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The Beauty of Balancing Strength and Humility (the “missing” Wednesday post) May 2, 2021

Posted by ajoyfulpractice in Uncategorized.
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“Ramadān Mubarak, Blessed Ramadān!” to anyone who is observing the month of Ramadan. Many blessings, also, to those who are Counting the Omer and those who are observing the last week of Great Lent and Easter.

 

[This is a post related to Wednesday, April 28th. You can request an audio recording of this practice 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. Don’t forget that this Friday (May 7th) there will be a “First Friday Night Special.”]

“‘For a righteous man can fall seven times and rise, but the wicked shall stumble upon evil.’”

 

 

Mishlei – Proverbs (24:16)

It happens to all of us. We’re human and – it doesn’t matter how long we’ve been doing something, whether we think we’re good at it or someone tells us we’re doing a good job – mistakes, errors, fumbles, mishaps, and failures are going to happen. To add insult to injury, they usually happen when we are busiest and don’t have the time or energy to deal with them. Because, more often than not, we fall down when we are doing too much and not paying attention.

For most of my life I’ve been fortunate enough to be surrounded by kind and gracious people who respectfully point out my errors, offer constructive criticism, and/or easily forgive the honest mistakes I’ve made. Not going to lie, as an adult, I’ve also had the luxury of working in careers where everyone doesn’t automatically know every single time I’ve made a little mistake error. But, they still happen. And one thing I’ve noticed, in part thanks to the graciousness and kindness of others, is that the longer you do something, the better you get at doing it, the more you enjoy it, and the more you pride yourself on doing a good job, the harder it is to admit you’ve made a mistake. The more you accomplish, the bigger your head and ego can become; the bigger your head and ego, the smaller your humility. And as hard as it is to admit a mistake to others – sometimes it is even harder to admit the mistake to your own self.

The really super twisted thing is that if we don’t own up to our mistakes, we can’t learn and grow from them. So, we keep making mistakes. Also, not owning up to our mistakes, errors, fumbles, mishaps, and failures (however minor or major they may be) contributes to an inflated ego – which, believe it or not, contributes to even more errors. Another really twisted thing about being human: sometimes it is easier to forgive others than it is to forgive ourselves.

“To err is human, to forgive, divine.”

 

– quoted from “An Essay on Criticism” (line 525) by Alexander Pope (published in May 1711)

The ability to forgive is not the only divine attribute accessible to humans. In fact, different religions and cultures are supported by the idea that all attributes of the Divine are within us as well as all around us. Even more important than the general concept is the fact that some religions and cultures have rituals that specifically focus on how we can bring awareness to these attributes and integrate them into our daily lives. One Wednesday (in part because I made a little, itsy-bitsy mistake in my planning), I decided to focus on the ways in which the Bahá’í Faith and Kabbalah (Jewish mysticism) highlight different aspects of the Divine on a daily basis.

As I previously mentioned, the Bahá’í calendar has 19 months with 19 days – each named for one of the 19 names/manifestations/attributes of God. There are 4 or 5 intercalary days that occur just before the final month and these days are considered “transcendent” in nature. (The days of the week also follow this nomenclature.) This calendar starts around the Vernal (Spring) Equinox in the Northern Hemisphere with the month of Bahá, which can be translated into English as “Splendor.” The festival of Ridván, one of the holiest times within the Bahá’í community, is celebrated exactly one Gregorian-month later during the month of Jalál (“Glory”). Additionally, one of the three most auspicious days of “The Most Great Festival” occurs on the ninth day of Ridván.

Remember that the festival of Ridván commemorates the twelve days that Bahá’u’lláh, the founder of the Bahá’í Faith, spent in the Najíbíyyih Garden just outside of Bagdad receiving guests before he was exiled to Constantinople. The ninth day of the festival is when Bahá’u’lláh’s family would have joined him in the garden and that day coincides with the beginning of the third month, Jamál (“Beauty”).

Similar to the way days are noted in Judaism and Islām, consider that the Bahá’í calendar days begin at sunset – which means that classes that start before sunset on Wednesday occur on ‘Idál (“Justice”) and classes that start after (or during) sunset occur during Istijlál (“Majesty”).

Splendor, glory, beauty, justice, and majesty also show up as manifestations of the Divine in Jewish mysticism. According to Kabbalah, the Tree of Life has ten sefirot (“eminations,” attributes, or manifestations) of the Divine. On the second night of Passover, some people within the Jewish community begin the ritual of Counting the Omer – which involves prayer and reflection around 7 of the 10 sefirot. People count every day for 7 weeks (for a total of 49 days) and each day and week is associated with a different aspect of the Divine – which means that on any given day people are focusing+concentrating+meditating on how two aspects of the Divine interact and manifest in their lives.

