Showing posts from October, 2009

Looking Down the Road and the River - Two Years Later

I awaken, two years to the day, when circumstances and a soul first lured me down to the river. I had no idea what journey I would be undertaking shortly...It would take me away from all that I had known and held securely. It would bid me to let go, and journey deeply into the unknown... It is a Saturday, and Halloween as well, and after reading the paper at my neighborhood Starbucks, filled with costumed folks of all sizes and hues, I head down to the river, just to make a brief visual connection, and acknowledge this Sacred Temple of Healing Waters, and all that it has been and provided to my heart... A confluence of feelings, memories and inspirations swirl within my soul, stirring so much within, just as a confluence of waves merge and dissipate - no one can tell where one begins and the other ends... I finish this river journal today. I know the river will continue to play a part in my spiritual life and healing, and that messages will come from time to time. I know I will cont

Home to Myself on the River and Elsewhere

The day begins differently than I had envisioned it to be. After a long wait in a doctor's lounge for routine blood work that somehow gets mixed up, I head out for my long overdue morning coffee! As I wait in line to place my order, I strike up a friendly conversation with a WW II veteran, who tells me of going back to visit Omaha Beach for both the 50th and 60th anniversary of D-Day. Having just visited the landing beaches in Normandy last month, I can sincerely thank him for his service... I head down to the river, and banter with a kayaker, and decide it is not too cold or windy, so I can make it in. I come home, and put on my boots for the first time since the early spring, and dress warmly... The kayaker asks me what "Aligning with Grace" means. I have a decal of my website logo, on Grace, my kayak. He is intrigued by what it means and by the fact that I teach yoga. I run into a dear friend and student walking her dog, and we share insights we've received, a

The Gifts of Upheaval

One of my favorite columnists to read is Sally Kempton. She has written a column for Yoga Journal for quite some time, and is a highly respected teacher of meditation and philosophy. She also has a newsletter titled, "Awakened Heart." I excerpt the following from her latest posting, which contains some very timely insights for many of us... "In the tantric traditions, there is a saying, 'That by which you fall is that by which you rise.' Like all deep koanic statements, this one demands to be understood on multiple levels. For me, right now, it's been a useful way of looking at the energetic paradox that so many of us are noticing in our public and private worlds. Here's the paradox. On the one hand, we see escalating crises...But on the other hand, we see escalating awakenings... It's no secret that we're in a time...when the energy of change is escalating. We all feel it, and many of us have own interpretive stories about it... I'd

The River in Silent Reflection

I enjoy a few days of quiet, stillness, of journeying inwardly and deeply, of writing, researching, and meditating, healing, and contemplation... Time flies, it goes so quickly, I sometimes wonder where it goes... I arise very early for an appointment to have craniosacral work with a very gifted therapist who never ceases to amaze me with her expertise, her knowledge, her resources, her compassion, and her stunning, crystal clear insights. We explore some issues and their roots deep inside my body and work very creatively with toning and chanting, until I feel an explosion of heat and electricity coursing through my body. The body's ability to respond and communicate with us is truly amazing, if we are willing to listen and do the work that is required. I leave with my homework assignments, and what I need to work on until my next appointment, and go out in search of coffee. I stop at McDonald's and encounter the beautiful middle aged woman from a Middle Eastern country,

Thoughts on Kenosis at the River

After making an early morning airport run, I grabbed a cup of coffee and went down to the river on this early Saturday morning. It was interesting to observe that there was a whole array of parked cars with people drinking coffee and reading newspapers in them. Must be a weekend routine for some! There also seemed to be a regular crowd that comes to hang out and walk their dogs - they bantered back and forth about them - catching up on the events and details of the week... I watched all of this with some amount of dispassion as I sipped coffee, and thought of a child - now growing into a young woman - whose birthday it is today. I sent her birthday wishes - and blessings of love - in a shower of grace - and promised to offer my meditations for her later today... I walked about surveying the river from its banks for a while, feeling totally open ended in my day and coming week, and was drawn in by thoughts I had on passages I read by Catherine de Hueck Doherty before I went to sleep

The River's Gift of Grace, Blossoms and Insights

So many activities and tasks needing my attention during this day, but I rebel, and despite the cold and damp weather and coming rain, I make my way down to the river with Grace, my kayak, in tow... No one is at at the park - no one is even fishing today. I revel in the realization that I have the river all to myself, and when I arrive, the water is mostly still, and the colors on the other side of the river gently beckon... I push off, and paddle towards the river banks on the other side, where I rarely go. I disturb a blue heron as I approach the shore, and he flies off, but not before expressing some irritation... It is breathtaking on this side - quiet - except for the hum of insects, all joining seamlessly in their sacred mantra. I am drawn to the deep reds and burgundies and hints of vermillion that have been largely absent this year, along the river. Ash and birch trees seem to predominate around this area... I start to feel the cold as the wind begins to pick up and stir th

