Wednesday, October 28, 2009

My own eyes...

I took this photograph while I was in Santa Barbara last week. I wasn't sure it would come out...the shimmer of the sun on the sea. I thought it might be too bright....but look it's there!
I'm using this as my desktop photo. There's something wonderful about seeing this photo each morning when I log on....not a photo of a place I wish I'd seen or remember being, taken by someone else...but a moment I saw with my own eyes in a particular moment in time. I don't take a lot of photos usually. I used to. But sometimes I feel like it takes me out of the moment and puts me at a distance from the current event. For this photo though, I was there, inhaling this scene with all of my senses...morning by the sea, the smell of the ocean, the cool breeze, the gentleness of the sun at this time of day, sand under my feet, water swirling around my ankles, the hiss of the thinning end of a wave on the shore, the crash of the breaking waves further out, shore birds calling....memories of a long life calling...and home calling....home where there is no ocean but my heart rests.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009


I'm reading a mystery novel called "Still Life" by Louise Penny. Yesterday I came across this dialogue between a senior police officer and a new recruit.
"I watch. I'm very good at observing. Noticing things. And listening. Actively listening to what people are saying, their choice of words, their tone. What they aren't saying. And this, Agent Nichols, is the key. It's choice"


"We choose our thoughts. We choose our perceptions. We choose our attitudes. We may not think so. We may not believe it, but we do. I absolutely know that we do. I've seen enough evidence, time after time, tragedy after tragedy. Triumph after triumph. It's about choice."

... Life is choice. All day, everyday. Who we talk to, where we sit, what we say, how we say it. And our lives become defined by our choices. It's as simple and complex as that. And as powerful."

My teacher Erich Schiffmann often says when opening a workshop..."remember, you have options and choices". Do you think he only means what you do with your body? How are you defining your yoga practice? I'm contemplating that myself.

Monday, October 5, 2009

The Perfect Room

I've been thinking about the space or spaces where we practice our yoga. I have a nice little room at home. When we bought our house years ago, the first thing we did was have a hardwood floor put in one of the small bedrooms. We never finished the floor...its unsealed. At first we meant to get around to finishing it but I've grown to like it just this way. I've painted the space several different colors over the years. Only one of them turned out to be a mistake...a too cold-feeling lilac. Right now its kind of a warm asparagus green. We've got our yoga props and books. Our mats are always out ready for practice on a moments notice. Cats are allowed to wander in and out. Meditation pillows, candles...its a comfortable space for us and we love it.

But in our previous house, we practiced in a loft open to the sounds of the rest of the house, it was a bit dusty too. We once decided we needed to practice in the kitchen because it was the only place without carpeting! That didn't last long.

Over the years I've taught yoga in a wide variety of spaces. One church gymnasium my students were particularly fond of even though it got reeeaaallly hot in there in the summer. But there were great accoustics for "ommming" and lots of room to spread out. There were spaces that were quiet and spaces with street noise. There were spaces in buildings with no other activities but our yoga class and spaces with lots of other classes....including a pottery studio downstairs, private music lessons across the hall. We could sometimes hear the thump of the clay being thrown. We could always hear the music. Have you meditated to ragtime piano? It's an interesting challenge. Then there was the time a year ago where the walls of the classroom were painted a deep red. People were upset. How are we going to do yoga in a RED room?! (We've managed nicely thank you). There was a space on the top floor of an old building with floors so dusty and dirty that you needed to stay on your mat or your feet got filthy.

Recently one of the studios where I teach has relocated with a new owner. It's only been a short time but change is hard and people are struggling to make it feel like home. I've struggled a bit too. But I've come to realize that as we sit in meditation, as we do our yoga practice, bit by bit we will discover the space where we practice is within. Much as we would prefer not to have external challenges to that practice, they can be part of the deepening of our practice. The deepening of our attention can grow in just such challenging places.

As Jon Kabat-Zinn matter where you go, there you are.