Archives for category: bliss

Today I rode my new-used bike in Prospect Park to go to the bank. As of June 12, 2012 I am officially car-free! The other day to get my feline Bebe’s records, I rode to the Vet in a neighborhood that I would always drive to and suffer looking for parking. Riding on one of the many bike paths to get there was a joy! Bikes create sukha (good space) in Brooklyn!

Getting around on a bike is soooooo much more enjoyable than driving a car. On a late Spring, June day like today, it is positively heaven. There are the smells of fresh mown grass in the park and the sweet scent of trees in blossom all around.

Right now I am sitting at my favorite spot near some water falls right off the path near Long Meadow in the park. There is a new bench (dedicated to Sara E. Campbell, 1975-2010) in the perfect spot to hear the water falling and the birds singing. I am watching a small red cardinal and a red breasted robin forage for food.

At the ashram I felt very connected to the many birds that lived there including two chickens. Crazy Henrietta and baby Chick Chick must have escaped from their coop on the property next door. They must have figured out they were safe at an ashram where all be meals are vegetarian. Safe and well-fed! Besides lots of left over homemade bread crumbs, we gave Chick Chick grain from the kitchen.

There are other ways i have become more green since the return to Brooklyn. I have not bought any paper towels. In the kitchen at the ashram we used cloths for clean up. Throwing a few cloths into the laundry I would already be washing seems much more Earth-friendly. Not to mention more cost effective.

There is still a lot more I can do. One of the biggest personal consumptions I became aware of while living in a tent was electricity. I used very little there: a lamp, a fan, a laptop. Back at home as I was clearing out “stuff” I found a large assortment of no longer used electrical devices and a box of orphaned adapters. I notice how many electrical outlets there are in my home. And how many things are plugged into them. And where does the power come from? Basically oil.

So though riding a bike instead of driving a car is one giant step for the return of green on the planet, I have many miles to go to becoming the deep shade of green that I like.

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As the last days are passing here at Sivananda Ashram the satsang lectures continue. There have been some interesting points of view for me to evaluate and to see what comes up. And what comes up are the still unresolved feelings and beliefs around the car crash. Not surprising! There  is quite a bit of work to be done to clean up the mess, and I find myself more than slightly annoyed and distracted. Though I decided not to pursue any legal recourse over the harm done to my property for reasons I explained earlier, my mind, heart and pocketbook still feel the pain. (See https://soundyogatherapy.com/2012/05/13/life-lessonsquestions-the-car-crash-and-yoga-ethics/The honest truth is that I have been feeling a large resentment toward a whole community of people who I feel have let me down.

Along comes Kathy White, long time student of Byron Katie. Katie is a non-dual (Advaita), consciousness guru. Her story in becoming who she is now is extreme. The result of her “awakening” is her ability to accept what is happening exactly as it is and remain completely peaceful. Her students attest to this fact. Now doesn’t that sound nice?

At the end of last night’s satsang Kathy gave us a page titled: Judge-Your-Neighbor Workshop. She had already explained that in The Work (as it is called by Byron Katie) there are four essential, starting questions related to each and every belief around any stressful situation in life. For example, in regards to feelings around the car crash I write:

I am angry at (name of person) for breaking his agreement to take care of my car.

Next I ask myself these questions:

1. Is it true? Yes. He did not take care of the car. He crashed the car due to his own negligence and then he refused to make any reparations. Only a yes or no answer is allowed here which keeps you from falling back into the details and complexities of the story in your mind–but of course more beliefs arise as you can see in what I just wrote. Each of these beliefs may need to be dealt with separately, eg, I am angry at _______ for being negligent. Or: I am angry at _____ for refusing to take responsibility for his actions, etc.

2. Is it absolutely true? Only to be answered if you answered Yes in No. 1. Doubt about having absolute knowledge and wisdom may start in No. 1 or it may not.

3. How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought? You list all your feelings and attitudes, eg I blame, get angry, feel disgusted and judgmental, am deaf to any excuses or explanations, only want reparations paid NOW!

4. How would I be if I did not have this belief? Eg. I would be open, supportive, able to hear and to listen to his story, generous about finding a solution together.