The River in All Its Fall Glory

It is a brilliant day, and I begin it by teaching my beautiful garden of yoginis who rise the the occasion of challenging backbends with grace and enthusiasm. I finish class and dash out to the river. The sky is a brilliant blue with hardly a cloud in it, and the temperatures have climbed enough for me to put on a tee shirt and crocks. I arrive at the boat launch and take in the broad expanse and the stillness of the waters. The trees on the river banks are perfectly reflected on its surface, for the first time, in almost a year. A few minutes later, Grace and I are paddling up the river... I can see all the way to the bottom - rich details of the underlying terrain revealing itself. It has been hidden from me since about this time last fall. I paddle upstream and find one lone heron who seems totally unmoved and undisturbed by my presence. I pass him again when I float downstream and he seems not have to have moved one iota from his meditative stance... It is largely quiet on th

Awakening, the River, the Cold and Sunshine

While this morning was perhaps, the coldest since last winter, it was also sunny and beautiful beyond words. I was elated after leading my wonderful garden of morning yoginis through a challenging practice of backbends and inversions in the middle of the room. All arose to the occasion - no pun intended, as they awakened and deepened in the recognition of who they truly are at their essence... Afterwards, I drove to mail a birthday present to a very special child celebrating her 14th birthday this week. I was pretty creative, having done some investigation into the meaning of her unique name, and having found a statue of an enlightened being bearing the same name! Then, I drove down to the river, to spend a few minutes. I wanted to go in, but I knew it was just a little too cold for that... As I longingly looked on at the trees on the other side of the river, I reflected on these lines posted on Twitter this morning by Dr. Paul Haider, that spoke to me: "I am a seed that falls

A Day for Stillness and Peace

After many days of raining, it finally has begun to dry up. So, on this Sunday morning, after putting all the ingredients for dinner into the slow cooker, I head down to the river for a few minutes. There is no one there... I walk to the edge of the cliff, not far from the bench I sat on, almost two years ago. As I look down at the ground I am surprised I had never noticed that it is literally covered with clover. Or, had it just gradually taken over in the last year or so, without my being aware of it? I think of how easy it is to overlook the simple things in life... The colors on the other side of the river are not near their peak yet, though the park itself is bursting with oranges, and russets, vermillions and golds - a veritable symphony of colors. And I wonder, how many more times will I be able to launch into the river before I am forced to take a hiatus? This morning, before I took these few precious moments to myself by the banks of the river, I checked some postings on Tw

A Blessing to All Who Read

This morning I slept in for just a little bit, then went off for an acupuncture appointment. After that, it was a late breakfast with a dear friend, and at the end of the day, a walk in the rain before my evening meditation. It was a busy day on Twitter. I received this blessing by someone who goes by @ShipsofSong: "A Blessing to all who read: We lovingly call forth from the depth of your being, and the four corners of the Universe, the One Mind and the One Thought, to radiate and fill your being, to surround you and to flow through you, to your Creator, to your planet, and all of her inhabitants." Yes, a blessing to all who read this. Blessings of love, Sent in a shower of grace!

Our Greatest Fear

The last couple of days have been rainy, so I spent a lot of time commuting to three yoga classes at Willow Street Yoga Center in Maryland - one I taught, another I observed, and the last one I took as a student. I loved the class that I observed this overcast and soggy morning. The theme was perfect. This wonderful teacher, Carrie Ganz, spoke of the things she drew inspiration from and then proceeded to be a source of inspiration to her class, uplifting their hearts, and drawing out the best in them. The teacher was so present and compassionate to her students - many of which live with pain and serious chronic conditions. It was a gentle class, and the teacher totally exemplified the characteristics of an Inspired Anusara Yoga teacher! Then I took my own class. My teacher's theme was living with courage as an attribute and expression of the heart. We worked with challenging backbends that felt delicious and everyone arose to the occasion! It was a wonderful way to spend a rain

The Power to Change

Today I received Jon Gordon's newsletter, and it was titled, "The Power to Change." While the whole newsletter is worth reading, I will include this excerpt here: "Change can be either your friend or foe and this is determined by how you perceive the change you are dealing with. You can make change your enemy by resisting and running from it or you can make it your friend by embracing it and learning from it. To thrive you must embrace change...[Here are] 5 questions we should ask help us embrace and ride the waves of change: 1. What can I learn from this experience? 2. How can I grow wiser, stronger and better because of it? 3. What opportunities does it present? 4. What do I want now? 5. What actions do I need to take?" We all encounter seasons of change in our lives. Some we seek - others we do not and they come unbidden and unexpectedly. Some changes we experience are easy - but others are immensely difficult and sometimes very pain

