Tuesday, October 27, 2009

What should I do about my meditation practice?

I recently started reading Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert and have to say I am really loving the book. I think she's brilliant, funny, insightful, and has got me jus itchin' to travel....
Has anyone else read it?

Gilbert presents her story like traditional mala beads, weaving together 108 tales or beads. The number 108 is seen to be very auspicious, "a perfect three-digit multiple of three, its components adding up to nine, which is three threes." She then divides the mala-book into three sections about her travels to three countries Italy, India, and Indonesia. This leaves us with three sections of 36 tales, written during her 36th year of life! Wow that's a lot of threes...

Right now we're in an ashram in India....
Here's an excerpt that I found particularly meaningful, and humorous :

"What should i do about my meditation practice?" I ask Richard one day, as he's watching me scrub the temple floors. (He's lucky - he works in the kitchen, doesn't even have to show up there until an hour before dinner. But he likes watching me scrub the temple floors. He thinks it's funny.)

"Why do you have to do anything about it, Groceries?"

"Because it stinks."

"Says who?"

"I can't get my mind to sit still."

"Remember what the Guru teaches us - if you sit down with the pure intention to meditate, whatever happens next is none of your business. So why are you judging your experience?"

"Because what's happening in my meditations cannot be the point of this Yoga."

"Groceries, baby - you got no idea what's happening in there."

"I never see visions, I never have transcendent experiences - "

"You wanna see pretty colors? Or you wanna know the truth about yourself? What's your intention?"

"All I seem to do is argue with myself when I try to meditate."

"That's just your ego, trying to make sure it stays in charge. This is what your ego does. It keeps you feeling separate, keeps you with a sense of duality, tries to convince you that you're flawed and broken and alone instead of whole."

"But how does that serve me?"

"It doesn't serve you. Your ego's job isn't to serve you. Its only job is keep itself in power. And right now, your ego's scared to death cuz it's about to get downsized. You keep up this spiritual path, baby, and that bad boy's days are numbered. Pretty soon your ego will be out of work, and your heart'll be making all the decisions. So your ego's fighting for its life, playing with your mind, trying to assert its authority, trying to keep you cornered off in a holding pen away from the rest of the universe. Don't listen to it."

"How do you not listen to it?"

"Every try to take a toy away from a toddler? They don't like that, do they? They start kicking and screaming. Best way to take a toy away from a toddler is distract the kid, give him something else to play with. Divert his attention. Instead of trying to forcefully take thoughts out of your mind, give your mind something better to play with. Something healthier."

"Like what?"

"Like love, Groceries. Like pure divine love."

(p. 140-141)

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Travelers and the Grapes

Four men - a Persian, a Turk, an Arab, and a Greek - were standing in a village street. They were traveling companions, making for some distant place; but at this moment they were arguing over the spending of a single peiece of money which was all that they had among them.

"I want to buy angur," said the Persian.
"I want uzum," said the Turk.
"I want inab," said the Arab.
"No!" said the Greek, we should buy stafil."

Another traveler passing, a linguist, said, "Give the coin to me. I undertake to satisfy the desires of all of you."

At first they would not trust him. Ultimately they let him have the coin. He went to the shop of a fruit seller and bought four small bunches of grapes.

"This is my angur," said the Persian.
"But this is what i call uzum," said the Turk.
"You have brought me inab," said the Arab.
"No!" said the Greek, "this in my language is stafil."

The grapes were shared out among them, and each realized that the disharmony had been due to his faulty understanding of the language of the others.

"The travelers," said the Agha, "are the ordinary people of the world. The linguist is the Sufi. People know that they want something, because there is an inner need existing in them. They may give it different names, but it is the same thing. Those who call it religion have different names for it, and even different ideas as to what it might be. Those who call it ambition try to find its scope in different ways. But it is only when a linguist appears, someone who knows what they really mean, that they can stop the struggling and get on with the eating of the grapes."

(excerpt from Idries Shah's - The Sufis)

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Happy Diwali!

Light a candle,
Say a prayer.
May Goddess Lakshmi bless us all!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Micheline Berry Kicked My Buddhi

This past weekend at Om Shala, I participated in an incredible workshop intensive with guest yoga instructor Micheline Berry who came up to Humboldt from LA (she teaches at Exhale in Venice Beach). Let me begin by saying, Micheline blew my mind, and kicked my buddhi. I didn't have too much expectations before hand, and I wasn't sure if I was going to vibe with her yoga. Originally trained in Forest Yoga (Ana Forest), she has now been studying with Shiva Rea for the past few years. She teaches a style of Tantra or Prana Yoga, a Vinyasa which she calls Liquid Asana. Vinyasa Liquid Asana from LA?.... didn't particularly sound like my style... Wrong. It was amazing!

