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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

New Year's Resolutions

You’re maybe making a list? Checking it twice? Not a gift list, but a resolution list.

It is that time of year again; after the excesses of the holidays, our lack of routine and discipline, it feels like a good time to make big changes. To resolve to shift things we know are not in our best interests; to eat healthier, exercise regularly; soften the rough edges of our personalities; maybe act a little more kind and loving to our fellow beings.

But before any lists can be made, what must come first is “tarka.” Tarka is a yogic term that means review; a period of time to contemplate and take stock of things. Looking back over the past day or month; year or decade; to see where we’ve been, where we are, and where we’re headed.

It’s very much like planning a garden.

You start by looking at the previous year’s harvest. How did it grow? What crops fared well, and what didn’t? Where were the weeds rampant? Were there enough tomatoes, or too much cabbage? Did you think you planted spinach and got lettuce instead?

And what about the soil -- did you take the time to prepare the ground? Did you plant carrots in clay and strawberries in the shade? Were you flexible enough to adjust to unknown factors – like insects; lack of water; and (if you live in Floyd County) the occasional hail storm?

The only difference is in life, we are simultaneously reaping AND sowing. Every moment, every experience has been created through our words, thoughts and actions.

Knowing that, living that, can you reflect on what has come into your life this year, and what has faded away?

Examine the people you have attracted into your inner and outer circle this year. Are they positive and encouraging? Loving and giving? Inspiring and inspired? Are they leading you toward your highest and best self?

Are you living your authentic life? Following your path? Serving others but not diminishing yourself?

And what is it that you REALLY desire in this life, anyway?

If you thought you’d been planting peppers, but keep getting pumpkins, remember it’s not the pumpkin’s fault it’s not a pepper. You have to go all the way back to the original planting to see the origin of your error. And you may have to wait a full season to get another chance to plant those peppers, so you need to be ready.

Sometimes the length of time between action and consequence keeps us from connecting the dots and understanding what we created. Tarka helps with this.

Take some time to review 2009; look through your journal or calendar, and take notes. (What??? You don’t journal!? Ahhh, a great resolution for you!)

Remember you can never change anyone else; you can only change you and your reaction to the world around you.

Prepare the soil of your heart; open yourself to the pure potential that exists within.



Saturday, December 19, 2009

Sacred Images, Sacred Objects

Today is December 19, 2009, and here in Roanoke, Virginia, we were blessed with a beautiful snowstorm. Sixteen inches! Lots of snow, by our standards.

Do you see the photograph? It is from our yard. It is a picture of Saint Francis, Patron Saint of Animals; he resides in our garden. Usually, come wintertime, he resides in our garage, protected from the elements. This year, we forgot to put him away, out of the weather.

Doesn’t he have the most beautiful, peaceful face? Isn’t it interesting that the snow did not cover it?

This does not surprise me. There are many events on record where sacred objects have gone unharmed, even in the most dangerous of circumstances. It brings me back to my days working as the office manager of a restoration construction company. We specialized in fire and water damage.

One Christmas season, we restored a home that had suffered a very serious fire; I remember the project manager showing me photographs of the home. They had a nativity scene displayed on a card table against a wall; the fire and smoke visibly went around the nativity – seriously, you looked at this photograph and could see the smoke go up and around the whole table. It was wild to look at; everything around it destroyed, burned; ruined. The nativity was untouched.

It boggled my mind at the time.

Now, I understand.

Today, as I notice our precious, uncovered Saint Francis miraculously peering out of the snow -- inside, in the house, I have been busy -- preparing photographs of the Kriya lineage for at least a week. Locating, procuring and printing photographs and pictures of the saints and sages who support me in my practice, so I can display them inside my small meditation space.

These saints and sages, they commune with me daily; in my meditation, my life and in my work. They are conduits for the living Divine energy that flows through me when I teach.

For some reason, it really never occurred to me to place their photos in my meditation space, even though I display their photographs prominently on a shelf in the living room.

Recently Andrea Boyd and Jeffrey Cohen of Jivamukti Yoga Charleston (SC) came to Roanoke to instruct some workshops. Mary Brown, Uttara’s Jivamukti instructor – a true conduit of the Divine, and a very dedicated student of yoga -- took on the responsibility of preparing the altar for their workshop.

