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Simply Complicated

I can’t remember where I read this mother’s account of her son’s last words: “It was all so simple. “ He was referring to life.

 

I stopped reading though her account had just begun. For the profundity of his finding in that moment took me aback where in another time it might have just seemed another hackneyed observation. And also, because I am a mother of sons.

 

But that statement indicates that there is no reason to worry. It disrobes the drama that is worry. It implies that everything is O.K. while these days it definitely feels like everything is certainly not going to be O.K.

 

It’s simple, eh? We are here to love and be loved. That is simple and beautiful enough. But I have rarely heard of a human life unfolding seamlessly.

Cheekwood optic fiber cotton candy Bruce Monroe by Rob Lindsay

Despite a desire to love and be loved or because of it, when someone doesn’t treat us well a worm of doubt assures us we are not worthy and the bad feelings get paid forward in future relationships.

 

Evolution as actualization begins at birth. In spite of the immense beauty that surrounds and buoys us, it is discomfort by way of desire or avoidance that keeps us moving.

 

Beyond that, we do not live to love only. We live to survive and survival comes first. In a system that demands we compete to survive love can get lost in the shuffle. And the shuffle has gone beyond our inside circle. Our connectivity is both support and pain.

 

Memory says that things are not O.K. We wrestle the future. We enter the news and become part of the stories that shock us. Acts unspeakable and not understandable are committed by people who are like us in most ways. Mutation happens within our tribes. We are tribal. In small ways and large, people act badly. Equilibrium abides because in small ways and large, we also act kindly.

 

We extend a helping hand to nations beyond ours but our service is a form of dominance and the seeds that spawn the grain are tainted. Our produce is a reflection of corporate power. If we enjoy the agricultural that created a Honeycrisp apple we can’t be surprised that technology also brought forth monster seeds. It comes at once. A revolution of technology followed a revolution of industry and fostered worldwide revolutions of disgruntled reactionaries who keep our hair raised and our fear at code red.

 

Nothing is simple. Or is it?

 

Spirit guides point me to a commonplace hearkening I’d become deaf to. Turn the other cheek is not so different from love your enemy or even love no matter what. No matter the circumstances, the human is urged to act alone as an act of rebellion. Defy fear. Do not hate. Love despite all. The act of loving oneself and one’s testy neighbor is revolutionary. That is the telling of non-reacting that is yoga washed in Buddhism.

 

In this midnight awakening it seems true and possibly simple. If we only loved from the first consciousness there would be no fear. Without harm or threat of harm things would be less complicated. But we messy human beings came wired for fear. We come with internal landmines that might or might not be active.

 

 

The wrestle with demons is the fable of heroism, the story of good v. evil we crave. If it is not in our own lives we seek it in stories of others. Perhaps that is what was and is so simple; To know our own nature and abide calmly in it.

 

 

 

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Filed under American culture, Buddhism, Healing, new age enlightenment, poetry, politcal action, social action, social commentary, Uncategorized, yoga, yoga and blogging, Yoga Class, Yoga philosophy, yoga teaching, yoga wisdom

Feet to the Milk White Sky

Feet to the Milk White Sky

Feet to the Milk White Sky

 

Warm legs slip from tangled sheets at dawn

The shock of cold air is a sweet relief before it assails

 

Enfolded in fleece

I put the coffee kettle on

And head to the office to push this button for later

Set the day

 

Coffee steeping and my house sleeping

I slip off the robe, flip onto my head on the red living room rug and send my feet to the ceiling

A forest falls from a milk white sky

Spidery black branches are pen and ink paintings on the emptiness

Cool air caresses skin warmed too much too quickly despite the morning chill

 

Temperature control is random these days

Mine moody as the climate’s changes

Record highs, record lows

 

Upright again, the groundswell assaults me

THERE IS SO MUCH GOING ON DOWN HERE

Chaos below with my head in the clouds

Infinite space with my feet in the air

 

Is it true the sky is falling?

Chicken Little!

Cautioned a cup- half- full mother to a nervous child

 

I learned to pull my work boots on

And pulled my head from the sand

To notice the beauty in chaos

To modestly wade knee deep and do what one does for love

It muffled the alarm that rings through my sleep

 

 

But should all fail and the sky fall

Uncharted at dawn by even the birds

I make peace with the milk white sky

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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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The Others

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I am the others.  Hours waiting in a medical facility on the North side, the side for people without health insurance, without money, without connections, I am privy to the service of the underprivileged.

