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Friday, December 28, 2012

Expect the Unexpected

Expectations. We all have them, we expect things to happen the way WE expect them to. Period.  Society has expectations, we have them for others, we have them for ourselves. But when that doesn't occur, we get the big let down, whether we let ourselves, someone else down or fall short of others expectation. Then BAM, we are questioning why  and beating ourselves up, becoming perhaps depressed, or closing ourselves off from others to hide those feelings. of inadequacy.  At this time of year, more than any other there is a myriad of expectation, and it brings stuff up in us. Especially if you see what the media portrays to us....(psst, I will tell you a secret-no I didn't get the Lexus with the big red bow under my Christmas tree, either!)
We can change our perspective, turn away from what is presented- an illusion, or "maya" from the yogic standpoint.  It clouds our judgement and makes us seek what is not real, perhaps just to meet the bar .Try to  remember all that glitters is not gold. When you let go of expectation, and just allow yourself to be open to a sense of gratitude for every moment life takes on a new meaning.
So many right now are struggling, we have had weather extremes that have wrought havoc, tragedies where precious lives have been lost, we need to see that each day is to be savored, not expected. By expecting the unexpected it can bring us to seeing every moment as a precious gift. Getting out on a brisk morning and really seeing the beauty of a sun rise, being in the moment with someone you care for, truly just breathing fully....these are the things that  and actually listening, keep us in the moment and can bring us gratitude and true joy- it opens the heart. Don't go to the place of inadequacy, know that everything you need to expect of yourself is contained right there, within you, by being open to the unexpected joys of life.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Falling leaves

Here on the east coast, autumn is beginning to show her lovely face. She brings with her change. Children go back to school, the cooler mornings bring changing wardrobe needs.....hmm, when do we give up the flip flops? Pumpkin flavored everything is beginning to show up, and that extra blanket at night feels oh so snuggly. I was enjoying my snuggly blanket yesterday morning, not planning on moving, relaxing and studying on my couch when i got a message from a friend, they weren't well and could I cover their class. Damn. Ok. Change in plans, acceptance....Fifteen minutes later I was on the way out my door, no idea what my bhavana, or for those of you unfamiliar with "yoga speak", my intention for class was going to be. Looked down, and there was a brilliant scarlet leaf with yellow veins running through it at my feet. Ahhh, thank you universe.... for the grace of planting the seed of an idea. Made it on time, and shared the experience of a lovely class with a lovely group. Beautiful day out, and decided to go with the wind  sincethe plans for the day changed and let it take me for one last hurrah and drove myself down to the beach.  Catch some sun and study  the copius amount of material I have for homework.( I am back in school once again to become an Ayurvedic practitioner, and yes, there is ALOT!) On the way, noticed so many little groups of leaves changing, beautiful scarlet is the predominent color, signs of the change to come. The beach was lovely, much less crowded. The water was different, much bluer, and the waves were large. Alot of surfers enjoying the sets that rolled in one after another.Walking down the beach and really enjoying the sun, sand, and sky, I hear my name and start....( I am very good at getting lost in myself!) it was said friend!  Funny how things go if we just  allow ourselves to take change, whether big or small, at face value ...accept it, meet it with grace, and let things flow seemlessly.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Light the Candle

Yesterday I was watching a candle flickering warmly in my new space and just enjoying how simple but beautiful it was. Warming, illuminating. The glow of the flame lighting up it's surroundings.  It got me thinking. That candle is inside us- we all have the capability to light up the area around us. But, first we have to light the match; there needs to be the spark that lights that flame of illumination. It involves opening ourselves up and sharing our light with others. For some of us that comes easy, for some not so easy. We were taught after all, to be safe-"don't play with fire or you'll get burned."  It can be scary, make you vulnerable, doubt yourself. But really it's that burning  flame that purifies, it brings a lightness to us that comes from seeing ourselves as we are and sharing ourselves with others. Reflecting. We are living in a strange time....there is so much darkness out there in the world, but so much potential for light. If we take that chance, if we use that light to let ourselves shine and then light other "candles" from our own, the world is going to continue to grow in brightness and the shadows will  fade away. We have the choice to stay in darkness, or we can light the match and let our candles glow. Lighting the way for others. Alone we are bright, but when we all shine together ........we become brilliant.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

