Showing posts from February, 2011

Silence as Practice

This entry, seems to very perfectly follow in the footsteps of yesterday's posting...In fact, I almost titled it, "Life as Practice, Practice as Life Part 2!" I finish the first phase of organizing my books, a feat that has consumed several weeks in stops and starts - many arms filled with them, and boxes carried down to the basement - others juggled and redistributed from one room to another, but now the organization and rearrangement is much more logical and methodical, and volumes will be easier to find. All my theology and spirituality books from many decades of teaching and study, occupy one wall - with one shelf for example, exclusively dedicated to my massive collection of Thomas Merton writings, and multiple offerings by other authors, now all gathered together. Everything now feels right... I find that I have two copes of Inviting Silence: Universal Principles of Meditation by Gunilla Norris , and though I have read this brief volume many times before, I curl

Life as Practice, Practice as Life

We can live - or simply exist... We can live simply - embodying the extraordinary in the ordinary - or not at all... We can live deeply, transformatively, and well, and when we do - our life itself becomes our practice... I've been reflecting on the broader meaning and implications of practice. For those of us who practice yoga, we dedicate much of our time and focus on the practice of doing asana - or poses - setting ourselves the goal of achieving certain postures, or deepening in them. But, what happens when you cannot do asana the way you once did? Or, what happens if all of a sudden, for one reason or another - you are unable to sustain a physical practice at all? If you have cultivated a broader perspective of practice as one that is fundamentally a spiritual path, then asana is merely just one aspect of what constitutes your practice. What then, is practice? What does it mean to you? What does it look like now? How will it evolve in 20, 30 or 50 years from now? I pick

The Gift of the Present Moment

While I wait in line to gas up my car this morning, the insight comes, that to be, and live truly in the present moment is a gift... The gift of the present moment, is that it keeps us here - not in the past, and not in the future... The gift of the present moment, is that it makes us feel vibrantly alive... The gift of the present moment, is that we are able to enter deeply into every emotion, and feel everything so fully... The gift of the present moment, is that it clothes us in the freedom to dance through every challenge, and difficulty and phase of our lives... The gift of the present moment, is that it enables us to realize and experience, that now is the only time there is... The gift of the present moment, is that it teaches us that every second and experience discloses the Divine and is inherently sacred... The gift of the present moment, is that there are gifts, lessons, and invaluable treasures surrounding us, if we have the eyes to see them... The gift of the prese

Happiness is a Choice

This afternoon, I finished teaching my six week short course, "The Art and Yoga of Happiness." It was a grace-filled journey to share and experience with wonderful students. We teach, of course, to learn what we must know and embody, and that is why I designed this course in the first place. Over and over again, every book and every source I consulted suggested that happiness is a choice. As I wrote a dear friend yesterday - happiness and living in the present moment - both go together, and they are a choice we make every day - over and over again! The Dalai Lama , in The Art of Happiness: A Handbook for Living , states that we are all capable of happiness. But, we must learn to train our minds in order to achieve and experience it. He also states that we must widen our circle and understanding of intimacy, and seek to make deeper connections with others. A key ingredient undergirding all of this, is the cultivation of compassion. In learning how to train our minds, we ne

Never the Same River Twice

Some messages come to us more than once in a season... And for this, there is always a reason... I read this quote by Heraclitus, that has come to me over and over again, each time revealing another layer of meaning: "You can never step into the same river twice." And then, I stumble across this clarification in the wonderful book, Unstuck: Your Guide to the Seven-Stage Journey Out of Depression , by James S. Gordon, MD: "We cannot step into the same river once; by the time the second foot falls, we're already entering a different river. This river of continual change is our life." And as the author of this insight work notes, "there are times when we resist the pull of the river..." I read on, and find much that speaks to me, that I will share later, but for the second time in a month, the same passage from the Tao Te Ching comes to me, and I realize the quote from Heraclitus, and this passage, come bearing insights and gems of wisdom. Pe

