Showing posts from July, 2010

The River and the Heart

This morning, I enjoyed lazily floating on the river for a while. It was breezy and much cooler, and a joy to momentarily escape from the intense grip of the oppressive heat of the summer thus far... I had the river all to myself, and the bass were happily jumping, dancing, and splashing about. It gave me great joy to witness the lightness of their play and hearts! I took the time to reflect on some insights that Suzie Hurley , my yoga teacher, shared in class yesterday. She spoke of how in the Native American tradition, each of the four chambers of the heart symbolizes the qualities of being clear, full, open, and strong. And she added a fifth chamber or element - which she felt completed the picture - that of lightness... A strong heart implies the expression of true courage. A clear heart implies one has generally let go of biases. With a clear heart, enlightened assessments are made that are free of blame and judgment. A full heart is one that embraces love for itself and other

The Four Gates of Speech

In the last few days I seem to have been caught in the vortex of a maelstrom of words, flying around the very globe with incredible intensity, passion, and power... Some of them truthful, some of them not... Some of them hurtful, some of them uplifting... Some of these words have brought tears to my eyes, because they were so touching, or because they engendered such sadness... How can such a community of yoga practitioners be so grateful, and gracious, and vindictive, and unloving as well? And yet, how could we not? We are all part of the same human family with all its foibles and limitations...Still, we loosely assent to and try to embody, an ancient code of ethics, The Yamas and Niyamas , with so many souls already radiantly striving towards greater luminosity... I have read the words of colleagues and friends who have spoken of a shared teacher whose instruction and genuine care has been nothing short of transformational in their lives. I know what they speak of - because the

For God and Guru

Today is a day for giving thanks. On this day, under the Full Moon in July, all esteemed teachers are honored and revered as sacred, in the Hindu tradition... So today, I give thanks for all of my teachers, and my teachers' teachers - they form a long line of unbroken sages and channels of wisdom - going back to the beginnings of time... I especially thank God for my spiritual teachers - those who showed me the way to faith and Divine love - and those who both introduced me to - and helped me deepen my yoga and meditation practices...I need not name them...They know who they are. I know who they are...And I honor them - without the slightest reservation and hesitation... I am thankful that I found my teachers in every instance - those who were a positive influence - and those who were not - for each one taught me what I needed to know and showed me what kind of a student and teacher I wished to be - and did not want to be as well... I am thankful for the impact of my most s

Anusara as a Practice that Says Yes!

This morning, I went for a long walk along the beach after reading a few entries by Paramahansa Yogananda on practicing the Presence of God. There are many ways to practice the presence of the Divine in our lives, through our meditations, our actions towards others, and our yoga as well. Anusara Yoga is such a practice - one that asks us to experience and reflect the Divine in our lives. It continually invites us to say yes to the whole river of life! Yesterday, an article about John Friend and Anusara Yoga appeared online on the New York Times web site. It was titled "The Yoga Mogul." You can "Google" it, or check it out here: Many of us knew this article was coming, and so we had been looking forward to it. I know that John granted the author of the article unlimited access for some time. So, I dove into reading it at length, with a certain degree of excitement, as I know did many of my colleagues a

Dreams, Forgiveness, and the Surf

I have been thinking a lot lately about the power and impact of dreams - and the effect they have in our lives, and the messages they often bring... Just a couple of days ago, the Wall Street Journal ran an article about "Lucid Dreaming" - the ability to recognize you are actually dreaming in your dream and the conscious decision to change the script or outcome of the dream. I read about the pioneering research Stephen Laberge did in this field at Stanford University , back in the 80's, when I was very interested in dream interpretation, so this article contained little I hadn't heard before, except to correlate more recent applications to this research and to note the benefits to long time Buddhist monks and meditation practitioners. Recently, I had a series of very powerful and telling dreams. Some were very vivid and frightening and I woke up with a start on a couple of occasions, with my heart pounding. One of them contained a very clear message about some cu

Moments That Are Heaven Sent

There are moments that are heaven sent...There are moments that are filled with messages...There are experiences and encounters that contain hidden treasures in the form of needed insights. There are messages received that disclose kernels of wisdom... I find myself reflecting on so many things discussed with two dear friends recently - one over a couple glasses of wine, the other on a walk yesterday...Besides the companionship, both reunions have yielded a treasure trove of insights that my heart is deeply pondering... Yesterday, I was able to articulate clearly, for the first time, a major shift in direction and perspective for me. I had the opportunity to hone this vision - this realization - more clearly through the gifted eyes and insight of a beloved soul... Several times this summer, I have referred to being at a crossroads of sorts, and then today I receive Gena Livings ' insightful newsletter with these words: "There are many moments in your life when you stand, a

Resistance is Futile!