And oh, it was SO beautiful. See the photograph? Amazing!

Andrea and Jeffrey came and brought additional pictures of their teachers to adorn the altar. I lucked out (truly!) on a spot in the front row; and practiced for two hours before this sacred altar -- adorned with fresh flowers, Ganesha (overcomer of obstacles) and photographs of the Jivamukti lineage.

As I pushed my body and mind through practices I thought not capable, I looked into the eyes of Ruth Lauer-Manenti. As I expanded my consciousness, under the expert guidance of Andrea and Jeffrey, Sharon Gannon and David Life peered from small, ornate frames. There was magic in those practices, and in those photographs.

When I have sat at the lotus feet of my beloved Guruji, there have always been photographs of Kriyanandaji and Shellyji on the altar. But only at this workshop did I realize the true power of those images. That is when I decided it was important to integrate them into my meditation space.

I sat before them today in meditation; and the energy shift was palpable.

Christians are careful not to worship graven images; and I understand that concept. We as Americans place the image of the flag everywhere; but not always with respect and understanding.

I saw an American flag doormat in a catalog this Summer – THINK about that symbolism.

Thoug -- yes -- no one wants to worship the golden idol, the ceramic goddess -- UNDERSTAND that images, statues, photographs – they have “shakti” – a real energy; they have power.

During this beautiful period of waiting for the Christ-child; waiting for the Light to return; however you choose to honor the shifting of the season; remember that your photographs, your nativity scenes, your traditions and your totems; the ornaments on your tree; the photographs in your cards, the things that you elevate and honor; they have meaning; they have shakti; they have power.

Give them the respect they so lovingly deserve.



Wednesday, December 16, 2009

To Card or Not To Card

So, it’s mid-December; the crunch is on. I’ve got three young children and feel the need to make the holiday happen – there are expectations to be met, and traditions to be upheld; even as the cosmic ground shifts beneath us, as the world begins to change. (I’m sure you feel it).

Things are also busy at the Studio. The number of students this time of year is a little low, but there are gift packages to put together, the Winter Solstice celebration, gearing up for coming events.

I have come to the point in life where I realize (a little late, I might add) that I matter, too. My experience of the holiday counts. What do I want?

I want to bake LOTS of cookies – pecan tassies, Russian teacakes, sugar cookies, candy-cane cookies, mmmmmmm . . . . (always my soft spot). I want to decorate the tree – my way (loads of not matching ornaments, colorful lights; Martha Stewart would NOT approve). I want to spent time with friends, having tea, catching up. I want to purchase gifts that are meaningful and useful (and I want to do it quickly and efficiently; I do NOT want to spend time shopping).

I want to ponder the birth of Jesus; spend time exploring my relationship with him and the Blessed Mother; and continue to reconcile the wonder of His divine love to my life, as I live it, today.

This Thanksgiving, I made a plan. And a resolution. Need to simplify . . . so I decided not to send holiday cards this year.

They have always hung over my head, year after year. I was thinking, how great to have no pressure to produce a perfect photograph (okay, any REASONABLE photograph) of my three children. No pressure to locate the cards left over from last year (um, seriously; where are they? I’m a logical person; but why, oh why, aren’t they in my Christmas box?) No pressure to write our names over and over; no pressure to jot a note, or to write one of those little newsletter things.

Such a relief to let go of one more holiday requirement – er, um, I mean, tradition.

But now, cards from friends and family have begun to arrive in our mail.

And I’m so grateful to receive them! Beautiful photographs of my friends and their children. It is wonderful to see those babies growing and changing from year to year. And my friends, too! Not so young, but just as beautiful as ever. They are happy; they are well; they are living their lives, unfolding in their purpose. It is joyful to read even the the most brief of updates.

So now, at the last minute, I am re-thinking my plan. How can I repay these people for the happiness, the joy, the news that they have sent to me?

I think, perhaps -- maybe -- I’ll just send a couple cards – a select few.

So -- how do I choose???

Some cards come from my oldest and dearest friends; I never want to break that link. Some come from new friends. Those who know me as I am now are just as precious.

I glance at the calendar; there’s a little break in my schedule in February!

Perhaps, I’ll send Valentines.

I hope that you enjoy the blessings of the season.

