Showing posts from 2011

With a Grateful Heart

I end this year, with a grateful heart... I am grateful for what is - and for what is not... I am grateful for what happened - and what didn't... I am grateful for the challenges received, and for those endured, and transcended, and for the ones that still remain... I am grateful for the persons that came into my life, and those that exited as well... I am grateful for connections made, and for those severed... I am grateful for the many blessings received - those that were obvious, and those that remain hidden... I am grateful for my community, for the comfort of prayer and meditation and practice, and how it enriches my life... I am grateful for loved ones, and for those who still harbor negativity towards me - for they come bearing lessons... To all whom I encounter - may all negative intentions and feelings - only be met by undulating waves of love and compassion rippling at the very shores of my soul... I am grateful for surgery this year - and what it both brough

It's all About LOVE. Really.

About a week and a half ago - I had the wonderful pleasure to listen to and imbibe the ecstatic and poetic wisdom of Professor Bill Mahony , of Davidson College - who spoke on his new translation and commentary of the Narada Bhakti Sutras , titled, Exquisite Love . The two days, and 12 hours spent with him and the group that assembled for the occasion, was nothing short of exquisite! Bill began by telling us - that the subject for the weekend was simply this - LOVE. He went on to note, that Love is an important topic. This is the season for Love. But, there are many who do not feel or experience Love in their lives, and we need to take the time to acknowledge this. Furthermore, Bill went on to remind us that our true essence is Love - whether we feel it or not. And, this Love that we are - that is our essence - is of the same essence as God. Later on, in the course of the weekend, we were reminded over and over again - that Love is God - and God is Love! I cannot truly express in w

A Season for Love

How lovely to be constantly reminded about the reason for the season! It all comes down to LOVE! And so, I share here, a few reminders that have come my way, capped off by a short poem that I wrote... "To live in the Reality of Love is to be willing to be God awakening to the truth of only Love and every expression of it, every nuance to be marveled at and discovered. Every radiance is honored - the fullness of the miracle of 'both/and,' the indivisible unity of this one life and the powerful gift of our relationship which is a relationship with every expression, every aspect of God. and thus do you dance in this sparkling Light in the world as an acknowledgement of the miracle of the facets of Love and the beauty of their expression, every one of which contains the whole. Every electron is the universe. Every breath is the Moment of Creation, and every heartbeat is the birth of God consciousness, all of it ready to be honored by the miracle that is you.&qu

Don't Save it All for Christmas

This time of year, I love listening to Christmas songs, as so many others do. One of my favorite is a song by Celine Dion, reminding us that love is really what this season is all about - and that we shouldn't save it all for Christmas. I have posted the link to a YouTube rendition of this song and I also include the lyrics here. Enjoy! And Advent and Christmas blessings to all of you! Don't Save it all for Christmas "Don't Save It All For Christmas Day" Don't get so busy that you miss Giving just a little kiss To the ones you love Don't even wait a little while To give them a little smile A little is enough How many people are crying People are dying... How many people are asking for love Don't save it all for Christmas Day Find a way To give a little love everyday Don't save it all for Christmas Day Find your way Cause holidays have come and gone But love lives on If you give on Love... How could you wait another minute A hug is

This Christmas - Part Two

Last year, I received this card from a friend and loved it, and I happened to find a box for myself as well. It's message reminds of the card I sent last year - which I noted in a recent entry - its content derived from an article that appeared in McCall's in 1959. I only discovered that later, when a reader of this blog brought my attention to it. I include the link to the McCall's article at the end. And so, I share this one with you - shorter - but no less sweet! This Christmas... Help a Stranger. Praise a Child. Light a Candle. Share your Love. Sing for Joy. Lend a Hand. Pray for Peace. Understand. Christmas Thoughts from McCall's Thanks to Jennifer!

