Monthly Archives: November 2007

Have you ever meditated with others? Perhaps it was with your beloved, with family and friends at a religious ceremoy, or at Satsang. I highly recommend it!

My husband and I meditate together whenever opportunity presents. Tonight we attended a group meditation at YogaNow, here in Albuquerque.

I won’t try to describe the experience, because, well, it was meditation. I will express deep gratitude for the opportunity to be with others meditating. What a gift.

What you attend to, you transform.

What qualities does your attention possess? Is it intense, relaxed (how do your eyes feel? your tongue? your hands?), curious, open? Do you have words in your mind right now? Are they coming from that to which you’ve surrendered your attention?

What state is body in? Are you in motion? Are you at rest? Are you relaxed?

Where do you have sensations as you render your attention to your subject? (What is the difference between subject and object in this state?)

Embodied Awareness = Yoga

You’re doing yoga right now! Take a bow, I mean Uttanasana!

Yesterday’s post has certainly generated some reactions. My central idea is simply that while emotions sometimes call us to honor specific stories, they always connect us to our basic humanity. After we let the story go, we are in a position to be present with the emotion in the moment, each moment.

Last night while listening to Tara Brach on AudioDharma talk about her book Radical Acceptance presented through Zencast, which I highly recommend, I was struck by her clarity in addressing this presence. She focuses the issues quite beautifully. One of the problems that “being present” or “accepting” often brings up for us is a version of the problem of evil. By looking at it, am I condoning it? By acknowleding the existence of something hurtful, dreadful am I decreasing my resistance, my approbation, am I allowing it into my life? What if everything is sacred (my word)? What do I do with the dark side then?

Part of the answer is that we don’t keep hurt and harm from our lives by resisting its manifestation. The notion that we can keep harm at bay by intellectually refusing to acknowledge it, though full of  Captain Kirkian nobility, conflates two notions of resistance. When a harm is potential we can work to mitigate or even negate it. When it is actual, it no longer is helpful to “resist”, if this means acting like it’s not there because we don’t know what we’d do if it was: it is. One is positive action. The other is a veiled state of mind.

Tara Brach uses a Buddhist teaching on acceptance to demonstrate a way of “Being With” what is difficult. The Buddha invites Mara in and treats the demon gently, acknowledging its presence and effects. By acknowledging Mara, some of the sting, of the wrongness and the power is taken from the effects and the participants are free to be present.

Relaying in my words her clarity and gentleness would distract from the point: go listen to her. Her stories are amazing and I’m still processing the deep teaching behind the story about her student with Alzheimers.

Stories are amazing, but they are also Wittgensteinian ladders: meant to be kicked away. Everything important is right now.

Today I feel heartbroken and alone. And this mood helps me recognize things about my humanity and connection to others – who paradoxically seem so remote.

There is no real reason: my heart has not recently been broken by circumstance, death or love. I have my three adorable dogs and my husband at work.

Outside this window,the trees’ last, scratchy leaves still cling to twig and bark, and the sky lays low, nearly groaning under snow. The mountain is obscured behind the slate of the sky.

It’s a fact that I’m feeling heartbroken and alone. A fact among other facts. Some people believe facts are cold and lifeless, others believe that that’s all there is in the world: facts, facts & more facts. I agree with the latter, but believe that the fact of consciousness transforms all the other facts.

We often attribute our feelings to nearby causes, especially feelings we’d like to escape or to squash. If we can find the cause, maybe we can wriggle out from under this burden. And then, we can spend the rest of our lives struggling with that story about what a feeling means. For me, brokenhearted aloneness (you probably have your own name for the feeling) connects up in intriguing symmetry to a childhood feeling I never could shake or communicate to the others around me who always seemed engaged and paired up with others who seemed granted by God to confer understanding. My folks had one another – though in the time honored tradition of love, having each other was occasionally crazy making – and my twin brothers had depth of communication acheivable, evidentally, only by zygomatic companionship, even if they sometimes had to endure twin jokes or looking so much like another human being it could disconcert the uninitiated.

