Category Archives: Peace

Meditating on-the-go

Meditating on train in Germany
Meditating on train in Germany

I love meditating while sitting on a public conveyance, such as a plane or a train.  In some ways, it’s easy to minimize distractions.

For the past year or so, I’ve been practicing Metta, or Lovingkindness meditation.

I sit up tall, with my feet planted on the floor, close my eyes, and begin to chant.  Sitting with eyes closed, folks usually don’t try to interact with you. This is not necessary, but when I’m in public like this, I usually do lower my eyelids to minimize visual distractions,

The mantra can be done for oneself  (very important!!) or for another person.  Since I noticed that I had defaulted to berating myself in my self-talk, I’ve been doing the mantra A LOT for myself to try to create more love within me, knowing that how I treat myself mirrors the way I treat others.

As a reminder, then, here is what I might chant:

May I live without fear.

May I live in physical health.

May I live in mental health.

May I live a life of ease and abundance.

The transformation has begun! For one thing, I cannot remember the last time I called myself a name such as Stupid, or Idiot.  Hopefully, my heart is opening with greater compassion for others as I think of them with less negative language.

 

BLISS

I exist in BLISS when I exist in Reality

Bliss is an integral part of existence

Bliss is not euphoria or ecstasy

Not sadness or anger or self-loathing (duh!)

Bliss is deeply related to Equanimity

It resides in Not-Wanting

Not-Avoiding

Not-Moving

Bliss is found in STILLNESS

(that stillness that always exists in motion)

In Stillness

we enter the reality of THIS moment

Moving into THIS moment

and This one too…

I feel the embodied spirit

energy

prana

THAT I AM

and slowly

over time I feel

how everything is made of

BLISS


Sacred Self Care


"Oklahoma" rosebud in October (barefoot photos)


One of my teachers offered a teleconference course on sacred self-care. Oh, I thought, this is pushing things a bit, I mean, really sacred self care?

Furthermore, why should I sign up, I already teach self-care. Certainly I know how important it is to devote some time everyday to the important task and pleasure of taking care of myself.

Well, it was time for me to wake up to the essence as well as the deep importance of self-care practice.

The journaling and meditations I did highlighted long held resistance to my own self-care. Could I be hard-wired to NOT take care of myself? I wondered. Was it a genetic trait? Am I simply and incorrigibly lazy?

As the class progressed week by week, I found a deep well of pleasure arose in my bodymind whenever I gave myself a gift of self-care. It’s possible to tap into that well as a means of motivating myself to continue developing self-care practices.

This week, our homework was to identify one self-care practice to focus on and try to develop it. A small step it would seem, but progress and transformation happens in small simple steps repeated time and again.

So, what am I working on? My negative self-talk. I’m growing my mindfulness around the times I call myself names or otherwise speak poorly to my beautiful self. It’s tough. Sometimes I catch myself disparaging the voice that catches, “Oh, there you go again, you idiot.” Yes, I can even use mindfulness against myself! So I’m continuing to practice softening and then softening again. I need a lot of practice. Unfortunately, it seems I’m giving myself plenty of opportunity. Grrr.

I do recognize how terribly important this is though. It forms the foundation of the spiritual path. Think about it. Better yet, conjure up the feelings in your body of an abundance of self-care. Then ask yourself what would happen if you had that available all the time….

Here’s hoping that you are floating in nirvana-land with me on this one. It’s just a little bit of self-care away!

If you are jazzed by the thought of floating on a cushion of wondrous self-care, READ MORE; visit LUMINOUS HEART.

Home or Homeless? Yoga sutra 1.33

Royal Bonica rosebud
Royal Bonica Rosebud (carolyn photo)

Grieving with friends and family of someone who has passed blesses us with stories we may not have ever known otherwise.

While in Houston, E.’s father shared an inspiring account of a homeless man living beneath a highway overpass near their home. Over time, they recognized and began to speak with him. Eventually, whenever father or daughter saw him there, they began leaving plates of food and some clothing. Because of their generosity, I was moved to make a donation to a homeless shelter in Houston. It’s true that generosity inspires generosity!

Patanjali tells us that compassion is one of the tools we can use to calm the mind: Yoga sutra 1.33: maitri karuna mudita upeksanam sukha duhkha punya apunya visayanam bhavanatas citta prasadanam

The projection of friendliness, compassion, gladness, and equanimity towards objects – [be they] joyful, sorrowful, meritorious, or demeritorious-[bring about] the pacification of consciousness. (trans. Feuerstein)

Though I’m focusing on compassion today, the practices of friendliness, gladness, or equanimity would bestow similar benefits that I’d like to discuss in future posts.

