Friday, October 31, 2008

Who are you?

Ancient yogis (& modern ones too!) say that we are that which does not change.
Your mind changes, your body changes, your cells all change once every 7 years!
What does not change is the witness of all this change.
That much makes sense to me, usually....
Where it gets a little more intense, interesting, and hard to understand, is that what doesn't change in me is the same thing as what doesn't change in you.
At the deepest possible level we are all one, the same thing. Same ocean of drops.

If you embody and truly believe this, then:
  1. You have reached enlightenment and please start a bloga that I can read!

  2. You will be always full of glee because even if someone else wins the lottery, it will feel as if you won it yourself.

  3. If you squander away all your winnings after that (as most lottery winners do?) you won't be sad because the whole of life (which feels much better than dollars) will be streaming thru you.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

things that are broken and fixed

Lately, electronic devices in my apartment have been breaking.
I bought a TV one year ago. I discovered 2 weeks after it's one year warranty expired that the TV had no picture. I glared at it for a month, cursing my bad luck and complaining about how I never even watched it. Finally I called the TV people. They offered to extend the warranty and fix it. I didn't even ask them to do that!
Then my phone line got all crackley and died. The thought of calling a technician to come and fix it filled me with dread. Verizon said they would charge me (a lot!) if it was not an "outside problem". I felt worse. I made an appointment with a mysterious robot voice. Miraculously, the technician came 15 minutes ago, and now he's gone to have a look at the pole.
Outside problem!

Ok, 2 electronic breakage yoga lessons:

1. Nothing stays the same. Things break and are fixed. I can watch this ebb and flow like I have the best seat in the house. This is VERY yogic: I am the eternal witness, that which does not change.
2. What I think an outcome is to be, is never what the outcome will be. The thinking happens in my mind, and the outcome happens on the outside. Thinking about downward facing dog is very different than being in downward facing dog.
3. (related to #2) Worrying is pretty much pointless, it just tires the brain. Better just to do.

Monday, October 27, 2008

shoaya shoaya

That means slowly slowly, in Arabic and in Hebrew slang too.
I think it feels good to say, "shoaya shoaya".
So I've been saying it a lot.
For example:
Ah! I just bought a big beauteous coffee table that is too big for my apartment! "shoaya, shoaya".
I'm so hungry and I don't feel like cooking but I don't know where to go, "shoaya, shoaya".
What are my people?! "shoaya, shoaya"

you can use it for just about anything, and I swear, it'll make you feel better, and maybe even promote world peace too?

Sunday, October 26, 2008

ballet in silence

My friend Marissa invited me to see the ballet on Saturday (what a fabulous friend!).
The piece in this photograph, Overgrown Path, was an incredible combination of art, dance, sculpture, and music. So sad, so lovely, and so yogically bright and simple.
The dancers danced only to the music of a piano, except when there was no piano, and instead pure silence. They continued dancing anyway, without the music, without something to rest what they were dancing on. It was like watching them float, almost frightening like they would fall, but they didn't.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

You in the purple!

I work at the food coop in my neighborhood. Last night, it was slow and someone suggested that one of the group of us checkers could do our food shopping while the rest of us kept working. The woman 2 registers down from me, leaned my way and said, " You!, You in the purple, that okay with you?" I said yes because who doesn't love to shop instead of work? Then a wave of happiness flowed through me in the purple, beyond just the feeling of getting my shopping done early.

Maybe because I suddenly felt so *simple? Usually I teach yoga, or I try to figure out how to be in this world, or I want to accomplish so much and don't know where to begin. This time it was just You in the Purple.

*a few synonyms for simple from :
child’s play, cinch*, clean, easy as pie*, effortless, elementary, facile, incomplex, intelligible, light, lucid, manageable, mild, no problem, no sweat, not difficult, picnic*, piece of cake, plain, quiet, self-explanatory, simple as ABC, smooth, snap*, straightforward, transparent, uncomplicated, uninvolved, unmistakable, untroublesome, walkover

Monday, October 20, 2008

The Swami’s definition of God

This is Swami Sivananda. He is a papa/grandpapa/greatgrandpapa to many swamis far and wide...

One of his disciple Swamis asked, "When you see a movie, what is the most important thing?" We answered, "the characters!", "the plot!", "the scene?" The Swami replied, "The screen. Without the screen you have nothing to project the movie upon."

In the Sivananda yoga tradition, this is a classic. I remember when I learned this, that I didn't like how the Swami knew the answer but let us guess like little kids. This explanation did though, make an impression on me.

