One of my earliest yoga teachers – Sharon Gannon – performing a dance (in the video below) at Jivamukti Yoga School on 9th Street and 2nd Avenue.
She writes: “Here I am performing the asana dance “Lily” at the Jivamukti Yoga school at 2nd Ave and 9th street–We would put on a party with a “talent” show twice a year that would include poetry, music, storytelling and dance. I am not sure of the date of this one–I would guess maybe 1991 –If any one knows let me know.” Continue reading “Grace and Gratitude”→
I found out who created the graphic below! Her name is Rebecca Wilson – she is a graphic designer and has a groovy website/online shop called Yoga Will Save the World featuring limited edition clothing and calendars and other items for the yoga and bicycle lover in your life.
So glad she reached out! I love her stuff.
I’d say this about sums up my life for the last two decades – and I’ve loved bicycles since I was first brave enough to ride. (Now if only I could do that posture on my bicycle . . . )
It was the summer when I was 18 that I moved to San Francisco on a whim. I had spent almost a year living on the streets in New York City and found that there was no going home after that. (I tried for a few months – and was painfully reminded of why I left). I wanted a fresh start, so when my friend Joe asked me if I would go to the west coast with him, I said “yes” and the next day we were in a car and on the road.
The transition to San Francisco was more difficult than I expected it to be. I thought California was sunny everywhere, but when we arrived – San Francisco was cold and rainy – I cried and cried! We were two kids completely alone and unprepared for this new place that was very different from New York City.
Our first employers quickly became our best friends. David and Devon were a lovely couple who were tragically beginning to be very sick with ARC (AIDS Related Conditions).
They were dying. Our hearts were breaking.
We spent Christmas Eve at the hospital with them when Devon’s pancreas began to fail. A few weeks later, they packed up everything they owned and moved to Eureka to live out the rest of their lives.
We never saw them again.
Before we met David and Devon, it took us both some time to get work. Of course, our money ran out and we ended up living out of our car for a few weeks. We did what we could to be presentable – taking showers at the bay and keeping clean, getting up early and looking for work, talking to the local kids about where to find food, get medical care, be safe.
I remember talking to my mom on the phone while we were living out of the car, and I told her everything was fine. I wanted her to not worry about me, but I was also afraid that if I spoke about my situation, I would not have the strength to move past it. I knew that if I stayed focused on getting work and a place to live that it would happen. (And of course, it did).
By the second or third month in San Francisco we were finally starting to make some money. We moved into a dingy 28-day-stay residential hotel off of Market Street near the Castro District. It was a place to sleep and that was all. In the evenings, while Joe was working at David and Devon’s store, I would go to the basement of the shop and snuggle up in a blanket by the furnace and read books.
Being poor and not knowing many people, I spent a good deal of time at the library. Finding the library doors locked one day was a shock! It was shortly after the quake of ’89 (1989 Loma Prieta earthquake) and the city had shut down all of its libraries to save municipal funds during the emergency. I had to do something, so I explored the city and found a glorious, gigantic, used book store. I spent hours in that store! It was heavenly. I browsed every section—I could not help myself. Though I barely had any money, that day I bought three books – The Man Who Fell To Earth, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, and a curious looking purple-covered book called Be Here Now. I remember thinking, Ram Dass, isn’t he one of those guys who did stuff with Timothy Leary? I don’t know why, but I should know this. I should know all of these books.
Looking back, I am glad I bought the three books together – they all had a profound affect on my imagination and life experience. The simple message and playful design of Be Here Now was a necessary juxtaposition to the heaviness of the other two books. I think ultimately, Be Here Now turned out to be a primer for the deeper Vedic and yogic studies that were to be a part of my life in the years ahead. I played with the ideas in that book – and it was a playful book – even though I didn’t understand it completely, I just knew it was good – like play – and was able to find some peace. My now-ness was intense, but I was right there with it. Somehow I knew everything would be ok.
That was a long time ago – but what a time!
I am finding that the older I get, the more open my heart is becoming. With the capacity to feel love also comes a greater capacity for grief and pain. Loss doesn’t get easier, but it shifts.
This lecture by Ram Dass helped me with the grief I’ve been going through not only from the death of my sister, but also the end of a love relationship. It is difficult to describe the waves of sorrow and anger that have passed through my body over this last year and in particular these last few months. What struck chords with me in Ram Dass’s lecture (besides the message of love – which it all boils down to anyway) were these questions: Who is to say anyone dies too soon? Who is to say anyone’s path is the wrong path?
The end doesn’t make the experience any less valuable. I keep finding that as my painful feelings settle, there is an underlying expansive feeling of love. Sometimes that feeling is heartbreaking, but when the heartbreak opens up it is radiant and boundless. It’s like seeing the Divine in everything, it’s so beautiful it hurts, and yet, once you see it, you can’t unsee it.