If your heart feels hard, give even the smallest gift to someone in need. There is no greater blessing than to be able to give.



Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Breathwork Homework

I am taking a Restorative Breathwork training course in order to become certified as a Barratt Breathworks restorative practioner. Part of my homework for this month is building an awareness of my own breath. Taking time to lie in savasana (the corpse pose/final relaxation pose), and explore the rhythm, depth, location, movement, pace – everything! about my own natural breath.

This sounds pretty simple; it is not.
Not only that, but for me, locating time to lie quietly and breathe in a household of three children is difficult. Convincing them that what I am doing is actually homework is mission impossible. But the toughest part is trying to concentrate, stay present with the breath, and not allow my mind to go bonkers when they (inevitably) interrupt.

My daughter wanders in, seeing me lying on the floor, eyes closed.

“Mommy. Mommy. Mommy.
Mommy??! MOMMY!!!!!!”

I pop off the floor -- "WHAT!????!! -- I’m doing my homework!"

“Homework?” she replies, “I wish that was MY homework.”

I do a mental eye roll. This is not easy; my breathing homework is hard. Breathwork digs up emotions, breaks down barriers; breathwork is WORK. I lie back down, close my eyes, and try to resume my practice. Relax the body; quiet the mind; notice my breath.

My son wanders in, lies down next to me and curls up close, snuggling my arm. As I open my eyes, his head lifts and he smiles down at me. “I guess this is cuddle work,” he says, and then lays back down.

Ah, yes – cuddle work. I think I’ll pursue my Ph.D.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Attachment (actually, food)

Been thinking a lot about attachment lately.
Because I have a LOT of attachments. Many of them relate to food.

Now, I’m not talking about food as something that nourishes the body; gives it fuel; quells the growling. I’m talking about food as comfort, food as love – food as all the things it’s not really supposed to be.

An acupuncturist once told me once that I was a “super taster,” and I think it is true. When I was growing up, I could taste flavors no one else in my family could. That didn’t mean I was picky or limited. My mom says I ate absolutely everything as a baby, except Jello. (I am very proud of that, by the way – you might say, attached. And I still think Jello is disgusting.)

I eat certain things and they transport me; to a certain time, moment, memory. To an emotional connection of safety or security (or sometimes, loss and negativity – I stay away from those recipes).

There are certain foods from childhood that I eat because I associate them with comfort; mainly crunchy-salty with ooey-gooey. Think buttered popcorn, well-salted; French fries (preferably homemade) with Heinz ketchup (they make an organic Heinz ketchup now, you know?!). And almost anything involving wheat and melted cheese (sigh!).

And, truly -- I have not eaten meat in 20 years, but if my grandmother came to my house right now and made her pot roast, I’d eat, and eat, and eat.

Would it really be about the pot roast?

Um, no.

It was the love she poured into it, her desire for us to be nourished and feel cared for – she loved her family beyond measure, and it showed in everything she did, everything she said, and in the food she so lovingly prepared.

This brings me back to my attachments, and food. There are so many things I want to say about food; I’m a Taurean; I could write about it, think about it, meditate on it for lifetimes. Instead, today I’ll narrow my focus, and speak only to my attachment to how food is prepared.

There is this thing called prana – a Sanskrit term that translates as lifeforce or life energy. It permeates all of existence – it is in the air we breathe, the thoughts we think, the food we ingest. It animates the Universe; it is the breath of God within us. It is why we can hook a body up to a machine, but it is not alive – no prana. A lack of prana is why people can be living on this Earth, but not be truly alive. It is important, but invisible.

In our culture, no one tells us it exists.

But to us yogis, it is very, very important; we want to harness it, purify it – bring it into our being, balance it in our energy body, and lift it up, up, up – to the heaven within, as it were. When bringing prana in through food, it matters how the food is prepared, and who prepares the food – what their intention was, their vibration. As well as our attitude and emotions upon consuming the food. Feeling angry, feeling deprived? Feeling grateful, feeling cared for?

It matters.

This explains why you can inhale 2,000 calories from the drive-thru, and be ravenous two hours later – no prana, baby.