I am a white middle class statistic without health insurance with a shoulder that was hurt in a white middle class Iyengar studio and a fused sacrum that’s becoming more troublesome.  I cannot do my job as well as I need to. I am in pain and I am a lucky one because I am allowed free medical attention through an effort called Art Docs which is to alleviate the suffering of starving artists.

Turning the corner into the hospital parking lot I pass a shoot -out at a pawn shop. The parking garage that is the only option for General Hospital is full. I make several passes before parking several floors above ground and my instinct in an unfamiliar setting tells me to take my chance on the stairs. Do not get into an elevator in a parking garage in the hood.

The entrance and alien waiting area is stripped down and I think of an army triage in a war zone. The place feels abandoned but for the gentle mannered young girl behind a plastic window who takes my name and steers me to the elevator toward my destination. It smells of cigarette smoke and despair.

I enter the next waiting room and then another. I have not seen another white face. I have seen the legless, the toothless, and the hobbled before old age, the starved and overweight, the overburdened and the other world.

The nurse who checks me in laughs when she weighs me and tells me of her battle to lose weight. She takes my input and seems bemused that I have nothing to note but an allergy to Sulfa. Do you drink, smoke, suffer abuse; any meds, surgeries or accidents?  No, no, no and I know how lucky I am to be a rare statistic here. I am sensitive to being out of place; an observer who can walk out through the worn doors to freedom.

Two hours later I’m seen by a kind very young doctor who attempts to use each of the hand sanitizer wall dispensers which are empty. He quickly rinses his hands at the sink and thoughtfully extends one to me with his introduction. He has me go through some mobility tests. He tells me that MRIs and X-Rays are expensive and he doesn’t think I need surgery so why bother. He gives me exercises to do that I have in fact been doing since last November and suggests I double up on anti-inflammatory meds.

I ask him about my displaced sacrum and he says he doesn’t know what to make of it but I can tell my time is up. Relieved, I thank him and head quickly out the door catching the eye of a woman in another room. A scarf covers her head. She sits on the table with her husband in a chair by her side and casts me an imploring glance, making a gesture of helplessness with her hands.  She calls softly; I have been here such a long time. No one is coming.

What can I do but smile to say that I get it. No one is coming feels like the banner for the poor.

I stop at the plastic window to have my parking pass validated. There is a distressed young man, a dark skinned foreigner with poor English accompanied by a parking garage guard. His car has been towed. He didn’t understand the sign; explains that he doesn’t read English and now his car is gone and the powerless clerk behind the plastic window just repeats again and again; you parked in veterans parking. There is a sign. I can’t help you.

He gestures for me to hand him my pass. I am the lucky one. For this guy… no one is coming. As I walk away I hear the guard asking the hapless desk clerk what he should do. I wish I had the money to get this guy’s car back but I’m dealing with first world problems that leave me no resource but my prayers for the helpless.

I live in the light, where civilization seems to flourish but I know it’s an illusion. The leader of our country wants to punish Syria for spraying poison gas on its innocents while Monsanto is allowed to poison our innocents and those we import our produce to. We pick and choose who we will champion based on its bang in our bank and how it might affect our future. We mandate equality for all and demand societies whose constructs we do not understand to follow our moral code while our people go hungry and illiterate and our financial leaders dictate our compass.

We are not protected. The leaders may think themselves immune but few can stand the allure of Tolkien’s ring. My precious will ensnare all who come in contact; that can touch the power, feel the power, be befuddled by the power.  We are pawns on that board. Our future hangs in a precarious balance; all of us.

Still, some of us have a better cushion than others; a bigger space between us and the grit. Some of us are lucky. I am the lucky one. It’s up to me to pay that forward. I began today with a greater effort, extended myself purposefully into the discomfort where I can do some good as I’ve done before but confess to being so often relieved when my extended hand is not taken. Today I did not take silence for an answer but kept pushing.

