Showing posts from April, 2009

More Rumi

I go to take my Anusara Yoga class today at noon with Suzie Hurley, the wonderful director of Willow Street Yoga Center , after a hiatus of a couple of weeks. I had forgotten how delicious it is and how it feeds my soul. As always, Suzie is bursting with joy and enthusiasm as she bids us to embody "shri" - beauty - like spring blossoms, as she deftly reviews the leg principles. We play with ankle, shin, thigh, and pelvic loop as we align more deeply with the Divine in our practice. I make a mental note to review these with my own students when I begin my session in a week. A good friend is now able to take this class with me - in fact, she is the one who told me about this class years ago, when I taught during this very same time slot, never imagining myself to be free at the time. We drive over together, sharing insights and and seeking out each other's wisdom and simply enjoying one another's company... I come home to settle in for a little afternoon work in my o

Rumi on God and the World

I found this poem online where Rumi speaks of God. I included excerpts from it in my entry a few days ago but wanted to share the whole piece... "When His love shines without a veil - neither the sky remains nor the earth, not the sun, not the moon. God embraces all... There is nothing that is not a part of him already. Remember God! His remembrance is the strength in the wings of the bird that is your soul The souls of all friends of God are connected with one another. You must seek anything that you wish to find Not so with the Friend... You begin to seek after you find him." On the World The world is a mountain Whatever you say, good or bad, it will echo it back to you. Don't say I sang nicely and mountain echoed an ugly voice... That is not possible. The human intellect is a place where hesitation and uncertainty take root. There is no way to overcome the hesitation... except by falling in love To reach the sea and be happy with a j

Stepping into the River at Dawn

The river calls, it beckons, and I come down to its banks in the early morning...I step inside, and baptize my feet... It is quiet, and still, and beautiful, and I think to myself, it doesn't get much better than this... I think once again of the bumper sticker I saw last week - it haunts me, in a good way: "Happiness is a choice..." Yes it is - it is a choice we must make again, and again, and again... I also recall so many beautiful passages that I have read lately by Yogananda: "The laughter of the Infinite God must vibrate through your smile. Let the breeze of His love spread your smiles in the hearts of men... You have the power to hurt yourself or to benefit yourself... If you do not choose to be happy no one can make you happy. Do not blame God for that! And if you choose to be happy, no one can make you unhappy... It is we who make of life what is is... Remember that when you are unhappy it is generally because you do not visualize str

I Go to the Water

For the first time in months, I am on break from teaching my yoga classes, so I go down to the river on this magnificent Monday morning to launch Grace. I come down in a tank top and shorts for the first time in months. It is hot, and there is not a cloud in the sky. It feels exhilarating to push off from the boat launch and step into the water in my crocs, wading around without boots and the protection and insulation they provide... I reflect on a bumper sticker I saw a few days ago: "Happiness is a choice." So true. But not always easy to internalize. I reflect on how the readings of Paramahansa Yogananda are addressing this very topic at the moment in his Spiritual Diary ...I also recall sage advice from Rumi, recorded yesterday: "Sadness is a thief. It steals our energy." Such sayings of wisdom coming to me from so many sources... I contemplate such insights and others gained during the wonderful training I did this weekend with Todd Norian, a gifted An

The Ecstatic Rumi

Tomorrow I will share more of Todd Norian's wonderful insights and inspirational thoughts. Todd is a gifted Anusara Yoga teacher who was in town these last three days for yoga therapy training. This early morning, as I was driving to the other side of the river for the conclusion of the workshop, I listened to a program on NPR on the ecstatic poetry of Rumi. I only caught the tail end of the program, but it was enough to feed my soul, as I traveled to a venue where I would also feed my body. These are some of the incandescent words which set my heart on fire, and which I drank in like the sweetest nectar: "Speak a new language so that the world will be a new world. The heart has its own language. The heart knows a hundred thousand ways to speak. If you don't plow the earth of your heart, nothing will grow in it. I am on fire. If you doubt that - touch me! Wherever you are, and whatever you do, be in love. Sadness is a thief. It steals your energy.

