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Doing One’s [Holy] Duty (just the music) March 31, 2021

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Please join me today (Wednesday, March 31st) at 4:30 PM or 7:15 PM for a yoga practice on ZoomUse the link from the “Class Schedules” calendar if you run into any problems checking into the class. You will need to register for the 7:15 PM class if you have not already done so. Give yourself extra time to log in if you have not upgraded to Zoom 5.0. You can request an audio recording of this practice via a comment below or by emailing myra (at) ajoyfulpractice.com.

Wednesday’s playlist is available on YouTube and Spotify.

You can find last year’s “Spy Wednesday” post here and the non-holiday date-related post here.

 

In the spirit of generosity (“dana”), the Zoom classes, playlists, and blog posts are freely given and freely received. If you are able to support these teachings, please do so as your heart moves you. (NOTE: You can donate even if you are “attending” a practice that is not designated as a “Common Ground Meditation Center” practice, or you can purchase class(es). If youplaylists don’t mind me knowing your donation amount you can also donate to me directly. Donations to Common Ground are tax deductible; class purchases and donations directly to me are not necessarily deductible.)

 

THERE’S A SOME GOODNESS COMING YOUR WAY! This Friday (April 2nd) is the next “First Friday Night Special” 7:15 – 8:20 PM, CST. It is Good Friday (in the Western Christian tradition) and towards the end of Passover (in the Jewish tradition). Also in the Jewish tradition, it is “six days of the Omer” and a time when people will be focused on “Bonding in Love/Lovingkindness.” Additional details (including ZOOM information) are posted on the “Class Schedules” calendar!

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Let Your “Talents” & Your Light Shine (just the music) March 30, 2021

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Please join me today (Tuesday, March 30th) at 12 Noon or 7:15 PM for a virtual yoga practice on Zoom. Use the link from the “Class Schedules” calendar if you run into any problems checking into the class. Give yourself extra time to log in if you have not upgraded to Zoom 5.0. You can request an audio recording of this practice via a comment below.

Tuesday’s playlist is available on YouTube and Spotify. [Look for “Passion Tuesday April 7, 2020” or “04072020 Passion Tuesday.”]

If you are interested, please check out last year’s Passion Tuesday post!

In the spirit of generosity (“dana”), the Zoom classes, recordings, and blog posts are freely given and freely received. If you are able to support these teachings, please do so as your heart moves you. (NOTE: You can donate even if you are “attending” a practice that is not designated as a “Common Ground Meditation Center” practice, or you can purchase class(es). Donations are tax deductible; class purchases are not necessarily deductible.)

 

THERE’S A SOME GOODNESS COMING YOUR WAY! This Friday (April 2nd) is the next “First Friday Night Special” 7:15 – 8:20 PM, CST. It is Good Friday (in the Western Christian tradition) and towards the end of Passover (in the Jewish tradition). Also in the Jewish tradition, it is “six days of the Omer” and a time when people will be focused on “Bonding in Love/Lovingkindness.” Additional details (including ZOOM information) are posted on the “Class Schedules” calendar!

 

 

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Questions of Faith March 28, 2021

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“What makes this night different from all [other] nights?
1) On all nights we need not dip even once, on this night we do so twice?
2) On all nights we eat chametz or matzah, and on this night only matzah?
3) On all nights we eat any kind of vegetables, and on this night maror?
4) On all nights we eat sitting upright or reclining, and on this night we all recline?”

– The Four Questions (“Ma Nishtana”)

How is this practice different from all the other practices? Good question. It is a question you can ask before any practice. It is also a question that sounds a lot like “The Four Questions,” traditionally asked by the youngest person at a Passover Seder. The word seder is a Hebrew word that means “order” or “arrangement,” and it refers to the ritual feast people in the Jewish community have on the first night of Passover (or first two nights for Orthodox and Conservative communities outside of Israel). The meal is a symbolic celebration of the Exodus story, which is the story of how the Jews were freed from slavery in Egypt. Really, the meal is the story – beginning with the questions, which are also symbolic.

Passover, which is also called Pesach and The Feast of Unleavened Bread, is considered a spring festival and, in ancient times, was directly connected to the harvesting and offering of barley – which was the first grain to ripen and harvest in the Holy Land. For seven days (eight days for the Orthodox and Conservative communities, especially in the diaspora), people commemorate the story of Exodus, which is a story of faith. The ritual observation actually begins before the Passover Seder, with the removal of chametz (“leavening”), as it is forbidden to consume, keep, or own chametz during Passover. Some forms or chametz will be burned; other forms can be given away or even sold. Keep in mind that the agents of “rising” or fermentation are not forbidden – in fact, wine is a required part of the celebration. However, the action of rising is symbolic and part of the story (2. where the Jews have to flee so fast their bread doesn’t have time to rise.)

Another part of the story and another ritual that occurs before the Passover Seder is the Fast of the Firstborn, which falls on the day before the evening of the Passover Seder (with adjustments made when Passover begins on a Saturday night – which is the end of the Sabbath). Again, this is a symbolic element of the story as first-born sons (and “newborn” sons) play critical roles in the Exodus story (as you will see below).

Saturday night marked the beginning of Passover, making today the first day of Passover. Today is also Palm Sunday and the beginning of Holy Week or Passion Week (also known as Passiontide) in the Western Christian community. As I mentioned last year, in reference to a question from my brother, it is not a coincidence that so many holy obligations are happening at the same time even though different faiths use different calendars. While how the holidays overlap is different from year to year, according to the Gregorian calendar, the fact that they overlap is significant and relevant – because the stories of Exodus and the story of Jesus’ last week are connected.

“For those who believe, no proof is necessary. For those who do not believe, no proof is possible.”

– Stuart Chase

Historically speaking, Jesus was a Jewish teacher or rabbi, who returned home to Jerusalem for Passover. The Gospel According to Saint John (12:1) is the only New Testament gospel that specifically refers to Passover as a reference point for the beginning of the last week of Jesus’ life. However, all four of the canonical Gospels mention preparation for the festival, feast, or first day (depending on the translation) of “Unleavened Bread” and describe a jubilant and memorable moment where Jesus rides into town on a donkey (a symbol of peace) and is greeted by people who honor him by laying down palm fronds and possibly coats to cover his path. This is a day remembered, in Christian communities, as Palm Sunday or Passion Sunday. It is the final Sunday of Lent and marks Christians’ final preparation for Easter.

Remember, Jesus is seen by Christians as the Messiah – the one whose life (and death) ushers in an era of peace, salvation, and forgiveness from sins. His story – especially the story of his last week – is seen as a story of freedom and also of God’s power and love for humankind. On the other hand(s), we have Aaron and Moses – as well as Miriam – who are instrumental in the story of how God ushers in an era of peace and freedom for “Children of Israel.”

