all the attachments and things that occlude our connection to the Divine, the spiritual realm, and to one another. The ultimate gift we give - is that of our own lives, and I was acutely reminded of this last light, as I accompanied my husband to see the movie, "Grand Torino," which is truly an exercise in morality on so many levels. I share this passage coming from the writings of Sri Gyanamata, because it was the selection for today in Yogananda's Spiritual Diary . Every time I read it, it has so much more to offer and yield in terms of insights for me, and hopefully may be of

Inner Renunciation II

The series of beautiful readings on renunciation in Paramahansa Yogananda's Spiritual Directory , are about to conclude, and I wish to share today's entry, which I read on this magnificent Saturday morning, with a chorus of joyful birds chirping in the background to my meditation: "It is alright to enjoy life; the secret of happiness is not to become attached to anything. Enjoy the smell of the flower, but see God in it. I have kept the consciousness of the senses only that in using them I may perceive and think of God. 'Mine eyes were made to behold They beauty everywhere. My ears were made to hear Thine omnipresent voice.' That is Yoga, union with God. It is not necessary to go to the forest to find Him. Worldly habits will hold us fast wherever we may be until we free ourselves from them. The yogi learns to find God in the cave of his heart. Wherever he goes, he carries with him the blissful consciousness of God's presence."

Inner Renunciation

The series of readings in Paramahansa Yogananda's Spiritual Diary for this week, have dealt with the topic of "inner renunciation." Many of the these readings are very relevant to me at this time, and I will share some passages that spoke deeply to my heart... "Renunciation is the wise path trod by the devotee who willingly gives up the lesser for the greater..." "To engage in actions without desire for their fruit is true tyaga (renunciation). God is the Divine Renunciant, for He carries on all the activities of the universe without attachment to them. Anyone aspiring to Self-realization - whether he be a monastic or a householder - must act and live for the Lord, without being emotionally involved in His drama of creation." "The saints stress nonattachment so that one strong point of material attachment may not prevent our attaining the entire kingdom of God. Renunciation does not mean giving up everything; it means giving up small pleasur

Challenges from the Internet

I received this from the most recent Inner Journey Newsletter, and I found it very interesting to contemplate, so I share it with you... "The central event of the twentieth century is the overthrow of matter... The powers of the mind are everywhere ascendant over the brute force of things." - George Gilder Those of us who use the Internet are challenged with spam, viruses and worms. What meaning can we find in these culprits? It helps to remember that the cause of everything lies in the spiritual realm. And so we might reflect: On spam: What unsolicited junk do we allow to enter our minds and distract us from what's important? On viruses: What malicious thoughts and behaviors sabotage our dreams and sap our vitality? On worms: How do we allow fear to worm its way into our lives and subvert our highest intentions? Mass consciousness is a reflection of all of our individual consciousness. The inner world creates the outer world. When we clean up our own syst

Walking the Labyrinth

We are into a new month, in a new year, and I walk the labyrinth with a dear friend, noting the many insights freely flowing, as we both embrace this ancient practice... I observe how sometimes, our lives and our paths on this earth plane, intersect - and how we ride the same waves. Sometimes, our hearts beat in tandem with a select few with whom we cross paths: friends - family - or mere acquaintances... Other times, we journey onward, shouldering the burdens of our lives and work on our own, living quiet lives of sadness and grief... Every once in a while, a perfect stranger connects with us - at precisely the right moment in time - and gives us an important message or the key that will unlock a mystery in our lives...At other times, an affirmation of our life's work or direction is unexpectedly received...I marvel at the perfect set of circumstances that set such encounters in motion, so that we meet the right person - at precisely the right time in our lives... Sometimes ou

What Feeds You?

Today, I invited my students to consider in class - what fed their bodies, their minds, and their souls. I also asked them to think of the things they fed, that perhaps they might not want to feed. Then, I suggested that they consider the practice as a way to feed themselves... At a time like this one - when we are in the dead of winter, but also in the midst of hard, economic times - it is good to take time to feed and nourish our spirits, so that we in turn - can feed others... This weekend, as I readied all my information for filing my taxes, I came across various inspirations things that I had saved at one time or another. I wanted to share this piece, because so many parts spoke to me - and fed me. I sense it will speak to many of you as well... NATIVE AMERICAN INDIAN TRADITIONAL CODE OF ETHIBS Inter-Tribal Times, October 1994 1. Each morning upon rising, and each evening before sleeping, give thanks for the life within you and for all life, for the good things the Creator h

I am a Believer

Yesterday morning I finally took that Survivor Test . It turns out I am a Believer . I guess I am more so that - than a Connector. But I can't say that I am surprised... The interesting thing was to learn what my three top Survivor Strengths were: Faith, Hope, and Empathy ...Almost like - Faith, Hope, and Charity...Humm....Much food for thought here... You are also given your bottom three traits. Mine were: Adaptability, Tenacity, and Flow . To increase my chances of surviving in any circumstance, I should work on these...I have to agree with the test's assessments, although I tend to have more tenacity in some situations than others - for example - persevering in completing a doctoral program, and a demanding yoga certification process. But I would agree, that in other situations, I tend to give up more readily. Ironically - the last one - "Flow," reminds me of the meaning of Anusara Yoga - "to flow with Grace". It also reminds me of river lessons re