How Do We Labor: A Yoga Labor Day Muse

How Do We Labor? A Yoga Labor Day Muse

How Do We Labor? A Yoga Labor Day Muse

 A noteworthy section (the Eight Limbs) of a major yoga text, The Yoga Sutras, offers specific components of a worthy life. We yoga teachers wear the heck out of it because it’s a tidy template; relatable, easy to apply to asana and by extension behavior off the mat.

 

Herein is advice to keep fire, the manifestation of desire, under one’s feet. One is also advised that contentment is essential. Beyond that, keep your sunny side up and your eyes open is what I’ve extrapolated from the word cleanliness.

Ascetics wrote this body of work which I reinterpret for our times; times of “it’s all good”, which it is not. People like to pretend.

It’s tidy that the author or authors thought to group fire/desire, contentment, positivity with reflection and tied them together with the suggestion of surrendering to a higher power. I mean when you try your damndest and this life still acts like a bag full of cats it’s nice to have that to fall back on.

 

And it was never going to be easy in a world in which everyone’s and everything’s survival depends on eating someone or something else. The map points to a rough road. Wouldn’t you agree?

 

There’s a warning watch list of qualifications, of things not to do in order to make those components of a happy life possible. The list is called Just Don’t Do It. I made that up. They called it Restraints. It’s also known as the first limb of yoga. Number one: Don’t be an ass and you won’t feel guilty. If you don’t feel guilty you’ll have more energy toward positive things, like keeping your sunny side up while you bust your butt in happy endeavors that satisfy you. That’s in the second limb. Keep climbing. You can be an ass by being a mean, stealing, jealous, arrogant hoarder or any of the above. So it’s easy to be an ass at least once a week if not once a day or an hour.

 

In a country where kindness has one leg out the window and common courtesy is standing on the ledge, where the population suffers from epidemic attention deficiency it’s tempting to be an ass as it’s practically become acceptable but it’s also tempting to ‘give it up to God’ as a vacation from effort.

 

I’m reminded of a car I steered clear of because the bumper sticker said that Jesus was driving. Poor Jesus comes back and the best job available for someone of a certain age is to chauffer a guy who’d rather take the back seat. Yes Jesus, my friends and I are having big birthdays. We get it.

 

I saw the show Sunday Morning today. It is Labor Day weekend so there were three separate segments on employees in this country. One pointed out that only three out of ten people like their jobs. A second revealed that if you take your entire tiny handful of vacation days, 15% of your employers will think you’re a slacker and 10% will overlook you for a promotion. No problem, most of you don’t have the money to go on vacation anyway.

 

The third was like baby bear’s bed; just right. A bit of socialism in a company goes a long way. When the employees are treated like worthy individuals of a shared community, productivity goes up and happiness reigns for all.

 

This is the best we can offer in a shared experience of humanity that is an ongoing experiment in survival. What does it take to treat someone like a worthy individual if you are not the boss? What does it take for happiness created to translate to personal happiness?

 

Here’s a radical concept of authenticity: Stay with me. Manners might be the answer. Manners are not superficial but I think quite the opposite. Manners say that I see you beyond your facades and treat you as I would have you treat me. Manners are my restraint; as I don’t honk my horn at you or flip you the bird, as I do not put my cell phone on your dining room table, as I honor the acceptance of your invitation by showing up as planned. Manners mean I have reflected. Manners mean I understand Namaste.

 

There is no template but the vastness of everyday life. In this life where we cut and eat someone or something to stay alive even a silent thank you for that in the presence of ourselves might be the beginning of a labor of love on a planet where:

“We’re all just walking each other home”

                                                                                                                                ~ Ram Dass – author of Be Here Now

                                                                   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Superman Years: A Book Review

 

Artwork for book by Kathryn Adler

Artwork for book by Kathryn Adler

A toddler wearing a Superman cape pinned to his T-shirt walks ahead of me beside his mother down the lake road. The mother stoops to hear his running commentary. He marches proudly like Winnie the Pooh’s Christopher Robin, master of a universe provided by that mother. I wonder; is he healthy? Will he be happy? For how long will that mother’s heart be unbroken? An unseen observer, I feel an unspoken prayer that they can hold this moment for eternity.

