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22 June 2007

show biz gurus and chakra underwear

Before I leave for my week long retreat with Gehlek Rimpoche, I will leave you with three YouTube videos of an upcoming documentary called "Yoga, Inc."

Step right up and get your instant enlightenment in that drive-up yoga studio --- hey, maybe one day we won't even have to get out of our cars to do yoga! What a concept! I need to call my lawyer before I leave for my retreat.

Note to Self:

1. Buy throne just like Bikram's.

2. Buy chakra panties.

3. Sit on throne in my chakra panties and teach yoga.

4. Copyright my sequences and sue anyone teaching MY YOGA sitting on a throne wearing chakra panties.

om namah shivaya, y'all!





21 June 2007

living tantra



I discovered a nice site called Living Tantra and I've linked it in the Cyberpals and Whatnot sidebar.

Some Western yogis mistakenly believe that tantra yoga only has to do with tantric sex. A long time ago I saw Sting and his wife talking about their relationship on Oprah (probably around the same time that she gave yoga its requisite 15 minutes of attention), so if it's on Oprah you KNOW that tantra just HAS to be something we all MUST incorporate into our lives (insert rolling eyes and sarcastic smirk smiley here)...along with finding the right bra and those jeans that fit PERFECTLY! Anyway....

In his book Living Yoga: A Comprehensive Guide for Daily Life, Georg Feuerstein writes that "tantra yoga is the path of ritual...and sexual rituals form only a small part of this yogic orientation. Tantra yoga is about realizing that our personal creativity is rooted in, or derives from, cosmic creative potential itself. From the tantric perspective, creativity is a manifestation of the feminine principle of the universe, the Goddess, called shakti"

Feuerstein also writes in his book Tantra: The Path of Ectasy that tantra emphasizes the cultivation of shakti as a path to infinite bliss. His says that tantric teachings are geared toward the attainment of enlightenment as well as spiritual power and are present not only in Hinduism but also in Vajrayana Buddhism.

In my my yoga training I learned that the word tantra in Sanskrit literally means "weave" thereby denoting that our yoga practices -- and not just the physical aspect of yoga -- are woven (or should be woven) into our daily lives as a beautiful mandala. Therefore, if we are living in a truly tantric manner, we are fully incorporating our yoga into our lives as a daily ritual, consciously taking it off the mat and into our lives.

The following ayurvedic practice/ritual is an excerpt from the Living Tantra website:

DINACHARYA: Daily Conduct

This is a short version of the practice of dinacharya. If you wish to fine tune this for your constitution (vatta, pitta, kapha), read more about the practice in one of the resources listed in the “Ayurveda” sidebar of Living Tantra.

VIEW

Dinacharya” means daily conduct. Appropriate patterning or ritual conduct is the foundation of a healthy life. Dinacharya is balancing for all of the doshas: vatta, pitta, and kapha. It promotes healthy organization of the energy channels and the seating of the pranas, or internal winds.

METHOD

Wake up by 6 a.m. Pitta and kapha types can wake up earlier. If you can’t manage this at first, work your way into it. You can train yourself to wake up at this time naturally. It helps to sleep in a room that is not totally dark—one that allows some natural light to enter.

1. Before opening your eyes or getting out of bed, sense the energy of the day. Spend a few moments connecting with the larger cosmos. Breath through the top of your head directly into your heart space (the center of your chest, not the physical heart). You can visualize a golden, luminous stream of compassion and love coming to you from all of your spiritual teachers, past, present, and future, and from all realized beings. Feel a sense of grace expanding throughout the body, and radiate this stream of light from the heart space back to your teachers and all beings....


Also courtesy of the Living Tantra website is Indian Music for Global Yogis. You will see a widget in the sidebar where you can search and download everything from South Indian carnatic music to Krishna Das to vedic chants.

om namah shivaya!

shanti

17 June 2007

making room for new growth




I received this lesson in an email from a good friend. Some food for thought...

