Category Archives: nature

The Animals are Watching

I woke at dawn as I usually do. And forced myself back to sleep. It’s Sunday and I’m working on relaxing. Respite in bed is not a reprieve for me but today it came easily.

My dog, used to my habits, came at our usual time. She climbed onto the bed where she’d been allowed once when a vertigo event triggered anxiety that only my warm puppy could abate.

Now she drank thirstily from the cool stream that was strangely swiftly flowing through a crevice behind my neck.

Alarmed, I rolled away from the warm comfort of my sleeping husband and rushed out of bed to the kitchen as usual to turn on the kettle and looked out the window.

Hilary Lindsay

The gentle slope from the terrace up the hill was a flooded field. The bird feeders hovered over submerged poles. And the field was patterned in stripes of black and white softened with brown that revealed a congregation of wild creatures sitting terrifyingly still with their heads just above the rising water facing me, my house, a silent call.

We are in trouble. We are waiting for help.

Herons, cranes, deer, even a monkey came into focus as I stood frozen.  The monkey rose from the water, writhed and slashed and struggled to move and I thought monkeys might not know how to swim.  They will die. They are dying. There are so many. They are wild and alien and yet they’ve come to us like they are domestic, part of this house.

I ran to the bedroom calling my husband. You need to come. It doesn’t matter if you are tired. Get up you need to see this.

It had just begun to rain. Again.

And I woke up.

Yesterday Elizabeth Warren announced and all I could hear was the word “fight”. Big money, unfairness in cash, race, …. Shift I screamed to her. Don’t talk about health care talk about the planet, the food, the water, the raped land. Talk about the poison we are ingesting. Tell us we are an extension of all and they us and if we are to survive we have to eliminate our toxic overlords. The toxin is greed. They give us charity to save us from cancer while they make us cancerous. They give us medicine for all the disease they cause us so all we do is worry and band aid our shaking, limping mutated bodies and stay alive though it’s a half life. Talk about rebuilding community, eliminating loneliness, feeding and educating everyone.

Get these damn guns out of here. In this town children are snatching them from open cars. Where are the parents? Are they made useless by despair? Have they given up, the invisible till their spawn end up on the evening news?

Another press cycle begins as the crippled make the tedious trudge to the next presidential election. Will we notice the deflation, the anemia, dementia of ourselves as we make the choices that guide us forward? We are distracted by the affairs of weak men.  We are guided to look away from the big picture to little pictures about little people and their pathetic or natural proclivities that are perhaps the worst of us.

Still, we go forward in small ways, in anonymity. This is as it should be and always was. We don’t need a megaphone and a platform to show us that.

But as the most powerful nation on earth influences the other superpowers that govern these small lives in our separate, intimate communal, we are bowled over, drowning in the sound and vibration of the doom broadcast through the sound and visual waves we flounder in, the undertow.

I know why the creatures came to me as the rain began to fall again. They are me and I am them and they and I know it.

 

Can’t you feel that too?

 

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Ask Alice How She Feels Right Now.

EAT  ME

 

My body is sensitive to drugs, to food, to thoughts and so is yours but you may not notice. So many of us have trained ourselves or been trained to disassociate from discomfort that when asked how we feel we have no words. Perhaps we realize we feel nothing but confusion. It’s a modern malady. But then in an industrial world resting or too much self care is viewed as self indulgent or weak.

 

I took CBD* oil (Phytocannabinoid Diol)combined with other hemp plant compounds for joint pain and began to notice I was mellow in the way I felt after yoga and bodywork.  I hadn’t realized how anxious I’d become. The nation is suffering from the effects of the last election and maybe that’s it but yoga wasn’t fixing it except for moments.

 

We live in a garden of plants that support the health and longevity of our human bodies. The fountain of youth is a dream or nightmare but there is some basis to believing in its existence.

Though I primarily use plants for medicine, this plant provided me a lesson in personal power. It is challenging to regulate how much I need of it day to day or even hour to hour by how I feel. In a world where even we yogis hand over the power to a doctor when our bodies concern and confuse us, this substance requires you to FEEL in order to self-regulate. This creates a healthy dynamic in the relationship between doctor and patient. This is personal power beyond moving the body or centering the mind without sickness. While I am a patient that goes to a doctor armed with information, I still have doubt about what does and does not work in many circumstances. The use of this oil demands I trust myself. (I am compelled to issue a disclaimer that if a person needs help and does not have the ability to self regulate, a doctor’s advice is essential.)