 

I’m reminded of another mother whose son donned Superman’s protective cape as a toddler before anyone consciously realized he’d need all the protection heaven and earth could offer.

ty_at_age_of_diagnosis Linda B. book

Author Linda Rupnow Buzogany shares the experience of raising a child with Type I diabetes in a nakedly honest, deeply personal account titled The Superman Years. It begins with a dream.

 

I have studied dreams – my own and others – in my work in psychology for many years now, so it was not unusual for me to write down and reflect on the dream I had early in April 2000. In it, I took my diaper-clad son to a clinic, where a doctor told us “we” had diabetes. That was the end of the dream.”

Artwork by Kathryn Adler

Artwork by Kathryn Adler

 

In an equally concise and comprehensive one hundred and thirty- four double spaced pages Linda Rupnow Buzogany shares her ordeal of dealing with a child stricken with Type I diabetes. This is the extended hand of a woman who was sanctified by fear to find faith, unfamiliar strength and renewed purpose.

 

I began the book in the wee hours of dawn expecting it to put me back to sleep but I did not close it once until the last word was read. As I reluctantly turned the last page I realized that the author had somehow written a sweeping history though it involved just a few pivotal years in a family’s life whose drama centered round its youngest member. The book is a revelation of the terror and impossible exhaustion of raising a dangerously vulnerable child and the effect that has on the family. It is also a beacon of hope to any of us who are responsible for someone we love.

 

artwork by Kathryn Adler

artwork by Kathryn Adler

Here is a story of love; of the fragility of the family web, the challenges and victory of marital commitment under stress. She introduces the politics of medicine and educates the reader on the nature and specifics of diabetes. She describes instances of “the places that science cannot explain”; of communication in coma, of physical renewal through imagination and the potential of both waking and sleeping visions in a world apart from modern medicine. She introduces the perception of animals to loved ones. She describes how she found self- compassion and equanimity in crisis through yoga.

 

Isolation, fear, loss of power can become a prison that separates the inmate from light and love and faith. For a parent with an at risk child these are the elements of a living nightmare. In The Superman Years, Buzogany navigates her nightmare with selfless insight and unruffled compassion.

 

The book is divided into six chapters titled: Dreams, Coma, Powerlessness, Sleep Deprivation, Imagination, Seizure and Vision. Within these Buzogany relays intimate accounts of a life as it is unraveling in real time. Buzogany who is a psycho-therapist herself does not leave the reader depressed by a story of sorrow but buoyed up as by her example it is clear; we can help ourselves and we can help our loved ones despite sleep deprivation, spiritual exhaustion and insurmountable odds. Her account is a cool comforting hand on a furrowed brow.

 

Artwork by Kathryn Adler

Artwork by Kathryn Adler

Whether you are looking for support and information as a caregiver or parent or you simply wish to read an engrossing autobiography, I cannot recommend this book enough. The covers are worn from reading and rereading and it has an honored place on the shelf where I keep my favorite books.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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One Precious Life in The Third Act

 

I am not a religious person

I don’t speak of God

But sense the order of things

The smallness or bigness of things

 

In meditation I hear myself say;

I don’t want to contribute to society

It’s a reaction

To the onslaught of opportunities flung in the face daily

Through the electric waves

That scream aimlessly from every wired port

 

Electricity is appealing

Particularly in storms

Last night the storm scared the pants off people cowering in their beds

And burned my friend’s folks house down

I stood naked in the brilliant night

Comfortable in the lightening

A sense that lightening makes me strong

This electricity

 

Not so much the metal messengers when

They carry shock waves of disaster, fear and demand

Lightening may equal disaster and fear as well

So perhaps the relevant word is demand

 

 Through the internet they beg; know this, learn this!

So often it would be better to learn what I have forgotten

Like shopping in my own closet

I think I need a new blouse

But here in the back is one I’ve forgotten

I don’t need new things

I will not bury myself under but

Pull from the treasure of my past

Piling on others things

Isn’t this the definition of gluttony?

One must be discerning to keep exhaustion at bay

 

I do not react to ‘contribute’ in the apparent way

And consider as I hear it

The small ways

In the beauty of the garden

The delicacy of the dinners

Helping students find their way

Placing the flower in the vase

The conversation with a friend

Efforts for those I love

And for those I do not

But who need me none the less

In which one cannot be other than in service

 

Mary Oliver’s question lingers;

What will you do with this one wild and precious life?

