Tag Archives: social conscience

Nowhere Man

I’m awake which sucks because it’s almost dawn and if I slept it was fitfully. Frustrated, I hurl myself out of bed, poetry writing itself in my head.

 

Writing words that no one will read

Painting pictures that no one will see.

Huh.

I take stock of my thoughts. Plainly I’ve got work to do.

 

I am way overtired. We’d been to a party of dear friends. We party like it’s a job interview that we will kill. We celebrate with abandon which despite our lovely lives is not our lot.

 

It’s too early and even for a morning after I know I will suffer too much. I make a play for sleep again and it comes though an hour later my new pup wakes me with a muscular swipe at my face. I roll out of bed and throw on my robe as a song starts playing in my head.

He’s a real nowhere man, sitting in his nowhere land…. Oh you’ve got to be kidding.

 

In the 70’s Lennon told Rolling Stone Magazine how he conceived The Beatles song Nowhere Man. “I was just going through this paranoia trying to write something and nothing would come out so I just lay down and tried to not write and then this came out, the whole thing came out in one gulp.”

 

I get that and thank you John for helping me to believe I may be more like you than just the lazy creative free procrastinator I  imagine myself right now.

 

And then there’s the nagging realization that most beautiful creations will go unnoticed. They come from souls who no one will know. But that doesn’t mean they’re nobody.

 

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Body Sharing and the Prana Vayus

I Am a Very Small Animal

_MG_1953Hil_new year's 2011_cropped_websize

 I was the Tennessee Titans yoga teacher. Defensive End Kevin Carter was one of my dear students. I got to spend some one on one time with him and I shared a secret born of Pokémon.

In Pokémon; a cartoon I watched with my children, the animals had special powers that shared their names and they would command them to service that could save the day in dire situations.

The Titans thought I had superpowers. My longtime Running Back client, Eddie George was quoted in the papers saying I was stronger than most of the guys on the team. Of course that wasn’t true but I knew what I had to harness for dire situations which is what I would consider many of the postures I had to demonstrate to teach. As Winnie the Pooh’s friend Piglet once described himself;  I am a very small animal.

I used my mind to fire muscles. Glute power; ON! Ankle power; GO! That’s how the Pokémons did it and it worked. When I had to perform on the 40 yard line before 50 men and their coaches and news cameras I didn’t have time to wobble. It wasn’t my yoga, just a picture for the others.

I watch the show Sunday Morning. A confessed multi-tasker, I do my Sunday practice watching that show because I have three hours before I go to work and six hours of stuff I want to accomplish. And I love that show because it’s information about wonderful things that people do instead of the context of contending news shows that assure me what a bunch of assholes we are.

There was a segment on sharing. People are sharing their homes, their cars, and their stuff. It’s making it easier on everyone. It’s good for the economy. It works. I’m reminded of an initiative in my son’s town of Seattle where people are growing free food for anyone to pick. Sharing is not the game for those playing survival of the fittest. It’s the game for people who know that the fittest don’t survive, we all survive and we all survive to thrive when we work as nature does, for the greatest good for the web.

I’m in tree pose. I imagine I can feel all 26 bones in my left foot arguing over turf. I think of sharing.  My hip is hurt and the rest of me is trying to share the job of the hip but damn it hip it’s time to step up. The others can’t do it and the adductor is starting to get pissed off and snap at the Iliopsoas which will surely be the destruction of all.

So I turn on some muscular action with my mind and attend to my breath. I should have put that oxygen mask on first before saving the others but I was preoccupied with a bit of an impending crisis. Hands to the sky inviting prana, I notice an impediment. I’m doing my damndest to save all that I can and I can’t get a proper breath out. The quality of the last exhalation will set me up for the next breath, some might say, the next life. Without that I am lost and all systems will fail.

How many folks devote, share, themselves for the good of the whole without noticing their own breath.  Divine people die of awful diseases and others wonder how someone so good, so pure, so generous could be taken if there is karma. Could it be that our intention behind the exhale will be the quality we ensure for the next breath and without attention to that we are unwittingly dying without noticing? Did we abandon ourselves inadvertently?

