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Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Shakti Wants Shiva

My mind has been quite occupied lately with the subject of love; the idea of love; the structure of love relationships, of all the various aspects and ins and outs and ups and downs of love and loving. 
I have also been digging into tantra yoga as introduced and taught to me by an amazing tantric ParaYoga teacher, Katie Silcox.  One of the fascinating and appealing aspects of tantra to me is the worship and connection to the Goddess; the Divine Mother. 
If you haven’t noticed, yoga philosophy as taught today tends to be a little dude-centered.  The asana classes are packed with women, but the leaders, the lineages, the authors – mostly men.

Tantra brought me to study the pantheon of Hindu goddesses (highly recommend  Sally Kempton’s book Awakening Shakti).

All the various Goddesses and Gods of Hinduism represent various aspects of the energy that is the Divine Feminine and the Divine Masculine.  Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva seem to get a lot more attention; but maybe that’s because there are so very many MORE aspects of the Divine Feminine. 
Women are complicated.  You knew that, right?

This beautiful study of the Divine Feminine has allowed me to appreciate all the aspects of the Goddess within myself; to realize I can be a warrior like Durga; or terrifyingly fierce like Kali.  That I can embody the abundance of Lakshmi; the creativity of Saraswati; the anger of Chhinnamasta; the sensuality of Lalita Tripura Sundarii.  And when unsupported, as dry and withered as Dhumavahti.

It has also made me realize this:  that it is okay to desire, want and work towards finding my Shiva and uniting with him.  That I can be a complex, intelligent, strong, independent woman and want a man in my life.
And not just a man in my life; it’s not hard to find someone to hang out with.  But it is hard to find someone to love who loves you in the way you need to be loved and allows you to love them to the best of your capability.  To be your friend, companion, playmate, comforter, supporter, lover, helper.  Someone to adore who adores you right back.  Who cherishes you, nurtures you enough to call you on your stuff and doesn’t run when you call him on his stuff.

All that?  That’s hard.
So many of my friends are strong, brilliant, accomplished, amazing and beautiful women.  They confide with lowered eyes that they would like to meet someone.  Yet there is this feeling that everything should be okay if you are all those things and yet have no beloved in your life. 

But it’s true, when you don’t, you miss him (or her in some cases); you are looking for that person who brings you to balance; the Shiva to your Shakti; the Divine Masculine to unite with your Divine Feminine.  The sacred union that harmonizes you.
Vickie Iovine has these great books on child rearing, and I remember reading them voraciously when my children were little; seeking advice, help, gosh, anything to help me figure out how to raise these little creatures!  And she wrote a lot about getting children to sleep in their own beds – a struggle I had with all three children.  She writes in one chapter about putting a child to bed with their stuffed animals and the child complaining that they wanted a “live” thing to sleep with – and she proffered the idea that we all spend our lives looking for the perfect “live” thing to sleep with.  She’s got a point.
We want a helper AND to someone to help; a playmate AND co-worker; someone we can tell our successes and secrets.  Who we can laugh and cry with.  Who sees and nurtures the tender little girl that will always live within us, but who can also see the sensual, sexual adult woman and create a safe space for that passionate force to be embraced, enjoyed and explored.  
Kriyananda has said that often the closest we humans will ever get to God consciousness is at the peak of orgasm – because the mind stops.  We come together in union; there is no mind grasping, no separateness; in that split-second of vibration you become one with your beloved and everything else falls away.  Have you ever had that experience with someone?  If you’re not sure, I would suggest that you have not.  There are many of us who have spent our time being sexual receptacles and the experience of truly uniting with another never actually occurs,

Shakti craves Shiva; I’m pretty sure Shiva craves Shakti; together they become greater than the sum of their parts; or as Shellji would say “two together strongly are as four against the world.”



Monday, September 9, 2013

Dharma Talk; "Dear Human . . . by Courtney A. Walsh"

Saturday mornings for my Hatha 2 class I usually do a little dharma talk; a teaching moment; something for the students to ponder before they set their intentions for their class that morning.  Often I find myself talking about something I had never even considered speaking about; this is how things unfold sometimes as a yoga teacher.

Occasionally I read quotes or spiritual texts.  I found this little gem on Facebook one day and printed it out.  It hung on my refrigerator for a while; I kept thinking that I would take it and read it for the class.