Planting Seeds of Joy

I am spending three days with Todd Norian this weekend, who is one of my favorite Anusara Yoga Teachers. The focus of the weekend is Anusara yoga therapy, but last night's class was a general practice and its theme was "planting seeds of joy." I am going to summarize some of Todd's opening comments: " Anusara Yoga is a tantric practice that is life-affirming. Tantra is really the art of thriving. Joy is the basis of Anusara, and we are continually striving to cultivate this virtue and attribute... Anusara is a path of radical affirmation - it affirms that life is good - and is meant to be an adventure. Spring is the season of affirmation and new growth. It is also a cleansing season for the body and the mind, and the season invites us to let go of our self-limiting beliefs. Weeds grow in our minds during this season as well. Anything that is not an affirmation is a self-limiting thought of things I can't do. Whatever thought you nourish grows d

I Love This River

It is a beautiful day, and the start to a very busy weekend for me, so I am drawn to go down to the river for a visit mid morning... I love this river - it has taught me so much in the last year and half since I have been visiting it. There are so many lessons and insights that have come from deeply communing with it, or from the ruminations of the heart and soul that have poured out of my depths by its banks. It is quiet, sunny, breezy - and the river is still swollen. I sit down on a clump of grass by the well worn path leading down to the shore by the riverbank that is now under water... I watch two beautiful geese - gliding down the river in tandem, without a care in the world. I observe how every rivulet and wave dissolves and merges with all those surrounding it - a constant reminder of both the impermanence and the fundamental unity of all things - realities I know and accept on a cognitive level, but have difficulty internalizing on an emotional level... I consider discussi

The River in Deep Cleanse

The river is always a metaphor for my life, and today it is swollen nearly to the edge of the cliff I stand on, and practically all the way up the boat launch to the parking lot. It seems to be cleansing itself with a deep sense of urgency, as evidenced by its freely flowing, swift and muddy waters... I survey the river from my perch and think to myself that today, this river truly gives new meaning to the song, "The River is Wide," a tune I have been listening to, and humming to myself these last few days... I retreat - and sit on the green bench that I have not sat on for almost a year and am startled by the view in my field of vision. It takes me back a year or more - to a different period in time. I am surprised by the perspective that my field of vision entertained at that time, and how different it has been since I have literally entered the river and become one with it. I also think of the session I had this morning with a very gifted healer, an incredible craniosacr

Right Where I am Supposed to Be

Yesterday, during an exchange of emails back and forth with a wonderful soul that came into my life almost exactly a year ago - this incredible yogini and angel simply noted, that I am exactly where I am supposed to be in life... It is so true. And it is not that I did not already know this - or have not had others observe or confirm this - but sometimes we hear something we have been listening to all along like it is an incredibly novel idea. As someone who is both - a yoga student and teacher, I am amazed at how I have often heard an instruction for years, until one day - I finally got it. When I am in my role as teacher, I have had experiences of giving the same instruction to a student over and over again - until all of a sudden there is this "aha!" moment where it is truly understood and internalized. It's as if there is this one perfect moment for us to hear and digest what is needed, and it cannot happen one moment too soon... My friend and I talked about many t

Cry Me a River

Last night, before going to bed, I came across a YouTube musical rendition of the the song, "Cry Me a River," sung by Susan Boyle, the singing sensation of the moment that I wrote about a few days ago. Susan is nearly 48, has lived alone, and has the voice of an angel. She surprised everyone at an audition of the show, " Britain's Got Talent ," and her unlikely discovery has touched millions of hearts all over the world. Perhaps her whole life was lived - for that one moment - to touch the lives of many, practically instantly. She melted stony hearts in a way most unexpected, that invited all who listened to her, to rise above their pettiness and preconceived notions of beauty - as their spirits soared into the fullest expression of their humanity. In that moment, and in its aftermath, we truly embodied a sense of oneness. How many - celebrities or presidents can claim to have done that - to have united the whole world as one beating heart, in an instant? Thi