I am in the mind of the winds of the breath as described in the Upanishads and later refined by Ayurveda because I just did a study on it. Maybe I’m overreaching. Forgive me. But also take a lesson from it if you want to because I’m offering one from experience. Generosity and love only go so far when you are neglecting yourself. If you want to share yourself with the world remember to allow the world to enter you as prana; as life force which moves everything and pay attention to how you manage that in your own universe of flesh, bone and mind. I am still here but somehow I imagine my last breath as one who has not paid due homage and I do not sense an easy end.

It’s what I have to share today. With love and humility, Hilary

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Howdy Neighbor

_MG_1953Hil_new year's 2011_cropped_websize
 Originally posted on the Journal pages of Active Yoga on Tuesday, February 26, 2008
 

This post is resurrected in honor of the folks who now want to subdivide the land behind my house. Trees will die and the earth will be blasted. Some will win, some will lose. But I think we might all be  losers.

 
 
Around the bend and at the top of the hill is a cross street that dead ends at two old stone columns and a massive iron gate that is wide open across a dirt road.
The name of the five acre estate long gone is carved on the stones and long as I’ve been here until this fall, the place remained untouched.It’s a small street like many around here and people get to know their neighbors. The houses are simple and melt into the woods. They sit on an acre or two. The prize is privacy. The street lights are spotty and there’s no reason to be here unless you live here so at night it’s quite dark and very quiet and we like it like that.
 
Fran lives at the end of that road with only five acres of that long abandoned land that Radnor Lake could not afford to buy, between her and the forest. I got to know her by walking past her house because that dirt road was one of my walks into the woods. I got to know every inch of that five acres and more on my  explorations over the years. I left not much of a footprint. I felt like it was kin.
 
I knew it wasn’t but I was as bummed as the immediate neighbors to hear that the land had been sold and waited hopefully to see some tree huggers move in. Alas, in came the dynamite, the tree cutters, the earth movers and a foundation poured to raise Tara.  I wandered up there weekly and watched the landscape change. Then I met the builders who said it was fine if I visited and I got to crawl around the many levels and watch the lives of strangers unfold.
 
It was horrifying. The ugly red brick retaining wall was monstrous. It had to be to stay the wooded hillside beyond it. Not one window of the house took advantage of the spectacular views. I was told it  was built for a family of five and surely they would need walky-talkies to find each other. No sense of the life around it; this house felt like the anti-earth.
 
Then the no trespassing signs went up. They were yellow. I saw them but I ignored them because I had been invited by the builders: Until the owner appeared. She saw me coming up the road and rushed toward me telling me loudly that there were No trespassing signs and please would I leave. I immediately disliked her; the way she looked, her voice, her officiousness but I gave it a shot and smiled and introduced myself as one of her neighbors and a great fan of her property for many years. She said, yes the neighbors had been interested in the place and she would let all of us up there to see it when it was done but for now we had to stay off her property.  (I  have never seen the place again but from a distance behind new and closed iron gates.)
 
I watched them rig the electricity for the place and saw the tall poles set with spot lights that would shine mightily into Fran’s front windows and I don’t know what else was going on but those guys had been tearing down trees and rigging new poles for weeks.
 
Then came red and black don’t signs posted along the drive which say No Parking which is pretty weird because it’s a wide long driveway  that has to allow for the tonnage of dozens of working vehicles.
 
I wonder if these folks know how many gun carrying poachers creep around the woods behind them murdering innocent creatures in the night. Now if the signs kept those guys away, that would be something.Meanwhile I have a suggestion for a new carving in those two stone pillars:
 
TROPHY FOR THE POWERFUL 
TESTIMENT TO BAD TASTE
 
 
SALUTE EGOTISM
ASSAULT THE EARTH
 
Welcome to the neighborhood and as they say in Nashville, “Now y’all go home”.

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The Scent of Weed and Manure

 It is summer night sultry in the dead of spring.  Sunroof’s open on a country road where the memory of something high school lingers in the wafting scent of weed and manure.

What is nostalgia but a self centered opinion of the past tucked away for a rainy day?   

