Showing posts from May, 2009

Three Cups of Tea

Last night, my nephew graduated from the eighth grade. He attended St. Jane de Chantal Catholic School , in Bethesda, Maryland. During the graduation liturgy, the pastor delivered a wonderful homily based on the book, Three Cups of Tea , by Greg Mortenson. I have not read this book myself, though it has been recommended to me. After this homily, I have decided it is definitely a must read for me. The author of this book is nourished back to health in a Pakistani town high up in the Himalayas. During an encounter he has with a sage in the village, he learns about the custom of drinking three cups of tea. He is told, that when he shares the first cup of tea, he is merely a stranger to those who offer him the cup. When he drinks the second cup, he is elevated to the status of honored guest. But by the third cup, he becomes family. In so many cultures in the East, there is an ingrained and very ancient practice of hospitality that is evident in how others are embraced and respected. T

Alphabet for Life - Redux

Five months ago, almost to the day - as we were not only ending a month - but a year - I posted this "Alphabet for Life." I re-visited it today, almost half way into the year by re-posting it in several segments on both Twitter and Facebook . The responses it elicited made me think it worth re-posting for newer followers. One of my friends noted, that if she were ever asked to give a commencement address, she would certainly share these wonderful gems. I have a laminated copy of this next to my computer, where I see it every day. I could easily spend the rest of this life embodying and implementing each and every one of these dictates or maxims. In fact, I could spend several lifetimes after this one working on this list - simply perfecting them! I dedicate this re-posting to my nephew and godson, Paul Alexander, who graduates today. And may these pearls of wisdom touch your lives once more as you gracefully embrace the second half of this year! A ccept differences B

Be Humble and Hungry - Graduation Advice

This comes from Jon Gordon's newsletter, and provided much food for thought, especially at this time when so many commencement addresses are being given... A young man asked me the other day if I had one piece of advice to give him, as he graduates college, what it would be. I told him to be humble and hungry. Be humble. Don’t think you know it all. See yourself as a life-long learner who is always seeking ways to learn, grow and improve. Be humble. See everyone as a teacher and learn from everyone you meet. Be humble. Be open to new ideas and strategies to take your life and work to the next level. Be humble. When people tell you that you are great don’t let it go to your head. And when they tell you that you stink, don’t let it go to your head. Be humble. Because the minute you think you have arrived at the door of great

I Believe in You

The right messages always have a way of coming to us at precisely the right time... These words come from a wonderful video you can see at Jon Gordon's site. Watch it, and share it, and spread its wonderful message and the light! I Believe in You When you face a setback, think of it as a defining moment that will lead to a future accomplishment. When you encounter adversity, remember, the best don't just face adversity, they embrace it, knowing it's not a dead end but a detour to something greater and better. When you face negative people, know that the key to life is to stay positive in the face of negativity, not in the absence of it. After all, everyone will have to overcome negativity to define themselves and create their success. When you have the naysayers, remember the people who believed in you and spoke positive words to you. When you face critics, remember to tune them out and focus only on being the best you can

Grace and Beauty

I slowly ease into a magnificent Sunday morning after meditation, with grace, drinking in the myriad examples of beauty in my life... I gratefully smile, recalling a wonderful evening spent with family and friends enjoying Garrison Keillor and "A Prairie Home Companion," at Wolftrap National Park for the Performing Arts - an event that has become a yearly tradition with a dear friend and her family... The music, company, and food were exquisite - and the evening full of joy...Every present moment gracefully unfolded into the next, and the next one, and the one after that, so that each moment in and of itself seemed eternal, and in each one the Essence of the Divine was felt and touched. Garrison is his vintage self - and I drink in the words to an exquisite song that he has written and think it to be, one of the most beautiful love songs I have ever heard: "Beautiful girl, in this cafe... You are not alone... What you feel now, I too have known-- You are not alo

What is Advanced Yoga?