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America the Beautiful

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In the gloaming we stroll across Centennial Park’s fields, past the Parthenon to the band shell. My husband’s camera hangs around his neck, his hand holds mine as we make our way through the lightly scattered blankets and lawn chairs.  This is the gathering of disparate people joined by their love of big band music, dancing or the nostalgia for sweet simple summer nights gone by.

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Folks have brought their dogs and babies, old folks and young folks bring their snacks and drinks and friends for conversation. A single snow cone vendor graces the grass at the tent’s corner.  He lies back on the truck bed behind him laughing and talking softly with his buddy.  A single yellow light shines softly down. There are no crowds, no noise, and no rush.

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It’s time for the dance instruction. People quietly gather on the dance floor; mad grins held back behind shining eyes and tapping feet. Young girls in old fashioned party dresses reveal long limbs and shining countenances framed in silken tresses. They are simply beautiful in the way young girls are before outside pressure tells them to be other than themselves.  They come with groups of friends but the dance breaks alliances open as hopeful men of all ages and sizes and wages offer their hands in the dance. There is no class system here. No rules of age or color or gender. I suddenly realize I have not heard a cell phone on these nights and how unusual it’s become to not need to be anywhere or with anyone but where you are.

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The instructor picks a dance to teach. The band waits:  Gals on one side, guys on the other.

Now the band starts up; a 16 piece band with a conductor and singers waiting to the side for their turns at the mike.

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Girls dance with girls, babies dance with each other; grandparents sashay by with a grandchild between them.  Here is a handicapped young man sandwiched between two older parents. The mother leads and the father follows with a hand on his back.  Here is the double dipper. Man this guy can really dance. He takes partner after partner and these young girls dance like pros. No matter the dance or how fast he leads, they flourish like fish thrown back to water.

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He’s introduced himself to my husband the picture taker. He’d like some photos please. They exchange numbers. Turns out he’s a film maker too: Going back to Iraq to shoot a documentary about the Kurds.  The dance is a meeting hall though no hall is here. Here is space defined by strings of colored lights and a wide expanse of roof, by the periphery of happy conversation by the waning light of day as it turns to the cooler blush of the moon. No one is a stranger though in truth no one looks familiar: That’s unusual for Nashville and though I don’t know these folks, on big band Saturday nights they are my kin.

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The bandleader announces an unusual song for this venue; America the Beautiful. It’s a slow dance and a measured moment.  I love the song but it would be like me to carelessly change the words in my head for a habitual moment of cynicism.

Oh beautiful for contrail skies

Monsanto poisoned grain…..

And I do but toss them away just as quickly. I love every word as it is and I believe in the sentiment which is reflected in the manner of the humanity that in this moment envelops us; the humanity that includes me, that is the best of a collective dream of a country.

O beautiful for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

O beautiful for pilgrim feet
Whose stern impassioned stress
A thoroughfare of freedom beat
Across the wilderness!
America! America!
God mend thine every flaw,
Confirm thy soul in self-control,
Thy liberty in law!

O beautiful for heroes proved
In liberating strife.
Who more than self their country loved
And mercy more than life!
America! America!
May God thy gold refine
Till all success be nobleness
And every gain divine!

Well, that’s some of it and though it be idealized I send it out today on the Fourth of July in memory of helmetless bike rides to watch my brothers at the Little League field, dripping ice cream cones before anyone told me that dairy was wrong and the heart swelling love of a little girl with her hand to her heart paying homage to a country she trusted and believed would ever hold her dear.

Let freedom ring.

Thank you Rob for the pictures.

Footnote: It’s been pouring all day. We gave up on the idea of watching fireworks opting for a quiet few hours at home before meeting up with friends. I wrote this post as local fireworks rolled like thunder. I hit the publish button and walked past the screen door. The rain was barely coming down. “Come on”, I called to my guys, “let’s get in the car and find some fireworks” and in minutes we were headed downtown. I was still wearing my skimpy yoga clothes from morning class. We didn’t even think to cover up. The weather had turned cool and windy; so unlike Nashville July. We found an easy parking spot overlooking the river and walked down toward it. The Band Perry hit their last note as the first firework hit the sky. The Nashville Symphony seamlessly played in. It was spectacular; another magical musical Nashville wonder. As we pulled out of the downtown traffic and hit the open road the rain came down again.

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Filed under American culture, poetry, social commentary, Uncategorized, yoga and blogging

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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