"What you resist, persists!" For the last several days, I have been reflecting on how what we resist in our lives, somehow persists. And this led me to recall the wonderful quote from the Borg in Star Trek - " Resistance is futile!" What we avoid, in terms of inner work we must do, or in terms of issues that need addressing, somehow makes its way back to us - and pops up - rearing its demanding little head - even shouting at us and seeking our attention by exclaiming - "I will not be ignored!" (Like Glenn Close told Michael Douglas quite assertively, in "Fatal Attraction!" ) I shared with a dear friend on a walk today, that as a result of my being under the weather and dealing with a number of physical issues this last month or so, I have had the opportunity to slow down, and more deeply reflect on my life, and as a result, some very interesting insights have come to me as I worked with setting some needed boundaries in my work, relation

I Feel the Earth Move Under My Feet

I awaken to a sound I have not heard in years...Actually, I have not heard it in decades... I KNOW it is not the sound of an airplane gone amiss, or flying too low - either arriving or departing from nearby Dulles Airport... I know this sound - I recognize the unmistakable "OOMMMM" - exploding from the bowels of the earth, and I know it is an earthquake... The earth's core - its very heart - will not be ignored. It has cried out to us. And it is doing so in a place where it has never made its presence felt like this! I remember the first earthquake I experienced, at 15, in 1970, in the Dominican Republic - its magnitude was 6.5 - and I had just been operated and had my appendix removed. I remember the huge metal bed in the hospital shaking all over the place and I have vivid memories of an aunt who shielded my face with her body - and in an instant - I literally saw my whole brief life flash before me like a movie. It is true. This really does happen. I really tho

The Greatest Love Affair

On Sunday, I read these words in an interview with Angelina Jolie , where she shared the following: "I always wanted a Great Love affair, something that feels big and full, really honest and enough. No moment should feel slight, false, or a little off. For me, it had to be everything." I stopped for a moment and exhaled deeply, noticing I was holding my breath in an unintended " kumbhaka ." Wow. This statement conjured up so many ideas and images. To love like that means - we have to live in the present moment very intensely. I think we all feel like Angelina Jolie if we are honest with ourselves. And I believe when we live from the heart, intensely, when we practice, devotedly, and when are firmly anchored in the present moment - we connect deeply with these words. But what we can't do - is succumb to the belief that another person will truly provide that feeling and that experience for us... I think of my yoga teacher, Suzie Hurley , the founder of Willow

A Beginner's Mind, the Solar Eclipse, and New Moon

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to observe students who are training to be yoga teachers "team-teach" a class. At Willow Street Yoga Center, the "YTT's" have many opportunities to apprentice and teach, and they all take turns teaching the Community Class - a free yoga class that is offered every Saturday at Noon. It is Willow Street's way of giving back to the community, and for all of us who teach it, an opportunity for "seva " - that is, selfless service, as well... Every week, I come to do this observation with a "beginner's mind." It is for me, an incredible honor to have been asked to help out my yoga community in this way. I like to remind myself of what it felt like to teach yoga, and be observed doing so, 14 years ago when I was training. Thus, I put the students at ease as soon as I arrive. I remember telling myself when I was first teaching years ago, that at least I was a teacher by profession and used to being observed

Today's River Lesson: Look for the Good

I wrote to a dear friend earlier today, and shared with her that I am currently in a "contractive" phase in my life... Anusara Yoga is based on a very sophisticated system of Tantra philosophy, which embraces the key aspects of all Tantric teachings. John Friend , the founder of Anusara , aptly calls it - Shiva-Shakti Tantra. In this school of thought, we acknowledge that everything is pulsation - and as such, there is an expansive aspect - and a contractive one - in everything that is vibratory. This is particularly evidenced when as instructors, we invite our students to engage and hug in ( Muscular Energy ) - in order to expand and shine out ( Organic Energy ). But this does not just apply to our yoga practice - it directly affects all other areas of our lives as well...One is not better than the other - it just simply is. And we cannot have or experience one - without the other as well. Truly, every experience of contraction contains within it the seed for expansion

Wired for Joy

I am currently reading Every Day in Tuscany: Seasons of an Italian Life, by Frances Mayes , best known for her previous work, Under the Tuscan Sun . I have delighted in reading every one of Mayes' books - because her prose is exquisite and it is informed and shaped by her life as a poet. I find myself underlining sentences for their sheer beauty, and I deeply enjoy doing so. Here is someone who embodies a life lived in joy. That is not to say she has not experienced her own trials in life. Who hasn't? Still, she has created a life for herself that perhaps many of us only dream of... I also recently came across another book, Wired for Joy . The title of this book intrigued me, because I have heard similar things before. For someone who struggles with depression, it may seem hard to imagine that this can be possible. Yet the book asserts that one can train the mind to move from stress to joy by focusing on re-wiring the emotional brain, rather than the thinking brain... &qu