This blog includes reflections, creative work and resources. It is a glimpse of one person's journey within the realm of inquiry, experience with the human body and spirit. Look for ideas rather than answers. No claims are made. Perfection is not implied. I write as inspired to do so. Take what works for you, leave the rest. If you share anything from this blog, either verbally or in writing, please do your best to give credit where credit is due. Thank you for visiting.
Wednesday, November 30, 2011
"Breathing correctly is the key to better fitness, muscle strength, stamina and athletic endurance." Dr. Michael Yessis, PhD President of Sports Training Institute; Fitness write for Muscle & Fitness Magazine
"20 minutes a day of deep breathing exercises clearly, dramatically escalates athletic performance and is the single most important factor in the effectiveness of all exercise." US Olympic Training Committee
"Deep breathing techniques which increases oxygen to the cell are the most important factors in living a disease free and energetic life." Dr. Otto Warburg, President Insitute of Cell Physiology, Nobel Prize Winner
"Deep breathing exercises will dramatically improve conditions of headaches, PMS, stress, cellulite and emphysema." Prevention Magazine
I admit to having the judgmental attitude in the past regarding what I thought a yoga teacher should look like in terms of personality and how their personal life should function. I've moved beyond judging and recognize to hold such a false illusion is a stumbling block. Besides, I'm a pot and who am I to call the kettle black?
First: the shoemaker's kids without shoes. Perhaps the shoemaker became the shoemaker in town because he had to make so many shoes for his own kids and simply it became his path. I can speak for myself when I say it was (& is) the anxiety-depression fluctuations that led me to find yoga, meditation and breathwork. [Several years earlier a car accident resulted in my trying massage for the first time which was the only modality to take the back pain away. Within a month I was in massage therapy training.] Sure, I still have a certain level of social anxiety as an introvert which seems contradictory to the fact that public speaking has become more comfortable. Should one stop teaching because of the things they're working on?
Second, the 8-limbs of yoga all the way up through asana, pranayama, sense withdrawal, concentration and meditation are techniques. There is a teacher for everyone. Some hear and learn through imagery-based language from the saint-like. Some students can only hear and learn from, shall we say, the Henry Rollins of yoga instructors: passionate, out spoken, direct, idealistic.
Third: tossing the baby out with the bathwater. In the mid-90's, I shared the task of picking up a world-known healer at the airport so he could present at the A.R.E. the next day. From the videos and books I knew him as compassionate and present. Behind the scenes he was more withdrawn and even a bit grumpy. But he was being human. A human tired from long travel, hitting a wall of heat and humidity walking out of the airport. This saying comes to mind: a spiritual being having a human experience. This is true for all!
Fourth, the expectations and pace of modern life should not be disregarded. Sure, we're not out in the fields growing our own food but those of us doing our best to offer teachings and healing we are not living cloistered away like monks or nuns. Most of us are householders and probably have other work responsibilities. If not married or have children, we have day jobs, mortgages, aging parents, a car in the shop or a rescued puppy being house trained. Be grateful your teacher or healer understands something about your life. Sure, it is a pleasure to learn and grow under the guidance of one who devotes their entire life to the practice. But how accessible is he or she geographically, economically and logistically?
Certainly we want healers and teachers to be appropriate, responsible and on-the-path. In my experience those of us who are practicing and presenting are vigilant with self-inquiry. Choose wisely, go for the best fit. It's all good. Find a teacher who cares about what they're doing.
It's an interesting thing to be outside the box by being right-brained. [It would be easy to say our culture primarily values left-brained activity and talents but judging by the lack of new young scientists in our culture such a statement would be flawed at best.]
Back in 2000 one of my yoga teacher teachers, Anna Gerard-Pittman, once said in reference to the yoga boom, "if there is a bar on every corner why can't there be a yoga studio on every corner?" She made a good point. If it is a departure from stress we're looking for, what's the difference? To elaborate on this idea, is it any less or more absurd to watch an athlete run around a field with a ball than it is to watch your breath and concentrate on God? How about paying $60 for a new sweater or receive a 1 hour professional massage? There's no judgment here. It all depends on values, which are personal. I'm throwing out ideas.
