Thursday, April 30, 2009

A morsel of thought...

Poetry is powerful. The meanings are condensed so that, upon interpretation, the effect is pronounced, the ripples reverberate through to the core...lingering in their vibratory state.

I have found a new poet/spoken word artist, Andrea Gibson. I posted a video clip of her performing, "Say Yes" earlier in the week. I've listened to it every day, sometimes several times a day and with every listen, I hear something new and am impacted again.

The following is a piece of the poem that I find especially powerful because of the metaphor and the call to action:

The world needs us right now more than it ever has before
pull all your strings
play every chord
play like you know the clouds have left too many people cold and broken
and you're their last chance for sun

You have a drum in your chest that could save us
a song in your breath that could raise us
like the sunrise into a dark sky that cries to be blue
play like you know we won't survive if you don't
but we will if you do

And she's right you know...the world needs us now more than ever before.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Hellbent to Shine

wanting, brimming with the something
seething with passion
directed toward nothing

or at least that's how it seems

i turn in and out of myself
trying to find the method to save myself
trying the find the way i want to take myself
hoping to find the sanction just to be myself

far beyond the limits of my finite knowing

i stop before i go
i resolve before i know
yet all along
deep inside's the song
i've been holding back and holding in
since i don't even remember when

losing time
losing faith
as the armor hardens, losing more of my way
to move beyond my bounds
to live into the space
defined once upon a time
a seed planted in the mind
of a girl hellbent to shine

When I was a little girl, I would dance around my room, often in my prettiest training bra and flowered panties set or leotard. The windowed wall was my pretend audience and they loved me.

As a matter of fact, most of my pretend play was some sort of performance art presented to adoring crowds who, quite frankly, couldn't get enough of me in my world.

Once a month, my 4th grade class would have show-and-tell. I would gear up in my flashiest flash dance-like apparel and improvise a dance. There was no stage-fright or stifling nerves, no anxiety, just the rush of performing LiVe--I just did it. During my run as a show-and-tell performer, I danced to the music of El DeBarge, Madonna and Sheila E.

Sheila E., in particular, was inspiring for me then. 'Glamorous Life' was my theme song:

Everybody knows from the coy little wink
The girl's got a lot on her mind
She's got big thoughts, big dreams...

This little girl, this little me, did have big thoughts and big dreams. She was going places the second the brakes were off. She was fearless and spirited.

So where is that now? It seems I owe it to myself to explore this deeper if I have any intention of living into the spaces of my life.

Boldness has magic in it...

Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it--Goethe

My word for the day. Just in time. Just what I needed to hear.

My life is long overdue for boldness.

Speaking of bold, please check out the You Tube video below of poet Andrea Gibson 'Saying YES'

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Say Yes

by andrea gibson

Yamas and Niyamas

I have just found a blog where the author explores the Yamas and Niyamas of yoga (see 'Links of Interest' for the link). Below is an excerpt from her blog, which, for me, was one of the most beneficial explanations I have heard thus far:

The yamas, literally "restraints" pertain to our relationship with others and the earth. Consisting of non-violence, truthfulness, non-stealing, non-excess, and non-possessiveness, they invite us into an adult relationship with the world where we can see past our own needs and into the collective good. In one sense, we can think of them as social disciplines guiding us into peace, harmony, and right relationship with the world. The yamas pull us back from needing so much that is external and point us towards the unique expression of our own life. It is here that we feel the excitement and joy of living.

The niyamas, literally "non- restraints" or "observances", shift our attention from an adult relationship with the world to an adult relationship with ourselves, and from a social focus to an internal focus. Consisting of purity, contentment, self-discipline, self-study, and surrender, the niyamas are like seeds to plant and care for in our inner being. As these seeds begin to bear fruit, we will become unshakable as we experience an inner essence of deep harmony and strength.

Hmmm. I have yet to have them explained to me in this way and the result is palpable, like a little a-ha moment.

For instance, considering the yamas as that which enables us to consider collective good, cultivating this level of awareness within us as we navigate the social world and the niyamas as that which cultivates a more meaningful relationship with self, is very helpful in my comprehension and incorporation of both into my daily life.

Morning Thoughts...

Last night was CrAzY. I had a meeting with a client that took me far beyond my normal 'work day'. As an early riser, typically 5 AM, seven o'clock in the evening is near bedtime for me when I begin to wind down my day and snuggle into family evening activities.

I was wiped when I arrived home at nearly 8:00 PM. I rushed past the family to start dinner, sending apologies as I flew to the kitchen. I sank into my chair while the rice was cooking with a lame salty snack because I was SO far past my dinner point and I vegged.

During this time, I surfaced enough to engage the children in conversation, look over some of their accomplishments for the day and began to relax a little.

We had dinner and when it was over, I could scarcely remember the taste of my food.

