Wednesday, May 29, 2013

My Posts are Moving

Hey Y'all,

Just wanted to write a quick note here to let you know that my blog is moving locations. You may already know, but just in case you don't, I am going to stop posting here.

Check out my new site: This is where all the new posts will appear, and some from here that I am re-writing...

Thanks for your support and love

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Scrubbed Clean

Blowing, howling, screaming wind
It came like night and stirred,
Stirred up, churned up
All of me, all of him

Hair whipped, eyes scrunched, skin stung
Gravel, pounding earth and sky
Agitation, frustration—can’t breathe
Slow down, go around, bend like trees

Shouting now, over din
Pummeled, forced; look in!
Inside where you hurt
Inside where you heal

Fierce love and wild fear 
Pushing, scraping, ripping 
Comfort gone, tethers free
Let go, he says, it’s just me

Hold me, love me, all we need
Exhale, calm water dream
Whales and wisdom, nothing to fear
Dawning light, wild eye turned clear

Our feet reach down, new earth below
No prints to see, all scrubbed clean
Old paths, now pristine
Hand in hand, you and me

Friday, March 22, 2013

Turning to the Light: A Yogini’s Look at Consciousness

With the first days of spring upon us, I cannot help but welcome the light. The topic of light has been on my mind not just because the magnificent sun is shining upon us in lengthening days, but also in remembrance of the light which shines within.

Have you ever had the most amazing, enlightening experience, then noticed your eyes in a mirror? Cried until there were no more tears, then saw a new brightness to the color of your eyes? Had an orgasm then noticed your eyes (or your partner’s eyes) were practically glowing? Finished a yoga practice and looked at the way your eyes sparkled with fresh clarity? This is one of the ways that we can see the light that shines within.

The yogic sages and philosophers call this light Chit. Chit translates as —to observe, to know, to understand. In general, it means the Light of Consciousness.  

In yoga we practice turning our awareness inwards. We sit in meditation, or rest in corpse pose and observe our experience. But have you ever stopped to ask who is observing it? And, if your mind becomes quiet and still, yet you are aware of (i.e. separate from) its stillness, who was it that was aware (and separate)?

The answer is Chit. It is the Consciousness in you that has always been there and has never changed. Consciousness is our inner nature and is a perfect starting point for the practice of spiritual development; all you need to know is your Self!

When we jump down the rabbit hole of knowing ourselves, the topic of Light gets more interesting. Consciousness, according to Swami Shantananda, is “that which is endowed with the power to know and to perceive.” This is not so much the light you can see with your eyes but the light by which you see. The Light of Consciousness dawns in an Aha! moment — often before we even know what happened — before the mind begins to describe, label and categorize the experience.

Many of us never even know there is a difference between the dawning of Consciousness and our understanding of and relationship to it. It takes practice being present in order to witness the moment when the proverbial lightbulb goes on. Our experience and our labeling of it occurs almost simultaneously. In that moment, however, there is an opportunity to know the Chit and to know ourselves more deeply.

The Light shines forth (for you yoga philosophers at heart, you will also know this as prakasha) and is reflected back to us by what we see (vimarsha). Chit is the Light that emanates from each of us and shines out into the world, it is also our capacity or ability to know what we are seeing, and additionally, our understanding of what we see. Let me explain in more detail.

Consciousness emanates from us and shines on what we see, illuminating it and bringing it into our awareness. Then, in simple terms, we describe what we see; we label it, categorize it, know what it is. For example: That is a flower, that is a man, she has red hair, etc. On a deeper level, we then give personal meaning to what we see. Perhaps we have associations linked with red hair and memories that go along with it. For example: He’s got red hair, my first love had red hair, those were such special times, it makes me feel good to remember who I was then and what that love felt like. This is our understanding of what we see. 

And who is seeing all this in the first place? That is the unchanging One who has the ability to see it all. Chit emerges so that it can reflect back and shine inwards. Consciousness wants to know itself. Consciousness is conspiring for you to see your true nature, the part of yourself which is unchanging and inherently blissful. 

You have a unique face. Without a mirror to reflect your face back to you, you don’t actually know what you look like. You have a unique history, no one else has been through what you’ve been through. Those experiences are your mirror, each one of them reflects not only the experience and your associations with it, but also who you are beyond them.

Your vision and understanding is maleable; how you see yourself, others and your experiences changes day to day. So, the next time you sit down to meditate, or practice yoga, take a moment to breathe it all in. Sit back and open up to the Light. Do a little spring cleaning by taking a fresh look at your reflection. What stories and associations do you have that are no longer fitting? What associations are true? Can you pause the mental labeling long enough to glimpse that flash of Light dawning within? 

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Communicate Like a (Mindful) Pro

At some point in time, each of us will need to dialogue with someone who is disrespectful or who rubs us the wrong way. There are some people we simply can’t avoid because we work with them or they are in our family, or for some reason, we cannot simply ignore them, no matter how badly we want to or how hard we try.

Here are some suggestions for healthy communication for the next time you find yourself needing to speak up.

1.) Say It As Soon As Possible
If you have something to say but you hold it in, it will fester. Then, you will likely be angry and everything you say will be loaded with that emotion. Its difficult to communicate or see anything clearly when all you see is red. Sooner is always better.

2.) Don’t Assume
Never assume that you know what the other person is thinking or experiencing. We never know what kind of drama may be in their lives that may cause them to act the way they do. As an example, I once taught a restorative yoga workshop. After class an unassuming, gentle student—one I’d never met before that day—approached me. She said, “I just want to thank you for the class. When I served in Iraq I was captured and held hostage and this class really helped me process the emotion and fear from that experience.” I had no idea, and we usually don’t. So ask questions, or at least be open to hearing what the other person has to say.

3.) Take Responsibility
If you did something hurtful (even if you didn’t mean it), apologize. Be willing to make change yourself, don’t just expect the other person to change. The reality is, the other person may not change at all. Communicating isn’t about trying to get someone to change, but about speaking up for yourself, maintaining healthy boundaries and evolving to meet the situation at hand. 

4.) Apply the Four Gates of Speech. These questions help further streamline your communication.

• Is it truthful?
Get your facts straight. Make sure you are talking to the correct person about something they have control over. If not, you might look like a real jackass or say something you truly regret.

• Is it necessary to say?
Take the time to examine your thoughts and feelings. Are you reacting to something that has nothing to do with the situation that’s bugging you? Will you be able to let it go if you don’t say anything? Can the situation even be changed? (i.e. the other person’s hands might be tied by some circumstance, even if they want to change it)

• Is this the right time to say it?
Be aware of the other person’s mood and what they are doing. If they are already in a bad mood, what you say could make it worse. Also, if they are occupied, say they are on the phone, working on the computer or otherwise distracted, they won’t be able to engage in conversation or hear you with any clarity. Start out by asking if they have a moment to chat. If they say yes, then you know you’ve got their attention.

• Can it be said in a kind way?
We all know how it feels to be spoken to in a derogatory way and none of us like it. Excerpted from the book Blink, “…in fact, the presence of contempt in a marriage can even predict such things as how many colds a husband or wife gets; in other words, having someone you love express contempt toward you is is so stressful that it begins to effect the functioning of your immune system.” So, think about what you are going to say before you say it. Think of the other person as your equal and frame the conversation in a way that is respectful. Besides when you talk down to someone, they never, ever take you seriously!