Mystics have always been mostly underground, quietly doing there thing. Now it feels perhaps with the storm of the materialism roar quieting down people will turn to quiet and inquiry. Artists and musicians, thankfully, meet the middle ground, offering an approachable touchstone to the sweetness of experience. [My husband and I concluded 20 years ago challenging times generates some of the best music.] Sure, there are teachers at the forefront reaching a large audiences. As for the incomes they generate, let's not forget the above mentioned athlete is probably a multi-millionaire. As for the possibility of cult-like following, have you seen the level of devotion to teams? Again, no judgment. We're looking at things form all angles.
For the boots-on-the-ground mystics, what's next? Whatever it is, I'm keeping on. Thankfully, considering my introverted tendencies I have a few dear & cherished friends and a husband (a tech engineer by trade and mechanic for fun) who understand.
Tuesday, November 29, 2011
By the end of the year we will begin our next basis for weekly inquiry. My partner has suggested we study the text and workbook Soul Without Shame: A Guide To Liberating Yourself From The Judge Within by Byron Brown. I have yet to get a copy but I trust her and I'm game!
I looked into the 9-day The School For The Work as a possibility for 2012. With some research I came to the conclusion it would not be a good fit for me at all. Testimony from past participants was mixed, some of which was simply alarming.
I will continue to incorporate the approach as a method of inquiry for myself when circumstances arise but will not go out of my way to suggest The Work to others as it seems to border on psychotherapy. Last week prior to getting a haircut I Googled "bangs" in an attempt to research such a style commitment. One article said something like: cutting bangs, like using explosives, is best left to professionals. The same holds for psychotherapy. I speak from experience when I say receiving untrained counsel on deep issues can, at the very least, lead to years of confusion.
Wednesday, November 23, 2011
For some people the art of forgiveness is learned within their family of origin, religious traditions or culture. For those of us who did not necessarily learn boundaries and forgiveness we learned instead that the slightest irritation meant the source of the irritant was wrong, bad, to blame. Although this awareness may be beyond elementary to some all I know is here I am and I'm getting it, really getting it now and that's what counts.
Mediocrity with respect to the idea of irritants is to bring about balance and stability. I try to apply the same now to relationships. Yoga has taught me to feel imbalance, such as to energize back when what is being asked of my body's energy is to reach forward; to feel energy drop down as the breath lifts up and to feel openness where the body is folded. Equalize, equalize, equalize. The yoga tradition teaches the balanced state as the satvic energy. This is akin to Goldie Locks' Satvic "just right." The rajasic state is Goldie Locks' hot porridge or too-hard bed and the tamasic state is like her cold porridge and too-soft bed. The definition of yoga is: the restraint or hinderance of the modifications of the mind-stuff. Again, it's about equalizing.
I'm learning the play between satvic-rajasic-tamasic energies as applied to relationships. I can feel when I've done too much for another, especially when I wasn't asked. As a "people pleaser" I'm learning to allow others to live their own reality is energizing for all. When someone asks something of me I'm improving on feeling within and deciding before reacting. Perhaps I move in their direction or not. Perhaps I meet them where they are and assist or step back. Saying no or changing my mind about saying yes is alright. This is my experience and is not to say you may need to work the other side of the coin: expectations of others. It is yet another form of non-awareness.
Something to come of all this awareness is the deliciousness of honoring what I need in order to maintain a certain level of equilibrium: exercise, proper sleep, periods of solitude & silence, time spent with good-hearted people, time spent in nature, and something big once in a while like not traveling for the holidays this year. Considering my right-brained nature, INFJ personality type, Enneagram 9 and so forth it is important to honor my Libra nature with equilibrium by not becoming TOO impartial. The only sun sign to have in inanimate symbol is Libra. Closing off to become more hermit-like is not indicated!
Thanks for reading a few of my thoughts of the day. Happy Thanksgiving!