Valentine's - A Day for Love and Compassion

This is a day that is often celebrated by lovers, but it truly offers all of us an opportunity to give and receive love and embody compassion. I have been reflecting on the Buddhist meditation practices of lovingkindness and tonglen and their relationship to compassion, as I prepare to share these techniques in a meditation short course, and as I also integrate the theme of compassion in my own yoga classes this week. I am in essence, killing two birds with one stone! In the Buddhist and Hindu traditions, the word "karuna" is translated as compassion. Compassion is one of the Brahmaviharas - or four sublime attitudes, along with lovingkindness, joy, and equanimity. These attitudes are described in Buddhist teachings, and also in sutra 1.33 of Patanjali's Yoga Sutras. Whether we are Buddhist or Hindu, Jewish, Christian or Muslim - I do believe we all recognize the importance of cultivating all of these attitudes and especially embracing, expressing, and em

Ananda - Embodying Bliss

I shared in one of my recent posts, that I have been journeying through the attributes of the Divine as themes for my yoga classes of late. This week, my focus is on "ananda" which means bliss, and I am working with "Inner Spiral" - one of the Anusara Yoga Universal Principles of Alignment, as a way of creating more expansion in the body, (more specifically in the hips) and thus, a greater container for the embodiment of bliss. The implication is also to let go of what stands in the way of embodying more bliss as well. I have also been teaching a short course titled: "The Art and Yoga of Happiness," so needless to say, I've read quite a number of books on the subjects of joy, bliss, and happiness in the last couple of months... One of the books I recently reviewed is: Unconditional Bliss: Finding Happiness in the Face of Hardship by Howard Raphael Cushnir, and like Byron Katie, he too proposes two questions to ask oneself to get at the heart of th

Free at Last!

Freedom comes when we least expect it. It has its own time-table, and is subject to its own laws... I think of this, as I drive in the wintry morning darkness, that is also foggy and misty and still snow covered, looking so much like a Christmas card, with the sun slowly rising... The load seems lighter in my heart, as my friend's spirit soars higher and higher into the skies... My heart offers practices from the Tibetan Book of the Dead , meant to aid a soul in its passing. Yet, I sense that my friend's spirit already did most of its clearing on this side of the veil... I knew this moment was eminent - most especially when I wrote my last entry... And now, in the quiet, and in the stillness this evening, as the sun goes down, marking the end of another day, that is barely 24 hours since my friend's passing, I reflect on my urge to sit in meditation yesterday, at exactly this same time... I look at the clock right now - and it is 5:55 PM - the numeric symbol for

Lovingkindness and Freedom

I go down to the river on a cold morning, drawn there, after over a week of snow and ice... I go down to the river to offer a Lovingkindness meditation, for myself, and my friend, who is still in transition from this life, miraculously holding on, in a state of suspended animation, but teeming with life, as the bottom of this river... I came down to this very river, a little over three years ago for the first time, and began a daily practice of offering a Lovingkindness meditation - a Buddhist "metta" practice for myself, as it is suggested, for many months, before I was ready to offer it for others. It was a long, and arduous but fruitful road to letting go of resentments towards others, and lightening the load in my heart... I come today, and repeat the words I prayed daily then - and I share here, my own "personal" version of this practice: May I be filled with lovingkindness. May I be well. May I be at peace and at ease. May I be happy. I practice for m

Ultimate Freedom

One of the attributes of the Divine, as recognized in Tantric texts and teachings is "svatantrya" or ultimate freedom. It is also an attribute that we strive to embody and attain as yoga practitioners and mundane mystics. I believe it is something that all humans yearn for, and as we observe the events that are taking Egypt and the Middle East by storm, this becomes even more evident and relevant. In my own classes this week, I explored ultimate freedom as resulting from the interplay between Muscular Energy and Organic Energy - two of the principles in Anusara Yoga's Universal Principles of Alignment . It is in the dance between the two that we experience and come to embody ultimate freedom. But it is also in this dance that we consider and ponder the many questions that arise in our lives and that calls us to honor our process as well. Today, as I reflected on three inter-related issues - the profound insights received during a craniosacral therapy session with a ver