Category Archives: allegory

Wonderful and Terrible

I teach yoga to the veterans and when they don’t show up I hang out in what stands for their lobby given the coffee maker and odd array of stained chairs.

I chitchat with the mostly old guys who come to Operation Stand Down for companionship and shelter.

 

A radiant sky turns black. Gale force winds swiftly strain branches and rain ricochets to the sky from the murky pavement in waves. A roomful of heads turn.

Wire rimmed granny glasses and a head of brown curls frame the face of an ageless fellow with an unwavering grin. He regards the storm and me.

“It’s wonderful and terrible! “

 I concur.

“I want to get out in it”, he says.

I agree though neither of us makes a move toward the blitz.

 

And then it’s over as quickly as it began.

I’m left with the joyful resonance of wonderful and terrible.

 

Our unavoidable political process

My youngest son

The yoga business

The animals that eat and get eaten

We people that love and hurt and hurt each other

Abundance and the fear of loss

Poverty and the hope of redemption

The rush tinged with terror

A placid pond with vicious mosquitoes

The lightning bolt in a purple sky

The earth’s thirst quenched and the choking flood.

 

From my singular position to the macrocosm I suddenly realize it’s all the same.

At once and always

 

This is the beautiful wonder-filled life we were handed

This is the one we were born to love

To want to get out in it no matter its nature, is ours.

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Robocaller in Your Head

Robots hacked your home phone. You know, that old clunker nailed to wall that you keep for the last touch of we’re a family here. You keep it for your mother and you keep it for midnight emergencies next to your head in the bed. It’s got a virus called robocall.

woman on phone

It’s the automated voice in your head that beats you down by repeating the same things over and over even though you’re not buying, even though you will never close that deal. It doesn’t respect your busy day or your need for dreamless sleep. It’s the ring of a new world, the world which agrees that it’s fine to call anyone at any hour for any reason. It’s the ring of limitless which you thought was freedom but is someone else’s freedom to imprison you. That someone else is you.

You could press #1 to take yourself off the list but you don’t because you’re afraid you might miss something. You’re a hoarder.

“We rarely hear the inward music

But we’re all dancing to it nevertheless.” ~ Rumi

You don’t notice that the words to the song or jingles contain some lyrics of your stuck life. You don’t recognize that repetitive ruminations abide because you don’t confront them.

You have to pick up to take yourself off the list. You have to agree to not be called again. You have to know what is valuable and what should be thrown away.

Be still. Have a seat or lie down with yourself. Robocaller is waiting and ready. It knows when you are home. Pick up and listen. Why were you marked for this call? Robocaller has your number. Do you? Think about the incoming message. If you don’t need to hear it again press a key and get off the list.

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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: 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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Quiet.

Confessions of a Modern Meditator.

 _MG_1953Hil_new year's 2011_cropped_websize

I get it now.

Black is white

Day is night

Wrong is right.

My husband looks away from the television and turns to me;

What is going on! What in the world…..!

And I get it just like that.

There is no ruling from a lifetime past but happy anarchy.

And not worse but maybe better than the lie of safety and reason we supposed

from a prettily clothed and fiercely contained hearth

while outside the door the unfathomable cruelty of men and nature

appeared to randomly batter only those outside.

 

We are all outside now equally homeless and at home;

under the light, bending in the wind, shouting at the stars

in every language with every expletive available.

 

roblindsaypictures.com

roblindsaypictures.com

I am a modern meditator

My mantra has no Hindu spirit attachment to a past.

I would not know or care to compare

it to any other for which there is no measure anyway.

That is a miserable’s pastime.

 

Here is a tone like a hypnotist’s clue, unspoken,

it’s power unbroken by attachment to anything but the memory

of me when I received it.

 

Sometimes sitting; this hypnotic key and I are not enough.

Momentary protection by the mantra’s magical cocoon is

fleeting impermanence that turns back to an illusion of writing in stone when eyelids open.

So much waits at the door.

The emptiness of this transitory seat is illusion I will not bear.

 

I bring all of it into my quiet place.

I open the door to this inviting home.

 

To ready for a party is hard work of course.

But the resulting harmony of home serves me well too.

I know what to throw out and what to polish.

This home is left the better when the last guest smiles goodbye.