So finally, a couple weeks ago, I remembered it; took it down; carried it to the car; placed it on top of my things.  And then I get to the Studio; it's nowhere.

I'm looking around the office; the reception area; went back, looked all through my car; nothing.

Then the following week, I'm cleaning out my car -- which if you know me you realize is a rare, rare occurrence.  Was getting ready to head out of town for the weekend.

And there it was; wedged between the seat and the console.

Apparently the people who were supposed to hear it did hear; it really resonated with them; and several students asked me to post it; here it is. 

Ponder, absorb and enjoy.



Dear Human,

You’ve got it all wrong. You didn’t come here to master unconditional love. That is where you came from and where you’ll return.

You came here to learn personal love. Universal love. Messy love. Sweaty love. Crazy love. Broken love. Whole love. Infused with divinity. Lived through the grace of stumbling. Demonstrated through the beauty of… messing up. Often.

You didn’t come here to be perfect. You already are. You came here to be gorgeously human. Flawed and fabulous. And then to rise again into remembering. But unconditional love? Stop telling that story.

Love, in truth, doesn’t need ANY other adjectives. It doesn’t require modifiers. It doesn’t require the condition of perfection. It only asks that you show up. And do your best. That you stay present and feel fully. That you shine and fly and laugh and cry and hurt and heal and fall and get back up and play and work and live and die as YOU.

It’s enough.

It’s Plenty.

-- Courtney A. Walsh

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Music is Vibration

What do you think about music in yoga class?

It's actually controversial in some circles; I know my asana teacher would only use the most simple tabla music (if anything at all!) and thought anything else was just distraction. 

So it took me a while to be okay with my own personal style; but eventually, I realized, it's okay -- I like music; usually loud, crazy music. 

At least most of the time.

I also absolutely adore a class with complete silence; just the huge, pulsing vibration of a group of like-minded people breathing.  Though usually that requires experienced yogis to create a comfortable-breathing-deeply-spiritually-connected-but-in-our-own-experience-in-a big-ole-room-of-strangers vibe.

But let me tell you -- when it happens?  That is awesome; incredible.  If you've ever been to a class where the breaths are counted (at a good deep-but-reasonable-pace) that is a singular experience that truly reminds you of that song that modifies the Biblicl quote "whenever two or more of you are gathered in my name there is love." 

But for me; and for many of my students; music helps break me out of my regular life; it sets a certain vibration, a beat; a toe tapping, head boppin' rhythm.  I know students tend to hold poses in a static way, but when I practice on my own or in a class, I MOVE, I groove, I pulse; it feels natural to me. 

Love to close my eyes, find the music in my muscles, my cells; practice like no one is looking, you know?

Steve Ross, my original guru, always played the best music in class; and my style of yoga is similar to him; my music is who I am -- intense, thoughtful; moving through some stuff.  And my playlists (if you listen carefully) can tell you a lot about where I am, who I am, what I'm processing. 

For example, here's the playlist from the day my ex-husband moved out of the house.

Yeah, I remember it; it was an intense day, for me and my children:

Xotica -- Kinetik -- Phutureprimative
Digging in the Dirt -- Us -- Peter Gabriel
Bedroom Hymns -- Ceremonials -- Florence + The Machine
I'm Not Driving Anymore (Remix) -- I'm Not Driving Anymore - Rob Dougan
Set Fire to the Rain -- 21 -- Adele
In the End -- Hybrid Theory -- Linkin Park
Where is the Edge -- The Unforgiving -- Within Temptation
Karuna -- Star of the Sea -- Stellamara
Story of Pingala -- Dasi:  Prayers by Women -- Karnamrita
Power of Forgiveness -- Beyond -- Tina Turner
Shri Vidya -- Grace is the Name of the Game -- Steve Ross

Summer of 2012?  Linkin Park; like, LOTS of Linkin Park.  This Summer, a little more dance-y music; a little slower, deeper, smoother pace. And some great retro stuff from my childhood; a favorite recent class:

Dream On -- Aerosmith -- Aerosmith
Ready, Steady, Go -- Bunkka -- Paul Oakenfold
Lights (Bassnectar Remix) -- Divergent Spectrum -- Ellie Goulding
Promises (Remixes) -- EP -- The Presets
Paradise -- Mylo Xyloto -- Coldplay
Red Rain -- Hit  -- Peter Gabriel
Revolution -- The Nu Nation Project -- Kirk Franklin
Rama Bolo -- Maha Moha: The Great Delusion -- Wade Imre Morissette
Kyrie Eleison -- The Seven Valleys -- Stellamara
Dust in the Wind -- The Best of Kansas -- Kansas
Pure Essence -- Sadhana -- Maneesh De Moor
Holy Harmony -- Holy Harmony -- Jonathan Goldman and Sarah Benson

By the way, my new savasana music, Holy Harmony, listed above, is amazing; truly magical; check it out, it's a super long track, great for relaxing and breathing and connecting.