"About a week ago, I received a white climbing rose bush from the people with whom I rent space to teach my children's yoga classes. Those classes are now finished, and I won't be continuing weekly classes in the fall as new opportunities have presented themselves.

I wondered where to put the bush because I have so many rose bushes already of various kinds and colors.

I found a large decorative pot, and I decided to plant the rose bush in the pot and place it on my deck where I could see the sweet white flowers while eating outside and from my kitchen window. There were several full flowers on it when I received it and the directions indicated that caution was needed when pruning it. I was a little concerned about this, and I said to myself that I would need help in pruning this rose bush.

I went away for a couple of days. Before I left I went to cut the roses that were in full bloom and then decided not to - they were too far gone, and I wasn't sure exactly where to cut, so I left the full blooms on the bush.

I returned home and immediately noticed that the rose bush had been pruned. But by who? No one knows I have this bush. No one can see the bush from the street, and there are dozens of roses on other bushes, and none of them were pruned. Why this bush? The stems weren't anywhere to be seen inside or outside my house.

I called my colleague, my father-in-law, and the people who gave it to me. No one in the flesh pruned the bush. At first I was concerned that someone was on my property fooling around with my plants, but that feeling quickly dissipated.

This morning I got it. I knew there was a message in this for me, but what was it? I knew it had to do with the pruning. So what does pruning mean or represent?

This past evening I felt in my entire being that I need to give my full resignation to one of my nursing positions - the one I've been working at for nearly 8 years. When I work there I become physically sick - not severely, but I'm not well when I leave. I also have been struggling with this knowing and procrastinating on this for several months.

The pruning of the rose bush spoke to me about clearing the unnecessary baggage in my life - I have too many balls in the air, and something has got to give - I've cleared a huge amount of clutter this spring, and now I knew I needed to leave this job completely, once and for all. A good personal pruning for me was in order. I couldn't deny the sign - clearly the bush had been pruned by someone - I say by the divine beings in my life or St. Frances who stands just next to the bush. In either case, I'm listening, and I wrote my resignation today. I already left my supervisor a message, and I'll be turning in my nurse's bag and key on Monday.

Unless we prune (which can be painful), we can't create space for further growth - when I looked at the bush a second time, two new buds appear on it - new growth happens quickly when we make room."


I know exactly how this woman feels. A number of years ago I had an ovarian cancer scare and subsequently had abdominal surgery. During that experience I began to "prune" things and people from my life. Things I had collected over the years that no longer had meaning, but also people who did not nourish me, people who always seemed to be on the periphery -- people who really weren't my friends, but they were in my life. They floated in and out of my life like ghosts.

I did the same thing when I returned from India the first time because I felt changed. Indeed, I did not have to say anything or do anything, and the first thing some people said to me when they took a good long look at me was "you've changed." It was literally months before I got over my culture shock of returning to white bread suburbia.

Besides a yoga teacher, I am also a certified horticulturist and I know that sometimes a plant needs to be severely pruned in order to give it new life, in order to make it stronger. The plant may look like hell for a long time, but it comes back lusher and more beautiful than before once the deadwood is removed.

Is there a lesson for you in this story? How much pruning do you need to do in your life? Are you strong enough to cut the deadwood out of your life no matter how painful it is?

shanti

15 June 2007

help free the Panchen Lama





Most of you know who the Dalai Lama is, but many people do not know that the Panchen Lama is the second most important figure in Tibetan Buddhism. The Panchen Lama traditionally recognises the Dalai Lama's reincarnation. There will be consequences for Tibet if the recognition of the next Dalai Lama was to come under Chinese influence. The Dalai Lama has stated that if he dies in exile his reincarnation will be born in exile and not in Tibet.

From the Free Tibet website:

"In May 1995, Chinese occupying forces abducted the six year-old Panchen Lama from his home in Tibet. No one there has seen or heard from him since. His abduction was a crime not only against an innocent child, but against the Tibetan nation and its way of life.