Somewhere along the way, I had lost connection with my state of mindfulness and in really reviewing the course of events yesterday, I think I know precisely where it happened.

Yesterday morning, about 6:00 AM.

My body was especially fatigued when I rose for my morning practice and instead of allowing for more Yin postures, more breath work for stimulation and a grounding sort of wake-up flow, I pushed ahead. Sun Salutations and standing poses.

Sometimes, this sort of 'full steam ahead' approach works because my body just needs a boost but yesterday morning was different and I felt it...I knew it.

It wasn't a total bust. I had moments of mindfulness yesterday. Knowing I was to have a long day, I took the morning off and spent time at home. I enjoyed gardening with my children, blowing bubbles in the front yard and filling the bird feeders with seed, watching for their eager arrivals. I baked muffins and we ate them fresh from the oven.

My morning practice sets the tone for my day. It doesn't mean I can't change the course with awareness and intention because I absolutely can. However, yesterday morning, I yang-ed when I should have yin-ed.

Here's to a lesson learned.

I used to tell the children, when they learned something, regardless of what it was, even the tiniest smidgen of knowledge, that they grew a little inside...

Yes--that's the point.

Monday, April 27, 2009

It all began...

Prayer begins at the edge of emptiness--Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel

A few months ago, when I was in the midst of dramatic change and emotional upheaval, I stood at this edge and indeed, prayer began.

Not only did prayer begin for me, my practice really began. The commitment to and reliance on my path of yoga--more than mere movements.

Also, faith began--not faith in an absolute, supreme being or entity but faith in me. I was developing faith in my practice, faith that it would balance me and sustain me during my travails.

Because I opened, because I called out and stepped forth in all began.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Renunciation Practice

"Renunciation means to let go of holding back..."--Trungpa Rinpoche, a tantric interpretation of renunciation

I am preparing a 'Renunciation Practice' for my classes this week inspired by a reading in Awakening the Buddha Within. For me, it was interesting to have a different take on renunciation, to read that I do not have to leave my family, my home, give up sex and shave my head. Whew.

Excerpt from reading:
In Tibet, the term renunciation did not imply a sacrifice, or any notion of penance. Instead, it meant the relief of finally dropping and getting rid of excess baggage through an arising of inner certainty about the illusory nature of created things.

Letting go...lightening my load...freeing myself in the release of attachment to things, to feelings, to ideas that hinder my growth.

Ahhh...that's just refreshing. let go of holding.

When we hold, we grasp, cling--inertia sets in and we become stuck or attached. This glues us in place, sets us in stone and limits our experience.

When we let go, we are freed, we are lighter, we are more open to the experience of our living and the living becomes more meaningful, more vivid.

Isn't it time to unpack your suitcase?

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Small wonders...

As I'm reading my new book, "Life is a Verb", this morning, I am brought to a good way.

I am reminded to remember the little things, to bask in their simplicity, to appreciate their charm and detail. I am aware that I have been steered from myself by some sort of illusion I have been drawn to and in my chair this morning, I experience my epiphany in between the words I read.

From wonder to wonder existence opens--Lao tzu

For me, the wonders of this world have been experienced through my children, especially when they were younger but not just then. Through homeschooling, we stumble upon wonders with every lesson and I am imprinted and my mind expands.

They have been living reminders to take it easy, take it slow, relish, be mesmerized and in awe, be curious and full of wonder...ever full of wonder.

What do we do to ourselves as we age? What are we thinking when we can no longer experience wonder without grandeur? Why does a shadow no longer impress us? Or the dance of bubbles on the wind? What of the tiniest creatures scuttling along on the ground or the flight of those in the air?

My children had their 'little things' collections throughout the years. Feathers, leaves, pebbles, shells, buttons, marbles...all fit for little hands, all prized for their intrinsic beauty, for the way they touched the core of their emotion centers, for the way they spoke to them. Not for any outside worth, not for how they might be spent or traded, not for some distant appreciation in value but because they were.

I have moved from a place of appreciating little things--not a big sort of off-course blunder but a slight gravitation. Fortunately, my reading this morning realigned me, sharpened my focus and heightened my awareness for all things small, for all things simple and natural for which I am deeply grateful.

Wisdom begins with wonder--Socrates

I am open and today, I will wonder...

Thursday, April 9, 2009


Pratyahara: the movement of consciousness into the central column; taking the focus inward...presence, where self connection becomes clear and strong.

Here, in the 5th limb of yoga, we cultivate a detachment from our senses by turning and tuning into ourselves. The idea being that this withdrawal from the external enables us to objectively observe how the senses might interfere with our growth, especially if they present negative cravings, actions or patterns.

I found a practice at Yoga Today for cultivating pratyahara and I wanted to share some of it here (I modified it for my own teaching style). I am always grateful when teachers incorporate the other limbs of yoga; it is something I practice in my own teaching as I try to avoid a concentration of asana--to me, it misrepresents the practice and conceals the ultimate purpose.