Now, in my own confusion I like imagining the simplicity and cleanliness of an open space, a blank screen, and of something that never changes itself, but change happens upon it. Its like contemplating infinity, seeing beyond the stars, or looking into deep water. A very small and very big feeling all at once.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

doctor’s office yoga

was absolutely nowhere to be found this morning. After 2 & ½ hours of waiting I thought I would implode, or explode and my only way of dealing was so 2009. Txt msging! Furiously writing about our stupid healthcare system and wanting to throw stuff out the window.

My friend wrote back to me, "doctor's office yoga" so I had to wonder how, on earth, a girl could have dealt with that situation yogically.

Here's some ideas:

  1. Invoke the goddess Kali, with her tongue dripping blood and hair all crazy, with her red third eye and human skulls for a necklace. Maybe she would scare everyone away and I'd be next in line?
  2. I'm realizing the problem really is about powerless-ness, not only patience.
  3. Yoga teaches that suffering comes from misunderstanding (as well as from a few other things I'll write about on another day…).
  4. So, basically in the doctor's office waiting room, I forgot my true nature as a limitless, unbounded drop in the ocean of our life and existence.
  5. Instead I felt completely bound, almost like being tied up.
  6. My mind was doing the binding. No one was actually in there with ropes.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


When I was at the Sivananda Ashram in India, the Swami meditated at 3am. He meditated outside (oh, warm weather...) in the dark, in an orange robe looking like a singular bollard.
He picked this time because the energy in the very early morning is still and full of secrets like a pregnant woman.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

The day of fasting 2008

I fasted on Yom Kippur. That was Thursday, and now it is Sunday and I'm still feeling the effects of a day of being empty. I hadn't realized until that day, how much stuff I give myself every day! Almost anything I want. On Yom Kippur, I didn't give myself anything tangible.

When I walked to the park, I only took my 2 keys. That was it! No wallet, no food, no water, no nothin'*, as they say in lovely bklyn. When I sat in the grass, I felt really different. I wasn't thinking about meeting anyone, or what café I would go to get lunch, or that I needed to accomplish anything, anywhere. There was only grass, clover, sun, and a few other people, some empty like me, lying in the park like little blankets of energy. Usually there is a thicker layer (stuff) between myself and nature. By taking away the distraction and desire of STUFF, that layer felt transparent.

A few weeks ago when we were working on a project, my friend Gil said that "art doesn't get made on a full stomach." I was hungry and didn't really want to hear that at the time, but we got our stuff done, and then we ate and it was delicious.

It's been a while since I've allowed myself to be empty enough to make art. I'm not just talking about food, but all the other stuff I've piled on so that it's hard to move. This year, I am going to try to be patient with emptiness. In yoga, or pranamaya, the exercise would be to focus on the exhale, rather than the inhale.

*this picture is from before, I didn't bring my camera!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

more is not better

My physical therapist told me that yesterday, and today it's been running through my mind like a small refrain. Yesterday in the debate Obama said that after Sept. 11, President Bush said that the best thing we could do as Americans was to get out there and shop. My goodness.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

my favorite yoga analogy

is that we are like a lake in the mountains.
When we are clear, our lake is smooth and able to reflect the mountains around it exactly as they are.
When we are anxious, worried, ruffled, our lake is wavy and turbulent and unable to reflect the mountains.
The 2nd yoga sutra *, or thread is yogas chitta vritti nirodaha. Yoga calms the oscillations of the mind. How does it calm those oscillations!? Mostly by bringing you into this exact moment. In your experience of yoga, there is only your body, mind, breath and awareness. Its like minimalism of your person.
I remember when I first moved to New York, my roomate, who is German, had a white piece of paper in our office room that said in capital black letters, KLARHEIT, which is German for CLARITY.
Now, 9 years later, I think about that paper more than anything else we had in our little apartment.
*this link is a little dense but if you have time and want to focus...

cold season~

I've decided that the yogic way to deal with having a cold is to sleep a lot.
Its a test of patience, with yourself, with your nose, & with your head in general.
It can be a good time for lucid dreaming and meditation.
So your bones don't feel like your usual bones at this moment. Instead they feel like very heavy ancient bones.
But we all look for a changes of consciousness once in a while. So how about instead of drowning in the kleenex, try a little floating on top? That's my plan.
Now if you have to go to work anyway, then its a totally different story and becomes a practice of removing yourself from your body awareness. Just pretend your are not sick. It sometimes actually works.