I am somewhat attached to the convenience of a microwave – not so much for cooking, but for re-heating. For zapping water for tea, re-heating a plate of leftovers, melting butter to popcorn-annointing perfection; you understand. But my ayurvedic practitioner friend, David, told me in September that when you microwave the food – it zaps the prana. Cooking it from within makes it devoid of life energy.

My friend Julia has been telling me microwaves,were no good for years. But this really put it over the top for me.

So, I told my children and husband about the damage the microwave causes to our food. Even threatened to remove the offending machine (mostly so I would not be tempted to use it). But my husband gently pleaded; “But, honey, I use it a lot, especially for breakfast.”

Well, he had me there; 10 years of nagging (kindly! lovingly!) my wonderful husband to eat something (anything!) for breakfast – I’m not gonna mess with that.

Two of the children took it all in stride; but my little Pisces?
She’s not going to let me off the hook.

Last week: “Is that prana-free macaroni and cheese” she inquires of her sister. Her sister shrugs, “Uh, yeah.”

Yesterday, I pull lunch out of the microwave. “Is that a no-prana enchilada?” she asks.” “Ah, yes -- but, I . . . but . . . but.” I stammer. “. . . . but . . . it’s 2:40 pm . . . and I haven’t had lunch . . . and I’m really, really hungry.”


She looks at me.
“Okay,” I say, “I’m being lazy.”
She nods, and comments, “Couldn’t you use the toaster oven?”
I stare blankly. She relents.
But the lesson is learned. I am saying one thing to her, yet doing another.

Today, I have a very bad sore throat. And I’m not saying that it is because I microwaved my enchilada.

But I am making some homemade clam-corn chowder. On the stove. With love and intention. And I promise NOT to microwave the leftovers tomorrow.



Friday, November 27, 2009

Truth and Santa Claus

We’re driving in the car the other evening, and my six-year old son says, “Mommy, is Santa Claus real?”

It’s a question that causes every parent to gasp. He’s my youngest, and I want him to believe as long as possible in the magic and mystery that is Santa. It’s pretty amazing how many thoughts ricocheted around in my head before I simply said, “Well, honey, what do you think?”

There was a momentary pause, and he began to laugh. “Well, OF COURSE,” he giggled. “Who do you think brings all that stuff, the Easter Bunny?”

Now, that is funny.

I must say I’ve always felt a little uneasy with the whole Santa Claus-Easter Bunny-Tooth Fairy thing. When my children were really small, I remember thinking how important it was to tell them the truth, to be the one person they could count on to lay down the unflinching reality of life. I didn’t want to cause harm or create fear, or give them information they could not absorb. I only wanted to state the facts as I knew them and saw them, so that they could trust me on every level.

In yoga, the Sanskrit word for truth is “satya.” It is one of the yamas, which in the classic eight-limbed system is the very first step in the yoga journey. “Yama” means control or abstention. And the yamas are very much like the Ten Commandments, except there are five, and they are way more strict.

The yamas are to be followed on three different but interconnected levels: thought, word and deed. You must not only decide and accept what the truth is, you must also speak it and allow your actions to convey that truth. Finally, all three levels must be balanced with the most important yama, non-violence. As Goswami Kriyananda clarifies in his book The Spiritual Science of Kriya Yoga, “Many people find it difficult to distinguish between truth and untruth. Whatever the ultimate solution is for each individual, the guiding factor should be mindfulness so that there is: (1) No intention to harm. (2) A true understanding of truth in your own mind, speech and actions as it relates to the whole of life.”

This guideline requires that you have a “true understanding of truth.” I struggle with this. What is truth? “Truth is one, but paths are many,” said Swami Satchidananda. Sometimes it seems to me that the path is one, and the truths are many. Maybe the answer comes from investigating truth on a much bigger, cosmic scale.

Which leads me back to the bearded man in the bright red suit.

What to tell the children about Santa? My choice, wise or not, has been to dodge, parry and spin. I’ve been known to say “who, me, Santa? Are you kidding? Do you think I could travel the world and give out toys and still be here in the morning to make you breakfast?”

But I also remind them it is important to believe in things they cannot see and science cannot verify. It is important to think about angels and fairies, magic and mysticism. To remember that because we can see something with our eyes doesn’t make it real and it doesn’t make it permanent.

The most real things in this world – love, faith, God, energy – are invisible to most of us. Believe in the power of that which you cannot see but can feel and sense. That belief alone can be enough to make it so.

