Monday, February 27, 2012

NOW is the time.

video
(Babe sledding down the sidewalk on the snowboard)


February is the time of year when I start whining about my life. In general, when I reach February I'm all sorts of strung out on too much to do, not enough joy, and way too many carbs and sugar. I have the tendency to overwork myself and not stop to enjoy the process along the way. It's a known flaw. I'm trying to wake up to it.

So last Monday I was in the throws of February woes when we had a little mini-snow day here. We usually get a small snow at least once a year, but with the mild weather this year I thought we might not get anything. But, lucky us, on Sunday the snow started to fall and by Monday we had a few good inches on the sidewalk and in the grass. It was just enough to play with but not enough to slow anybody down out there.

My daughter has been wishing and hoping for snow all winter. Desperately she's been wanting the snow to come. Monday morning was her dream come true. After breakfast I bundled her and my husband up and out the door to 'go play in it' while I cleaned up our dishes. My mind raced with ideas of how to spend the unplanned for quiet time in the house: maybe I could get in a morning practice, do a little blogging, laundry, vacuum... etc.

And then I looked out the window and saw the tiny little igloo they were making. I dropped the dishes, dirty as they were, ran upstairs for a warm hat and rushed out to join them. Babe will only be 3 this year. Babe will only enjoy the snow as a 3 year old at this moment. And the snow will only last a few hours I reminded myself. The dishes can wait.

I'm so glad I went out. I got to see all of her dreams come true: an igloo, a snow angel, throwing snowballs at daddy and me, sledding (on our snowboard) down the street, and even hot chocolate when we came back inside.

We are so quick to forget it, but, the moment is now. Live right now and don't miss out. If I hadn't gone out I would've missed all the fun and I wouldn't have the memory of holding her tiny hand while she marched through the snow that probably felt like it was halfway up her belly, or of her sweet laugh of delight when she slid down the tiny hill in our front yard.

The yoga of my life keeps trying to teach me this and I keep trying to push it away until later, but NOW is the time. And NOW is always the time. Whether it be in a posture or in an embrace or in a conflict or whatever, NOW is the time. Do what you will.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Friday Quote

Protection

"Protection has lived in many kinds of houses. Always the walls are
decorated with rugs and blankets from around the world. She has studied
ancient architecture and the habits of butterflies and spiders. When the caterpillar
is dying and the new butterfly is yet to be born, it constructs a chrysalis.
We also have this need. However, many of us are too proud
or have forgotten how to go inside. Protection has learned from the butterflies
how to make a chrysalis for the changing human heart."

by J. Ruth Gendler
in
The Book of Qualities

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Addendum

By way of adding to the previous explanation I need also mention the temperature in my kitchen.

You know that phrase: If you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen. I couldn't stand the heat. To be honest, the temperature of my kitchen was already near boiling. Not one thing was drastic, but the combination of doing deep soul dredging work in coaching, my daughter being sick, my husband working more than usual, the impending weekend with plenty of work and no babysitter -- and a general feeling of blah that attends February for me was already wearing me thin to almost breaking down.

Throwing in the hot oil of Anusara plus all the internet feedback raised the temperature to a point that I simply couldn't stand it any more. I kept telling myself to wait until Feb 29th (leap day) to make a decision on Anusara, but I couldn't wait. Something had to give, and since nothing else could - Anusara was it. So in part, my life stress had something to do with my decision. Well... it was that and all the reasons I listed.

As soon as I made the decision I felt better. I stopped eating all the sugar in my house and sat back down to meditate and practice. I do think it's a good move for me. I don't yet know if it'll be permanent. But, as I was driving around this morning I realized this untold part of the story is just as valid as all others. I'm human and the stress got to me. I'm learning learning learning. Give me the lesson and see if I don't behave differently next time. (this is my record book)

As things shake down...

As things shake down I'm waiting and watching and a bit more hopeful than yesterday.

In the meantime I need to write my explanation, not so much for readers everywhere, (ha!) but as record for myself. I could put it in a journal, but I feel the need for a public record. Accountability and Transparency have become bigger words for me than ever. This seems a way to keep both. And to remember time and time again. Plus, then my friends/students whoever can call me on it when I start to give my power away.