This aphorism, or sutra, reminds me of Simon and Garfinkle’s ode to loneliness, “I am a Rock.” The following video is from the unofficial Paul Simon Page, located on 2dannyc89’s Channel.


This is the path I get stuck on …stuck in grief, alienation, and self-absorption….when I don’t practice the outward-looking virtues.

The ideals expressed in yoga sutra # 1.33 have been used to transform human relationships and better society since ancient times.  Barbara Stoler Miller in Yoga, Discipline of Freedom, says they echo early Buddhist monks practices even as they are relevant and useful to us in the 21st century because:

These practices work to demolish the boundaries between oneself and others, and to break through the barriers that lock people into egoism….bring about a transmutation of personal emotions into immeasurable virtues.

We are reminded in B.K.S. Iyengar’s Light on the Sutras of Patanjali to not limit our social work with these four virtues, but to include practice of the five virtues named in the yamas mentioned in sutra 2.30: nonharming, honesty, non-stealing, moderation, non-grasping.

We call these social virtues because they benefit not only ourselves, they also bring society into a state of health. Can we live in a health-ful rather than a dys-functional society? If we take these aphorisms to heart and into our lives, it certainly seems possible!

A friend on FaceBook posted a thought-provoking video that cuts to the heart of this sutra. I hope it will benefit you today just as the story E.’s father shared, inspired me.

Mankind Is No Island from B2GYouth.com on Vimeo.

MEDITATION: Georg Feuerstein, in The Yoga-Sutra of Patanjali, says that there is a meditation wherein the four virtues: friendliness, compassion, gladness, and equanimity are radiated from the practitioner into the universe. This sounds very similar to metta or lovingkindness meditation that I have mentioned before. Beginning with oneself, and eventually including all sentient beings, the meditator offers the following phrases (or others that resonate more deeply):

May I be free from danger.

May I be happy.

May I be healthy.

May I live with ease and abundance.

 



Nirvana?

While we were releasing into savasana during tonight’s class in Westfield, D. read from Jill Bolte Taylor’s book, MY STROKE OF INSIGHT. I remembered the video I’d seen some time ago and the awe and maybe a little jealousy that I’d felt at Dr. Taylor’s experience. D. commented that the section she read to us reminded her of her experience in corpse pose: the way body boundaries disappear and sometimes it feels as if the body itself disappears as we recognize ourselves as magnificent bundles of energy.

After all, nirvana is what we are after isn’t it? Or is it? Nirvana is a term that floats around in the pop culture and we know that we should be achieving it at yoga class BUT…..do we really expect to ever experience it? Have you ever thought, maybe it’s just too darn much effort and trouble. It’s easier – safer – to simply stick to the practice of asana or some non-taxing meditation practice.

It’s not like we actually know anyone who has ever experienced nirvana anyway. I mean, sure, we’ve read STORIES about some extreme individuals in India, Tibet, or Japan, but c’mon, but this is the 21st century and we’re too busy checking our Twitter updates to have time for nirvana.

The ancient sage, Patanjali writes, in Yoga Sutra III.43:

bahirrakalpita vrttimahavideha tatah prakasavaranaksayah

When outside things no longer condition mental activity, the veil over the light of understanding is rent asunder and a state of liberation appears. (trans. Bouanchaud)

How much of your activity is driven by mental chatter or sensory stimuli? Can you cut through the crap, so to speak? What would it take? If you did, would find nirvana…or some other state?

I invite you to watch the video from TED and ask yourself if nirvana is the goal of your practice. Or is it performance as we postulated earlier. Is there any difference?

The Final Goal

If you have been practicing for any amount of time, you’ve probably asked yourself, what is the goal of all this mat-work? Is it to become a bit more “bendy?”

My answer is that BENDY is an offshoot of a good practice. You should begin to see real changes in your everyday life after a couple of months of yogic practice. The people around you should begin to notice that YOU HAVE CHANGED.

I remember quite vividly, Mike saying to me that I had become a “kinder, gentler” version of myself.

HUH? answered. It took a while for me to recognize the SELF that was emerging. How beautiful and wonderful to evolve. Truly this is a gift.

The world is evolving as well, just as individuals are moving through samsara on journeys filled with peace and love. I share with you an amazing video of two rock stars in my world: an interview by Boulder’s green blogger yogi, Waylon Lewis on his elevision with eminent Buddhist scholar, Robert Thurman. They tackle the question, Does the Dalai Lama matter? and in the process discuss world peace, Tibet, Buddhism mixing it all up with some humor and light. I don’t know what Waylon did to Bob, but the usually staid teacher was in rare form, telling silly jokes that of course the Laughing Yogini LOVED.

