Tag Archives: yoga conscience

Don’t Like Crazy? Find a New Planet.

 Originally posted on the Journal Pages of Active Yoga

Sunday, July 20, 2008 – 10:11 pm


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It is five years later. My lame joke about guns and holsters for all occasions may soon come to be a reality. America has noticed an insanity problem. America has declared it will not give up its guns. The discussion is on the table. I felt it was time to pull out this old and formerly private post.
Here are no statistics on  the prevalence of pharmacueticals  prescribed  for anxiety and depression or statistics on gun sales. I have not railed about the challenges of adapting to a technological and potentially isolated life. Or maybe I just did. Guns are now allowed in our parks.

I just tossed a fifth of gin
Now I’m going to dizz knee land
I just got cuffed again
Now I’m going to dizz knee land
Shot my gun into the night
I’m going to dizz knee land
I just saw a good man die
I’m going to dizz knee land — Dada

I heard the news today oh boy. The NRA is putting pressure on Disneyland. Employees should carry concealed weapons to work. It seems those employees put their lives on the line every day. As a person who has an unhealthy horror of anything plush or otherwise with an oversized head or hands I can see that.

Once a week I teach at a tennis club. It’s a diverse crowd and I saw an opportunity for real growth last week when I brought up the NRA concern. I instigate where I can. There are so many opportunities for us to dislike each other but we don’t which is simply amazing.

Someone added that the NRA is pushing to allow concealed weapons permits at all national parks as well and though she didn’t seem too concerned a couple of college students gasped with horror. An older woman known for her terse and take no prisoners attitude snapped,

 “Well it’s supposed to be a free country. We should be able to do what we want. In the old West everybody wore a holster and had guns right on their bodies! I don’t see anything wrong with it.”

I made a bad joke about the opportunity for marketing  guns and holsters to suit a modern woman’s changing wardrobe needs.

I imagined getting pulled over by the police for a bad tail light and getting a ticket for not wearing my seat belt but the weapon would be allowed. In fact I could wear my gun to a bar, get drunk and stagger down the street as long as I didn’t get in my car and drive. For that matter I could get in my car and drive with an arsenal of prescribed drugs in me as long as I wasn’t carrying pot. But I digress.

In 2003 in the state of Tennessee there were about 217 requests for concealed weapons permits and in 2007 that increased to about 217,000 requests. They have a gun, I need a gun or maybe they have a gun and why shouldn’t I?  I live in the South and there is a sense of entitlement to guns that we didn’t share in the general non criminal population of New Jersey. I have friends who have guns and as I write this I’m wondering why I am friends with people who believe it’s good to have guns but I’ve gotten used to it. I should heed the words of my Nana who once admonished me for dating what she saw as a loser,

You can get used to anything, even a wart at the end of your nose.” A woman of impeccable appearance, this curse was avoidable as anything could be cut out or off or made reasonable with the help of a plastic surgeon.

Still, there is a peculiar poetry to the insanity in the South which both disturbs and pleases me. I unlike the Chinese who recently issued a statement that mentally ill people would not be allowed at the Olympics have come to expect unreasonable behavior.

The Chinese have whole cities devoted to making products like mattresses. In a mattress city the country folk are imported to work and in return they are fed and crowded into small apartments where they live on top of each other. How crazy is that? Aren’t you harvesting crazy people? How can people who have cities like this talk about mentally ill people?

And how will they know who is mentally ill anyway?

If you’re not drooling and screaming perhaps something in your toiletries kit will offer the information they need. Anti-psychotic drugs are widely distributed as are drugs for depression. And then there are drugs for general anxiety and drugs for pain or sleeplessness that have the side effect of making one wild eyed. Are you going to keep out right wing folk singers?  How about Jews for Jesus? People who chain dogs in their fenced in yards?

And who would fill all those seats? I would consider about a third of the people I know more than a bit off. My husband and I had three people to dinner the other night and two of them were barely orbiting the planet while I have automated voice turrets. Anytime any automated voice addresses me I go crazy with verbal assaults. I am the most reactive yoga teacher ever and worse still, I don’t care, I delight in it. So what do you expect China?

Will it be O.K. to carry concealed weapons into the Olympics? How about Capitol Hill? Why not?

That’s all.

re-posted on elephantjournal.com

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Dancing Bee

My friend is raising bees. While the rest of us spend hours blathering into the blogosphere or trying to make a buck, she has honed the skill of human caring for planet earth to a graceful art.

She always urges me to be wholly myself although my self  is a square peg in a round hole who is getting tired of being whipped in the wind and wanting shelter. That round hole is not the whole that I might be but the whole of the greater planet and its magnetic field seems to shoot me away while its gravity holds me close but at a distance. I am no victim but a party to the paralysis.

