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Friday, January 2, 2015

The Attitude is Gratitude; A Full Moon Abundance Ritual

Another year over, a new one birthed, just begun. Brand shiny new and full of possibility. It seems this  past year has been challenging for many of us. Champagne toast, and  resolutions of giving up something. And feelings of weakness when we don't live up to our own expectations. Ever happen to you? So many times instead of appreciating what is already there , the propensity is to look externally for things to validate us. Ever seeking the thing, person, or place that will fufill us. This is exactly what chases what we are meant to have away. Statements like " I need more money" or "I wish I was thinner"" It's a longshot" or whatever limiting mantra you are using at the moment have the opposite effect-we become our words. It is like the horse chasing a carrot on a stick, you never get what you so desperately desire.  When the perspective changes, and the statement becomes "I am abundant, money flows easily to me" or " I am beautiful as I am" " I am grateful for my life experience" the energy changes, and voila-magic happens. Every challenge serves us if we accept it and allow the negative to have a positive effect. The law of universal attraction is we ATTRACT what we present.
This full moon on Sunday, January 4th is a powerful one for exactly this kind of intention setting. Letting go of old ideals that become the limiting and self fulfilling prophecy don't really do anything to serve your life's purpose. Instead, draw  in the bounty of what the universe has in store for you is a beautiful way to ring in the year, and the ritual can really be a powerful way to shift the direction, allowing the energy to flow, and move towards what you want to attract.

                                                  FULL MOON AFFIRMATION RITUAL
You will need Himalayan salt, lavender oil, rose petals,  white candles, a fire safe vessel, a special paper & pen. Be sure that you can be uninterrupted for some time. If at all possible, do the second part outdoors under the Full Moon.

Prepare a ritual cleansing bath  by filling the tub with warm water, a handful of Himalyan pink salt & about 20 drops of lavender oil. Add some rose petals. Light some white candles, and soak in the bath as you meditate on your affirmation. This will remove and release negative energies.  Dry off and dress in white. Purity in intention.
Light a  white, green, or pink candle,  and have the vessel,  special piece of paper & pen at the ready. Write down the statement that will become your mantra for the new year.  Be mindful of your thoughts- thoughts become words, words become reality.  Affirmations of the positive such as
 " I thank the Mother for providing all I need. I am abundant."
" Life flows exactly as it needs to for me and I am graced with prosperity and joy"
" I am open to receive and give love"

Write the affirmation on the paper. Hold it close to your heart and repeat the words 3 times. Then light the paper on the candle, place in vessel and offer it up. Allow the candle to burn undisturbed( but not without supervision). Sit quietly with your intention for a bit. Thank the Earth, the Moon, & Mother for their blessing.
Every morning, spend time in quite contemplation & meditation. Reaffirm your mantra for the year.

Gratitude Graces us with Gifts
Embrace them with Joy!
My mantra for 2015.......
" I am abundant, I am prosperous, I am beauty, I am love. I open my arms to the universe and receive"
Brightest blessings for a Happy New Year Dear Ones!

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Wednesday, September 10, 2014

The 3 Faces of Eve; Empowering the Goddess Within

The number 3. It manifests in so many practices. The aspect of the Trinity runs across many spiritual traditions. The power of three has a deep power of mysticism about it. We will be approaching a celebration of Navaratri  in India. A celebration of the Devi that lasts for 9 days, 3 devoted to each of the Goddesess  Durga, Lakshmi , & Saraswati.  Each of these archetypes have a different quality, mythology, & power. A trinity.  It is their power that is contained within us, in different times, and we can tap into this connection. This is something to celebrate this, treat women as aspects of the Goddess that resides within the heart. That is not always the case.
Right now in the US, there is a lot of press about a football player that beat his fiancĂ©. The press is all over it, controversy abounds. I was going into tap a MAC machine yesterday, and behind me there were two men, I held the door for them, while listening to them laughing about the situation, oblivious to the fact that a woman was in front of them, oblivious to the wrong, and accepting the act. I kept my mouth shut, but perhaps in retrospect I shouldn't. Will never know for sure if my words could have made them think.  Their mother, sister, daughter.....  In many places around the globe women's rights are non existent, and violence to women is still accepted culturally. Sex trafficking happens right under the noses of suburbia. We can do better, for ourselves, and our sisters.
Standing strong, recognizing &  embracing the power of these archetypes can support , connect, & empower us as a collective and raise our consciousness.

