Showing posts from October, 2010

Inner Reflections

There are so many things that warm the heart and the soul... I think of this - on this beautiful morning as I look out the window to an explosion of fall colors. Every year, I am amazed at this spectacular display from nature; it never fails to disappoint! I think of this - as I bask in the afterglow of Jim Brickman's piano recital last night, at the Barnes at Wolf Trap . His evocative melodies and the passion with which he plays - I almost wrote - "prays" - are still resonating deeply within. When I watched him play last night - I thought to myself - yes - this is how he prays - with his whole body and soul - and his magical hands - making beautiful music that wafts up to the heavens as incense rises before God. I think of this - as I turn to the Spiritual Diary of Yogananda - every day before I begin my morning meditations. I have been doing this for years, and still the quotes are fresh. I share this excerpt from today: "You are endowed with greater stren

Cultivating Equanimity - The Last Brahmavihara

I slept in and arose this morning to a sunny day, and sat out on the deck reading the Sunday paper to a joyous choir of birds singing their little hearts out! It was warm outside, and I think they were enjoying the autumn reprieve as much as I was! This week, I arrive at the last and most magnificent of the brahmaviharas - upeksha . My favorite translation of this word is equanimity. Almost a week ago, I received darshan from Mother Meera and came away with the gift of equanimity. I know this, because in the past week I have experienced a stillness of soul, mind, and body, that had eluded me for a long time. And, there was also a discernible shift in my meditations. Some of the translations of upkesha I came across were: "disregard towards the wicked," and "overlooking those who have hurt you." When I studied with John Friend in March, he spoke a lot about this brahmavihara , and how this is a very difficult spiritual practice. He bid us to act in " up

Mudita - Ordinary Joy in Simple Pleasures

There are many different kinds of joy. This week, I focused on " mudita ," the third of the brahmaviharas in my yoga classes. There are other words for joy in Sanskrit, but this a special kind of joy. One of my students lit up when she heard me use and describe the meaning of this word. She kept repeating it - and said she would share it with her own children... As I researched the word, I found many others that were used to explain it - and of course I came across so many different translations of Sutra 1.33 by Patanjali. One of these described mudita as "honor for those who embody noble qualities." My own personal interpretation is "joy in service to others." It is the kind of feeling that we feel when we celebrate the accomplishments and successes of others. When I think of embodying mudita , I think of unveiling what is extraordinary at the heart of ordinary experiences - and I also think of those ordinary individuals who manage to make a diffe

Darshan and the Gift of Light

There are no words to describe my second " darshan " with Mother Meera ... Readers of this blog, will recall that in September of 2008, I had the opportunity to experience darshan with Mother Meera when she came to Maryland. The word " darshan " literally means "sight" - and is most generally understood as to be granted a vision of the Divine, or the opportunity to be in the presence of a Divine Incarnation, avatar, or saint and receive a direct transmission of their energy. Two years ago, I had the most incredible experience. But, much has happened in my life since then, and I felt much lighter and joyous, and much more deeply transformed this second time. It has seemed to me, in the couple days since I had darshan , that something very profoundly shifted in me... Darshan with Mother Meera occurs in silence. I was so lost in meditating, I almost missed my opportunity to go up to her! When you finally do approach her, you kneel before her and she c

River Teachings and Reflections on Life

Life has a way of coming full circle and cycling through so many things... On Friday, almost three years to the date - I visited the river with the friend who first brought me there. Both of us had not returned there together for one reason or another, and I wanted to mark our return visit as the remaining "bookend" experience to a phase of my life and its conclusion. Yes, three years ago, I both visited this river and and began this blog - never imagining the role that both would come to play in my life! Three years ago, when my outer and inner worlds collided and unraveled, I came to visit the river daily, urgently and fervently engaging in Lovingkindness practices and other meditations as a form of healing and releasing animosity toward individuals and situations I felt had deeply wounded me. For nearly a year and half, in the throws of deep depression, I visited this river, and began kayaking, as a therapeutic way of taming my own inner turmoil and emotions as I paddled