The whereabouts and welfare of Gedhun Choekyi Nyima are still unknown more than 11 years since he was abducted by the Chinese authorities. China defied numerous calls on the case, including one from the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child to "allow an independent expert to visit and confirm the well-being of Gedhun Choekyi Nyima whilst respecting his right to privacy, and that of his parents".

Despite additional calls from the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Louise Arnour, and the UK through the EU-China and the UK-China Human Rights Dialogues, China maintains that 'the so-called Panchen Lama was a normal child, leading a healthy and happy life.'"


Help free the Panchen Lama by signing this petition

For more information about the Panchen Lama, read this post by my gal pal in India, Sirensongs.

Let's try. Global community, global voices.

BOYCOTT THE 2008 OLYMPICS IN BEIJING

FREE TIBET

13 June 2007

weapons of ocean destruction





Hmmmmm...apparently the U.S. Army has been dumping our own weapons of mass destruction (you know...WMDs...those things Pres. Shrub swore we'd find in Iraq, but never did) in the ocean for years...Munitions Dumping at Sea.

"Military intelligence" seems to be an oxymoron. What?!? Who said moron? Don't look at me, Mr. President...

"It is no secret that the U.S. military has used the ocean as trashcan for munitions in the past. ...'The Army now admits that it secretly dumped 64 million pounds of nerve and mustard agents into the sea, along with 400,000 chemical-filled bombs, land mines and rockets and more than 500 tons of radioactive waste - either tossed overboard or packed into the holds of scuttled vessels.'

...Hundreds of dolphins washed ashore in Virginia and New Jersey shorelines in 1987 with burns similar to mustard gas exposure..."


Yeah, I know this post has nothing to do with India or my yoga journey, but there is something to be said about the interconnectedness of all things and a regard for sentient beings.

SATYA = TRUTH

AHIMSA = NON-HARMING

SHANTI = PEACE

08 June 2007

random thoughts, random images

Happy Friday!


Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

images from Photobucket.com

For a good read try "Dreams Don't Retire" on The Worst Horse website that says it's "pop- and sub-culture for dharma people, dharma for pop- and sub-culture people." So for all you dharma punx out there, check it out.

An excerpt from the "open letter to the Buddhist Baby Boomers":

"If you're a Boomer reading this now, odds are that you’re still engaged in peacework and positivity, whether as a Dharma practitioner or not. So if you still feel like a sell-out or a has-been sometimes, stop, and take stock of how the world has changed since you've been on the planet: Compassion is an everyday word. Environmental responsibility is not just a dream, but a legal principle. And you've turned out some pretty excellent kids and grandkids -- or at least we'd like to think so. In fact, it might just be that no generation -- not even ours -- has ever done more to make a better world. And you made it, pretty much, out of whole cloth."


Love it!

06 June 2007

if you only had one hour...

...what would you ask the Dalai Lama?




from YouTube.com:

"Why do the poor often seem happier than the rich? Must a society lose its traditions in order to move into the future? How do you reconcile a commitment to non-violence when faced with violence? These are some of the questions posed to His Holiness the Dalai Lama by filmmaker and explorer Rick Ray. Ray examines some of the fundamental questions of our time by weaving together observations from his own journeys throughout India and the Middle East, and the wisdom of an extraordinary spiritual leader. In an era when many religious and political leaders are viewed with suspicion, and when cynical agendas rule both government and clergy, the Dalai Lama is undeniably authentic. Along with Martin Luther King, Gandhi and Jesus, this great leader inspires millions and has influenced the world in so many ways. This is his story, as told and filmed by Rick Ray during a private visit to his monastery in Dharamsala, India over the course of several months. Also included is rare historical footage as well as footage supplied by individuals who at great personal risk, filmed with hidden cameras within Tibet. Part biography, part philosophy, part adventure and part politics, 10 Questions for The Dalai Lama conveys more than history and more than answers - it opens a window into the heart of a great man."


