Tag Archives: yoga

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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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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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.

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

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

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

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

nohemi gonzalez

 

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Hitler Made Fine Roads

 A Yoga Teacher’s Notes from Berlin

I’ve never been to Germany. It was high on my list of places I never needed to see until Jack moved there. My oldest son, Jack, is a research scientist at the Hasso Plattner Institute in Berlin. He’ll have an ACL replacement and I’m off to Berlin as chief medical officer. My understanding of Germany is based on World War II films. German is the sound of the Third Reich barking orders to kill Jews. Rob tells me if anyone says to get on the train, run.

I’m in the airport lounge on the first leg of the trip. I play the game what would I do with her or him if I only had time for one yoga pose. I observe the crowd for postural issues. I imagine their lives and habits. I am absorbed by a large woman with an enormous roll of fat between her skull and shoulders. She is drinking a keg sized Starbucks Frappacino. She has manicured navy blue nails adorned with gold flecks. She crosses her ankles but barely. Her silent husband is covered in ominous moles and black freckles. He slumps in a way that matches the weariness on his face.

I don’t sit well. I have a funky hip and a tendency to claustrophobia. I’m afraid I’ll have to throw a blanket over my head like a caged parakeet to keep madness at bay for the eight trapped hours of the longest of three flights out. The plane is fully booked four across and me on the inside. I have poorly chosen not to see a chiropractor for the pain in my shoulder blade and neck as I’m sure this unfamiliar annoyance will abate. It has not.

God shines on us all. The cabin doors close and the seat beside me is still empty. Neither of my fellow row-mates is interested in utilizing the extra leg room and so I am at once unencumbered at my feet and free to curl my legs under me this way and that. I stick a small Fiji water bottle between my shoulder blades and put pressure where needed. Eureka. In the first hour I am unstuck and pain free.

I watch the movie” Still Alice” starring Julianne Moore even though I didn’t want to see it in the theater as it sounded depressing as Hell. But I’m locked in a chunk of steel hurtling through space and I don’t know the outcome so I break my rule of not seeking sorrow. I definitely have the symptoms of memory loss that Alice had. Now I can ruminate to pass the time.

The last leg of the trip is out of Amsterdam. It is 6:00 A.M… I am handed a recycled paper box with natural dyes that describes the organic spelt bread and egg salad from happy chickens raised on organic food on a family farm. Have I landed in an enlightened universe? Who here is worried about digestion or the mental state of chickens?

Berlin is an extraordinary culture of then and now Wow. It’s easy to move about though the place is immense. It’s a feast of world cuisine where I expected piles of grey shnoodle and gravy. It is elegance and art and grit. It is both sophisticated and safe and a nod to the forward thrust of civilization though I’m told it’s endangered by a steadily growing influx of commercialism. Still, I have yet to see a soul walking with a cell phone which is my version of the demise of civilization. In fact I don’t even see a phone exposed anywhere. Au courante is the fashion of smoking. Everyone is smoking. Everyone is coughing.

Manja and Frederic invited Jack into their AirBnB and asked him to stay on as a roommate. Frederic has dreadlocks to his waist. Manja would look like Nicole Kidman if Nicole Kidman didn’t give a shit. They are a couple in their mid 30’s, partners in a film production company that makes public service films which rail at the pitfalls of capitalism. They say that travel to the U.S. would not be possible as they are probably being watched. I have been here for 7 days now and I have seen no evidence that either housemate has a phone though they must. They have no televisions. I saw no radio. There is a stack of reference books by the kitchen table that they refer to when I ask questions they can’t answer. They rarely leave the apartment. Informative and enchanting hosts, their conversation has me glued to the kitchen table into the wee hours most nights.

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The apartment is on the East side, built in 1896. It’s a railroad flat. The ceilings are probably 20 feet high. The windows are massive and both the doors to the balconies and the bedroom windows are doubled like our hurricane doors in the South. The door handles come up to my collarbones. Manja and Frederick are over 6 feet as well. I feel strangely diminished by the hugeness of this place and people.

I view the ancient cupboards in the kitchen with suspicion. I am reminded of a disturbing novel about a little Jewish boy dying in a cupboard that might be like the low one on the back kitchen wall under the window where they store perishables as the walls are so insulated. I ask Frederic if this building was likely swept by the Nazis looking for Jews and he says yes. He shows me the secret places that now house a refrigerator in one and a washing machine and dishwasher in the other and says that they would have been a poor hiding place as the Nazis would go outside and check the windows to know if a hidden room existed within. Though this place is homey in a rundown farmhouse way it also feels like a retreat for ghosts.

The city is tinged with anarchy and solid in architecture that ranges from mid 17th century to Bauhaus which often resembles stacked bunkers. There are huge blocks of apartments built under Stalin called Stalinhauses. Many of the buildings are marked with gorgeous or political graffiti and the powers that be allow this vandalism. Frederic tells me that many of these were occupied buildings and by that he means occupied by squatters. There was a time that occupation was akin to possession. The city is changing though and even his neighborhood which is one of the last alternative neighborhoods is quickly falling to gentrification. Frederic defines this as a place that had shops that had useful things being replaced by new stores that have nothing anyone needs.