To Hades & Back

I have just returned from a life changing and eye opening experience traveling with Bridge of Diamonds to bring yoga based stress relief to children. Haiti....the impressions are still very clear-in my mind, heart, and senses. Traveling from Philadelphia to Miami and then to Port au Prince. The contrast is sharp, almost surreal. Third world country. The heat. The noise. The chaos of baggage claim, yelling, jostling, pushing, sheer pandemonium .One of the church group I met there compared it to when she was in Africa. As you leave the building faces of vendors press against "security" fencing attempting to make a buck hawking their wares. Horns beeping, UN Peacekeepers with assault rifles very present. There are buses, "tap-taps"-brightly colored small trucks that carry way more people than they can hold safely, and cars going in every direction. There is a scent-smoke, diesel, excrement, and a dust that pervades your very being, with an underlying floral. Traveling to my encampment hosted by Partners in Development, the roads are rocky craters with enormous puddles. I worry about mosquito borne disease.  People are everywhere, there is graffiti,  trash, razor wire, and rubble at every turn. Goats, chickens, and malnourished dogs  cross our path as they graze through the trash. Yet amid all this, as our bus....some holes in the floor, tempermental, door that ties shut...bus.... drives by,  and the people wave, smile, chasing us saying .."hey you!" We arrive. There is a clinnic on site, we unload suitcase upon suitcase of donations and supplies and prepare for the morning. People line up early to get into the clinic, but not all will be seen. There is alot of hypertension and diabetes. There are babies that are nine months old and weigh nine odd pounds and their parents turn here for help. They become part of what is called "Medica Mamba".The construction team goes to their site to construct a home for a lucky family. The day starts for the yoga team as well, as the children roll in and we teach on tarps and dirty mats under a corrugated roof in the courtyard. The children are very appreciative all week long...a hug, a smile, a bead give them joy. Their clothing a mix of hand me down fancy dresses to hand me downs with holes in them that reveal no underwear.  Many seem to have respiratory issues, and they are very thin. They are  hungry, and beads, plastic bags and paper are observed in mouths.  We feed them when they come-"spagetti," (Creole version) with a hotdog and an onion round. We see them sneaking a spoonful at a time out side the perimeters to their friends who were not fortunate enough to come. There are just too many. They receive a cup of "ji"-juice which is extremely sweet. They ask for water, which there is none, and it is extremely hot. We practice yoga, read a story, make some art. They leave, and we see more. We take excursions to visit orphanages, and it it intense, yet the children seem glad- we leave them with a Beanie baby, goody bag, and treat. They lick wrappers and smile. The director and I talk and he says he cannot give them much, but he can give them an education....we agree that children are the future of Haiti. I feel immensely sad that I can't do more. At a church service I smile at a mother holding a baby boy, she smiles back and hands him to me-me, "blanc" stranger. I hold and rock him and he falls asleep for the whole service. These are beautiful people, with much faith, and they deserve better.  To Hades and back.....I am looking foward to my return.

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Thursday, July 19, 2012

The Perfect Storm

The thermometer in my car today read 107 F! I happen to have no air conditioning at the moment in my vehicle -my view point is that this is "boot camp" or "tapas" (austerity) for my upcoming Seva to Haiti; (or what doesn't kill you certainly makes you stronger..) It is feeling like a pressure cooker out there, and not just on the eastern seaboard of the U.S. Everywhere you look temperatures are at extremes. A friend informed me that there were warnings for 122 F in Cyprus. The middle and entire south of the country is in a critical drought situation,  hundred of counties are being declared a disaster area in terms of agriculture, and there are wildfires abounding. Living where I am in the proverbial garden state, I notice that the reknowed "jersey corn" of legend is no  where near the height it should be....and the bases of stalks are brown. This corn crop failure is country wide, and we have set ourselves up for the perfect austerity storm....other than oil, we are a corn based economy, ugh oh Charlie Brown. If you read Michael Pollen's brilliant book "The Omnivore's Dilemma" it breaks down our food chain and gets into how this corn reliance the book, no trailer here, but you will thank me! But to make a long story short, our scenario is thus...

manmade global warming =
more extreme weather =
drought/flood conditions =
crop failure =

You see, corn is everywhere, it is the sweetener most used (high fructose corn syrup) it is hidden in names like monodiglycerides (yes corn is even in most brands of ice cream!) Factory farm livestock are fed corn (not the natural diet, just used to add pounds and make $)  and yes, it is in our gas; so now....if there is a short supply , demand is ever present, and, yes you guessed it my friend in our consumer based economy, prices go up. Resulting in....austerity.
We need to see the writing on the wall. Perhaps this summer of extremes will open our eyes to creating ways to discipline our selves, and through sacrificing our convenience, lighten the load that we have placed on the Earth. Get involved, explore permaculture, see where you can change things up for yourself, your community. Heat has a way of purifying, so that new growth can take place. Use this time we are experiencing to see where you can purify the way you consume, act, and live. We are all interconnected, and we can ride through the storm, or sink the ship...I prefer to sail.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Home is Where the Heart Is

Home....there are many varied definitions. A place to hang your hat; a place to take shelter,; a roof over your head; a place to come back to. On and on.
I am about to embark on a journey away from "home" here on the east coast of the good old USA. I am going to Haiti in August. I am raising funds to get there for a service trip through a group called Bridge of Diamonds...(more on this at the end of this posting!) HUGE undertaking! I will be doing Karma yoga there, working with children to bring them  art and yoga based stress relief, and perhaps, bringing them home to a peaceful pace in their hearts.
People have had varied reactions to my imminent journey....everything from "are you crackers?" "why would you travel so far from home, to that place?", some have no reaction, and some say "wow, that is amazing." The truth lies in all these statements. Yes, undertaking this on at 53 may be a little crackers. And it is a lot. Amazing, though, to be fortunate enough to have this opportunity to have the chance to make a difference to children that truly need it. And yes, physically I will be going into a place that is the total opposite of what is considered home- leaving the dwelling that gives me shelter and its comforts and going into the unknown. But the reality is that, no matter what challenges are awaiting me, wherever I travel, here or abroad, that I am home; home within my heart. I am excited to be taking this journey and will be writing about it and documenting with pictures.