What is advanced yoga? Some would say - that doing challenging poses that require much exertion - such as inversions and arm balances constitute advanced yoga. Certainly they are not poses to be undertaken by someone who is wandering into their first yoga class, although I have frequently heard horror stories of folks being initiated into yoga by being told to do a headstand - often with little instruction. This is a pose that can be quite dangerous to a person new to the practice. And, there are those who should never do this pose because of special conditions or considerations. Betsey Downing, an Certified Anusara Yoga teacher and one of my first yoga teachers, often likes to remind her students that doing the advanced form of a pose is doing it with a smile on their faces - particularly if it involves a challenging pose with a long hold! Noah Maze, another Certified Anusara Yoga teacher, in his latest newsletter, recalls one of his first yoga teachers, Richard Freeman, telling

With Gratitude

Today, on the day of the Guru - I crossed the river to take my yoga class with a few friends. My wonderful teacher, Suzie Hurley, the owner of Willow Street Yoga Center - the largest Anusara Yoga studio with the largest number of Anusara certified teachers - taught a rocking good class, with at least four other Anusara teachers taking the class. Suzie's theme was gratitude. She began by speaking of the chakras and particularly of the heart chakra's central point - noting that three chakras were below the heart - and three were above it. We chanted "Yum" - the mantra of the heart chakra to open our hearts as she led us through a sequence of poses that required us to melt our hearts as a direct action of "Opening to Grace" - and the active engagement of "shoulder loop." Suzie also asked the class to share something we were grateful for - asking some of us individually. When she asked me - I said I was grateful for all the people in my life. It w

Gems From Kindred Souls

Every morning now, after my meditation, I quickly scan the newest "tweets" I've received, and I am amazed at the beauty of so many of them. They are such an inspiration. I have always loved collecting quotes - and now I can either wake up or go to bed to a fragrant bouquet - sent by a host of kindred souls! I have to say, as a result of becoming engaged with online social networks, I am finding that this vast world is becoming smaller and smaller - and yet the bright light that is shining from people's hearts is simultaneously becoming brighter and brighter. I am filled with a lot of joy and hope as I have not been in a long time! For the first time, I am seeing and registering tangible examples that consciousness has shifted tremendously on this planet... Truly, in the words of Julian of Norwich, "all shall be well!" Here is a list of some of the gems that that I have scribbled down in the last couple of days, coming from so many different sources, which

Strength and Foundations

This morning, as I worked with "Muscular Energy" - the second of the Anusara Yoga Universal Principles of Alignment , I reminded my students that when they engage muscle energy - they begin their practice by setting a strong foundation so that they can then draw on their inner strength. This source of inner strength is unlimited as evidenced in my favorite quote by Rumi: "The whole universe is inside of you. Ask all from yourself." By hugging the muscles to the bones - and drawing in towards the midline, and from the periphery to the core - we not only set a strong foundation - but we tap into our inner source of strength - and then we make beauty and art with our bodies as our practice is expressed from the inside out as poetry in motion. Sometimes, our foundations crumble and must be rebuilt. I shared with my students - that in many ways that has been the theme of my life the last couple of years - rebuilding my foundations to make myself stronger... We are

River Ablutions

Early on this Saturday morning, I head down to the river before the rain - and even before my usual morning meditation, to commune with the river... I step in, and paddle away from the launch area - reciting one line of the Ho'oponopono Hawaiian healing and meditation practice - for each stroke of my paddle - over and over again - like a sacred mantra - as I perform my river ablutions... This mantra is not recited for a person or a situation in particular - but is instead offered freely, from the heart - to the Divine who is the source of all healing... "I'm sorry. Forgive me. I love you. Thank you." Over and over again I repeat each line - perfectly in sync with every stroke of my paddle as it dips into the water... I swim in the realization that there are layers upon layers that must still be uncovered in every significant lesson and healing experience of our lives. When we think we are done with an issue, it surfaces again, peeling back another layer

My River of Grace

This morning, I finally had an opportunity to launch my kayak - Grace - and myself - into the river. It was a quiet morning, with not a single soul in sight in the river. It was just me, a magnificent blue heron like I had never seen - (or was it perhaps - "the one?") - and very vocal geese, a couple of mallard ducks, and quite a few exuberant bass fish making a splash as they danced for joy here and there. It was the first truly warm - almost bordering on hot day in a very long time... I was mesmerized taking in the striking profile of the blue heron who calmly surveyed the expanse of the river, now exploding in every variety of rich and verdant greens. The whole river was teeming vibrantly with life! And love! The paddling was effortless at times - and it seemed to me that there is an art, almost a poetry to paddling. I was in the flow, without a care in the world, simply enjoying every moment that spilled into the next, and the next one after that... Like the meditatin

Get 10% Off on ALL My Books in May!