A Christmas Poem

Last year, I wrote this poem. These were my wishes then, and they are my wishes once again this year, and every year - for you - for me - for all of us! And so, here it is, one more time... This Christmas… Love. Love totally and completely. Love without restraint. Love with total abandon. Forgive. Forgive everything. Forgive every ancient grudge. Forgive the Unforgiveable. Hope. Hope for a better world. Hope for Peace, and an end to strife. Give Hope to all in despair. Dream. Dream the Impossible Dream. Feed your Dream and Give it Life. Make it real. Believe. Believe in the Seen. Believe in the Unseen. Believe in the Power of Miracles. Live. Live fully and Live deeply. Live with Great Passion. Live Each moment, as if your last. Touch. Embrace a loved one. And a lost one. Embrace them again. Hold a hurting hand and heart. Feel. Feel ever

This Christmas

Last year, I sent out a set of Christmas cards with the following words of wisdom. Several told me they loved this card. I saved one and frame it, and have begun the tradition of putting it on my bookshelf at this time of year. It reminds me of what this season is all about, and what gets ignited in our hearts. It reminds me of what every season and every day should be about. Its wisdom is without question. It's value is without price. Its simplicity is stunning. It will take your breath away. And it will change your life - if you give it a chance... And so, I share it once again, this year... This Christmas Mend a quarrel. Seek out a forgotten friend. Write a love letter. Share some treasure. Give a soft answer. Encourage youth. Keep a promise. Find the time. Forgive an enemy. Listen. Apologize if you were wrong. Think first of someone else. Be kind and gentle. Laugh a little. Laugh a little more. Express your gratitude. Gladden the heart of a child. Take pleasure

A Season for Awakening

This season, as in the previous two, I begin each morning in Advent , by meditating on the online devotional, "Follow the Star." I have been pondering some of Michelle Thomas Bush's reflections this week, but this one, in particular, struck a chord: "Keep awake! We are an over-caffeinated community with 6 hour energy drinks, who are in the practice of staying up late. The local coffee shop knows what we will order when we walk through the door. Facebook and Xbox Live can keep us up for hours on end. We know how to stay awake. Keep awake! It is a call to be alert to the presence of God. We may be wide awake, but have we fallen asleep in our spiritual life? We are in charge and waiting for the return of our Master. Our God is coming! This is a wake up call!" Yes - we do know how to stay awake on a physical level - perhaps willing ourselves so - but we do so without being fully present, attentive, or mindful. We know how to stay awake and multi-task. But

Advent - A Time for Presence

This morning, I read this beautiful poem by John O'Donohue , who left this world in an untimely fashion - far too early in his life. I say this because the fifties, to a person residing in that decade, seems very young, especially in this day and age! After all, isn't the 50's the new 30's - or 40's? I don't know; try convincing my body of that one! This Advent season, may you enter more deeply into the present moment and cultivate a sense of presence that permeates every experience and every encounter with the joy of living! For Presence Awaken to the mystery of being here and enter the quiet immensity of your own presence. Have joy and peace in the temple of your senses. Receive encouragement when new frontiers beckon. Respond to the call of your gift and the courage to follow its path. Let the flame of anger free you of all falsity. May warmth of heart keep your presence aflame. May anxiety never linger about you. May your out

Advent - A Time for Waiting and Something More

There is a reason for this season, no matter what tradition we observe or celebrate... This is a time of preparation, and delving more deeply within ourselves, as we journey into the heart of winter... But, it is also a time for waiting... What a lesson this is, in a culture of instant gratification - where everything occurs instantly - where no one truly knows how to wait - or acknowledge its quiet lessons and the fruits born of its practice... For many of us, and most particularly Christians, this time of Advent ushers in the Christmas season. We prepare our hearts and home - we await with joyful expectation, exercising hospitality, generosity, and being generally of good cheer. We are pregnant with possibilities... As Mary was... Yes, anything is possible... What a positive message this is for us to digest and embody during a year that has seen much strife and negativity. But even in the midst of all of that, the promise, the seeds, and the possibility of love blooms, ever