But also . . . seek truth.



Tuesday, November 24, 2009


In the spirit of the Thanksgiving holiday, I would like to offer up some gratitude.

You may have heard of Dr. Masaru Emoto, the scientist who has performed a series of experiments with water. He places the water in a freezer and, just as it crystallizes, takes a photograph. He does this while exposing the water to different stimuli – placing them in labeled containers, playing certain music, exposing the water to computers, microwaves, etc. For more on this, check out his book, The Hidden Messages In Water. It has lots of great pictures and is a quick, fun read.

In the prologue to this book, he states that the phrase “love and gratitude,” when placed on a container holding water, created the most beautiful water crystal he had ever seen. He suggests that those two words -- love and gratitude -- are the words that should serve as the guide for the world.

After reading the book, that really stuck with me. When I pray and meditate, I always remember to offer love and gratitude. And, in my daily life, I try to wrap every act with not only love and kindness, but with a grateful heart.

It is so easy to take things for granted. The warm water in the shower and soap to wash with; a light coming on when I flip the switch; the car that starts when I turn the key; plenty of food and clean water. I live a very privileged life on this planet, and the list is long.

Those things are material, temporal; they make life more comfortable. When all that is gone, what am I grateful for?

I am grateful for the grace of God, and the opportunity to enter the dream.
I am grateful that after many years on the planet, I have reconnected with a mystical tradition that feeds my spirit, and soothes my soul.
I am grateful for my parents, brother, and sister for loving me always.
I am grateful for my husband, who supports me, adores me, and makes everything better.
I am grateful for my children for their bottomless love and their patience while mommy grows up.
I am grateful for the guidance, wisdom and prema of the Holy Kriya lineage.
I am grateful for all my teachers.
I am especially for Enoch Dasa Giri (Guruji) and Kim Schwartz.
I am grateful for Mataji, ishta of my heart.
I am grateful for my students (who are often my teachers), who inspire me.
I am grateful for my friends, who are always there when I need help.
I am grateful for my sister and brother disciples, who help me to stay centered and grounded.
I am grateful for everyone who helped to create Uttara. (That list of people is LONG).

I am also grateful that you read this far.

Now it’s your turn. Make your list.
And remember, LOVE and GRATITUDE.

Happy Thanksgiving,



Friday, November 20, 2009

Teaching Yoga in Schools

There are few things as emotionally satisfying as teaching yoga to children. They totally get it. Closer to the source than most grown-ups, they are better able to open their minds to possibility and potential.

Most of them, unlike most adults, still live in their bodies. Ask them to chant “Ram, Ram, Ram” and they can tell you where it vibrates. Take them on a journey in their mind to a secret garden, or flying over the ocean, and they’re there. It’s not a leap for them to sense the connectedness between themselves and the animals, the trees, the stars.

I’ve learned a lot over the past couple years about teaching children and about children living in our culture. When structuring a class, the number one thing is have a Plan A, B, C and D. Children tend to merge into each other’s energies pretty quickly, and depending on who is leading the pack that day, the game that worked great with the first class might be greeted with sneers by the next.

The second thing I learned is that it is a different world, more challenging world. Children are coming to school without being fed. Without getting a descent night’s sleep. Without a pencil to write with. Without the ability to sit still or to listen. If you know anyone who is a school teacher, especially a public school teacher, you should go out of your way to thank them for their service to your community.

Last year I was teaching a small group of children. One girl was holding her stomach, her face pinched. I asked what was wrong and she said her stomach hurt. So we did yoga for tummy aches; knees into the chest, twists – we call it the “tummy series” at my house. At the end of class I mentioned to the aide that I hoped it had helped. “Well,” the woman shook her head, “it’s probably because she’s hungry.” It felt like a slap just to hear it.

Our children are under a lot of stress. A lot. Sometimes, I’m not sure that children from well-to-do familes are any better off. I’ve seen children that cannot sit on the floor with straight legs. Really; the back of the body THAT tight. I asked one little boy, second grader: “Honey, when you lay down to go to sleep, can you go to sleep or do you just lay there while your mind jumps around?” His eyes grew wide. “How did you know that?” he asked. How did I know? The body – it doesn’t lie.

