Archive | October, 2007

Calling all vegetarians

26 Oct

So I’m walking on this yoga path. It’s a great path. Every so often I pass something new and jump all over it like a real explorer. The thing is, I’ve walked right past vegetarianism and looked the other way. Once in a while I stop for a week and try to really embrace it.

I know. I know. Vegetarianism is better for the environment. It’s better for my body. It’s better for my practice of ahimsa. I know. In my early 20’s I spent about a year and a half without meat. It was positive experience and and I felt super healthy.

Here it comes. But….

It is so hard. It is so hard to make sure all of the food in my house is up to the standards I know I should keep. It is hard enough to get 5 different people to eat one meal. If I take the meat out of it, my already skinny boys will waste away, or I will waste away under the mountains of complaints I get. My life is already full of the mundane challenge of trying to keep everyone fed, organized and happy… I feel like I just can’t tackle a project this big. The hubby? He’ll totally support my commitment, but I won’t hold my breath that he’ll join me.  I can start with myself, but then I’ll have to deal with meat in the house and I really enjoy it myself.

Many yogis defend their meat consumption and I won’t even try to go there. There really is no other way to practice ahimsa. Even if you believe it’s ok to slaughter and eat animals, the production of meat is just so detrimental to the environment. I don’t see the non-harming there.

So all you amazing vegetarians out there, here is my plea for advice. How do you do it? What in the world do you feed your families and how did you make that transition? Once made, how do you keep the focus?

I’m on the path peeking at those veggies out of the corner of my eye…

suffering

24 Oct

Years ago I went to a dharma talk entitled, “The Nature of Suffering”. This was before my introduction to the world of Buddhism, of bliss, of stilling the mind. This was in the middle of my crazy mind, newly released from anti-depressants.

I went to the talk thinking that suffering had nothing to do with me. I had in my mind visions of third world countries and starving children. People scraping to get by. Pretty ironic, considering that I myself was raw, newly off of anti-depressants and dependent on yoga to sustain me. I had never classified my depression as suffering before. It was a huge “a-ha” moment for me.

The year following that talk I found my paradigms of life shifting. I became more aware of my thought process and found that karma was powerful in the energetic field of thought waves. Positive thinking became a way of life and living in the present moment became a key to my happiness. Santosha, or contentment became a guiding principle for how I framed my thinking. I surrendered many of my attachments to what I thought was important in life. It was liberating.

Yesterday a friend was telling me about her beautiful new house, explaining that she needed more square footage.  The chat quickly went to the horrors of trying to prepare her current, huge, beautiful house for sale,  keeping it clean for showings and worrying about whether it will sell quickly. About every two months I have the same discussion with someone new.  I find it extremely hilarious. I need….more square footage. More square footage to fill with more stuff and more children and more maintenance and more bills and more… happiness? I need… I want… I expect… One simple thought creates a whole lot of suffering!

We all learned it when we were kids… happiness comes from within. Somehow that is just too simple for us to believe, so we skip right over it and rush off in the world to search for happiness somewhere else. Our culture perpetuates the collective thought that we are not enough. We are not beautiful enough, wealthy enough, powerful enough or smart enough. Our houses are not big enough, our loved ones aren’t helpful enough and jobs are not fulfilling enough. We are bombarded with comparisons and disparity. If you live without an awareness of what is going on around you, you will be eaten up in the mad rush to do more and be more. I see it everywhere… people jumping from one distraction to another. My pampered, spoiled world is surrounded by suffering.

I’m not poo-poo-ing this type of suffering. It is real. I’m also not judging it. I am no master and I often find myself jumping on and off the same endless wheel of desire. Let’s call it what it is. When we’re in that mode of unconscious dissatisfaction, it is a form of seeking. It is our way in. We’re seeking happiness and our suffering is waking us up and taking us deeper inside. When I jump into the game of “I want… I need”, I try to stand back and say, “Oh. Hello suffering. It must be time to start paying attention again.”

I just found out that the husband of one of my best friends has an in-operable brain tumor. It’s the worst kind of tumor you can have and it is stage 4. That means that he has anywhere from 2 months to several years to live. News like this brings life screaming back into perspective for me. I look at my friend, her husband and their two beautiful children. They have a blessed and beautiful life. This man has had a lot of joy in his 39 years. When he says good-bye to this existence it will be a sad farewell, but also the end of a beautiful life well lived and full of love. This is suffering on an unimaginable scale, and again I’m reminded to wake up, slow down and experience joy right now.

