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 »

Doing The Best I Can: Empathy and Self-Compassion

Yesterday was a struggle. I resented the sunshine and just wanted to spend my one day off doing a bunch of nothing. I watched the news incessantly, binge watched a new show and finally took my mat outside to lie in the sun. Eventually B and I made up a soccer game in the living room to get moving and to entertain ourselves. Overworking is difficult. Boredom is real as well.

One of the things I have become aware of is that I am personally up and down with EVERYTHING right now. Taking a business to a brand new online model in 3 days is not what I would call “relaxing”. For me boredom has not been a thing until yesterday. Life has been nonstop problem solving, learning and teaching.

That has led me to reflect on how every person I speak with is experiencing this crisis in different ways.  Read More »

Exhale Fear

Forget safety. Live where you fear to live. Destroy your reputation. Be notorious.

~Rumi

Many years ago when I was young I was very ill and went through about 5 years of multiple surgeries and hospitalizations. It really sucked. My 20’s and early 30’s I was “sickly” and I lived with a great deal of uncertainly and fear. Meanwhile I was a young mother, quite poor at times and trying to manage multiple things. After each surgery I would withdraw inward from the pain, rarely looking at anyone, talking or moving. I had no practices during most of this time to rely upon, only my youth, stubbornness, my love for my children and refusal to accept the label SICKLY. When I would make it home from the hospital my mom would take care of me and the next day we would walk to the mailbox. The next day I would walk to the next driveway. Then the third day I could usually make it all the way down the street. After that, things would generally fall back into place and life would resume…until the illness began again.

The way of recovery was to DO something physical in order to become stronger. The way out was to BELIEVE that I could do it. The way out was to PERSEVERE despite the pain. I went through this cycle so many times until my last surgery which was about 14 years ago. I was in the step-down ICU for 5 months and left the hospital with a walker. 2 months later I went backpacking (I was 38 after all), that is how quickly I recovered partially because by then I DID have practices.  Read More »