My decision to leave was motivated by two main things and supported by others. The major motivation was that through reading comments by others and through reflection I came to realize that I was in "worship John" mode. I gave John Friend a whole heap of power in my life, to the point of fearful reverence. I certainly did not and do not know him personally and did not particularly think of him as impervious to morally unacceptable behavior. But I did allow my idea of him to hold the fate of myself as a yoga teacher in his hand. I believed that I could not teach yoga well without his approval/Certificate. It was a pedestal I had him on and I desperately wanted to get in his good Graces. This had slightly started to shift after the last workshop I took with him where I started to see him as more of a normal guy - complete with the same social awkwardness I experience when in close conversation with students who I don't know but are profoundly touched by the teachings.

In the days leading up to going I found myself grappling with the decision. One of my absolute biggest reasons to stay was to be one of the cool kids, one of the strong ones who stayed in it, and particularly to get closer to John. When I stepped back I felt that this was absolutely the mentality that would keep him holding way too much power in my own personal life. Because of that, despite a huge love for Anusara, respect for John, and absolute belief in change - I decided to go. I saw that if I stayed with Anusara as it was, and my heart as it was believing John to be the end all be all say in my professional life -- I'd only be promoting him into 'rock star status' in my mind and that would not at all be helpful for me, him, or the system as a whole. (co-dependent much?)

The second point that weighed on me, though somewhat lighter was the intimate relationships. Again, I don't have the inside track to John, I didn't read the accusations, I don't know any more than what John wrote in statements and what the rumor mill has generated, and I'm trying to take that with a grain of salt. I worked once in a situation where the male director of the hospital had inappropriate boundaries. Not anything terrible, a hand on a shoulder here, an inappropriate comment there, but enough to make me feel uncomfortable when he came into the room. If anyone in the Anusara organization felt what I experienced with that man when they were around John then I take pause. So then I went back to my first argument for leaving which is the promoting John in my mind to all-powerful, to be honored/feared status and I realized again that my staying and doing that would enable him to operate in the same way as before in terms of relationships.

Those were the things going in my mind. That plus a deep belief in change and creation of new patterns on a cellular level for each person in the system. A profound belief that if anyone could change and grow John Friend could do it. A huge love for the principles, philosophy, and people in Anusara. A belief in good intentions.

Then a feeling of not knowing myself as teacher, possibly even as a person without Anusara yoga. And that realization gave me reason to believe I should take a little time to figure that out.

I just realized that for me to make the shift I needed to make, I personally needed to step away.

And then the other teachers were going too. I'm not going to say that seeing every teacher (save 4) that I ever studied with leave Anusara didn't weigh on me. It did, dramatically. Particularly reading Todd's resignation letter was like the final blow. It felt like watching a natural disaster hoping your loved one is ok only to find out they've been lost with the rest. As I wrote before, I watch the elders, and most of the elders I know took a step back.

I will write more I'm sure about how profound and quick the shift in my system has been. Let's just say no person has dominion over my yoga teaching anymore and I believe I can maintain this newly remembered independence no matter how I choose to align myself in the future.

Anusara 1.0 or, more clearly, myself in Anusara 1.0 is finished.

---

And yesterday, this morning, a new hope seems to be dawning. Perhaps this beautiful yoga that I and so many love love love will have a resurrection. If so, I'll see what it looks and feels like - talk to my Heart again and go from there. Personally now for the next while I'm working on my self, seeing with new eyes and hopeful that Anusara 2.0 will rise.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Pause and Offer



I did it this morning. At 6 am and 7am both -- because I was still sitting there an hour later. I did my Oms and Invocations and then spoke aloud whatever came to my heart. Prayers for John, for everyone in the community, for this yoga itself.

I felt better. I feel better. I'm realizing not everyone is at the same point as me and may not go about their grief in the same way as me. SO it's not a global movement, it's a deeply personal one, and that's ok.