I need help to get there. I have to raise funds to cover the trip. Right now I am almost halfway, and the clock is ticking. If you are interested, go to
look at the faces, read the stories, and then if you are so moved, please click on donation, and list me...Maureen Heil, as the person you wish to sponsor. Any help you, reader, can give is deeply appreciated .....thank you!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Stay Tight Inside Those Ruby Slippers

Visual....girl clicking her ruby slippered heels together while chanting.."there's no place like home, there's no place like home...." Dorothy of Wizard of Oz classic movie fame. Young girl from farmbelt goes on a quest over the rainbow to Oz, and on the journey to find what she's looking for, the proverbial "bluebird of happiness," realizes she had it in side herself, all along. We are very much like Dorothy from Kansas, we are always looking over the rainbow, seeking the "answer." Whatever that may be for us. We meet many characters on the way that are there to guide, some we recognize from lifetimes before, just as the Lion, Tinman, and Scarecrow, were familiar to Dorothy, and  they are there to assist us on the path. We meet many challanges, just as Dorothy had her nemesis...a.k.a "the Wicked Witch." Those challenges want to keep us off the path, like the scene where the poppies appear and lull Dorothy and her guides gently  to sleep.But a soft snow awakens them, just as we can wake up and continue our journey. We can awaken our conciousness, raise the vibration and see what our truth, our story really is, or we can stay asleep. As Glinda the Good tells our girl....."say tight inside the ruby slippers, their magic must be very powerful or she (wicked witch) wouldn't want them so badly."  Those ruby slippers have the power, the power of being home, inside ourselves. All we need to do is click our heels together and realize we are home, inside our heart.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

All or One

Yesterday was May Day, in some traditions known as Beltane. It is an ancient Celtic fire festival, celebrating the union of father Sun and mother Earth and fertility as the season moves into the bounty of summer. People danced together, celebrated, and worked together- side by side. No divisions, everybody joined in and worked for the great harvest, and then reveled again in the fall to celebrate communal success.The model of simple unity. It has been said that "the Earth has enough for All creatures needs, but not enough for One man's greed." In these modern times this becomes a more urgent statement, almost a plea.When will we realize what each of us does effects the other?  But we continue to struggle with duality and separation; we isolate ourselves, it becomes "mine, me, I" instead of "we." We create a struggle, and by doing so misery. We lose sight of that interconnection we share with the intricate and fragile web of life that supports each and every one of the creatures on the planet, including ourselves. In the tenants of yoga, it is said we are all One. And  in Tantric texts that everything is Sacred. That we all hold that spark of Divinity within, we are one with the Divine.  Sun/Moon; Man/Woman; ....night/day, good/bad, birth, death, rebirth....all things are interconnected in this beautiful mosaic of life.  There is no separation. If we are so intertwined, what we do to another, we do to ourselves. Think carefully about your impact, tread lightly on this Earth that supports your very being, as well as your neighbor across the globe.  A butterfly flaps it's wings and effects the wind on the other side of the world, what will your effect be?

Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Labyrinth

Non attachment-one of the yamas on the yogic path, is most likely, for most of us, the hardest to attain. We are connected to and limited by our attachments to our 'stuff' and our relationships. I am personally struggling with this one; letting go of things, much less people is incredibly difficult.We hold on to things that don't serve us. We attach to the morning cup of coffee, the basketball trophy from 5th grade,  the job, to relationships that no longer meet our needs. Think about is how we identify ourselves. But in order to attain moksha, or liberation, we need to let go of attachments that prevent us, bind us,  from realizing who we really are. A scene from the Jim Henson movie "The Labyrinth" comes to my mind. If you have not seen it, do yourself a favor, rent it. It is the story of a teen girl, who is discontent with her present status-always having to watch her baby step brother. In a vengeful moment, she wishes for the Goblin King to whisk said little brother off to his kingdom. Be careful what you wish for...poof! She now has to go off in search of her little brother. On the path through the labyrinth, (just as we do in life) she meets many challenges. The Goblin King tricks her with illusion (which is around us all the time ) and she forgets her quest to liberate little brother. A creature with every possible thing you can imagine attached to her back tries to make her forget who she really is with  childhood attachments..."now dearie you need this... look at this.... and that....ahh remember your old.... and you can't do without this, etc." But she looks in the mirror and sees herself (self realization) and remembers her mission of liberation for her little brother. Thankfully a happy ending. We are very much like the heroine of the movie. We go around discontented with our role in life, attaching to this and that, thinking it will bring contentment and we forget what is really important. We pile on thing after thing, seeking, but not certain for what,  in the illusory attempt to gain happiness. This seems to be the year of liberation, whether we choose it or not. All around things that no longer are working seem to be crumbling away, relationships are ending, people are in transition.  This year of 2012 is a time to put down the attachments that have become part of us, even though they weigh us down. It is time to make your way through the labyrinth of life, look into the mirror, see yourself, and liberate who you truly are.

Friday, April 20, 2012


This morning it was foggy, beautiful, but foggy. Blocking signs that direct us in our travels.  It softly surrounds you, shields you, and at the same time blocks your vision of what lays ahead. Crossroads may be right in front of you-unseen through the haze until you come right up upon them. Life is a lot like this. We stand at forks in the road, unaware of which way to turn through the fog that hides the future from our eyes. We are given choices; take this path or that. We waver, afraid of making a turn in the wrong direction. The one guarantee we have is that it is going to end up somewhere.  But the end of the journey is hidden in the mist, and we often don't know for sure where the trail may lead.  We all encounter these times in our lives, where the sense of direction is unclear.We just want to stay put until the fog clears. There are no GPS systems with precise step by step instructions, no lighthouses to guide our ship. All we can know for sure is to  take the journey that feels right, and trust the destination will be where we are meant to be.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