BOYCOTT THE 2008 OLYMPICS IN BEIJING

FREE TIBET

05 June 2007

the rainbow



I usually don't keep all the forwarded emails I get from people, I read them quickly and click delete. But today this one was a keeper not only for the photo but also for the line "don't be afraid that your life will end, be afraid that it will never begin."

I have tried to live my life in this way for the past few years, and when I'm faced with making a decision about something I always ask myself, "if not now, when?"

"As we grow up, we learn that even the one person that wasn't supposed to ever let you down probably will. You will have your heart broken probably more than once and it's harder every time. You'll break hearts too, so remember how it felt when yours was broken.

You'll fight with your best friend. You'll blame a new love for things an old one did. You'll cry because time is passing too fast, and you'll eventually lose someone you love.

So take too many pictures, laugh too much, and love like you've never been hurt because every sixty seconds you spend upset is a minute of happiness you'll never get back.

Don't be afraid that your life will end, be afraid that it will never begin.

Live simply. Love generously. Care deeply. Speak kindly. Leave the rest to God."


Enjoy...and dance like there's no tomorrow.

04 June 2007

leaving rameswaram
















March 2006

I returned to my hotel after the bucket ceremony and lounged around for a few hours thinking about my past three days in Rameswaram. I sat on my little balcony staring out into the ocean wishing that I did not have to leave this place. Of course I was not under any delusion that if Fate decreed that I stay here that Rameswaram would be peaches and cream. I’m sure it would be just like when you meet a man and have a wild weekend love affair only to discover when you do try to make it work that he really hates your cats and he farts all night. I packed my bag.

Kannen returned in plenty of time to take me to the train station. I had to pay him for his three days of being my guide. When we met he told me that I should pay him what I think he’s worth, that it was totally up to me, he never asked for any money during our time together.

When he arrived he said, “Kannen wants to talk to you,” referring to himself in the third person, which I thought was quaint. He came into my room without asking. I thought that was rather bold and I left the door open as I stood close to it. He sat down on my bed. I thought that was even bolder remembering again what I had been told about South Indian culture and men. “What do you think of Kannen?,” he asked. I thought I should be careful in what I say, my guard was up. I told him that I thought he was a good and kind man, and also a quietly spiritual one. He began to tell me how he felt a connection to me these past few days, that he knows I am a spiritual woman. But then he told me that his wife did not understand him and that they always fight, that he has his life and she has hers. I groaned inwardly and I bit my lips to keep from smiling. Are men truly the same all over the world?!? Is there a Universal Male Playbook that contains these lines?

I looked at him and slowly shook my head. “You are married, and so am I,” I said very seriously. Then I said something I thought he would understand even more...”and I have a dear friend. Understand? ‘dear friend?’," and I pointed to my heart. “He is always in here.” Kannen nodded that he understood.

We walked out and he asked me for $40. This was over and above the rupees I had given him for his guide services. I raised an eyebrow, squinted, and looked sideways at him. Then he asked me if I would buy him a cellphone when I got back home and send it to him. One would think that this conversation immediately after telling me that I'm a spiritual woman would infuriate me, but it didn’t. I actually thought it was hilarious and tried very hard to keep from laughing. For some reason it did not phase me at all.

I explained to him that there was no way I was going to buy him a cellphone and send it to him when he lives in a country where even the Shiva babas own cellphones. I told him that Indian cellphones are much cheaper than American ones. However, I did break down and give him an extra $20 in American money. His guide services were definitely worth it, and besides....his wife didn’t understand him, how could I refuse?

I gave him a bandana covered with OM symbols that was still wet from the temple water. I told him he could remember me by it. He put it in his shirt pocket telling me it would keep me close to his heart. Quaint. A smooth operator.

