Stop Scrolling, Come Together

We are all just walking each other home. ~ Ram Dass
 
Yesterday I came across the quote above and my heart Immediately said YES and my eyes became misty. Viscerally, I felt the loss of physical presence and the “come together” moments, large and small, that once made connection feel more solid.
 
What could feel more unlike coming together than living in an infectious pandemic during a volatile election year that has highlighted racial injustice and social inequities? How do we walk each other home right now? What might we do to stay engaged in a meaningful way while remaining awake and aware?
 
When envisioning this month’s Find Your Center Retreat, I intuited many would be in the midst of uncertainty, doomscrolling social media, caught somewhere between the need to know and the aversion to reading of more catastrophe. As a contrast, Natalie Akins and I designed a morning of connection, quiet contemplation and grounding practices to evoke both calm and awareness.
 
Find Your Center has been a focus of alleyCat from our inception, and there is no better time than NOW to root into that path. Come together In retreat and explore practices that center you personally and unite us collectively as we walk each other home.
 
Join Natalie and me, Saturday, October 24, 9:00-Noon. Come together, get centered and reenter life grounded, awake and aware. 
 
~Jai Bhagwan
Susan

Your Support is Vital

 
DONATE HERE Without a doubt, the current pandemic has rocked the world in ways most of us could never have imagined. Life as we knew it has come to a halt and the residue of this has impacted so many lives. I have been saddened by the loss of many lives and the economic, mental and emotional suffering experienced by so many.

The yoga community as a whole has been significantly impacted, with studios across the world closing. At this time of the year our studio would typically be buzzing with many classes and events each week, the walls holding the laughter of children and the chant of Aum. But this is not a typical year and I am working each day to let go of grasping on to what has been. I am grateful that we can continue to hold space together through our virtual studio and for the dedication of our teachers that has made this transition possible.

I want to assure you we are not in immediate danger while being clear that the crisis has significantly impacted the studio financially. I am grateful for a small PPP loan and several generous donations that have carried us through for the last months. Now it is time to directly turn to our students for support through both attendance and donations. Your support is vital to our future.

Our mission has always been to hold safe and sacred space so the practices of yoga can be experienced by all. As the impact of COVID-19 is felt in our community, we continue to endeavor to meet this mission in the most sustainable, ethical way possible. Though the format is different, our virtual offerings continue to bring students to a space of inner quiet and deeper awareness as we hold space together.

alleyCat has a long history as a transformative community and we have adapted through change and difficulty before. It is my wish that we will weather this storm and when it ends our physical doors will open once again. Please donate what you can so that we remain a thriving community, dedicated in holding sacred space together.

~Jai, Susan 

DONATE HERE

The Space Between The Thoughts

Meditation is the royal road to the attainment of freedom, a mysterious ladder that reaches from earth to heaven, darkness to light, mortality to immortality. ~Swami Sivananda, on Raja Yoga
 
Yoga is defined in yoga sutra 1.2, “Yoga is the cessation of the fluctuations of the mind.” Vividly I recall listening to that verse chanted in the background as I practiced yoga by CD with my first teacher. I remember wondering what exactly “cessation of the fluctuations” meant, having had no experience with cessation of my own mental fluctuations. When the first sip of mental clarity occurred, it was truly life changing.
 

When defining yoga, I prefer a simpler interpretation of verse 1.2,  “Yoga is the space between the thoughts.” This is brilliant! When we are enslaved to the habitual patterns of the mind, we will undoubtedly be tossed about, identified with our story. The practices of yoga provide the tools with which we can step out of the reaction to our thoughts and into a space of clarity and freedom. 

Inner freedom, according to yoga, occurs when our presence in the moment (prana) grows so strong that we let go of our inner narrative and become the watcher of our own awareness. Moksha, or liberation, occurs when we release ourselves from the patterns or grooves of the mind, unraveling our unconscious patterns. When moksha is reached, we are released from the bonds of karma.  Then we are truly free. Read More »

Lingering At the Threshold

“We have unlearned the patience and attention of lingering at the thresholds where the unknown awaits us. ~ John O’Donahue

This quote spoke to me and I posted it on a bulletin board next to my desk last fall. As a human who likes to walk the line of safety and adventure, tethered equally to both, this quote felt true and wise. Lingering over a cup of coffee and a beautiful sunset I could do; loitering at the hearth of the unknown–that was something I felt inspired to work on.

And now, here we are, not just Lingering at the Threshold, camped at the Doorway of a Yawning Chasm. Rather than patience, I would be happy to cultivate something three shades to the left of panic, terror and constant worry.

Clearly the Universe misunderstood my intentions by posting the quote next to my desk. I wanted to call up a deeper ability to let go of things–like my IPhone, my plans, my inner dialogue. I wanted to pause in the great mystery of stillness, basking in a sweaty glow, mesmerized and fully present without heed to uncertainty. I desired to return to the simplicity of idle conversation and untie the strings of technology.  And now, as community, sacred spaces and daily rituals dissolve into thin air, I stand aghast. I didn’t ask for this kind of Lingering or this Unknown. Sometimes when I look at the quote I feel angry, a true deep down fury. Read More »

Black Lives Matter | The Yoga of Action

I may not have the exact right words to say, but I am compelled to address the sadness and outrage reverberating through our communities and the tremendous injustices in our society that oppress and devalue people of color. I don’t know about you, but I am reeling from the events of the past weeks. And I’m not talking about coronavirus. I am referring to the events leading to the loss of the lives of George Floyd, Breona Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and so very many others who have died as a result of police violence and racial injustice.

Without addressing the brutality that is being experienced, I cannot ethically hold the space of the teacher, guiding others to breathe while throughout the country people of color are crying out “I CAN’T BREATHE”.

This morning I received an email from Shannon Roche, the CEO and President of Yoga Alliance containing the following:

“Breath. We who practice and teach yoga understand breath, in a deep and intimate way. We know that breath is life-giving, that it is life-changing, and that it is shared, equally, among every living being on this earth. We know exactly what George Floyd’s last words, which echoed those of Eric Garner nearly six years before—“I can’t breathe”—meant, and exactly what was taken from him.”

As the past days and weeks have shone a spotlight on the inequities in our society, from the impact of the coronavirus on people of color to the social injustice resulting in the loss of lives, I have been percolating in a sea of intense emotions–anger, frustration, hopelessness, and incredible sadness. Read More »