In this moment the yearning for something gone by is a self conscious indulgence for a thing that is true only by this impression. I am changed by circumstance and nothing is lost but rearranged and memory is subjective. The surface shifts where we do not. The human condition changes by both effort and resistance but some things are barely mutable.

A million years of evolution (what were we doing?) and television brought us together with family on Sunday nights. A moment later the computer relegated us to private lairs. Social media introduced us to strangers:  Some become pen pals and some, faceless diversions. We are bombarded by distractions and we are adrift in possibilities. Here is the job of weeding the pasture.

Human nature is preserved by seeds of beginnings that no bleach or osmosis can banish.  Mind and body adapt while this remains the same starter of love and hate or fear or maybe the uncertainty of desire and instinct for survival. Primordial genetics reveal the truth when the civilized mantle is discarded. If information is illumination than we are becoming enlightened but how many years of enlightenment will it take for a human to be like the figures we call God?

Wired to create; we are symptoms of time and desire.

A compilation of a friend’s piano melodies play as I write this. He was kind enough to send them by mail though we don’t live so far away. Life stands between those we love and our daily duties. There is much loss between the brutish blasts of bothersome chores made strangely less cumbersome despite endless avenues of help.

The music is haunting and why does that word sit down beside me and what is this haunting but the sweet heartbreak that is a heart too full? Isn’t this nostalgia?  Again ghosts rise unexpectedly and I recall sitting on a piano bench beside another old friend, one from my childhood who is also a composer today. What impression he had on me! I was 16 and he 15 and for years ever after that we were friends and I the first employee of his budding company, Elias Arts; my task to write descriptions of his melodies for press releases.  “Prayer Cycle” his composition that was written years later might have been for me ,now the yoga teacher. It has my stamp upon it too where I’ve paid it homage in raw movement forged by smoldering embers of our past.

Bob Dylan made an offhand remark in his film documentary, that ‘progress obliterates the past’. I mentioned that to my musician buddy Dave who’s on the same time-line as Dylan and he insisted that Dylan was completely wrong as technology has made it easy to record everything and so nothing is lost.

And I picture my parents pouring through thousands and thousands of photographs that would take a pick- up truck to move, reluctant to move them all to the new home they had built but horrified at the thought of losing them. What is it that would be lost?

I suggested they throw them in three moving boxes sent to me and my brothers so they might still exist without crowding them. But they could not part with the past, even if they would not visit it again. They had to keep it close. Memory recorded preserves what progress indeed obliterated on the surface. Below the surface we are fossils in stone that morph with age and wear.  Look into the stone to see that what was remains the same. It is there we recognize the humanity that we remember as love.

What if we mapped our human time -line? Here is my birth and here is my death.  I want to be happy. What do I do in between? Who am I uncluttered?

We have been to a friend’s home for dinner. Eight of us have come together and blown apart so many times but we stand undivided today in kinship, with laughter, dosed in food and wine that are not taken for granted by one bite or sip.

Beyond the clutter, beneath the clutter, despite the clutter, magnificence is all of us; our love, our art, our desire, our creation, the friends and family which are our imaginings. This is memory early as the first cell. We are potent with love and dreams. We are driven with time and desire. There is no standing still but moments preserved remind us of our glory when delusion or despair overcome briefly as the tide.

The air here is scented with something else; perhaps it’s the magnolias that have begun an early bloom. Early; racing ahead of schedule this year like everything else, like all of us: Toward what? Only memory will tell.

Just found this in the NYTimes.

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Dear John: A Letter Regarding Your Manifesto from the Contamination Pool

Dear John,

You don’t know me and I don’t know you but you’re somebody’s child just like me and we deserve to be loved. So I’m not writing to make you feel bad but to express my concern about a direction you’ve taken that’s making you look foolish and to express my impression of that foolishness which is what I do.

We’re not so different. I also entered yoga with Swami Satchidananda’s book. We are from the same generation, John.