So whatever vibration you attune to -- rock, classical, electronic; the pulse of your heartbeat; the sound of the birds outside your window; yoga is meant to bring you into the moment; to bring you joy, happiness, peace, contentment. 

Whatever facilitates that, DO it. 



Friday, June 21, 2013


This week cooking celebrity Nigella Lawson was photographed in a very nice restaurant with her husband’s hands on her neck.  As in strangling her.  He later came out publicly to say it was a “playful tiff“. 
Very distressing, indeed.
The violence was awful.  Knowing that if in public he feels comfortable doing that what goes on behind closed doors?  It bothers me that people took photos instead of helping her, though the event probably happened in just a matter of moments.  Sometimes when you see something like that happening your brain doesn't even register it right away.  And I am sure people sensed complex emotions.  Pain, discomfort, fear and embarrassment. 
But it's time to really talk about domestic violence.  We as a culture have to stop accepting people being treated as property.

It brought back memories of being a young fourth-grade child sitting in a classroom.  Outside the window a young man and young woman walking down from the high school; he is striding ahead and she is trailing behind him; they are arguing loudly.  So loud in fact that the whole class and teacher have turned to look outside. 
And the guy suddenly turns around and punches her in the face; hard.  Hard enough that she crumples to the ground.
My teacher slowly walked over to the windows – still talking, still teaching – and pulls the window blinds down, one by one.  Like it never happened.

Fast forward and I am a young married 22-year old working at a law firm as a legal secretary.   I get a cat – my first one!  And when it gets cornered by the neighbor’s dog I swoop in to pick it up (do NOT ever do that, okay?!) – and she turns and claws me right down the face.  Torn skin on my nose, scratches around my eye, down my face.  Pretty messed up.
The next day at work all the women immediately ask what happened; but not the men.  It isn’t until lunchtime when one of the guys asks me into his office and pulls the door shut and says “honey, what happened to your face?” 

Later that afternoon I asked the attorney I did the most work for:  “Why haven’t you asked me what happened to my face.”  “Well,” he said with a shrug, “I figured your husband did it to you.” 

I have had someone I trusted put their hands around my neck and start to squeeze.  Let me tell you, it’s scary as hell.
In another relationship it was words; because he knew I would leave in a minute if he touched me.  So it was insults and threats and anger.  I remember so many times just wishing he would do the things he threatened to do so I would have a “good” reason to leave.

Eventually I realized that verbal cruelty was a “good “reason, too.
There are things worse than being hit or hurt; Kriyanandaji says cut a person with a knife and the skin heals; cut a person with your tongue and they may never.  Words can terrorize and dehumanize as much or more than many actions.

Nigella, I am not in your shoes and I don't judge your decisions; perhaps you wish no one had seen what happened that day or maybe you are tremendously grateful.  But maybe; just maybe; you opened up the subject for discussion.  Placed our social norms up for scrutiny.  And made people like me more willing to shine a light into the dark places of the soul.


Sunday, June 16, 2013

What are YOU waiting for?

Mother’s Day I planned myself a very nice day; arranged a bike ride at Carvin’s Cove with a dear friend; we talked more than we rode, but that was just what I needed.  The time in nature was healing;  the conversation and connection even more nourishing.

Came home and made myself a lovely brunch of poached egg on toast with salmon and herbed hollandaise; made an orange juice and Prosecco mimosa.  Yum! 
Ate it on the front porch in the sun.  Very nice.

And in the afternoon I had no expectations or desires.  So I again sat on the front porch in the sun.  And as I was sitting there, staring out into the yard for a while – loads of thoughts wandering through my mind -- my son was riding his scooter in small circles on the porch behind me.
I must have been sitting in silence for quite a while because he inquired “What are you thinking about Mommy?”  And at that moment I had been thinking of laying on a blanket and looking up at the clouds, like I used to do with the children when they were small.  And so I told him.

