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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?