Many Ways to God

I arise early, on this morning, the eve of the beginning of Advent, a sacred season, on the heels of Thanksgiving, with my heart filled to the brim with rich experiences... I sit in meditation, and begin to prepare for Advent... On the LONG flight back from Istanbul (12 hours), I was able to sit and reflect on these experiences, and I thought to myself - there are truly - many ways to God... This is one of the lessons that I learned... All paths lead to God... All traditions find their completion in God... I have always had a deep reverence for other spiritual traditions, and have found myself equally at home in almost of all of them... In my very early 20's, as an undergraduate student, I took a graduate course on contemporary Jewish philosophers and Zionist writers, under the guidance of a Reconstructionist Rabbi. I was drawn to Judaism all of my life, and later learned I had both Sephardic and Ashkenazi roots in my background. In my early 30's, I lost myself

Thanksgiving 2011

I returned late yesterday, from the most amazing trip to Istanbul and Ephesus, so filled with spiritual experiences and graces, and I will write about it shortly. But today, as with many of you, my thoughts dwell on all the things that I am grateful for, ever mindful, as Meister Eckhart once affirmed, that: "If the only prayer you ever say is thank you, it would be enough." And so, I share with you a prayer by the German theologian, Deitrich Bonhoeffer , who was put to death by the Nazis, and a poem by e.e. cummings : O Heavenly Father, I praise and thank you For the peace of the night. I praise and thank you for this new day. I praise and thank you for the goodness And faithfulness throughout my life. You have granted me many blessings; Now let me also accept what is hard from your hand. You will lay on me no more than I can bear. You make all things work together for the good of your children. Deitrich Bonhoeffer i thank You God for most this amazing

In the Footsteps of Constantine, Mary, and Rumi

Tomorrow, I head out for Istanbul . As a former theologian, I am looking forward to seeing sites significant and sacred to the origins of Christianity, and important to Islam as well. I will travel to a part of the world I have never been to, and the farthest I have ever been. I am both excited, and somewhat anxious. I am a "homebody" - an introvert and contemplative at heart. But, I look forward to the experiences that await, and most particularly, traveling to Ephesus , site of early Church Councils that defined Christian dogma, and the place where tradition teaches that Mary, the mother of Jesus, lived out her earthly years. I only wish, I had the time to travel to Rumi's birthplace as well! But, that may have to be at some other time! Blessings to all of you until I next write! "Drain the cup of passion and walk steadfast on the path of Truth. Close both eyes and see the mysteries with your inner eye... Go beyond your tangled thoughts and find the sp

Birthday Blessings

The sun has gone down on a good day. On a birthday... Today, I am grateful for so many things. For the gift of life. For family, friends, and loved ones. I am grateful for the outpouring of love. Much of it unexpected. A line from The Wizard of Oz says: "A heart is not judged by how much you love, but by how much you are loved by others." This is true. But it is also true that how we love, and that we love, is all that matters. This is what God sees. Love is all there is, for in love we know God. This is the gift of this day...

Blessings on 11.11.11

On this sacred day of 11's -- on this day of 11.11.11, of portals opening, and veils thinning, on the heels of a Full Moon, and the remembrance of the sacrifice of Veterans, my heart swells with joy and deep gratitude for all that ever was-- for all that is, and all that is to come... On this sacred day, of hearkening the wisdom of angels, I step into the river and its raging blue currents swollen and heavy with dying leaves, baptizing myself anew to a life of contemplation, deep practice, and dedicated meditation... On this sacred day of new beginnings and deepening consciousness, of grace and special blessings, I give thanks, I chant, I pray, and I lay all at the feet of My Beloved Divine... On this sacred day, I release, I forgive, I repent, and I cleanse-- letting go of what no longer serves, and all desire for retribution... On this sacred day, I re-commit to my sacred path-- fully embracing my ecstatic journey, and to living as full