He began to laugh; like, really belly laugh.  I got somewhat defensive at him laughing at my idea. 
But before I could take offense he said “But, why?  Why would you ever sit there and just think about doing something that you could so easily be doing?  Why don’t you just go get a blanket and look at the clouds!”

It was such a wise and funny response; and it was so interesting to watch the thoughts pass through my mind.  How could I explain my adult mind process -- that I thought about what the neighbors would think about me laying in the front yard; about whether the kids would be too grown to look at clouds with me and think it silly; I even wondered which blanket I’d be okay with getting dirty; you know, excuses.

I wonder where else in my life I am thinking instead of doing.  Where do I need to get up and stop worrying about what someone might think or what might go wrong.  Where should I be dancing/laughing/singing/praying/moving/living/breathing and instead I'm sitting.  On the porch.  Just thinking about it. 
And somewhere, someone is laughing; because there is NOTHING keeping me from what I would truly wish to do; and sitting there, just thinking about it -- it is so, SO silly.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Another Blog . . . .

Hi everyone,

 I have a new gig; have started a question and answer blog called “Ask Uttara.”

 No worries, I will not abandon this blog, despite my lack of posts.  And despite the fact that I will have to channel my inner multi-armed Goddess to approach all the projects that are currently on my radar.

 I am attaching a link that will lead you to today's question and response about letting go; I hope you will find it helpful and follow along if you choose, either through the webpage or on Facebook.

 Interestingly enough I reference a favorite quote from Dr. Seuss; I believe he was a great yogi, right up there with those who immediately come to mind beyond my lineage -- Mother Teresa, Yoda and Mr. Rogers.  Though perhaps those souls even wander into the title of “Guru” -- which simply means remover of darkness.

Also of note was that as I sought out the book Oh the Places You’ll Go! my daughter helped me search the shelves.  We have reached the stage that it is not sought-after reading material; it was mixed in with the other large but thin children’s books; the spine broken from love and use.

When she asked why I was looking for the book, I told her I needed a quote for the blog – that I was looking to quote the part about waiting.
"Of course" she replied.  "Umm, really?" I asked; “How did you know?”  “Because you talk about it all the time!” she said.


So, maybe; just maybe; possibly -- I don’t totally suck at this mothering thing after all.

Much love and blessings,


Thursday, March 28, 2013

Motherhood and Other Impossible Things

I have some things on my mind.  Perhaps if I convey the stories we can both ponder and it might bring some type of understanding of what is happening in my world.

So last week I am driving past the middle school; and my child remarks that the girls soccer games have started.  And due to scheduling, some of their games will be on the practice field.  I asked why -- because that field isn't maintained like the other field.  She replies that the boys' soccer team gets to use the actual field, the girls only use it if the boys do not need it.  I was genuinely surprised and expressed something about the unfairness of it.  Her reply was "well, Mom, that's just the way it is."  Hmmm.  Okay.

This week I am conversing with a young friend of another one of my children.  We are discussing the fact that she runs for the track team.  "Oh, cool!" I exclaim as we discuss what events she participates in.  "Do you like to run?" I ask.  "Umm, well -- no."  The child looks down, avoiding my eyes.  "Well, then why do you do it?" I ask.  "For college; to get a scholarship; I do things to get into college  -- that's the only reason I do anything."  Hmmmm.  Okay.

See this picture?  Today I am looking at this paperwhite; I put it into water back in December; had a big 'ole vase of them -- most grew roots and bloomed beautifully in my bedroom, bringing the luxurious feel and scent of Spring throughout this dark Winter.  When I went to compost the spent bulbs this one was lurking in the bottom; maybe it was crowded by the others, maybe it just didn't like the sunlight or temperature.  I placed it in it's own little vase on my kitchen window, and noticed it daily.

And now, a little late, it is blooming.  It makes me happy.  And I am noticing how long the roots are; it took a LOT of water.  I notice the pregnant bulge of the bulb; and how very many green leaves it takes to create the food to feed this one small and short-lived bundle of flowers.

All these stories lead to an emotional hard spot -- I have hit a patch in my mothering career that is beyond difficult.  I have a problem, and I do not know what to do.

I look back through the years of being a parent -- I have felt many emotions.  I have been confused; terrified; overwhelmed; exhausted.  I have been thrilled; amazed; joyful; hopeful; and filled with a love so deep I thought I would burst.  Gazing back to the toddler years with my rose colored bifocals and it seems there was more black and white then. 