In both stories, we are meant to see the hand or power of God (and the Holy Spirit) and in both stories people are required to have faith in order to be saved. In the first, the story of Exodus, the Jewish people are told to have faith – even when they are suffering the suffering through the Ten Plagues along with the Egyptians – and to not only envision, but also to celebrate, freedom that has not yet come. That is the whole point of the first Seder, which happens before the exodus (3 & 4). Finally, for Christians, faith in Jesus as the Messiah is the “ticket to heaven.”

Here’s the thing I think it is important to remember – especially as this year marks the second year many people are observing these holy times in some version of lockdown due the pandemic: these stories about faith and the power of God, all require action on the part of humankind. The first to act is Jochebed (or Yocheved) who hides her baby (Moses) for three months when she hears the Pharaoh wants all newborn males thrown in the Nile. She acts again when she throws him in the river, but only after placing him in a waterproof basket. The next to act is Miriam, the sister, who watches her baby brother floating down the river until he is picked up by the Pharaoh’s daughter (whose actions should not be discounted since the woman had to know the baby was Jewish) and then acts again when she offers to provide a “wet nurse.” Miriam also acts to connect Moses to his community.

Then there is Moses, who is called to action by the burning bush. Because he, in some ways, lacks faith (in himself and, one could argue, in God), he calls his brother Aaron (a first-born son?) to action. Together, the brothers inform Pharaoh and the people of Israel how God wants them to act. Pharaoh, as the story is told, does not act appropriately; but the story of Exodus – and in particular of the first Seder – is the story of a whole community of people putting their faith into action.

Finally, we get to Jesus (another first-born son), the apostles, and the stories that lead up to Easter. Pay attention this week and you will see, time and time again, how people are called to action… called to put their faith into action. We can debate what we believe all day long, but ultimately, what is important is not what you believe so much as how you act based on your beliefs. Then, finally, we see can/will see if our actions (and therefore our beliefs) lead to sweet freedom (1) and the grateful end of suffering (1) or just more suffering (3).

“Remember: If you want to make progress on the path and ascend to the places you have longed for, the important thing is not to think much but to love much, and so to do whatever best awakens you to love.”

– quoted from “The Fourth Dwelling .1.” of The Interior Castle by Saint Teresa of Ávila (born March 28, 1515) (New Translation and Introduction by Mirabai Starr)

Please join me for a 65-minute virtual yoga practice on Zoom today (Sunday, March 28th) at 2:30 PM (CST). Use the link from the “Class Schedules” calendar if you run into any problems checking into the class. You can request an audio recording of this practice via a comment below or by emailing myra (at) ajoyfulpractice.com.

Sunday’s playlist is available on YouTube and Spotify. [Look for “04122020 All That Is Holy”]

In the spirit of generosity (“dana”), the Zoom classes, recordings, and blog posts are freely given and freely received. If you are able to support these teachings, please do so as your heart moves you. (NOTE: You can donate even if you are “attending” a practice that is not designated as a “Common Ground Meditation Center” practice, or you can purchase class(es). Donations are tax deductible; class purchases are not necessarily deductible.)

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The Live Experience March 27, 2021

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“This has been such a very difficult time for live performance and many artists, technicians and craftsmen and women have struggled in a profession that is already fraught with insecurity.

Maybe that always present insecurity has made them more able to survive this pandemic with wit and courage.

 

Their imagination has already translated itself, in these new circumstances, into inventive, entertaining and moving ways to communicate, thanks of course in large part to the internet.

 

Human beings have told each other stories for as long as they have been on the planet.

The beautiful culture of theatre will live for as long as we stay here.”

– Helen Mirren, Stage, Screen and Television Actress, World Theatre Day Message Author 2021  

For the second year in a row, most theatres are shuttered, most box offices are closed, artists and technicians are laid off and/or working their backup hustle during World Theatre Day. However, there are a handful of places in the world where people will celebrate today as it was intended when initiated by the International Theatre Institute in 1961 (and first celebrated in 1962) – with live theatre.

Still others are getting ready. Because the time is coming… people will take their seats, theatres will darken, the curtain will rise and for a spectacular moment in time people will be transfixed by three-dimensional lives that are not their own. For a brief moment in time, people’s awareness will be drawn into a single point – the stage – as if nothing else exists.

That moment, however brief, when nothing else exists and someone is completely absorbed into the object of their focus, is a mere taste (or hint) of what Patanjali described in the Yoga Sūtras. Think of how you can get involved in a television program with which you constantly have to reengage your awareness, because of the commercials and any other distractions from within your home. There is focus and concentration, but you are constantly having to make adjustments to maintain that focus and concentration. Now, think of something aired or streamed with limited commercial interruptions and how there is less need for “course corrections.” Then there is a movie, where you have continuous flow – but it’s still flat, two-dimensional; with limited engagement of the senses. Finally, there is the play, musical, ballet, opera, or other live performance where your attention is held AND (more importantly) all of your senses are engaged. With cell phones silenced and everyone around you also focused on the same point, your awareness continuously flows into (and out of) the action on stage.

My analogy isn’t even close to perfect, of course; because these various mediums do not really represent a single point. Instead, what I want you to consider is the progressive transitions of awareness from all-pointedness to single-pointedness.

Yoga Sūtra 3.9: vyutthāna-nirodhah-samskāra abhibhava-prādurbhāvau nirodhah-kşaņa-chitta-anvayah nirodhah-pariņāmah

 

– “When the vision of the lower samadhi is suppressed by an act of conscious control, so that there are no longer any thoughts or visions in the mind, that is the achievement of control of the thought-waves of the mind.”

 

Yoga Sūtra 3.10: tasya praśānta-vāhitā samskārāt

 

– “When this suppression of thought waves becomes continuous, the mind’s flow is calm.”

Yoga Sūtra 3.11: sarvarathata ekagrata ksaya udaya chittasya samadhi-parinamah

– “When all mental distractions disappear and the mind becomes one-pointed, it enters the state called samadhi.”

Yoga Sūtra 3.12: tatah punah shanta-uditau tulya-pratyayau chittasya ekagrata-parinimah

– “The mind becomes one-pointed when similar thought-waves arise in succession without any gaps in between them.”

As I’ve mentioned before, what is described in the Yoga Sūtras is meant to be experienced and explored through the experience and explored in stages. In his translation and commentary of Yoga Sūtra 3.12, Swami Vivekananda said that we know the mind has become concentrated, “Because the idea of time will vanish. The more time passes unnoticed the more concentrated we are. In common life we see that when we are interested in a book we do not note the time at all, and when we leave the book, we are often surprised to find how many hours have passed. All time will have the tendency to come and stand in the one present. So the definition is given: When the past and present come and stand in one, the mind is said to be concentrated.”

