Saturday, October 31, 2009

Harmful Thoughts

I fool myself when I think that my harmful thoughts about myself don't affect the way I move in the world.

"Trying to fix the world is like trying to change a movie by manipulating the movie screen. The world as we know it is simply a screen onto which we project our thoughts. Until we change those thoughts, the movie stays the same."
- Marianne Williamson, 'The Gift of Change'

I give myself permission to neglect others when I neglect myself. And I give myself permission to hate others when I hate myself.

The opposite is also true: When I am loving myself I am also loving the whole world.

I think I just watched a young-cutie Starbucks barista experience this:

I ask him, "How are you doing?"

He answers, "Over-worked and under-paid."

I find myself questioning whether I should bother him further, but I know that he just gave me his honest answer because he feels familiar with me.

So I order.

And he proceeds to spill the hot beverage onto his hand.

I said something stupid like, "Oh please don't do that. You are just torturing yourself. I heard what you said about how you're feeling right now."

He got a bit perturbed. Not only was he already feeling put-out by his job, but then he burned his hand, and I'm pointing out the whole situation to him.

At the end of our transaction, I said, "Be well." And as I walked away I found myself questioning again my support of this experience. It did seem to give a real time example of how when we are already in a bad mind state things only seem to contribute to that feeling of "having a bad day."

Doesn't this kind of thing happen all the time?

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Friday, October 30, 2009

Celebration of Cells

I have the celebration of cells in my body to help me go forward when news is difficult.

This morning I woke up to the news of a gang rape that happened to a young girl leaving a homecoming dance and a suicide (via Svasti). I know I'm not the only one that woke up to troubling news today.

I no longer use my yoga as an escape to an imaginary beautiful place that removes me from the pains in life—in essence walling me off from the world. I am integrating spiritual practice as a way to step forward in troubling times. So I don't use yoga to escape, but to connect.

I have taken notes from Seane Corn who watches the news in the morning before she practices yoga (I heard her say this at Kripalu.). Some yogis wonder why she would do this: How can you watch news before you practice when the news carries so much violence, suffering and tragedy (and isn't yoga about love and healing?)? Well, what I got from her is that that’s just the point. We are here to heal this world (if you choose that path), not to escape it.

I have the blessing of my breath when times are difficult. I am grateful for the opportunity of my life. I can use this body and mind and strength to do something that helps.

This news about the Homecoming dance gang rape deeply disturbs me. I was once 15 years old; I went to a homecoming dance. I was incredibly naïve, and might be only a little less-so now. Particularly harrowing is that some of the people involved were one-time friends, it sounds like they were drinking together. I know when I was a teen that we would go to places without adults around and drink. This is a horrible crime that happened in the shadows on school grounds.

Also, stories about suicides must be getting lost because, a few months ago, I was at a rally in support of health care reform, and one of the speakers said that there are more suicides than murders in the state of Illinois per year. I hear about murders in the news, but not suicides. Why don’t we seem to care about the cultural climate that contributes to people wanting to kill themselves? I do.

I also personally connect with this subject of suicide. For so many years I heard in my own mind: I wish I was dead. Now with me, I felt so powerless that I did not move forward or really even consider real-world plans to do something about those thoughts. Even though that’s true, I credit yoga with saving my life, because my inner world is so much healthier than it used to be and I am more empowered as a result. Even if I occasionally hear the old sadness, I don’t believe it in the same way I used to. I know that I have experienced despair, and that I am stepping forward through healing and love.

There is a silent chorus supporting me in the cells of my body.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Incredible Post Alert!

This is the first paragraph:

"It is a good time of year for me to remind you about the true meaning of parenting. I first began sharing this poem when I was providing Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) trainings in hospitals around San Francisco. My baby, Chloe, died in June of 1999 and local hospitals and healthcare providers were not educating parents regarding the Back to Sleep program, which reduces the incidence of SIDS by 50%."

Here's the link to the rest:
Speak to us of Children

Anna Yaya is doing what I strive to do. With my whole heart, I want to be open to seeing how the losses in my life might teach and empower me to serve a greater good.

Bless you, Anna Yaya! You show me that it can be done.

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Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Seane Corn Interview

This Speaking of Faith interview with Seane Corn blows me away. The free Podcast is wonderful!

Many readers of this blog know that I recently took a couple of programs with Seane Corn at Kripalu. I also wrote an entry for this blog every day I was there: October 9, October 10, October 11, October 12, October 13, October 14, October 15, October 16.