More on Compassion

I received these wonderful quotes today in The Inner Journey Newsletter on compassion, a subject I began this month with... "What I want in my life is compassion, a flow between myself and others based on a mutual giving from the heart." - Marshall B. Rosenberg "The whole idea of compassion is based on a keen awareness of the interdependence of all living beings, which are all part of one another, and all involved in one another." - Thomas Merton "When we experience the pain of another person, we instinctively want to take away that pain. But by taking away the other person's pain, we also take away his or her opportunity to grow. To be truly compassionate, we must be able to share another person's suffering and pain - knowing there is nothing we can do to relieve it and that we are not responsible for it, and yet knowing and understanding what that pain feels like." - John Gray

The Best Prayer

The latest series of readings in Paramahansa Yogananda's Spiritual Diary deal with prayer. I loved today's entry: "The best course is to pray: 'Lord, make me happy with awareness of Thee. Give me freedom from all earthly desires, and above all give me Thy joy that outlasts all the happy and sad experiences of life.'" On a wonderfully magnificent day, it was the best prayer to pray...

The River, Me, and God

For the second day in a row, I have been able to make it down to the river. Both days have been warm, though today was nothing short of magnificent. For the first time since last year, I launched Grace, unencumbered by winter gear, sporting instead some short sleeves and my crocs! I stepped into the water, getting my feet wet, baptizing myself into a new season of paddling... Both days have been cloudless days where I have enjoyed the river and had it pretty much to myself. And the blue heron was particularly evident today. The currents definitely made their presence known. It took a while to paddle upstream, but it was exhilarating to be doing it. I paddled near the first island, enjoying the vistas and evidences of spring, determined to angle around the bend. As I worked hard to get myself upstream, a magnificent blue heron flew along my right side without making a sound. He startled me, coming fairly close to where I was. Then, he flew on ahead and and angled off to the right. J

I Dreamed a Dream

I awaken in the rain, and allow myself to be lulled back to sleep. But later, after morning meditations, while it is still somewhere between a light rain and a drizzle outside, I go to survey the river. I have not been to visit in a while... The trees have not yet unfurled their leaves, but I know it is a matter of time before this broad and naked expanse will no longer be visible. It will cloak itself with exquisite raiment until next winter, like Siva - concealing and revealing himself, in an endless Tantric dance... I am lost in thoughts and emotions, and moved by a woman who touched the world with her rendition of Fantine's "I Dreamed a Dream" from Les Miserables . I find both the lyrics and the tune, and fall asleep to them, my heart echoing its melody and message, as I stand by the riverbanks and reflect on the wisdom dispensed yesterday, by a very wise soul. I look longingly at the river, knowing it has been a long time since we joined together, becoming one -

All is One

Four years ago today, after an incredibly blessed encounter, I began writing again, after 22 years of silence... I think of this day, so sacred and forever etched in my memory, and reflect on how I have arrived at a turning point of sorts. I drink in the insights of so many gifted seers who have revealed glimpses of what is to come right around the corner. In so many ways, I would not be here - where I am today - if I had not taken up the pen once more to record all that had simply gone unaddressed... I had always written, but I let other things get in the way, and I did not give expression to my voice... My last collection of poems were written in 1983, during a very blessed year. I am in the process of re-visiting and editing them... This is what I wrote, four years ago today, about a confluence of experiences that are truly ineffable and forever engraved in my heart... All is One My heart is overflowing with Grace— hands in Anjali Mudra, pressed against my breast—