 Please join me for a 90-minute virtual yoga practice on Zoom today (Saturday, November 21st) at 12:00 PM, for an experience. Use the link from the “Class Schedules” calendar if you run into any problems checking into the class. You can request an audio recording of this practice via a comment below or by emailing myra (at) ajoyfulpractice.com.

Saturday’s playlist is available on YouTube and Spotify. [Look for “10202020 Pratyahara”]

In the spirit of generosity (“dana”), the Zoom classes, recordings, and blog posts are freely given and freely received. If you are able to support these teachings, please do so as your heart moves you. (NOTE: You can donate even if you are “attending” a practice that is not designated as a “Common Ground Meditation Center” practice, or you can purchase class(es). Donations are tax deductible; class purchases are not necessarily deductible.)

You can read my post from last year here and check out online World Theatre Day celebrations here. For anyone interested in more information about my old job/career, here’s a little glimpse into what I use to do, courtesy of someone getting ready to do it all again!

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Walk with Me… I walk with You March 24, 2021

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“It is the single small step that begins the journey of thousand miles.”

– quoted from A Path and A Practice: Using Lao-tzu’s Tao Te Ching as a Guide to an Awakened Spiritual Life by William Martin

Fifty-six years ago today, Tuesday, March 24th, Civil Rights protesters stepped into Montgomery County (Alabama). The next morning they would stand in front of (but not on) the steps of the Alabama State Capital Building. It had been a long journey…even longer than the 5 days and 54 miles it took them to arrive from Selma, Alabama. And as he stood in front of (but not on) the steps of the capital, Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke of how much longer the journey would be.

For anyone who is interested, here are two (2) posts I wrote (in January 2019 and January 2016)about the experience of some of those marchers, and how it works out on the mat.

Three years ago today, in 2018, survivors from Majory Stoneman Douglas High School led 200,000 to 800,000 people in a student-led demonstration supporting gun control legislation. Approximately 1.2 million people participated in the “March for Our Lives (MFOL) demonstration in D. C. and around the world.

We are, once again, at a pivotal point – a critical point – and anniversary that looks a lot like the past. All I can ask is that you walk with me… as I walk with you.

Please join me today (Wednesday, March 24th) at 4:30 PM or 7:15 PM for a yoga practice on Zoom. Use the link from the “Class Schedules” calendar if you run into any problems checking into the class. You will need to register for the 7:15 PM class if you have not already done so. Give yourself extra time to log in if you have not upgraded to Zoom 5.0. You can request an audio recording of this practice via a comment below or by emailing myra (at) ajoyfulpractice.com.

Wednesday’s playlist is available on YouTube and Spotify.

In the spirit of generosity (“dana”), the Zoom classes, recordings, and blog posts are freely given and freely received. If you are able to support these teachings, please do so as your heart moves you. (NOTE: You can donate even if you are “attending” a practice that is not designated as a “Common Ground Meditation Center” practice, or you can purchase class(es). Donations are tax deductible; class purchases are not necessarily deductible.)

 

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Fannie’s Recipe Ingredients (just the music) March 23, 2021

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Please join me today (Tuesday, March 23rd) at 12 Noon or 7:15 PM for a virtual yoga practice on Zoom. Use the link from the “Class Schedules” calendar if you run into any problems checking into the class. Give yourself extra time to log in if you have not upgraded to Zoom 5.0. You can request an audio recording of this practice via a comment below.

Tuesday’s playlist is available on YouTube and Spotify.

[NOTE: I updated/revised the playlists after the Noon class. They are slightly different in lengths and for someone reason I can’t get a single version of Bob Dylan’s Catfish to show up on my computer when I pull up the Spotify. Clearly, my computer has a baseball problem. You can find the Albert Castiglia’s version here and below.]

In the spirit of generosity (“dana”), the Zoom classes, recordings, and blog posts are freely given and freely received. If you are able to support these teachings, please do so as your heart moves you. (NOTE: You can donate even if you are “attending” a practice that is not designated as a “Common Ground Meditation Center” practice, or you can purchase class(es). Donations are tax deductible; class purchases are not necessarily deductible.)

 

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Songs for…Adventures (a host of “missing” Wednesday posts) March 23, 2021

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[Pardon me while I catch up on some “missing” Wednesday the 10th posts. You can request an audio recording of the practice from Wednesday, February 10th and/or Wednesday, March 10th via a comment below or (for a slightly faster reply) you can email me at myra (at) ajoyfulpractice.com.

In the spirit of generosity (“dana”), the Zoom classes, recordings, and blog posts are freely given and freely received. If you are able to support these teachings, please do so as your heart moves you. (NOTE: You can donate even if you are “attending” a practice that is not designated as a “Common Ground Meditation Center” practice, or you can purchase class(es). Donations are tax deductible; class purchases are not necessarily deductible.

Check out the “Class Schedules” calendar for upcoming classes.]

SONGS FOR TODAY’S ADVENTURE (02/10/2021):

“February. Get ink. Weep.
Write the heart out about it. Sing
Another song of February
While raucous slush burns black with spring.”

– quoted from the poem “February” by Boris Pasternak, English translation by A. Z. Foreman

Music has always been a part of my life. Given my family and my family history, it’s possible that the first music I heard was church music. But, the first music I remember was country and classical and jazz and soul and pop and gospel. It was all twisted and braided together into any given day. So, depending on where I was, who I was with, and what I was doing, I might hear some or all of the above. It just depended….

I distinctly remember listening to my great-uncle’s classical music under a blanket tent in a basement in the Maryland-D.C. area at the same time I was dancing to Motown and steel drums around the corner; singing Hall and Oats (which my father called “Hollering Oats”) and Rockwell (the lyrics of which I parodied in a way that got me in trouble with my mother) around Christmas; and traveling to the Highwaymen and Roberta Flack. A few years later I auditioned for pom-poms to the tune of “PYT” around the same time I was confusing a Wes Montgomery jazz cover for an original rock song and belting out my own (vegetable parody) version of “We Will Rock You” and “We Are the Champions.” I fell in love with Prince and Phil… and their music. Then there was college – full of blue-eyed soul, house music, Garth, and gospel (that almost got me a speeding ticket) – followed by musicals and more classical, ballet, and opera… and Bob, so much Bob.

And that’s just a quick sample of the soundtrack of the adventure that is my life.

Everyone’s life is an adventure and, if you think about it for a moment, you may notice certain themes and variations in the soundtrack that underscores your life. Maybe there is a certain composer or songwriter whose works resonate with you. Or maybe there is a certain key that always speaks to you (and for you). Maybe you’re a sucker for a good tear-jerker or you can’t pass up a song with a catchy chorus that makes you bounce. Maybe your playlist is eclectic and ever evolving. But take a moment to remember the music that highlights different points in your life, because it was the music playing at that time in your life – or because it makes you feel the way you felt at certain times in your life.