Micheline is from Brazil and comes from a dance background, teaching a style of yoga which is definitely 'out of the box' and 'off the mat'. In fact our first class together, she started by telling us to roll up our mats and put them aside. She threw on some funky music and had us dancin, gettin down for almost 30 minutes. Then, heart-beating, dripping puddles of sweat, 'now, get out your mats!' I've seriously never sweated so much in my life... I couldn't believe the next morning was Detox Yoga. What was this?!

The most powerful aspect of the weekend was the Teaching Empowerment sessions we shared together. There was a group of about 10 of us teachers, and we really went deep. As we were doing such intense physical practice on the mat, stuff came up for just about everyone. I was so impressed with her ability to hold sacred space, and to navigate through all our inner turmoil with such compassion and insight. She actually came to yoga through her experience with Buddhism, like myself and many others. With this foundation in meditation, compassion, and loving-kindness, I feel she truly embodies the Divine feminine. In fact each class, she beautifully sang an invocation to Tara, accompanied by her Indian shruti box.

She worked diligently with each one of us individually, to help us tune to the creative source flowing within, to harness our own Shakti. Reminding us that we are each artists, with our own unique gifts and creative expression, our own personal myths. However, we are all connected to Source. And our vulnerabilities, and our weaknesses, are actually our gifts. They are the little, perfect imperfections which make us human, which connect us all. "Be who you are," she said, "it's a shortcut to who you are."

I feel so blessed to have had this experience this weekend, continuing my yoga education. It was tremendously inspiring and empowering. And such a joy to connect with the community of yoga students and teachers here in Arcata. What a beautiful sangha we share. I am so grateful right now. Great and Full. Feeling the Love. More than ever. Give thanks ya'll.


"Trust the Yoga"

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Snakes Dancing in the Rain

Poem & Reverie assignment
inspired by a dream,
written for class this morning.

Snakes Dancing in the Rain

3 snakes slithering through my mind's eye,
burrowed deep beneath cold earth.
Mother has just given birth.
Fresh life, new born blood
drips from its thin brown tail.

Fear grips, clenching breath tight.
Father hisssssses his hungry tongue,
gaping at newborn bloody son.
The land is dry, cold, dark.

Sky opens pouring heavy rain,
Kissing the earth
Fresh wet life breathes again.
New born blood washed away.
Snakes dancing in the rain.

The wise omnipotent serpent king. Continually shedding it’s skin, changing with the wind. Slithering and winding through tall grass prairies, across desert, forests and mountain peaks. The great change is among us, impermanence in the sand. Dancing and shaping, shifting lands. Soul speaks through slithering tongues and hissing lungs, breathing, and breathing in the dirt. Nestled and burrowed between heaven and earth. Guiding our dreams through ancient mind streams, swimming and sliding through underwater valleys. Waking visions of life teaming with images rife with meaning of a life dreaming full of meaning. Hissssssssssssss…… rain drops falls from the heavens and kiss the earth. Each drip drop ripples stillness across. Echoing silence, returning to that place. Dwelling deep within the heart cave of my earth body. Echoing stillness, echoing stillness, echoing stillness. The rain dances across my face, splashing palms. Life-force seeps into my skin, melting my body, nourishing my soul. Life is born from dreams such as these.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The Soul of the World

Today in my class Meditation, Imagination, and Contemplation, we discussed the concept of Anima Mundi, the latin phrase meaning 'soul of the world'. It's a concept that extends the notion of psyche/soul beyond the individual, connecting with the larger psyche, or soul of the world. Psyche is not necessarily something that exists alone, internally within a floating head. The Earth has soul. The mountains, rivers, and trees, like us, are expressions of Anima Mundi. When we experience beauty in the world, it refreshes the soul, for it naturally yearns for beauty. The awe we may experience from witnessing a magical sunset, is a recognition of soul; a deep need within each individual. These moments of 'awe' infuse our life with meaning, they humble us as humans, and reconnect us with the Infinite.

In our yoga practice, as we explore deeper into ourselves, we can begin to extend our vision of Self beyond this body, this thought, this breath. The word asana, literally means seat. And we can recognize that whether we sit or stand in each asana, we are connecting to the Earth. Each step we take on this journey, no matter what direction, the Earth is lightly kissing the 'soul' of our feet. The air we breathe, the food we eat, and the water we drink, deeply connect us all to this beautiful blue planet, our only home. There is no separation between you and me and the air we breathe. Humans are not separate from nature, our psyche has just been disconnected. Humans are... naturally natural by nature. The only separation exists within the mind, the ego, the one which creates Me, Myself, and I. But where do I end and you begin?... It's like asking where does the Earth end and the sky begin?

In yogic terms, Anima Mundi can be seen as Purusha, or Spirit. Or in Vedantic terms, related to the great Brahmin, the underlying Ultimate Reality within all things. It is ultimately, the path of the yogi, to penetrate through all false illusion, wipe away the dust from the mirror, to reveal Thy true Self. It is Sat-Chit-Ananda, Experience-Consciousness-Bliss Absolute. The soul longs to experience itself, to remember it's own Divine bliss. To re-awken the unity within the multiplicity and rest in peace with God.