Embodiment as Divine Revelation

I came across a poem by Kabir, that I read four years ago, and which touched me deeply. It, in turn, inspired a poem of my own. This excerpt comes from the book, Kabir, The Weaver of God's Name : "This poem expresses the devotee's bliss on realizing the Lord. He has found God within his own body. As a a goldsmith tests the purity of gold on the touchstone, the devotee, who has purified his entire being through meditation, is tested by the Lord and made whole.The devotee now realizes that all the time he spent searching for God through external observances, rite and rituals was a wast of his precious human birth. When he conquers his mind and, through meditation and concentration, crosses the regions of mind and maya - the third stage of his spiritual journey - only then does he realize the Lord within his own body." Pure as Gold The Lord has revealed himself To me within my body; My entire being, cleansed, Now shines like pure gold. Just as the goldsmith essa

Easter Blessings

The Easter Vigil clocks in at three hours, and is absolutely beautiful. I enjoy all nine readings - closing my eyes - reciting them in my head - anticipating every line - beginning with the story of Creation. I enjoy the lighting of the fire and the candles, the incense, the organ, the trumpets - all of it, even though my guys squirm and are not truly happy campers! It is nothing less that an experience that is both spiritual and sensual at the same time - encompassing and satisfying all of my senses. I enter deeply into the liturgy, and in my heart, I chant along with the cantor - the parts of the Exultet - The Easter Proclamation - that I can remember - a very beautiful and ancient chant: "Rejoice heavenly powers! Sing choirs of angels! Exult, all creation around God's throne! Jesus Christ, our King is risen! Sound the trumpet of salvation! Rejoice, O earth, in shining splendor, radiant in the brightness of your King! Christ has conquered! Glory fills you! Darkne

Experiencing the Triduum Differently

The sacred days pass in meditation and reflection, and I feel drawn to experience Holy Week in a different way, by practicing and experiencing rituals that I have not savored in over a decade... I look forward to spending the evening at the Easter Vigil with my two guys - who somewhat reluctantly agreed to my suggestion to do so. We will return home late and sleep under the same roof as a family, for the first time in a long time... The day is rainy, reminding me of deep soul cleansing, and I think of so many wonderful gifts received in so many ways - and some quite unexpected. Yesterday, a gifted friend took time out of her busy schedule to reconfigure a mala for me to accommodate the total number of Kriyas that I practice - so that I won't have to count or mark them off on one of my standard malas. I have been so drawn to malas and rosaries of late - bridging both my past and my present... I lounge at Starbucks for a long time, sipping my coffee and reading the paper and

Forgiveness Brings Joy

Seems like the ability or need to forgive has been a topic of conversation for me lately... Today I received the Inner Journey Newsletter with these quotes: "The greatest evil that can befall man is that he should come to think ill of himself." - Johann Wolfgang Van Goethe "If we don't forgive ourselves for our mistakes, and others for the wounds they have inflicted on upon us, we end up crippled with guilt. And the soul cannot grow under a blanket of guilt, because guilt is isolating, while growth is a gradual process of reconnection to ourselves, to other people, and to a larger whole." - Joan Borysenko The first step to activating our inner joy is to eliminate the blocks to it. We can start by truly forgiving ourselves and all others. Forgiveness calls for a shift in our perception. It is easier to forgive ourselves and others when we really understand that each of us has always done the very best we knew to do at the time. Ah, now there'

Compassion and Holy Week

I enter deeply into Sacred Space... I enter more fully into Sacred Time... I enter into this Holy Week, mindful of the sacredness of this week to different faiths. On Thursday, which is traditionally the Day of the Guru to devout Hindus, we commemorate the Last Supper and the beginning of the Lord's Passion, while our Jewish brethren commemorate Passover. It is also the Full Moon for good measure, and I cannot think of anything more auspicious! I think also of a dear therapist and friend now traveling through India, whose meditation group I attend, and who has requested prayers for the work that he is doing... I am privileged to share the gift of Reiki this morning with a beautiful young couple who were drawn to this wonderful practice... Later in the day, I enter the labyrinth, for the first time in two months, asking to receive whatever it is that I should receive, recalling the last time I came to walk it - with a dear friend. I meditate at the center for almost an hour, sen