Musings on Karuna: The Practice of Compassion

This week, we continued to explore the second of the brahmaviharas - which is karuna - or benevolent compassion, as a theme in my yoga classes. We connected this to the action of Inner Spiral to widen our hips, and our lower backs, all the way up to T12, and up to the back doors of our hearts. By creating this opening by widening needed areas within our bodies, we begin to widen our perspectives and perceptual lens as well. Only then, can we truly embody compassion. Only then, can we truly embrace the unity that is at the root and heart of all diversity. We often regard compassion as a form of love - and very much like the practice of metta - or lovingkindness, we must cultivate compassion toward ourselves - in order to more fully embody and reflect it to others. Kuan Yin is the Goddess of Compassion to the Japanese and Tibetan Buddhists, and the story is often told that when she was ascending to heaven at the end of her life, she heard the cries of all the suffering beings tha

A Good Morning on 10/10/10

I arise early on this tenth day of the tenth month of the year 2010. This sequence of numbers, in metaphysical terms, reduces to the number three which is symbolic of rewards and successes, and invokes intuition, expression, and the joy of creativity. I make my way to the other side of the river for my yoga class, and as always, my teacher does not disappoint - but manages to inspire us while working and riding us hard. Yet, we all rise to the occasion as we work deeply with Inner and Outer Spiral - the third and fourth principles in Anusara Yoga's Universal Principles of Alignment - and quad stretches of all kinds. I came to class aching, but I will leave exhilarated - knowing that I gave it my best. At one point, my teacher looks at me and exclaims: "Look around you! All thirty in this room are in full Virasana !" And yes, they are - and radiant as well. Every now and then I manage to take notes on the sequencing or instruction as we work towards Pasasana and b

God is Like a Bowl of Good Pasta

Yeah, I knew that might be a catchy title for a post! I had to take a narcotic last night - and as as someone who made it through the 60's and 70's without "inhaling," ingesting or partaking of "certain" substances, or engaging in any hard-core, partying (I know - it is amazing and boring) - anything of the sort in the present tense is certain to send me places only deep meditation has revealed. (And of course, that experience is so much more sublime!) But seriously, early this evening, after working on the theme for my yoga classes this week, I sat in meditation. More on my meditation in a minute. I am working with the second of the brahmaviharas this week - karuna - or compassion - and linking it to "Inner Spiral" and its capacity for widening and making space in our pelvis - but also in our lives - and ultimately in our hearts. Inner Spiral is the third of Anusara's Universal Priniciples of Alignment. I recalled that John Friend focu

Brahmaviharas (A Poem)

Brahmaviharas For tranquility of mind, And selfless surrender, For fullness of heart and spirit, And serenity that is unblemished-- Pursue Embody And nurture These qualities of the heart: Lovingkindness Compassion Joy, and Equanimity For evenness of mind, And freedom of spirit, Cultivate: Metta - lovingkindness towards self and others Karuna - compassion towards every living being Mudita - joy - in service to others, and Upekksha - equanimity in tempestuousness And adversity of all kinds

The Brahmaviharas and Lovingkindness

As I continue my journey through some key sutras in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali , I come today to Sutra 1:33 - and the one I will dwell on for the next three weeks in my yoga classes. I include three translations that I am using: "By cultivating attitudes of friendliness towards the happy, compassion for the unhappy, delight in the virtuous, and disregard towards the wicked, the mind retains its undisturbed calmness." ~ Swami Satchidananda "To preserve openness of heart and calmness of mind, nurture these attitudes: Kindness to those who are happy Compassion for those who are less fortunate Honor for those who embody noble qualities Equanimity to those whose actions oppose your values." ~ Nischala Joy Devi "The mind becomes clear and serene when the qualities of the heart are cultivated: friendliness toward the joyful, compassion toward the suffering, happiness towards the pure, and impartiality toward the impure." ~ Alistair Shearer The &q

Yoga, Hanuman, and Keiko Matsui

The air is crisp. It feels so clean. So clear. So wonderful... I drive to the other side of the river for yoga - two days in a row. On Saturday, I drive in to experience and evaluate two budding teachers who "team-teach" a class together. Every time I do this, I wonder who is really being served more by this process. Each and every time I take and evaluate such a class, I find my own understanding of teaching the gift of yoga and the Anusara Yoga Universal Principles of Alignment is deepened. I am humbled by this amazing opportunity to offer whatever insight I can, in service to the Anusara community. On both days I drive with the windows partially open - breathing in the wonderful air of the season - intoxicated by the very delicious and sensual music of Keiko Matsui, a jazz pianist. I feel as alive as I can possibly be... Today, however, I get to be a student. I travel to the other side of the river to hear tales of Hanuman and his devoted loyalty to his Master Lord