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There are few of the massive fascist structures left though there is evidence of Hitler’s demand for tank worthy streets. The ghosts of invasion, occupation and oppression are everywhere. The people are sensitive about that. Here they are taught of their part in the Holocaust from early youth. I am told they are told that no one is innocent.

In the ten days I’ve been here there were two religious holidays celebrated with three day weekends and drunken joyfulness in a city that is 70% atheist. My roommate’s response to my question about the meaning of the holidays was that Jesus was ascending or something. Didn’t he ascend on Easter, I asked and they said that he was always ascending or descending but it seems that whenever Jesus is on the move, people will be drinking.

This alternate universe is hazardous for me. I’ve gone from Dandelion tea or a cup of half caff at home to a double or triple espresso every morning. I have forgone sleep for days. Despite the double windows in my bedroom there are streams of anarchists noisily roaming the street all night. I am in danger of returning home insane which is working for me in this nihilistic place but won’t fly in Nashville. Today I think I took my thyroid support twice by accident. I did the same thing yesterday and I am thinking of Alice in the movie who had to write a note to herself to be sure her future confused self would know how many pills to take.

WitIMG_1578h practically free health insurance my son had knee surgery in a state of the art clinic that was as elegant as an upscale modern hotel. The doctor must have done his job well because two months later Jack has almost full range of motion and if he was in any pain, he didn’t seem to notice though he never bothered with the heavy pain meds. Granted, the staff was like the cast of Woody Allen’s “Stardust Memories” where Woody takes his signature pot shots at the Felliniesque New Jersey Italians. Despite a general gross negligence once the doctor left the premises, a couple of thoughtful nurses and support folks came to the rescue. And I was there. Had all gone perfectly I might not have felt so necessary.

 

IMG_1569Every floor of the five story building was dedicated to orthopedics. A brightly lit space beside the therapy rooms resembled a Benetton ad for crutches. Crutches in primary colors were displayed on the singular circular pedestal in the center of a beautifully appointed haute couture shop. On the eve of Jack’s surgery when the physical therapist failed to show up, the fellow who seemed in charge of the shop went beyond his hours and job description to fill in the blanks. There was immense concern over the color crutches Jack would like which I thought was a riot until it became clear that Jack would find the ordeal more palatable once I had returned the royal blue crutches I had thought fun for the Berlin black ones.

 

 

I note that I have not been abroad or to much of anywhere in the same time frame I’ve been teaching yoga. I question my choices with distance to spare now. I wonder at my decision to remain in Nashville when I had the opportunity to build on early success to become a traveling yoga professional. Then again for most of our 21 years I was contentedly raising kids, enjoying a successful career and surrounded by good friends. Beyond that the strangeness of Southern culture satisfied my taste for the unusual and interesting. Southern culture is quickly disappearing in Nashville now. Maybe it’s timing that makes this distant world so appealing.

There are more notes from Berlin but I’m not inclined to write a travel blog. And there are stories better left to memory. There are characters that made a lasting impression on me but they are profiles for another time. I had the good fortune to travel to a loved one and fall in love with a place I was horrified by for most of my life.

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Taylor Swift P.T.S.D.

My old trainer friend Johnny teaches a spin class on Sundays at Vanderbilt. He’s crazy for Taylor Swift and keeps her coming on every play list. Johnny assures the class that at sixty some years of age he has no Taylor poster on his wall but he’s a fan of course because Nashville’s girl’s got chops.

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Though I taught a brief and admirable experiment of spinning/yoga when the first spin bikes arrived at the fitness place where Johnny and I worked twenty some years ago, I haven’t been on a bike of any kind since my hip went south and refused to haul my leg over the bar on my sweet old Lotus ten-speed. She was my Manhattan chariot in the days when I was invincible and I’ve missed that miserable seat.

So it occurred to me a bit late in the game that I might get the muscle tone back in my hurt hip leg by taking a pass at spinning and by God the hip hasn’t complained.

I’m spinning in place and getting nowhere which is not an unusual feeling for me these days and Taylor is singing “Out of the Woods”… hey are we out of woods yet out of the woods yet out of the woods yet, are we in the clear yet are in the clear yet are we in the clear yet and she’s breathlessly singing “Shake it Off” I’m just gonna shake shake shake shake shake shake and it’s gonna be alright and she’s singing “Red” burning red remembering him comes in flashbacks. I’m getting a hint of P.T.S.D., me going nowhere and Taylor pop chanting edge walking rants.

I’ve read that an animal freezes when frightened and doesn’t finish processing the trauma until it shakes. Until it shakes it off. I’m thinking of that, of being lost in the woods and once in the clear not even sure until someone assures me. I’m thinking of red and blasting ammunition and passion and heat.

I’m thinking of the veterans I will meet this week for our first yoga experience together. I know these lyrics will go through my head as lyrics go through my head asked for or not morning and night and in sleep even as I push them away. I will remember spinning as hard as I can which feels discouraging as I’m not as powerful as I remember. I will think of my friend who told me last night that he still has post Vietnam episodes. He’s on a list for a service dog.

Most of us have suffered trauma to some degree by the time we are teens. Not all traumas have long term effects. And some become part of our personality or persona. We may not recognize them or attempt to sort them out.

Today I spent 45 minutes on a spinning bike. I may have ridden nowhere but my mind rode into my work.

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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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