Saturday, February 28, 2009
"When a person is established in non-violence, those in his vicinity cease to feel hostility."
~ Patanjali ~
Patanjali, in the third century B.C. (or in the A.D. 400s according to various scholars) compiled from earl;ier oral traditions a fundamental document describing the eight "limbs" of yoga.
1. Yama, the restraint of bad habits
2. Niyama, the cultivation of good habits in one's daily life
3. Asana, the adoption of steady and comfortable postures with specific physiological effects
4. Pranayama, special breathing exercises
5. Pratyahara, withdrawing the mind from objects of sensory perception, as in meditation
6. Dharana, concentration on selected objects
7. Dhyana, steady contemplation in which the sense of separateness of the self from the object of concentration disappears
8. Samadhi, the absolute, ecstatic experience of mystical unity with all of creation.
Friday, February 27, 2009
"Peace has to be created, in order to be maintained. It is the product of Faith, Strength, Energy, Will, Sympathy, Justice, Imagination, and the triumph of principle. It will never be achieved by passivity and quietism."
Thursday, February 26, 2009
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
Seane Corn teaches yoga at the Exhale Center for Sacred Movement in Venice, California. She is the National Yoga Ambassador for YouthAIDS, and co-founder of "Off the Mat, Into the World."
She grew up in New Jersey and from the age of 11, she had suffered from an undiagnosed obsessive-compulsive disorder. In the interview she explains how the practicalities and power of yoga is a healing force for in dealing with her OCD and helps her face the darkness within herself and the world.
The following excerpts are from the interview with Krista Tippett, a link below will take you to her website where you can listen to the full interview.
Ms. Corn: "When I was around 19 was the first time that a doctor had explained to me what it is that I had. Before then, I thought it was an interesting quirk. So did my family. I was obsessed with even numbers: four and eight. And I'd have to touch things in certain numbers: blink, swallow. If I walked into a wall, I'd have to walk in on the other side. And depending on my anxiety level, my obsession for balance became greater or less than. And it was also very much associated with death. I always felt that if I did things in certain numbers, I could prevent the death or dying of somebody around me that I loved. So by keeping my world in order, I can control bad things from happening. This wasn't conscious; I figured this out way later. It was just an interesting little survival skill that a kid out of balance created."
Ms. Tippett: "Yeah. I mean, it's kind of interesting, interesting only because you found such healing. That yoga is, I mean, one element of yoga is about balance and in fact you had this disordered relationship, this very compulsive, anxious pursuit of balance in that disease."
Ms. Corn: "Well, I didn't know how bad my OCD was until my first yoga class."
Ms. Tippett: "Really?"
Ms. Corn: "Because I remember being in one of my first downward dogs and I looked at my hands and I noticed that one hand was a fraction of an inch further forward than the other, yet my shoulders were balanced. And I didn't understand, how do I get my hands to match but then my shoulders would be out of balance. And my heart started to race and I was, for the first time, really critically aware that both sides of the body aren't exactly the same. And the teacher said something in that class that was really life-changing for me. He said, "Breathe and everything changes." And what that meant for me was that as the anxiety came up, which it was, because I couldn't get my body in the right alignment, I just kept breathing deeply. And it was a sensation. Anxiety is a feeling. It's a sensation within the body. The deeper I breathed the more that started to pass, and it just became something else. And I thought, "Wow. I wonder if when anxiety shows up in my life if I can actually do the same thing, if I can just stay present and breathe and trust that it will change."
"The first time that yoga had a real impact on me was I was still living in New York. I remember the day. It was snowing. I had just finished a yoga class, and I was walking back to my apartment. And I had this really weird feeling in my heart, in my body, and everything. And I stopped because I was trying to identify, like, what it was that I was feeling. And I realized that I was happy. And, I mean, it was such an odd moment because I was young, prior to that class I was confused. I was with a guy at the time; I didn't know if I should stay with him, if I should move to L.A. You know, like any young person, I was just in the middle of my own little personal drama and basically lived each day thriving on that drama and was pretty miserable. I just had this sense that everything was unfolding, that I was in something that was bigger than I could possibly define. It was just such an odd little moment, and I thought to myself, "What was different? What changed?" And the only thing that was different was the fact that I took this yoga class. The seeds had been planted; it just hadn't awoken, and for whatever reason, that day I was ready to receive it."