And I also left my day job for yoga not long after you. I also appreciate Iyengar’s work and thank you for distilling it into broad strokes and ABC’s for easy digestion and accessibility to the general public so I could think of it as principles of alignment: so simple. But that wasn’t all you was it John? You had help and nothing wrong with that.  I mean you’re a money guy right? You must know the mantra for yoga teachers is that it’s O.K. to have a business model as yoga has become industry. Brand yourself and sell it. You were ahead of the curve there; tithing? Fucking brilliant! Well, it worked for the church, eh?

You created a kingdom and I get why you are reluctant to stand down from the throne though some of your faithful suggest there is no other way. No one likes to be dethroned from their own kingship. And you have all that business sense that you poured into the creation of a million dollar world -wide broadcast center to spread your message. It’s within hand’s reach now. You must know your penchance for gluttony. How irresistible is that beacon of broadcast at the ocean’s edge!  You have dharma to preach.

Now John, I’m not crazy about the polished posturing of politicians. It just pisses me off. And I recognize the smell of fear and shit when it’s in my face. I’ve seen men throw themselves at the feet of God and beg forgiveness and I’ve seen them prostrate themselves to their public. They are only human, John, like you. They should be forgiven. Like you.

But no, you do not become a better person because you had the shit scared out of you. You just act like one until time and reflection makes that real. You could have at least played the game for your audience.  Crawl away in humility for a little R&R before you start declaring new missives intent on, no sure of, an Anusara posse at your side. But maybe humility is not your thing. Well, we could all use a little more confidence. Hey John, you know what I’m reminded of? The Wall Street Bankers who got caught in moral bankruptcy just last year! Perhaps we can blame all of this on tough times. It might be worth a try.

And John, I recognize a manifesto when I see one.  You have created a new paradigm in which you and the community will heal together and go forward in even greater light and transparency with a democratic founding that insures that the leaders you helped to create will now have a voice in your kingdom.

But c’mon, you know you’ve pissed off too many people and most of them are probably women.  You don’t want to mess with women, John. You know, they talk. And ever since they were written out of a Bible that declared their name and power forbidden, women have been reclaiming their influence slowly ever since. Don’t fuck with women, John, just a bit of advice.

I have two sons and two brothers.  I appreciate men and I have always enjoyed great friendships with men and I am sensitive about the differences between us that can cause resentments and power struggles and breakdowns in socially accepted behavior. It’s part of our yoga story, isn’t it?  All this consciousness, this awareness, this discipline we talk about is more than words, wouldn’t you agree?

Time waits for no man and Wikipedia has already updated the story of Anusara to include your latest event. Wouldn’t it be funny if it was spelled Wicca-pedia?  Maybe you could spend some quiet time developing other interests on a site named just that. It could be therapeutic at a time when the world feels too real. That was meant to be funny. Levity saves us or at least it saves me.

You did so well with your patter of inner body bright and shining out banter. I get it. I feel it in my practice and so I know that is clever. But the cleverest part of it is that you could sense a broken population seeking answers in a dark decade tinged with hopelessness.  People were hungry for that. And they would stay charmed as you cast spells. They didn’t realize that in some small part they were cast in your darkness as well as your light. Or maybe we see what we want to see or what we expect to see and you were also cast as a wise man. Still, rest assured that your pre-corruption framework for the Anusara practice stands on its own.  Those who practice it are doing good work. You can be proud of that.

I didn’t mean to beat you up although I can see how harsh I’ve been. I am not a hater but as one yogi to another, one who has your seasoning and your age, I’ve got your number and I’m just calling you up

Friend who I’ve never met, go home and sort yourself out. Whoever helped along the way, however it happened, you’ve left a legacy that will probably embrace you in your next incarnation. Take your broken self home and wait for light to shine through the cracks as it will. Namaste: The human in me recognizes the human in you. We share obstacles. We want to be happy.  In this way, we are one. You are not alone.

Respectfully, Hilary

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Put That Down! We Can’t Afford It.