 

This is both yoga and beyond yoga where yoga binds consciousness to spirit and matter using the body as the vehicle. That vehicle is an energy system in a state of

Flux,

Imbalance,

Movement,

Motion,

Change,

IMPERMANENCE.

 

When we become sensitive to our bodies,

When we become intimate with ourselves in relation to other,

When we are able to sharpen our attention to choose happiness,

We may find ourselves living in yoga.

 

 

*CBD is a molecule in the hemp plant whose cannabinoid system like cannabis supports human receptors in the brain and body called endocannabinoid receptors. The plant and we share a genetic code in some way.

Please do not run out and buy CBD. Hemp is not very absorbable and you will waste your money if the product does not have a carrier for the blood system. Also, make sure you get a product where every batch is tested at a reliable lab. Organic does not mean clean.

 

 

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Stupid, Useless, Guilty! A Tribute.

My friend died.  I hadn’t seen her in awhile as we travel in different directions most of the time. She had spent much of the last years caring for her sick mother and sister a few hours away in Birmingham.

I took a too rare trip to my yoga home a few months ago and she was there.

“It’s been too long, how are you?”

“I just found out I have stage four cancer! Can you believe it?” She waved her hand over herself. “Me!”

She didn’t whisper as people with horrific news often do. She shouted it out as if to dispel it by force. We are all friends there after all.

She was astonished by the possibility of a clean life fostering that disease. She is a calm and capable and happy woman. She teaches restorative yoga and heals students with singing bowls. She is a painter, an artist who lives an artful life. Who lived an artful life.

She had digestive issues and found there was cancer there that had metastasized. She felt so fine I think she believed she would denounce that cancer and send it running. I believed that.

She suffered through chemotherapy, lost her hair, kept going to the studio and kept teaching her own classes. Her hair grew back. She had another art show.  She had departed from her signature work to something more formed, brighter and simpler. She offered a spread of the same favorite foods she always served. Other than the show being in her yoga studio rather than the usual gallery, all seemed status quo. She was lively, resplendent.  I thought she was mending.

A month or so went by that we didn’t cross paths again.

I got the news by a group mailing. At first it seemed untrue. Surely I would have known a different way. She and I had shared yoga time and painting time and healing time together. My bookmarks are all the birthday cards she made me over the years.

She had been on my mind daily as it’s the Jewish holidays and she is an observant Jew, one of my few Jewish friends who feel what I feel right now. This is a heavy holiday as it heralds a week of reflection and forgiveness. I can’t say why I felt it portend to something heavy with her but I did. She died on the Jewish New Year.

I chanted all I could remember of Yizkor, the Mourner’s Kaddish for the dead. Yizkor means remember. I lit a candle beside a wool basket she had made me filled with her signature painted sculptures.

I called a friend who was her student to tell him. He already knew.

I said, I don’t know what to do. I feel stupid and useless and guilty.

Chris, always a wise guy said, hey that’s a great hook for your business card.  

I was grateful for the laugh.

And the perspective.

I have the flu. I thought I was past it but a night of grief and memories left my lungs with lead weights and a brain sodden and spongy. I will blame my self deprecation on that.

I am not stupid or useless. And maybe I’m guilty of not living a life as full of potential as she did and as she saw in me. And maybe I was guilty of believing she would live and not sending her flowers or cards as I did my last friend that died in a similar way. I had a heads up with that friend that she was not for this world. I had heard Kaaren was challenged again but I knew she was still teaching and wrongly assumed she would go on.

It’s still hot in Nashville. There’s a dry breeze in the slowly dying trees that tells us things have changed despite the temperature.

I slowly walk my dogs on fully stretched leashes. The puppy is pulling me forward. The elderly dog holding me back. This feels like limbo and I note the irony of my observation.

So much more time is behind than before me. To move directionless is wasted time. It is a prison.

What could be crueler than to be a being conscious of your own inevitable demise? We are all on death row. We know the history of death. But all of nature screams keep moving and to scorn that is to scorn life itself.

When loved ones pass they leave us the gift of gratitude for each free breath. Yizkor also upholds that the soul gains additional merit if the memory of its, of her, good deeds spur loved ones to improve their ways.

Kaaren Hirschowitz Engel, you continue to inspire me as you always did. Though life ends, the legacy of you who nourished everyone you touched lives on with us.

May you rest in peace.

 

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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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Breathing Bough Ballet of Love

I eschew my habit of the morning news and take my coffee to a rough hewn wooden swing that hangs thirty feet from a bending bough. I am a rumpled figure tossed from bed to this field by my love for a girl named Layla. Swaying in the wind I rest my head against the heavy rope in the vanishing dawn light leisurely lulled to consciousness.