Riding the wave

robert-surfing
robert kieber jr. shredding the gnar at Wrightsville Beach

One of my teachers used to say to “ride the wave of the breath.” It’s a beautiful image, isn’t it? I have used it many times to reconnect with the currents of prana swirling in and out of my being.

I’m sitting here today in a different lesson. It’s riding the wave of LIFE. Geesh, do we really need to tell ourselves this? Yeah, sometimes.

I woke up with a sore in my mouth – sure sign that I’d been “processing” STUFF during my sleep. Grrr, Even yoginis can grind their teeth once in a while.

Yup, it’s one of those vata-iferous days.  It’s one of those days when I have fifty-million (at least) things burbling in me pea-brain….getting ready to fly tomorrow to coastal carolina where maybe I’ll be able to see my niece and nephew in action on the high seas, or their boards….packing – not my fav chore! …just tried on my old bathing suit – definitely not my fav chore….concerned about what kind of shape my folks are in, healthwise and concerned about how they’re holding up in their home…..good stuff is shimmering up in the grey matter as well (just more fodder for vata!) : celebrating dad’s 90th on Saturday (he may not be in BKS Iyengar’s shape, but he continued to play golf until last year – go dad!)…seeing 4 of my brothers and their families…..hiking in Croatan forest and on Emerald Isle….

This is all a prelude to confessing that I FORGOT to teach a class this morning. First time in my eight years of teaching. A BIG FAT SORRY to the Village Elders. Y’all think YOU have bad memories??? I even posted a tweet not too long ago about attention and memory that is simply too embarrassing and pretentious to repeat here cuz I am eating those words with mayo this morning.

There I was happily congratulating my yoga blogging buddies: YogaDork, YogaBrooks, and Yoga for Cynics for being mentioned in August’s Yoga Journal. Sorry YJ was not magnanimous enough to give them a link on their online version; you’ll find it at the end of the print mag in the MEDIA section. It’s a nice article by Lauren Ladocouer. When I went to refill my coffee mug, the thought of teaching a class that was by then more than half over, nearly knocked me down.

What can I do but apologize and laugh at this point? Breathe slowly and MINDFULLY for a bit.Take a turn in my garden and focus on the beauty of the gazillions of flowers that are simply opening to the glory of this day.

These moments also remind me that NOTHING is really that important.

studying the life of the buddha as an aid to meditation

You don’t need to espouse Buddhism or Hinduism or any religion at all to practice yoga and meditation.
However, we can learn much from the Buddha’s life and the practices he developed and incorporate them as a means of deepening our own spiritual journey.

Here is the fascinating story of Siddhartha’s life from the BBC and Discovery channel, directed by Clive Maltby. I found it on You Tube via dharmicjourney. The story of the archeological finds which helped piece together the Buddha’s human life is interesting in its own right. Hold on for the second half of the film which explains the obstacles Buddha faced during meditation and how he dealt with them.

Before you begin the film, pour yourself a cup of tea and make yourself comfortable so you can settle in for nearly an hour. It’ll be worth your while.

VideoThursday, enlightenment

I am back home after spending a week with my nearly ninety-year old folks on coastal North Carolina. Lots to catch up on, (email, wash, sleep) so today I’ve put together a collage of videos on the topic of enlightenment. If you have a link that you think we’d enjoy, please pass it on in the comments section.

I’d really like to see the way women teachers address enlightenment, but am still searching for those videos. Do any exist? Is enlightenment a topic women are concerned with? Or is the problem that women meditation teachers are few and far between?

Anyway, glad to be back – I missed y’all! Thanks for the comments that arrived while I was engaged with doctor appointments, outfitting the house with safety bars, cleaning, shopping, and other stuff that one day I too won’t be able to do by myself.

Everyone we meet is our teacher and every moment contains the possibility of enlightenment.

Carnival of HEALING

elephant
Elephant near Mysore, India (MGrady photo)

The well-respected 177th CARNIVAL OF HEALING was posted today by Pamir from Reiki Help Blog.

Intriguing work from a variety of blogs is showcased in several categories: Health, Healing-Transformation, Communication, Nonviolence, and Healing Energy Charged Art.

Pour yourself a cup of jasmine tea and head to the carnival to join in delicious, healing conversations. Who knows where you’ll end up?

You’ll find my piece on The first Yoga Ethical Principle: AHIMSA is there, as well as some tips for frozen shoulder, a provocative discussion on taking vows and much more to whet your reading appetite. Join the carnival atmosphere by chiming in with your own beautiful voice.

The world CAN be healed, don’t you agree?