Until then... let us return to our breath. This powerful life-force, literally breathing us alive each moment of every day. Let us remember that each breath we take in, the trees are exhaling fresh oxygen, and with each breath we exhale, the trees are inhaling, taking in that which no longer serves us. It is this reciprocal dance of the Earth which enables life to exist. Deeply interdependent, connected with all. As long as we breathe the air of this Earth, we have a responsibility to serve and protect it. It simply starts with a shift in awareness. Extending our limited idea of self, to expand towards its potential it so yearns to experience, to know our Supreme Self, to recognize the awe of Anima Mundi, and to rest in the bliss of it all.

I'll leave you with some words from Deep Ecologist John Seed:

"...'I am protecting the rain forest' develops to 'I am part of the rain
forest protecting myself. I am that part of the rain forest recently
emerged into thinking.

What a relief then! The thousands of years of imagined separation are over and we begin to recall our true nature. That is the change is a spiritual one, thinking like a mountain, sometimes referred to as 'deep ecology.'

As your memory improves, as the implications of evolution and ecology are internalized and replace the outmoded anthropocentric structures in your mind, there is an identification with all life. Then follows the realization that the distinction between 'life' and 'lifeless' is a human construct. Every atom in this body existed before organic life emerged 4,000 million years ago. Remember our childhood as minerals, as lava, as rocks?

Rocks contain the potentiality to weave themselves into such stuff as this. We are the rocks dancing. Why do we look down on them with such a condescending air? It is they that are the immortal part of us."

- Blessings to you all, as we continue dancing like rocks, the story continues...

Monday, October 5, 2009

Yield and Overcome


Yield and overcome;
Bend and be straight;
Empty and be full;
Wear out and be new;
Have little and gain;
Have much and be confused.

Therefore wise men embrace the one
And set an example to all.
Not putting on a display,
They shine forth.
Not justifying themselves,
They are distinguished.
Not boasting,
They receive recognition.
Not bragging,
They never falter.
They do not quarrel,
So no one quarrels with them.

Therefore the ancients say, "Yield and overcome."
Is that an empty saying?
Be really whole,
And all things will come to you.

- Lao Tzu
Tao Te Ching

Sunday, October 4, 2009

What we need is LOVE.

Peace. Shalom. Shanti.

May we each spread this Peace,
This Light, into the World.

One Love.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Jai Kali Ma! Blessed October!

October is here! Halloween is just around the corner.... as we move into the Autumn season, lets see what we can learn from our friend, the Hindu Goddess Kali, and reflect on the grand illusion of this Divine Dance.

Here are some excerpts taken from The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna, enjoy!


"On the feet of the Goddess are, among other ornaments, anklets of gold. Her arms are decked with jewelled ornaments of gold. She wears necklaces of gold and pearls, a golden garland of human heads, and a girdle of human arms. She wears a golden crown, golden earrings, and a golden nose-ring with a pearl-drop. She has four arms. The lower left hand holds a severed human head and the upper grips a bloodstained sabre. One right hand offers boons to Her children; the other allays their fear. The majesty of Her posture can hardly be described. It combines the terror of destruction with the reassurance of motherly tenderness. For She is the Cosmic Power, the totality of the universe, a glorious harmony of the pairs of opposites. She deals out death, as She creates and preserves. She has three eyes, the third eye being the eye of Divine Wisdom; they strike dismay into the wicked, yet pour out affection for Her devotees" (11).

Kali and Maya

"Sri Ramakrishna, on the other hand, though fully aware, like his guru, that the world is an illusory appearance, did not slight maya, like an orthodox monist, but acknowledged its power in the relative life. He was all love and reverence for maya, perceiving in it a mysterious and majestic expression of Divinity. To him maya itself was God, for everything was God. It was one of the faces of Brahman. What he had realized on the heights of the transcendental plane, he also found here below, everywhere about him, under the mysterious garb of names and forms. And this garb was a perfectly transparent sheath, through which he recognized the glory of the Divine Immanence. Maya, the mighty weaver of the garb, is none other than Kali, the Divine Mother. She is the primordial Divine Energy, Sakti, and She can no more be distinguished from the Supreme Brahman than can the power of burning be distinguished from fire. She projects the world and again withdraws it. She spins it as the spider spins its web. She is the Mother of the Universe, identical with the Brahman of Vedanta and with the Atman of Yoga. As eternal Lawgiver, She makes and unmakes laws; it is by Her imperious will that karma yields its fruit. She ensnares men with illusion and again releases them from bondage with a look of Her benign eyes. She is the supreme Mistress of the cosmic play; and all objects, animate and inanimate, dance by Her will. Even those who realize the Absolute in nirvikalpa samadhi are under Her jurisdiction as long as they live on the relative plane" (50-51).

Jai Kali Ma!