This is not the first or even the second act

I now know the curtain will go down

How many years are left in wholeness?

Where wild youth did not care

Or believe in mortality

Now wild stays under the skin

And less inclined to engage beyond;

I will not be bullied into the pen

 

Join this

Fix this

No and maybe

I see ways small and quiet

To offer this one precious life

To both of us

 

What is undone here?

Really, not all that much

I notice things are big and small

Endless urgencies press the swollen gates

I hold my ground in quiet ways

To save this precious life

 

Author’s note: Contribute is the word that came to me but it held more meaning than to help. I’m reworking my website and have been given suggestions on marketing that include a slew of social media sites. And I don’t want to have to contribute so to speak, to that life in order to create mine. And there is the weariness of being inundated daily by requests to sign on or up or give signatures, money etc. and no sooner do I acquiese than there is an additional request. It’s not just the endless information that comes at us but the time spent sifting through it. Where do the days go?

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YOGA PH.D. – A Review

 Critical Thinking is Critical to Spiritual Pursuit

Cover photo Yoga Ph.D.

Carol Horton; doctor of philosophy, social scientist, research consultant and academic is no stranger to critical thinking.

But she was an innocent and cerebral guest in her own body until she brought that body to yoga class intent on adding something new to her fitness regime. What ensued was an enthusiastic quest for uncovering the history, the mystery and the totality of yoga. When an inquisitive scholar scrutinizes a mystery it is bound to be more than a superficial embrace. As superficiality is contradictory to yoga, it does not seem incongruous to me that an intellectual found herself absorbed in every aspect of the enigmatic phenomenon called yoga. However Yoga Ph.D. begins with the premise that this was an unlikely or at least unexpected coupling. As complex a subject as yoga and its effect is, perhaps the irony is not that an academic embraces yoga but that anyone with less than an intellectual interest is willing to pursue it at all.

 

In a mere 150 pages, 8 short chapters and three sections; Historical Reflections, Personal Reflections and Sociological Reflections, the author manages to paint a comprehensive and succinct picture of the history of yoga, offer a well told tale of an accidental pilgrimage into a mysterious practice, and contribute to the notion that there are no longer yoga people but people who do yoga and these people have created a definition of what modern yoga is.

 

I met Carol Horton through her blogging where I was often the commentator responding with apocalyptic and jaded observations; yeah people are weird, so what. But she is the rare bird who is not rattled but buoyed by a challenge.

Her cool demeanor and ability to take on any controversy without vitriol is unusual. It is not surprising that what may appear to be just another yoga book amongst many is not. It is social commentary, history, politics and America in the context of an autobiography that is meticulously documented and informs with remarkable clarity as she organizes her thoughts for the reader’s greatest benefit. Horton plumbs the depths of the subject of yoga with an objective and calm approach while revealing her own journey with a dispassionate tone that will resonate with a wide audience.

 

I read the book as a galley before it went to press. Carol published the compilation 21st Century Yoga first and by the time I’d read and reviewed that I was a bit weary of the yoga discussion in general and took a break from thinking about yoga except where it was me doing it or teaching it. When Ph.D. was later published I set out to read it again for the sake of a review but life got in the way and it sits on a great stack of deliciously anticipated reading by my bed. It has occurred to me that a book reviewed long after it has been read is a brilliant idea. After all, when it comes to a scholastic work (which I consider this to be) it’s not in the reading but the retention that one fully comprehends the meaning of the written word.

 

The take away from Yoga Ph.D. is this: Here is a concise and tidy history of modern yoga. Beyond that is a well told tale of a person who finds another dimension to herself. Finally and perhaps most relevant is that this is a book that opens a discussion of modern yoga and the humanity that embraces it.

Where some embrace the popular notion of the poet Rumi that there is a field beyond right and wrong where we should meet, this author believes that yoga has the potential to, if not level, then even the playing field.

 

 

In the last few decades it is common for what once seemed unlikely candidates to become yoga enthusiasts Where yoga was once a pursuit of the fringe, eccentrics and earnest young rebels it is now the exercise program of choice for countless professionals; CEOs, doctors, lawyers, engineers as well as the playground for people from all walks of life, all manner of profession. Many great and curious minds have been blown by body/mind experiences that expose previously conceived concrete reality as no longer absolute.