Monday, November 21, 2011
I like this name for the business/non-profit...
Transcendent Discoveries: Ceremony House & Healing Time
It has an intent-space-time quality to it.
Again, everything starts someplace. As Alan Moore says in the documentary The Mindscape of Alan Moore a stream of ideas are just "out there" waiting to be grabbed and developed. As for the idea above it should be mentioned My Dinner With Andre is one of my favorite movies. The stories Andre tells about the rituals in the forest were enthralling.
My dream job would be that of Talamanic Hermit!
I designed the ceremony, having pulled together elements from various sources. There were 5 of us. It was about an hour in time length. The participants requested some details so here is an outline along with some of the particulars. I will relay as much as possible in case a reader would like to replicate it. There is power and the potential for transformation when people gather with loving intention.
Welcome, opening greeting, purpose
Brief introduction to the power of circles, especially when people come together in a circle. Showed the colored photographs of circles & spheres found in the art of various religious & spiritual traditions and cultures as seen in Joseph Campbell's The Power of Myth (colorplates between pages 108 & 109). At the top it reads: "The whole world is a circle. All of these circular images reflect the psyche."
Receptive Silence, 3 chimes of bells
The meaning of Namaste is spoken out loud: I honor the place in you that is of light, of truth and of peace. When you are in that place in you and I am in that place in me, WE ARE ONE.
We each poured different colored sand into 1 vessel (a loose reproduction of Buddhist monk's sand manadalas).
Poem (I did not write it. When I find the author I will edit this post):
Pruning is over-
now begins the growing.
Call forth energy
from deep roots,
feel buds begin to swell,
reach for wind and sun.
As you leaf,
under your green canopy,
flowers will grow in your shade,
and even in winter,
roots will store food
to feed the burst
So in fall, paint your colors boldly,
brilliant reds and golds,
and put your seeds to slumber,
preparing for spring.
In your time of flowering,
or with naked branches,
do not fear the rain,
or the coldest winds,
but stand tall,
look to the horizon,
watch the sun set
and the sun rise.
From your center,
feel each fracture in your bark
find its way to heal.
when they must fall,
and when to bud,
just as the seed knows
when to put forth its first true leaves.
Write down on a small piece of paper what you wish to heal, release, purge, let go of, invite in, move beyond.
Share out loud, only as much as comfortable.
Roll the small paper, tie to the single oak branch being passed around. Oak represents strength & stability according to Celtic tradition.
The branch is placed in the center and lit to burn: element of fire. I put in some sage a friend brought back from Sedona.
As it burns we pour and drink (today we had sparkling apple cider). The liquid represents the water element washing away, cleansing the past.
As it continues to burn we close our eyes in receptive silence, eventually randomly speak out loud single words of empowerment and transformation.
Silent observance for another: a period of reflection, prayer to an individual or group of people not present but elsewhere and perhaps in need of loving energy.
Once the little fire is out and all the paper burned, the sand vessel is passed around the circle and stirred by each participant.
In a little bag there are about 50 single words or short phrases on tiny pieces of paper, such as:
God Jesus Buddha Breath Hope Spirit Life Change Guidance Intuition Truth Relaxation Willingness Acceptance Yaweh OM Love Let Go Release Next Step Transition Now The Present Love What Is Surrender Open To Faith Trust Receptive To The Mystery
Healing Light Grounded Inspired Energy Forgiveness Release Outgrow Outgrowth Moving Forward Moving On Growth Pruning Deep Roots Understanding Centered Loving NOW OM Earth On the Horizon Sing a New Song Blossom Wisdom Divine Divinity Angels Flowering
There are duplicates of each word in case 2 participants want the same.
Everyone gets a square of foil. The following is placed within it: selected single words/short phrases on tiny paper, colored sand from the vessel, ashes from the fire. Some people chose to include things from our surroundings: sand, leaves, acorn. The foil is folded/bundled, tied with string with a sprig of ivy (representing determination, change, patience) and a sprig of holly (action & passion).