Doing The Work with the worksheet has helped me get clear about my feelings and beliefs. I actually emailed the person asking him if he would speak with me to share his thoughts and feelings and to hear mine. Whether or not he responds is not the point–and I really doubt that he will respond. Writing the email asking only for dialogue without any agenda, allowed an opening of the tight space in my heart. With this opening I began to look at promises I have made to myself or need to make. And how I may be being negligent in life by taking obvious risks and not taking care of myself responsibly. And how I might take better care with myself.

I may not be taking good care by putting trust where it does not belong. Or by having unfounded expectations. Or by not asking directly for clarification. This is hard stuff. Most people –myself included–do not like to be held perfectly accountable or to think things through. Most people do not care to strive for such clarity. It takes time and effort between people. It is rare in life to find people who are willing to take the time and spend the effort for such honest, clean and clear communication.

As I grow in my ability to care for myself by keeping promises to myself, by being responsible to myself for my well-being and by paying the dues I owe to myself when I make a mistake, I will be more able to see in others the level and quality of care a person is able to enact in a relationship with me. Those who have learned that self care is an essential part of loving others begin to offer freely, and more selflessly, yet with boundaries that are appropriate for themselves. I know as I grow in my own self care I will be able make better choices about with whom and in what way I entrust my life (and my “stuff” such as a car) to others.

Life is a process we are all learning.

Om shanti

When I left Brooklyn last January 11th I knew I was taking an incredible journey just by the act of committing to being at Sivananda Yoga Retreat Center for over three months. It turned out to be over four months and now the journey is winding back toward life in Brooklyn.

I say “winding” because the path as I have experienced it in these past months has not exactly followed the original, outward intention I set, to do Karma Yoga for three months. It has followed the intention I held within myself to “re-group and see what appears”. There have been some remarkable appearances.

The Sivananda Yoga Teacher Training Course was and continues to be life altering on a daily basis for me. Just the aspect of 28 days of such a rigorous discipline of schedule and activity opened the mind to let go of much of the unnecessary. To further connect through the lineage of Swami Sivananda by mantra initiation has brought wisdom and knowledge of the master into my work in Sound Yoga. The openness to the receipt of a new name for myself has given me a support and inner strength through the Hindu Mother Goddess Durga beyond what I could imagine possible.

The Path took me to these places. The Path or Self does that, I am beginning to understand, when the mind  begins to let go of all of the thoughts, beliefs and patterns that we believe to be our life and our self.

The greatest teaching I have received is that I am and my life is, so much more than I imagined. We all are so much more than we imagine. And by surrendering to and embracing a lineage and tradition of gurus and teachers, there is the possibility to be supported and to discover our True Nature within the form of our limited self.

There is no greater gift than such a recognition that we are all on the Path, winding as it is, forever connecting the True Self Home.

Shiva’s Sunset

Yesterday I took an all-day trip through the Florida Keys. What an amazing part of the earth! And quite a feat of our species to create a way to travel over so much water. We crossed the seven mile bridge and many other bridges to get to Key West. In Key West the journey moved from bus to catamaran for many of us where we went snorkeling over one of the worlds three largest barrier reefs.

The earth is covered over 70% in water. A human body averages 60% water with the brain being over 70%  of this liquid. Water has some very special properties. It exists in all three states: solid, liquid and gaseous. Water is a “universal solvent” meaning that as it travels it takes many things along with it. Having a high density, water is a great conductor of sound, allowing sound to travel great distances, like a whale call across the ocean.

Maybe that’s why during the trip through the keys, I made so many connections. By the time we returned to South Beach I felt I had made quite a few new friends, from all across the globe: Melbourne, Paris, Pittsburgh, LA, somewhere in Sweden. There were many conversations about life and the choices we were all making. There was a general feeling of universality and a sense that since we are all inhabiting the same planet, we have the same concerns.

Along the lines of common concerns, here is a link to a site about the water crisis on our planet:

http://water.org/water-crisis/water-facts/water/

Water is the second most important element to life, a breath of fresh air being the first. Every day here in Miami and on Paradise Island I make sure I keep enough water around to stay hydrated in the heat and sun that I love so much.

I am thinking it’s important now to pay more attention to what is going on with water in the world. Clean, plentiful water for all will enable the connections to expand between us and to continue for a long time to come.

Om shanti

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Am I not, still, the gentle essence of a new born child?

