Friday, January 30, 2009

Unleashing Creativity

It seems that everyone is feeling an urge toward creativity that is not only about "Art". This is from another wonderful teacher, Edward Espe Brown. He is describing an upcoming retreat. It's another one of those bits that I didn't want to get lost. I'm not going to the retreat so I'd normally just delete the email but there was something about the language that made me want to bring it here.


From Beyond Creation A Guest Appears

A moment arises—not previously

revealed! never before happened!—

Still we aim to get it right,

so we look good.


could something appear

from beyond creation?

(Wind high in the pines)

Creativity weaves through the fabric

of consciousness—the gateway opens

and closes—we'll look at some of the

pivotal elements which inhabit or invite

the guest to appear.

Doing the same old same old,

Doing what we already know,


choosing to welcome the

inconceivable, to move past

the familiar to finding out how.

(whose hands are these)

Can we make things behave

the way they should? Come

out the way we want?


is there picking up what

comes to hand? And

using it? imaginatively...

(soft light through the curtain)

We'll study what awakens our

creative vitality.

(with sitting, talk, walking...)

The weekend retreat is at Green Gulch Farm in California. If you want to be spontaneous, drop everything and's a link.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The next step

Sometimes I put things here so I won't lose them in the clutter of information that flows through everyday. This is from an email newsletter from Saul David Raye. Saul teaches yoga, meditation and thai massage (probably among other things). I wanted to remember this and sit with it awhile. I thought maybe others would like to as well.

Saul said, "I recently read somehwere a wonderful quote that really touched me. I have tried to relocate the source but have not been able to as of yet. It was something like this "sometimes the only next possible step is a leap of faith !" In my own life this seems to be all that is happening; whatever I know, whatever I have believed to be true is no longer working. When I make choices from my heart, from the inner wisdom and creativity that is in each of us at every moment, the results are amazing. The energy we set in motion when we are resonating at the frequency of our hearts is truly miraculous. Blessings along the path you walk...and to the leap of faith that you are being asked to make in your life right now !"

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Yoga for the dictionary addict

As you know, if you've been in my class, I often ask you to "stretch like you just got out of bed in the morning". Well...who knew? There's a word for that. A friend just sent me this "word for the day" definition.

pandiculation \pan-dik-yuh-LEY-shuhn\, noun:
an instinctive stretching, as on awakening or while yawning

I love it!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The Greater Tradition of Yoga

"Yoga encourages you to 'take the path that most directly leads you to experience the inner truth of your own nature'. Yoga is a universal teaching, conveying that the entire universe dwells within us. The entire universe -- all time, space and existence -- dwells in the small space within our hearts. Becoming that is Yoga."

How to practice Yoga

KURT ANDERSON: When you wake up in the morning and you sit down to practice, as I assume you do, what do you first play?
YO-YO MA: I do something like [plays long, random notes that sound like tuning]. I become friends with the instrument. I try not to tax it too much. It's really like warming up a car or warming up your body. You stretch it. You don't go into a fast run. You don't take it to sixty in three seconds. Because what's funny about an instrument made out of wood, every day the humidity is different. Every day the temperature is different. And wood, as well as our bodies, are slightly different. I think it's actually making that relationship happen.
KURT: And once you do get it warmed up, what are you inclined to play?
YO-YO: I might play some Bach, which is something I started learning as soon as I started playing. And it's also something that's written for cello alone. This is music that is somewhat meditative...I think of the flow of water. The afternoon light playing on leaves. If you see something that is familiar and yet it's different every day. What's amazing is that with a great friend, you could see them thousands of times and you don't look at them and say, Well today I'm really bored with you. ...Bach was a pictorial composer. One of the things that he coded was infinite variety. Instead of materiality, of saying, this is the same thing, I need a new product, it's something new every time.

From Studio 360 (Oct. 19, 2007)
I snagged this from my friend Daron's blog. He always has his feelers out for the most amazing things to share. This made me say YES! This is how I like to practice yoga! So I wanted to share it here too.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Why chant Om?

My idea for this post at first was to get the "official" take on why one might chant Om in a yoga class. Fairly quickly I realized that it wasn't so important to explore "why" from that perspective. Instead I wanted to explore why I do it.

Over the years a ritual of sorts developed to surround my classes. The opening and the ending stay fairly steady, supporting the possibility of creativity and surprise to arise during the asana practice. I like to sit for 5 minutes in the beginning. My intention is to allow time for settling into a deeper awareness of what we've come to class with. What does the body feel like today? What is the flavor of the mind? We pause before stepping into movement.