I Feel the Earth Move Under My Feet

All around us, right now there is instability. In governments, and people, everything is turning upside down. The solid ground is moving under our feet. In the past 24 hours there have been numerous earthquakes....
Sumatra-(4) 8.9; 8.7; 8.2; 6.0
Mexico-(2) 7; 6.9
Southern California-(2) 6.9; 6.2
New England Coast-4.5
There has been massive hail in Texas, and tornadoes in Puerto Rico. The National Geological Survey says the west coast of the United States is unstable. There is audio of strange sounds in the sky (some appear faked, some NOT) The media is not really talking, although if you Google, you will find.  My gut tells me this is not the norm...
Something is definitely brewing, the earth changes ascertain that much. You could read into the "doomsday" theories that people have about this year of 2012. Conspiracy theories abound. There is also the theory of a shift in consciousness, an awakening to a higher vibration. There have been rare planetary alignments, and recently Jupiter, Saturn, Mars, Mercury, and Venus have been visible at the same time to the naked eye. With uncertainty comes fear. But my mind wanders to the certain power and beauty of Mother Earth. When there is a natural "disaster", such as  an earthquake, volcanic eruption, flood, or fire, it is as if the Mother is cleansing herself in order to give birth to something new. Think of what happens on volcanic soil-beautiful, lush forests arise from molten rock. When there is a fire, the brush grows back more bountiful than before. Life springs forth through the labors of the planet. These events force us to bring about change and come together. As these labor pangs occur with more frequency, it is our signal that we need to let go of old ways and patterns, let go of fear and anger, and see the beauty and strength that is born of adversity. As the phoenix rises from the ash, we need to  rise up to challenging times and elevate our collective consciousness.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Heaven or Hell

Heaven and hell....we all have our own perspectives of them. Hell seen as unbearable, torturous, hot as Hades. Heaven seen to be peaceful, welcoming, full of radiance.  Our viewpoint, and just how we react or respond to each moment of our lives and the situations of day to day manifests in us and through us. It is through our perspective that we create our reality-our very own Heaven or Hell.. We have the choice to encounter life situations and control the way they effect us and how we allow them to influence us, or not. Something happens, and we see it as horrible and react to that perception. The ego jumps in, possibly followed by its friend anger, its cousin indignation, so on, and so forth....right down the line. "How dare they; they can't treat me like that, I'll show them,".... etc.,etc.  The adrenaline rises to the cause and before you know it ...BOOM...the explosive reaction comes on like fire and brimstone. Because of  that reaction, another action may take place. There you have it my friends-your very own Dante's Inferno, self created. How many times have you allowed yourself to go there? Or felt something to be unbearable?  We ALL have...probably way more than once! We also have the capability to step out of the fire, stepping back into the light of responding from the place of the witness and see what is really happening. We can look at a situation and approach it from the place of inner peace-the heart, and then respond instead of react. Seeing how it effects us, and can we even change it. Observe the story of  "The Warrior"....... There once was a fierce warrior chieftain. He was accustomed to everyone bowing to his iron will,  and if not, facing  his iron swords wrath. One day he approached a gentle monk and bellowed he wanted to be taught about Heaven and Hell. The monk paused, and then said-"YOU?" I cannot teach you anything! You are dirty, unkempt. You smell. Your blade is rusty; you are a disgrace to the warrior clan. Go now, away from here, I can't bear the sight of ye." With that, the warrior grew hotter, redder, and even angrier if possible and raised his blade to take off the head of the wise monk. The monk looked up at the warrior and calmly said..."that's Hell." The mighty warrior was taken aback. The peaceful monk offered his life up to teach him the concept of hell. The mighty vengeful warrior dropped his blade, and  fell to his knees at the monks feet and felt peace. "That's Heaven", the monk gently whispered. We have the power to choose, through our perceptions, whether we reside in our own Hell or create our own Heaven .

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Lighter Days

Here on the east coast of the United States, we have Daylight Savings Time, and  it is Spring. In full bloom... way too early. But it is  breathtakingly beautiful. The sun is up earlier, and sets later. Flower petals cascade like snow on the March winds. Everything is renewed, feeling brighter, lighter. But there are still those days where it is cloudy, blustery, perhaps a frost-it casts a shadow on the flowers raising themselves to the sun. We are very much like those  first flowers of Spring. In our lives we can raise up to  the light, and cast off the shadows that cloud our personal and spiritual growth. We all have times when we feel wonderful, and then we allow something or someone to adversely affect us. We retreat into the shadow of ourselves. This  is a powerful time on the planet we are living in;  and this season  we are in of  growth and renewal, it  is the perfect time to look inside, and see what shadows you want to walk out from under-stepping into the light and allow your soul to shine through.  Try this meditation......Find a place, perhaps outside, that calls to you. Sit down, and close your eyes. As you breathe in through your nose, imagine you are breathing in a stream of light through the top of your head.. Let it reach you from the lower belly up to the collarbone. Exhale collarbone to belly. Connect with your breath, notice it-maybe you smell the scent of spring, or feel the breeze on your skin. Notice the sensations. Continue just breathing in and out.......Let your minds eye see you breathing in light. Every time the breath passes the  area of the heart, see it growing brighter, however you envision it. And then as you exhale,see the breath as light beaming out from your heart. With each breath, see your heart grow lighter, expanding, and opening out  beyond the boundaries of your body. Send that light out into the world around you. When you are done, reflect on where you need to shine your light to illuminate those shadows that cross your path, burning through the haze to see them for what they really are-just fleeting moments that cloud our perception of who we really are.  Breath in light, breathe out  light.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