Link to listen to the full interview:
To access the Speaking Of Faith website, go to:
Monday, February 23, 2009
Sunday, February 22, 2009
Friday, February 20, 2009
Real calmness should be found in activity itself.
zen mind, beginners mind
I have been working on integrating my mindfulness meditation into my active day, into my life. It is very good for me to make the time to meditate, to set that time aside to be silent and still; to breathe and be with my thoughts.
But one thing that i have learned is that this calmness, this still point, this serenity needs to be brought into my daily activities. My first conscious encounters with this were during my time with the Wet Mountain Sangha, a group of Zen Buddhists who met once or twice a week to meditate. At the Wet Mountain Sangha there was sitting meditation, chanting, reading of inspirational works and discussions, even a book study group.
But what i enjoyed most beyond the sitting was the walking meditation. It was this small integration of an activity between twenty minute sitting periods where i learned to carry the stillness, the mindfulness into an activity.
Years later i am still working on integrating the serenity i achieve in my sitting meditation into my daily activities. This helps a lot with anxieties which arise in the mind.
Often when doing something, performing a task or duty, we expect an immediate result. I know myself fairly well these days and i know that i am someone who enjoys a sense of closure, a sense of accomplishment. I do not like jobs with no end in sight necessarily, i prefer work where when i am done working something is repaired or finished, created, healed or resolved. However, like mindfulness, some things in life are never finished, they are a process or a practice.
Some things are obvious, like eating or sleeping. Or, take the brushing of your teeth, once they are brushed, they must be brushed again soon and regularly.
But then there are other things which simply must be done and no immediate result is in sight, things which take patience. As a gardener i know that this is the case with growing vegetables. I can plant a seed, but its growth to maturity must be monitored and it must be cared for and its needs attended to. In this way, gardening is a long process, a continual flow which even continues into the winter with cover crops, and is extended to mulching and composting, the slow activities of worms and chickens as they contribute to the rich fertility of the soil.
Something i have struggled with for years is financial gain; the work to acquire money in a timely fashion. I have learned to slowly loosen this ideas grip on my emotional well being. When i was doing a lot of landscaping jobs, often the work would be completed for weeks before i ever saw payment. At times i felt that i was just working and not getting paid because of the time between the two events, and i often found this frustrating. I have come to see that my daily work, no matter what it is i need to do that day is all part of the flow of the abundance in my life.
David Skul, a friend and mentor of mine, refers to this as "tending the flow." I love that phrase, "tending the flow." I find that it comes to mind often when i begin to worry about the amount of work or time i am putting into a piece of jewelry or the writing of an article or a piece for my blog. Worries about "wasting time" arise but when i answer that thought with faith that abundance is on the way and give it room and time to grow and fruit in its own time, i realize that i am simply tending the flow.
It is much like gardening. I may go out, pull weeds, and water my garden, but there may not be any tomatoes that day.
I feed my chickens everyday whether they give me an egg or not. I am simply tending the flow. I am simply living and going about the business of life. I am being alive, doing what i have chosen to do in my life.
I recently ran across a quote by Nelson Henderson printed on a box of tea. It is a quote which added another dimension or level to my idea of tending the flow. It deepened the idea, or rather, it deepened my understanding of the flow i am tending.
is to plant trees,
under whose shade
you do not expect to sit."
Thursday, February 19, 2009
talks about love and the mind's attraction to it.
Monday, February 16, 2009
The European Space Agency (ESA) just released this computer generated impression of the approximate 12,000 known pieces of space junk and objects now orbiting around our beautiful gem of a planet.
