Today I offered my services to a family friend who has been very generous to me.
I came down to her office and was immediately put to work. I went through inventory, pulled discontinued clothing from the racks (having to reference by color and number from a book!), ran boxes down to the trash downstairs... The last task she gave me was taking three huge boxes of hangers, sorting them and consolidating them.
I felt a little voice in my head resist. "This is too much!" I had reached my seva saturation point.
It was then that I remembered the way I sometimes feel during a yoga pose or kriya. I'll want to give up because I'm being challenged, but, because I know it's good for me, I keep up. And I'm always glad that I made that choice.
So, realizing that I was being challenged (and challenges are an opportunity to grow!), I started chanting. The yogic equivalent of "whistling while you work" I suppose.
I chanted "Godinday Mukanday" because that is a good mantra for calling upon our inner strength.
It was magical! Immediately I got calmer, less angry, and less defensive.
In fact, I started to think: "Wow, how lucky I am to get to do this! This is kind of fun!"
It's funny how one of my goals in life is to teach children about their own resources and how to tap into their intuition through yoga. And here I was being reminded of how to be a child.
When you are little, it doesn't matter what you're doing, it's the presentation that makes it a punishment or a reward.
"You have to finish that entire cake!" is different from "Hey, let's finish this delicious cake!"
"Gobinday Mukanday" turned my task into:
"Hey, I have a GREAT idea! Let's stack all these hangers and put them into this super big box."
To your inner-child!,
Thursday, July 29, 2010
Monday, July 26, 2010
And thank goodness! That was an intense.
Yesterday was "Guru Poornima," which I celebrated up in the Hollywood Hills with some friends and fish. Full moons are good times to set new intentions. They mark the end of an era.
One of my yoga teachers once told me that EVERYTHING swells up when the moon is full. This is the time when, for example, we have the most parasites in our body. Lovely.
Anyway, it is nice to release that feeling of heaviness and watch the moon wane...
I am feeling a little lighter today.
Sunday, July 25, 2010
Saturday, July 24, 2010
the way things look in paint
masterful and bright
attracted to the colors
my eyes like to see what's right
blank patches of raw canvas
rarely show up first
i rarely see the scratches
right beside the joyful sunburst
i do not wish to see what's wrong
but i do wish to see more
and if this was papyrus
i'd want to know what had come before
i'd want to touch the layers
that the brush had rendered smooth
feeling layers upon upon layers
of integrity and truth
ethics are an inner-sense
they do not fade with time
and time will tell whether this painting
was painted with ethics in mind
So I promised my next blog would be about hair.
For reasons that I expressed in my last blog, I have been thinking a lot about hair lately.
"Civilized" cultures have for a long time been cutting, waxing, shaving, dying, plucking, curling, straightening, lightening, frizzing, threading, extending, and kinking their hair.
I never thought much of this until I was in New Mexico in June with so many people who just let their hair BE. On top of their heads, on their legs, under their arms, and on their faces.
It seems to me that an underlying idea behind hair removal is correcting something your body is doing wrong. In other words, DOING something to change what you already ARE. Apparently, things are not OK as they are.
What a losing battle we engage in when we try to stop the growth of our hair. Really. It ALWAYS grows back. Clearly, it wants to grow. (An exception is when you laser it off, which, I have heard, is pretty permanent.)
And unlike the good maintenance involved in say, trimming back a plant, there is no good reason to trim back the hair on our legs other than for a dominant trend that disfavors hairy legs.
I was thinking about the 60s and the musical HAIR. I was a huge fan in my teens, but I never really got what hair represented.
It is the wild part of ourselves, the natural, the real. It is the growth we cannot suppress.
Accepting what is can be very freeing. For the time being, I am letting my hair grow to see what that experience is like.
P.S. I still think good grooming is important. Brushing and washing your hair makes a great deal of sense!
Saturday, July 17, 2010
First off, I LOVED the film "Avatar."
Beneath the beautiful graphics and special effects, the familiar humor, the trite love story, and the battle you knew they'd win, was a beautiful message about Unity, Communication, and Connection to our Self and each other.
Avatar reminded the world that this deep connection to Nature, our fellow Earthlings, and our true Self, is still tangible -- just dormant in most.