Eventually, if you can stand to keep looking, the hurt turns to bliss.
I haven’t written in a while – but this is a start. As fall was settling in, and since my sister’s death, I’ve retreated. This has been an assessment period. My energy has been low – and I’ve been looking at where I need to cut back and stop leaking energy.
I know I have been branching my energy out far too wide for years. Anger and grief are showing me where my energy drains are. There is a shift in my awareness.
One of my biggest energy and money sucks sadly has been yoga instruction. Teaching a one hour class (which in itself is just weird – way too short) – was costing me about three hours of time for each class. A few classes a week plus a full-time job were cutting into my personal relationships, my creative energy, fun, and just plain old rest. While I love teaching, the return on my time investment alone isn’t worth it anymore. Maybe that will change, but for now, my practice is personal.
Who am I spending my time with? In the last couple of weeks I realized there are some people who I just don’t need to be around. I don’t have to like everyone I meet. I can walk away and do other things with my time rather than be around people I dislike. I don’t have to analyze the situation further than that. This is a difficult one for me. Usually I can glean something from any connection, any point of view, but sometimes enough is enough. If after spending time with a person I feel agitated/anxious/drained/angry – that person, or our combination of personalities, is toxic. I don’t need to change that person’s behavior – I can choose to change my own behavior, and at this point, rather than argue or put up with negativity, I can leave and do something else (like riding my bike, or writing, and hanging out with a real friend).
I really like the people I work with – and I like my job. 40 hours a week is a lot of time. And, with not getting paid for lunch, it’s actually 45 hours a week. My perspective about my day has to stay positive. I don’t make enough money to “move ahead” in life, or have an accident – basically I live paycheck to paycheck. No matter what, I will always do my best at my job. No matter whether I make just enough to survive or more than I could ever imagine, it’s important for me to: connect with the people I work with, always do my best, inspire others to do their best, laugh everyday, and learn something new everyday. Currently, all of those things happen for me at work. They are important. I am grateful. They keep me from thinking about work when I am not there. I am also aware of my value – compensation for my time is a new focus in my thinking. Over the next six months to the next year I will work with that focus and see what kinds of changes I can create.
Those are some of the big things that are in my awareness right now. What am I willing to continue and what am I willing to release? What is of value to me and how can I be of most value to others? Allowing myself to live “one day at a time” while having a loose plan about where I’d like to be is helpful. I don’t have to be constantly productive, though I do like having the time and energy to follow through on my creative ideas.
What’s important in my life? The shortlist: Love, connection, creativity, learning, higher learning, cycling, nature, literature, art, good company, good food, being outdoors, health.
The process is slow. Energy flows in short bursts right now. I’m learning to use the energy while I have it – and the low energy is a lesson in conservation. It is never wise to squander resources. It’s good to replenish the stores. Let’s see where my resources take me.
We are moving on to the heart chakra in this session of Writing the Energetic Body. I’ve been really busy this last week – healing from a cycling accident and having changes come up at work. Getting to the heart, for me, is perfect timing right now. The little video is a good reminder to slow down and breathe.
The prompts I’ve given this time are:
Write about the color green without mentioning the word green.
Write for fifteen minutes on “I love”, and then fifteen minutes on, “I don’t love.”
The eclipse held intense energy. That day I felt like my entire being was shoved through a sieve. Slow, excruciating, compressed. It is suddenly very important to decide “what’s next” for my life – and to take the necessary steps to get there.
Feeling much lighter today – ready for the work to shift my life. Reset button!
I started my writing class on the eclipse – and offered up an intention setting ritual. My response to the intention this morning:
Amazing eclipse energy! This class is an intention, and today, while visiting a friend in Sedona, I will further my intention ritual. Pumpkin carving with friends will become a ritual.
I viewed the sun and moon through two different telescopes during the eclipse. In the first the sun looked white and the moon dark grey. Along the edge of the moon I could see ripples in the surface. Craters! And I could see sun spots. What are sun spots? The surface of the sun is like fire, but there are spots there. The second telescope had a different light spectrum, and the sun was red while the moon was black. On the edges of the sun I could see solar flares! They looked like swirling red smoke.
The moon set off my moon 6 days early. OK. Maybe I am on track now with the new moon. The energy around the eclipse felt compressed, like the light. I’ve been needing a lot of rest – yet when I am resting I feel restless. My dreams that night warned me not to get caught in webs of despair, I need to be careful who I let into my life. Some people cast far-reaching spells. I know who I need to let go of. Karmic, lifetimes. The contracts are null and void.