The Space Between

Breath. We go about from thing to thing unaware of the life force that comes in with each inhalation. Unaware of the wastes that we rid ourselves of on the exhale. We don't notice the breath until we are short of it, or nearing our last one. Then we struggle with the most basic part of being alive, the very thing that sustains us. We clutch at it. Breathe, inhale,'s a continuos cycle, like the waves in the ocean. The breath ebbs and flows. Its also like the ocean in the way we can manipulate it, use it, and watch it.  But it differs from the ocean in the fact that we can master it.  In the practice of yoga one of the most central tenants is breath awareness. Becoming in tune with the breath and just simply witnessing those waves, you can find that there is something else besides the inhale and exhale....the space between. In Sanskrit "kumbaka". At the end of each inhhale the is a subtle pause, and the end of the exhale, a subtle pause. Try it-take a breath in and out while you are reading this. Find it? That space between is where, for a spit second,  we can just... be.  As you notice the pause, perhaps over time, with practice, it will grow. Bringing you closer to the state of samadhi, just witnessing your nature in the sea of your breath.. When I first began my yoga teacher training, one of the things I most needed to get in touch with was my breath...I was asthmatic, and it was a struggle. I remember my teacher's voice, softly reminding me ..."breathe...breathe."  Something shifted through the practice; I have caught my breath now...(side note-bye bye asthma!) The inhales and exhales come like waves. And recently,  in meditation I have caught myself  floating for extended periods between the ebb and flow,blissfully unaware,  until I catch myself  just the space between.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Sound of Silence

5:30 a.m., driving to the studio to teach my early yoga birds. Dark out, save the brightness of traffic and neon storefront lights. Fine mist falling, quiet out, pretty much just the birds making noise,  blissfully unaware, singing at the top of their lungs to anyone that  cares to actually hear them. Turn the radio on and an old song is playing on NPR....The Sound of Silence by Simon and Garfunkel. The lyrics were pretty much on time then as they are now, excerpts as follows....
"Hello darkness, my old friend, I've come to talk to you again......

In the naked light I saw 10,000 people, maybe more
People talking without speaking
People hearing without listening
People writing songs that voices never share-
No one dared disturb the sound of silence.

Fools, you do not know, silence like a cancer grows
Hear my words that I may teach you, take my arms that I may reach you......

The people bowed and prayed to the neon God they made
And the sign flashed out its warning......

The words of the prophets are written in subway halls and on tenement walls...."

I don't know about you, but a vision of our current time flashed in my face. We are all so caught up, moving like drones from thing to thing praying to the almighty neon Gods, we as a society are becoming oblivious to our own humanity. People are hungry, lonely, homeless.We hear stories of freedoms taken away, cruelty, things that just don't seem right.Yet we most often just keep on going along in silent way. Do we TALK AT each other or TO each other? Do we HEAR the sound of our voices or do we really LISTEN? Do we openly SHARE our IDEAS, or stuff our DREAMS away? Are we able to break the barriers of silence? Silence comes from fear, and grows inside and with time becomes a high walled fortress. We lock ourselves away because of that fear;of being different, standing out, or what society thinks and accepts. It's safe in there, right?  Don't you dare rock the boat and step out of line! So much brilliance is squelched, and lives in silent solitude, traversing subway and tenement hall. We need to foster each other to come out of the darkness. REACH out to each other to connect and share your ideas and thoughts-you are not alone and have VALUE. TEACH your wisdom and experience-you have KNOWLEDGE. We are all ONE,  and we live in an age full of promise where we can RISE ABOVE our current condition to a higher  collective conciousness if we choose to unify our VOICE- and  rise up to break the sound of silence.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Bring the Balance Back

As I write this, just having finished teaching my 6 a.m. class on the subject of equanimity, balance, and the middle path, I have heard the news of a large earthquake  that has just hit off the coast of northern Japan. Perhaps 6.8,  tsunami watches are up. Almost exactly one year to the date of the devastating quake that previously hit Japan and put the Earth off balance on its axis. Wow!  I  can't help but to find it ironic of the timing.  I feel for the people of Japan and can imagine how fearful they must be as they await aftershocks. But standing back and observing, looking at the timing it seems like no coincidence that Ma Gaia is giving us a wake up call. All around  extremes in climate are becoming ever more obvious. Storms are becoming more violent, there are more earthquakes of greater magnitude where you wouldn't expect them. There are famines induced by drought. Severe flooding. Summers are longer, winters shorter. Here on the East Coast of the US, mosquitoes have been out since February, and spring is in bloom way ahead of the Vernal Equinox. Something is very off balance here, ya think? We really need to stop and think about every action that we do has a consequence on the planet. From the big corporate polluter, to those that strip mine minerals and erode the precious soil, oil companies, the politicians who, in the name of the almighty dollar tell us that there is no global warming, down to the person that threw their trash out the car window....(do I sense red faces out there...?) WE NEED TO TAKE RESPONSIBILITY! We need desperately to bring awareness to sustainability, environmental awareness, and a conscious respect for the planet. Bottom line, we are at the tipping point of not being able to swing the scale back to balance. We all need to live more simply. Without a healthy planet, we are in for a rude awakening. We need to teach the younger generation respect for our natural resources and love for the Earth. We need to stand against those that pillage and rape what Gaia has to give without regard for their very own grandchildrens future. As custodians of this beautiful blue planet,  we need to bring the balance back.

