“A lamp does not flicker in a place where no winds blow; so it is with a Yogi, who controls his mind, intellect and self, being absorbed in the spirit within him. When the restlessness of the mind, intellect and self is still for the practice of yoga, the Yogi by the grace of the spirit within himself finds fulfillment. Then he knows the joy eternal which is beyond the pale of the senses which his reason cannot grasp. He abides in this reality and moves not therefrom. He has found the treasure above all others. There is nothing higher than this. He who has achieved it, shall not be moved by the greatest sorrow. This is the real meaning of yoga – deliverance from contact with pain and sorrow.” ~BKS Iyengar
Abhyasa: continuous endeavor; constant practice; repetition; exercise; exertion (from A Concise Dictionary of Indian Philosophy; Sanskrit Terms Defined in English)
“And so I practice without knowing how it will all turn out. Clearly, along with clarity and faith, my commitment requires some will and effort. As Patanjali says in verse 14, establishing a firm foundation in practice requires sustained exertion over time. Commitment to practicing means I practice if it is easy for me, and I practice if it is hard for me. If I am bored, I practice; if I am enthusiastic, I practice; if I am at home, I practice; if I am on vacation, I practice. There is a saying in Buddhism: If it is hot, be a hot Buddha. If it is cold, be a cold Buddha. This is the consistency and determination in practice that Patanjali means when he speaks of abhyasa. In the beginning, this sustained exertion may be an act of will, an act of ego. But as we continue, the practice itself creates a momentum that propels us through the difficult moments of fear and boredom.”
-From Yoga Journal article, Hot Buddha Cold Buddha by Judith Hanson Lasater
The birds’ favorite songs
You do not hear,
For their most flamboyant music takes place
When their wings are stretched
Above the trees
And they are smoking the opium
Of pure freedom.
It is healthy for the prisoner
To have faith
That one day he will again move about
Wherever he wants,
Feel the wondrous gift of life —
Find all wounds, debts stamped canceled,
I once asked a bird,
“How is it that you fly in this gravity
The Yogi conquers the body by the practice of asanas (postures) and makes it a fit vehicle for the spirit. (S)He knows that it is a necessary vehicle for the spirit. A soul without a body is like a bird deprived of its power to fly.
Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing, there is a field. I’ll meet you there.
Those who train wholeheartedly in awakening … are called warriors – not warriors who kill but warriors of nonaggression … They are willing to cut through personal reactivity and self-deception. A warrior accepts that we can never know what will happen to us next. This not-knowing is part of the adventure. It’s also what makes us afraid.
Wherever we are, we can train as a warrior… Our tools are sitting meditation, tonglen, slogan practice, and cultivating limitless qualities of loving-kindness, compassion, joy, and equanimity.
The training offers no promise of happy endings. Rather this “I” who wants to find security – who wants something to hold onto – will finally learn to grow up. If we find ourselves in doubt that we are up to being a warrior-in-training, we can contemplate this question: “Do I prefer to grow up and relate to life directly, or do I choose to live and die in fear?”
-from Comfortable With Uncertainty By Pema Chodron
Friday I had the great honor to attend a lecture given by the Dalai Lama in New Orleans. Even though I have been twice to Dharamsala where he lives in India, this is the first opportunity I’ve had to hear him speak live. One of the things that is most striking about His Holiness is how funny and down to earth he is. I’m still a little bit awed from the whole experience. I feel really lucky and blessed to have been there.
The city has been preparing for his visit for a year. In the last couple of weeks New Orleanians have draped homes and business in every neighborhood, and churches of all denominations with Tibetan Prayer Flags. I had a fun day cruising around the city on my “#BuddhaBike” doing a photo essay of the flags. All the pics are on my Instagram page. Have a look! You don’t have to be on Instagram to see the photos.
The main thing I have taken to heart from this auspicious audience is that compassion has the power to unlock the suffering and trappings in our personal lives. Practicing peace and compassion in our own lives is the key to bringing more harmony to the whole global family. With so much suffering in the world, how can we not work to become more compassionate beings?
It’s my favorite song…Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me.
IN PEACE & COMPASSION,
If you’re interested to read more information and details about Friday’s lecture and His Holiness’s first ever visit to the Gulf Coast, this is a great article from Nola.Com about the historic visit.
So the countdown begins. Ten days until I start the journey to cross Ocean and Continent bound for India. Or rather, bound ‘to’ India. The seed was planted 24 years ago when I lived with an Indian girl my freshman year at Indian Springs School. Her exotic beauty and stories of Delhi and Bombay ignited the spark that continued to burn more brightly year after year. I believe her influence caused my gravitation to yoga a few years later.
I have been actively working, saving, and planning for this trip for 18 months. To leave my husband, family, house, dogs, and business for four weeks seems like such a long time. There is a tiny part of me that thinks my little universe will crumble if I don’t hold it up. But there is a wiser part of me that knows all is well and will be well here in my absence and that I must do this. My higher self assures my fearful aspects that the Universe is infinite, intelligent, compassionate and inviting me to have a look at the world from the perspective of a high flying Bird, to expand my horizons, to steep myself in another’s culture, to live life to the fullest now. Who wouldn’t accept that invitation?!
The last major tasks to take care of before departure are bills and taxes. Sheer WORK. My friend Michelle Baker said last weekend at Yoga Birds that we often have to move through ‘thick energy’ to experience the freedom of a yoga pose or a situation.
It’s very much in the same realm as the theme of my yoga classes this week. We are exploring the balance between Work and Play in the poses. There is an innate pulsation and equilibrium of work and play in every pose and every situation that we encounter or embark upon. Keeping with the Order of the Universe, we must first do the work so that we can really play. It is just like the Anusara Universal Principles of Alignment- we create muscle energy first and then we playfully stretch and extend in the poses. If we play before we work, the poses are unsteady and the risk of injury increases substantially, and frankly not very fun.
So this week it’s the tedious mandatory work of tax time that sets the path for the ultimate Divine play of answering the long-time call of the Motherland.
Come play with us at Yoga Birds this week. Oh and, Yoga, thanks so much for showing me the Way!