Seane Corn is doing great work as a yoga teacher, and great work in the world. In the past I've been wary of groups. I wasn't really a joiner, thinking I was either too unique or too screwed up to really be accepted anywhere. And I thought that for someone to be really popular that it would be necessary for information to be dumbed down for mainstream audiences. But meeting this super-popular media star yogi calls into question the stereotypes I was carrying. She facilitates an incredibly powerful yoga experience. You gotta check out this Podcast--if you're curious.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Something New!

Sometimes I just want to throw my hair back and step into something new! Maybe not so gracefully done... But in a very specifically human way. And with my heartfelt zest! Yes! It could be interesting to step out of the usual ways. It also can be scary without the usual things to hold on to. But really maybe change can be better and much gentler and kinder than my imagination projects. And it's the kind of thing that might not change things much in the eyes of those around me, but for me it might be huge!

What if I were able to forgive the old grievance? Wouldn't that make a big difference in how I might step into tomorrow? And those around me might hardly notice such a thing. What if I could forgive myself for feeling that my existence on the planet was unworthy from childhood and into some of my adult years? Wouldn't that make a huge difference? And no one might know. Such big transformations can happen deep in someone's being! Be alert!

There is so much we don't know about one another! It's always amazing to sit down and talk to someone you think you know and find out something new. Such it is in a truly lived life. Find out what is going on in those around you that you think you already know. Life is not as boring as people think sometimes...

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Beyond Ordinary Time

Today I am posting a beautiful letter that I recently received:

Dear Brooks,

I'm writing to thank you for the beautiful yoga class you taught while Larry and I were visiting Chicago and staying at Ruby Room. The trip was a combination vacation/birthday celebration and your yoga class felt like such a gift to me, especially since it happened to be my 50th year of life!

The time we spent with you seemed to separate us out from ordinary time and I loved the sequence of asanas you chose. Yoga is so enlightening in its ways of bringing out what is really going on inside us. Your class was a real highlight of our trip and I am so grateful that our visit included meeting you. I will always remember this birthday as being particularly special due to the class I got to take with you.

You are a very bright and articulate young woman. I hope you will keep the joy you exude alive in all stages of your life because the world is very much in need of the kind of gift you have to give. Thank you again for sharing yoga so beautifully with us.

Love and Light,
Tirzah Blackman

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Thursday, October 22, 2009

Bunny Shame

My bunny was rescued after abandonment. His under-side was completely matted. The vet said that it was because he had been confined in a wet cage. Fritter is a trooper!

When he came to me he still had some matting around his private areas, even though my friends who took him in first had taken great care of him--some of it just had to grow out! I remember wondering about his personal hygene. He seemed to avoid the mats in his fur, so I wondered if he would clean himself "down there." Over time he did more and more as the matted fur came off. He now takes great pride in his cleaning and grooming, really enjoying his whole body. I am so happy for him!

When I told the story to an insightful animal-loving pet owner yogi, I remember her compassionatly commenting, "Isn't it something, that animals can have shame."

I said, "What?" And it wasn't just because she had spoken softly--my mind was being softly blown. It was also the way she said it. With such knowing and sadness... A world-weary and motherly understanding that seemed to come right from the center of the earth... My bunny had known not only cruelty and neglect, but he had also known shame.

And while I knew the word "shame" at the time (it was a few years ago), I had not a clue of what it really meant--even though I was unknowingly carrying a TON of it. So my bunny and my friend were the ones who gently brought my attention to the concept of shame, and how shame can work unconsciously through our actions to avoid pain whether you are lagomorph (order that includes rabbits) or human.

Having observed my bunny-teacher I might see it like this: Fritter has a delightful demeanor; he is always sweet, and never aggressive. So when he was uncomfortable he would simply enjoy everything else about his life that he could. He didn't worry his problem... Instead he enjoyed his food and petting and exploring and lots of chewing, chewing, and more CHEWING! And lo and behold (I remember going in for a VERY STRATEGIC bit of hair removal!) one day there was like the best gift that Fritter found! And from that day onward he took great joy and pride in taking care of HIS WHOLE BODY, as well as continuing to enjoy all of his other joys, including his friend, Fawn who came into his life a little later...

So if I look to my bunny-sattva for wisdom, I think that he would tell me not to worry the things in my life that might be preventing me from fuller joy and pride. He might say that these things will take care of themselves. In time it could be natural that I will revel more fully, actively engaging all parts of my being, even if I am somewhat limited now... He would tell me to do all the things I can do, and to enjoy everything I can. And to TEAR SHIT UP! (He loves doing that!)

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Protection of Shame

Out of the protection of shame and into the light...

Shame protects my ego by keeping me in a state of hiding. I have to hide from you when I'm ashamed because if you see me, I'm dead. It keeps me stuck, stagnant, and fearful. That would be like the worst thing if you saw how pathetic or how lonely or incompetent I really am. So I hide. I don't let you in. We are not close.