 

Still, this architecture has been battered as it’s not well designed to withstand storms.

It was not made to bend in the wind.

whether by my making or happenstance.

Does it matter?

 

Renovation is made in this hypnosis; this modern meditation.

Nothing outside is a stranger when you invite it in.

You feed the strange what you feed your loved ones.

You must remember to feed yourself as a loved one too.

With all inside, who will tear down your walls?

 

In you go with the rest of it;

With the storm and the sorrow and the mean and the crazy,

With the things you cannot fathom, with the life you cannot grasp.

 

What threatens from remote banks is much mystery perceived as threat.

Though threat might make its home in fear,

It has no grasp in a kindly place.

It has no choice but to amend.

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a5-RSKcPJHg

 

re-posted on Rebelle Society as Confessions of a Modern Meditator 

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Exposed. Willing to Undress.

Reposted from Exposed in the Journal pages of activeyoga.com. Originally posted on Tuesday, February 26, 2008 – 12:32 am _MG_1953Hil_new year's 2011_cropped_websize


Toward winter’s end the land is laid bare and the grayest of days reveal tints of silver, sage, teal, aqua, tan, taupe, smoke, umber and sienna.

No leaf is left to dress and every bird nest bared shows well for the next tenants.
I walk alone or with my dogs, no gaggle of geese with me, counting steps and calories.
Why stay on the roads when the deer have made such lovely paths for me!

There are treasures here and I collect things in my pockets to carry some mystery home.
In this cold bright air stands a cluster of pines by a stream I’d never noticed beyond the usual veil of deciduous forest and I raise my nose like my dogs will and draw deep in hopes of finding an offering of that favorite fragrance hovering in the stillness.

Rob Lindsay photo/Radnor

Rob Lindsay photo/Radnor

Here is someone’s driveway and farther in the woods a quiet home of moss covered stone that seems to grow from the ground and here is a guest cottage overgrown with ivy nearly hidden in a tiny sunken meadow.
Bare now is a long gone pet’s worn headstone in a neighboring yard which summer sheltered in wild grass.

A cluster of daffodils heralds Spring and marks the headstone from afar and I think
How could the daffodils shine so well if competing with the sun?

And like a photographer shines his light brightly to dissolve the details of a model’s skin so that no wrinkle or shadow mare the beauty,
By the absence of the sun, in this grayness I can see every shadow, and detail, and texture of the trees.
They have faces and bodies.
They have battle scars and history written upon them.
By their rawness, I’m drawn in.
Such honesty welcomes me to my self by example and I feel at home here.

Hilary Lindsay acrylic on canvas

Hilary Lindsay acrylic on canvas

I consider the contrast of humans. How are we fully appreciated or approachable as covered up as we are?
How are we at home with each other?
It’s a politically charged year for the nation. It’s a politically charged year for the yoga community. 

I wonder about the aversion we Americans have to discussing sensitive topics. I listen to two students of mine agree with each other that you never discuss politics or religion. One of them is a popular musician and the other a public figure. They are guarded for their livelihoods.

But I think of the emerald green glistening moss on a lichen covered rotting log that had captured my attention and imagination for more than just a passing glance on my walk and thought what a pity it is that we are too sensitive, too fragile to look at the beauty in the mold and rot and decay as well as the flowers.

Light’s camouflage does not remove these things but leaves them undiscovered and denies them the attention that might reveal there is beauty in the argument, there can be fury without hate, that our sensitivities to what we don’t understand need not be preserved by aversion but dispersed by discussion.

In the grayest of times, we are unveiled. If we were really home, would we not be willing to undress?

 
Hilary

reprinted on Rebelle Society as Undressed.

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Yoga Home: A Fairy Tale

Untouched by time in the middle of the South lay a swathe of land called the Bible Belt and in the buckle of that belt, known to some as the heart center, was a province devoted to church and family and tradition.

H.Lindsay

Into that province came a stranger and she brought them yoga. It attracted a small group who became like an island in the sea of the province. One woman designated the back room of her modest home as a yoga studio and declared it The Yoga Center. Not long after and spitting distance away, another tiny home no bigger than a room became the property of her friends who called it The Yoga Room.

And a society was created to teach the others about yoga and the society declared that yoga was good. The people had differences and arguments despite the love of yoga but the society and the teaching of yoga kept them together in practice and perhaps it was the circle of community apart from the others that kept them a family.

