Tag Archives: yoga philosophy

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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Filed under Healing, medical, nature, new age enlightenment, social commentary, yoga, Yoga Class, Yoga philosophy, yoga practice, yoga teaching, yoga therapy, yoga wisdom

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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Beginner Yoga Class: Introductory Notes

runner on Moonlight

 

 

Why practice yoga?

We come into a world of endless possibilities like instruments without instructions. Our mechanisms are so advanced that it takes years to know how to implement them and a lifetime to refine them. Yoga is the instruction.

 

In yoga we begin with the body to organize ourselves physically, mentally and emotionally. The first task is to get to know ourselves.

 

The body is the material we start with. It is touchable and concrete and we can identify with it. This is where we have the maximum opportunity for self examination.

 

The modern system of yoga is described in a text written about 18 centuries ago. It’s known as the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. In the simplest explanation it is a guide to self inquiry that results in liberation from distractions and a sense of freedom from the tedium of a restless mind. It is entirely self serving. Older systems of yoga speak to service in a different light. When the student is steady in the foundation of yoga she may find a purpose and skill in service.

 

The student is given guidelines to behavior. When these guidelines are applied to the physical practice of postures, the student can experience how the concepts of disallowing harm, arrogance, greediness, jealousy and gluttony feel in the body. Then the student has the choice to adjust his/her attitude toward herself in the posture. The body becomes a vehicle for reflection.

 

Beyond the body, these restraints not only free the student from a guilty conscience but lead to equanimity. This allows for emotional space. Then the student may become contemplative which results in a desire for further knowledge. It also leads to joy as the student sees herself as bigger than her body.

 

Another way to look at this is in terms of relationship. The experience of yoga is the experience of relationship between the student and herself. On a physical level it is the experience of muscle to bone, bone to bone, breath to bone and mind to breath. This will indirectly affect the relationships of the student to others as the student becomes more insightful.

 

 

Posture is practiced with vigor tempered with compassion so that effort is balanced with ease. Steady effort in yoga is done with modesty rather than bravura. It is intended to create the sensation of good space in strong bodies.

 

Born a survival/gratification machine, we first learn to move toward pleasure and security. Then we are instructed. We are taught to use the manual of morality. We are trained to use our minds and regulate our emotions. Our eyes are turned inward only so much as to direct them outward according to a boss.

 

We continue toward self awareness via the teaching of yoga. Beginning with the body, we endeavor to stop the noise of our minds so that we may come to know ourselves without bias.

 

 

Originally posted to the journal page of http://www.activeyoga.com

I thought bitchin needed some attention

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Never Not Broken

Never Not Broken ~ Pajama Jam / December, 2014

Never Not Broken is the title of a body of work to be published. It is also the name of a website not yet visible.

 

It is 7:00 A.M. on a bitter day, sad songs playing on the radio as I head down an empty highway to a job I’m grateful for as the parameters of work feel crucial to opposing lethargy during this winter holiday.

 

This uncommon cold has got me depressed. Or maybe depression invited sickness so I’d have some lung/grief quality time. Either way, depression is not my thing. I usually arrest at anger, keeping depression at bay with cynicism and cautiously placed rage.

 

I took my grieving lungs to Nordstrom to return something for my husband which was an excuse to wander around a place that had things I didn’t need, couldn’t afford and didn’t want. Still, it channeled energy otherwise involuted. In a store filled with beautiful things that women who want to feel beautiful want to put on, I was drawn to sleepwear. Even though I don’t wear pajamas, I walked out with an armful because they were soft, on sale and baggy and even though most of the clothes I own are basically pajamas because they are yoga clothes, I am weary of the uniform related to my job. Pajamas feel like a timely standard.

 

Last night my husband went to a poker game and I bounced off the walls with jittery boredom in my not so satisfying pajama clothes. It made sense to forget this day; to shut down the house and escape into a hot bath and cool sheets with a novel. The inbox on my computer screen had two unsolicited and disturbing announcements. WordPress revealed that a year’s accomplishments in writing boiled down to a couple of posts that were popular because they railed against stupid in yoga and Facebook became shame book as it portrayed the wasted year of a useless life, with a cheesy high school yearbook type page highlighting  irrelevant postings. Thanks for the tacky souvenir of my wasted time, whoever thought this up.

 

My most intuitive and complex writing was more or less overlooked. I consoled myself with the thought that blogging is not the best forum for this sort of thing. My Facebook posts are rarely personal as my personal life is in person. I post things I think useful. But I think that’s not the point. I wouldn’t normally give a hard glance at those e-mails but I was ready to be disturbed and they did it. These distractions are not much in a life but little cracks in our creations make for breaking points that defines freedom.  The question is what does one do with freedom so it does not become a prison? Hopefully it’s true that good questions are more important than the answers.

 

Today I reluctantly put on the yoga uniform to meet a client down the highway and turned on the local radio station that caters more to cutting edge than heartbreak but a slew of heartsick love songs was on the queue. Someone was feeling the dark side of intimacy. Bad news and bad love; I thought reflecting on my most popular writing; that’s what sells. Could it be a prophylactic measure against certain upheaval? Are we imprisoned in a disaster preparedness course that never ends?