And, the fact that the film was so commercialized and easily digestible for the average consumer, was, in my opinion, commendable! How else do you reach the general public, if not by using the same channels people are already plugged into?
But that's not what I wanted to write about actually. This is what I wanted to write about...
KUNDALINI, and THE NA'VI
1) Did anyone else notice the Na'vi doing sufi grinds by their "tree of souls"?
In Kundalini yoga, much emphasis is placed on awakening the energy at the base of the spine. Your spine is like a hose, and if there is one knot in it, the water cannot flow freely through it. If you are energetically blocked at your Muladhara chakra (Root Chakra), this severely impedes the flow of energy up your spine. You can experience this yourself by doing a few sufi grinds like the Na'vi. Just sit with legs crossed and begin to make circles with your upper body, like you are drawing an "O" on the ceiling with your head. Do this for 1-3 minutes and the switch directions. I dare you not to feel more connected!
2) The Na'vi use their hair to communicate with the plants and animals?
Kundalini yoga originates from the House of Guru Ram Das, a Sikh. Sikhs let their hair grow. One of the of the reasons for this is that they believe the hairs are like little antennae that communicate with their surrounding environment and the ethers. I once heard a Native American say that in his tribe the people let their hair grow because it connects them to the Earth. There is something in this. (I will elaborate on this in my next post!)
3) "I See You" = Sat Nam.
The Na'vi's greeting was not just something they said, like "hey", or "what's up?" In fact, the male lead, Sculley, was told several times he didn't use it correctly, until he had truly understood what he was saying. To use this expression convincingly was to recognize the person and know their true identity. In Kundalini, we say "Sat Nam", which means "Truth is our identity, or THE identity of all."
Anyway, I just loved the similarities. It showed me that when wisdom is applied it takes many shapes.
The same GREAT wisdom lurks behind many very different looking practices and religions. And, I think this "back entrance" point of view of what a religious practice is, would help resolve a lot of conflicts over differing dogmas the world over.
In Kundalini yoga we may not be massively tall, or dark blue, but we dedicate our practice to the awareness that everything is connected, because everything is one (Ek Ong Kar, Sat Nam, Siri Wahe Guru!). Each time we sit on our mats, we have a direct experience of our finite self connecting to the infinite.
I SEE you,
p.s. Also, in Gurmukhi, "Avtar" means "Incarnation of God."
Sunday, July 11, 2010
In Gurmukhi (language of the Sikh scriptures), "pavan guru" refers to the luminosity and insight that comes from the breath.
Each time we inhale we are surrendering to the limitless life force energy that both defines us and surrounds us. The blessed breath connects us to all of creation... to each other!
I spent 2 weeks up in the mountains of New Mexico experiencing this pavan guru. I camped at an event called "Summer Solstice Sadhana." I woke up every morning for 3:45am Sadhana, sang in 2 workshops, practiced yoga, performed seva on the sound missal, bowed to the Guru, drank yogi tea, met kundalini yogis the world over, and did 3 days of White Tantric Yoga!
It was incredible!
Breathing the mountain air, it wasn't hard to feel that "guru" (defined as anything that takes us from darkness to light) inside me. And since Kundalini Yoga places a heavy emphasis on breath with mudra and mantra, I saw for myself what 2 weeks of consistent practice does for the psyche.
Whatever obstacle we face, there is a breath that can carry us over to the other side. It is empowering to know this, and miraculous to see it in action.
Just a few examples:
- When you are tired, try pressing in the left nostril, breathing just through the right for 3-11 minutes.
- When you are stressed, try breathing through alternate nostrils - see video explanation here.
- When you are fragile, try chanting Gobinday Mukanday Udaray Aparay. (Names for the cosmos as Sustaining force, Freeing force, Giving force, All pervading force, etc...).
- When you feel enraged, take long and deep breaths for at least 3-11 minutes.
I will be learning more about these ancient remedies in August, when I take my Kundalini Yoga teacher's training! I'm going back to New Mexico for a 3-week intensive at the Guru Ram Das Ashram.
I strongly feel that the doctors of the future will be prescribing mudra, mantra and breath exercises as well as dietary recommendations. It's exciting to be on the cusp of this new era.
Blessings in every breath,
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