This is amazing, astounding . . . and sad. It's hard to imagine what we have done to things. Reminds me of that old commercial of the Native American on his horse looking at all the pollution and a tear running down his cheek that was on tv when i was a kid.
I always cried along with him, and i still do . . . mostly on the inside.
Check out the image at the below link
Sunday, February 15, 2009
There's nothing quite as joyful as opening a jar of raspberry jam on a cold, snowy winter day. Although opening a jar of garden tomatoes you canned last summer's end and thawing out some green chilies roasted and frozen that same weekend might rival the jam.
Once the jar of jam is opened, the scent alone reminds me of the fresh fruit, and the color(!) oh my, such a deep rich red the kind of red you just don't see in Colorado during the winter months. No, not red. Brown? Yes. Gray? Yes. White? You betcha! But red? No, not so much. Maybe left over Christmas ornaments, or perhaps ones cheeks or nose from being outside, but that's about it.
Oh, and this color remind me of other berries, strawberries especially; and roses and ruby-throated hummingbirds, and the little heads of the finches which nest in my porch light.
It's good to think of these things, to remember the joys of hearty Summer whilst deep in the throes of Old Man Winter.
These simple things we do, spreading jam on toast for breakfast or making our children's lunch for school can be moments to remind one to be mindful. We can take the time to think about the jam we are spreading. What is this glorious stuff full of seeds with their potential for more life and fruit bearing (well, maybe not after the canning process . . . but maybe if it's freezer jam). It is clearly more than the jam, it is not simply jam that is to say, for nothing is self arising. It is so much more than just jam.
Think of the rainwater that went into growing the plant and it's berries, and all that sunshine being turned into sugars by these miraculous plants. And what of the clouds in the great sky that brought that rain, and the ocean it came from and all the weather it brought to others on its way from there to here. What about the dirty hands of the gardener who pruned last years raspberry canes and planted the seeds or the root seedlings. And there's the soil, and the compost and leaf mulch which made it and the worms which enriched and aerated it. When you look at the jam can you see the rain and the soil, the gardener and the garden; can you see the sun, the weather and the worm.
No, this is clearly much more than simply jam, this is part of the endless process of life. Perhaps jam represents a still point moment in the planets water cycle. Perhaps it is the worms' pinnacle altruistic achievement.
since crying from birth,
to make their own wombs,
harvest fruit from the earth
that pollen from flowers
of daisies fed bees;
both laughter and hours
heal badly scraped knees
kites that she flew,
once tethered by string,
now nesting in trees
for birds on the wing
that's how she knew,
in no uncertain terms
that god loved earth,
the circle, the worms
Saturday, February 14, 2009
"Imagine" may be my favorite song by John Lennon; it envisions a world created from our best intentions, where the brotherhood of mankind is healthy and harmonious . "All We Are Saying Is Give Peace a Chance" really clarifies the method of moving toward that vision. But "All We Need Is Love" gives us something the one thing by which we can measure and temper each moments intentions, actions and perception.
When we act in this world we can do so from a place of love. When we move through our day we can practice viewing all that comes to us, even the challenges, as an expression of this life's love for us. When we are about to act out from our emotions or are considering how to act in a certain situation, we can quickly ask ourselves, "Am i doing this out of Love?" Often when acting without mindfulness, when we are just playing those same old response tapes instead of consciously and purposefully acting in the moment we often are acting out of habit. Other times we may be acting from quite base emotions. Often when we are angered it is due to ignorance or greed. Even the way we feel about things is often based in greed, or ignorance but our third option is love.
If we are mindful and awake in the present, in tune with the true nature of the moment and are seeing things as they are instead of how we wish they were, we find that responding from a place of love becomes quite a bit easier. It becomes easier to see that love is all around you. Everything is an expression of this vast universe's love and nurturance of you. The universe seeking to increase life and expand toward greater and infinite expression of itself. And we are all parts of that one great self.