Inner Reflections 2012

This is the time of year that I look forward to getting my new calendars for the coming year. I like to collect yoga poses and create my own wall calendar for my office. But I also like a good, "old fashioned" desk calendar that I can write in. As tech savvy as I am, I just prefer a beautiful engagement calendar with inspirational quotes to feed my soul from week to week during the coming year. These calendars have changed throughout the years, but for the last several ones, my desk has been beautifully graced and my soul has been just as equally inspired, by the "Inner Reflections" calendars published by the Self-Realization Fellowship . Each yearly edition is nothing short of exquisite - comprised of breathtaking photographs accompanied by inspirational quotes and selections from the writings of Paramahansa Yogananda. And so, I recently received the 2012 edition, with its beautiful fall maple leaves on the cover - a simple composition of gorgeous bursts of oran

Ishvara Pranidhana: Humility, Faith, and Anusara

It's been a while since I've made an entry. It's not because I haven't wanted to - but sometimes life and responsibilities get in the way, and sometimes our attention is called elsewhere... I've had family matters to attend to, losses to address, and so forth... This week, I have worked with backbends in my classes and have emphasized the engagement of "Kidney Loop." I chose to link these with a theme of "Ishvara Pranidhana, one of the niyamas from Patanjali's Yoga Sutras , which is often translated as "Devotion to the Lord." Nicolai Bachman , in his book, The Path of the Yoga Sutras , which I have been using as a primer for my themes this session, describes this niyama , or observance, as the cultivation of humiity and faith. Anusara Yoga emphasizes the importance of beginning our practice from the back body because it is there that we connect to the universal - to something bigger and greater than ourselves. "Kidney Loop&quo

Vairagya - Nonattachment and the Freedom to Soar

What weighs you down? What keeps you in bondage when you most yearn for freedom - and just want to soar? Nicolai Bachman , in his book, The Path of the Yoga Sutras , defines "vairagya" as nonattachment to sensory objects. Every major religious or spiritual tradition teaches the concept of nonattachment in form or another. Bachman begins this section in his book with this quote from the Buddha : "The secret of happiness lies in the mind's release from worldy ties." Catchy verse. It rhymes. And it is so true! The practice of vairagya enables us to cultivate a sense of letting go - not only of material things and possessions, but also of all that does not serve us as well. In my classes, it seemed fitting to link this concept to the Anusara Yoga principle of "Organic Energy" because when one has truly embodied this notion of nonattachment and letting go, while still drawing in to that which binds us, grounds us, and keeps us honest - we are fre

Dharma of Relationships

I just spent three whirlwind days in Montclair, NJ, where Emma Magenta and the Anusara kula there, graciously hosted John Friend , in the company of over 300 Anusara yoga teachers and practitioners. The energy there was simply amazing! I was so happy to connect with friends I hadn't seen in a year or longer, who had traveled from all corners of the world! And, I was just as happy to meet new friends as well. While there is so much that I could say, I would like to just list some of the things that John spoke about on the dharma of relationships that resonated with me in one way or another. Perhaps they will speak to you as well. I know I will be reviewing and reflecting on the material for some time to come... "What is our sadhana? It is our life... In Anusara, we are always in relationship to the Universal. Grace is the intrinsic power of spirit that enables us to shift, open, and reveal something that is already there. To the degree that you can align with the shakti,

Viveka - The Embodiment of Keen Discernment

This morning, I told my students, that they cannot embody "Inner Spiral" without engaging "Outer Spiral." And conversely, they cannot truly embody "Outer Spiral" without engaging "Inner Spiral." You simply cannot have one without the other. There is always a dance that exists between the two. They are always in dynamic relationship to each other. And for those familiar with Anusara Yoga parlance, it can take a lifetime to embody both. Some will require more of one principle, while others will require more of the other. Sometimes the engagement required is dramatic. More often, it is quite subtle. For some of us, the engagement of both principles requires about the same amount of effort. Each of us, has certain tendencies. It is only through keen observation and discrimination that we become more fully aware of what our tendencies are in our various practices. It is through the cultivation of viveka - which is after all, a form of mindfulness,