If I'm ashamed of something that happened in the past, and I'm hiding from you now does that make sense? My answer is "no" from the standpoint of the present moment. This is the rational answer. The rational answer sees things as they are in terms of the resources available and potential actions. But, I am not a totally rational person; I am also an emotional person.

And the emotional answer might be just the opposite. My emotions tell me that I've been hurt, and that the thoughts of going forward into the unknown are scary. My body might even react by getting sick or an ache. This is why I feel that I need processes of letting go, forgiveness, and prayer--yoga helps. And I need to trust that things are going to find their way, and have faith in the cycle of humanity, as well as my own ability to achieve. This will help me move past my block, my stuckness, my shame, the residue of my trauma.

The hiding that shame engenders is a false separation. My feeling horrible about myself keeps me away from allowing a connection with you. This situation was manufactured by thoughts and memories, and the more I react to what my mind is telling me from a old shameful (or angry or sad or hurt) place, the less I am available to you and my life as it is now. So my shame not only keeps me from you, but it also keeps me from knowing myself and freely exploring my current potential.

When we blame other people (as adults), are we really ashamed of our own actions? At a certain point we all need to move forward and out of the false protection that woundedness provides. When I am hurt, I give myself permission to disengage and take care of myself. But at a certain point it's time to step out into the sunlight and take a fresh look at the landscape as it shows up today and take a breath of the fresh air that's available now. It might not be a totally clear path, but I know where I can take my first step. Onward.

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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Gratitude Itself

My heart affords a
Wider view. From there I am
Gratitude itself.

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Healing Consultation

Disappointed. I
Consult my heart. Gently shows
Healing for my mind.

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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Haiku for You

Be gentle with me.
I want to do the right thing,
And I am afraid.

Newly born woman,
Somehow already of age,
Should have known better.

With the fog lifted
Clarity hurts bitterly.
Better luck next time.

Am I courageous
Enough to do the right thing?
The mystery knows.

It's in the doing
That I might find a playful
Song that heals my heart.

All signs point to yes,
And yet my fear says "not now."
Love can beat my fear.

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The Shadow Returns

Since I came back from vacation, I have met my every day self again. I'm glad because it's an opportunity for positive change. What do I want to bring to this life I am living? This self has been a disappointment, at times. She makes mistakes. And she has made mistakes. When on retreat--my vacation--there was no external measure of myself. The environment was determined by others. When I was hiking in the woods, taking a hot tub or sauna, or taking a yoga program at Kripalu, everything was great and I was a self that I love. Even when I felt anger it was in a spiritual context. So I guess I got a vacation from feeling guilty, and now I feel like everything is my fault--just like a child who lacks the perspective that sees the bigger picture. I was aware of the divine blessing of vacation while it was happening, and mentally prepared for what I wanted on returning. But it's not always easy with the every day pressures and regrets to appreciate ones experience the way I could when I was on vacation. When I was on vacation I meditated every morning before breakfast and every night before bed. They have a nice meditation room at Kripalu.

So I know that I can do it, and I know I can be the self that I dream of. I just have to (want to) bring this self and sense of myself more fully into my every day life. It's just taking some effort. I know that I am blessed to have this opportunity to transform my world. I have seen a potential in myself. I saw a person I can be and someone I desperately want to be. This person feels deeply and can handle anything. This person is capable of deep healing. But to bring this forward into my every day life takes work. I hope I can do it.

With regular meditation I can give my woundedness the space it needs. Otherwise it seems to overpower my good intentions. When I'm not practicing as well I think I might be more likely to be acting out my shadow stuff. "Shadow" in this case referrs to hidden aspects of ones psyche... It can include things we are ashamed of, and things that don't fit in with the idea of who we think we are.

I am humbled as I witness how easily I can act out of my victim self. This is the part of me that believes that the actions of others have hurt me, and have limited my ability to have a life I want. This is the part that loses: "not again," it observes as I make a mistake or act imperfectly.

Prayer. Forgiveness. Practice. These are the tools.

I can do it.

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Friday, October 16, 2009

Offering it up

Today I am leaving Kripalu, and I had a revelation about offering ones experience to God or higher power or nature or the universe or whatever expression of that which is larger than us as individuals that works for someone... I've been familliar with the concept for a while but it never felt right. Why would I offer stuff I really don't want or like to the divine? Isn't that disrespectful? And then with stuff I really like I'm usually too busy enjoying whatever it is to even think about anything beyond myself.

