Monthly Archives: August 2012

The Laundry

    I want to do the laundry. I want clean clothes and towels and linens. To actually do these things is another story. In the intertwinings of our days, our connection to moments and people influence our emotional minds, swaying our insights and possibly depriving us of connections in our body and our breath. We remind ourselves to relax, to renew, to radiate, but how do we actually do these things? And if by chance you feel accomplished, you still have to do the laundry.

     I seek truth and contentedness. I plan to grow into my later years with connection to my body through a specific and perscriptive yoga practice. I plan to continue to train my mind beyond where I even knew it could reach. And whatever else comes my way, I will be my own guide. However, in the path to the self, there are the connections to the people in our lives. There are two small children at my knees and I am washing their dishes and cleaning their clothes. There is my partner whose laundry I fold and put away. There is always more work to be done.

    Have you ever asked yourself how you could be unhappy when you are so fortunate? Have you ever identified your problem as a first world dilemma? I have clean water to wash my clothes. My only hardship in dealing with my laundry is the basement asbestos and what detergent will not harm my skin or the Earth. In the action of doing- the laundry, the work, the sitting in stillness, in whatever situation you like, be it grand or simple, try to focus your gratitude on your present abundance. Count the blessings that you already have and live in the love of gratitude. Write it down, say it aloud, bow in a yoga pose, breathe it in and find something to release. It is tangible work this working with seemingly spiritual matter. These tangible actions make us healthier and happier. Scientists do studies and it always proves true.

    I was once told by a therapist that it seemed like I was asking her to draw me a map of my life. That was over a decade ago, but what I took away from that was the question of why was I asking her? We are our own responsibility and being consistant in action and thought, with developed discipline and a life force of positivity does make a difference in a life. I have made many discoveries on my yoga mat and more importantly, many more having come off of it. Yoga is above all, a practice and the more you do it, the more you consider your whole body, your whole mind and you don’t just accept a thought just because you think it. You begin to recognize everything. As a teacher, I am never surprised when a practitioner comes up to me aware of new and subtle pains in their body. If I know that their practice is safe, I realize that they are coming into awareness of their body on a greater level.

    Awareness does not always feel good, but working with awareness until it comes to a more productive place, that is when we are doing real work. “Generally speaking, we regard discomfort in any form as bad news”, Pema Chodron tells us in When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times, but a struggle or suffering can end up being the “clear moments that teach where it is that we are holding back”. Being grounded and being groundless are both good things. It is innate to feel grounded and rooted to something, but not so innate to feel groundless. It defies a bit of the natural instinct. Consider that you are very happy in life and then someone close to you gets sick and passes away. Your feet are not grounded. You are suffering. You feel loss. You may feel consumed. If you have a peace practice and you are able to sit and accept that your suffering is okay, you find a warrior-ship in your psyche because you went towards the places that scare you. You still feel a sense of loss, but you can live with it. And you learn to love from this free place. When you make a conscious choice to be groundless, these losses are still there, but your actions towards them are different.

    Bring your concept of abundance to the present and do not hesitate. Because the laundry will pile up and there will be more work tomorrow. Look inside and find those places of betrayal and sorrow and sit with them. “Go to your bosom: Knock there, and ask your heart what it doth know.”, said Shakespeare. And don’t be afraid to use a little elbow grease to get out those stains. Namaste.

 

I am what I am

    In the great words of Popeye, ” I am what I am.”. This is such a refreshing statement. I feel it should be inside a fortune cookie as a virtuous reminder. By the way, my favorite fortune, which is on my refrigerator, is ‘fate loves the fearless’. With that being said, what I like so much about Popeye’s voice in my head is that it reminds me to be present and not searching or wishing or healing, but to just be.

    Recently, I have been reminded by people in my life about September 11, 2001. A babysitter who recently visited the memorial in progress, a stand-up comedian resurrecting some humor about that time, a friend asking about my life in New York City. I lived in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, a bit northeast of the Twin Towers. I watched those towers burn from my roof and it was an awing spectacle. As the dust settled, quite literally, there was a city, so vibrant and energetic with a huge hole and of course, a sorrow. “Sorrow is tranquility remembered in emotion”, wrote Dorothy Parker in the Second World War era, but in 2001, for the people of the Big Apple, the pain was palpable.

    A beautiful yoga teacher named Jodie Rufty opened a yoga studio south of Union Square called Amrita Yoga. After 9/11, I practiced there regularly in hopes that the studio would get off the ground in the strong pool of yoga that had emerged. It was at Amrita where I first understood the concept of a kula, or a community or assemblage people who practice yoga. I remember listening to a small group of women talk about this painful time, one of us having lost a lover, and then I bowed on my mat. I lengthened and extended, I opened and I closed. Ultimately, the kula was small and the studio closed, but I will always remember those moments of surrendering to the pain that lived inside my body and mind and the feeling of support from those around me doing the exact same thing. I have heard many people say to me that yoga saved their life. I don’t even remember when yoga saved mine. It just became integral to who I am.

    It as at Amrita, where I was lead away from poison and toward the nectar. Out of darkness and toward the light. The concept of having all of our actions and emotions come from a place of fear or a place of love really began to surface during this time. And it is all really about love for me. It is such a waste to live with fear being your motivation. So lonely and the opposite of fun, the opposite of ease. This is suffering. I honor those places I have been, the darkest moments and places devoid of truth because they are an important reminder that living your life through love takes intention and attention. It is easy to let fear creep in when your awareness sits idle.

    At the end of my seven years in New York, after developing a strong practice, I decided that I could instruct others. There is so much to learn and perhaps this is why I have chosen yoga as my career path. I can only hope that any essence of what came before me will be passed on in some regard of a peace practice. Through asana or meditation, through physical, mental and even spiritual awareness, that is my hope. Where it goes from there is a natural passage of energy.

    At the end of every class I teach or instruction session that I lead, I conclude with “May you be happy. May you be healthy. May you be safe. May you live with ease.” These thoughts are highlighted in loving-kindness mediations, of which I also have a great affinity, but I speak out these hopes on a regular basis because they are instinctual to me. Yoga has allowed me to connect with my innate needs and wants and through this physical and mental process, I find ease and peace.

    I mentioned that after 9/11 I bowed on my mat. I began doing this when I started to practice yoga by taking a child’s pose; however, sometime around when my practice became an intrinsic part of me, bowing became something more than just recognition of another or a resting posture, but recognition of myself. Jack Kornfield writes that, “to bow to the fact of our life’s sorrows and betrayals is to accept them and from this deep gesture, we discover that all life is workable. As we learn to bow, we discover that the heart holds more freedom and compassion than we could imagine.” In this place, you find where you are, who you are and what you are. Namaste.