The third thing I’ve learned is that children yearn to be noticed and acknowledged as individuals. I guess we all do.

Have you seen these cars around with the little stickers on the back that indicate the family members who ride in the car? The little stick-figure dad, mom, girl, boy and cat, or any of the endless combinations that we would label a family unit? What is it the occupant is trying to tell us? Is it that they just want to be acknowledged; for us to know a little about their story? Or because, without those other people and things, they have no reference point; no identity?

So often in yoga with children, they tell me little snippets of their life. “My Grandma is picking me up today.” “Daddy doesn’t live at my house anymore.” “I have a boo boo on my knee.” They see me for ½ an hour, just a few times in a month; and yet run up for hugs, for acknowledgement of their existence; to ask if they can share their pain.

Last week I finished up teaching yoga to the first grade at the local elementary school. At the beginning of the class I announced that it would be our last class until January because I’d be teaching the fourth grade for a few weeks.

Instantly one little girl raised her hand, and I pointed to her to speak, expecting to hear a request for a pose.
“I love you,” she said.
“I love you, too,” I replied.

THAT is yoga.



Monday, November 16, 2009

Clean up, Clean out

A collision of events has led to complete disorganization in my home. Seriously; it’s bad.

There are piles on the piles; things half done and undone. Mold in the bathroom, stacks of things to be filed, unhung pictures leaning against the walls. The cat threw up in the basement . . . a while ago (it is out of the traffic area, mind you). If my home were a feng shui movie, it would be rated R.

And it’s making me crazy. The more disorganized things are, the more it feeds the disorganization. When the baskets of clothes go unfolded, the clothes get tossed everywhere (“MOM! I have no clean jeans without holes in the knees!”).

The mess and distraction keeps me from accomplishing anything, because I must drift from place to place to find things, to locate a clean surface to work, or just to redistribute the piles.

So last week, I launched my attack. Lists made, boxes at the ready – the whole day wide open. Made some progress. But choosing what to give away, what to recycle, what to toss and what to keep are loaded with difficult decisions for me.

What about the giant stuffed pumpkin my Mother made for the children? The one she said was “for looking at, not playing with.” It was (of course) played with, and is (of course) in shambles. I’m not going to take the time to sew and/or glue it back together; returning it for repair loads me with guilt; can’t donate it because it’s a mess. And to send it to the landfill and require Mother Earth to slowly try to digest it seems even worse.

That is just one thing to make a decision about. I have these possessions (or, they have me); what am I going to do with them?

My next-door neighbor died suddenly last year; it was a terrible shock to me -- he seemed to be in pretty good health. It was also a shock because he was just a fabulous piece of humanity; kind, generous, smart, giving; he was a true inspiration. This Summer, they auctioned off the items from his home that his family did not want or need. It was a quite a spectacle.

The event lasted from early, early morning until after dark; just loads of furniture, art, household items and collections. Things you could tell meant much to him, and other things that were just saved because of some perceived future value. Tons of gifts he had received and stowed away. Things precious, and things not so. Things never used, never opened, but saved nonetheless.

It was a real wake-up call to see everyone prowling around his things. What would it be like if today, right now, my family had to choose what of my possessions to keep and what to let go of? What would it be like to relinquish my belongings to strangers? A good thing to think about because, someday, I will. It is important to recognize that people will be rooting around through my memories to determine what might fetch a good price on E-Bay.

What is it that is truly valuable to me? Am I ready to let things go when the time comes?

Looking at the big, BIG picture -- what else is truly valuable to me? What else do I need to let go of, and is the time to let go now?

It is forcing me to look at my belongings with a new eye. Less form, and more function. Less “gee, I might use that someday” and more “hey, someone else could be using this right now.”

But what to do with that giant, stuffed pumpkin?

Hmmmm . . . . *sigh* More than likely, pack it away and postpone my decision until next year.

Maybe I need to ponder that symbolism, as I catch up on the laundry.