Friday, March 9, 2012

The Heavy Load

We are influenced by events in our lives, and we can carry them around like a heavy backpack, ready to open up and whip out the events inside to study....again and again. "Maybe I could have done something different; It makes me soooo angry, etc;....If only I had..."  -you know the mantras, they are endless and easy to repeat on a loop.  We have the conscious choice to carry around the weight of life events on our back ( and it is a damn heavy load, been there, done that! For a lot of years I carried around anger at what some people close to  me were choosing to do themselves through substance, it ate away at my heart, eventually became part of me,  and gave me an ulcer among other things! ) or we can choose to look at these scenes, see them as a lesson and learn, pass the test, and move on to the next. If we allow ourselves to get stuck and carry around the feelings of anger, frustration, disillusion,____( fill in the emotional word blank that resonates with you- the choices are endless ) that pack on our back becomes part of us, and we own it!  We can, however be conscious and put it down; a story I have discussed with my young yogis  relates just that and follows......there were two monks traveling that came upon a high born lady and her attendants in a village. It was early spring, and the road was wet and covered in mud. She bullied them and railed about getting across the road without soiling her garments. Her attendees hands were already full with her packages and could not assist her. The novice of the two monks saw the scene and kept walking. The senior monk stopped, picked the lady up on his back, carried  her across the muck, and put her down on  the opposite side of the road. They continued on and the young monk became increasingly brooding and finally asked his elder why he carried the women when all she did was berate her devotees and did not even thank him. The elder responds with this..." I put the woman down miles back; why are you still carrying her?  We can very much be like the monks and either carry our issues around like a pack on our back and let them fester within  or put down the emotional baggage by the side of the road and continue our journey through the village called life. I don't know about you, but the road ahead looks pretty inviting.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Eyes Wide Open

This week in Philadelphia, it's Flower Show week.  Time to stop and smell the flowers: and  perhaps hundreds of thousands of people will flock to do just that.......but do they really? Do they just hurry through, glancing but not really seeing? Smelling? Savoring each blossom? Right now in this area, spring is waiting with baited breath to burst into full bloom. But if you don't stop and really look, the trees  still appear bare, the grass is just greening. When you take the time to look deeper, you can see those trees that seemed lifeless still are full of buds waiting for the first really warm day to burst into life (tomorrow?...forecast is for 71, woohoo!) If you get down and notice the grass, it is carpeted with tiny flowers of all colors...all right there if we choose to look deeper! Today driving through the city I happened to see two butterflies wafting through the warming air within two blocks of each other, one orange and one white. First ones of the spring! If I wasn't aware I would have missed their beautiful dance. A fleeting moment in time, but precious. Life is like that for a lot of us, we float from thing to thing in our day to day lives, not really present, just going through the motions and missing those special moments in time. We look straight ahead and don't see all that is going on around us. Society has placed blinders on our eyes, keeping us moving down the conveyer belt of life, not blinking.  If we allow ourselves to take off those blinders,  to adjust our vision, broaden our sight to what is going on  above, below, and around us, we can not only see those flowers, but maybe notice enough just take in every detail. To really be present in our day to day .What do you see with your eyes wide open?

Monday, March 5, 2012

Putting it in Perspective

Every experience we have is scewed by our perspective. It's colored by the glasses we see life the yogic perspective, maya, or illusion. We can see things through rose colored glasses or be blindfolded.  Either is a viewpoint that is altered. That illusion prevents us from stepping back and being able to just be the witness and experience life as it plays out before us. It clouds the lenses of our inner vision. Think about the driver  that cut you off and caused you to catch a red light  on your way to work when you were already running late.... cursing out the window...face getting red....yeah, I'm talking to you- you know you've done it! ( I know I have )Possibly some finger flippin' as well....But what if that red light  and crazed driver spared you from an accident that would have happened further down the road? What if that red light that caused you to be even later brought you to a chance meeting with someone that will become someone special  in your life. The red light can be viewed as good or bad, depending on the glasses you see through, or it can just be viewed as it is-a red light. See if the following story helps clean the lenses, .....Once there was a farmer. His only horse ran away just before he was set to plough his fields. The neigboring villagers all lamented.."bad luck!" The farmer shrugs his shoulders and answers with "maybe." The horse comes back the next day with two wild horses following him. "Blessings, such luck!" the villagers exclaim. The farmer again shrugs with a "maybe. The next day the farmers son attempts to break the wild horses, is thrown and breaks his leg. "Such bad luck, what a shame!"....The farmer shrugs again and  complacently says  "maybe."  The next day the army comes through town looking to draft young men to go to war. They come upon the farmers house, see his son with the broken leg and pass him by. The villagers cheer..."such a blessing, great luck to you!" ....the farmer observes his son getting very comfortable in  his favorite chair,propped up, watching the telly, and  sighs, and says "maybe."  Like the farmer and the villagers, we all view things differently.....we need to see with our eyes wide open, take off the blindfold and allow things to come into their true perspective. Rose colored lenses, anyone?