I’m having fun with the workshop – I always do. I love writing, I love yoga, I love cycling, I love painting, I love cooking for friends, I love feeling centered and connected, I love nature. Sometimes the class is a spark for me to remember these things.
Below are prompts and a video for the first chakra writing. Participants are encouraged to do the exercise in the video and then choose one prompt to write on for half an hour without stopping.
You are three years-old and it’s dinner time. What’s happening?
When did you first believe you were solid?
Write about the color red without mentioning the word red.
I’d say this about sums up my life for the last two decades – and I’ve loved bicycles since I was first brave enough to ride.
I don’t know who created this graphic, but I love it!
Note: November 19, 2015 – I found out who created the graphic. The artist is Rebecca Wilson. She reached out to me. Check out her website yogawillsavetheworld.com – she has beautiful products with her amazing artwork.
I was blessed and honored to have a class tonight with not only a fellow Sivananda yoga teacher, but a truly lovely, kind, generous, compassionate human being. I feel the molecules in the air buzzing while at the same time feeling content and grounded.
Om. Sat Chit Ananda.
Sometimes I forget how soothing yoga is. Which brings me to my job. Work has been tense lately, and not just for me, but for my colleagues, too. Though I can’t control what is going on around me, I can check my own response and attitude toward my environment. The good thing about this stress is that it is giving me clarity on things I’d like to be, do, or have. I’ve been making a conscious effort to shift the strain at my job, and I think it is working – not only in terms of being calm, but in being more productive.
Here is what I do:
Rather than thinking bad thoughts about work on my way there, I “send my love before me.” I send loving thoughts ahead of me—I imagine love is like liquid light—flooding my office, getting into the cracks and crevices, the carpet, the computers, the equipment, the toilets—all of it—and I see it surrounding the people there. As my thoughts travel, I find that I love exactly where I am in the moment and in space—my legs pushing my bike pedals, the air moving past me, the trees, the sky. Even if it lasts for 15 minutes in my imagination, my day is already better for it.
I set a timer for every 45 minutes to stop what I am doing to focus on my breath for at least three breaths (no matter how much of an “emergency”other people are experiencing —and believe me—I don’t work in a hospital so nothing is really that much of an emergency).
Review my dreams upon waking – rather than looking at my computer.
Get up early enough to write for at least five minutes every morning after meditating for 5 to 10 minutes. I review what I’ve written at least once a week.
Take at least one small (sometimes super tiny) action everyday that moves me toward changes I’d like to see in my life.
* * * * *
I am posting the article below for inspiration. It is written by Swami Sitaramananda and was posted on the Yoga Farm blog. Here’s the post (see it in full here):
29 Tips to Deal With Stress
Modern Life is full of stress and strains and demands on our system. Stress comes from the inability or difficulty to adapt due to habits, ego, attachments and fears. Stress can also be the result of not having enough Prana (energy) to cope with the demands or pressure. When we are stressed, we develop negative feelings and lose even more Prana. It can snowball into a big problem.
Here are a few tips to unblock energy and turn around the stress drain:
Breathe consciously and rhythmically; inhale to the count of three, exhale to the count of three. This will synchronize your brain waves and your heart rhythm.
Move calmly. Best is to regularly practice yoga postures or asanas which gently move the body, stretch the muscles and turn the mind inward to more awareness. Asanas performed consciously in the right sequence—with proper holding, concentration, breathing and relaxation—release blockages of energy and recharge you with new vitality.
Resist spending too much effort, no matter what you are doing. Effort needs to be balanced with relaxation.
Take time alone to find yourself. Constantly being in a network of relationships is very draining.
Slow down. Be aware not to be trapped in the Maya (illusion) of your challenging situation.
Do one thing at a time. This is the principle of Raja Yoga. Stress can come from too much happening at the same time, so slow down and focus on one thing at a time.
Focus on a positive object such as the sun.
Meditate to have the direct experience of the Self.
Detach! Keep yourself calm and do not buy into the drama that the mind creates.
See the big picture. Change your perspective.
Connect with Nature. Take a walk; look at trees, the sky, flowers, stars or the moon.
Remember your Immortal Self. Experience beingness and oneness.
Use your senses to bring you back to positivity. For instance, listen to nice music, get a therapeutic massage, practice aromatherapy, contemplate beautiful images or taste delicate food.
Be grateful. Count your blessings.
Be content. Tell yourself, “I already have enough.”
Surrender. What is happening may not be what you want, but it may be what you need. Know that everything happens for a reason.
Acceptance. It is not my will; it is God’s will.
Balance your energy by doing different activities than usual.
Tell yourself. “This too shall pass.”
Tell yourself, “God loves me no matter what.”