I read an article recently on the importance of Ritual. And in therapy training, and yoga training, we're always learning the importance of creating ritual. Particularly for marking occasion.
The reason I like it is that it works. Ritual can serve as a way to channel emotions and help create the process of moving forward. In cases of death and loss, the rituals of funerals and memorials mark the end, and the new start. Not forgetting, not running away, but marking the very painful change. I don't do grief all that well and I was reminded by my mother this weekend that it is not something that will go away. Ever. Grief is carried with you for the rest of your life... so Ritual helps to lessen the burden.

Elizabeth Gilbert in Eat Pray Love: "This is what rituals are for. We do spiritual ceremonies as human beings in order to create a safe resting place for our most complicated feelings of joy or trauma. So that we don't have to haul those feelings around with us forever, weighing us down. We all need such places of ritual safekeeping. And I do believe that if your culture or tradition doesn't have the particular ritual you are craving then you are absolutely permitted to make up a ceremony of your own devising, fixing your own broken-down emotional systems with all the do-it-yourself resourcefulness, of a generous plumber/poet."

Now I'm feeling a little sad again. But my plan for the afternoon is to practice like I mean it, and to go from there. Hopefully the dissolving into tears will wait until savasana or later today. Maybe afterwards I'll just go back to my cushion and again offer blessings blessing blessings of healing for everyone involved. Prayers for spaciousness and healing. It is what works for me.

What are you doing today?

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Transitions are Important: a Moment for Anusara


Between sobs and snot and snowfall this afternoon it occurred to me I have to mark this shift in Anusara. For me it is like a death. And death cannot be ignored.

Plus, Life should not go uncelebrated.

The transition is wildly important.

So I offer this idea to any who would choose to join me in holding vigil.....

May we as a Global Community pause and take a moment for Anusara
Light a light and begin at 6am on 2/20 EST
(12 hours after Miami completes) and go through 6am 2/21

3 Oms
3 Rounds of the Invocation
Your blessing, wish, prayer for the community and all involved
A final Om

If 6am doesn't work, join at any hour and know you are joining with
someone else in the world in holding space for Anusara in your heart.
It does not matter where you are, may we hold space for this community transition.

May our prayers and blessings, benedictions,
memorials, and offerings start the healing process.

I'll be doing this tomorrow throughout the day and night. Join me when you will. Let us begin to heal together.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Friday Quote

Dove that ventured outside flying far from the dovecote
housed and protected again, one with the day, the night,
knows what serenity is, for she has felt her wings
pass through all distance and fear in the course of her wanderings

The doves that remained at home, never exposed to loss
innocent and secure, cannot know tenderness;
only the won back heart can ever be satisfied; free,
through all it has given up to rejoice in its mastery

Being arches itself over the vast abyss.
Ah the ball that we dared, that we hurled into infinite space,
doesn't it fill our hands differently with its return:
heavier by the weight of where it has been.

-- Rainer Maria Rilke

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Namaste


It appears to be a bit of a moot point now, but as of this morning I have officially resigned from participation in Anusara, Inc.

In the past few days the voice of my own Heart has grown so loud that I cannot deny it. Many many outside reasons and influences gave weight to this decision: notably the resignations of Lila, Todd, and just about every single other Certified or Inspired teacher I'd ever studied under. But more importantly, enough questions were raised about myself as a member of Anusara, or any structured system that I simply cannot stay any more.

I offer such deep gratitude to John Friend, specifically for his vision, passion, and efforts to bring forward the incredible teachings of the Universal Principles of Alignment, and for yoking them to Tantric philosophy. I wish him healing at the deepest of levels.

I offer profound gratitude to Todd, Lila, and the other incredible teachers I have encountered live and via the web. Your voices, guidance, integrity, and huge hearts teach me much. And I am blessed to be with you now as a new community forms in the wake of Anusara.

I offer deep deep gratitude to any and all students/friends who have taken class with me through the years. Particularly those who have joined in a sense of deeper community. I sincerely hope the community of the Heart we choose to build together in Richmond (and beyond) will only become stronger through this transformation.

And I am grateful for those of you who choose to stop in on this blog from time to time. May this community of wisdom continue to grow in conversation.

For me as I step away, one thing it comes down to power and authority. Who is the authority and power figure in my life? i am. Who is the spiritual power and authority in my life? I AM.