For instance, how do you get up and keep going after you fall down? How do you learn from your mistakes when others are praising you for a job well done? How do you keep learning and growing at (and from) any given moment?

“…a sense of endurance and persistence, while being grateful, being in the present moment, with a sense of humility…. Sometimes we need something to help us endure in the present moment and this is a position I’ve found that’s really helpful to embody that quality. Of how to just be with whatever’s going on….”

 

 

– quoted from “Day 32 of Moving with the Omer: Netzach She’b’Hod – Endurance within Presence” by Sandra Razieli*  

This year, my classes on Wednesday, April 28th, overlapped Day 31 and Day 32 – which both occur in the week devoted to the fifth sefirot: Hod. This fifth attribute can be defined as “humility,” “gratitude,” “splendor,” and “glory.” Before sunset on Wednesday (Day 31), the focus was Tiferet She’b’Hod – with Tiferet meaning “balance,” “compassion,” “beauty,” “harmony,” and “justice.” After sunset (Day 32), the focus was Netzach She’b’Hod – with Netzach meaning “endurance,” “sustainability,” “victory,” and “persistence.”

Similar to the way each of the seven major chakras (“wheels’) in yoga and Ayurveda are associated with different parts of the body, each of sefirah on the Tree of Life is associated with different parts of the body. For instance, Hod is related to the left hip and thigh; Tiferet is associated with the upper abdominal cavity (solar plexus) and torso; and Netzach is associated with the right hip in thigh. As teachers like Marcus J. Freed and Sandra Razieli point out, we can explore different aspects of Divine interaction (and interrelationship) by exploring the different ways parts of our bodies interact.

While I have, over the years, sprinkled a little bit of the above information into various classes, I rarely devote a whole class to these specific manifestations in these specific (ritual-related) ways. However, I made a mistake when I was getting ready for this week’s classes. It was a little mistake, inconsequential and barely worth mentioning – and one many people wouldn’t have noticed or minded. Still, it irked me that I started preparing to teach a class (theme-wise) that I had already taught on Wednesday.

The class would have been different, sequence wise (as they always are); however, I don’t ever unintentionally repeat a class-theme. As it happened, Wednesday this last week was a stacked day and I realized my calculation error just a couple of hours before the first of three classes. Inspired by Ms. Razieli (who often relates Hod to “presence”) and Mr. Freed (who connected Netzach to “flow”), I decided to focus on what was flowing through me and around me in that present moment: Splendor, glory, beauty, balance, compassion, harmony, justice, majesty, endurance, sustainability, persistence, grace, humility, and gratitude.

You know, all things Divine.

Netzach-Endurance is where the rubber meets the road. There are areas of our life where we give up too easily and allow things to be derailed whether these are our relationships, work projects, reative endeavors or life goals. It asks ‘where do I lose confidence and not follow through?’ We can think of Netzach as ‘flow.’ It is the Sefirah of action…. Is the part of the body that drives us forwards.”

 

 

– quoted from The Kabbalah Sutras: 49 Steps to Enlightenment by Marcus J. Freed

 

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

 

* NOTE: My dear friend and teacher Sandra Razieli is based in Hawai’i so (due to the time difference) her related movement and poses were not incorporated into this practice.

 

It Would Be Splendid and Beautiful (& I Would Be So Grateful) If You Could Kiss My Asana!!

The 8th Annual Kiss My Asana yogathon which benefits Mind Body Solutions is officially over – HOWEVER, you can still do yoga, share yoga, help others by donating. As my 2021 Kiss My Asana offering, I am posting extended versions of the four (4) steps of prāņāyāma that we have been practicing on Saturdays. Two versions of Step #1 (along with previous KMA videos) are already posted and you can do them and share them right now!

Founded by Matthew Sanford to help those who have experienced trauma, loss, and disability find new ways to live by integrating both mind and body. Known for their adaptive yoga classes, Mind Body Solutions provides “traditional yoga” classes, workshops, and outreach programs. They also train yoga teachers and offer highly specialized training for health care professionals. By participating in the Kiss My Asana yogathon you join a global movement, but in a personal way. In other words, you practice yoga… for 7 days. And you can start today!!

The yogathon raises resources and awareness. So, my goal this year is to post some extended prāņāyāma practices and to raise $400 for Mind Body Solutions. You can do yoga starting today. You can share yoga be inviting a friend to one of my classes or by forwarding one of the blog posts. You can help others by donating or, if you are not able to donate, come to class Saturday – Wednesday (or request a class you can do on your own) so that I can make a donation on your behalf.

You can add 5 minutes of yoga (or meditation) to your day; you can learn something new about your practice; or even teach a pose to someone close to you – or even to one of your Master Teachers/Precious Jewels. Maybe focus+concentrate+meditate on an aspect of the Divine.

 

 

### AUM ###

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