Archive | April, 2008

popularity

25 Apr

I never was one of the popular girls in high school. Or college. I wore too much black for that and never quite mastered that lilting giggle that swerves conversation to a lighter place. I always shared my opinion – even if it went against the grain. 

In my home though, I’ve been tickled to be the “it” girl. Being mom makes me the most wanted person in the social world of the Gallagher clique.  Everybody wants my time and attention. Most of my jokes get a good laugh, and my previously unappreciated talent of belching has won great favor amongst my kids. I get tons of hugs, I’m invited to every party and everybody follows me around and copies me. I’ve finally arrived! (as I type I’m hearing, “mom, mom, mom, mom, mom, MOM”)

(pause)

Although this morning I was dissed – big time. My 3-year old wouldn’t eat her breakfast, my 8-year old was throwing shoes and sulking because he had no clean socks, and my 12-year old is mad because he can’t surf the web. He just left for school and when I said,  “I love you!” He said, “I know.” 

Ouch.

Parenting is like tapas. It’s a refiners fire that’s intense and omni-present. It’s easy to stay in the moment and love family life when I’m Miss Popularity, but on mornings like this I’m trying to just hang in there. I’ve already yelled twice this morning and my mind is telling me I need to escape! This is it – parenting as the ultimate guru. I’m trying to remember that this is just the way things should be – if I’m Miss Popularity all of the time, then I’m probably doing something wrong. And this feeling of wanting to escape my role as Mom is actually my way in. Like a little bell ringing – reminding me to pull up a piece of rug and take a seat. 

Time for a meditation practice today….

 

samadhi

22 Apr

What do I really know about samadhi? That eighth limb of yoga… super-consciousness or this ecstatic state of bliss? When I came into yoga and started studying the eight limbs, I thought I would simply attack them one by one, in a sequential order of sorts. As time went on, I saw both the ridiculousness and the humor behind my delusional plan. Truth is, the limbs, the yamas, the niyamas, the need for meditation or concentration, those things come and go as we live our lives. There is no advanced yoga college for you to really isolate yourself and get an advanced yoga degree – except for daily life. Even our sticky mats are just petri dishes for experimentation and of course, practicing. Practice for when we put our shoes back on and go out to interact with life as it presents itself to us. I knew intellectually that there is no goal in yoga, except to stay present and pay with sweat equity. Intellectually I dropped the idea that I would or should ever experience samadhi. In reality, I had my hands full with the basics.

So now, after doing this kind of energetic, physical and spiritual work, plugging away – I have found that the last several months have brought an inner shift in me. I don’t know how to explain it except to say that things are vibrating at a different level. Tagging along behind this little shift in vibration for me is an occasional wave of bliss. I’ll be at the park with my kids or driving down the road, and my thought process just dies down to a straight line, as if it were a hospital heart rate monitor – you know, the kind you see in the movies when somebody’s heart stops. As the mind settles down, I am hit with a wave of complete awareness and peace, a feeling of being a part of everything around me. I have no resistance to the present moment, am just fully integrated into it. Everything in the world seems like matter-of-fact perfection. Sometimes it lasts for 20 seconds, sometimes up to 5 minutes. I am aware of it without language, and the minute I try to think about it, it’s over.

I was pondering these experiences, thinking that this must be a slight feeling of what enlightenment feels like. As I tried to find a word to describe it, the word super-conscious came to me. It wasn’t until one day, looking through some yoga lecture notes, that I came across the words super-consciousness next to Samadhi… and I wondered, is that what I am experiencing? A little taste of samadhi? I think so.

I’m laughing, thinking that Samadhi is something that we can work our way into, like a 10 step plan or big formulaic equation. I have absolutely no control over those moments, they just happen to me. When I’m in that little moment of bliss and understanding, I don’t experience any clinging to it. It passes away and as consciousness returns, it seems natural to just smile and move on. I also notice that there isn’t any ego in those moments, it’s just an awareness without words. I don’t feel like – hey now I’ve arrived!, it just seems as natural as sneezing and moving on. It’s definitely hard to describe.

One thing I’m learning that having a taste of samadhi (if that’s what it is), is different than enlightenment – or having a sustained experience that lasts instead of coming and going. What I do know is that trying to get that sustained state of super-consciousness is a definite way to push it away! Even looking forward to the next super-conscious experience pushes further from the present moment.

wanted…

18 Apr

I’ve been blessed with an influx of talented yoga instructors who want to teach at Cosmic Dog. I love them all. If I had my way though, I would hire this man… I dare you not to laugh.

Superstar!