After all, that is one of the roles of music: to make us feel. And, if you were to underscore your life with music, you would take into consideration how you felt in a moment and also how you feel remembering the moment. In fact, eliciting feeling is part of a soundtrack composer’s job description – along with reflecting time, space, and culture while cultivating the momentum of a moment. Keeping all of that in mind, consider what kind of composer you would need for an adventure that crisscrosses space (and outer space) and time, as well as elevated topography and Russia in winter.

“[RDL:] Something that’s been said about your work previously is that, unlike many other film composers, there seems to be a great variety your composing style. In other words, your scores do not retain distinctive stylistic similarities that seem to characterize scores of some other composers. To what would you attribute this?

[JG:] It seems like it’s me, and that’s that. Certain composers are doing the same thing over and over again, which I feel is sort of uninteresting. I don’t find that you grow very much in that way. I like to keep changing, trying to do new things. Basically, I’m saying the same thing with a little different twist on it. Once you get caught up in the creative process, something inside takes over, and your subconscious just does it for you.”

– quoted from “Jerry Goldsmith on Poltergeist and NIMH: A Conversation with Jerry Goldsmith and Randall D. Larson” (originally published in CinemaScore #11/12, 1983)

Jerrald “Jerry” King Goldsmith, born February 10, 1929, was one the greatest soundtrack composers. He composed the Universal Pictures fanfare and scores for a slew of movies and videogames; including five Star Trek films (on one of which he collaborated with his son Joel), three Rambo films, the original three Omen films, and the soundtrack for A Patch of Blue, Rudy, and The Russia House. He was nominated for six Grammy, five Primetime Emmy, nine Golden Globe, and four British Academy Film Awards. He was also nominated for 18 Academy Awards – making him one of the most nominated composers in Oscar history – and won the Oscar in 1976 for “Best Original Score” for The Omen, which includes some of the most memorable (and non-traditional) Latin chants in film history. Along with Elmer Bernstein, Bernard Hermann, Max Steiner, and John Williams, Maestro Goldsmith was one of a handful of composers with more than one score ranked on The American Film Institute’s top 25 greatest film scores.

Part of our February 10th adventure included a little nod to the adventure of mountain climbing as February 10, 1929 was also the birth date of the mountain climbing twins Jim and Lou Whittaker. Born and raised in Seattle, Washington, people sometimes mix-up the twins and their “apex” achievements. For the record, Jim was the first American to reach the summit of Mount Everest (as part of the American Mount Everest Expedition, May 1, 1963); the first full-time employee of Recreation Equipment Inc (REI, July 25, 1955); and (in 1965) led Robert F. Kennedy on an expedition that would lead to a deep friendship between the men. In 1990, Jim Whittaker led the Earth Day 20 International Peace Climb, which brought 20 climbers from the United States, USSR, and China to the summit of Mount Everest. Throughout their trek, that international group of climbers removed over two tons of garbage that had been left by previous expeditions.

No slacker himself, Lou Whittaker also started climbing with the Boy Scouts in the 1940’s and has over 250 summits of Mount Rainer / Tahoma to his name. In addition to co-founding RMI Expeditions (Rainier Mountaineering Inc) and several other climbing-related businesses, he is one of the most-experienced glacier-travel guides; has trained and certified several generations of Rainier guides; and led the first American ascent of the North Col (sharp-edged pass) of Mount Everest (1984). Like his twin and his son (Peter Whittaker, who now runs RMI), Lou Whittaker is a “Leave No Trace” partner committed to outdoor ethics.

When Jerry Goldsmith and the Whitaker twins turned 43, something quite monumental happened – even though almost no one noticed: Ziggy Stardust made his “earthly debut.” The out-of-this-world alter ego of the then barely-known David Bowie appeared in a concert at the Toby Jug Pub in Tolworth (a Surrey suburb just outside Greater London). According to an 18-year old Englishman by the name of Stephen King (not to be confused with the then-25-year old American who was really getting his footing as a writer or horror and suspense), there were about sixty people in the pub and the concert was unlike anything anyone had ever experienced. Mr. King, who would be inspired by the concert and pursue a career in (live) sound engineering, later wrote “I knew one thing for sure – David Bowie was going to be HUGE!” – Which was pretty much an echo of what Bowie himself said three weeks before the concert and about six months before the release of The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars.

“But before the red hair and the stage show came the advance publicity, which generated one of the decisive interviews of Bowie’s career. In the wake of Hunky Dory’s critical garlands, musical journalists were touting David Bowie as the great hope of 1972, and the Melody Maker interview published on 22 January was proof that he knew it. ‘I’m going to be huge and it’s quite frightening in a way,’ he told Michael Watts who confirmed that everyone just knows that David is going to be a lollapalooza of a superstar throughout the entire world this year.”

– quoted from The Complete David Bowie by Nicholas Pegg

Jerry Goldsmith and Ziggy Stardust (a.k.a. David Bowie) are not the only notable musicians/poets who emerged into the world on February 10th. In fact, Boris Leonidovich Pasternak was born February 10, 1890 (based on the Gregorian calendar) and Roberta Flack (who I mentioned at the very beginning) was born February 10, 1937.

Winner of the 1958 Noble Prize for Literature, Boris Leonidovich Pasternak was a poet, novelist, and translator whose first book of poems (My Sister, Life) was published in Russian by a Berlin publisher. Similarly, his award-winning novel Doctor Zhivago, which was set in a pivotal period of Russian history and rejected by Russian publishers, was published in Italy. The Soviet government forced Pasternak to decline the award (although his ancestors would eventually claim it) and accused the British MI6 (Secret Intelligence Service) and United States CIA (Central Intelligence Agency) of conspiring to ensure Pasternak was not only nominated, but also won the Nobel Prize.

Roberta Flack is an award winning singer, song-writer, and musician who has been nominated for thirteen Grammy Awards and six American Music Awards (AMA). In addition to winning the 1974 AMA for Favorite Female Artist (Soul/R&B), she was awarded the 2020 Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award and four other Grammy Awards. In fact, she is the only solo artist to win a Grammy for Record of the Year in two consecutive years: in 1973 for “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” and in 1974 for “Killing Me Softly With His Song”).

“I heard he sang a good song, I heard he had a style
And so I came to see him, to listen for a while
And there he was, this young boy, a stranger to my eyes

Strumming my pain with his fingers
Singing my life with his words
Killing me softly with his song
Killing me softly with his song
Telling my whole life with his words
Killing me softly with his song”

– quoted from the song “Killing Me Softly With His Song” by Roberta Flack

It is one thing to compose music and write lyrics that can underscore a day, a year, a moment in someone’s life. To create music in order to tell a story certainly and obviously requires a certain set of skills and talents. But, have you ever thought about the considerable talent and skills it takes to curate a playlist of other people’s music in order to tell a story or set a mood for a story? I grew up during the era of mixed tapes and am fortunate to have a friend who made me mixed tapes all through college (and now makes me mixed CDs). Over the years, we’ve had conversations about the soundtracks of our lives and also, randomly (or not) about how “shuffle mode” is pseudorandom rather than actually random. I don’t know the math behind all that, but I’m guessing Edith Clarke would have known how to work it out.