Well, today I saw it differently. Some things easily pass through ones experience. Those things are not an issue, emotionally. It's the sticky stuff that becomes something problematic in our growth and process of maturation. Offering up the "sticky stuff" allows us to move forward, and basically keep us moving in life. And this moving forward through experience and maturation is important in terms of a "larger plan" or divine plan--if you go for that.

Things that might stick to a person and prevent them from clarity are things like: anger, sloth, sadness, depression, hurt, victim status. I might feel my anger and not like it and deny it and suffer as a result because it's true whether I like it or not. Or, my anger is important to me so I carry it like the carry-on bag I have with me right now. I think that I can't possibly offer this anger to God. When I think in this way I am personalizing a process that is not personal. To me my anger is personal, but to the process of life (another way to conceptualize divinity) my anger isn't so personal. In the larger sense of life my anger is just a little blip. It might be like when I look down from the window of this airplane--it's hard to discern where one cloud ends and another begins. There is just anger in experience the way there are clouds in the air. So when I offer up what is blocking me from moving forward, this helps me to align myself with a higher purpose. So it's really good to offer up ones anger, sadness, etc. to God, because the process of life is big enough to handle it. And when we release whatever is blocking us from moving forward with actions stemming from love and compassion it is very good for the larger process of life. We begin to serve something bigger that our individual life story. We can reach out and help and heal. Sound good?

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Thursday, October 15, 2009

Repressed Anger

I saw a black bear in the woods today! So neat... I was reading in one of the many comfortable chairs at Kripalu this afternoon and a woman near by told me that she had seen a bear. Wow! So that's when we went out to see if it was still around, and it was. It was far enough off the trail that I really wasn't worried. The bear didn't seem concerned, either. She looked at us and then looked away and looked again. So cool.

I was also thinking about repressed anger today after this morning's practice:

Anger in the unconscious mind knows no bounds because it lives in a totally creative and limitless realm. When this kind of anger bubbles through into conscious understanding the images can be really horrible because it was repressed in the lawless subconscious. The ordinary rules of good manners fail here.

It takes "knowing yourself" into a totally different place to see and feel the things that have been hidden. And strangely enough I feel greater compassion having seen what I saw today. I am humbled by my insight.

This came from an experience in yoga today, from a long hold in the pigeon pose. Seane Corn was saying some nice words about forgiveness and I seemed to take a psychic dump about someone I had some repressed anger about. And it was UGLY!

This is something that can happen during yoga. Sometimes people have realizations. I have gone through the motions of forgiving this person a couple times already, but I now see clearly that there is anger. My body told me. I saw it. And I am not ignoring it. However, seeing the depth of this particular wound humbles me. My mind can say, "I forgive you," and this might be a lie. There is a deeper reality where even if you want to forgive because it looks like life would be easier if you did, you can't choose forgiveness from the mental realm. There is a truth, a heart truth. I'm mad as hell, and I can't talk or think my anger away. Since it looks like I can't choose not to have this anger I find myself wondering if the solution lies in faith and prayer. I'm not trying to go religious on anyone, here, I just know that the way I've been doing it up to now is not working, and a bit of fresh air seems to be offering itself from a larger perspective.

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Wednesday, October 14, 2009


I was draggin' a bit today. Doing two back-to-back programs with Seane Corn is a lot... However I know that being here is a blessing. It's always exciting to learn more about yoga. And it's a great time to take stock of ones self. Also I 'm confident that I'll feel great returning home.

Today I did the hot tub to cold plunge and back to the hot tub. It was so invigorating! Another thing I love about Kripalu is breakfast--so good.

Tonight I went to the presentation of a doctor who talked about the unconscious psychological roots of some kinds of low back pain and other ailments. He shared some interesting studies that support his work. According to one study, when doctors look at images that show back degeneration with problem discs and such, they cannot tell by looking at the pictures who has pain and who does not. The spine ages in a particular way and not everybody gets pain from this process. So many of the common treatments are suspect, and the long term results of these invasive treatments are not so good. The bottom line is that we need to process trauma. Ignored and repressed emotions can surface as pain in the body, and many times when patients use techniques like meditation and journaling to process their feelings their physical pain also diminishes over time.

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Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Yoga and Empowerment

I took a really fun walk today after my first full day of the Vinyasa Flow Intensive that I am taking with Seane Corn at Kripalu. The intensive itself is good. I am definitely learning. I am trying to use this time to fill up the gas tank to take the journey towards big change. Today I had the realization that I have to go back to life in Chicago. I've been looking forward to going back on the mental level, but in another way I live as if the way I am living now is how I live normally. This is truely a vacation. And I realize for the first time what people mean when they say they are back to their "real life" versus being on vacation. Because there is a part of me that is ready to get back to my "real life" already. Kripalu is really a wonderful place. It is very easy. If you ever want to spend some time doing yoga, eating good food, and relaxing this is a great place. But I am actually starting to want to go back to my world where I can make a difference. I want to make my life even better. I want to take true responsibility for my actions.