Participants are to place this little foil bundle on their alter or special spot at home and release the contents whenever they desire: sprinkled to sea, buried in a garden, etc. Maybe in a week, perhaps in 5 years.
The remaining ashes are dumped and buried in the sand.
Three rings of the bell to close the circle.
Fun! Our group was casual and not overly stoic, which was lovely. Sacred space was observed with room for flow, laughter and joy.
Sunday, November 20, 2011
Tuesday, November 15, 2011
Thursday, November 3, 2011
At some point during my college years I picked up Shakti Gawain’s Creative Visualization audio tape. There was a shell shop in Sag Harbor, NY where new age music played from the ceiling and in some respects it bordered on being a metaphysical shop. I did not know exactly what I was buying but happily judged the tape by its cover. Well, it gave a name to what we kids did at the slumber party. Every few years I listen to the tape. It still plays just fine.
The power of visualization is better understood now. It is used quite a bit in sports.
I bow to you
Somewhere I learned this longer meaning of Namaste and often repeat it out loud with students at the end of class: I honor the place in you that is of light of truth and of peace. When you are in that place in you and I am in that place in me we are one.
The idea to facilitate the ceremony birthed from two dreams I’ve had in the last week. Ceremony is a common thread shared throughout all cultures. It can be quite powerful. Joseph Campbell wrote in depth about it. In the coming weeks I will design the ceremony. In 2007 & 2008 I studied with and was certified by the Celebrant Foundation & Institute. Although I have not gone down the path of working as a Celebrant, what I absorbed has stuck with me.
If you are in my area and would like to join us on November 21st please email. The Ceremony for Healing is free of charge.
GOING HERE... NOW
It's so Eckhart Tolle.
My high school class song played during the graduation procession was Talking Head's Road To Nowhere.
The mat costs around $30 with shipping. To buy go to one of these 3 online sources: acupressurematstore.com, amazon.com or eBay
[Dear Dr. Schweig, should you ever read this, please know I did my best with the diacritics and will edit as necessary.]
8 LIMBS OF YOGA
Ahimsa – Non-violence
Satya – Truthfulness
Asteya – Non-stealing
Brahmacharya – Celibacy
Aparigraha – Non-greed
Shaucha – Purity
Santosha – Contentment
Tapas – Austerity
Svadhaya – Study of Sacred Texts
Ishvar-Pranidhana – Attunement to Life
Each of the YAMAS & NIYAMAS are sub-divided into three aspects:
For example there are three divisions of ahimsa or non-violence: intellectual non-violence, verbal non-violence, physical non-violence. A behavior begins on the level of thought, to speech then action. The level of mind is where opportunity for awareness begins. The seed of word and action begin there.
Sthira – Stability
Sukham - Comfort
BREATH CONTROL/CONTROL OF PRANA
Prana is the energy of the Universe that is expressed in different forms as mental, vital and physical activity. The breath can be seen as the perfect metaphor for our experience.
Manas (mind or senses), Buddhi (intellect) and Ahamkara (ego) become passive
Tuesday, November 1, 2011
Benefits of practicing yoga outdoors:
- Full spectrum light from the sun
- Fresh oxygen from the plants, trees, shrubs
- Giving carbon dioxide to the plants, trees, shrubs
- Feeling the breeze
- Hearing the song of birds
- Dragon flies landing on lifted finger tips while in yoga pose
- Acclimating to the season
- Body enveloped in soft sand
- The majority of students walk to class since they live in the neighborhood, thus it is a carbon-neutral experience for most, including me
If the temperature is under 40-45F or in case of rain we have class indoors.
The tax department representative exonerated me from wrong-doing over Live Chat. The older I get and the more I open to what is the more magical events become. Maybe the rep has been met with non-positive energy all day. I sent him a smiley. :) While filling out the customer feedback I was honest, commenting on how efficient and helpful he was in clearing up the matter. The point is there have been many times, from small events to more memorable ones, where the seemingly non-positive later turned out to be for the highest good for all involved.