You may have had a yoga teacher ask you to set an intention for your practice. It wasn’t me because in my experience this narrows the avenues of exploration in both meditation and hatha yoga as these are specific endeavors aimed at expansion.  But setting an intention for how you want to practice life, which begins with expansion, might not be a bad idea. At the core of contemporary yoga philosophy is the intention to dispel the veil of illusion that diffuses truth which takes a real magician as truth is cagey. The sword and shield for that is the practice of non-violence. So an objective of yoga is to banish ignorance and one might notice that gentleness begets an open mind. That’s considerably harder than it sounds. Or we may be considerably more ignorant than we realized.

I recently read the Time’s piece on barely paid Chinese factory workers who uniquely excel at suppressing their humanity to make electronics at record speed so that we consumers can have spectacular products at low prices and the suppliers can accrue millions. It’s a win/win for everyone if you discount the Chinese people who are living sub-human lives as sorrowful as dogs in puppy mills.

Consider the Republican cry to deregulate and unleash the private sector as a means to make money flow in this country when you read that an Apple executive said that although Apple makes attempts to reduce the painful conditions of Chinese laborers who make their products it is just too easy to get away with it.

Think of the cry against the business of spending more than we have that precipitated a housing crisis and the habit of credit card debt that fuels our economy, the habit of government debt and borrowing so that we can keep spending and consider that we cannot afford the real cost of all the crap that we want in five minutes.  We are getting some of it at the cost of other people’s lives so that we can have it cheaper and faster than if we would if it was produced kindly. It is being gotten by violence. It is being used in ignorance.  And what’s the damn hurry, anyway! Was there hardship without the I-Phone 4 or the new I-Pad, for example?

I think I’m a nice person, a person who would not do this but in ignorance I’ve been a party to it by unwittingly purchasing blood products. To be gentle of spirit and not be an ignoramus is harder than it seems.

 

You are Us, We Are You; Now Set Your Intentions

 

From the first breath in and out the breath has traveled in time to join one breathing creature to another through the exchange of breath. Even if we are not exchanging breath we are matter and matter is energy and the mind is energy and the breath is energy and that energy that is you is part of the connective tissue of the planet that is me. As I write this, flying in this bumpy seat over the Rockies, I look down at mountains and bodies of water, at the snow, at the clouds, at the wing of this plane, at the man beside me and I feel no division.

I heard a curious thing at a tender age from a Macrobiotic chef who gave cooking lessons to the staff of our little restaurant in Aspen.  Cook with a peaceful attitude because the food will absorb your energy and that will affect those who eat it. I hadn’t thought of that.

 

Another guru taught me that you absorb the energy of the animals you eat and if an animal dies in fear and pain, it becomes yours.  I didn’t eat meat but I didn’t know that either.

And I’ve since paused to change an impatient or angry attitude so the food I’m serving will be infused with love. And though I quit eating meat as a kid my desire to proselytize (to mostly annoy) friends and family to not eat meat was heightened after considering an animal screaming at its end; its sorrow and fear becoming a part of another.

But I have been complicit in the suffering of animals too, complicit in my ignorance of how dairy cows are treated, in my ignorance of how chickens are treated.  It took me more than a quarter of a century from the time I stopped eating meat and more from the time I became conscious of what emotion I was cooking into my food  to discover via the internet the cruelty that afforded me the eggs I baked with and the lovely gourmet cheeses I adore.

I’ve learned the cotton I thought was the natural choice for my clothing is grown with earth murdering pesticides; the natural products I’ve used for my bath and body are packaged in plastic bottles that release unwanted by-products into the earth and into me. I didn’t know how toxic batteries are in a landfill and I didn’t know that fluorescent lights were noxious also.

I have been complicit by ignorance. Things often have a cost we didn’t suspect. We cannot be aware of everything. This is the cost of living. To be aware of every transgression and to make it a business to fight every transgression is a full time and sorrowful job. As students of yoga we are bound to consider the effect of what we do and of who we are. And then not go crazy. Conscious thinking and moving, studying human nature and past and present history, mentored by those who thought this through before we were in this time and place, prepares us better than some others for the not going crazy thing. Taking action with the choices we make and communicating our feelings to those in positions of financial and government power is something we can do that makes a difference.

