Archives for category: desire

During a time of great transition how do you preserve your peace of mind?

This period in my life seems to be asking me this question. Here is my answer.

I have meditated every morning since I have been back in Brooklyn. Most days I have practiced pranayama and asana. I practice a variety of techniques to uplift and focus my thoughts and emotions. I have stayed connected and have reconnected with people and groups of people who feel supportive to me and who focus on the positive and finding solutions. To overcome both joint and emotional pain I have been taking supplements and eating foods that I find balance my body and brain chemistry.

I spend a lot of time researching various subjects on the computer and keep myself entertained nightly on a budget with Netflix streaming.

I continue to read to acquire the knowledge needed to make changes in my life in the arenas of spirit and matter, and in matters financial. I ask for help from those who have more experience than me.

I surrender to the “What Is” of my life on a daily basis, offering gratitude in thought and feeling for all that is there to support me.

How is it working?

Emotions are settling down and thoughts arrive more slowly which allows time for processing.

This is the time of the Turtle in my life: slow, un-rushed with a lot of pauses and very little looking backwards, lest I lose my way forward.

For more about the qualities and virtues of the Turtle and times of transition go to:

http://morningstar.netfirms.com/turtle.html

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cXvzoH3aYZs

Peace

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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

A few days ago I returned to Sivananda Yoga Retreat Center after almost two weeks in Miami-South Beach style. When I got back  on Paradise Island there was some serious weather hanging around. After dinner that evening, I took a walk with my friend Saraswati to the favorite Atlantis Starbucks across the old Club Med field from the ashram. It was raining lightly then. Upon our return we noticed people milling about when everyone should have been together for satsang in the temple. Soon we realized everyone was huddled in the covered outdoor dining area awaiting evacuation instructions. I packed up my laptop and toothbrush and joined the group. While we were there someone was playing a guitar and a group of us were harmonizing on one of the main mantras, “Om Namah Sivaya”. Around 9 PM we headed off by buses to Atlantis to wait out the storm.

We were dropped off at a main entrance to the mega-casino billion dollar development and left to our own devices. Originally we were told we would be there an hour. We did not get back to the ashram until after midnight.

Having just returned from Miami that afternoon I was a bit more acclimated to the betting and booze atmosphere of the casino– but it was still a shock to be there when I expected to be settling back into my tent at the ashram.

20120516-201752.jpgOne of the Miami Pleasure Shops

Atlantis is one huge place for entertainment of the wandering, unsettled mind. My mind would not have been too unsettled except that I was tired from traveling and I realized I had lost my iPhone on the way back from the earlier Starbucks excursion!

20120516-203044.jpgFavorite Starbucks and a Couple of Favorite Yogis

It was as surreal to walk through the Atlantis casino as it was strange in Miami to see the sex shops and the Larmborghinis. (As you might imagine, the ashram does not promote gambling, sex or fast cars.) What was interesting was my lack of reaction to it all. There was a type of detachment as I walked through the casino and as I moved about the glitzy tourism of Miami. In the past I might has been judgmental or excited. This time it was smooth sailing–even with the bad weather rambling about the island.

Om shanti

PS I found my cell phone the next morning about where I thought I had dropped it in the field. Although it had been out in the pouring rain all night, it started up, re-charged and is working better than ever! Go Apple! Or maybe I should thank Shiva!

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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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.

Sitting here at Starbucks Sobe I am working with all of the feelings and situations arising around the sale of my home in Brooklyn. Particularly the feelings of fear and sadness as things seem not to be going my way in this moment. I fully understand– intellectually–the temporary nature of both my feelings and the external events that I perceive as obstructive to my desires. In my gut I have knots.

This is an opportunity to let go of my usual responses. In sending an email reply to the President of the coop Board, after a couple of re-writes, I was able to express my concern at the current turn of events without blame. This is huge! I really do not know what is going on and I cannot control the decision of the Board in a particular matter that affects the sale of my apartment. There is a part of me that feels entitled and angry that this situation has occurred that I perceive may adversely affect me financially. I do not know this either. It is all conjecture on my part, fantasy, projection into a non existent future. Definitely not being here, now, in the present moment. And in this present moment I cannot affect materially what is happening nor change what has yet to be decided. Once the Board informs me of their decision then I can take next steps if I choose.

Right here, now, I am sitting outside Starbucks Sobe in a comfy chair, drinking coffee. There is a light breeze off the ocean just a short walk away. I am looking at the sunlight on the 50’s style beach buildings across the quiet street. I hear the easy conversations of those sitting around me including the giggles and gurgles of a young child. I smell eggs and cheese in breakfast wraps. This is what is real that I can experience now. Whatever is happening in New York is beyond my reach at this moment. I choose to be with what is here now– at least for a moment

Om shanti