Part of my restlessness this evening is probably related to a realization I had regarding an unconscious belief that I needed to be taken care of. I seeked out yoga that took care of me. Lately I have been tapping into an aspect of doing yoga that can be more empowering.

Being taken care of is an important aspect of healing. Many of us didn't get taken care of in just the way we needed to as children, so there can be some woundedness here that calls for healing through support.

There is also healing that is about empowerment. On Saturday afternoon during the 'Detox Flow' program we did a super-long hold in a lunge variation. People were moaning and dropping out of the pose. It was excruciating. I stayed in it the whole time. Then on Sunday morning we talked about it--over 70 of us and Seane Corn. When someone else was talking about their experience I had a realization about mine. Even though I had stayed in it he whole time I realized that I had done it by numbing myself to the experience, somehow I had chosen not to own it. So even though I had fulfilled the instructions I had done it with as little of myself as possible. I felt some pain, and then I left. My body was still doing the pose, but I wasn't. So I realized that I really had not done it. I was checked out. I also saw that this is how I have dealt with things I didn't want to do in my life outside of yoga: I have just gone through the motions with as little of myself as possible. So in the practice we did later when the same pose situation came up, I intentionally stayed with it. I really felt all the heat and fire and moving sensations in my thighs. It was so empowering! I did it, really his time. This way of being with the situation says that I choose to do this pose, and this is why it is empowering. When I'm not really doing it with myself and just merely present in class I am like a victim. I am being acted on. I haven't really chosen to fully participate and yet I am doing it anyway.

I do not want to go through my life feeling disengaged. I want to feel my life and my experiences fully. I don't want to go into that familliar numb place where I can't be affected. It really hurts me if I go through my life without feeling it.

It is empowering to feel. It means that I am saying "yes" to things I don't already know about my life. I am free to discover something new. And to feel I have to allow myself to go into vulnerability. When I protect myself through numbing out it is just like going into a protective shell, a cocoon that dulls my senses. When I allow myself to feel it might be awkward because I can't predict exactly how something will effect me. To feel means that I am taking a risk. I can't already know something I am feeling, because feeling is an inquirey, a form of inner listening that is hijacked by imposing what I think I already know onto a situation. I take responsibility for my situation when I choose to feel it.

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Monday, October 12, 2009

Men at Kripalu!

I have men on the brain today. I took a hike of over 6 miles in the Berkshires, and what did I find myself thinking about? Men. Like I want one. There is actually a strong male presence at Kripalu. All kinds of men: older men in blue jeans, men in sweats, men in shorts, not just yoga dudes, men with round bellies, and with flatter bellies, men of different builds. Some came with wives or girlfriends. Some came alone. I'm glad to see the men showing up to do their yoga!

I feel like if I let someone get close to me again that they are going to REAM ME. How can I get over a fear like that? That's exactly how I felt after a significant relationship: reamed, emptied out, juice removed from the inside. And I'm sure that I can take responsibility for that. I didn't have the tools that I have now, so I projected way too much of myself onto a cute boy! Even though I'm sure that is true, I also have the FEAR. How can I trust enough to open my heart to a MAN?

At the same time if I can do it, and I think I can, it will be a major accomplishment. I think I will get great satisfaction out of cultivating a great relationship with someone. It will mean that I have come to peace with my father wound. 'Cuz that's a biggie... Yikes! Like, I'm sorry future dude! I am probably going to project unprocessed debris from childhood daddy stuff... 'Cause I'm human. No tabula rasa here... Gummed up psyche in this sweetheart super-bitch!

Gee, do you think that all this yoga I've been doing is bringing stuff up for me? And it's good because I can keep myself so busy in my daily life that I can avoid thinking about what I want. So it's good to see if I just give myself a little time to relax that I am actually a HUMAN WOMAN! Yeah! I am not just some yoga teaching, yoga obsessed computer program! Even though I DO LOVE YOGA!

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Sunday, October 11, 2009

Emotional Cleansing

From someone who was a punk rock teen with goth inclinations--you know, I wore black and stuff--this is a pretty amazing revelation. I never felt like I fit in anywhere. In yoga I found a community, but have managed to hold onto an old thought that groups and popular things are bad: I was more of an alternative person I thought. Then twenty-or-so years later here I am questioning this need I have felt to be different.