Begin by building the breath
Child's pose--Stretching the arms away to

Downward Dog
Inhale right leg up
~Bend the knee, drop
foot to the left opening the hip
~Inhale lengthen the leg, exhale release
Inhale left leg up
~Bend the knee, drop foot to the right opening the
~Inhale lengthen the leg, exhale release

Downward Dog
the right hand back for left ankle, breathe into the twist
Release and...
~Reach the left hand back for right ankle, breathe into the twist
to DD

Inhale right leg up, exhale step foot forward between hands, left
knee resting on mat
(Fingers can be pronged or hands flat, pressing chest
forward, lifting crown)
Focusing inward...
Hands to hip or clasping
behind back, still lifting crown to lengthen
Option to twist
With hands
framing front foot, turn back toes under and straighten the leg for Pyramid

REPEAT on the other side

3 Sun Salutations (A-variation)

Step right foot back building Triangle
Inhale up to standing, repeat
left side
Inhale up to standing, Revolve Triangle (right)
Inhale up to standing, Revolve Triangle (left)
Wide Angle Forward Fold
Step back to front of mat

Standing Half Moon (each side)
Flow to DD
Inhale right leg up
Exhale step forward into Crescent
Standing Split
Balancing Half Moon
Revolved Variation
Standing Split
Release to Plank
Knees down, lower to mat

Repeat above sequence on the other side
Option to replace
Cobra with Locust
Return to DD


Chair/Option to revolve
Flow to DD
Warrior I, II
Side Angle
Plank (hold for strength)
Repeat on the other side

Release to child's pose
(Inward Focus--Pratyahara)

Head to Knee

Boat (Core)

Come to back for
full body stretch


Yoga Nidra
~Cultivating presence, witnessing thoughts without feeding them, limiting
the investment that you place in thoughts by not following them. Practice peace,
awareness, letting go. Turn in--tune in.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

All We Are, We Are

Sometimes the strongest message, for me, comes through song. I am so moved by music, lyrics especially. I love the poetry set to music. Very rarely do I listen to a song for its 'beat'--I want the story of the words.

This morning I was pleasantly surprised by the appearance of a new artist on my Pandora, Matt Nathanson. Pandora--she really gets me.

His song was "All We Are" and the lyrics are below:

I tasted, tasted love so sweet
And all of it was lost on me
Buttons sold like property
Sugar on my tongue

I kept falling over
I kept looking backward
I went broke believing
That the simple should be hard

All we are we are
All we are we are
And every day is a start of something beautiful

I wasted, wasted love for you
Traded out for something new
Well, it's hard to change the way you lose
If you think you never won

'Couse all we are we are
All we are we are
And every day is a start of something beautiful

And in the end the words won't matter
'Couse in the end nothing stays the same
And in the end dreams just scatter and fall like rain

'Couse all we are we are
All we are we are
And every day is a start of something beautiful, something real

All we are we are
All we are we are
And every day is a start of something beautiful, beautiful

The crux of the song is losing love and living right on through but what really resonated with me was:

All we are we are
And every day is a start of something beautiful, something real

Sometimes, you just need to hear certain things, to be reminded of what you already know.

Monday, April 6, 2009


I am working to live from peace--a peaceful mind, a peaceful spirit, peaceful words and actions. Part of that comes from my attachment to things, ideas, get the picture, and how well I can let go of what I see as my 'investment' in a situation or context--my attachment.

Another element of living from peace is balance--remaining centered regardless of my environment, who I share the space with and the energy present. To cultivate a mindfulness of what my center looks like, feels like, so that when I veer I am better able to return.

Mindful living is not easy--it's not all detachment and absent-minded bliss. It's a hard, raw look at yourself, an honest evaluation of what, in you, is not in alignment with peace, balance, harmony, compassion, love, service.

Mindful living, pure presence, needs you to recognize your patterns, especially the destructive ones, in order to change your path, your flow through life.

You must pay attention.

You must show up and be present.

You must acknowledge.

You must confront your shadow...
...and embrace the light which is you--free. Free from attachment, centered and present.

I might not have chosen the easy road in life by walking this yogic line but I refuse to live a life of apathy. I want pure consciousness until my last breath escapes this vessel of flesh. I want to live into the corners, I want to illuminate shadows, I want to serve every possible human being that I can while I walk this earth--whether that service comes through my attention, compassion, actions or some combination of all.

I want to slough off the layers of emotional sediment that bind me to patterns that no longer serve me as they have been called forth by the light of consciousness and it is that consciousness that I want to fully inhabit.

We inhabit ourselves without valuing ourselves,
unable to see that here, now,
this very moment is sacred;
but once it's gone--
it's value is incontestable.
--Joyce Carol Oates