Joy is our birthright. Happiness is our natural state of existence and its one of the great purposes of this life on earth. This life is not about proving ourselves worthy of a future reward. It’s not about lining everything up perfectly so that then we can experience happiness.  This existence is about embracing every moment we have with an open heart and an honest mind. It’s about recognizing where we are right now as perfect and whole. It’s about learning to recognize the God-consciousness that we all have within us and living our personal dharma. I’m convinced that if we could recognize the seeds of divinity within ourselves and get a small glimpse of our own potential we would be blown away. Blown away. The world would never be the same. Frances of Assisi said, “what we are looking for is what is looking.” Rabbi Kushner said, “Hold up your hands in front of your eyes. You are looking at the hands of God.”

Now isn’t that something to smile about?

Halt!

17 Oct

Wow. I really needed the night off. Thank you for all of your kind e-mails as I shuffle things around in an attempt to take care of myself. Your understanding and support mean a lot to me.

For me, being sleep deprived means being very raw. It sounds rough, but throughout the last week, I’ve often found it a beautiful thing. I cuddled up in bed with a good book and realized it has been far too long since I was quiet and still.

Today marks the end of my 108 days of yoga. I did it. What an amazing experience to really be committed. Interestingly, it didn’t change that much for me. The biggest benefit was that I kept my committment to really live my yoga in the forefront of my mind. That was the biggest transformation.

After I gave birth to Drew, my wise yoga-teaching friend, Carol Atkinson came over to visit and see the baby. She brought gifts and a little bit of wisdom. Carol is old enough to be my own mother, she has raised two beautiful children of her own and has had a big influence on the yoga community of Livermore. I remember as I was feeling so post-partum and a bit frustrated and she said, “Oh Laurie, the beauty of yoga is that there is always something new right around the corner. You will never grow out of it.”

I’m reminded of her words tonight as I enter this new phase of life. It’s been one year since I started working for Be Well. That project ended quite differently than I planned and so has my whole life situation! I’m left in this beautiful space of open possibilities and rebirth. It has been humbling, disorienting and powerful all at the same time.

As I end these long, challenging 108 days of consecutive yoga, feeling tired and physically drained, I am immediately propelled forward. It’s just like kapala-bhati breathing technique… the inhale is coming without any effort.

I feel compelled to keep learning about yoga, truth, spirituality, energy and transformation. I fight the urge to leave my life, shave my head and put on the metaphorical orange robe, so I do the only responsible thing I know how. Jump back in and provide a structure for the swirling spirituality that is too fluid to hold.

So here I go, committing to 30-days of meditation practice for the month of November. Anyone with me?

Tuesday, Oct. 16th

16 Oct

There’s no class tonight, Tuesday Oct. 16th at the Livermore Dance Studio. I decided to cancel after several nights of insomnia and the need to take a bit of time for myself to recover from this relentless itch. It’s ice packs and sleep for me tonight, and tomorrow I’ll be back out in the real world again.

I’m teaching at the Yoga Company tomorrow night at 7:00pm, and I’ll resume the classes at the Dance Company in Livermore next Tuesday. Come and we’ll party…

change

15 Oct

It’s official, there will be no more posts about potty-training. I have no more diapers and no more babies! (hee hee, she trained like a brilliant little yogini) You will never have to read about the excitement of Dora panties on this site ever again. Ooh, I just hope that’s a promise I can really keep!

It brings me to ponder the constant flux of life, and the changes we go through. Being a pretty constant, steady person, I’ve always welcomed change and embraced it. When things in life shift for me, it seems the perfect opportunity to move forward in a big way. I can usually jump in with both feet, lots of passion and energy. I love how life tends to progress in lurches rather than a calm and steady progression.

I never thought I had a problem with non-attachment, but this year has been a roller coaster like I’ve never known. Just when I thought things were getting stable, I was hit with a two week case of poison oak that moved into a horrible skin reaction. That means, horror of horrors, no exercise for me, no hot yoga, nothing! AAAHHH.I feel like a teenager again, with mood swings and waning patience. (scratch, itch, wide awake at 3am, sounds asleep at 2pm) It is going on and on and on with no end in sight. Systemic itch. Lovely.

I find myself wrestling with the attachments of my desire. Wanting life to be better… if I could only wake up with my itch gone and stop taking this horrible medication. What if  my work schedule stabilized? What if my garage were finally clean?

Ironically, this is the perfect way for me to finish up my 108 days of yoga. I’m on my last week and I’m unable to really take a yoga class or overheat in any way. I’m extremely short on patience and energy. All of these changes and unforseen circumstances have cocooned me right into the deepest practice of all. I’m reminded that the asana isn’t really where it’s at after all. Sitting, breathing, connecting is all where it’s at. When I still the mind, and overcome the restlessness within, I can really learn from what yoga has to offer.

My 108 days are ending with a lot of humility and a different type of strength than I set out looking for. When Tuesday comes and I’ve completed my last day, I’ll be left with a renewed sense of gratitude and hopefully a little bit of grace to accept what change does or doesn’t have to offer me.