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But What About Earth…and Space (and Grace)? (the “missing” Saturday post) April 22, 2023

Posted by ajoyfulpractice in "Impossible" People, 7-Day Challenge, Baha'i, Books, Changing Perspectives, Donate, Faith, Fitness, Healing Stories, Health, Hope, Karma Yoga, Life, Minnesota, Music, One Hoop, Peace, Philosophy, Religion, Riḍván, Science, Twin Cities, Uncategorized, Volunteer, Wisdom, Yoga.
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“Happy Riḍván!” to those celebrating “the Most Great Festival.” Many blessings to anyone Counting the Omer or celebrating/observing Eastertide / the Octave of Easter!

This is a “missing” post for Saturday, April 22nd. It includes some recycled quotes and re-purposed information from earlier posts. Some embedded links will take you outside of the blog. 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).
This week you can also click here to Kiss My Asana Now! (Or, you can also click here to join my team and get people to kiss [your] asana!)
Donations are tax deductible; class purchases are not necessarily deductible.

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

“Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts. There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature — the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after winter.”

– quoted from Silent Spring by Rachel Carson (published 1962)

So, this week we considered the power found in waiting, waiting in community and also the power of water and light – which is akin to fire – (plus there were some references to wind). But what about Earth… and Space? And what does any of this have to do with grace, particularly shastra kripa (or, at least, one of the definitions of shastra kripa)? To get to all that we have to get grounded, dig deep, and take a little detour  through another celebration related to waiting and through a yogathon.

Notice, however, that all of the references below are centered and grounded in community.

“But it seems reasonable to believe — and I do believe — that the more clearly we can focus our attention on the wonders and realities of the universe about us the less taste we shall have for the destruction of our race. Wonder and humility are wholesome emotions, and they do not exist side by side with a lust for destruction.”

– Rachel Carson accepting the John Burroughs Medal (April 1952) and printed in Lost Woods: The Discovered Writing of Rachel Carson

In addition to being the beginning of the 10th annual Kiss My Asana yogathon, today was Earth Day. While the roots of Earth Day can be found in the 1962 publication of Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, an actual day dedicated to Earth and peace was initially proposed by John McConnell during a 1969 conferenced hosted by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). The very first Earth Day, as he proposed it, was held in San Francisco on March 21, 1970, to coincide with the first day of spring in the northern hemisphere. Gaylord Nelson, a United States Senator from Wisconsin, proposed a nationwide environmental teach-in and hired a young activist named Denis Hayes to organize the first national Earth Day, which was held on April 22, 1970. More than 20 million people, including then-President Richard Nixon and First Lady Pat Nixon, participated in the events on April 22, 1970, making that day one of the largest protests in the United States. (The 1970 Earth Day teach-in was the largest recorded protest until the 2020 protest after the murder of George Floyd.)

“In these troubled times it is a wholesome and necessary thing for us to turn again to the earth and in the contemplation of her beauties to know the sense of wonder and humility. There is modern truth to the ancient wisdom of the psalmist: `I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help.’”

– quoted from Rachel Carson’s original submission to “Words to Live By” for This Week Magazine (1951)

Click here to read my 2020 Earth Day post about healing.

“A determination to be outward looking in the process of community building had already become an established aspect of culture in many, many places; it has now blossomed, in a rising number of communities, into a sense of real responsibility for the spiritual and material progress of larger and larger groups within society, well beyond the membership of the Bahá’í community itself. The efforts of the friends to build communities, to engage in social action, and to contribute to the prevalent discourses of society have cohered into one global enterprise, bound together by a common framework for action, focused on helping humanity to establish its affairs on a foundation of spiritual principles.”

– quoted from the Riḍván 2022 message from the Universal House of Justice “To the Bahá’is of the World”

Thursday night marked the beginning of the twelve-day festival of Ridván, “the Most Great Festival” in the Baháʼí Faith.  As I mentioned last month, the Baháʼí Faith is a monotheistic faith that believes in the oneness of God and religion, as well as the oneness and nobility of humanity. The community believes that, historically, there has been a “progressive revelation of religious truth” which has been shared with the world through the voices of the prophets or Divine Messengers, known as “Manifestations of God” (which include “Braham, Krishna, Zoroaster, Moses, Buddha, Jesus Christ, Muhammad, and, in more recent times, the Báb and Bahá’u’lláh”). People within the faith are taught to honor the value of different religious and philosophical traditions as well as the value of education, especially in science (which is viewed by some faiths as being contrary to religion).