Born February 10, 1883, Edith Clarke was the first woman in the United States to be professionally employed as an electrical engineer and as a professor of electrical engineering. She studied mathematics and astronomy at Vassar College (Class of 1908) and, subsequently, taught mathematics and physics in San Francisco, California and Huntington, West Virginia. She would eventually study civil engineering at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, before becoming a “computer” for AT&T.

While she worked at AT&T on mathematical methods applied to problems associated with long-distance electrical transmissions during the day, Ms. Clarke spent her nights continuing her studies at Columbia University. In 1918, she enrolled at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) from where she became the first woman to earn a Masters in Electrical Engineering (from MIT) in 1919. She was also the first woman to present a paper at the American Institute of Electrical Engineers (AIEE); the first woman to be named as a fellow of the AIEE; and the first woman whose professional standing (as an engineer) was recognized by Tau Beta Pi, the oldest engineering honor society and the second oldest collegiate honor society in the United States. In 1947, she became the first American electrical engineering professor when she accepted a teaching position at the University of Texas at Austin.

“‘There is no demand for women engineers, as such, as there are for women doctors; but there’s always a demand for anyone who can do a good piece of work.’”

– Edith Clarke quoted in a March 14, 1948 Daily Texan article

SONGS FOR THE DJ’s ADVENTURE (03/10/2021):

A good piece of musical work can inspire you, touch you, and can express what you’re feeling even when you can’t put those feelings into words. A good piece of music can pump us up; hold us when we’re feeling down; and make sense of things that are twisted and upside down. Good music may start with the lyrics or the musical notes, but what ultimately sticks with us is the way it sounds… the way it feels… and when it comes to a recording, the way music sounds and feels has as much to do with the way it’s mixed and produced as it does with the way it’s written and composed.

Again, I don’t know the math, but I feel safe in saying that however you do the math, odds are that, on any given day, my playlist contains music in some way connected to producer who has been described as looking like a hippie Guru, a ZZ Top impersonator, and a medium-sized (teddy) bear. Known as “The Loudness King,” as well as “DJ Double R,” Frederick Jay “Rick” Rubin was born March 1, 1963. While my high school and college buddies were making mixed tapes, Rick Rubin, spent his senior year in college creating a record label: Def Jam Recordings.

“‘When I’m listening, I’m looking for a balance that you could see in anything. Whether it’s a great painting or a building or a sunset. There’s just a natural human element to a great song that feels immediately satisfying. I like the song to create a mood.’”

– Rick Rubin quoted in The New York Times article, “The Music Man,” by Lynn Hirschberg (Sept. 2, 2007)

You might associate Def Jam with rap music; but, in reality DJ Double R has produced everything from rap to jazz to country to pop to opera to kirtan. He has won the Grammy Award for Album of the Year for his work with The Chicks (2007) and with that other famous chick, Adele (2012). He also won the Grammy Award for Producer of the Year, Non-Classical in 2007 and 2009 and, in 2007, was named as one of the “100 Most Influential People in the World” by Time Magazine.

Rick Rubin has said, “‘I do not know how to work a board. I don’t turn knobs. I have no technical ability whatsoever….But I’m there when they need me to be there. My primary asset is I know when I like something or not. It always comes down to taste. I’m not there to hold their hands and baby-sit, but I’m there for any key creative decisions.’” I’m not sure I 100% believe the first claim, but I absolutely see evidence of everything else. Music produced by Mr. Rubin often has extreme dynamics in sound, hence his “Loudness King” moniker – even though what often balances the loudness is extremes of quiet. It’s the dichotomy that works for our brains. In fact, our brains crave that kind of stimuli and so those extremes make songs like “Walk This Way” (his collaboration between Run-D.M.C. and Aerosmith) the adult version of a lullaby.

That collaboration, one of his most famous, is typical Rick Rubin: outside the box – in a way that no one else thinks of doing, but then wishes they had. He sees it as breaking down boundaries and part of that is pushing people out of their comfort zones, which often produces a sound that is uniquely an artist’s style and yet, simultaneously, different. Getting pushed out of his box was definitely the experience Ed Sheeran had when working with the legendary producer on x. At one point Mr. Sheeran was afraid that, as good as the songs sounded, they wouldn’t be playable on the radio. So, he wrote and recorded additional music that fit more in the “pop Top 40” paradigm.

“From the first hip-hop records he produced for L L Cool J and the Beastie Boys, he insisted on classic song structure. ‘Before Def Jam, hip-hop records were typically really long, and they rarely had a hook,’ [Rubin] continued. ‘Those songs didn’t deliver in the way the Beatles did. By making our rap records sound more like pop songs, we changed the form. And we sold a lot of records.’”

– quoted from The New York Times article, “The Music Man,” by Lynn Hirschberg (Sept. 2, 2007)  

When Rick Rubin left Def Jam Recordings he planned to start a new label called “Def American Recordings.” While his focus had started to turn more and more toward rock and metal, DJ Double R was not leaving his roots behind. Remember, he started with punk and rap music – like that of the Beastie Boys. Yes, the Beastie Boys actually started with experimental hardcore punk music and evolved into hip-hop stylists. In fact, Rick Rubin was instrumental (a-ahem) in their transition. (Alas, as I noted during the practice, my favorite Beastie Boys album is more jazz than punk or hip-hop and is not produced by Mr. Rubin.) After he become friends with DJ Jazzy Jay and starting a partnership with Russell Simmons, his Def Jam Recordings took off – releasing their first full-length album (L. L. Cool J’s Radio) and signing groups like Public Enemy. When he started Def American Recordings, he continued his relationships with L. L. Cool J, Public Enemy, and Run-D.M.C. – but he quickly ended his relationship with “def.”

A decade after he brought the word to the awareness of the general public, Rick Rubin felt like “def” had lost its meaning. In 1993, when he learned “def” was in the dictionary, he decided to hold an actual funeral for the word – complete with a casket; a horse-drawn hearse; a grave and engraved headstone; a New Orleans-style first and second line (played by six-piece brass band); and a eulogy by Reverend Al Sharpton. Among the 1500+ in attendance were Black Panthers and celebrity “mourners” like The Amazing Kreskin, Tom Petty, Rosanna Arquette, Flea from the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Sir Mix-A-Lot, and pallbearer Mo Ostin (Warner Brothers Records chairman).

