Monday, December 13, 2010
Monday, November 8, 2010
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
Sunday, September 19, 2010
Wednesday, September 8, 2010
Monday, August 30, 2010
Thursday, August 26, 2010
Wednesday, August 25, 2010
Friday, August 20, 2010
Monday, August 16, 2010
- We are often addicted to this notion that we are somehow having the "wrong" experience. "This shouldn't be this way, if only I had xxx, or it was this way or that way, it'd be better, I'd be happier, one day I'll be happy."
- Habitually we think we shouldn't be learners, we should be experts, right? We need to remind ourselves that we are all learners in this lifetime. Not just us, but everyone we meet.
- Because the mind thinks something we think we have to react to it, when often it's more likely that if we wait it out, and let it pass... we stay in a more peaceful state, and everything is okay!
- The Chakras are the territory or the landscape itself, where the rubber meets the road so to speak, and the Yoga Sutras are the map that helps us navigate the landscape skillfully.
- The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali represent the best of the wisdom of the teachings of both Christ and the Buddha (Rolf credits these three teachers for in essence saving his life)
- Spiritual maturity results in the ability to love more. We must be so still in ourselves that we can truly see another being (he was referencing Avatar there... "I see you.")
- If we have faith in the way things are, we will have something precious left to give away.
- Before speaking, ask yourself: "Is it truthful? Is it kind? Is it necessary?" These are functions of three of the chakras... speaking is a function of the fifth chakra (throat), kindness is a function of the fourth chakra (heart), and truthfulness is a function of the sixth chakra (mind).
- Chanting stimulates the physical body, in particular the parasympathetic nervous system which is the "rest and relax" system. So does exhaling, which stimulates the Vagus nerve which is part of the PNS... that's why yoga so readily brings us to a state of calm.
- We live by narratives... they are based on experience... they're not static and unchanging though we may believe them to be. We can determine the narrative by which we will live. "What is the narrative I want to live by?"
- Pulling Up and Pulling Down. This was a funny story that Rolf told about this time he was in a meditation retreat. You typically spend your time in three places: the meditation room, the dining hall, and your bedroom. Also, the bathroom. In a moment of clarity as he stood facing the wall (lol), he looked at the toilet seat cover receptacle which said, "Pull Up, Then Pull Down." (Rolf says he is in a state of being now where he is receptive to messages that are sent his way on a regular basis and that affords him the opportunity to learn the lesson. I hope I get there too!) He realized that "Pulling Up" refers to ascending the energy body and resolving the issues of the seven Chakras... achieving insight and awareness of issues of group, relationship to self and other, our emotional health, our ability to express ourselves, our ability to see the truth, and our connection with a higher power... but that's not enough, is it? If we remain in that state we have only helped ourselves. We must "Pull Down" and give back in some way... take what we have learned and make something happen that helps others. For example, an idea sprouts from the realm of Divine Consciousness (7th/Crown). We begin to think about the idea and plan in our heads (6th/Mind). We then speak about our idea and share it with others (5th/Throat). We begin to get emotionally involved with the idea, breathe life into it, so to speak (4th/Heart). We commit our will to executing the idea and bringing it to fruition (3rd/Solar Plexus). We commit resources and employ others to making the idea happen, raise money etc. (2nd/Sacral). We then see the idea happen in real life and we experience it on a collective level (1st/Root). We have manifested Divine Consciousness! We took something vague and formless, infused it with intention, and it took form. If this story was not enough to give me shivers, he then asked us, "What is the bridge between pulling up and pulling down?.......Generosity." My hair stood on end. He added that if we stay in the Pulling Up or Pulling Down mode we can experience burnout and/or stagnation.
- Our spiritual, physical, and emotional health depends not on demolishing the conditioned self, it depends on integrating the conditioned (Consciousness) and the unconditioned (ego-self).
- True freedom is realizing we have access to an infinite, unlimited number of responses to any given situation.
- Avidya= not seeing our true nature clearly.
- The wisdom of the 7th Chakra is "Live in the Present Moment" (Caroline Myss)
- When we eat, we must make skillful choices which recognize and thus enhance our connection to Divine Consciousness. If we train and teach yoga for the benefit of self and other (one of the precepts of our training program), then it follows that we might consider eating skillfully and mindfully which contributes to the health of the planet. Consider the source of your food and how far it had to travel to reach your plate. Eat your food slowly, be grateful for every bite.