Durga, the fierce one. She is the mother Goddess that is loving, strong, and fiercely protective. She is depicted as having 8 arms, a weapon in each, astride a tiger. Think of the qualities of a mother. Loving, protective, but when someone threatens harm upon her children, watch her roar. She can move mountains. She is the aspect within us that transcends the ego, she is courage and strength.
Lakshmi, is beauty. She represents SRI, the Beauty, Abundance, and Value that resides within each of us. She is soft, lustrous, shown in pink & gold  standing on a lotus. She is Ojas, the life force, vitality, & rejuvenation. Love, harmony, & kindness radiate from her. Laksmhi is our sense of self worth and the beauty that permeates the universe and resides within our heart.
Saraswati is introspection, innovation, and intelligence. She brings the ideas within to life; she is the written word a& the musical note that allows us expression and connects us all, even though she herself is seen as aloof. She has more important things to do. She is intention. She is blues and greens, she rides a swan, and is playing  the instrument  sarod, It is said when she touches the deaf & dumb, the words pour like honey. The part of us that speaks our truth and creates authenticity.
Meditating on these Goddesses and the powers they embody can bring a new connection to our selves, and help us grow, and heal old wounds. She gives permission to be ourselves They
 give the answers to the questions, we just need to ask.
I offer the following meditation to embody the Devi within you...
Take the time to be sure you will be undisturbed for an hour. If you can bathe with some lavender and rose petals.  Light some candles, and find a place  that calls to you. Sit & close the eyes, and take a few calming, releasing breaths to get grounded. In your minds eye, look within your spiritual heart.
As you focus inward, you see a form, the form of 3 female shapes back to back in a circle. A trinity. You move closer, & and the form of Durga comes into focus. See her strong, beautiful, and holds her space. She welcomes you with a mother's smile. Look at the face of the warrior within, and ask
"WHAT MAJOR OBSTACLES DO I NEED TO LET GO OF"  Listen to what comes, offer it up to Durga. Feel her strength  within you.
She smiles and fades, as the circle turns and the radiant sunset colors of Lakshmi glow around you. You gaze into the benevolent, soft beauty of  her face. Flowers bloom at her feet. She extends her hand and offers you the boon of acceptance....the acceptance of the melting beauty that resides in your heart. Acceptance of your personal value, your personal beauty, and that you have everything you need in your abundant heart. Ask her "WHERE DO I NEED TO BE MORE LOVING & ACCEPTING OF MYSELF" Listen to what comes, and place it at Lakshmi's feet, and feel your heart bloom like the lotus.
She fades as the circle turns once more, & you gaze into the lustrous eyes of Saraswati.  Seated upon a swan, gently fingering her instrument. Even though she looks at you, she sees off in the distance. She see the untapped potential within you. She looks at your throat, to bid you to speak freely what is in your heart. Ask her" WHAT IS IT THAT IS HOLDING ME BACK FROM EXPRESSING MY AUTHENTIC SELF...MY TRUTH" ....listen for the answer, and the offer it up to Saraswati. See it as musical notes filling the space around.
Now see the circle of women begin to swirl, spinning faster, swirling around you until it envelopes you. Feel the STRENGTH of DURGA, the BEAUTY of LAKSHMI, & the INTENTION of SARASWATI embodied in you. You are strong, you are beautiful, and you stand in the truth of your authentic self. The Devi within shows her grace and radiates outward to the world around, the people you contact, and within your heart.
Begin to return to your body, feel your fingers, toes, and hug yourself for the miracle that you are.