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Digging in the Dirt

Here on the eastern seaboard spring is seeming to start early. ( It's February warming- what?) Yesterday as I walked my hound, two very twitterpated robins flew in front of me, oblivious in their ritual. Daffodils are blooming, trees are budding, and yes, mosquitoes are beginning to buzz.  Spring brings the ritual of planting, growing , and weeding out the garden. Seed catalogues bring excitement as we think about all the wonderful things we can grow- how spectacular the fully bloomed plants look! Renewal, everything begins again,  and is fresh. We love to envision the finished product, change is good. But plants, like people, need care and patience to grow if we are to reach our potential. In the yoga sutras of Patanjali, svadiyaya, self study, is one of the niyamas....what is needed? We need to ask ourselves what is needed for our own  growth. We have the best intentions. But, if you take seeds and half assedly toss them into the ground and walk away, you have a fifty-fifty shot of them taking hold and growing; it was a good try, but the seeds may not get what they need; they sprout, wither, and die. Shame. How good  are we  at doing this...we think of the things we need to develop in ourselves, get excited and make sometimes a half hearted attempt at fostering their growth. Then we find out it is work- so we toss the catalogue of personal growth seeds  in the recycling and move on to something else. Ring any bells?-does for me. Gardening is dirty work, and most of us prefer to to let someone else do it. We toss the seeds of change into the wind and they may or may not grow roots in our heart. Real growth takes rolling up your sleeves, and digging in the dirt. Time. Patience. Care.  To  become the cultivator of change we need to decide on which seeds to plant in ourselves, nurture them with tender care, knowing there may be setbacks and challenges-like the weeds in the garden, we have to rid ourselves of things that stunt our growth. Are you ready to dig in the dirt and plant the seeds of change....they will blossom  if we allow them to take root in our heart and reach towards the sun. 

Sunday, February 26, 2012

The Old Tattered Robe

Simplicity....basics....a tattered old robe. What is it we really need, anyway, to say we got it right in this lifetime, that we lived the good life? We get so caught up in the material bullshit...yes folks, to quote Bhagavan Das.."it's all bullshit." Period. We take for granted just the simple pleasure of listening to  birdsong, having a roof over our head, and being grateful to be alive. In the eight limbs of yoga, one of the Niyamas, or observances, is the concept of Santosha, telling us to practice contentment with whatever blessings or challenges life throws our way. I  can relate. I am not living in my home at the present time, staying with my daughter, to whom I am eternally grateful! I am learning to adjust to being content with the basics of a couch to sleep on, putting food in my belly and bathing. Pretty basic, but I can tell you, living without all the b.s. brings you to see what it's all about.  A story I have read to my little yogis sums it up and now I will share with you....Uncle Ry( happens to be a bear) lived in a small hut. He had very few belongings and lived a simple life. He was happy. One night a robber( happens to be a racoon, go figure...) comes and intends to take what few things Uncle Ry does have. Uncle Ry suprises him and is delighted to have a visitor. He greets him and asks what can I give you. ( How often do we wholehearedly welcome strangers in???) The robber is taken aback, and proceeds to attempt to back out the door. Uncle Ry never lets anyone leave empty handed. Since he is simple and has very  few things he gives the robber the only thing he has to share- the tattered old robe off his back. ( how often do we openly give of ourselves, much less the clothes off our back??) The racoon heads for the hills, and Uncle Ry climbs up the hill behind his hut to look at the beautiful moon shining down. He wishes that he could have given him the beauty that he has the opportunity to see by opening his eyes and heart to contentment. Uncle Ry, in your tattered old robe .... you got it right.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Reach for the axe

As we approach Presidents Day, a certain story about a cherry tree and telling the truth comes to mind. Fact is....this is an embellished tale; ie...NOT TRUTH. ( If you have a doubt, look it up!) But we hear it over and over, children tell us, they sell us the cherry pies at the grocery store to celebrate a myth, we use it for Presidents Day sales at the capitalist've probably said it a time or two without blinking! Fact being if we repeat something enough, it becomes "truth." We accept. Most of us go through life this way, we repeat something to ourselves over and over, it becomes a mantra,  our story, even if it's not authentic to ourselves. This is the way it's supposed to be. It's expected. We beleive, no afterthought required. Applying the yogic teachings of vairagya and viveka we can detach and discern-not just accept.Kind of like looking at what sales you want to shop and what ones you don't. Seems easier that way, doesn't it? I used to be a subscriber of acceptance, bought right into the ad- the universe has a funny way of planting the cherry  tree right in your path if you don't listen. Walked right into it. Choice-pick up the axe or keep on going? As heavy as it is, I have chosen to pick the axe up, swinging,  and am now handing it to you. Have you felt that there's something more to this? That niggling, dare we say it....DOUBT? ( Just beleive, shut up, buy in, and eat the damn cherry'll all be fine!)  This can't be all there is to it. If you stop to listen to that inner voice, it tells you your true story, if only you choose to listen. When you do, something shifts, and the eyes open to possibility. If you follow the clues it can take you down the path you were meant to be on before you got stuck in the audio replay of the "truth." advertising.  By reaching  for the axe  to chop down the falsehoods and find the path to your own story; you can have your cherry pie, enjoy it, and maybe have ice cream on top.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

8 Days a Week.....

Ahh, Cupid has shot a volley of his little poison darts again this February. Everywhere you go you see bouquets of flowers, sweet treats, candy and balloons galore....the pressure is on to give your sweetie a treat. (That can be hard to deal with if you are not in a relationship that fits the criterea. Everyone wants to share what they got to show how much they are "loved".....ah, thank you Hallmark!) But a few days later, the flowers wilt, the chocolate is eaten and it's back to business as usual. It's a production number and the show ends, curtain closed. We tend to like over the top displays ( side note-the amount of child and unfair labor that is used to get the bouquets and candy to their final destination is alarming. Please consider Fair Trade chocolate and flowers, love a laborer from a Third World country xoxo!) and then have done  until the next big occasion to show off. Is this how we love ourselves, and others?  Isn't it more loving to show up, whole heartedly every day? Why do we need a special day to show we care? Through the teachings we learn that we are all one, so my theory is that if we love ourselves then we love all others by being present, consistently. Show up and serve with  a kind word, an attentive ear, and an open heart.Make it your practice. See love blossom in yourself through the song says "eight days a week is not enough to show you care."