- We need to know when to flap our wings and when to soar.
Sunday, August 1, 2010
Wednesday, June 9, 2010
Wednesday, June 2, 2010
In reading further along in Anatomy of the Spirit, it occurred to me that I would be better served in the interest of svadhyaya (self-study/ introspection) to give a short critique of her approach to the subject of the energy body and how I feel it relates to my experience right now.
I am most interested in case studies as examples. Often times I feel that Myss breezes through the histories of former clients and makes abrupt summations of what had been going on energetically. Some things are not so clear cut in my world. I have had to wade through layers of ego, pain, self-absorption, and defensiveness to get at the root of what has been happening in my life and why I allow it to shape my daily experience.
As a teacher, I am so challenged to recognize patterns in others that I often fail to see them in myself. Recently, however, I have begun to make connections between what I observe in my students and in myself that have clarified the value of achieving chakra balance.
I have a student who identifies himself as “Hate Edge.” His definition of this is being “Straight Edge” (no drinking/ no drugs/ no procreation/ vegan/ atheist), but taking it a step further... to “hate” people who don’t observe the same principles. Of course I understand the reasoning behind these principles (I even observe some of them), but the act of “hating” people who disagree seems not only misguided, but contrary to the very idea of ahimsa (non-harming/ non-violent) that being “Straight Edge” implies.
I know from reading Anatomy, our thoughts have such a powerful impact on our bodies. I happen to know that this young man also suffers depression and anxiety to a debilitating degree, and that he likes yoga and reports feeling lighter and happier around me and especially after a class. This is a young man who I see as having major first, second, third and fourth chakra excesses and deficiencies: He has completely defined himself in terms of his beliefs and his membership in a group. Any efforts to challenge him on these points, I have observed though not experienced personally, result in insults and angry outbursts. His relationships are incomplete, and he sees women as a means for sex (and has even had himself sterilized). He quotes disempowering song lyrics about having no place in the world and being completely worthless. He doesn’t even believe love exists in reality. It’s very hard to see someone you care about (I do care about all my students, even the ones who are difficult!) struggling in such a manner.
Lately, instead of getting wrapped up in peoples' stories and letting them get to me emotionally, or even reacting with fear or avoidance, I recently allowed myself to take a step back and identify what it is that stirs me up. I begin to see the associations with my own ‘”tribe” as being yet another means of letting myself get stuck energetically. Living in Richmond, Virginia, traditionally a very conservative city, I teach and get to know people on all ends of the spectrum-- the very religious, the very secular, staunch Republicans, determined Democrats, dedicated meat eaters, raw-food devotees... and I have to sift through it all and figure out where I land. Seeing people in more energetic terms is creating a sea change in the way I experience others and allow them into my world.
Ultimately I realize that whatever words or lifestyle I choose to create my own “story” as Tolle calls it, my real “Self” is none of these things. I feel the power of the universal spirit moving through my energy body and above the level of the ego and all its trappings: above the group mind, above difficult relationships, above any perceived gaps in my own personal power, above and beyond whatever pain and hurt I have allowed into my own heart. And I continue my self-study through all the chakras and beyond, by always seeking to say “yes” to that divine spark which illuminates and inspires my every thought, word and deed. This affords me the willingness and the means to help others see it too, in themselves, if they want to.
Thursday, May 27, 2010
Sunday, May 16, 2010
Sunday, May 9, 2010
The time period after that and leading up to her death was a difficult one filled with so many of the cliches associated with substance abuse... I probably don't need to list them. I tried to keep a relationship with my mom, but it became more and more difficult as she not only removed herself emotionally from my life, but geographically as well. Painful things were said on both sides during that time that still ring in my ears and I cringe at their memory.
In 1998, she did get to meet Ben, a fact for which I am so grateful. Years later he became my husband, but of course my mom did not live to be part of the planning or the ceremony itself. She was not here to see us buy our first home. She won't be here if we ever decide to become parents. It's hard to accept all of this, even having had ten years to get used to the idea.
If I could go back 20 years, I'd be 15 years old. I would try to tell my mom in a way that would convince her how much I need her in my life. Her absence is felt so strongly as I watch my friends and relatives become moms themselves, and as I begin to reach my own milestones. I'd say, please take care of yourself. Please find healthy ways to deal with your stress. Say whatever it is that you need to say to help you get over the regret and pain that makes you poison yourself every day. Eat well, exercise, be open and happy, cultivate healthy relationships. Don't settle. Be creative. Forgive people. I forgive you, and I want you to be there when I grow up.