 

What makes Horton’s experience singular is that she wrote about it, gave it context, history, and a long view that includes the implications of how society affects and alters the things it claims as its own. A study of modern yoga reveals that who does yoga eventually will define what yoga is. An individual stamps and creates the practice once the practice has left its mark. With Yoga Ph.D., Carol Horton leaves her mark.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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She Moves In Mysterious Ways. It’s All Right.

Or Is It?

 

This pear is too pretty to eat but there’s an order to things

Fulfill your purpose or rot

So I do the thing that makes sense

To me

Kiss it

Take a picture, say goodbye and thank you

Cut it up and eat it covered with shiny flax seeds and sprinkled sprouted almonds

What would you do for love?

beautiful pear

 

I used to kiss my knees every time they rose to greet me in a yoga pose

Just a yoga teacher doing what came naturally and I taught them to do the same

I didn’t second guess myself

Some of you remember that

Would you do that for love?

 

I rode a wild horse through the woods that bolted and charged for the stable

Fearless friends raced to save me but that horse threw me hard as it could

I didn’t move for a long time

They thought I was dead

Bounced and bounced and still

I didn’t bother to get checked out

It made sense to me at the time

In hindsight, to you, it may sound foolish

You may be right

Or not

 

 

I took an untamed path down a ski slope and landed on my shoulder

My arm hung suspiciously behind me and refused to move in any way for many days

I didn’t bother anyone about it

Which made sense to me at the time

I was young and wild

I didn’t noticed that shoulder was wrong till a yoga pose brought it to light

But it didn’t really bother me for almost 40 years

Till a foolish yoga teacher brought me down

 

I hold the pose called mountain

Eyes closed I notice I’m not standing on my bones

My muscles are doing the bone’s job and I’m getting exhausted just standing here

I lack the grace that is balance

How long has this been going on?

 

I think of the poses that aren’t in this plane

You know, the cockeyed ones, the twisty ones, the ones that turn part of your pelvis forward and part of it back

I wonder what’s happening to my spine and am I standing on my bones or are my muscles being used badly

What would you do?

 

I want to live a fearless life, like you.

I won’t know the consequences till I make the action

Your body is not mine

You may suggest something to me but you don’t know for sure

I may suggest something to you in your wild life

But you may not listen

Here in zero gravity we are trying to hold on and we are hoping to let go and we never know for certain what will happen before we jump

 

You are a mysterious person, doing mysterious things

Like motherhood

Every child different and you don’t know how to be but there’s an order to things

You do what you think best so they don’t go bad

You are trying to affect energy you’ve never seen before

It moves in mysterious ways

You will become energy you have never been before

It moves you in mysterious ways

 

We are all kin and sometimes I am the mother and sometimes the child

In all ways the student and mostly the teacher

But no matter

Mystery is when you don’t know the outcome

What would you do?

 

This pear is too pretty to eat but there’s an order to things

Fulfill your purpose or rot

What would you do for love?

rob lindsay photo, roblindsaypictures.comP.S. When my husband Rob Lindsay takes a picture of something he loves, he turns it into art. :)

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Not Ready To Be Born Though This Endless Winter

Two o’clock and dark as dusk;

 I sail home on flood waters glacial and grey

 A furious sky banished the sun

It tries to crush us

Rush into the house grasping wet packages bursting with promise

I light the hearth and organize the groceries

Admire the warm lamp light on blue walls and

Red tulips in a silver vase

The house soon saturated with spice and vanilla to keep the damp dripping at bay and give the oven purpose

 

My dog dances under foot as he knows the last walk waits for the waning sky and too late will be too dark for a decent outing

In luck as the sky pauses for breath, we race into the bracing wind without worry

Packed in ice

No flame or fire touches once aching limbs heavy on warmer days

Now weightless

Fluid duck feet scoot me through a silken pond

 

A pack of deer pause; ghostly shadows frozen in the fog

They neither fear nor welcome us but take us as passing phantoms

We stare back and wait till they float across the field as one spirit

 

No cars pass

No others walk past

I am all sense but no sense to stop though the light is waning

Enchanted in this mist

It is my dog who finally stops and looks up to say it is time to turn back

I hadn’t realized we’d gone so far

 

It will be pitch before we see home and now it begins to rain again; a grisly rain to bow our heads

Though soaking feet are no pleasure the sunless sky and solid air have a hold on me

Don’t pull away from me

You are not ready to move on

 

It is true

Once the clock passes midnight of the old year the promise of renewal comes quietly

The light begins to shift

The plants move under the ground

That promise of renewal means rise to the occasion!