At the end of class, after Savasana, we sit again for a few minutes.

And then the sound of Om.

Most of the time we chant Om three times. I tell people that "Om" is the sound that resonates in all things. I sometimes ask people to pause and listen for that sound in all that surrounds us in the particular moment...natural sounds, mechanical sounds, inner sounds, outer sounds, nearby sounds, distant sounds. And then we allow the sound to arise, we join in.

Why chant "Om"? It feels to me like an offering of whatever benefits we've accrued from our practice out into the world at large. It brings a recognition that we're all in this together. It re-energizes us before we get up and leave...returning home, or to work, or whatever comes next. Sometimes in the evening, if the energy of the class seems particularly peaceful and it seems like it would be nice not to disturb the quiet too much, we'll whisper our Oms.

Over the years I've noticed who is in the room and what we've been doing during the posture portion of the practice has an effect on the sound in the room. Sometimes the sound is hesitant, sometimes full-throated. Sometimes each Om seems to go on forever, sometimes there is less space for that expansion, we are unsure about our voice.

The sound also feels like a last opportunity to offer up some energy to the body and mind. If we can really relax into the sound, it seems to resonate into every nook and cranny of the body. The image that comes to mind is the sound of the strings being played on a cello being colored by the shape and depth of the body of the instrument.

Last but not least, it feels like an honoring of the event that has just occured. What can I say? Yoga is an amazing practice. People are transformed in large and small ways. Isn't it wonderful to honor a body that feels a little more at ease and a mind that sees even a little more clearly? Even if it's your very first yoga class, isn't it worth recognizing that you've been at home in your body, just as it is, for the first time in what may have been a long time? And who knows what will come of that!

Maybe yoga scholars can give you other reasons for chanting Om that are steeped in ancient tradition. This is why I do it.

Namaste Yogis!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Close the language door

There is some kiss we want with
our whole lives, the touch of
spirit on the body. Seawater
begs the pearl to break its shell.
And the lily, how passionately
it needs some wild darling! At
night, I open the window and ask
the moon to come and press its
face against mine. Breathe into
me. Close the language-door and
open the love window. The moon
won't use the door, only the window.

--Rumi translated by Coleman Barks

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Have you been working out?

My husband and I joined a gym recently. I don't know why that feels like a guilty secret. I guess it isn't now, is it? I'm really enjoying it. I like doing a little cardio with some fun music on my iPod. I'm playing around a bit with some resistance stuff too, mostly machines. I don't know enough about free weights to use them although my husband has shown me a few things.

So here's what I'm kind of happy about...from now on, when I decide to go for a walk in the woods or (when the weather gets better) ride my bike it doesn't have to have anything to do with exercise. If I ride or walk for 5 minutes or an hour, it will be driven only by the joy of being outside. My yoga practice is about mindfulness and energy flow and finding balance and harmony within the whole of my life. The gym allows me to compartmentalize "exercise" in my life. And I like that.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Your story

"Your story, it's not boring and ordinary, by the way. We just get the one life you know. Just one. You can't live someone else's or think it's more important just because it's more dramatic. What happens matters, maybe only to us, but it matters."
- a bit of dialogue from the film "Ghost Town".

Thursday, January 1, 2009

In memorium

A few years ago, we were going for a walk one day at the nature center near our house. This small black and white cat with no tail popped out of the woods and before my husband could get the words "Don't pick her up" out of his mouth, she was in my arms. At some point in time and for reasons we'll never know, she had ended up out in the woods all on her own. This is not good for any cat but for a cat without her front claws, it can be even worse. We brought her home, named her Suki (which evolved over time into "Lu"). We've been best of friends ever since. Lu was a delicate girl. She was always smallish. And she was a bit grumpy. She never liked any of the other cats. I think she thought of them as riff-raff. She might have prefered being an only cat but its hard feeling superior all by yourself. After her time in the woods, she always prefered being inside or at most an adventure out on the front porch to soak up the summer sun. Lu wasn't one for being picked up or for sitting on laps. But she developed a great fondness for what we called "squeezles" which involved just being enveloped by your arms and getting her ears rubbed, while remaining in contact with the floor or the table or wherever she was currently ensconced. She learned the word "squeezle" and would get ready or let you know she wasn't interested, whatever the case might be.

Lu eventually developed heart trouble and lately had not been doing well. Today we had to make the difficult decision to ease her suffering. We are heartbroken.