When I listen to my Heart I know this to be true. When I listen to my Heart all is well in the world. When I listen to my Heart I feel liberated, powerful, and in deep integrity with the Universe.

With every ending, a new beginning. Today I look back and simultaneously step forward.

to all beings everywhere: The light in me bows to the light in you. Namaste

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Maintenance

Waiting. No Response. It's forming. Giving my heart time and space. Waiting Waiting Waiting.



AND while I wait, I'm still practicing.

For the first year after my daughter was born I kept up my yoga practice just by the skin of my teeth. I made it to the mat 10 minutes here, 20 minutes there. It was a blessing to get to go to a class. I did what I could, when I could and decided that even some asana was better than no asana. Practicing that way built in a pattern of hitting the mat first when the opportunity presented itself. I'm grateful for that (I could learn that again, frankly!) I called it a maintenance practice and it consisted of a few rounds of Surya Namaskar, some standing poses and dissolving into a heap on the floor that sort of resembled seated postures but also kind of looked like sleeping. It worked, though. I got my yoga on and when I felt more energetic, I didn't have to re-build my entire practice from the ground up.

And this week, it's kind of the same. I've been so friggin' busy. I don't know how it's happened but it has. And the practice could easily get swept away... but I'm holding strong to keeping myself to the mat for as many precious minutes as possible. I think I'm in a holding pattern, and I'm definitely in a maintenance practice mode.

What is funny to me is that instead of maintaining with soft little seated postures and half-savasanas.... I'm maintaining with Hanumanasana (the splits)! The bane of my existence for many years. That quite hated pose. Right? I can't get enough. Something about the deep strong opening it's providing, without having to touch too deeply to my heart is giving me just what I need. Plus it feels good to take a huge leap -- even if it's only in my body at the moment. I don't know why but Hanuman is making his way through my practice in a delightful way. Being a monkey in my body is kind of fun in this ongoing uncertainty.

So. The asana continues. What are you practicing these days?

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Unraveling

tearing out stitch by stitch

I have been working on a blanket for my daughter's bed since summer. The thing is huge: wider than my wingspan - so, it is wider than it needs to be to fit across her bed as planned. It's really pretty, a soft white wool yarn with yellow stripes. All crocheted together in a granny stitch.
I can't tell you how many hours I've spent on that blanket since I started it in July. I just pick it up and work on it from time to time when Babe wants me to sit with her watching kiddie TV, or when I have a few minutes before I have to walk in to pick her up from school. HOURS have gone into this blanket. More than a few.

It became pretty clear to me a while ago that it wasn't going to work out. The thing is just too too huge. It's too wide to make sense. And since my original plan was for it to become a blanket for her bed, I started looking at it and seeing that OMG it was going to take literally millions of hours of work and tons of yarn. This was going to be the most expensive blanket a child would ever own.

This week I started ripping it out. I've been pulling the yarn back through every stitch I made, strand by strand. Somehow, this just seemed like the week to pull something apart.

So, you may know, Anusara is under real strain as is John Friend. I don't know how it's going to come out and quick solution is not forthcoming. And now, lots and lots of teachers are jumping ship. I spent about 30 minutes today believing my teacher Todd was among them which was my biggest test of faith yet. He still could go. Plenty more still could and probably will. (and I recognize my issues surrounding having deep trust and faith in my own teacher in the midst of controversy about teacher/student ethics)

I am wickedly learning a lot in this swift cut of Grace. What is giving me faith is the interim committee. Not just the fact that Anusara has one, but I'm looking at it and seeing who is on it. Who is it? The absolute Elders of this system -- both in time in Anusara, and in calendar years. And it is the elders who have, thus far, stayed on the committee. I know Todd and Ann have been through this before -- they were a part of Kripalu when the shit went down there.

I just had this conversation the other day with a friend about the lack of elders in our society right now. It's why I have a life coach and have been in therapy before. Our society is just not set up with elders. So right now I'm keeping hope and faith in the elders I trust and believe in -- and that John is hopefully starting to listen to.

Time will show us. I'm also following Todd's advice to "do your sadana every day." And right now I'm waiting to see as I'm tearing the blanket apart stitch from stitch. Trying to stay in reflection rather than reaction.