A Day for Casting Off and Forgiveness

I arise early on a very busy day. Part of my morning will be consumed with righting mistakes from my insurance company, which has managed to mess up the billing resulting from all the various medical procedures I underwent this summer. But instead of giving this task my immediate attention, the wonderful fog beckons, and with a cup of coffee in hand, I head down to the river... It is breathtakingly beautiful on this day of Yom Kippur, which is the Jewish Day of Atonement. It is a day set aside for casting off what does not serve, and forgiveness. It is also a day for expiation, and making amends... In the coolness of the morning, I drink in the visual feast of a sky that seamlessly merges with the water, partially cloaked by the density of the fog, and I cannot help but recall the day, three years ago, when I lost myself in the fog on Rosh Hashanah. I launched Grace, my kayak, and paddled into the void - losing myself in its embrace, as the Voice within chanted over and over again,

Abhyasa - Slow and Dedicated Practice

Of all of Anusara Yoga's Universal Principles of Alignment , the hardest one for me to embody is "Inner Spiral." Of the seven loops, it is "Kidney Loop," and this seems to be the case with many other practitioners as well. We are all students seeking to embody these principles and unlock their hidden wisdom. But, it is not an easy journey. Because of spinal degeneration and other physical issues that I have, the integration of both of these principles of alignment are crucial for me - along with their close friends and partners - "Outer Spiral" and "Pelvic Loop." Just last week, I was chatting with a friend at a social gathering, and sharing with her the details of my summer surgery. She laughed and then said to me, "I can imagine your kundalini is really flowing these days. After all, you had a rock sitting on your snake!" Hummm.... That certainly gave me pause. No one had quite worded it that way! But, in a way, she was right!

With a Winged Heart

Yesterday, I had the honor to officiate at the wedding of a friend I have known for a long time... Years ago, I officiated at the memorial service for his wife, a dear friend and fellow yoga teacher. But now, here we were, celebrating a more joyous occasion. The wedding took place on a beautiful estate on the Eastern Shore , under a trellis, and very close to the water. Just as I was about to start, our breaths were taken away by the impromptu "fly over" by a flock of birds. I smiled, imagining that my friend, was bestowing her blessing, upon this union. I also had the opportunity to visit with a former yoga student of mine, from many years back, and with another couple whose wedding I had also officiated at years before. This one was particularly memorable because the bride and groom arrived in matching vintage Porsches! The wedding on the first of October, of 2011, was short and sweet in so many ways. I leave you with this wonderful piece by Kahlil Gibran, which was sha

Divine Day at the River

I begin this entry, at precisely 11:11 AM. For those into numerology, you know I begin it on an auspicious moment of perfection. Every moment is perfect as it is. And every moment is auspicious. Each one comes bearing its own unique gifts, whether we have the eyes to see such things and the ears to hear them - or not... I arose and went down to the river with Grace, my kayak, and a cup of coffee in tow. It has been such a long time since we've been able to go paddling because of my physical recovery from surgery, the constant rains of the last couple of weeks, and appointments that had been on my schedule for some time. But today, the universe conspired to assist me and grant me this wish! That, and the fact that an insightful dream last night very much indicated I must go in. And so I did, on this magnificent morning, where the gentle breeze and the warmth of the sun joined together to enshroud me in its canopy of healing magic. There is nothing like the exhilaration of those f

Shanah Tovah and Shubh Navratri

Today, my Jewish friends celebrate Rosh Hashanah , their New Year, by saying to each other, "Shanah Tovah," a beautiful greeting which means: "May you be inscribed in the book of life for a good year." According to Jewish tradition, God understands all languages, and the prayer that is conceived in one's heart always finds the way to God! Today, my Hindu friends celebrate the Festival of the Nine Days of Navratri , commemorating the Divine in its Feminine Form, who dispels ignorance. It is a time when the Goddess can literally re-structure our thoughts and the patterns in our minds and grant us divine intelligence. It is also a time, when good triumphs over evil, and true knowledge of the self is possible. And at this time, Hindus wish one another "Shubh Navratri," or Happy Navratri! Today, is a good day. It is a day for celebrating life. Michael Berg , the Kabbalah Scholar beautifully explains the meaning of Rosh Hashanah, and it speaks to u