“Sharpton’s eulogy summarized the Death of Def in eloquent style, stating that def meant ‘more than excellent. Like, def-iantly excellent with a bang. Now the bang is out of def. It’s lost its exclusivity to the in, def-iant crowd. It died of terminal acceptance.’”

– quoted from the article “Loud End for Def Records” by Wimana (Imo Wimana Chadband), posted on the Raptology.com February 5, 2020

In many ways, the August 27, 1993, funeral was a spectacular way to launch his new labels new name: American Recordings. One of the other ways he decided to make a name for his new label was to “find” an artist who was also ready to be “reintroduced” to the world. He wanted someone legendary, but not in the same season they had been in when they first made a name for themselves. He wanted someone like Johnny Cash. Ultimately, Rick Rubin would produce six Johnny Cash “American Recordings,” two of which were released after Johnny Cash’s death. The albums were critical and commercial successes, earning the 2003 Grammy for Best Male Country Vocal (“Give My Love to Rose”); the 2003 Country Music Association award for Single of the Year (for a cover of Nine Inch Nails’ “Hurt” – the music video of which also won the 2004 Grammy Award for Best Short Form Music Video); the 2003 Grammy Nomination for Best Country Collaboration with Vocals (for a cover of Simon and Garfunkel’s “Bridge over Troubled Water, with Fiona Apple); and a plethora of other awards and nominations.

 “‘The right sound reaches its hand out and finds its way. So much of what I do is just being present and listening for that right sound.’”

– quoted from The New York Times article, “The Music Man,” by Lynn Hirschberg (Sept. 2, 2007)

The playlist for Wednesday, February 10th (the “Songs for Today’s Adventure” class) is available on YouTube and Spotify.

The playlist for Wednesday, March 10th (the “Songs for the DJ’s Adventure” class is available on YouTube and Spotify.

Kirtan is a form of Bhakti Yoga (or union through devotion/love) and involves chanting with music. One of the Rick Rubin-produced songs on the March 10th playlist is a Krishna Das kirtan version of “Brindavan Hare Ram,” which appears on Breath of the Heart. In the album’s liner notes, Krishna Das noted that the melody appeared on a previous album and that when he mentioned missing the singer and his daughter (after they died), “…Ram Dass said, ‘You tell that story wrong.’ / He was right. / Aren’t they [here] in this music,/in this song of longing and unbearable / sweetness. Don’t they live in our lives and sing in our song, in the One Life which breathes in all of us?”

Rick Rubin expressed this same sentiment after Johnny Cash died. He said he “would close his eyes and hear Cash’s voice as he said the benediction. ‘It was like hearing a song that you love,’ Rubin said. ‘He was there with me.’” (ibid, Hirschberg)

 

### “CHANGIN’ ROCK ‘n’ ROLL AND MINDS” ###

The “It’s Bach’s Day Too” Revue (just the music) March 21, 2021

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Please join me for a 65-minute virtual yoga practice on Zoom today (Sunday, March 21st) at 2:30 PM. Use the link from the “Class Schedules” calendar if you run into any problems checking into the class. Give yourself extra time to log in if you have not upgraded to Zoom 5.0. You can request an audio recording of this practice via a comment below.

Sunday’s playlist is available on YouTube and Spotify. [Look for “032120.. Bach’s Day Too” – NOTE: The playlists are not identical.]

In the spirit of generosity (“dana”), the Zoom classes, recordings, and blog posts are freely given and freely received. If you are able to support these teachings, please do so as your heart moves you. (NOTE: You can donate even if you are “attending” a practice that is not designated as a “Common Ground Meditation Center” practice, or you can purchase class(es). If you don’t mind me knowing your donation amount you can also donate to me directly. Donations to Common Ground are tax deductible; class purchases and donations directly to me are not necessarily deductible.)

### 🎶 ###

New Year, New Season (a “missing” post for multiple Saturdays) March 21, 2021

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“Nowruz Mubarak!” Happy New Year to those who are celebrating and Happy Spring to those in the Northern Hemisphere.

 

[This post is related to three Saturdays, March 6th; March 13th; and March 20th. You can request an audio recording of any of the practices via a comment below or (for a slightly faster reply) you can email me at myra (at) ajoyfulpractice.com.

In the spirit of generosity (“dana”), the Zoom classes, recordings, and blog posts are freely given and freely received. If you are able to support these teachings, please do so as your heart moves you. (NOTE: You can donate even if you are “attending” a practice that is not designated as a “Common Ground Meditation Center” practice, or you can purchase class(es). Donations are tax deductible; class purchases are not necessarily deductible.

Check out the “Class Schedules” calendar for upcoming classes.]

 

“At a time of another crisis, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá offered these words of counsel: ‘In a day such as this, when the tempests of trials and tribulations have encompassed the world, and fear and trembling have agitated the planet, ye must rise above the horizon of firmness and steadfastness with illumined faces and radiant brows in such wise that, God willing, the gloom of fear and consternation may be entirely obliterated, and the light of assurance may dawn above the manifest horizon and shine resplendently.’ The world stands more and more in need of the hope and the strength of spirit that faith imparts. Beloved friends, you have of course long been occupied with the work of nurturing within groups of souls precisely the attributes that are required at this time: unity and fellow feeling, knowledge and understanding, a spirit of collective worship and common endeavour. Indeed, we have been struck by how efforts to reinforce these attributes have made communities especially resilient, even when faced with conditions that have necessarily limited their activities. Though having to adapt to new circumstances, the believers have used creative means to strengthen bonds of friendship, and to foster among themselves and those known to them spiritual consciousness and qualities of tranquillity, confidence, and reliance on God.”

 

– quoted from a rare “New Year” message from the Universal House of Justice “To the Bahá’is of the World,” dated Naw-Ruz 177 (March 20, 2020, in reference to COVID-19 recommendations)

Today, Saturday, March 20th, was the Vernal (or Spring) Equinox in the Northern Hemisphere – which coincides with Nowruz, also known as the Persian New Year or Iranian New Year, which is also the Zoroastrian and the Bahá’i New Year. Nowruz is a compound of two Persian words and literally means “new day.” As this is a new beginning for so many around the world, it feels like an auspicious time to start catching back up on my blog posts!

The date of this New Year (and of the Vernal Equinox) is established every year through the astronomical observations that result in the Solar Hijri (Persian) calendar, which is the oldest and most accurate solar calendar. Technically, the Bahá’i New Year started at sunset on Friday evening; but it is also a moveable based on the change in seasons.

