Posts Tagged ‘yoga/philosophy/religion’
i think of this as another description for my job.
there was a nice quote sold on blank note cards a few years ago; i’ve seen it around a lot, so you may have also already seen it. it was an all white, sqare card that read:
it does not mean to be in a place
where there is no noise, trouble
or hard work. it means to be in
the midst of those things and still
be calm in your heart
the author is unknown. i personally would choose the word “still” over “calm,” but i enjoy her/his word choice. from dictionary.com, this etymology of the word:
[Origin: 1350–1400; (n., adj.) ME calm(e) < It calma (n.), calmo (adj.) < LL cauma summer heat (with l perh. from L calére to be hot) < Gk kaûma (s. kaumat-) burning heat; akin to kaíein to burn (see caustic); (v.) ME calmen < It calmare, deriv. of the n.]
so the sensation of calm points to the sensation of burning. if we were to take this unknown author’s description, peace, then, is equivalent to the sensation of burning in the heart.
email to teachers: trust and safety
so we (boundless teachers and staff) are finalizing our agreement on boundless’s values. we’ve got the mission down (see right if you are reading this on the home page), but we have been debating and discussing the values. they will be up this week.
if you can vote or give me info on this piece; i think it’s an important thing to reflect on:
• honoring the body as our first home, and trusting it at all times
• honoring the body as our first home, and keeping it safe at all times
because sometimes we need to feel a little unsafe in order to effect
change, right? surely a butterfly emerging from its cocoon doesn’t feel
totally SAFE, but i would suggest that it feels TRUST. when we are facing
our demons in meditation, or handstand, or in a deep backbend, playing the
edge of safety is, in effect, deepening your TRUST in the fact that it’s
the purpose of this bullet is to identify the importance of rooting into
the first chakra, or (in a combined first/second chakra) MOTHER EARTH. i
don’t think we feel SAFE in a hailstorm, but we have to TRUST that she’s
throwing ice down on us for a reason.
challenge the state of yoga
last week i said i’d be posting until the end of the month on which classes were right for you. i’ve elected to cancel tonight’s challenge class because george bush is giving his annual state of the union; the other time i canceled this class was in 2003, the night he announced our invasion of iraq. as i reconnect with my own physical practice, which i lost for much of 2006, i’ve remembered an important lesson from yoga. doing the asanas (poses), especially the basic ones once you’ve done them repetitively for a while, is like riding a bike. going through the motions is easy; your body has muscular memory associated with triangle poses, tree pose, and so on.
what’s difficult to to do, when you’re actively involved in deepening your practice, is to walk that fine line between physical and mental challenge. as the boundless teachers and i discussed at a staff meeting over the weekend, physical and mental challenge are often inversely correlated. in other words, to feel physically challenged is sometimes to be mentally checked out of what the body is really experiencing–and that’s actually very natural, since the brain deals with pain and discomfort in myriad ways. ask anyone who works in an ER: the variations between people’s perception of their own pain is astonishingly great.
therefore, as you introduce what the mind considers “pain” or “discomfort” to the body, the brain, trying to be a good muscle like all the others, assists the situation in the best way it knows how. the trick is to use your own powers of observation–this process of seeing, sensing, experiencing the moment is not the brain, but the greater awareness we all have access to, all the time. it is a much larger picture than the brain is actually capable of giving you.
so in my challenge yoga class, which i’m converting April 3 to an intensive evening class every tuesday 7-930 p, i ask the students to perform more “challenging” poses, but with a deepening knowledge of their own body in space and time. that means that the poses are just the means through which the students observe their mind. this is difficult at the end of a 10-minute headstand. it’s challenging when attempting to observe the finer details of triangle pose. it’s particularly tough in savasana (corpse pose).
but yet, there we are, taking it up a notch through the spirit of the practice, and not because we’ve become better gymnasts. flexibility and strength in a yoga pose are nothing more than a reflection of a flexible and strong mind. to be sure, i entered yoga in 1995 so inflexible that teachers would pull me off to the side during forward folds. today, i have grown so flexible that i need to get some of that unbending-ness back! it is the practice of yoga to accept that my body can swing dramatically from one extreme to the other if i let it go. then, it is my duty, and very much in my own self interest, to manage those vacillations with equanimity.
in practical terms, for challenge yoga, you need to be able to turn upside down with little fear. that means headstand, handstand, shoulderstand, forearm balance. and wheel pose. though these poses are external metaphors of internal energy, they are also practical applications of a deepening practice.
in day-to-day terms, i am canceling tonight’s class because it is the job of the yogini to observe her mind at all times. tonight’s speech, and the energy in the country (or at least in DC), is an opportunity to experience social behavior observation (yamas) and self-reflection (niyamas) that buttress the practice of yoga. if you plan on watching the state of the union as a yoga practitioner, reflect on these words before, during, and after: non-violence, truthfulness, non-stealing, moderation, non-hoarding, purity, contentment, discipline, self-education, surrender to god.
