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.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Current Study With My Inquiry Partner: Power Of Now by Eckhart Tolle

Eckhart Tolle's Power Of Now is the work I'm engaged with alongside my inquiry partner.  I've read and listened to the audio version of this book many, many times.  What's new is that drawing is included when approaching each chapter. It's mere sketching and coloring but it feels as though the creative action is constructive, helpful.

Searching For Sugar Man

If you haven't seen the documentary Searching For Sugar Man, do so!  And resist the urge to read anything about the story prior to viewing the film.  That said, I wish to share a quote from the tail-end of the film:

What he's demonstrated very clearly is that you have a choice.  He took all that torment, all that agony, all that confusion and pain, and he transformed it into something beautiful.  He's like a silk worm, you know. You take this raw material and you transform it.  And you come out with something that wasn't there before.  Something beautiful.  Something perhaps transcendent.  Something perhaps eternal. Insofar as he does that, I think he's representative of the human spirit, of what's possible.  That you have a choice.  "And this has been my choice, to give you Sugar Man."  Now have you done that?  Ask yourself.

- Rick Emmerson on his friend Sixto Rodriguez in the documentary Searching For Sugar Man

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

A Beginning, A Middle, An End

Within myself recently I've noticed a frustration with others' inability to accept the reality of things having a beginning, a middle and an end.  After a stretch with this experience popping up every so often I now see my own discord with the nature of change.  I want it in ways, yet desire control.  My idea to move forward with understanding is twofold: embrace a single quote by the Greek philosopher Heraclitus and get outside, out of climate control and man-made comforts, rest with nature, see what it has to teach.


Thursday, June 20, 2013


Construction and Deconstruction of a Mandala with the Dalai Lama


Dust In The Wind
All We Are Is Dust
In The Wind

- Kansas, 1977

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Monday, June 17, 2013

Re-Visiting Zen And The Art Of Motorcycle Maintenance

About twenty-five years ago I tried to read Zen And The Art Of Motorcycle Maintenance by Joseph Pirsig.  For a non-technical person it's a challenge to understand parts of it.  This time around I'm listening to the audio version with better success.  At middle age grasping Pirsig's Metaphysics of Quality is more within reach as well.

Humans Valuing Nature

The recent turmoil in Istanbul started over people protesting for the preservation of a park, in the hopes of preventing a new shopping center being built in its place.  [It's a good cause but unfortunately there's been violence.]  In 2006 the Yoga In The Park class formed out of a discussion during a walk through said wooded park with a friend.  The book Last Child In The Woods by Richard Louv was our topic.  It is a recommended read, one I wrote about early-on in this blog.  His thesis is an important one.  It involves the increasingly diminished opportunities for children to have access to open, natural space.

There was a period of time when I forgot how much I crave time with nature.  The desire, however, expressed itself through consumerism.  It was several years after moving to a city, working in another city, I wasn't getting outdoors much and I'd yet to reignite my joy of puttering in a garden.  One day in a big box store it occurred to me how I often I was drawn to bird houses, things with floral prints and the like.  Now, there's nothing wrong with bird houses and floral prints but for me at the moment I realized I was trying to purchase nature experience.  Since then daily encounters are embraced: those moments in the garden when a new flowering bush has started to bud, enjoying the site of a tiny toad, feeling the ocean water hold me up or push me sideways, listening to a bird on the utility wire above. What a loop I'd been in:  missing out on an important aspect of life experience, seeking it elsewhere, that elsewhere is destructive to what is treasured both in manufacture on one end and on the other, the time needed on my part to earn money in order to fill the gap.  Now that's a sequence I can do without.

The Adirondack Park in New York is an extraordinary effort of mixing private land use, much of it subject to rules and restrictions, along with vast tracks of preservation.  It's history holds a bit of ugliness in the struggle to find balance between lowered human impact and property rights. An imperfect arrangement of legislation in some ways, the spirit of the idea has endured since the late 19th Century, it is a gorgeous place.  As barely part-time residents, my husband and I assure those who've always lived within "the blue line" (the park boundary) there is much to be appreciated.  Everything has it's pros and cons.  Everything.

My husband had been with a friend and his child on our local beach.  The child expressed being bored to which the father said, "Do you realize people work long hours all year in order to save up the money and vacation time to come here for just a week? And that's if they're lucky."  I'm not sure what happened after that but it wouldn't be a stretch to assume the child eventually found something to be amazed with in the sand dunes or at the shoreline.  This story is a reminder to start where you are.

It may not be necessary, but maybe it is, to launch big legislation or battle over the preservation of a park.  There are small opportunities everywhere, if one values the connection with nature.  