In “the Most Holy Book” of the Bahá’I faith, the Kitáb-i-Agdas, the prophet Bahá’u’lláh explained that the equinox was a “Manifestation of God” and, therefore, would mark the new day/year. He also indicated that the actual date would be based on a “standard” place chosen by the Universal House of Justice (the nine-member ruling body of the worldwide community) in Haifa, Israel. In 2014 (which was year 171 in their community), the Universal House of Justice chose Tehran as the special place in the world that would serve as the observational standard. This is year 178.

People within the Bahá’i community spend the last month of the year preparing for the New Year by observing the 19-Day Fast. Throughout various parts of Asia, the Caucasus, the Black Sea Basin, and the Balkans people from a variety of faiths have traditions which sometimes include a month’s worth of (preparatory) celebrations. These celebrations include “spoon-banging” and costumed visitors in a practice similar to Halloween’s trick-or-treaters; rituals related to light; a celebration of the elements; a celebration of ancestors; and stories about how light (literally and symbolically) overcomes darkness.

“But his splendid son, Jamshid, his heart filled with his father’s precepts, then prepared to reign. He sat on his father’s throne, wearing a golden crown according to the royal custom. The imperial [divine glory] was his. The world submitted to him; quarrels were laid to rest, and all demons, birds and fairies obeyed Jamshid’s commands. The royal throne shone with luster, and the wealth of the world increased. He said, ‘God’s glory is with me; I am both prince and priest. I hold evildoers back from their evil, and I guide souls towards the light.’”

 

– quoted from “The First Kings” in Shanameh – The Persian Book of Kings by Abolqasem Ferdowsi (translated by Dick Davis)

One such story appears in the Shāhnāma (“The Book of Kings”), an epic Persian poem written by Abul-Qâsem Ferdowsi Tusione around the 10th and 11th centuries and one of the world’s longest poems attributed to a single author. According to the legend, there was a time when the world was plunged into darkness and a deadly winter that caused most people to lose hope. However, the mythical King Jamshid, who spent over 100 years building a great kingdom, saved the world and restored hope by building a throne out of gems and precious metals. He then sat on the throne and had “demons” lift him up to catch the dying light so that he became as bright as the sun. More gems were gathered around him and he became even brighter. This became the “New Day.”

I often mention that every day, every inhale, and every exhale is the beginning of a New Year. We don’t often think of it that way, and we certainly don’t (as a whole) view and celebrate life that way. But, the bottom line is that every moment of our lives is a “liminal” moment: a transitional or threshold moment that serves as a doorway between times. We mark notice we have more daylight, more sunshine, and we call it “Spring!” But, in some ways, this moment is arbitrary because we have been getting more daylight since the Winter Solstice.

Sometimes, when the winter is really cold and really dark (or we’ve been cooped-up inside too much) we pay attention to the little incremental differences between one day and the next. We notice the lengthening shadows and the extra seconds. Most times, however, we don’t start noticing the changes until we are told to notice the changes. Even then, however, what we notice is the end result – the culmination of all the little changes; not the transitions themselves. In the Yoga Sūtras, Patanjali instructs us to pay attention to the transitions.

“The transition from one year to the next year happens in an infinitely short moment that is actually non-existent in time. So too, there are transitions in the moments of life and the moments of meditation. Mindfulness of transitions in daily life and during meditation time is extremely useful on the spiritual journey to enlightenment.”

 

– quoted from the commentary on “Yoga Sutras 3.9-3.16: Witnessing Subtle Transitions With Samyama” by Swami Jnaneshvara Bharati (“Swami J”)

When detailing how the practice of “concentration” “progresses,” Patanjali explores the final three limbs of the Yoga Philosophy (dhāranā, dhyāna, and samādhi) and refers to them collectively as samyama. Once he explains how each one flows from the previous ones (all stemming from the earlier practices of prāņāyāma and pratyāhāra) – and cautions against efforts to skip the stages of progression – he delineates the difference between external and internal experiences. We often think of these as being very obviously related to things that are happening outside of the body and/or separate from us versus things happening inside the body and/or directly related to us. We may even break things down as things we can touch/hold versus things that are not tangible.

Obvious, right? But what happens when we “Get Inside” (as we did on Saturday, March 6th)?

Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni, the artist, was born March 6, 1475, in Caprese (then the Republic of Florence and now Tuscany, Italy). Known for works like David, the Pietá, and some of the most well-known frescoes in the Sistine Chapel, Michelangelo was known as Il Divino (“The Divine One”) by his contemporaries, because he had the ability to bring inanimate objects to life and to create terribilitá (a sense of awesomeness or emotional intensity). He said, “Every block of stone has a statue inside it and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it.” He also said, “I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.”

In the practice of Yoga, we use the first four limbs of the philosophy the way Michelangelo used his carving and painting tools: to bring what is inside out, to set our inner angel free. Or, as I mentioned on the 6th, we can use it to set our inner GOAT free.

“‘He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life.’”

 

– quoted from the Ebony Magazine article, “Muhammad Ali: ‘Don’t Count Me Out’ – Despite his medical problems, ‘The Greatest’ says there is plenty of fight left in his body” by Walter Leavy (published March 1985)

 

In 1964, it was announced to the world that the boxer we now know as The Greatest of All Times would no longer go by his birth name or “slave name” – which was also his father’s name. The heavy-weight champion’s grandfather had named his son (Cassius Marcellus Clay, Sr.,) after a 19th-century abolitionist politician in Kentucky (Cassius Marcellus Clay) who, by some accounts, strong-armed President Abraham Lincoln to emancipate Confederate slaves and freed some of his own slaves in 1844, but still kept some slaves on hand. Muhammad Ali wanted to distance himself from that legacy of slavery and forge his own path; so, he chose a name that reflected his faith and his skills: Muhammad Ali.

The name change wasn’t even close to instantaneous. In fact, with the major exception of Howard Cosell, who coincidentally had changed his own last name back to his family’s original Polish surname, most journalists and media outlets continued to refer to the prizefighter as “Cassius Clay” for over a decade. And it wasn’t just a matter of people getting use to the new name. Because he refused to answer to his birth name, journalist would address him as Muhammad Ali in-person, but then write about “Cassius Clay.” By their own account, The New York Times wrote about over 1,000 articles about “Cassius Clay” from 1964 to 1968, but only referenced “Muhammad Ali” in about 150. This practice continued well into the 1970’s! But the practice wasn’t even consistent; the media seemed to have no problem referencing “Malcolm X” – even though, at the time, he was still legally “Malcolm Little.”

Muhammad means “One who is worthy of praise” and Ali means “Most high.” The names, as he clearly stated, were symbolic in nature – as all names are. By changing his name, Muhammad Ali honored his outside (i.e., the color of his skin) while also placing emphasis on the inside (i.e., his talent and his beliefs). He also gave the world tools to focus on the inside and to become more intimate. Sadly, some folks kept themselves stuck on the outside.