We said goodbye at the train station and he told me that when (not if) I return to Rameswaram, he will always be there to help me, to “please call Kannen.” Of course I will. How can I not?

I sat in non-air-conditioned First Class for my 17 hour train ride back to Chennai. My compartment mate was a businessman going home to the state of Andhra Pradesh. Compared to my first compartment mates on the train to Madurai which was a long two weeks ago, this man was very polite and talkative, and spoke perfect English. We talked about yoga and meditation, about Gandhi, and the politics in India. He told me that there are many Indians who hate Gandhi and this surprised me very much.

I loved the train ride because since it was not air-conditioned, there was no window glass, the windows had bars across them. In every station we came to along the way I heard the cries of the chai merchants or food sellers and they would hand me my purchases through the window. A magazine seller walked by and seeing the feringhee woman, he pushed English magazines through the window at me, telling me to “buy, madam, buy! Look! English!” I kept telling him “no” in Tamil as the train pulled away.

We pulled into Chennai at about 8 am and my compartment mate made sure that I knew where I was going. I did, and Suresh picked me up in his rickshaw to drive me back to my hotel. Although I loved my travels, I had missed the cacophony that was Chennai. I spent the next two days chillin’ in Chennai, and did a day trip to Tiruvannamalai, another famous temple town.

My month in India was finally over and I cried the night I had to leave. But I knew I would be back. I can not stay away from My India.

wild women


WILD WOMEN CREED

Girls at any age
seeking to live life with volume & verve,
to be outrageous & offkey,
mismatched & mischievous,
breathless & bold,
cosmic & clever,
brazen & boundless,
with a passion for the possible.
Wild Women make it happen,
gathering to celebrate
the secrets of a sisterspirit.
Are you a Wild One?


Pam Reinke, 2004

I've always been a Wild Woman, "contrary to ordinary, even as a child" as Jerry Jeff Walker sings in his song of the same name. As my astrolger told me, I came out of the womb wanting to get out of the box. I've had many nicknames over the years (including "Kozmic" when I was a young hippie chick), and "Loba" is one of them. A friend gave it to me because he said "wild women and wolves have always been misunderstood." Ain't it the truth? "Loba" is the Spanish feminine for wolf. Maybe that is why I am drawn to the Hindu goddess Kali because she is misunderstood by people who don't know her full story, they only see the demonic side of her.

When I found the Wild Women Creed in a hip little boutique, I knew I had to have it, and it's displayed where you can see it immediately when you walk into my house. So when I read the Daily Om today and clicked on the Daily Om Library, I knew that I have to get this book...check out the excerpts...

The Daily Om

Wise Talk, Wild Women
From "Wise Talk, Wild Women" by Gwen Mazer, with portaits by Christine Alicino.
Posted by: DailyOM
"...In the community where I grew up, I experienced older people who were not encumbered by age. One such person I was especially fond of was a...woman (who) must have been "old" when I was a little girl, but she practiced yoga, meditated, traveled, and told tales of fascinating places...

So much emphasis, especially in advertising, seemed focused on the value of youth and the need to appear young by any means possible. Young women worried about being old at thirty, just when they were gaining the tools to create meaningful lives. I looked into the cultural mirrors held up to women my age in television, advertising, and cartoons, and I saw elders, crones, fearful seniors, women fading invisibly on the edges of life. I did not see myself in those mirrors. On the contrary, I felt excited, vibrant, sexual, and curious, with rising energy for the quests of this new phase of my life....

(In this book)...Each was her own individual. Each danced to her own drum. Even if she had tried to force herself into a cultural mold, her individuality and need to create kept popping out. Each one needed to create a life and an identity, an expression in the world, and each one seemed to find her own purpose, her own center. They could not be damped down. They were wild women in the truest sense.