I am passing on a discount from LULU.COM where I self publish my books. Visit my storefront on LULU.COM - accessible on my home page: or at my storefront (also on my homepage): Purchase any and every book for 10% off! Consider getting some to give away as gifts! Click on "BUY " and then just enter the following code when you check out: MAYCONTEST10 Enjoy and happy reading! With love, grace, and blessings, Olga

Twittering and Puttering

Another nice day... I went to the river briefly after an acupuncture treatment for a visit. It is still flooded, and I struck up a conversation with a guy who had just come out of the water. He works for the State Department and likes to hit it several times a week. It seems I keep meeting kayakers who work there all the time! When I got home a friend called me and invited me out for coffee. We traveled over to Reston and had our iced coffees in a beautiful park in the middle of the Town Center and had a few good laughs... As I prepare to go into my evening meditation, I thought I would share a few of my recent postings from Facebook , that either referred to the writings of Paramahansa Yogananda, or were excerpts from my Denver notes. For those of you on Facebook , the last quote is a sneak preview of what I will post as my the inspirational quote for my status tomorrow - so shhhh! "When we begin to awaken, there arises within us an instinct of remembrance that there must

Resting and Twittering

I am experiencing a gentle re-entry after the incredible week in Denver... Right now, I am listening to an interview with John Friend that was conducted by The Elephant Journal in Boulder, CO the week of the gathering as I review some "tweets" (updates) on Twitter . I have chosen to follow a few folks that post some short inspirational quotes. Many people I know say they see no purpose to Twitter and posting "tweets" - and are generally quite disparaging of this phenomena - but I say - its all in how you use it. I feel the same about all the social networking sites out there. Here are some postings from today: "Forgiveness is the final form of love." - Reinhold Niebuhr "Non one can make you feel inferior without your consent." - Eleanor Roosevelt "You were born with wings. Why prefer to crawl through life?" - Rumi "The heart is God's living room." - Ramakrishna "Love gives courage a home."

Mother's Day

It was a wonderful lazy day. I slept in - then went to Starbucks to have coffee and read the paper. In the late afternoon it was off to Clyde's, one of my favorite restaurants, for an early dinner with my guys. About ten years ago or so - we went there for brunch and I received a geranium which I still have, and which still blooms for me. The Spiritual Diary of Paramahansa Yogananda, records this wonderful excerpt from his writings for Mother's Day: "In India we like to speak of God as Mother Divine, because a true mother is more tender and forgiving than a father. The mother is an expression of the unconditional love of God. Mothers were created by God to show us that He loves us with or without cause. Every woman is to me a representative of the Mother. I see the Cosmic Mother in all. That which I find most admirable in woman is her mother love." To all you mothers out there - hope you had a good one!


I am at home, enjoying a wonderful bordeaux, cheese and pate, and transcribing my notes... The week in Denver was magnificent. It many ways, it was a turning point for me... The last day did not disappoint, and I am currently transcribing 75 pages of handwritten notes. I have typed three days worth, and still have a couple more to go... On the last day, Paul Muller Ortega addressed the process of awakening into Great Consciousness. The Tantric text that we studied all week, the Siva Sutras, is in essence, a manual for consciousness... Here are some of my notes from the last day. I realize it may not make sense to many - still - I wish to share them: "We are that Great Consciousness and we always have been – we have simply chosen freely to dance in the waves of transformation. In that process – in one or another moment of being embodied – in a particular life as a mysterious and grace saturated moment – that which has caused bondage in many life times – begins to release itse

Evening Came and Morning Followed - The Fifth Day

I am entering the last day of the week long gathering of Anusara Yoga teachers... Yesterday was an incredible day on so many levels... One of my first two yoga teachers, Betsey Downing, who co-chairs the Anusara Yoga certification committee, shared with the group that teaching Anusara Yoga is about experiencing an on-going process of personal growth - this coming from a woman who continues to exhibit great studentship. I thought these were very appropriate comments on Thursday, which is traditionally recognized in Indian tradition as the day of the Guru - or teacher... One of the things that John Friend always does, is quiz his teachers and students to make sure they know the method of Anusara Yoga thoroughly. The other thing he does is ask teachers to demo a pose and then he often deepens their experience of it. But the pose and person he chooses to do it, are never accidental... Yesterday, he assisted a woman who has a beautiful practice through Viparita Chakravakrasana - wh

Evening Came and Morning Followed - The Fourth Day

Yesterday was an exquisite day here at the Anusara Yoga gathering in Denver. Paul Muller Ortega's insights were simply delicious, and as I reviewed my notes last night, I realized that they really focused on the experiences and nuances of a meditation and yoga practice. Last night I typed up the notes of the day to more deeply imbibe their hidden fruit. Just a few highlights: "There is a pulsation of energy that occurs with both rest and relaxation in meditation and yoga practice... The inbreath and the outbreath are both ceaselessly and constantly engaged in the process of going in and going out. The inbreath and outbreath are our constant companions in life from the moment of our birth until our end. Within this flow we experience the pulsation of consciousness. Shakti is present in the Absolute as the Absolute. (This is one of the fundamental differences between Tantra and Vedanta). Consciousness is shakti – its fundamental nature is power. The physical body is th