My intention is the same failed intention I always have. Don’t hurt anyone, don’t be a dumb-ass. I fail at this remarkably well but I keep trying.  Now I’m wondering if I am absorbing the pain of Chinese laborers when I use my I-Pod. I tell myself it’s not my fault as it was a recycled gift from a client but I still feel guilty. I make a note to not let this stuff make me crazy. But I think we cannot afford to pay the price of another’s suffering.

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Brutal Bitter Bitchin’ Yoga

     

I Just Found a Great Spot for Your Brutal Bitter Bitchin’ Yoga Studio -Rob Lindsay

My husband took a class with me about 20 years ago that he claims shamed his manhood and destroyed his ego and he enjoys invoking that where he can. Although he knows I have forever deflected every invitation to own a studio, he likes shopping for perfect spaces and making up absurd names, imagining wild décor. He’s got a real handle on the absurd. He runs into the house excited to tell me he just found a great spot for my “brutal bitter bitchin’ yoga studio.” He can barely get the words out cause he’s so thrilled with this thing he describes as a Quonset hut.  My yoga life has been food for the grist and a goofy muse but it is a weak contender for his love of shocking politics.

He muttered his first words on this morning of 2012 about this being the last Sunday of morning news shows before the Iowa caucuses, then threw off the covers exclaiming: All they (Republican Party) can talk about is less government. That’s right! (Shouting from the bathroom), let the bastards dump mercury into our water!

What! What bastards? What water!

 (This is the peaceful yoga hippy couple Sunday morning experience I enjoy while picturing friends in meditation before a granola daisy day and others hopeful in hard pews.)

He was talking about the by-product mercury that comes from burning coal in power plants.  Mercury escapes into the air and gets into the water system while no one is paying attention. Apparently we enjoy breathing it too. The bastards he was referring to want government to get its nose out of their business and let them trash the earth as God intended.

His rant got me to wondering about recent blow ups over random yoga crap in the blogosphere which pretty much translates into the question of how can yoga practitioners think this way or that way.  I couldn’t help rehashing my old party line that yoga hopefuls need restraints to become human contenders and we aren’t any different from any other human being. But who wants to be regulated? We don’t need that. We are good people who will do the right thing, right? I think I remember the religious right showing up big time about ten years ago saying that very thing. I have an opinion about how that worked out.

So here are your gun toting yogis and your right to life yogis and your Occupy yogis and your one percent yogis, your porn loving yogis, your Ron Paul yogis, your Obama yogis, your military yogis and your vegan yogis, your fancy pants wearing yogis and your Goodwill yogis. We have Puritanical value yogis and let it be yogis and bhakti yogis and it’s all about me yogis. We’ve got your laid back yogis and your type A yogis and your homeopathic yogis and your anti-depressant yogis, your lost soul yogis and your intellectual yogis.

It’s improbable that all these yoga class heroes have the same concept of peace, of fairness, of kindness. There is no single mind, there is no single path. There is competition for which path is best.  There is negative campaigning and dirty fighting.  It is not all love and light just because we do yoga.

You may have a decent yoga teacher who guides you toward self analysis but what if you see what Narcissus saw?  What if you become comfortable with yourself but don’t notice or care if others are comfortable with you? Can you love yourself too much?  Remember E.S.T.? Maybe you’re too young. Look it up.

But whether a yoga student has an education in theory, history and scripture or a teacher imparts those lessons in body, breath and focus, the yoga student gets it. There are rules. You won’t be fined if you break them but you’re there because you want those rules, aren’t you? It’s your playing field for “Do unto others ” which is in your DNA because you had parents and school teachers and maybe religion and you’re comfortable there.

Yoga has soaked the feet and coattails of disparate pilgrims with a common awareness.  Humans need restraints and so do corporations, not because they are people but because they are run by people.

On this sunny blue sky New Year’s Day, the somewhat arbitrary mark of a new year, mandated by the Romans; a day of turning over the check register and closing out last year’s chicken scratches for the I.R.S., I make my own mark replacing my desk calendar, organizing my thoughts and plans toward world peace (kidding) and resolving nothing.  And when it comes time to cast a vote for the country, my husband will be happy to know that even though I don’t like anyone telling me what to do, I will be voting for a monitor on the playground.

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