One of the most crucial things the women shared was the ability to operate from intuition, and many believed this to be more and more important as they grew older. Many felt their spirituality and their intuition to be entwined. There is a difference between the inner voice, which I like to describe as a quiet whisper, and the loud voice of the mind or ego that is chattering away with opinions and ideas, what we did and what we didn't do, what we said and what we didn't say. When we begin to discern between the two, our minds can clear. The sediment settles to the bottom, and we start to see the wisdom we've gleaned from our life experience. Inner listening-and trusting and following what we hear-is the most important skill we can cultivate. The wise woman within will never lead us astray..."
(Emphasis added.)

I've been getting lots of messages from the Universe lately. Due to the nature of these messages I feel like the Universe is kicking me squarely in my yoga butt (the one I'm supposed to get in ONLY 20 MINUTES A DAY!) to indeed listen to my intuition and to act on certain things, like my own line of yoga clothes. I am also hearing whispers about starting my own yoga teacher training program, but that won't be a few years yet, all things manifest when they are ready. My intuition is telling me to take it to a new direction, that is must somehow be connected to social action. Time will tell.

I attended a workshop by Max Strom yesterday. He was awesome and I highly recommend taking a workshop if he is in your area. The title of the workshop was "Yoga: An Act of Remembrance" and he started out talking about memory. He asked us to remember when we heard a song that we deeply connected with, or a place that when we arrived it seemed so familiar to us even though we had never been there before (like India instantly was for me), or a book that when we read it we said to ourselves "these are my words, I could have written this." He said that these experiences are coming from deep within our cellular memory, that we have lived these things before, that these experiences were not learned in this lifetime. He said that is the reason why some of us connect so deeply and passionately with the totality of yoga, not just the physical part of it, but the total package of asana-pranayama-spirituality.

When Max talked about memory, it hit me that whatever I am feeling now, whatever I have been intuiting at this stage in my crone life, I have been here before. For whatever reason, the seeds could not sprout earlier, or else they sprouted too early and then died, as a baby plant sometimes does for no apparent reason. The feeling in my bones is that the seeds are being watered now for manifestation in this lifetime.

I also had an aura photograph taken over the weekend, which turned out to be a little freaky, in a good way. When she first saw it, the aura photographer (who is also an energy worker) let out a little gasp and told me that I have some "biggies" guiding me right now. My aura was mainly blue and violet with a large splash of green on the right side, but it also had five white "globes" surrounding me. My guides? Angels? Who knows, but she said that they're guiding me to follow my own path. She told me to enlarge the photo to 11X17 to it's highest resolution because then I might be able to discern faces in these white globes.

"Inner listening - and trusting and following what we hear - is the most important skill we can cultivate. The wise woman within will never lead us astray..."

01 June 2007

The Banyan



The Banyan

my visit to The Banyan

Ideas are percolating to start my own line of yoga clothes...renewable resources regarding the cloth, fair trade, empowering women, giving back...one day I know this will happen...just as The Banyan started as a seed and grew into a beautiful tree....

I vow that a percentage of my sales will go to The Banyan...please watch this video and listen with your heart...these are the faces of your sisters and mothers and daughters and grandmothers...they are us.

People ask me why I would want to help people outside the United States when there are so many needy people here. That is very true, there are thousands (probably millions) of people who need help in the United States. Many Native Americans live in what are considered third-world conditions which is why I donate to Native American causes. But the difference is that there are hundreds if not thousands of social service agencies in the United States, many of which receive federal funds. That concept is unheard of in places like India or Africa or any other place in the world where people literally earn $1 a day or who are still sold into a type of slavery -- please visit the website Global March Against Child Labor. You can also check out 50 Million Missing: An International Campaign or my post about the campaign.

Poor Americans have opportunities that many people in the rest of the world do not have -- scholarships or grants to go to college, small business loans to start their own businesses, among other things. It may be paltry but there is also public aid and food stamps, two things that I did not hesitate to take. I ate plenty of government cheese back in the day.

Despite the fact that the United States does not have any form of national health care, I would rather live in poverty in America than anywhere else in the world.

That's why.