Tuesday, June 28, 2011
There are many kinds of churches. This past Sunday, I attended Fishing Church. I was moved by the angelic hymns of the birds. I performed the ritual of casting: ten o’clock, two o’ clock, ten o’clock, two o’ clock, release. I felt the holy spirit of the wind move through me the same way it rippled through the marsh grasses.
I learned something profound from the gospel of Freemont (the Freemont River). I learned that I must go with the flow of things. As I stood in the water casting my line, it dawned on me that this is what the Universe seems to be saying over and over to me. Whatever I hope for, work for, whatever I desire, be that answers to questions, solutions to life’s complications, or a fat rainbow trout, I can’t reach in and grab it. The “fish” is much too sly for that. What I can do is put myself in right relationship with it. I must align myself to my environment. To catch this fish, I must look at the placement of the sun to ensure that it’s feeding time, careful that my shadow isn’t cast upon the water. I must notice the speed and depth of the river, must notice which insects are floating around. All this helps me choose how and when and with what, and then as I cast my line into the water, my hope is to align my fly with the current, unperturbed, unmechanical. I gotta move with the flow or the fish won’t buy it.
Sometimes all I had to do was simply stay put, grounded in one place and watch the river run, the wind flow, and the sun move around me. Then other times that hole had no lovin’ and I needed to move on. This too was practicing being in the flow.
Obviously, I’m still learning to be in the flow because no fish found their way onto my clumsy line that sacred Sunday. No worries. I wasn’t there necessarily to catch fish, but rather I was just practicing fishing and enjoying the fruits of being there. I was Practicing being in the flow.
In yoga, we practice flowing with the current of our breath and heartbeat and by aligning body with breath. We float on the current of steadiness and ease. We ride gravity and lift. We flow in the current of practicing with a group of people. Come practice being in the flow of a great yoga class.
Saturday, June 18, 2011
Wherever you hope to move in life, be that physically, mentally, spiritually, or anything, that journey begins with the first step. And though we envision our end point, we must first look at the ground at our feet to calibrate our our first step. We must find solid ground where we stand before we can move forward.
To move forward, to find there, we must first
see here. This means learning to take an objective look at ourselves. Equipped with compassion, hope, courage, appreciation, praise, and a healthy sense of humor, we take a good look at ourselves and try to see, not judge. As closely as possible, see what is rather that what we fear, detest, or covet. If we want to improve our asanas, loose weight, stop smoking, become more financially abundant, or anything else, we have to honestly accept and thrive exactly where we are with what we have. The refusal to inhabit where you are ironically makes you a prisoner of that place. It's like we have to learn the lesson on how to move past that place and the only instructions are at that place.
One we've become clear and comfortable with where we are, next we view where we wish to move with a pure intention, like a guiding star. We can move forward with clarity based on the real information of our practice of seeing clearly. We move forward driven by the hope of Intention rather than the hindrance of expectation.Though we may have a direction, we must realize that part of the fun of this journey is the improvisation along the way. We know the direction, not the exact path. This allows us the freedom to feed our spirits by working creatively toward our own unfolding.
And like Antonio Machado, a wonderful Spanish poet, says:
those random paths
Everyone who walks
We're all moving forward and every step for every person is a miracle. Thus the entire process makes us grow, not only by the measurable strides of seeing what we'd intended come to pass, but also by the refining heat of moving through the process. Soon, we habituate living with presence. Its walking around the next bend on the path of life, fully aware yet totally surprised and thrilled to experience the unknown steps toward there.
Soon we'll realize that we may always be looking forward but the one constant, again, is here. Always here will eventually take us there. The present is the only firm platform from which we can project ourselves to there.
Sunday, June 12, 2011
We don't need to change or be better than we are. We practice deep compassion as we extend this same privilege to other people and things around us and allow them to simply be, especially those things that would easily turn our hearts bitter.
As we practice yoga and meditation, we cultivate and practice being. We also reduce the suffering known as Dukkah, which would hold us back from experiencing our highest self.
One act of holding space is allowing yourself to be with a person or thing and allow them to be just as they or it is. I'm thinking of a friend who is sick or experiencing something mentally or spiritually challenging. Simply being with that person and holding space for them, without the need to fix or change anything, just being, allows a deep compassion to exist between the two of you.
Another act of holding space is the decisive act of making room in your heart for that which would sooner canker your heart with feelings and make your mind fester with "shoulds" and what-ifs." When you hold space for someone or something, you don't have to fall in love with this person or thing but you are simply offering compassion toward them or it by not becoming sour toward it. And by so doing, you ultimately offer your own heart and mind in the same compassion--the heart that flourishes when it feels abundance and love, not bitterness, and the mind that abounds when it is sheltered from shoulds and what-ifs."
Here are a few examples of holding space:
The NYC 4 Train:
stopped en route causing me and my wife, Celeste, to miss our flight home.
Me: bought a NYC 4 Train T-Shirt--holding space for the 4 Train.
World: Just as it is.
Me: Accepting the world as it is.
Holding space is often the first part of forgiveness toward yourself and others.
This week, practice holding space for things that your either don't understand or which bother you.
I'm out of town for the next two weeks hosting my annual Hawaii yoga retreat. I've arranged some wonderful subs. Try out some other wonderful teachers at Prana Yoga.
Sunday, June 5, 2011
We all deserve a moment in the day where we enter the timeless; we forget our job, our responsibilities, the persona that we've created for ourselves, and abide in the part of ourselves that feels the most real. It's coming home. It's not about escaping our lives. It's about everyday building a discipline of presence and awareness where we can enter back into the conversation of what is most real.
This conversation with what is most real depends on awareness--paying attention. There are many harvests in our lives, the opportunity to gather the richness of everyday miracles, and if we are not aware, these harvests will pass us by. The seasons changing, the seasons of our lives coming and going, the richness of sharing the lives of our children, are all examples of our different harvests. Without awareness, seasons come and go unaware. Without presence, we think we are living our lives but instead our lives are living us. We go on day by day simply perpetuating the daily "to do" list without ever getting the feeling like we are experiencing anything real. But with awareness, we can fully receive the richness of the moment because we've apprenticed ourselves to see it. By practicing awareness it's not that our lives suddenly don a reality but now we open our eyes to see the beauty and realness that was there all along. With awareness, even our "to do" list will seem magical and inviting.
To find this realness requires radical grounding, some form of practice to which we can travel each day. Coming to yoga and moving into the practice-realm of our body and breath, this nuts-and-bolts portion of being, gives us passage into the chambers of the more ethereal parts of being, mind and heart. The combination or uniting of these different elements, body/mind/spirit, is yoga. Yoga isn't the only way to do this, meditation, poetry, music, running, Ben and Jerry's (that's right) or anything else that makes you fully aware of the moment and alive are all good ways to practice this sort of realness. With it's emphasis on breath and presence, the immediacy of our bodies sensation, yoga, however, is a particularly effective and calibrated method to help us develop and maintain our awareness--sort of a template whereby we can then base our life's events and decisions from.
Once we've grounded ourselves with our yoga practice and removed the peripheries, once we've practiced being in that space that is so real, we then go back into the conversation of our jobs, families, and relationships armed with that realness, with a quality of being that feels very authentic and very natural.
Then, having replenished the source (us) we can benefit those things that grow out of us instead of sapping them. A medicine man recently told me that if we refuse to take care of ourselves through practices like yoga, we end up becoming a burdening rather than helping those things that depend on us.
Come to yoga and get your daily dose of this essential and vital part of you.