Take some time for your self each day, celebrate the Divine that resides within your heart...and shine on sisters.


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I facilitate womens circles, " The Heart of the Lotus" to help us  the collective wisdom we share to help bloom. More info on the website if you wish to attend.
Om Sri Matrye Guruve Namah

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Fear & Loathing in Philly......The Klesas

Fear and Loathing....they go hand in hand. Human affliction. Pretty safe to say that when we have fear of something, we are in loathing of it. And then we become attached to avoidance. Round and round the mulberry bush we go, where the cycle stops nobody knows!
The KLESAS of The Yoga Sutras warn us of these human afflictions that bind us.
Raga/Attachment to pleasure
Dvesa/Aversion of pain
Abinivesa/Fear of release
I have recently experienced this, and it has given a whole new perspective. And folks, let  me assure you, there is no true knowledge of something until one experiences first hand.
If you are a follower, you may have noticed dead air on my end of late. Over the late spring I began to experience back pain; something that was unknown to me. Virgin uncharted territory , every day getting into my little red car to travel on my way, I never knew how bad the pain would grow. Better days, much worse days, days were it was so bad I was running to the ER for relief, only to find none. Accupuncture every 2 days brought some relief, but found myself waiting for my new shadow to come find me again. And it would. We became inseperably attached. 
My ever present sidekick had its own preference for our activities.....aversion. When it was present, tightening its grip on me, Abinivesa took a deep hold of the steering wheel. It caused Dvesa....I would avoid things as much as possible to avoid the mind blowing pain.
It became my life. My dear friend and teacher and I watched as my practice slowly was disintegrating. Things that I took for granted ( Raga) because they came so easily to my over flexible body were stripped away. The fear of pain( Dvesa) was eating me inside out. The insurance would not give an MRI, all they wanted was to give me narcotics.....expected in our world. Take the pilll, become comfotably numb.....see all pretty colored  ponies. Super simple.A vehement NO on my part and they would say "nothing we can do for you then" and they would shake their heads. Physical therapy they said.....(fyi, I am an Ayurvedic Therapeutic yoga teacher-really??) all the while it was worsening. In the interim, I discovered a lump in the small of my back and, gulp, with much fear(Abinivesa) went to a general surgeon. She said it need to be removed( more fear..) The surgery went well, and it  found the cause of the problem-  a tumor  on the muscle wall intertwining with fascia. About the size of a sweet potato. Thankfully, benign.
Pain is gone, and I am grateful for the lessons it has brought me.When we look at pleasurable attachment, fear of relinquishing, and the aversions we face , we strip  away layers. I truly understand how pain can change you, and that the fear of pain can be as bad as the pain itself.  Debilitating and life changing.  It told me to slow down. When you feel and can identify with the experiences of others, it casts a whole new lamp of knowledge.
Yesterday I did my first shoulder stand since the surgery, and my heart soared with the joy of a whole new experience free of attachment, loathing or fear.
Blessings and safe trouble free travels to you friends!

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Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Living In The Material World; Aparigraha & Santosha -the 2 Lane Road to Freedom