As I move into parenting teens there is this vast sea of gray. 

So, today, I will remember my paperwhite; it couldn't just fit in with the pack; it needed it's own space and extra attention.  And it blossomed on its schedule, not mine.



Tuesday, March 5, 2013


So recently my daughter had a friend over for a visit; right after school, they did homework together.  At some point in the afternoon they wandered into the living room; I was working myself through a basic hatha yoga routine.  Nothing crazy, but not simple.  I personally need a sweaty yogic kick-in-the-pants to focus. 

“Ohhhh, wow, Ms. Loftis!  You’re really great at yoga!”  My daughter’s friend kept watching.  It used to bother me to be watched during practice; but, I have three children -- at this point, it feels like part of the practice to just let that whole thing go and keep flowing.

She kept on with the comments and compliments.  I deflected, put it all aside. – “Oh, honey, not really; I’m just practicing.”  She compliments and comments again; I make small talk and diminish; just working through my routine, my junk; she only sees the outer stuff, but I see all the sticky, inner mess.  I know this is not an advanced practice.  I might be doing a headstand, but internally -- it’s yogic kindergarten.

 “Ohhh” – she comments to my daughter – “your Mom is just like you – she doesn’t think she is good at anything.” 

I snap to attention.

My brilliant, beautiful daughters – I have two of them, and when I say they are brilliant and beautiful it is truth -- I do not brag.  I have taught them.  And this is the result? 

Apparently -- not with words, but with action – I have taught them not to own their amazingness; to dodge compliments; to avoid praise.  I have taught them the complete opposite of my words.  I can tell them all day, all week, all year, that they are smart, resourceful, amazing women.  But when they listen to me avoid praise, diffuse compliments; to not come into my own being.  That is what they remember, they recall; it is what they live.

A few months later a dear friend’s daughter posts this to Facebook right at Valentines’ Day: 

Reminiscing on past relationships, I realized my best one ever was with myself. I took myself on the best dates, always knew just what to buy me, never forgot to tell myself I looked nice, rarely fought with me, didn't have to wait around for me to call, spending time with me was always a blast, and when I was being a bitch to me i didn't even get angry. Maybe I'll take me out for valentine's day. I love me.”
My first reaction is confusion – who likes themselves this much?  Who has this beautiful, kind, generous relationship with anyone except those OUTSIDE of themselves?
Then I realized; this child’s mother – she taught her well.  Or maybe; just maybe; she arrived with the knowledge.

Either way, it shines and light for me and for my girls - ooohhhhh goodness; Goddess Bless; this Mamma has sooooo much work to do.



Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The Journey

A dear friend was visiting tonight; it had been far too long, so much catching up to do.  She saw my new space, the house I am renting after my divorce.  So good and affirming to have a sensitive soul acknowledge that I am blooming where planted.

We covered so much life in a mere two hours.  Eventually we glanced on the topic of my divorce.  She asked if communication with my ex was amicable, and I was so grateful to be able to answer a firm “yes” – we have been kind, understanding, and working in the best interests of our children. 

I am surrounded by families who are disintegrating in less harmonious ways, to everyone’s detriment. 

I have much to be grateful for.

And she reminded me, and I was so blessed by the reminder – she said something along the lines of “oh, well, so it means that you are not angry or sending out negative energy; give yourself credit for not creating a negative situation.”  And I had not really realized that – but it is true; I harbor no ill will; no anger; just sadness, and I think I have let that go, too.

I was so clearly meant to have three children with this man; but not to live the rest of my life with him.  He has honored our relationship by not punishing me for my decision.

As one of my dear astrologer friends says “sometimes, the karma is out” -- is time for someone to leave your life, and for you to leave their life.  If you finish your mission, as it were, with the souls in your realm, then they fade away – or sometimes vanish.  If they linger, re-surface; then you have work to do.

But remember -- attitude is all.

The spirit in which you approach what you are doing or living has more impact than anything you say verbally; any email or text.

I am in a transitory period in my story; my “Personal Legend” as Paulo Coelho so brilliantly illustrates in his epic work The Alchemist (you have not read this book???? please PLEASE do).  It is important to give thanks and appreciation to those who light the way and to be grateful to those who have brought me my karma.

Make the inner shift of gratitude; then trust and release; and THEN – step back and see what unfolds.



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