 

The ceaselessly cyclical cycle of breath and tide is marked by consistent breaks; broken, unbroken, broken, unbroken. What is change if not a break between what was and what becomes Do we practice heartbreak and battle to be assured of staying aloft on a planet that wobbles?

 

I get it. My descent into a bored depression is giving the broken its due. I have a vague sense of worthlessness and no confidence in the next move, yet in this gutter of inertia the break is already the mend. I have become a seed; all energy pulled into a fragile shell waiting to be split open.We must break to become again in a new way. That is change and change is this life.

Without that we would not be worth a darn.

This post was written several weeks ago but I didn’t have the desire to publish it. But after all, it’s only a blog. This post  inspired me to push the button.

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In the End It Is the Same.

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Morning meditation and a minute in when you whisper:

 

Let go of being right, let go of being wrong.

The unsolicited lesson is plain as the bare daylight that’s new by the calendar but not new yet for me.

Being right is an endless defense.

Being wrong is guilty or stupid.

 

I didn’t realize that took up so much room until

A knot in my belly I hadn’t noticed before abated with those words and

I realized I’d been tossing other people’s problems for them lately but forgot to let them go.

 

Isn’t there always something to be right or wrong about?

Life is a continuous wheel of riddles.

Opinions of right and wrong are essential in knowing how to proceed but

If right thought creates right action the gloating might choke you.

If confused thought creates wrong action the guilt might kill you.

 

If I am right without desire to defend that, if I am wrong but carry no shame

I cease to be a storage unit.

And then it’s largely opinion anyway.

 

Let go of being right. Let go of being wrong.

Who said that? I don’t have a face for the messenger in my head.

Overstuffed from a feast of yesterdays, this body is instantly and unexpectedly swept bare.

Conversations past and battles gone by, go by now.

 

And today you whispered; despite and because.

Two sides of the same coin have the same worth and pay the same bill.

Whether heads up or heads down may seem to make a difference,

In the end it is the same.

 

No memory comes but I am aware of itching angry gnats under my shoulders.

I pour imaginary water over them and sense them sink and disperse.

What difference is it what flame beneath the skin pushes us forward?

Positive or negative may be mute where reaction to either compels us to choose the same path.

In the end it’s the same.

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Nam Myoho Renge Kyo

Thirty some years ago I began a life in Manhattan.  I don’t remember how we were friendly or even why but a couple of folks dragged me to a mysterious meeting. They said it was a cool group of people who got together to create prosperity or something vaguely like that and suddenly I was shoeless in a spacious, barely furnished living room sitting in a huge circle of undernourished looking folks who reminded me of the Macrobiotic crowd from my old Aspen days.

I went just once and I don’t think I continued that friendship as I have no memory of the faces or names of the people who brought me but the bulk of the evening centered on an unforeseen event which was the seemingly ceaseless chanting of “Nam Myoho Renge Kyo”. The reason for chanting was money. You could chant in cash. It was a sure thing. There was proof. They said so.

It was my first encounter with what looked to be Buddhism. It didn’t seem too appealing. I can’t pretend I remember any details but I’ll take writer’s license to say that I thought it was a real turd fest.

I had forgotten about that until I read this piece in the New York Times about the Buddhist folks who decided to retreat to huts that looked like crypts and tombs including a couple of them who appeared to have lost their minds and died.

Nam Myoho Renge Kyo, it turned out, is not a chant for money but roughly translates as a call to devotion from the Nichiren Daishonin Buddhist sect in hopes of attaining happiness and fulfillment. I am no Buddhist scholar so forgive me if this is not accurate or complete. I guess the folks running that group years ago narrowed the meaning of the chant for their own purposes; probably because they needed money and they believed it worked. I don’t think that sounds reasonable but someone reading this does and you may or may not be right.

It seems there may have been some tweaking of the chassis of reality within this recent Buddhist group and I don’t find it surprising. They were free.  They made a choice. Perhaps they narrowed the field to accommodate the vision or desires of the group. It’s nothing new that people stretch or mold what the larger population calls the truth to make all the pieces of their own puzzles fit.

Is it cliché to talk about the surprise of someone who was “such a nice boy, such a sweet girl, from such a good family” going wrong? Sometimes there is no apparent reason; no abuse, no poverty, no divorce, no chemical imbalance or disease, no obvious thing that would point to a person’s reactions. I think reactions before behavior because isn’t our behavior usually a reaction to something even if it’s not something immediate?  What that is may be a result of something we can’t fathom. That’s the crap shoot of humanity. You just don’t know.

      Where did that come from!

     But I raised both of them the exact same way and ….

Any kid on the playground has seen what happens when one kid becomes a self proclaimed leader and a break out group follows. But what they see is in the eye of the beholder and there it is.