The Meaning of Intimacy

It is a beautiful day, so I ignore my rule of not going down to the river on weekends - taking a break from emptying closets, purging, and cleaning. I sit in the car by the banks of the river and read my new poetry book for nearly a hour, enjoying the breeze. I hope to make it back to the river in the next couple of days, while the weather is still so inviting, and bring Grace, my kayak. Last night I finished a trilogy of books by Gunilla Norris, a therapist and author of many spiritual books. Three of her books had been published in one edition: Sharing Silence, Becoming Bread, and Journeying in Place. This little excerpt on intimacy comes from the third book: "Intimacy cannot be commanded or planned. It is not willed but happens by grace and opens the inner doors of the heart. It more readily happens when I lay no claim to anything and discover instead what is already present, already given. All true intimacies are gifts. They appear as if from behind us, beside us, above

Cultivating Forgiveness

I spent the afternoon emptying one closet and found photographs of bygone years - going back 20, 30, and even 40 years - pictures of high school, college, early marriage, and of my son's first years. I sort through these things, even though it is a Saturday, and a beautiful, breezy one at that. I would love to go to the river, but I rarely do on weekends. It is such a different place energetically. So instead, I go for a walk, take in the emerging colors on maple, poplar, and oak trees, and simply reminisce... Recently I read the book, The Gift of Years: Growing Older Gracefully , by Sr. Joan Chittister, a Benedictine nun, and prolific author, whose writings I have always enjoyed. In a section of the book entitled "Forgiveness," she retells this story by Alfred Lord Tennyson: "Two aged men, that had been foes for life, Met by a grave, and wept - and in those tears They washed away the memory of their strife: Then wept again the loss of all those years."

The River in Indian Summer

Today was one of those days where you wake up only to receive unexpected blessings and opportunities! Needless to say, while I had envisioned a day of emptying and cleaning out closets, other things wonderful things evolved. I received and accepted one teaching opportunity, and entertained another possibility as well. The day was amazingly beautiful, so at noon I did manage to steal away to go down to the river for an hour. I met a couple of paddlers getting ready to set out and bantered back and forth with them. They were amazed I just slip Grace, my kayak, into the back of my truck and drive down to the river. As I pointed out, I can do this because I live a mile away, and I can literally be in the water in 10 minutes after loading and leaving my house. I don't have to hassle with hoisting Grace onto my roof and tying her down. It was breezy and actually hot on the river, it got up into the 80's. There were more discernible and distinct colors on the trees - more yellows -

Wonderful Lessons Revisited

Yesterday, I was sent a story I have heard before, and it is worth repeating here... Two Wolves - A Cherokee Legend An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life. "A fight is going on inside me," he said to the boy. "It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil - he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego." He continued. "The other is good - he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you - and inside every other person, too." The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather: "Which world will win?" The old Cherokee simply replied, "The one you feed..." Last night, as I was getting ready to go to sleep, I read excerpts from the book by Joan Chittister, a Benedictin

Silence is a River of Grace

Today, I received a video on the miraculous and healing properties of water, and I could not help think about the role the river has played in my life. Yesterday, after teaching my morning class, which was a sheer delight, I stole away for half an hour to go to the river and paddle for a short while. It was breezy and crisp, and the sky was a brilliant blue without a cloud in it. A dear friend of mine referred to it as a Santa Fe sky. I thought of it as a Montana sky myself. The surface of the river was covered with small and delicate waves making an intricate weaving and they seemed to be literally dancing into each others arms. I could also see streams of visible currents melting and merging into each as well. I thought of the Danish proverb: "He knows the water best that has waded through it." I also thought of the line from Marcome's song, "The River of Life:" "When I look in the ripples I can be all the love that I feel..." It was breat

Love is the River of Life

Today, on the Transitus of St. Francis of Assisi, I finish my book of poems for this year, titled, A River of Grace . Finishing another book, is always a great feeling of accomplishment. There were so many people to acknowledge and recognize, but the book is dedicated to God and Guru, for as a dear friend often says, what else is there? I share the last entry of the book, titled, "Love is the River of Life." “Love is, the river of life in the world.” So wrote Henry Ward Beecher “Lord, make me an instrument of your peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love.” So taught Francis of Assisi “Love is all there is; Love is all there is…” So sang a friend of mine once… “Would you know the Lord’s meaning? Know it well... Love is his meaning. Who showed it to you? Love. ”What did he show you? Love. Why did he show it? For Love…” S

Sacred is the Pause the Practice Offers

This week, I focused on the practice as an opportunity to take a sacred pause in our days. Sometimes, the only time we may have to pause, is that time between two breaths. Thus, the practice is a gift we give to ourselves. I share here, my notes on my opening and closing comments, which I more often than not, always write out for myself before a class, so that I can periodically review them. Some aspects of these comments have appeared here, on this blog, in some way or another... "Let us honor the wisdom of pausing… We take a pause out of our day to come to class – to enter into sacred practice with one another… Therefore, “sacred is the pause…” Yes – “sacred is the pause that draws us into stillness…” Recently I read these words from: Seven Sacred Pauses by Macrina Wiederkehr, and hers are the last words I read at midnight before retiring: "In the middle of my morning's work I break for blessings; a deep breath... I honor t