Kwan Yin and Compassion

"May harsh speech from my companions remind me to use sweet words always. If stones from evil minds are cast at me, let me send in return only goodwill. As a jasmine vine sheds its flowers over the hands delivering ax blows at its roots, so, on all who act inimically toward me may I shower the blossoms of forgiveness." - Paramahansa Yogananda On my meditation altar, I have a statue of Kwan Yin , who is the Goddess of Compassion . She is known as the one who "hears the cries of the poor," and the story is told, that as she was ascending to heaven and heard the cries of ones in need on the earth, she vowed to return until every last person obtained enlightenment. The particular statue I have, shows Kwan Yin in the "pose of royal ease." One of her knees is bent, and her arm is extended over that bent knee. This pose is illustrative of one who has a fierce dedication to a meditation practice and has reaped its benefits. When I look at this statu

Compassion and Forgiveness

"I will behold the person who now considers himself as my enemy to be in truth my divine brother hiding behind a veil of misunderstanding. I will tear aside this veil with a dagger of love so that, seeing my humble, forgiving understanding, he will no longer spurn the offering of my goodwill." - Paramahansa Yogananda Last night, I watched Sex in the City: The Movie , one more time. Once of my favorite scenes is a poignant one, where Carrie Bradshaw and Miranda Hobbs sit in a cab together in the rain. Miranda asks Carrie to forgive her for something she did - yet she has been unable to forgive her own husband for something he did 6 months before... Carrie points out - that in the end - forgiveness - is simply that - forgiveness... As I reflected on the entries on compassion in Paramahansa Yogananda's Spiritual Diary, it seemed clear to me, that one cannot truly embody compassion if one is not willing to forgive, even those things that seem to lay beyond the sc

Waves of Love and Compassion

MK Gandhi kept a collection of a book of prayers which he often referred to when he led prayer services. His Book of Prayers contains a fascinating collection sourced from many different traditions. In his writings, Gandhi addressed the importance of cultivating both love and compassion. The following comes from excerpts of his writings collected in the book, The Way to God : "True love is boundless like the ocean and, swelling within one, spreads itself out and, crossing all boundaries and frontiers, envelops the whole world." "That cohesive force among animate beings is love. We notice it between father and son, between brother and sister, friend and friend. But we have to learn to use that force among all that lives. In the use of it consists our knowledge of God." "It is my firm belief that it is love that sustains the earth. There only is life where there is love. Life without love is death. Love is the reverse of the coin of which the obverse is t

Riding the Waves of Compassion

Here are some more excerpts from the writings of Paramahansa Yogananda on compassion: "O Lord of compassion, teach me to shed tears of love for all beings. May I behold them as my very own - different expressions of my Self. I easily excuse my own faults; let me therefore quickly forgive the failings of others. Bless me, O Father, that I not inflict on my companions unwelcome criticism. If they ask my advice in trying to correct themselves, may I offer suggestions inspired by Thee." "Every day, try to help uplift, as you would help yourself or your family, whoever in your environment may be physically, mentally, or spiritually sick. Then no matter what your part is on the stage of life, you will know that you have been playing it rightly, directed by the Stage Manager of all destinies." "Thy divine light is hidden in even the most vicious and gloom-shrouded man, waiting to shine forth under the proper conditions: the keeping of good company, and ardent d

Begin with Compassion

As we begin a new month, and I continue to process insights, energy, and experiences from the weekend, I am reminded that in Japanese Reiki, Mikao Usui taught that we must cultivate compassion for ourselves before we can extend it to others... I think of that as being gentle with oneself when it is needed... As I process, meditate, and reflect, I also recall so many powerful moments at this time 4 years ago, that ignited my soul and accelerated the path I am currently on. It was nearly 4 years ago that my soul was moved enough to begin writing again, after two decades of not doing so... It was 4 years ago - that after decades of stopping and starting a meditation practice, I began to sit again on a daily basis... It was nearly 4 years ago - that in many ways, my interior life changed radically... I think of where I've been since - never imagining all the changes, the gifts, and the opportunities that I would come to experience, and I am reminded to be gentle and compassionate