The way I see it, the world has big problems and we need to come together to make something good happen. So it might take something really popular (like yoga?) to bring us together to create a positive solution. And the people who initiate this positive gathering might have to be famous people, or they might become famous in the process. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but it can be easy to criticize and be skeptical of someone who is famous. And I'm not suggesting that anyone blindly trust the choice of crowds, but I think that it is good to check out popular things or people and really look into it. Some will probably be shallow, and some might be really amazing.

I came to do these programs at Kripalu with Seane Corn through intuition. I knew I desperately needed to break my routine. I received an email from Kripalu, and thought it sounded good, but I didn't realize the depth of what I was getting into. I really thought I was going on vacation... We have been doing really powerful work physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

I thought it would be relatively light and safe psychologically and intense physically based on the fact that Seane is a famous American yoga teacher. I've seen her beautiful smile and blonde curls in the media so much. The work we did today blew through my unexamined assumptions.

Seane Corn informed us today that she likes to offer a "detox" retreat because it tends to draw a wider or more varied group than what she usually offers. She said that people come in who want to poop and then she delivers her message about yoga and mysticism. Today was about emotional cleansing, and how important that is. I couldn't agree more. When the tears need to flow, they should. And they did. I don't feel capable right now of adequately describing what happened, but maybe it's enough to say that when I put my hands together for "namaste" at the end of class, my fingers found snot trailing from my nose. I had a moment of wondering, "What is going on?" It wasn't obvious why I had just had those powerful tears. I felt humbled, grateful, connected, and in awe. I was thanking God for suffering and healing and for everything that led up to me in that moment. I had a sense of enormity and great suffering and I was okay and this was a miracle.

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Saturday, October 10, 2009

Joyful Repose

Yesterday, I heard three things about my "vacation": The first was from meeting with Christine of BlissChick blog fame which highlighted the fact that there are things coming up for me right now that even though difficult I want to honor. In the Kripalu orientation the speaker actually said "This is not a vacation," and explained that it is actually a center for retreat. Seane Corn also said "this is not a vacation." The idea is that coming to Kripalu is an opportunity to study yourself and do whatever you think you need for physical, mental, and spiritual health. And it's not a vacation of my values-where I indulge in unhealthy habits or something. But I do see it as a time of joyful repose, where I enjoy being with myself, and where I can bring my healing space to myself. A break from teaching others, an a time to practice in a place that respects this sort of thing.

This is the kind of place where you can come with a "just do me" kind of attitude if you want. You participate in a program and the practice is facilitated, which is a helpful learning experience. However I felt the need to take some responsibility for myself, as well, and so I'm doing medition before the program starts in the morning and at the end of the day as well. It feels good to get back to this. It also feels really necessary, and am looking forward to sitting tonight.

The "Detox Weekend" I've been doing, facilitated by Seane Corn, is good. I'm definitely feeling it... I'm exhausted. I think I brought some tiredness with me. And any kind of detox process tends to liberate toxins so that they can be released by the body so you can feel kind of crappy at times. This is a detox through vinyasa yoga, healthy eating, and fresh air. I'm not doing any extreme diet or anything.

There was a moment of awe in the afternoon session today. Everybody was really tired, apparently, because we did some restorative work. After that Seane Corn had us gather around her and she told us about what she had seen in the vinyasa practice so far. The breath needed work. And she did a demo about the breath in Sun Salutations. I felt the breath work. As she breathed her way through the poses, a very positive, heart-opening vibe was generated from her practice. In addition to feeling this, I also witnessed the whole room shift--we are a big group in there. And when we practiced after that things were different, more mindful.

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Friday, October 9, 2009

Getting Right to It

When I arrived at Kripalu I met with Christine, of the BlissChick blog, and what a meeting that was! We just got directly to topics that are deeply important to each of us, and I came away wiser and inspired. Since we had read one another's blogs, shared common interests, and similar past trauma, it got deep fast. We took risks and shared deeply. Go BlissChick! I admire your work.

Afterward I took a walk and saw the mist coming off the Berkshires, and it seemed to be showing me that I am in the process of seeing things that were previously too painful to acknowledge, before. So the mists of old protection and resistance seemed to be moving away, revealing truth.

Seane Corn got right to it, too, in her presentation. She started out by saying something like: How can I say this... (pause) What we're doing here this weekend is about pooping, so if that makes anyone uncomfortable, then you should try to get over that fast. In fact, by the end of this weekend I'll bet you're going to come up to me and tell me that you made the biggest densest one... (pause) And I'm gonna be proud.