When I get back to the first row I'll start it up again in a smaller more manageable size. Babe will still get a blanket, just not what she expected. A new baby came into my world (via a friend thank goodness!) this week so instead of one huge blanket I now envision two. Not what I thought was going to happen, but beautiful nonetheless. Sometimes, taking something apart is the best way to make it into what it's meant to be.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

What is....


Here is what I know....


Get on your mat and you feel better.

Be in community and you feel better.

Sit down and get quiet and you feel better. And if it's outside you doubly feel better.

Even in the midst of upheaval and the world turning upside down, Life feels better when the heart is anchored.

Did you ever watch the documentary Ashtanga, NY. It's about Pattabhi Jois's visit to NYC which happened to coincide with the attack on the World Trade Center. He was there. And you know what he did? He just kept on practicing, kept on teaching and practicing. And more students than ever came to their mats to be with him. Because, in times of chaos the practice remains. In times of beauty, happiness, ultimate BLISS the practice is there. In times of ugliness, questioning, challenge - the practice is there. In times of beauty happiness and bliss the community exists outside and within... and so in challenge too the community exists outside and within.

A friend recently said something to the same effect... that it's easy to get spun up in all that is of the world, especially when I'm spending more time on the internet than on my mat.... but coming to class reminds her, reminds me, reminds all of us. This is OK. I, personally, am OK. And look, here is a community of beautifully imperfect people all striving just like me to make sense of a world that is changing faster than ever.

So, in times of challenge this is what I think: Hug your kula. Hug yourself. Hug your Heart, go deep and BREATHE.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Put a Smile on your Face



I watched the documentary Enlighten Up! the other day. It has been out for a while now and is available on Netflix instant. The super brief synopsis is that the filmmaker, Kate, loves yoga and decides to recruit a total newbie Nick (who happens to be a journalist) to take on yoga for 6 months. She hopes to prove that "yoga can transform anyone." He agrees to "regular" practice and she carts him around to great teachers in NYC, in the countryside outside NYC, to Hawaii, and ultimately to India to study and interview with both Pattabhi Jois and BKS Iyengar. He also goes with another man he's met on his journey, to an ashram where he meets an enlightened swami. (Just writing this makes me wonder, how come we don't have tons of enlightened swamis just sitting around America ready to meet us and explain the intricacies of life. That would be pretty rad, No?) Ok. So that's the nutshell. You can watch it if you want to find out what happens. This is not an opinion piece on the film.

Instead I offer you the insight I got from watching. Whenever Nick was with a yogi/yogini who'd studied for a long while, someone who was a master teacher on the path I noticed something about that person. No matter how fierce that person was as a teacher or a speaker during the interview, they were also quick to Laugh, and to laugh fully. They were so darn Happy.

A few months ago my boss asked for a statement from each teacher about why we do yoga. I have to admit, I didn't email her back. It was because I couldn't boil it down to the two sentences she was asking for. But now I'm realizing.

I do yoga to be happy.

The end.

Just to be stinking happy. Over time my definition of what happiness is, and then what makes me happy has changed. I remember when I was in World Religion 101 the professor said that upon reaching deeper states of enlightenment, one would drop the earlier stages. His explanation was that when we were younger we played with Barbie dolls, and now that we're more mature, we don't have any interest in those anymore. That's how the idea of happiness evolves for me.

At first, going to yoga class and sweating and moving my body made me feel happy. Then doing a handstand on my own (wall assisted mind you) for the first time made me happy. Then being in community. Then being with amazing teachers that touch my soul. Then deep deep learning. Until one day I met my own Heart pulsing with love and now, probably nothing could make me happier in my sadana. It's to the point that I've logged enough time in the eternal space of beauty inside that even when I'm down... I'm still happy. Now the asana, pranayama, meditation time are there to deepen the happiness, and to clear away the dust that accumulates through my day. It didn't happen overnight, but through yoga I got happy, and am getting happier in a real true sense of the word.

I hope to soon become much quicker to laugh too. That part of me has yet to blossom into fullness. I'm reserved in my inner happiness. But all is coming. "Practice, practice, practice, practice. That is the method" so says Pattabhi Jois in the film. Happiness. What a sweet practice to have.