So, then one can see that the sun rises each day. That is love. The rain which falls, that is love. It can nourish the forests and our lawns, fill our birdbaths; or it may flood things and overcome the temporary structure of things as they were yesterday, washing old things away to start new life and new forms of expression.
The universe is an artist, creating order from chaos, mixing and arranging various single things into a pattern which becomes a new and unified larger thing. It is always working on the big picture. And just like a painter, sometimes things are only sketches of ideas, somethings are painted over; parts are carved away from the block or the stone to reveal something inside, a vision . . .
. . . but i digress.
It is more than a feeling.
It is a way of life. It is a mode of thinking. It is a knowing. It is a decision making criterion. It can be what we do, why we do it, how we do it and who we are.
Summers fade and roses die,
the answer came, the wind and rain."
-Bob Weir, Erik Anderson
Sunday, February 8, 2009
Thursday, February 5, 2009
Dept of Peace finishes in 2nd place on Change.org poll of "Ideas for Change in America"!
We have demonstrated Strength Through Peace!
To learn more about the Department of Peace and Non-Violence, please visit:
Wednesday, February 4, 2009
In my spiritual explorations and studies, i have found that there are many levels of understanding to be found in all religions. All religions have brothers and sisters who are spiritually undeveloped and whose religious zealotry often manifests as the violent treatment of others. It is unfortunate that these few bad apples seem to ruin peoples notions of the whole barrel.
Depending on ones media culture, religion and country, one may have a very poor opinion of those of other religions. In non-Islamic countries, Islam has come to be mistakenly seen as a violent and hateful religion, a religion of intolerance and self-righteousness. We in the west understand that the often oppressive Taliban regime were Islamic, and we in the west hear everyday of the resistance organizations who attest to being agents of Islam and engage in horrible acts of violence.
However, we would be mistaken to allow these people and these current events portrayed by the sensation loving media to create for us our understanding of Islam and the huge portion of the earths population for whom Islam is the religion of choice. Could it be possible that all these millions of people are hateful and violent, that they all believe in war, that they all hate everyone else.
No, this has not been my understanding of Islam at all, but i have spent time exploring its wisdom paths and poetry. The poetry of Persia has long been understood to be some of the most spiritual and moving poetry in the history of literature. It was through this doorway that i discovered Islam and have found much wisdom in the gardens of verse planted by Rumi and others.
WWe must listen to the more spiritually developed teachers and versions of religions. Religions, like all things change. Religions are the conversations we are having about what it means to be human and about our relationship God, with life, with the universe and what our highest principals are. Like the Constitution of the United States, it is an ideal we strive for, that we may not have reached yet, but that we believe in attaining. As our understanding of the world and ourselves increases and becomes less vague, so do our religions. But many of our highest ideals were encapsulated in our earliest philosophies and earliest versions of many religions.
The Sufi order of Islam believes that it is possible to draw closer to God and to more fully embrace the Divine Presence right now, in this life, in this very moment. Sufis seek to restore within themselves the primordial state of fitra, described in the Qur'an which is simillar to the concept of "Buddha Nature." In achieving this state, the sufi abandons all notions of dualism, including the concept of an individual self, and instead realizes a divine oneness.s.
I recently ran across a final discourse of Kwaja Mu'inuddin Chishti, known more popularly as Hazrat Khuaja, a renowned teacher of Sufi Islam who was born in 536 AD. Khwaja or Khuaja is a title meaning "Master of Wisdom." I found it to resonate with a spirituality in tune with high spiritual development and humanitarian heart. These words were spoken just before his death and was his last advice to his followers about their ideal conduct:
Mere talk of peace will avail you naught.
Mere talk of God and religion will not take you far.
Bring out all the latent powers of your being and
reveal the full magnificence of your immortal self.
Be overflowing with peace and joy,
and scatter them wherever you are
and wherever you go.
Be a blazing fire of truth,
be a beauteous blossom of love
and be a soothing balm of peace.
With your spiritual light, dispel the darkness of ignorance;
dissolve the clouds of discord and war and spread goodwill,
peace, and harmony among the people.