Don't be jealous... Good night.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Fishing Rod at the Albany Airport

Shared a table with a man's fishing rod while I was waiting in the Albany airport for the shuttle to Kripalu. When the rod's owner noticed that I was sitting at the table with it, he said, "oh..." and I giggled and he removed it from my table and then returned it to his own.

I wondered if the reason it was originally placed on the table behind him, where he couldn't see it, was because it might have been a bit unseemly to have a fishing rod leaning against a table where two men were talking.

I've noticed that there can be culture shock for men when they come to a yoga class for the first time. It can happen to women, too, but I'm wondering right now about those rules men hold about themselves that might prevent them from trying yoga.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Going on Vacation

Yeah! I'm leaving for my vacation at Kripalu on Friday. I've been there twice before. The first time I went there was just a few months after I started studying at the Yoga Circle with Gabriel Halpern. On his bio page I studied his travel schedule and made the plans before I told him. It was fun and magical to learn at Kripalu. There is so much to tell about that trip, it might have to wait for another entry (or my future book). Early last summer I also went there for a LifeForce yoga training. It was a powerful experience. This time I'm going for vacation. I love hiking in the Berkshires and hot tubbing (I hope I still have the courage to do the cold plunge!) in between yoga and eating. Wonderful. And I'm going to do two back-to-back programs with Seane Corn: Oct 9–12, Detox Flow: A Weekend Workshop for Purification of Body, Mind, and Spirit, and Oct 12–16, From Movement to Manifestation: A Vinyasa Flow Intensive. I think I'm going to work hard. And I've made plans to meet BlissChick who is there now. So as long as timing works out we'll meet on Friday. The idea of meeting another of my blog friends is exciting!

It's likely that I will do some blogging from Kripalu, but here are some interesting reads, anyway (just in case I don't do much):

Thanks for the blog love! Bon voyage!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Grateful for Technology

This day seemed radically shorter and I'm grateful for technology. This gratefulness has come after some iPhone problems...

On Saturday night my iPhone died. Nada. Kaput. After several attempts at revival, I told myself that I might enjoy the quiet this event could allow. I had a plan for going to the Apple Store the following day. It would be fixed then, I thought. ...and I wasn't bothered after that. So easy, it seemed: no iPhone for a while.

Well, on Sunday I arrived full of hope at the Apple Store on Michigan Avenue. Several cute guys tried to help me. However, my iPhone was really dead, and the technicians were booked all day and there were already several people standing by just in case someone didn't show up for their appointment. And I was scheduled to teach yoga that afternoon. So I did what I could do. I made an appointment for today during a break between classes. But not before I freaked a little. When this adorable man told me what was up I was truly crestfallen, and was somewhat horrified when tears came to my eyes. I just looked up at him and said, "I'm freaking out. I'm sure you understand... I'm out of COMMUNICATION." He left to see what he could do, and I thought about how manipulative that might have looked. Eventually he came back just to let me know that the situation stood, and I was okay. By then I was composed, and thanked him for his help.

When I was a couple blocks away I wondered how this break in communication might be a blessing for me. And thought I'd just have to find out.

This morning I rode the Ravenswood Brown Line to go teach, and I just sat there. It was dark on the way to my 7am yoga session. This is the time I usually do a blog-related activity on my iPhone, either contributing to my own blog or reading what others have written, and perhaps commenting. And I realized that my life was a little better with the iPhone. There are pockets of time in my day when I am out and about between classes that I enjoy working on my iPhone. It's great for me.

Today when I was in the store waiting for my appointment I ran into a yoga teacher friend, and she sat down and we talked until I had to go for my iPhone. They gave me a new one. It works perfectly in the old case! With information it can work this way... It's not the individual machine that is important, what's important is that the information gets passed on. And I thought about how true that is.

As I age it seems like I am constantly being delivered a new body, but what's important is that "I" keep living, and continue exploring this experience openly. Somehow I am the same person, held together by my memories, but there are times when I feel totally new and very different from the person I once was. Maybe I got a software upgrade... Or maybe I just really like my iPhone.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Earth Yoga

We are earth people with earthly challenges.

"To really grow as human beings, and be better yogis maybe we need to try one anothers yoga."
-from my last post

This quote roused enthusiastic support from commenters worldwide on Facebook, Twitter and on the entry on this blog.

To stay with a system of yoga, going deeper and deeper has the potential benefits of knowing self, ecstatic states, and spiritual subtleties. But it could be like the first time you connected sexually with someone (just let me try this out), you might have associated that incredible bliss with a particular individual. Life goes on and perhaps that first relationship doesn't work out. Then you realize that you might have it with others, too. Some are better. Some are worse. But when you associate it with one person and your mind is stuck remembering the past that is delusion. The danger in keeping it (when the "it" is yoga practice) to one teacher or yoga style right now is based on my belief that we need to connect better with each other here, on the planet, which could mean bringing the spiritual experience out of an exclusive arena where we connect it with one style of yoga or one teacher. Maybe it's time to branch out to understand one another across beliefs, and across yoga styles.