Living In The Material World.....thank you George Harrison for a great song and your ideals. We exist in a world that is based on the material, the ephemeral, and pretty much the premise that the one with the most toys when they leave the playpen wins. Advertisers create campaigns that create want in us. Greed and consumerism are the tools.   But the slippery slope is that when we get that new whatever it is, it feels great for a while, bright and shiny like a new relationship. But after the candy floss wears off, we are left feeling dissatisfied and looking for more. We are set up to perpetually to seek contentment outside ourselves, wanting what is not within ourselves.  But practicing the relating concepts of Aparigraha and Santosh , these two Yogic observations or restraints, we can find the path to freedom from attachment to the material and find a place of peace within ourselves.
Aparigraha.....Non seeking of that which is not freely offered. Non coveting, or simply put-non greed! When we look for the external to satisfy us it is like putting a bandage on a wound, the hole is still there. External gratification may feel good, but when you remove it , one still needs to realize that you are still you, and being able to accept where and who you are without the glitter.
Santosha.....Being content with yourself, your situation, in the present time. Not so easy because of our conditioning to buy into the material world. Not so easy, because at times, it is ok to say "things suck for me right now!" But when you practice contentment , it is also the practice of acceptance, and when that exists the realization is that things are going to be ok.
Stripped down, unplugged, and naked before the mirror is where we need to find acceptance of who we are, realizing that we don't need the material excess or packaging to be who we are.  Being content with what we have and the universe offers up for us. Letting go of the external quest for happiness, be it through relationships, goods, food, substance abuse, or whatever it is brings the sometimes uncomfortable knowledge that we have to be happy with our naked self. Being content with our world as it is we can relinquish our daily struggle.
That doesn't mean you have to live the life of a renunciant, a beggar , or a hermit. But realization of having a roof over your head, food in your belly, clothes on your back can bring a sense of freedom.
Enjoy swimming in your own pond. Living in the material world, but not being of it is the highway to freedom.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

The Monkey & the Moon....2 Ways to Connect to the Truth

A monkey was happily and obliviously swinging branch to branch in the jungle, when he caught sight of something glimmering beneath him. It was the moon glistening on the surface of a pond that had formed under the trees. He held tightly onto the branch with one paw, and tried to reach what he perceived to be the moon. Holding on to the branch, he reached, and reached, and reached for his prize. But try as he may, he could not reach it because he would not let go. By fortune, or the Graces, the branch he was refusing to let go of let go of him, breaking and sending the monkey into the pond. He splashed wildly looking all over for the moon, but it was not where he perceived it to be. Looking up to see how to get back up into the tree, he saw what he was reaching for all along....the real moon.
The monkey represents our mind, jumping around from thought to thought (the branches) and his refusal to let go off the branch represents our attachment to false beliefs ( the reflection of the real moon above)  when the monkey lets go he finds realization of the truth....the Moon is in the sky. Our quest is reaching for what the moon represents-enlightment. Seems pretty simple, right? But holding on can be a comfort, our ego based mind holds on with a death grip because it likes to be in charge.
The 2 yogic principles that can help us in our day to day struggle for the truth are Viveka and Vairagya, or Discrimination and Detachment.  When we let go of false beliefs and step back about ourselves, situations, or others, we can see things for what they really are. Think about it. If 5 people stand back to back in a circle, and look outward, they all have a different viewpoint. However, if they detach from the outward view and turn to face inward they all see the same thing....each other.  Take a long held belief that you have holding onto for some time that perhaps you know no longer serves you but are attached to it because of fear of what will happen if........(fill in the blank, please!). Change it; by changing what you are thinking, trading negative words for positive outcomes. Clearing misconceptions makes a whole lot of room for the truth. Letting go of those tightly held viewpoints can bring us to a whole new level of perception  in our lives and relationships, and bring us closer to our truth . We see who we really are and stop chasing the moon!
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Thank you!

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Wring Out the Old, bring in the New. 3 Beautiful Truths About You