Sunday, June 9, 2013

"It is better to conquer yourself than to win a thousand battles.  Then the victory is yours.  It cannot be taken from you, not by angels or by demons, heaven or hell." Buddha

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Dynamic Anterior Lower Legs From Horseback Riding

Never have I had such dynamic front lower legs.  Horseback riding has created an amount of dorsiflexion capabilities like I've never had in 44 years.  Years of swimming, yoga, jogging, cycling, dance & tumbling in my youth and undoubtedly genetics have provided strong & large calves and a good point.  The muscles around the shins lacked tone, until now.  "Relax that heel down" was repeated over and over again by the instructor in my first months of riding.   Between rides now I flex and circle my ankles, feeling the might in the anterior leg muscles.  I surmise this strengthening has helped to prevent the mild shin splints I used to get from jogging.

Yoga As Preparation For Unplanned Meetings With Gravity

The kind of gravity alluded to here has nothing to do with jowls, thighs or the backs of arms.  Asana practice introduces the body to a variety of shapes with differing relationships to gravity.  With a gravitational mishap (i.e. a fall) is it a little less foreign for the nervous system to process if the body takes a similar shape on a somewhat regular basis?  Perhaps a small part of the system says, "Been there, done that."  Of course there's the additional muscle and joint preparation.  Many parts of the body become the primary ground to the floor depending on the pose: feet, hands, shoulder blades, head, sitting bones, etc.  The joints have practice bearing weight, the spine contorts creating a supple snake and muscle are strong & lengthened.

I've been horseback riding one to two times per week since August and have yet to fall off.  It will happen though.  In asana during inversions, wall work, OM Gym practice or even handstands and front flips in the pool I think about how the human body launches off equine creatures.  This may be the best preparation as I had asked the riding instructor if falling off a horse is something to practice and he replied that it's a nice notion but there's really no way to do so.  When it happens it just sort of happens.

When he was 64 my father fell off a ladder while trimming a tree.  Although the accident resulting in serious injuries he felt Airborne Division experience was a lifesaver in that muscle memory kicked in for the landing.  An ankle shattered as it is thought it absorbed the greatest impact.  It was later discovered his neck sustained a break but it could have been worse.  Maybe his theory of body preparation was correct.    

All this said, let's aim for yoga asana practice to improve balance so unplanned meetings with gravity are non-existent or less frequent!

Sunday, May 26, 2013

INFJ's Intuition

Are the INFJ's (from the Meyers-Briggs personality scale) really highly intuitive or does a busy mind simply increase the likelihood of making "a hit"?
"And that was one of the things that tilted me towards thinking about if there were shared territories between fiction and art on the one hand and magic on the other.  And it was one of the experiences that led me to think that there's probably absolutely no difference in those territories at all, that they all connect up perfectly well."

- Alan Moore, on a transcendent experience with his art  

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

If you cannot see the darkness it means you're standing in it.  - Deepak Chopra


In the East, there is the idea of "Tao" which is sometimes referred to as "the way" or "the way of Tao".  Tao refers to "all there is".  Split in two, it formed Yin & Yang.  These two opposites exist in relationship to one another. Oppositions dance naturally with give and take, equalizing constantly.  Too much of one aspect will result in necessary re-balancing.

According to something I read recently, Western languages lack a single, designated term for the concept of oneness and the nature of opposition contained within. 

Fortunately, Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu is available in many English translations.  The World is smaller, the information vast, teachers are teaching.  We'll just have to rely on more than a single word for the more important distilled experience.

A WikiHow Article - Increase Your Lung Capacity


Jogging, Breathing With Awareness

I've been jogging 3 miles at a stretch recently.  It may not seem like a lot but when you're not in running condition it can be uncomfortable.  During a recent trot I felt a "stitch" on my right side. I know it helps to stop and apply pressure under the rib cage to the edge of the diaphragm muscle, breathing deeply while doing so. But I didn't want to stop so I just breathed into the space while continuing to jog.  It disappeared!

A Recent Decision

After teaching yoga since 1999, I've decided to let go.  In recent years I've scaled down to just a few class sessions per month but now my decision is to discontinue instructing completely.  There's a sense of relief to be free of the responsibility. Output is not coming easily lately as I need more solitude, time with my own thoughts.  Leadership requires a certain kind of energy, which is on the back burner in a way that isn't within my control.  Just as my yoga teaching style is non-force, not demanding this-that-&-the-other of students, the same attitude applies to here.

For those who have expressed disappointment with the end of the Yoga In The Park class, remember you can always coordinate and continue to meet for individual practice.  If you do so, please include me!  I will and do miss getting together with the group.

Keep practicing!  I know I'll always have a physical practice on my own, soft as it is.

The Next Spiritual Study

My study partner and I have completed Deepak Chopra's The Happiness Prescription.   This is recommended for anyone.  There is no need to believe in anything.  This is well-timed since I'm in a practical place in life, not readily taking to more than nuts & bolts, see-it-to-believe-it.  Chopra suggests practices.  The are the 10 prescriptions, so to speak.  Here they are distilled into a simple list:

1) Listen to your body's wisdom.
2) Live in the present.
3) Embrace silence.
4) Relinquish your need for external approval.
5) Relinquish your anger or opposition.
6) Total self-knowledge, the world is a mirror of states of consciousness.
7) Don't judge others.
8) Remove toxins.
9) Replace fear with love.
10) Cultivate witness awareness.