I am not sure what happens with her bees but she says they dance. “How do they dance?” I ask her. She says that one vibrates on the dance floor to direct the newbies by vibration.

Me, the unlikely yogi, the no longer dancer; I see everything in yoga terms, everything as a dance and all yoga riddles as a road map though it be worn and unreadable where frankly, I can’t read maps anyway.

I am thinking of a smug bit of writing by a yoga teacher/blogger who described the virtuous and not so correct yoga teacher template in a recent post. He sniped at yoga teachers who move with the class. As a student he wants to be the center of attention, he wants to be touched and he doesn’t want distance from the teacher or the teacher to be focused elsewhere. He also doesn’t want the teacher talking too much, using too many words.

And I thought of all the ways I have tried to teach anyone anything and realize that by example and that example being a vibration strong enough to touch others till they too are vibrating from that example, from an abundance of words, has been my greatest gift and one I have not used much in many years.

My bee keeper friend knows what I mean. She has reverberated my vibration and I hers. We have shared much by being dancing bees.

There was a time when those of us who find road maps confusing could ask any stranger working at a gas station, once known as ‘service’ stations, for directions. She still mans the lone station that dots the back road journey of my less traveled yoga life. If I have forgotten how I inspired others, not by showing off, not by ignoring students, not by ignorance but by being wholly myself when I was a dancing bee, she has reminded me and I thank her for that.

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Distracted Driving

 Distracted Driving is a Dangerous Situation

flashes on the highway sign overhead. I race on testing the speed limit hoping not to be distracted by that sign.

It’s Art Crawl night in Nashville under a fairly full moon. I’ve spent some time at a friend’s contemporary art gallery meeting and greeting and people watching, drinking wine.

I’m under the legal limit, I think, driving home alone on this rare occasion with my husband out of town.

I recall a story on a local news broadcast earlier in the week about the new findings on attention deficit disorder and driving. They have found it reasonable to declare it news that this condition might create a problem for drivers and by extension the other people on the road.

Apparently the response to that was to put distracting neon signs every few miles along the interstate to tell the distracted drivers that being distracted is dangerous.

Nashville has strict laws when it comes to booze.  An under- age cashier cannot ring up beer. (That’s the only liquor allowed in groceries.) The bagger may not even put the beer in a bag so an older employee has to be summoned.

However on Art Crawl night when every gallery is open and serving free wine to the public, none of them need a liquor license to hand out booze and no one is carded to drink it. A 98 year old person still has to show an I.D. to purchase beer at the grocery but once a month downtown, no one cares how many teenagers are drinking in the streets.

In true Nashville style, there’s always an intimacy that happens no matter how many new faces appear and we enjoy our conversations.

An old colleague from the Nashville Ballet came in and we shared stories of the past few years. In conclusion I had to point out that we are an unfathomable lot and declared that the beauty of yoga is its method of deciphering the human condition.

The cat sitting beside this computer tells me I’m full of shit but I’m ignoring that because being full of shit is a slice of humanity. I think that is obvious but I declare it news anyway or maybe it’s just filler for now.

 

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Out of The Cave and In To The World

Crawl off four paws on to two feet

There is survival and no more

We survive and notice the sky, the planets, the sun, the weather

Some are governed by fear and others, wonder

We look outside and there are others

Some see company

Some see territory

There are friends

And there is war

And we have survived and there is time

We create

And there is ego

Me, I was born and I survived

I crawled off four limbs onto two feet

I noticed the sky, the planets, the sun, the weather

I went to school and I saw others

I had friends and I had wars

And I survived and I had time to create and I had ego

I had a quick tongue and a fast mind and I could win at wars

I had time and I looked outside and I found yoga

Found in yoga, my quick tongue slowed, my language; primal

I dropped on to all fours

I looked back at the sky

I saw myself before I was ego

I saw myself as creation before I created and there was wonder

I had friends and I had wars

And I looked at the sky and doubted in fear

What is going on?

And I had time and yoga

In time, with yoga my curious mind relinquished words, gave up on reason, got on all fours and crawled back into the cave

I paint on the walls

There are no words

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Looking for John Friend: A True Tiny Story from the Big Picture Book

Waking up in my parent’s house in Encinitas, California where there is no wrong side of the bed, light is more than a vision. In this cerulean sky and sea sumptuous feast, light is a smell. Light is a noun, weighty as a Sumo wrestler, a mysterious infusion of yearning in every inhalation of peaceful pranic Pacific air.