intention reflection #2: inexplicable joy
as arbitrary as time is, the beginning of a new year causes reflection. to envision a more positive 2007 for your self and community is a helpful act. envisioning reality, as both quantum physics and yoga teach, is at least half the reality occurring outside you. in other words, being clear about what you want, how you want it, and what you do with it once it happens, helps to influence the events in your immediate vicinity, if not also those farther away.
that’s why i can’t help but mention the hanging of saddam hussein. it could just be me, fascinated by the immediacy of my experience of his murder. it’s everywhere, all over the web, in hard-copy newspapers, on radio, on TV. most people i know have participated on some level in his death. thanks to modern media, everyone has witnessed this event in a place, or in a way, intimate to them.
it is difficult to answer this question: how do we pursue joy when there is this much suffering? when yoga is the science of uniting the ego self with the larger, uninterrupted, universal self (in other words: saddam is in all of us), it is yogic to honor, if not also mourn, the death of this murderous dictator. and those he killed. and those still dying and suffering.
so here we are (or at least i am, and you reading this blog), contemplating self-improvement for the new year. there is joy in life, but how do we experience it? as the adage goes, happiness is not the goal, but the path. to set your own expecations and visions for a new year, which is nothing more than a mental label for a new chapter of your own experience, you dig in, look at your response to the world around you, and decide how you want to change it.
we are living in an extremely dangerous world
this is what dr. nile gardner of the heritage foundation said this morning, speaking on the diane rehm show, at around 10:25 am.
in this context, he was criticizing kofi annan for too much pacifism during the past decade. specifically, he backed up his comments on the annan’s slow reaction to darfur.
i try to listen to information like this through the lens of a yogini (i love this article describing the word yogini. and this is a new book on the identity). to that end, my response is served up as yogically as possible, with a dash of feminism and a sprinkling of forgiveness.
many in the decades before us would have said that pacifism is the only way. though i wasn’t alive for it, the 60′s sounds like it was an encouraging time for peace-seekers. the teachings of the buddha, and gandhi, are rooted in non-violence. there have been voices, in other words, in the recent past that honor pacifism instead of criticize it.
to dr. gardiner’s point, these days we hear a lot about how violent things are. what i’m trying to work out is whether things are different or the same. one difference is that we have more access to the information (read: suffering) of people around the globe. and losing 3,000 people on 9/11 wasn’t a small experience. on the other hand, nick nolte says something to one of his reports in the thin red line about how nature is always warring with itself. car bombs in baghdad are of a piece, according to him, and obviously according to dr. gardiner.
so, here we find ourselves. if quantum physics is in fact a sound way to consider reality (this docu-drama does a great job explaining how), then when we meditate or do yoga, we are serving society by envisioning peace. watching the thin red line the other night, i wondered with the narrator what it is inside us that creates man-on-man violence–when there is so much beauty, and so much peace.
i posit, perhaps, that we need to know violence, really stare it in the face, before we can deeply know peace. and, as many wisdom teachers offer, to discover our true nature is to discover a reality beyond even the pedestrian definition of peace. rather, it is to know unadulterated bliss, that of true consciousness.
compassion and christ
nearly every yoga or meditation teacher i’ve had talks about compassion. in yoga circles, we discuss compassion. the day after the election, my current yoga teacher led a chant about compassion.
in my own yoga classes i sometimes bring it up — but not that much, because there’s something about the word that keeps me guessing. i understand and feel it, and my intention daily is to practice it, but daily i also find that relationships and traffic and bills get the best of me. these often take me out of touch, out of focus, from what i know to be compassion, especially for myself and my perceived struggles.
so i looked the word up today on dictionary.com. i was astounded. did i know this before? had i forgotten it? could i have gone this long without knowing such an interesting word root? is mel gibson so lame that i’ve blocked it out?
[Origin: 1300–50; ME (< AF) < LL compassi?n- (s. of compassi?). See com-, passion]
we know what “com-” means. so, curiously, i loooked up passion:
[Origin: 1125–75; ME (< OF) < ML passi?n- (s. of passi?) Christ's sufferings on the cross, any of the Biblical accounts of these (> late OE passi?n), special use of LL passi? suffering, submission, deriv. of L passus, ptp. of pat? to suffer, submit; see -ion]
woah. i’m sure there’s more to this word, but based on my very unscientific relationship with dictionary.com, compassion as a word a) is old, and b) refers to a specific thing (event? person?) in a way that many other words don’t.
it’s my job to say that if you’re practicing yoga, you’re learning compassion. it’s my personal interpretation of my job to say that if you’re learning compassion, you need to understand the energy of the word and its connotations. as with all truths, compassion is easy to know, but difficult to cultivate, nurture, and practice. and you have to start inside before you can take it on the road.
what this has directly to do with jesus, well, we could blog about this until 2012. i found the coolest resource for to start this on yogajournal.com. in their top-200 sanskrit terms by georg feuerstein, compassion means:
Karuna (“compassion”): universal sympathy; in Buddhist yoga the complement of wisdom (prajna).
and then: what’s the hebrew word for compassion? how do you say it in arabic?