I am trying to be the kind of person my mom decided she couldn't be. I don't know how else to put her life's lesson into action. But I'm trying.
Saturday, April 3, 2010
Monday, March 29, 2010
"At a Native American gathering in Arizona for the 1999 summer solstice, a Hopi elder said: ‘There is a river flowing now, very fast. It is so great and swift that there are those who will be afraid. They will try to hold on to the shore. They will feel they are being torn apart and suffer greatly. Know that the river has its destination. The elders say we must push off into the middle of the river, keep our eyes open and our heads above the water. See who is in there with you and celebrate. At this time in history we are to take nothing personally, least of all ourselves, for the moment we do that, our spiritual growth comes to a halt. The time of the lone wolf is over. Gather yourselves; banish the word struggle from your attitude and vocabulary. All that we do now must be done in a sacred way and in celebration. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for.’ Now, go to your mat and push off from the shore.” ~From Meditations from the Mat, by Rolf Gates
So I have been reading a lot about root energy and the first chakra. The areas of the body affected most directly by this energy center are the legs, knees, hips, lower back, and elimination organs. According to Caroline Myss, however, most afflictions can be traced back to imbalances in our sense of connection-- connection to what she calls the Tribe. In modern day society we probably define tribe in a number of ways, from family ties to groups we're a part of to how we make our livelihood... things and people that ground us, secure us, and connect us to earthly matters. It's those things upon which most of our daily experiences are centered. In the above quote, I think the special challenges our society gives us are highlighted. We're in turbulent times (it could be argued that every time is turbulent, and that is why I feel the above quote is so meaningfully universal)... and it's our willingness to be steadfast in our practice that helps us navigate and endure the turbulence.
I recently had the absolute blessing to begin working with a beautiful young woman afflicted with anorexia and pelvic and spinal osteoporosis. As she told me her story it became clearer and clearer to me that issues of safety and security in her life had been plaguing her for a long time. As a result, she suffered bouts of depression and anxiety that an interest in healthy eating helped alleviate. The problem was that the more and more she restricted her diet, the less and less she experienced the anxiety, so she began to go deeper and deeper into the disease. Now she is bravely facing the fact that this practice is not sustainable for her, that she wishes to get back to a more balanced way of living and eating.
I think we all find little (or big) crutches to get by with in this life we live. Each step brings us closer to the light, and we need only to take that first step (or that first swim, in the above quote) for other steps to follow.
Namaste, brave people.
Saturday, March 20, 2010
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
Sunday, March 14, 2010
Om Namah Shivaya Gurave
I honor the essence of Being, the Auspicious One, the luminous Teacher within and without,
Who assumes the forms of Truth, Consciousness, and Bliss
Is never absent, full of peace,
Ultimately free and sparkles with a divine luster.
Friday, March 5, 2010
Thursday, February 25, 2010
Sunday, February 21, 2010
Friday, February 19, 2010
Thursday, February 18, 2010
The sensible practice of yoga does more than slap a Happy Face on your cerebrum. It can also massage the lymph system, says Dr. Mehmet Oz, a cardiac surgeon at New York Presbyterian Hospital in Manhattan. Lymph is the body's dirty dishwater; a network of lymphatic vessels and storage sacs crisscross over the entire body, in parallel with the blood supply, carrying a fluid composed of infection-fighting white blood cells and the waste products of cellular activity. Exercise in general activates the flow of lymph through the body, speeding up the filtering process; but yoga in particular promotes the draining of the lymph. Certain yoga poses stretch muscles that from animal studies are known to stimulate the lymph system. Researchers have documented the increased lymph flow when dogs' paws are stretched in a position similar to the yoga "downward-facing dog."
Yoga relaxes you and, by relaxing, heals. At least that's the theory. "The autonomic nervous system," explains Kripalu's Faulds, "is divided into the sympathetic system, which is often identified with the fight-or-flight response, and the parasympathetic, which is identified with what's been called the Relaxation Response. When you do yoga — the deep breathing, the stretching, the movements that release muscle tension, the relaxed focus on being present in your body — you initiate a process that turns the fight-or-flight system off and the Relaxation Response on. That has a dramatic effect on the body. The heartbeat slows, respiration decreases, blood pressure decreases. The body seizes this chance to turn on the healing mechanisms."