Withdraw the attention within and cease comparing.
Refrain from judging yourself and others.
Tell yourself, “This is my opportunity to learn.
Realize that you are only the witness of whatever is happening.
Affirm to do the best you can and let go of the results, good or bad.
Avoid extremes of love and hate.
Come back to the present.
Keep trust and faith.
For me – #30. Ride your bicycle – even if you are feeling lazy!
Manipura is solar energy – located in the solar plexus. Summer is the time to absorb that energy. There is still time left! Get outside! Move your body! Declare your passions!
I’ve been rocking out this summer, flying around huge hills and single track on an amazing mountain bike, having fun with beautiful souls, and soaking up the sun. I’ve made the conscious decision to be really active during the summer, filling up my joy and creativity batteries. Winter is the time to write and paint and do yoga and enjoy the wood stove. Oh yeah, and snow bike (fat tires), and cross country ski (I will try it this year), and find ways to stay warm and snuggle.
Riding has helped me to build my self-confidence more than any thing I have ever done in my life. It’s so much fun! I never thought I’d race, but I did about a month ago – and for my category – I won 2nd place!! Whoa. And one race expanded my riding skills hugely. (When I was a performer, every performance was like having 10 rehearsals. Racing is a similar experience).
I started riding seriously about 4 months ago. I’m 43 years old. I believe I adjusted to riding so quickly because of my yoga practice, and because I have been riding a cruiser town bike as my main transportation since 2009. This is beyond cruiser riding though, there is work, and breathing – so much breathwork – and my coach/companion has talked me through breathing – slowing it down, slowing the heart rate down as I am climbing 2500 feet up a mountain. Breathing into the belly. Breathing through fear.
I have loved cycling since I was a child. It was my way to be free. Cycling will be a big part of my life for the rest of my life. I am sure of it!
What do you love to do? Are you doing it?
3rd Chakra: Manipura ~ Lustrous gem • Will • Personal Power • The Right to Act • Fire
“When we least expect it, life sets us a challenge to test our courage and willingness to change; at such a moment, there is no point in pretending that nothing has happened or in saying that we are not yet ready. The challenge will not wait. Life does not look back. A week is more than enough time for us to decide whether or not to accept our destiny.” ― Paulo Coelho
“If you end up with a boring miserable life because you listened to your mom, your dad, your teacher, your priest, or some guy on television telling you how to do your shit, then you deserve it.” ―Frank Zappa
“Make a radical change in your lifestyle and begin to boldly do things which you may previously never have thought of doing, or been too hesitant to attempt. So many people live within unhappy circumstances and yet will not take the initiative to change their situation because they are conditioned to a life of security, conformity, and conservation, all of which may appear to give one peace of mind, but in reality nothing is more damaging to the adventurous spirit within a man than a secure future. The very basic core of a man’s living spirit is his passion for adventure. The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences, and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun. If you want to get more out of life, you must lose your inclination for monotonous security and adopt a helter-skelter style of life that will at first appear to you to be crazy. But once you become accustomed to such a life you will see its full meaning and its incredible beauty.” ― Jon Krakauer
“A life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable, but more useful than a life spent doing nothing.” ― George Bernard Shaw
“My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style.”
― Maya Angelou
“The sun shines not on us, but in us.” ~John Muir
“Creativity ignited a spark. In that moment, I saw that art is not peripheral, beauty is not optional, but a strategy for survival.” – Terry Tempest Williams
“I do not think, sir, you have any right to command me, merely because you are older than I, or because you have seen more of the world than I have; your claim to superiority depends on the use you have made of your time and experience.” ― Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre
“Some people never go crazy. What truly horrible lives they must lead.” — Charles Bukowski (1920-1994)
“The only way to deal with an un-free world is to become so absolutely free that your very existence is
an act of rebellion.” — Albert Camus (1913-1960)
“Education is not the filling of a pail but the lighting of a fire.” — William Butler Yeats
“If we don’t change our direction, we are likely to end up where we are headed.” —Reuben Snake (1937-1993), Winnebago Medicine Man
“When I am dancing, it feels like my prayer. Its’s like an offering. I offer my head back to the dance, I offer my shoulders back to the dance, my elbows, my hands, my spine, my knees, my feet, my whole self, my bones, my blood, my experience, my suffering… I offer it all back to the dance and I say: Take it, do whatever you want with me. Release me.” ~ Gabrielle Roth
“There’s always some further action to take.” ~ Pierre Boulle
“The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.” ~ Alice Walker
“All of our suffering in life is from saying we want one thing and doing another.” – Debbie Ford
“Good things happen to those who hustle.” ~ Anais Nin
“Without personal power, life is a frightening and painful experience.” ~ Caroline Myss