Evening Came and Morning Followed - The Third Day

I write this rather bleary eyed, since I got to bed at 1 AM last night! The Anusara Yoga community celebrated John Friend's 50th birthday in a beautiful home. Everyone showed up in gorgeous attire. It was fun to see people outside of yoga clothes and to celebrate this incredible event as a community. The teachings with Paul Muller Ortega continue to be very deep and nuanced. I especially loved the discussion on the meaning of "OM Namah Shivaya" in the Anusara Yoga Invocation yesterday morning, and a discussion on the nature and role of desire from a renunciatory perspective as is described in the Bhagavad Gita, in contrast to the Tantric perspective. The Gita teaches that our goal is to let go of desire and this is really a renunciatory process. Tantra is the spiritual path of the householder, and renunciatory practices are not really appropriate for someone in this stage of life. Thus, in the Tantric tradition - you refine and purify desire - so that you may be abl

Evening Came and Morning Followed - The Second Day

Yesterday was a packed day, ending with a meeting of the Anusara Yoga Curriculum Committee. Consequently, I did not do any updating last night. The day was filled with exquisite but very sophisticated and nuanced teachings on Tantra - beginning with a historical overview, then an examination of the schools of Tantra that have influenced the philosophical foundations of Anusara Yoga , and finally, ending yesterday with a bird's eye view of the Siva Sutras , a very beautiful Tantric text, which we began studying at our gathering last year. Paul Muller Ortega is one of the premier Sanskrit scholars and experts on Siva , and he has just finished his own translation and commentary of this text. The first sutra, or verse of this scripture, in many ways summarizes the text and begins simply, by stating - "Consciousness is the self." In other words, consciousness is always conscious of itself. One of the atributes of the Divine is that it is supremely aware and conscious of

Evening Came and Morning Followed - The First Day

I feel as though I am going to embark on a week of creation! Hence, the reference to the verse from Genesis in the title of this posting... I arrived safe and sound to Denver, and slept very well, though I woke up with a pounding headache - which is for me - an effect of the altitude...But, I woke up refreshed and ready for the day, and meditated quietly and deeply, as I dedicated the day to God. Yesterday I arrived with two wonderful yoginis and we settled in. In the early evening I ran into some yoginis from North Carolina who shared with me that they used some of my poetry to generate reflections during their Anusara Yoga immersion - which is a precursor to the teacher training program. I was both thrilled and touched! Today will be a very long day - with meetings, updates, and the opportunity to drink in the the poetic sensuality of Paul Muller Ortega. I will try to make updates to this posting, adding some more later, as a moment here or there permits, thus, reporting LIVE! Fr

In the Early Morning

Yes, it seems trite but - "All my bags are packed, and I'm ready to go..." Tomorrow, in the early morning, I shall depart for Denver, for the annual gathering of certified Anusara Yoga teachers. This year, I am mindful of the many meetings I will be attending and am reminding myself to stop, breathe, and remember - as I reminded a dear friend yesterday, to rest in God...Yes, even in the midst of so much busyness and presence... While I am looking forward to all that this week will bring, I am also a little unsettled, for I do not travel well. It is the process of getting from point A to to point B that can be unnerving, and I find it fascinating that some people travel for a living and actually love it! Recently, two intuitives that are in my life noted that there will be more travel for me in the future. I received this news with a certain amount of trepidation. Then I thought, whatever will be, will be. God will somehow provide and give me the strength I need to d

The River in Bloom

It is rainy today. I had hoped to put in some time at the river, but alas, Grace will not enjoy the water possibly, for at least 10 days... The river is in full bloom - and all is truly verdant. Thus, the river is not so wide as it was during the winter season. It is no longer bare - but instead, teeming with life... I am packing and cleaning today - getting ready for my trip to Denver and the many gifts and wonderful moments it will surely bring! I am looking forward to seeing people that I will perhaps only see at this time this year - as I will not be able to travel to other Anusara venues... I chant the Reiki Precepts as I survey the river, taking in all the changes now evident and the explosion of leaves which now block my ability to see far and wide along the riverbanks. I take a moment to reflect on an article I read yesterday about making commitments by Sally Kempton in the latest issue of Yoga Journal . She observes that "without commitment, life is a free-for-all,