Now people have joined another cult of their own free will as they have before and will again and things have unsurprisingly gone wrong. Get rid of the cult and you eliminate the symptom of human confusion but not the cause so that cause may just slip in the back door to stir up something else, somewhere else.

If we had genetic markers for harmful behaviors like we do for diseases, we might prevent behavior from surfacing as symptoms. The symptoms are many but they all beg the same question; why and how can we prevent them.   There is a common genetic marker for humanity that says there is a pre-existing condition for confusion.  We keep coming up with methods of sobriety and reasonableness to prevent us from doing harm to ourselves and others.  They are not infallible. And there is a choice not to use any of them. And there is chance that they will be reinterpreted. There is Yoga is among them.

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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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What a Creature!

Several years ago we visited friends living on a remote ocean point in Maine. My husband Rob and I rode bikes to the little beach at the end of the road and I dumped my bike and headed like a homing pigeon for a rock outcropping speckled with rocks and shells. He removed his helmet and headed to the water’s edge with his camera, tuned toward the speckle of random people.

Unaware of my helmet, bedazzled by debris, I knelt in puddles of sea water collected in crevices and examined the ocean’s offal. At first I took little notice of the folks around me, keen on the booty, stuffing my pockets with rocks with faces, sticks washed silky by sandy salt water and then I saw that I was in the midst of a group. They were all ages and except for a few adult supervisors, they were mentally challenged.

I took a seat and stock of the scene. Someone named Betsy kept wandering away and her supervisors seemed engrossed in conversation interrupted now and again to halfheartedly call her back. I watched with dread as she purposefully wandered toward the road.

They eventually reined her in and I got tired of people watching and turned back to collecting. Suddenly Rob was at my side grinning to find me in what appeared to be a group project with the mentally challenged people. He leaned in and spoke gently like I was a delicate mental case:

“Is that your rock? Have you found a nice rock?”

I was still wearing my helmet. You can imagine how it appeared.  It wasn’t really much of a stretch as my momentary companions and I were riding the same contented wave.

Today I walked the road to Radnor Lake and took the trail back home. Along the way I paused to rest my aching leg that’s been giving me trouble for some time. A tree trunk 10 feet tall and I stood face to face. She had lacy spires that looked like silver sculpture atop a temple and what seemed to be the right place for her waist was shifted a good bit to the right. Facing her, my right hip which is also shifted right began a Ouija board slide to match hers which brought it to the left. The pain in my leg subsided as I stood still waiting to see if her body had anything left to communicate to mine. And I left. It was the truest feeling of kinship I had felt that day.

                                                                                                     kinship

I write these stories down because it pleases me to remember. I publish them because if you consider citta- vrtta- nirodha*, you might see the yoga here.

*cessation of the turnings of thought– as described in the Yoga Sutra of Patanjali

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Warrior Lunge: In Bondage/ From Bondage/ To…

If they weren’t weird, they wouldn’t be dreams, says my husband. I’ve had a weird dream.

He always deciphers them; mine and his. He remembers his long after the fact and in great detail.

Mine are quickly gone and barely visible but for the ones that reoccur for years, beginning where they left off like a vampire stopped by light; eyes open to eyes closed. Those are not dreams but hauntings.

We crawled up a curved path that felt like a water slide. There were people ahead. We saw only their heads. I realized they were walking. We could walk. Rob and I stood up and walked on together and when the path was finished I realized I had no shoes.

Already far from the path’s end, I walked quickly downhill to the beginning. A boxed in turnstile had been set up. It was locked. I tried climbing into it and a man above called to me; “Hilary, you can’t go in there.”

I was astonished that he knew my name, astonished that he denied me access when I said I had left my shoes behind.

I thought; I have to break down the lunge for my yoga class today.

Turning away from the turnstile, it felt urgent. Explain the meaning of this now.  I can’t forget.

Awake, I wasn’t sure if I had dreamed that part or not but breaking down poses doesn’t interest me right now. I had been falling in and out of sleep in an unlikely way as I usually bolt into the day without lingering.

I was still cast by a spell, the spell that woke me with a red gash on my face the night my husband was out of town, the spell that broke the wire on a painting of his that had held it for twenty years to smash it to the ground without a scratch on that same day he found out that his job was relocating to Arkansas and we have a month to leave our life behind and go.

The spell brought me back to an earlier time without ties when I had slept the sleep of the unfettered and unafraid with love beside me. But the dream said otherwise.

You crawled and then walked and now you have to continue. The man was God. He told you to go without shoes, without his help.  You cannot go back even if you don’t want to go forward. Some things are not a choice.

So I broke down the lunge: Prepared every part of the body.

In the last moments,

Front leg pressed forward and downward.

Back leg pressed backward and up;

Hips locked in between,

Arms reach overhead, hanging from wrists now; bound in shackles:

Spine strings arch up from the anchor freeing nerves and nadis to throw an arc of searching lights.

Nowhere to go: Surrender.

Lungs pulse onward, stretched heart beats and breaks.

Stepping forward, eyes cast up, trusting who to guide the way?

(Dreamed the eve of Good Friday and Passover both: Coincidence?)

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