Now, he reviews, quite eloquently, several ways of approaching each.

Next, my study partner and I are going to work visually.  It will be a pleasure to get back into art materials!  Our guide, in addition to each other, will be Judith Cornell's The Mandala Healing Kit: Using Sacred Symbols for Spiritual & Emotional Healing.  I will blog-post some visuals and insights as appropriate.

If you've followed this blog over the last 2 years you'll know we're heading into our 4th study.  It is interesting (and not surprising) how similar spiritual teachings come around again and again.  Each time we pick up a new series we marvel at how it feels as though the last prepared us for the current!

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Film: Kumare

I loved this film.  If you haven't seen it yet please do so before reading this entry.  Perhaps you should watch the film without reading anything about it. It is streaming on Netflix.


Okay, so now that you've watched it...

It has the brilliance of anything the sharpest Zen master could conjure.  And it's as though the writer-director M. Night Shyamalan has prepared a generation of viewers to appreciate a great twist ending.  It is no surprise a yoga studio owner was the first to charge out of the room when Kumare/Vikram revealed himself.  [Back in my regular teaching days owning a yoga studio was not a goal.  The set of responsibilities that come with being a representative of a studio are heavy.  So heavy Zen-riddle-like surprises may not always be appreciated.]  I think Vikram gave those participants an awesome experience.  I felt he had love in his heart for all of them and was respectful of their path.  I wish I could have been one of them...  

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

"The Universe Is Expanding" video clip from Annie Hall

Over the weekend I watched Annie Hall again for the countless time.  This scene holds a little humor related to recent blog posts:


Deepak Chopra's The Happiness Prescription

In study with a partner, we've been working with Deepak Chopra's The Happiness Prescription.  It is a 2-DVD set I highly recommend.  The first DVD is a talk with an audience.  The 2nd DVD includes practical exercises which are presented more in an introductory sort of way.

To apply and grasp each practice it's best to take notes, create cue pages for inquiry or a design journal or workbook-style formats.  Some practices ask for writing, others silent reflection.  It's fairly easy to navigate around the chapters.

This week we're working with #6, the concept of Self-Knowledge.  He offers a list of 9 inquiries, the first 2 to be reflected in each daily 2-minute practice with 1 of the remaining 7 added in as well.  It doesn't matter which of the 7 is chosen.  Below is the "cue page" with notes that I wrote out to put in front of me for the daily, 2-minute inquiry.  Without this summary sheet the DVD moves too quickly and that's okay because he's just providing an overview.


The world is a mirror of states of consciousness.  We think we're seeing the world but we're seeing ourselves as the world.

2 minutes daily: ask the first 2 questions plus one additional from the bottom 7.  It's more important to ask then to have an answer.  It's in the asking!  



What is my life purpose?

What contribution do I want to make to the world?

What creates joy for me?

Who are my heros and heroines?

What are my unique skills and talents?

What are the qualities I look for in a best friend?

What are the best qualities I can express in relationships?


I appreciate Deepak Chopra's light-handed approach.  He doesn't put forth rules or doctrines but asks that we ask... that's all he's asking.

Neil deGrasse Tyson

Neil deGrasse Tyson, the astrophysicist and self-described agnostic, has an inspiring wisdom in his ability to communicate scientific findings.

"Recognize that the very molecules that make up your body, the atoms that construct the molecules, are traceable to the crucibles that were once the centers of high mass stars that exploded their chemically rich guts into the galaxy, enriching pristine gas clouds with the chemistry of life. So that we are all connected to each other biologically, to the earth chemically and to the rest of the universe atomically.  That's kinda cool!  That makes me smile and I actually feel quite large at the end of that.  It's not that we are better than the universe, we are part of the universe.  We are in the universe and the universe is in us."

"You don't have to be a rocket scientist to know that kindness is a virtue."

Diane Roach of Virginia Beach

"Everything in life is designed to help us expand because it is an expanding universe.  And when we expand and feel connected and one with that universe then we are a hologram of God.  Instead of "I'm a drop in the ocean", the ocean being God, you're not a little drop in the ocean, that sounds very isolated. No, you're a drop but you're a hologram.  You bring the ocean into the drop.  And that's what I like, that's the kind of feeling I like to facilitate."

Her words bring to mind Kahlil Gibran's words on love:  When you love you should not say, "God is in my heart," but rather, "I am in the heart of God."

And these words of Diane's have rested with me too this week:

"Enlightenment is a stress-free physiology"


I don't know Diane Roach but a friend has experience with Diane and her work.