When we associate the precious, sacred, totally beyond words experience of yoga with one style or teacher it can be harmful socially when we channel our reverence into a mentality that seperates us from other yogis who practice with other teachers in other styles of yoga. It makes sense that we would want to protect ourselves, but what is the cost? Doesn't this pattern of thought and behavior reflect the divisiveness that can be seen amongst sports fans of different teams, or members of different religious groups, or citizens of different countries, etc? Should we allow the yoga we practice be another reason to shun people who we conceptualize as being "different" in some seemingly important intangible way? Is this really an important difference?

I see an earth translation of yoga as bringing more friendliness and care across peoples, rather than another reason for seeing difference. And I think that we desperately need to find a greater sense of union between all people.

Traditionally yoga practice offers techniques for uniting the individual sense of yourself with a larger sense of your Self, profound connection, oneness beyond description. Yes! Good... A yogi might need to practice with a particular yoga tradition and/or teacher for a while to perhaps be blessed with this realization. How we go forward from here is actually what I'm considering in this post. Certainly you might need the safety of certain parameters (like: a particular teacher, style, or tradition) to develop on your path. But don't get confused and think that the way you did it is the only way that others might do it. That most certainly is obsurd. Your path is only right for you, just as my path is only right for me.

In the sea of all of our differences how can we resonate with our common needs? How can we align less with personal selfishness, and become more motivated to work towards common goals like a more friendly world, and care about the effects our actions have on the global environment? How can we bring our tastes of beauty and connection from yoga practice into meaningful compassionate actions towards others and our earth?

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Non-dogmatic Yogi

I tell myself that I am not a dogmatic yogi. At the same time, I can only practice yoga based on the studies and practice I’ve done up to now. So it is inevitable that the tastes and flavors of the systems of yoga that I have practiced come through in what I do currently. I have learned from others who have passed what they have learned to me (so cool). I love that there are aspects of what I do that transmits this learning of yoga that came before me, and will go beyond me. I am filled with awe when I think this way. This is the reality of the experience for me.

When I saw that Yogaview was offering an Ashtanga Yoga Week with Petri Raisanen I was intrigued. I cleared my schedule of early morning classes and private lessons to participate in a week of morning Mysore yoga practice. I just felt the need to do this for myself. And I thought that practicing with this teacher from Finland would be interesting. Before he became a full-time Ashtanga teacher he worked as a traditional Finnish folk healer, and his healing intent shown in his teaching style.

Several years ago, when I regularly practiced according to the Mysore style practice, I mostly felt that the adjustments were trying to get me somewhere—and this most likely reflects my own intent in the practice at the time. But I tended to feel a little over-stretched from the practice, psychologically and physically. At the same time I experienced benefit, also. My yoga practice at this time had a momentum that carried me to a new place.

In Petri’s teaching verbal instruction was sparse, but his physical adjustments and presence spoke volumes. His eyes are magical (they just are), and he carries a joyful vibe that’s infectious. When a student was getting something he would exclaim, “YES!” I love that.

I experienced an especially spirit-nourishing moment in Supta Kurmasana. In the past this always felt like a stressful pose, and my teachers did their best to pull and arrange my body parts into it. And just-so-you-know, my feet were not behind my head and my hands touched, but were not clasped, so it was a modified pose. However, I had a moment in my version of the pose on that morning where I felt totally contented and relaxed, positively joyful to be right where I was with my arms and legs beautifully braided around my experience of myself, safe in the center. I wanted to stay there, but also felt a pull toward completing the practice, so I moved on eventually.

When I walked in on that first day of practice I was a bit afraid because I was coming back to a practice I had not done in some time. I stood at the front of my mat for a while just getting a grip, and Petri welcomed me and said, “You know Sun Salutations, right?” And yes I did, and more than that also. Before I knew what happened I was loving it. …such a great experience.

I remember thinking during the week that anybody who dismisses or talks poorly about another system of yoga simply has not done enough of it. I have had incredible experiences in Ashtanga, Iyengar, Anusara, and Kripalu (Heck, I got a lot out of Richard Hittleman's Yoga: 28 Day Exercise Plan, back in the day…). So what gives? It makes me wonder about the mentality of yogis who want to structure their experience in an exclusive way. Why must my yoga be better than your yoga? To really grow as human beings, and be better yogis maybe we need to try one anothers yoga.