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Be Here Now.....

Most of us have heard this quote, thank you Baba Ram Dass! But, really... are we? People talk to each other and don't even make eye contact. Our virtual selves  do the communicating. Societally we have become so plugged in that we have checked out on our lives-ever notice people being so busy checking in and updating their status on social networking that they are not even there for the activity they're telling the world about? The next time you're out somewhere just watch how many people have their tech device glued to their hand typing away while someone is talking to them. We disconnect from our own lives and plug into mindless reality tv-they have the experiences for us. There's an app for everything. We are a push button society and move so quickly from thing to thing we don't have time to be present. Through the study of yoga we are taught to be present, and listen to our breath. To notice the subtle feelings in the body, and to just be the witness -"I am that". We just need to show up, and be of service to ourselves and others, experiencing the moment. Unplugged, period. Perhaps we need an app to remove the tech devices from our lives, the virtual prana traps that have taken over for us. So, I suggest an experiment...try putting down the tech toys, for an hour ( I see you longingly looking at them already... stop caressing the phone) then maybe a day. Go somewhere with a friend or family member....have a real conversation...and be here now.   

Monday, January 16, 2012

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall

Relationships-we all have them. Relationships with the family, maybe a partner, a pet, a job. We also may have a close personal relationship with the couch, the remote control, or the cannoli. Yum-delightful relationship there!Maybe it's the small tech device glued to your hand(talk about co-dependant relationships!) We have a relationship to our body-there are days where we feel ten miles high, and other days that we may feel like we are living in a  friggin' sewer! Talk about your proverbial love/hate relationship there! Practicing yoga brings a relationship with your asana that is very telling. Think about it-we all have poses we love or dread(much like a visit from that relative that shall not be named!) Certain poses bring  strong reactions up in us...."I could hang out here all day"....."oh no, not that- I hate this one" (as the heart and breath speed up, the mind races!). Look into the glass and examine why you relate the way you do.These reactions can tell you about yourself-maybe bringing you insight Through the teachings of yoga we are said to all be one, so how we relate to ourselves is a mirror of how we relate to others. Look at the relationships in your life-and see how that reflects to you. Maybe there is one that really can tell you about yourself. Loving, tedious, or codependant, all relationships take work, looking into the mirror of self reflection is the first step to a deeper knowledge of ourselves which enhances our relationships with others.Mirror, mirror, on the wall-do we know ourselves at all....

Monday, January 9, 2012

Step out of Line

Why is it that as human beings we repeatedly beat ourselves up by continuing things that cause discomfort? (Visual-Monty Python animation of monks with boards hitting themselves in the head while for me, how 'bout you? If you aren't of a certain age group or had the pleasure to watch old BBC comedy, do yourself a favor, you'll get the anology) According to the Yoga Sutras the Klesas(the source of suffering) is related to Samskaras(patterning) that we repeat like like hamsters on a wheel , or those monks of Monty Python, sometimes this lifetime, and if we don't break the pattern, sometimes into the next. Why can't we just take a few whacks, learn the lesson, and put down the board?  Suffering isn't the answer to get us to the next level. Why would anyone want to whack themselves continually? Sometimes it's comfort zones and fear of change. Fear of the unknown, fear of judgement from peers, family, society. Fear of one hurt being greater than the other. Fear of loss. Sometimes it's ingrained from childhood -seeing what is the pattern around us and accepting it (Bet the monks of Python would say because it's what we do and have done and will continue..... side note-cue the chanting and boards cracking) I have recently discovered myself unaware of repeating patterns that continually cause discomfort in my life, standing myself in line with the monks and being my own willing victim. Ouch. Pretty hard head I must have-stubborn Celt, through and through. Take a good look at the things that cause you discomfort, and then see why you continually subject yourself to it ;I don't care who you are.... WE ALL have something!. Once we see the pattern,recognize it for what it is maybe we can pry the board from our own hands.. We don't have to repeat Samskaras-we can stop being our own worst enemy and step out of line. Who wants to travel life with knots all over their head, anyway?

Monday, January 2, 2012

Your Karmic Deductible Contribution

Wow, another year over, the champagne popped, the Mummers mummed, the confetti swept up. Happens over and over, year after year. Just like the ads we hear on a loop..."still time for your tax deductible contribution." "Give to us and write it off..." yadda, yadda, yadda. Feel good fiscal charity, lighten your pockets and your tax load. Listening to this mantra over and over got me thinking-what if those ads instead asked you to reduce your karmic debt?  Would we reach into our hearts and contribute good works instead of cold, hard cash? Karma defined as "the effects of all action/effects caused by past action." We've all heard it...Karma's a bitch, Karma will bite you in the butt; beware Karma, it's gonna come back and get you! Some pretty heavy connotations-Karma carries the same bad rap as the tax man. But really to reduce our Karmic debt isn't that difficult, we really just need to show up, authentically living our lives and sharing that gift with others. Start with an audit of yourself-when was the last time you selflessly acted without thought to the bottom line? We're human, most of us usually have one. We need to make selfless service our bottom line.Show up, smile, and be of service to yourself by serving others.  To quote Winston Churchill..."We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give." So what's your Karmic Deductible Contribution going to be this year?