I’m here for a short visit and find myself curious about a new yoga center that was supposed to have opened here in 2011. The place has no name, no address and no website. Someone had brought it to my attention some time ago. There is a promotional video on the web that suggests weirdly grandiose offerings of yoga broadcasts and live music venues. There is the vague promise that this place will be a dominating enclave for mind blowing and though I’m pretty sure my mind is already blown, I have a wild hair to find this place.

The guru in chief (GIC) is a character that I’ve never met named John Friend.  He was first mentioned to me by a student who had just begun his teacher training in Texas. She said that we would like each other as our classes and styles were similar. I took that as a compliment as I’d heard he was charismatic though years later I wandered into an Anusara yoga class when visiting my son in Amherst which caused me to question her assessment of that.

That class was full of cheer-leading and hand-clapping and the teacher had an annoying habit of expressing wonder at each pose with a throaty sound like someone hacking up a popcorn kernel. I’m enough of a curmudgeon to have been told about a hundred times that I am no fun by my  mother  who is quite the opposite of me right down to her love of clowns, circuses, carnival rides and puppets. She says that I’m scarred for life after she had herself spray painted green to become Jimminy Cricket and she and my Pinocchio Dad came in to say goodnight one Halloween when I was a child.  She has many reasons to remember how her eccentricities turned me into a granola eating reclusive bookworm but suffice it to say, I don’t like freaky. And an excess of hand-clapping in yoga class just worries me as much as an Iyengar teacher’s attempts at jokes.

My brother and I decide to wander down the road a bit in search of fun; he wants to sit in with a jazz trio that plays outside the Seaside Market and I will ask about the GIC’s new center which according to the promotional video is supposedly a ‘couple of blocks’ from the temple that is Paramahansa  Yogananda’s Self –Realization Fellowship.

We ask every open yoga studio and shop owner in the area for directions. I ask the folks at the Yogananda Temple’s front desk. No one has heard of John Friend or Anusara.  In this surfing, biking and outdoor Mecca, yoga is just something that came with juice bars and tie dye. It doesn’t stand out and as one shop owner laughed; “there are about 600 yoga studios between here and the next block”.  This is like the Bermuda Triangle. I get bored with the whole thing after I’ve shopped and snacked my way up and down the little village for an hour or so. This is just annoying. But my brother, who has no interest in yoga studios or any yoga other than the yoga he’s been doing for thirty years in his living room, can’t let this go.  We wind back one more time to the Yogananda Fellowship and pass two other studios and a groovy bakery. The first studio and bakery haven’t heard of the GIC or Anusara or a new yoga center but we hit pay dirt at the last place.

A man with eyes bluer than the sky was giving an Ayurvedic lecture to a small circle of people in a pretty little studio that had left the front doors wide open. They were on a break.  Yes, he knew about the new Anusara center. I wasn’t even interested in where it was anymore, I just wanted to know what the damn mystery was about.

He hesitated, like he thought I was a reporter, asking for state secrets and names. He said that the center had kept its arrival and location on the down low as the town is a spiritual enclave and there was fear that the locals would freak out at the disturbance something that size and organization would cause. I considered my own reaction as this has been my second home for nearly forty years and realized that I felt the same way; protective. I like the untouched by time feeling that still lingers like a fading jet stream despite rising urban renewal.

He added that smaller studios would also have concern about losing their business. He said that the center was supposed to open last year but he guessed they were behind schedule. No one knew what the deal was.  He told us that the place had no sign but we would see the windows papered over. He pointed us in the direction, said it was a block away and on the main drag and that it was in the old YMCA and anyone we asked would know the building.

So we headed for the place that was not there: Never. We asked ten surfers. No one had ever heard of an old Y or a yoga center coming in. They had never heard the word Anusara. A realtor who said he had worked in the area for thirty years said there was no old Y and there was only one piece of commercial real estate nearby that was under construction. We went to it. It was a jewelry store.

With that my brother gave up. I’m still shaking my head. But what I came away with was that I would not have thought much about the word Anusara (there is no such studio in Nashville) nor would I have wondered about its Guru in chief, John Friend if not for a comment and then not again but for the internet where I hear about most things yoga. I was recently sent a link to a strange e-mail that he allegedly wrote which reads like Hunter Thompson crazed on a Gonzo rant bender. If that letter was evidence in a court case his lawyer would surely advise him to plead insanity.  It’s creating a big buzz amongst a small segment of the human race.

Here in the vast expanse of the world, of the oceans of the sky that are a beacon over this airy place where Anusara will or will not live, that teacher, his practice and this latest story of a yoga scandal are nothing but an illusion. They do not exist.

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