But then it was more. It was a secret I kept, because I didn’t know words for it. A secret that seperated me from others, bound me to what and whom I didn’t want to be bound and left a gaping draft through my heart. But it would be years before I found words and courage to own my secret and my connection to my world.

Once I did, the emergence of this feeling I have today ceased to overwhelm and overcome me. But it never ceases to come, because it reveals something elemental about embodied consciousness. We’ve all had tragedies minor and major to which we attach this rent-chest drop-gut feeling. And it’s easy to get caught up in that net of explanation, as if it were really a lovely cashmere blanket knit just for our shoulders, just to contain our grief and pain. But stories aren’t the ulimate containers of our truths: We are. And while our stories are important to be able to tell, they’re more important to shed.

More important than the stories we use to make initial sense of these feelings is the way these feelings, while apparently so isolating, chilling and enveloping, actually connect us.

There is something heartbreaking, alone and primordial in being a conscious adult human. There’s a reality to our seperateness in space and time which both cannot be overcome and allows all that is useful, delicious and delightful, everything juicy and two-toned and worth our energy. And part of what is chilling about it is that it also facilitates everything diabolical, dark and dreadful. They are connected, because it is the same capacity and condition of humanity – temporality – which allows them both.

There’s a truth in this heartbreak that affirms our seperateness as well as our connection: the universality of what is required for self-consciousness.

So my feelings and my mood are facts among facts. This is both chillingly objective and a glorious recognition of ontological connection.  Which is where my yoga asana practice becomes so important. As I meet myself on my mat, it is so much easier to let go of the story line and allow the mood and the emotions to just be and to recognize that I am, my experience is, more than any mood or emotion, no matter how long it lasts. And it is fascinating to me that even after fully giving into a particular feeling, I can watch it transform as I choose backbends or forward bends, twists, challenging poses or restorative. What I do with my body matters in the most basic way – in my mood – for how the world appears to me to be.

Just realizing how cool that is steadies my hands and my heart, and allows me to lift my heart up to the low slung sky.

Guided Relaxation including Yoga Nidra

Here is my holiday gift to all of you, available for your pre-holiday stress relief and practice.

Yoga Nidra is an ancient technique sometimes called yogic sleep. It is said that 20 minutes of yogic sleep is as good as three hours of your normal sleep. Now, my sleep isn’t so normal, so I haven’t had a good basis for comparison. However, I can say this 17 minute guided meditation certainly prepares me to be open to my world even if my sleep has not.  Students say they use it daily, some others when they need a lift.

I recorded this last year as a gift for my Classes. The voice is mine, the script I wrote reflecting on some of the techniques I’ve learned that help me.

Let me know how you use it and how it works in your life. Most of all, do some yoga every day!


(background music off Tandava)

Today I’ve been making my next year’s date book. You see, after falling while rollerblading yesterday, my left thigh is swollen by at least three inches in the back, warm, bruised, taught. Pretty sure I jacked something. So, I’m taking it easy… no Pigeon pose for me today! I was surprised at how much I could do, and not only how good it felt but also how much the swelling was eased by my practice. I also got back on the blades and practiced slowing down 😛

So today is slow and easy, end of vacation beginning of winter quiet. Mizzou also ate some Jayhawk roadkill, which I must admit I enjoyed. Especially since the game really happened in the fourth quarter. But I digress.

As I make this year’s calendar, each week features a pose, from Tadasana to Natarajasana. 44 weekly poses, 2 forms of salutations and 6 sanskrit chakra symbols. Each featured yoga picture has the sanskrit name and a question. For Tadasana: Where is your mountain? For Warrior I: What do you stand for? For Ardha Chandrasana: What do you reflect? What do you keep hidden? For Adho Muka Svanasana: What holds you up?

So, here’s my suggestion: during our next yoga practices, ask ourselves a question with each asana, a question that takes us deeper into that pose. Express the answer that arises in you with your next pose. In this way, you will be your own teacher through an entire practice.

I’d love to hear about your practice! And remember: yoga every day! (even just a little!)