Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Spirit of the Season, Light and Love

    As the holiday season arrives I have been thinking a lot about the meaning of this time of year and how imperative it is to pause even amidst the shopping, cooking, decorating, to take time away from "to dos" and reflect on the "for whats".  This is a time that calls us to see the connectivity and congruency of human experience through time and across cultures. In fact going back to ancient cultures this has been a time of deep reflection and celebration. This is the time when the chill and the dark call us to gather and be warm in each other's company, to slow down and connect, tell stories of the year, to laugh and cry together. It is the time, also, to celebrate the coming of the light, the cycles of life, and beauty of the seasons, a time to let go of what this last year brought and to look into the bright future and world of possibility that lies ahead. This is a time to forgive and let go, to mend and make new, to open our hearts to family, community, and the world in the spirit of love and kindness.

  Whether this season has religious significance to us or not there is a resonance that goes beyond specific traditions or dogma. Whoever we are or what we believe, this is a time of magic and miracles. There is a sense that peace and harmony are possible and that the light of goodness is bright in this world. Celebrate, smile, light a candle, sing a song, pray in your own perfect way, dance, hug everyone, especially the children, practice random acts of kindness and open your heart to light and love.

Peace and Joy.      

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Reflections on the Full Moon

 We live in a magical universe of intricate patterns and rhythms, of ancient dances of primal energy and infinite connectivity. This is something we have largely disconnected from as we have moved away from our relationship to the earth and the heavens. The cosmic dance is hard to notice as we busily build careers, raise children, update our statuses, respond to emails, and monitor endless to do lists. The price we pay is that we also have disconnected from intuition and soul connection, our sense of self that is rooted in spirit and love.

A way to get back to that deeper nature of ourselves, and regain a sense of being in the flow, the dance, is the exploration and inquiry of yoga. Many yoga asana, in name and energy, encourage this conscious remembrance of earth, heaven and the infinite universe. We have the classic Surya Namaskara, or sun salutation which is masculine in nature and, for a long time, that was it. After all, yoga asana, and yoga in general, has been largely a male generated art and science. But, some wise yoginis noticed the lack of a salutation to the moon, the feminine aspect and equal partner in the dance, and they created the moon salutation (Chandra Namaskara).

When you think about it we are very much tied to, and influenced by moon energy. The moon controls the cycles of the waters and it's tides. We are mostly water. The cycle of the moon is 28 days and so is the cycle of women. The new moon calls to releasing old patterns and hails new beginnings, the full moon is full of the energies of fruition, abundance, birthing and manifestation.

My yoga class this past Saturday happened to land on the last full moon of the year. I brought lunar exploration to the class. We wrote intentions on pieces of paper at the beginning of class to be charged with full moon energy and the prana of our yoga community. We formed our mats into a full moon circle and explored watery movements and hip opening. The hips are the region of the chakra, or energy center, associated with water, the divine feminine, creativity and manifestation. We did a magical, moving, dance prayer variation of Chandra Namaskara. I asked the students to send the energy of their practice to their intentions with a child consciousness, that place that believes in magic and miracles, that place of pure simple faith. When we set an intention from the fullness of our hearts and spirits, and have faith, the whole universe conspires to bring it to fruition.

The next time you are feeling lost or alone look to the sun, moon, oceans and earth. Follow the patterns of the moon and the sun, the cycles of nature, and dance, go to your mat, gather in circles of intention and prayer. Reconnect. Magic and miracles do happen, wait and see.  

I finished the class with this poem by Hafiz:

With That Moon Language
Admit something: Everyone you see, you say to them, "Love me."

Of course you do not do this out loud, otherwise someone would call the cops.

Still though, think about this, this great pull in us to connect. Why not become the one who lives with a full moon in each eye that is always saying, with that sweet moon language, What every other eye in this world is dying to hear?



Sunday, December 4, 2011

Amazing Journey

  I have not posted in ages it seems. I have been on the road for the last three weeks having a yoga teacher training at Kripalu, a trip to Milwaukee for family Thanksgiving and then back to Kripalu to assist Let Your Yoga Dance teacher training. All of it full of happiness, joy and growth.

The first leg of the journey was part two of a yearlong training I am in called the Acharya Intensive. In this intensive I, along with eleven other beautiful soul teachers, are receiving training in the teachings of Swami Kripalu from two of his direct students and senior Kripalu faculty. It is an honor and great privilege to have been selected and take part in this journey of transformation.

Swami Kripalu said the first yoga practice is love and the highest spiritual practice is self observation without judgment. During this year of study we are diving into these practices. Using our community of support, sacred space, and the fundamental practices of pranayama, asana, meditation, prayer and puja we have joined to courageously participate in a practice of self discovery.

The real intention and purpose of yoga is to reclaim our true selves and find liberation. Part of this process requires us to dig into, to excavate, our wounded places and the parts we have resisted. These places (negative samskaras), have intense energy waiting to be unblocked and transformed. Everything in us, both the darkness and the light is part of this truth, that we are beings of love. Even hate, jealously, malice, shame, the shadow realms, are part of that truth. We are who we are, but illusion and ignorance block our vision. We are buried treasures just waiting to be uncovered. That is the purpose of yoga, to remember who we are.

Read this prayer that Swami Kripalu delivered to my teacher Vidya in her moment of need and know that it is a prayer for us all.

"My beloved child,
Break your heart no longer.

Each time you judge yourself,
  you break your own heart.

You stop feeding on the love which is the wellspring
  of your vitality.

The time has come, your time,
  to live, to celebrate, to see the goodness that you are.

"Evil" is the word "live" turned inside out.
  There is no evil, no wrong,
in you or any other.
There is only the thought of it and the thought
  has no substance.

What is so-----is that you are-----So DEAR
                                                     So DIVINE
                                                     So VERY VERY PURE

Let no one, no thing, no idea or ideal obstruct you.
If one comes, even in the name of truth, forgive it
for it's unknowing.

Do not fight the dark.

Let go, aware of the light,

And breathe, into the goodness that you are."

More to come on this journey in upcoming posts, until then Jai Bhagwan and Hakuna Matata.