14 Apr

It’s Laurie Gallagher… SUPERSTAR! (Imagine me wearing a catholic school girl uniform striking that John Travolta pose, ala Mollie Shannon and Mary Katherine…)

I’ve had the chance lately to teach yoga to some young groups of girls at church. The first group was girls ranging in age from 8-11, the second group was girls ages 12-18. I love teaching teens, especially when they’ve never done yoga before. There’s a spark there, when they think they’re going to be sitting and stretching and they find themselves in over their heads, flying in bakasana. Who knew they could ever do some of those poses, or would ever care about taking on a challenge like that?

Well, after these classes, I’m getting fun comments. The girls give me little grins as I pass them in the halls at church and their parents are commenting about the rumor their girls started, that I am “freakishly strong”. I feel a little bit like a superstar… or at least a slight elevation from the frumpy mom of three who can never show up to meetings on time.

It’s the end of a busy week, and I’m wondering… do I have a point?…. oh yes! After watching all of these girls get their first real taste of yoga, it reminds me – yoga is fun! The girls had a blast, and even though I had to yell over all of their giggling and gossiping, I had a blast too. Watching them open their minds up to something new and give it their all, reminded me of my first few yoga classes, so intimidated, but having a great time too.

The many ways

11 Apr

There are many ways to walk the yoga path. I’m learning that many of them require little or no mat practice. Asana is only one limb of the eight, and asana within itself, manifests itself in many different ways. Then there are the other seven limbs: the restraints, observances, breath expansion, withdrawal of the senses, concentration, meditation, and superconsciousness. We tend to have an idea of what those practices should look like, and when they take a different form, I think that they are often misunderstood. Rather than separating ourselves into “yoga peeps” and those who just “don’t get it”, I think it’s a fun game to look closely and find the hidden yoga practices of those yoga gentiles around us!

People often ask me if my husband does yoga and I always feel dishonest when I say no. He doesn’t do mat practice, but he’s one of the most yogic people I know. His sadhana consists of waking at 4am to ride the bart to the city (there’s asana and meditation and for sure…. withdrawal of the senses). His commute alone is three hours a day. He works as a reporter, and I’ve noticed that although many press rooms are volatile places, he always finds a way to get along with everyone around him. He’s great at dropping the dramatic story and just being with things the way they are. When Dan gets home from work, I’m usually off to teach. He’s one of the only husbands I know who pitch in everywhere with house and kids with complete equality. The kids respect him as an equal parent and I don’t have to ask him to pitch in around the house. When he’s home, he’s working to help. It’s almost like having another me around, except Dan’s often more efficient! That dedication is Seva: or selfless service. Dan knows about satya, and what it really means. He tells the truth and it manifests when he shows up on time and speaks his truth with a lot of love.

I’ve known many yoga students and teachers who have amazing mat practices and beautiful bodies, but they never put in any real yoga time. To me, real yoga time is paying attention to those moments we’re off of the mat and watching our thoughts, our interactions with others. If the mat practice and learning doesn’t translate, then it’s just not working, and the yoga asana practice becomes just another manifestation of ego.

So, I’m not sure if my husband can even touch his toes. When he does come to yoga class, I try to practice detachment and give him plenty of space to do his own thing. His yoga manifests itself in many little ways around me, and it’s part of my practice to pay attention and notice his yoga practice, in all of it’s many subtle forms. He’s done the same for me; never complaining about my being gone again to yoga. He seems to realize that yoga Laurie is a much better person to live with than pre-yoga Laurie.

It definitely is a practice, this yoga path we’re walking. It’s important to remember that we’re not alone and to look for the non-dual that exists in our personal worlds. Check out your friends and loved ones around you. Chances are, you’re walking around with yogis you’ve never noticed before. After all, there are many ways to walk this yoga path and if we pay attention we’ll see manifestations of yoga all around us.

poetry promise

4 Apr

I promise not to become too esoteric, constantly posting poems that  disrupt our ability to websurf and engage in easy reading, if you promise to give me a break today. I found this little gem that I loved in high school, back in the day when I wore way too much black eyeliner and wrote terrible poetry. (hmmm, where is that photo of me with tons of make-up all dressed in black with a snarl on my face?)

Anyway, yoga givs this poem a new life for me:

I am the absence
of field.
This is
always the case.
Wherever I am
I am what is missing.

When I walk
I part the air
and always
the air moves in
to fill the spaces
where my body's been.

We all have reasons
for moving.
I move
to keep things whole.

	-- Mark Strand

 

sad news

2 Apr

Sad news for me tonight. The Yoga Company found a replacement for me on Wednesday nights sooner than I expected, so there’s no saying good-bye tonight. Let me give a big shout out to all of my hard-working, sweaty friends out there who worked so hard during class. “Good-bye… I love you guys!” Most of you will come visit at Cosmic Dog, but for those who can’t make it, I’ll miss you – it was a joy to be a part of The Yoga Company. Enjoy class with Haisam and God bless….