Ring out the old, ring in the new....seems a perfect lyric to toast the New Year. Full of promise. Clean out the old, start fresh. New Years Eve is the place where resolutions are made-made to be broken. Sorry folks, the statistics are against you. Most of these momentary statements are broken in about 72 hours. Just about as fast as the champagne goes flat these empty promises fall flat on their face. The reason is the mind set of discipline. It comes heavy handed with connotation. And I don't know how you feel, but I personally don't like to be disciplined. It reeks of negativity. Truth be told, before developing my yoga practice I broke many a quickly voiced resolution. Then I opened my eyes and found my inner wisdom. By putting a positive spin on anything, it can change the mind set, and our lives. If you take the root of the word, and it is just a word, "discipline" it is "disciple", which is a student of something they love. Phew, so much better. See, negative becomes positive.  the proverbial spoonful of sugar makes that medicine a whole lot sweeter to swallow.
You see, anything that you choose to follow is possible. Putting a label on anything constricts it and gives it a false identity.......All these small ideas that I am a man or woman, sick or healthy, strong or weak, or that I hate or love or have little power are but hallucinations.....What frightens you? Holds you down? Only ignorance of your True Nature, of your blessedness. Nothing can bind you....these are the words of Swami Vivekananda and they ring true. Avidya, or ignorance of our true nature is what labels us.
These three simple truths, then, can set you free to release those bonds that hold you back from wringing out the old and bringing in the new....
1. You are Existance are not  the body, the mind, or the thoughts. These exist separately from the light that is the Atman, or seat of your soul. The mind exists to think, and boy does it. It will take you right down the rabbit hole and leave you there to agonize or those labels that confine you into what society wants you to conform to. The body is just the vehicle that carries you through this experience. When the car finally won't run, we trade them in, right? Same with us.  The bottom line is, all this is fleeting except for that spark that resides within your heart.
2. You are Bliss Absolute.....when you realize that you are that heart spark, and that all else is a hallucination, a fleeting wrinkle in time. Step back and realize that you are perfect as you are and that you can follow your heart.
3. You are Knowledge Absolute.....the truth is within us. We contain all the wisdom we ever needed. It was there when you were born into this body, and it will be there when you leave it. Those labels are very much like putting bandaids on a wound. They cover up what is already there but can't change it.

Boundless, limitless, with unlimited potential, these are the 3 beautiful truths we need to be disciples of.  Love yourself enough to follow your heart. Realize that you have the ability to manifest your own destiny. Break those chains and be free to be who you truly are...

                                                       BEING, CONCIOUSNESS, BLISS
                                                          Have a Beautiful New Year!