Yoga Sūtra 3.7: trayam antarangam pūrvebhyah

 

– “These three practices of concentration (dhāranā), meditation (dhyāna), and samādhi are more intimate or internal than the previous five practices.”

Patanjali devotes a series of “threads” to the distinctions between internal/intimate and external in order to illustrate that perspective can make something that feels internal feel “external” simply because there is something more “internal.” One great example of this can be illustrated by comparing different types of physical practices of yoga. For instances: A vinyāsa practice (because it is a moving practice) is more “yang” or active than a YIN Yoga practice (in which part of the practice is not moving for what can feel like an incredibly long amount of time). On the flip side, the Primary Series of Ashtanga Yoga can be significantly more “yang” or active than a “Slow Flow” and a Restorative Yoga practice can be significantly more “yin” than a YIN yoga practice.

By the same token, focusing on the breath and the awareness of the breath  begins to feel more internal than just moving the body without breath awareness, but the former begins to feel more external when you can concentrate without actively thinking about the fact that you are concentrating on your breath (or anything else). In other words, the object of focus is the “seed” – something tangible and understandable, with a reference point. Then, there is a point in the practice when the focus becomes “seedless” – at which point being “Deeper Inside Makes That ‘Outside’” (which was our thread on Saturday, March 13th).

Yoga Sūtra 3.8: tad api bahir-angam nirbījasya

 

– “These three practices are external, and not intimate compared to nirbija samadhi, which is samadhi that has no object, nor even a seed object on which there is concentration.”

 

In our physical practice, more often than not, we use the breath as our primary “seed.”At first we may simultaneously engage it on multiple levels. After all, we can feel it, we can direct it, and (under the proper conditions) we can see it. Eventually, however, we become absorbed in the experience of breathing and being alive – which is obviously a different experience than actively working with the breath, but it is also a different experience than breathing and living without being aware of the breath. I often think about the breathing (and awareness of breath) of someone like Joseph Priestley, just as I think about the breathing (and awareness of breath) of those three people who left footprints on the side of a mountain in Italy over 350,000 years ago.

On March 13, 2003, Nature Journal published the work of three paleontologists who had identified fossilized footprints (and handprints) as belonging to three homo-genus individuals fleeing the then-actively erupting Roccamonfino volcano. Through those external impressions (embedded deep in the earth), we get an intimate glimpse into a brief moment of their lives. We know two fled the volcano together, one assisting the other. We know about their pace and trajectory, based on the zigzag patterns and the places where it appears one or more supported themselves with their hands. We can use their steps as tools and then, based on our own experiences, move deeper from there.

Joseph Priestley, born March 13, 1733 (according to the Julian calendar) was an 18th-century English theologian, clergyman, natural philosopher, chemist, educator, liberal political theorist, and a member of the Lunar Circle (also known as the Lunar Society). He is credited with discovering oxygen in its isolated gaseous state (which he considered “dephlogisticated air”). He also inventing soda water – which, he believed, could cure scurvy and which he called “impregnated water.” He also believed science was integral to theology and, therefore, all of his scientific work was a reflection of his liturgical work, and vice versa.

Even though much of what Joseph Priestley believed, scientifically speaking, has been superseded by advancements in technology and science, his work is one of the steps that brought us closer to the knowledge we have now. Think of his phlogiston theories as “seeds” at the beginning of the process. Now, consider, how – having moved beyond that point of understanding – we start anew… and go deeper. (As we did today, March 20th.)

“Could we have entered into the mind of Sir Isaac Newton and have traced all the steps by which he produced his great works, we might see nothing very extraordinary in the process.”

 

– Joseph Priestley

 

This week’s “threads” can be a little hard to take in just from the sūtras themselves. However, the point is to experience them and, once we have experienced them (in context) we realize they are easier to understand. There are some really great analogies related to movement and transition – which is the whole point of these threads – but the one that came to mind today takes us back to the boat analogy.

Take a moment to imagine your breath as a wave, with you floating on your back or floating in a boat. It doesn’t matter if you are lazily enjoying some time off or in a rush to go somewhere. Either way, there are times when you will have to make an adjustment – a course correction, if you will. Sometimes, you have to make big adjustments in order to stay focused; other times, little adjustments. Every now and again, however, there is a moment where you don’t need to make any adjustments or modifications. You don’t have to peddle to stay afloat and you don’t have to steer yourself in the right direction. You are one with the waves, going with the flow and “in the zone.” This is the next level of the Yoga experience. 

Yoga Sūtra 3.9: vyutthāna-nirodhah-samskāra abhibhava-prādurbhāvau nirodhah-kşaņa-chitta-anvayah nirodhah-pariņāmah

 

– “When the vision of the lower Samadhi is suppressed by an act of conscious control, so that there are no longer any thoughts or visions in the mind, that is the achievement of control of the thought-waves of the mind.”

 

Yoga Sūtra 3.10: tasya praśānta-vāhitā samskārāt

 

– “When this suppression of thought waves becomes continuous, the mind’s flow is calm.”

 

The playlist for Saturday, March 6th (the “Getting Inside or ‘What Is Inside, IV’” practice) is available on YouTube and Spotify. [Look for “09132020 What Is Inside, II”]

 

The playlist for Saturday, March 13th (the “Deeper Inside Makes That ‘Outside’” practice) is available on YouTube and Spotify. [Look for “10202020 Pratyahara”]

 

The playlist for Saturday, March 20th (the “New Year, New Season” class) is available on YouTube and Spotify.

 

“Impossible is just a big word thrown around by small men who find it easier to live in the world they’ve been given than to explore the power they have to change it. Impossible is not a fact. It’s an opinion.  Impossible is not a declaration. It’s a dare. Impossible is potential. Impossible is temporary.

Impossible is nothing.”

 

– quoted from a 2004 Adidas ad campaign written by Aimee Lehto (with final tag line credited to Boyd Croyner), often attributed to Muhammad Ali

 

 

 

### RIDE THESE WAVES ###

New Year, New Season (just the music) March 20, 2021

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Please join me for a 90-minute virtual yoga practice on Zoom today (Saturday, March 20th) at 12:00 PM. Use the link from the “Class Schedules” calendar if you run into any problems checking into the class. Give yourself extra time to log in if you have not upgraded to Zoom 5.0. You can request an audio recording of this practice via a comment below.

Saturday’s playlist is available on YouTube and Spotify.

In the spirit of generosity (“dana”), the Zoom classes, playlists, and blog posts are freely given and freely received. If you are able to support these teachings, please do so as your heart moves you. (NOTE: You can donate even if you are “attending” a practice that is not designated as a “Common Ground Meditation Center” practice, or you can purchase class(es). If you don’t mind me knowing your donation amount you can also donate to me directly. Donations to Common Ground are tax deductible; class purchases and donations directly to me are not necessarily deductible.)

### 🎶 ###