On October 31, 2008 I called to wish my parents a Happy Halloween. The discussion with my dad turned to the unexplained. One thing led to another and he recounted this experience:
One day during his teaching career there was a crisis involving a boy from another class. My father did not know this boy. The boy had "trouble at home" which I assumed was abuse, neglect or sexual abuse. This boy left school distraught and it was thought he would harm himself. My father heard of the situation. Again, he did not know the boy. My father said he was worried for him and started walking as if on automatic. My father left the school grounds and knew when to turn right, left and when to go straight through and around a neighborhood he had never been in before and knew nothing about. This school district is an hour's drive from where we lived so there was no reason for him to ever travel through this neighborhood. As my father walked a police car appeared. He approached and said to the officer "follow me". The police officer asked, "You know where he is?" and my father answered, "Not really but follow me." He led the way with the officer following until the came upon the boy crouched in the yard of a random person's house. The fact that it wasn't even the boy's yard was what really astonished my father. If it had been the boy's home my father said he would have assumed he had seen the address somewhere and it lodged into his subconscious.
My father did not lie, was a truthful person and to say his love for children was significant is an understatement. It was such a gift to have him recount this experience. I gave the eulogy at his funeral. I probably could have relayed this story.
Only this spring did my sister tell me she, my mother and others in the family used to see a little neighborhood ghost-boy who had died in the 60's.
In the month of June M's dog died. The dog, who was not old, had become ill very suddenly and died within weeks of the onset of symptoms.
That's the background.
Early July I was out in the country. There was a real estate listing for an old building. Simply curious and not really serious I felt like taking a look. I took my dog along for the 15 minute ride. After walking around, peering in windows and looking at the crumbling building, curiosity was satisfied and it was time to go. In the driver's seat, wanting to pull out to the left, my dog's head blocked my left-side view. Instead of risking the (remote) possibility of a car coming around the bend to my left I pulled right out on to the road, deciding to go up a ways to then make a u-turn to come back where it was safe. I carried out this plan going up a hill to an area of open farmland divided by the main road. Using a dirt farm road to turn around I was ready to get back on the main road when I saw a rainbow right in front of my eyes. I had brought my camera to photograph the building for sale so photographing the rainbow was easy.
I uploaded the photo for the photo group. Little did I know less than 24 hours earlier M had been sitting at a traffic light, grieving for her dog and had asked for a rainbow as a sign from/on behalf of her dog Riley. When we discussed our amazement of this all coming together it was noteworthy that it was my dog who caused me to drive up the hill to the farmland area where the rainbow could be seen. If it were not for my dog I never would have seen Riley's Rainbow.
First, I will explain the general structure. Each week we choose a different card, study it's meaning, apply the card to our lives for a week to 10 days and then discuss our experiences and observations. First, we went through the major arcana. We studied the suits of the minor arcana and specific cards for several weeks. All summer and into the fall we have been randomly/intuitively choosing 1 of 4 of the same numbered cards. Currently we're on the 9's. We're both intuitive types so we open ourselves to the selection process in a fresh way each week, finding a balance between our will placed upon the process and an openness to spirit to reveal to us ways to select the week's card.
Mostly due to the fact that my friend is a loving and beautiful person, this study has been incredibly supportive to my growth. By the end of the year we will move on from tarot and move on to Runes, I-Ching or a book on a particular spiritual study method.
11/3/11 1:10PM Update:
Ah ha. The Great Mystery has revealed a possible way Spirit connected me to The Work of Byron Katie. Her husband is Stephen Mitchell. I have a number of his translations, one of which is the Bhagavad Gita on cassette read by him. It has been sitting on my shelf for years. I purchased it in the early 2000's when it was first released. Two weeks ago I listened to it while ironing and doing other housework. A week later I stumbled upon Katie while browsing videos on You Tube. Interesting.
I have not read her books yet. Rather, I've watched and listened to enough videos to notice my ego has softened to the idea of using the worksheets. I found them here:
We'll see if this dastardly ego will melt a little or a lot more and make room for the welcomed freedom, clarity and peace.