And there was no need to declare yoga space Sacred, Sanctioned, Sourced or Shiva, Hot or Cold or Works or Plus. There was no yoga market so there were no yoga names and there were no yoga clothes and there were no yoga games. Well, there were games but they were games humans play in the unavoidable way of a species tasked to figure it out. They were small games compared to what would later transpire.

Yoga was the religion or an adjunct to beliefs already held dear. It was a physical and spiritual practice done with intention to follow the steps provided by its creators. It suited the devout.  It took itself seriously.

A decade later another stranger came to town. Though she did not know it, she would be the forerunner for something called Modern Yoga. She came from the East Coast and then the West Coast full of dance and fancy and hippy drenched yoga love and she wore flowing clothes to yoga.

The first stranger was gone on the dark wings of cancer. But her yogini daughter befriended the new stranger who was introduced by one who had just created something on the West coast called Power Yoga that would change the yoga world.

The island of yogis in the Bible Belt Sea were kinder than kind but some of them bristled at the stranger who muddied yoga with music and dance and merriment. They resented the intrusion, looked askance at the medium. They did not see the writing on the wall or maybe they did.

H.Lindsay

The stranger who came from the East Coast and then the West Coast had found a home amongst dancers. She had no dreams but to raise kids and share her passion but the island of yoga had successfully attracted the sea of the town and in a rare moment of synchronicity, it heard her music and her laughter and it stormed her doors.

Ten years later and yoga strangers would change towns all over the country. Yogis would be competitive and name their business and name themselves and open retail stores to create more wealth. They would add music and bands and videos. Keeping pace with consumption, yoga would become a bottomless pit.

The Bible Belt was no longer provincial. Business saw opportunity in a virgin ready, waiting to be delivered and devoured.  A steely entrepreneur from afar looked at a map and judged that place to be the ripest in all of the country for a moneymaker called Hot Yoga. I know because she told me. It was the first time yoga would be sold for cold cash.

The Yoga Room had become the first school of teacher training. Who knows if the owners, long gone, knew what that training program would herald. Perhaps they were the first to grow big pockets from the dreams of zealous pioneers who wanted to make yoga their lives. Soon every studio in town would have its own teaching program. Soon every teacher would be in competition with the next and studios would mark themselves in name and battle lines.

It was rumored that the stranger from the East Coast and then the West Coast’s students wild with jealousy and greed finally threw a hood over her head, tossed her in the back of an Audi and hauled her away. With her gone from the light, a new empty room with an empty name would surely fill with their own students. Money can buy so many things. Some say she was never heard from again and in truth it seemed that way.

The Yoga Center became a holdout and laboratory for a quiet and tenacious group of traditionalists who once a week continue to sit at the feet of its original owner, a now 80 something matriarch who could still kick the ass of every yogi in the region when it comes to physical prowess.  She carries the mantle of a thoughtful and truthful path.

The one who was harbinger of things to come appears in a ghostly transparency on Sunday mornings, harkening back to the place where yoga blossomed in her adopted town.  In a little one room house untouched by time in the neighborhood where yoga was begotten; in that place still simply named The Yoga Room she teaches yoga while others are in church. Her solidity manifests as the music rises.

Yoga Devis from Rebel Yoga Calendar 2001; A Celebration of Students. copyright Rob Lindsay

If you trust the storyteller, believe her that her evolution heralds another shift in the evolution of yoga. It is unfinished business becoming true right now.

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The Pants Seller’s Circus; A Fairy Tale

The Pants Seller’s Circus

  A Fairy Tale

written in 2010;  the author was inspired by Lululemon and  the fiefdom of ambassadors

Long ago and far away a small group of sages designed a system of actions (SOA) that might save people from themselves. They called it yoga but that name had since been forgotten.

SOA lasted throughout time in a quiet fashion amongst a small group of people and it was too small a group to change the world but then the SOA spread to the land of America. Like all things in America it took root and prospered.

In SOA this was written: Do no harm, do not steal, do not covet, do not lie and do not overextend yourself as to make yourself self righteous or make others weak.  They called this part the first Limb with five branches and it was the first step towards the beautiful universe. This step had to be built to gain access to the next step or the next step would crumple.