I am not ready

 

We do not stop

We did not stop

Our phones attached to our bodies

Our computers ever clanging

 

We raced around and braced against nature

To keep our pace

To hold our schedules

 

Where once one was unlucky enough to just try to survive

Now ease becomes burden as survival is assumed (though not for all)

And the icing on the cake is now the cake

And the sweetness becomes cloying

Choking

 

Here this life of unchanging pace is not the survival of life against death

But the gruesome survival of transformation not subtle but violent

And coming every quicker

 

No time to check the tide of rising power of those drunk with self interest

As the forward thrust of high, always high tide threatens to swallow us

Clashing humanity clawing, advancing was ever so and there is no complaining

 

And so

This night as every night

When I slip into heated sheets in a room kept purposefully cool for nothing less than my pleasure

The habitual smile as I slip into the cocoon

Is the relief of one who knows that hibernation must be embraced in small ways

 

Stay the tap- tap- tap of doing

To melt into the cocoon

To pause in this transitory bliss

A moment is not too short for gratitude

 

There are only many moments together

In this endless winter

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Do These Pants Make My Ass Look Fat?

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Caution: This material contains some judgment.

The CEO of Lululemon sportswear attire aligned his company with the yoga community years ago in a successful effort to corner the yoga apparel market. The society of yogis fell prey to the promise of promotion, free swag and membership to an elite community; their own, as re-gifted to them by the long arm of  a clothing chain with Mafioso chutzpah.

Lululemon has been cited for one questionable act after another but if the yoga public flinched it didn’t show in sales records; not until the company made a pair of yoga pants that woman complained were too sheer.  And CEO/founder Chip Wilson countered that their fat thighs were responsible for burning those threads bare. Not his fault; they were not his targeted clientele. You know, not everyone looks good in his yoga pants.

He’s right and not every company caters to every body.  It’s the only thing I’ve heard him be right about since his company starting getting bad press but that’s what took him down. Don’t fuck with women’s self image. We are too insecure to handle that. Take advantage of Chinese workers. Brainwash and manipulate your employees. Just don’t say that our asses are too fat. That is our moral breaking point. That is our moral outrage.

I’ve said my piece about this company long ago. I don’t give a rat’s ass what they do with their bad luck upside down horseshoe branded clothing. That’s how this country’s commerce works. You do what you can to make a buck and let the buyer beware.  Lulu was deep in the drink by the time they came to Nashville. I’d never heard of them but it didn’t take long to see they weren’t “yoga people” (whatever that means now) but people selling pants; period.  And they knew how to work a system that was increasingly commercialized and dependent on its own sales.

I was under the impression that most folks don’t know anything about Lululemon’s policies although it’s probable that anyone on the yoga blogosphere does. I didn’t see the company’s stock plummet when the internet was alive and aghast with the underpinnings of the company’s philosophy; survival of the fittest and no tears for the losers, the CEO’s outspoken defense of employing Asian children at a pittance or his delight in creating a name for a company that would sound funny when Asians tried to pronounce it. How many folks quit wearing the clothes or detached themselves as ambassadors when they discovered that the company’s staff training extended into their personal lives? And will the yogis aligned with the company bail because of a fat ass attack where a manipulative people baiting money making machine was not reason before?

The attempt to blame shoddy workmanship on the consumer was stupid. Chip Wilson is smart enough to be a millionaire entrepreneur but it took a clueless pot shot at women’s bodies to show that he is nothing more than a guy with an opinion that most guys know not to share. Any guy who’s known a woman knows if a woman asks: “Do these pants make my ass look fat?” the answer is no.

Is it possible that people who knew the company was un-cool turned their heads until insulted by the implication that their bodies weren’t hot enough to turn someone else’s?

Why are we undone by some pants maker’s opinion?  Surely clothing designers everywhere have these conversations behind closed doors.  Did Lululemon so successfully run a clothing sale campaign that we believed they were an entity interested in our well being, not just our attire?  And why the indignation when it comes to our looks more than indignation about a company that inserts itself into the local chapters of our business?

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