Sunday, November 15, 2009

Poetry Prayer

I want time to pray.
I want time to play.
I want time to meditate.
I want time to self-create.
I want time to find bliss.
Time alone, I do miss.
I want time to find love
from That which is above.
I want prema, ananda, prajna, shanti.
I want blessings, forgiveness and divinity.
I just keep on wanting,
when instead what I need
is to empty myself.
All this wanting is greed.
I must empty and empty,
take the time to be still.
Until I do that,
there’s no room for God’s will.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Farmer’s Market

Went to the Grandin Farmer’s market a couple weeks ago. Saw the last of the Summer’s corn at a table and began filling my bag. Alongside me was an older gentleman pulling the tops down on each ear, grumbling, and moving on. Yes, there was some damage at the ends – that mushy stuff that comes from some type of worm – and he pointed it out to me, a cautionary hint. “Look” he said, opening an ear to show me. “Be careful.”

“It’s okay with me,” I replied. “I can just cut it off.”

“Oh,” he said. I considered launching into a local food/non-GMO corn tirade, but I decided against it. I paid for my corn and left.

This exchange came back to mind later that evening, as my children stood before the compost pile, peeling that same corn and squealing (except, of course, the six-year-old boy) about the worms in the tops of the ears. They stood as if posed for a photograph on three little stair steps. It was a precious moment. This made me think more about my decision to purchase the corn with live worms in it, instead of corn from the supermarket, where the worms (if the chemicals didn’t off them) are long dead from the process of transport, chilling, stocking, and sitting.

Somewhere I have read, “I want to eat what the bugs want to eat.” I agree with this sentiment, this emphasis on the natural. Truly, have we decided to sterilize the entire world? To not notice that things are born and die? That bugs and worms and the creepy crawly things helps us eat? That they, in fact, make it possible for us to exist at all?

Must we clean everything up? I’m just as big a fan of Clorox wipes and my Swiffer as anyone, but maybe I’m not looking at the big picture. We hide the sick and the dying, anything not suitable for family television. This affects more than how we thing about our food supply. This sterile attitude has permeated our entire society.

What are the implications? Well, the answer, my friends, is karma. If you poison your food to eliminate worms, then you eat poisoned food. If you poison your water for greater “purity” or a brighter smile, then you drink poisoned water. It’s cause and effect: you don’t let go of the glass goblet without expecting it to plunge to the floor. And you cannot – CANNOT – turn a blind eye to these relationships, to these errors we are making. When we demand perfection from nature, we end up living in an artificial and toxic world of our own design.

Today, right now, take a moment to embrace what is, especially yourself, with all the imperfections of your humanity. Visit a farmer’s market soon and support the fall harvest; take a second look at the imperfect squash and the slightly blemished apple; consider what really matters, and what does not.



Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Why blog?

Well, my friends, I am joining the ranks of individuals who think they have something to say, and hope they have someone to say it to. I’m beginning a blog.

Why? Well, mostly for the Studio – to help get the word out about yoga; not just classes, not just Uttara, but, YOGA.

The word yoga translates from Sanskrit to mean “union” or “integration.” So many in this country associate it with stretching, relaxing; maybe getting a stronger core or loose hamstrings. But truly, yoga is a system for solving human problems; it’s been on the planet, tried and true, perfected and taught for at least 5,000 years. Spandex and sticky mats are very recent additions.

When I teach yoga to children, I find it fascinating to ask them what they think it is. Most of the time they quickly arrange themselves into “criss-cross applesauce” (sitting cross-legged), place their arms dramatically out to their sides, thumbs touching pointer fingers, close their eyes, and hum. It is beautiful that they immediately hook into the meditative, quieting aspect of yoga.

The word for pose in Sanskrit is asana – and the asanas will help you to create a more healthy, functioning body. And a healthy, happy body does help you to create a healthy, happy life. But there is so much more to yoga than just stretching and strengthening. So much more than strong arms and tight abs. We perfect the body in yoga so we can forget about it and get on with the important work we have come here to do.

In the coming months I look forward to exploring yoga as a lifestyle, not a class. And I offer this viewpoint from the unique perspective of someone trying to blend this ancient tradition with my very average American life. As anyone with children can tell you, hiding in a cave somewhere and meditating for hours can sound pretty darn attractive. The path of the householder, of blending a spiritual practice and lifestyle with being a wife, mother, teacher and business owner can be complex, to say the least.

I hope you’ll join me on this journey, and we can learn from each other.

Blessings to you, now and always,

Shanti (peace),

Uttara Yoga Studio, LLC. Blog design by Jessica Hedrick