A group of hawkers got hold of the system.  They were part of a universal tribe of hawkers who made a living by selling goods all over the world.   The hawkers came to each village and sought out the most influential and successful entrepreneurs of the SOA and knighted them. Those who were knighted were given gifts of gold and promises of glory in return for advertising the hawker’s wares. They became corrupted and shills for the hawker industry.  And the hawkers sang the leaders praises while selling high ticket gear that appealed to the leader’s people.

SOA had eight limbs all together which were intertwined with one another. Step by step, limb by limb, the devout could move from the outer to the inner realm.  But if one step was missing, one had to go back because no one could stand on the next step without sinking if the one before was missing.  The steps were not just steps. They were actions that took one from the gross to the subtle. Like a wooden Russian doll with smaller and smaller dolls inside it, one had to uncover the surface to attain the doll beneath. The last limb, the last little Russian doll was called Bliss. Everyone wanted to get to it. Some were in a hurry.

There were some priests and priestesses among the leaders and their flocks who feigned knowledge of Bliss at the center of the system. They spoke quietly or in song cloaked in shawls and turbans. They did not have the patience to step limb by limb. They were desperate to have Bliss right away. They spoke knowingly of Bliss and the virtuous path to Bliss but they had bored a hole in the outer shells, in the outer limbs and crawled into the belly of Bliss like fruit flies and there hid out laying waste to all the outer layers that became porous as rotting wood.

The knighted leaders of SOA were lost souls.  Their attraction to it was fragile, born of a love of attention and an attraction to power.  They disseminated the SOA for their own means and they did not live by it. They fought amongst themselves and it was even whispered that a photograph was taken where they lined up with arms around each other striking a pose like hapless Rockettes but had knives to each other’s backs like Brutus to Caesar.

To get to the second Limb of five branches the people had to answer questions: Do I feel  pure of heart, do I have a desire to press on, do I have a desire to learn, am I ready to confront myself, am I capable of acceptance? It was easy to answer yes because they were delusional but it was the third Limb that kept the leaders’ purses full.

It was the third Limb that the hawkers could market to. It was the body. The body needed gear. The body had a mind and the mind could be manipulated. Though the human form might follow the thought of the first limb and the second limb it didn’t have to. All one could really see was the form itself. No one would know the difference.

SOA was in danger. Co-opted by the hawkers it would live on as an accessory to the high priced gear.  All the hawkers needed were its name and its form.

Seers and sages cloaked in the garb of modern folk started leaving the cities.  The planet was in danger. It was used up and angry. The cities were claustrophobic with frightened people who had lost their purpose. The seers went forth seeking space to focus on ways to sustain and replenish the earth and waters. They went to the mountains and plains to make peace with the planet. They carried SOA in their hearts. They carried the books and their notes and journals and they lived like Renunciates honing their skills of intuition tuning their minds to love.

Left behind were still hundreds of teachers who were also students of the SOA. The people didn’t notice them easily as their spirits were cloaked in such a way as to make them invisible except to those who sought them out.  Some say their vision was clearer in the shadows away from the glare of celebrity and fortune but I for one know that glare does not eclipse anything except in the eye of the beholder or judges. One can do both.

Life began to slowly change because jobs were scarce and money was more precious and the people began to appreciate that life could be good without so much stuff but the economy was predicated on buying stuff and it began to fail.  The leaders of the SOA were affected too and although they still had power and some fortune, it was dwindling. The leaders began to notice that the people were getting weary of the leader’s swagger and bored by the hawkers’ gear. The leaders began to fight amongst themselves. America’s success was predicated on selling systems and gear. There were the Great Marketing Wars. SOA was renamed and repackaged in hundreds of ways all over the country and much of the free market got involved to support that with gear and cheap labor and materials. There was no other way.  The people were distracted and anxious. They had so many choices and so much to buy.  Meanwhile the country was being decimated, torn to pieces by partisanship. SOA was just part of the chain of partisanship that was running through the desperate country.

The people supported the hawkers of every system whose advertising assured them of their inadequacies. They could benefit from the hawker’s wares.  They could benefit from the system of religion. They could benefit from SOA.  The people were insecure, broke, and emotionally bankrupt and the wars waged on exhausting their resources ever more.

Not the end: Just the beginning.

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