 

These seven acres behind my house are home to a couple of bird dogs who’ve opened their hearts to embrace my four month old pup. Breakfast fed, they are waiting for her by the fence gate. Little Layla launches herself through the first crack and the three of them hurl down the hill in a flood of fur as our old Red hovers.

puppy rodeo 2016

It’s not the best time for a new pet. Domestic life had slowly settled from a circus of kids and animals into one man and one woman and one easy old dog. I would paint, read and write more. We would be centered on ourselves, slaves to no schedule or obligations other than work. There are those so disciplined they would keep their eye on that ball no matter the distraction but that’s not me. Like Layla, I am easily diverted by distractions. They are potent with possibilities.

 

The trick is to seize the thing with gusto no matter that it took you off course. No human can chart a course with impunity anyhow. That’s a set-up for disappointment as the nature of a life is interference. Should you find the thing untenable you can always change course again. There are ways.

 

I don’t go with a flow I hate. That’s for swimming upstream. But when life hands you love you say yes.

precious pup 2016

 

 

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Everything Will Be Alright

 

She approaches me after class. Tells me she’s in law school. She and her peers are suffering from P.T.S.D. she says. From life.

She’s responding to a comment I made in class. I consider it pure luck that I have a positive position on the life we share at the moment.

Things need to break. The shit storm of happenstance and wrong actions that are instigating an onslaught of information on disaster is also precipitating a wellspring of solutions. That is a wellspring of love. That is the breath we choose.

Hilary Lindsay-one precious life

Hilary Lindsay-one precious life

The human condition shifts with awareness and it changes with our reactions. I see many hopeful reactions despite the barrage of sorrowful scenarios. We are looking for ways out. We are wielding sledgehammers. We are scraping peeling paint.

As radical politicians move the conversation from the usual banter, awareness grows. As spokesmen, leaders and newscasters inform people on pollution, poverty and violence against each other and the planet, quiet numbers choose to make things better in small and large ways.

It’s a life of small steps. We just step faster now. Diverse paths are rapidly emerging.

Some of us will be sacrificed no doubt. It was never easy to be aware.

But it would be less glorious to not be.

To blame nature’s weather or planets for our discomfort is shortsighted as well. Instability is nature itself. The perfect day will not last no matter how we pray for that.

Welcome to your place in the world. To smash and break it until it is right for you without harming any creature is artful. Perhaps that’s why the arts sustain us through hard times.

Remember, we are all artists. Your expression inspires mine. This is a beautiful instability.

Even trauma can generate beauty.

 

 

 

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Five Thousand and Two Species Ten Thousand and Four Eyes ~ Terrorism and Extinction

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There have been five mass extinctions. This one is man-made. We are losing animals at a rate we haven’t seen since the dinosaurs died thanks to climate change and habitat change.

National Geographic photographer Joel Sartore looks into the eyes of animals and I’m spellbound by the expressions of the innocents. He is dedicated to dispelling ignorance in order to save species by his documentation. You cannot turn away when you are faced eye to eye with a soul that you unconsciously recognize.

animal eyes

I am watching the news. I am looking into the eyes of the young woman Nohemi Gonzalez my youngest son’s age of 23. She is extinct now, her life annihilated by a terrorist who did not know her. Political climates shift. Cultural habitats are threatened. Extinction is a purposeful vengeance of fear turned to hate. The fifth estate is dedicated to dispelling ignorance by broadcast. Look! Look at the life here and here and here!

nohemi gonzalez

 

I rarely rant against guns or war these days. I have given up hope that my fury will change a thing. I sign petitions and occasionally send checks but I’m not fooling myself. War and ruin seems to be a human condition not happenstance.

I recall a recent news story about a Catholic priest who dedicated himself to uncovering Jewish mass graves in Russia that were the previously undisclosed result of the holocaust. He spoke to villagers who were young witnesses to the carnage. When asked what his take-away was from his investigation he said that he discovered that people find satisfaction in watching the destruction of other people as long as those people and not they are the victims. I wondered in disbelief. Could it be that though we shed tears of empathy for strangers we stay glued to stories of devastation for that unconscious reason? Nothing could be more distasteful. I am fairly certain that this is not the case for all humanity but nevertheless it is a chilling thought.

I teach yoga and yoga is considered a vehicle for change toward enlightenment whether it be self awareness or greater awareness but you who’ve read my work for the last seven years know I don’t see it as a panacea for amity or world peace.

A process of internal reflection will often reflect what one perceives as truth and beauty through narrow lenses. We are so many islands in an elaborate chain.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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