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Thursday, December 12, 2013

Don't Let It Bring You Down......5 Ways To Stay In The Spirit

Deck those halls, trim those trees...... a line from my favorite holiday song by the group The Waitresses- Christmas By Myself This Year. Great song, seriously love it, and it has a happy ending-girl and guy finally align and that old time holiday magic happens! Sigh. Pretty picture, but most likely not a  reality.
 Are you ready for the holidays?  Heard on a loop. This is asked by just about every person you meet in passing. Mindlessly, just like people ask each other how you are without really wanting to know. Sensitivity to the fact that not all of us are in the same space might just need to be the practice we all need to observe.  The truth is, not everyone has the family or financial support to be in a festive frame of mind. Many people struggle during what can literally be the darkest part of the year. Imagine being a child in a homeless shelter, or their parent.  There are those that are alone,  have lost loved ones, or in order to find that picture perfect holiday that the media portrays shop themselves into oblivion trying to fill the dark space within. The onslaught of treats and late nights can take their toll.
I relate. I never really liked all the excess, the rushing around, nor the expectations. I struggle with it. My father, mother, and stepmother all passed away during this time. Many years I have found myself in a dark funk, unable to shake the malaise that would creep in. Really feeling alone. I did some soul searching, and decided that like the rebel I can be known to be, I was going to create tradition that was relevant and meaningful to me.  WHAT??  Cue the screeching sound of brakes, the music stopping abruptly, and the curious stares. You should see the looks of strangers when I tell them I don't celebrate the holidays in the traditional way.  Instead I have found alternative  ways to stay in the spirit of light during this, what can be  the darkest part of the year through reflection of my yoga practice. Five of the Yamas and Niyama , or restraints and observations of yogic thought really can really bring a shift in your perspective, of this potentially stressful, if not magical time of year.
1. Christmas lies not underneath the tree, but in the hearts of you and me.... Practice- Contentment, or Santosha.   The holiday season is not about the biggest tree, the brightest Menorah, or whether or not you got the Lexus with the big red bow! The spirit of the season is to give with an open heart, from the heart, without attachment to the reception. The biggest gift you can give is time and yourself. Spend time with loved ones, visit a nursing home, help out at a homeless shelter,  or make donations to an organization that is in need. It doesn't have to be monetary folks. When I shifted my perspective, and decided that exchanging gift cards  with extended family was far from the spirit,  the clear choice was to stop.  My daughter and I decided to  do a collection for the local county animal shelter. They could use your old sheets, blankets, and helping hands. So can many organizations in the area.  Look at your closet-what can you perhaps share with someone that is needier than you? When you are asked what you got, you can answer truthfully-a lot of joy!
2. In the darkest days, stay in the light... Practice-Tapas, or austerity. The time before the Winter Solstice is the darkest part of the year. Days are short, and sunlight is fleeting. It is cold here in the Northeast. It makes you want to be inside with the blankets over your head. Get out and about instead, try to  be in the company of those people that are like minded. Visit places that make you feel good. Stay active. Take a yoga class. Go for a walk, get out in the sunlight. Stay in your current practice to remain grounded and don't retreat under the covers. You will raise your endorphins and brighten your mood.
3. More is not better..... Practice- Mithara, or moderation. I once heard someone say it looks like Christmas threw up at our house! Really, I don't know about you but  that does not sound to appealing to me. At all!  Excess.  And then it is over. Whether it is the extra cookie, the jillion invites to parties, or that last minute errand, ask yourself- do I really want  or need to do  this? Your wallet will thank you, and so will your health.
4. Bolster your immune system.... Practice- Saucha, or  purity.  The changing weather, closer contact with more people, burning the candle at both ends, and dietary changes that the season brings can challenge our immune systems. People get sick because they become run down. This is the time to pay attention to staying in balance. Try stimulating and moving lymph with dry brushing and then apply warm oil massage to the skin, paying attention to your joints.  Dress warm, in layers. The indoor dry air can wreak havoc. Stay hydrated. The amount of water we need is 1/2 our body weight in ounces. Get up and go to bed as close to your regular time as you can. Eat foods that are high in antioxidants and vitamin C. Ever notice citrus is very prevalent this time of year?  And as hard as it is, try to avoid the excess. That doesn't mean be a monk, hiding in a cave,  or beat yourself up for that extra cup of eggnog, but focus on being in balance. One thing I have discovered to help is Fire Cider. Gypsy anti flu brew! Full of immune supporting ingredients, a tablespoon a day keeps the doctor away. (For more on this visit my Facebook page The Ayurvedic Apothecary!)
5. Start your own tradition....Practice- Ishvaraha Pranidam, or the realization thee is something else out there besides you! When I decided to break tradition, I needed to create a meaningful  one for myself.  And I have to tell you,  it was liberating.  Many cultures around the globe traditionally have celebrations  that are meant to bring in the light. The one that resonates with me is the Winter Solstice. The darkest, shortest day followed by the reemergence of light.   I choose to  decorate a small natural tree with dried citrus, cranberries, apples, cinnamon, and raffia. Whatever natural items I have access to. The house smells awesome while the fruit dries,  and afterward the tree is taken  outside for the outdoor creatures as a gift.  Watching them enjoy their treat  is a  reason for the season, and I enjoy it as much as they do. If you do exchange gifts, try making some; and create your own wrapping paper with potato and celery stamped  with ink on newsprint.
By following any one of  these suggestions, perhaps, you can unwrap a new tradition for you and yours. That doesn't mean you have to totally do a 360 and change everything.  I still cook holiday meals, celebrate and participate with friends and family, but I am able to  step back, and stay in my center, and find true meaning  beneath the trappings of the season. To bring in the light, not only into our hearts, but to share it with those around you. This is my practice, on and off the mat...... Breathe in the light, breathe out the light, be the light!

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