Miami is steamy hot even at 9 AM in the springtime. I am not complaining, just stating a fact. I love the heat, even if, when the body rubs up against the hot, moist air it makes me sweat and creates a rash. Nothing too bad and only in those places on the body that tend to hold the heat: the arm pits.
So I went to Walgreens to search for a remedy. I found Aveeno Baby made of colloidal oatmeal. Oatmeal is such a good food with so many healing properties. And for the the past two evenings I have soaked in a warm, silky bath to sooth the irritation. As I was soaking tonight I started thinking about the relaxation I was feeling and how gentle it felt. Just like the gentle feeling that comes when you hold a baby in your arms.

That gentle, loving feeling I can have for a baby, is what I can have for myself. I can have this experience all the time when I come to know the experience of Atman, or the True Self. Through choosing to connect to that place within that is like the feeling I have for the baby, I can know my own eternal, blissful, True Self.

After all, was I not once in the form of a baby too?

Next time you take some time to care for yourself, I invite you to remember the baby you once were and the gentle truth of the eternal self you still are.

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Life Question of the Day:

Is it really necessary to remove ourselves from the world to feel OK in the world?

One of the best things about being stateside is the easy access to so many of the things I realize I “need” to be happy. Avocado is at the top of the list. And this morning during my AM beach time I ate a beautifully ripe, Haas avocado on the beach, peeling it like a banana. Yum!

I have been here a week and am just now feeling relaxed and comfortable. That’s how long it takes, even if the decompression is from an ashram and not NYC.

To decompress fully we have to feel comfortable. Most of us live from the “flight or fight” response most of the time, constantly defending (thus activating the sympathetic nervous system and a variety of not-so-comfortable uncontrollable reactions by the body–see below* ) for what we believe is our right, our property, our stuff. Thus, many of us seek the ways and means to be in environments we believe we can control: our own home, our own car, communities of like minded people that agree with us or even gated communities that keep everyone else out. When we are on vacation we prefer to choose the expensive hotels, high end resorts and to pay people to look after our needs the way we want. But does that really work?

As noted, I have felt stresses since being here in Miami. I have felt my brain compress with thoughts about my security and safety, in Miami and back home in Brooklyn. What works to bring my mind into a new order, is to decompress with yoga. And by “yoga” I mean a variety of practices.

Sitting in meditation upon waking is a good start and a practice I have been making a routine here in Miami. I still find it very difficult to quiet the mental chatter during mediation, even first thing in the morning, or maybe particularly first thing in the morning. (Once I get settled into a new home, the first purchase will be a the perfect bed. Sleep is bliss only if the bed provides the proper support for the body.)What non-meditators do not realize, is that most people who have a mediation practice, experience this uncomfortable mind during their meditation at least some of the time.

After meditation comes coffee and a bit of work to calm all of the thoughts that reside in my mind. Next, on most days since I have been here in Miami, I do asana on the beach before the heat of the day descends.

Other practices I have been doing that bring me into balance and allow my parasympathetic nervous system** to take over are 1) Sound Yoga music practices and 2) Advaita Vedanta inquiry practices. Regarding the later, when I am feeling cramped by my mind and cannot see beyond a certain view, I begin to question the reality of what I am perceiving as true or not (see post called Life Lessons: Letting go, allowing the flow).

And now I can add a new practice to the group:

eating a peeled avocado on the beach …

Om shanti

*During “flight or fight” response adrenaline or noradrenaline, facilitate immediate physical reactions associated with a preparation for violent muscular action. These include the following:

  • Acceleration of heart and lung action
  • Paling or flushing, or alternating between both
  • Inhibition of stomach and upper-intestinal action to the point where digestion slows down or stops
  • General effect on the sphincters of the body
  • Constriction of blood vessels in many parts of the body
  • Liberation of nutrients (particularly fat and glucose) for muscular action
  • Dilation of blood vessels for muscles
  • Inhibition of the lacrimal gland (responsible for tear production) and salivation
  • Dilation of pupil (mydriasis)
  • Relaxation of bladder
  • Inhibition of erection
  • Auditory exclusion (loss of hearing)
  • Tunnel vision (loss of peripheral vision)
  • Disinhibition of spinal reflexes
  • Shaking

**Sometimes called the rest and digest system, the parasympathetic system conserves energy as it slows the heart rate, increases intestinal and gland activity, and relaxes sphincter muscles in the gastrointestinal tract.