The Bahá’í calendar begins around the Vernal (Spring) Equinox in the Northern Hemisphere and has 19 months with 19 days – each named for one of the 19 names/manifestations/attributes of God. For example, “Splendor” and “Glory” are the English translations for Bahá and Jalál, the first two months (and days) of this solar calendar. There are also 4 or 5 intercalary days that occur just before the final month and which are considered “transcendent” in nature. The calendar is partially tied to the Gregorian calendar, in that days on each calendar always correspond with each other; however, the Bahá’í calendar is very much focused around its own historical liturgy. Hence, why 2023 is the year 180 BE (Bahá’í  Era).

The twelve-day festival of Ridván, one of the holiest times within the Bahá’í community, is celebrated during the second month and begins exactly one Gregorian-month after the new year. This “Most Great Festival” in the Baháʼí Faith honors the time that the founder of the Bahá’i Faith, Bahá’u’lláh waited in the original garden of Ridván prior to being exiled to Constantinople. The Arabic word ridván means “paradise” and I indicated “the original garden,” because in addition to the garden outside of Baghdad, where the great spiritual leader (considered a manifestation of the Divine) prepared for his exile, there is a second garden with the same name in Israel, which Bahá’u’lláh visited after years of exile.

The festival is a time of a sacred time of prayer, reflection, and celebration. This year’s celebrations began two hours before sunset on Thursday – with the specific timing meant to commemorate the actual time, in 1863, when Bahá’u’lláh entered the Najíbíyyih Garden with his three sons and his secretary and began to receive the visitors who wanted to wish him well before his departure. It was during this time, in the space he called “paradise,” that Bahá’u’lláh declared himself as the most recent manifestation of God; that all religious wars were repealed; that there would not be another manifestation of the God for another 1,000 years; and that the names of God (or attributes of the divine) are manifested in all things. To honor the fact that he made these announcements, the Universal House of Justice issues an annual Ridván message. They also hold elections held during this time. The first day (yesterday), the ninth day (next Saturday), and the twelfth day are considered the most holy of days. The ninth day is auspicious because it is the day the rest of Bahá’u’lláh’s family joined him in the garden and it is also the beginning of the third month, Jamál (“Beauty”).

“Besides my involvement with the Investor’s Circle, I temporarily put aside my plan for an institute and returned to the basics – an almost exclusive focus on my yoga practice. After a couple of years, I decided that it was time to share my experience with yoga and paralysis. If nothing else, I could help others who lived with disability. I started teaching an adapted yoga class at the Courage Center, a leading rehabilitation facility in a suburb of Minneapolis.

My idea was that by teaching this class, I could give something back – an obvious means to make my experience useful. What I found was much more. I thought I was teaching these students, when, in fact, they were teaching me. Neurological deficit is a frontier of mind-body integration. Working with these students has taught me that the principles of yoga are nondiscriminating – they can travel though any body.”

– quoted from “16, Falling Gracefully” in “Part Three: Yoga, Bodies, and Baby Boys” of Waking: A Memoir of Trauma and Transcendence by Matthew Sanford

As I have mentioned before, my first exposure to the physical practice of yoga was also my first exposure to Yoga Philosophy and to the fact that anyone and everyone can practice yoga. Sometimes we stumble upon the practice that works for us. However, sometimes it takes an extra effort to find the practice (and the teacher) that works for our particular mind-bod-spirit. In fact, it wasn’t until I took my first yoga teacher training that I really realized how many people weren’t practicing, because they didn’t know they could practice. Even worse, some people had been told that they couldn’t practice – which is heartbreaking.

Still, I believed (and continue to believe) in the transformative, healing, and joyful experience of yoga. I also still believe there is a practice for every mind/body/spirit – every veteran, every person with disability, every survivor of sexual assault and other trauma, every elderly person, every person living with chronic pain, every person with a terminal illness, and every caregiver. I am joyfully participating in the Kiss My Asana yogathon for the 10th year in a row, because Mind Body Solutions is helping people find their practice!

The Kiss My Asana yogathon is an annual event that raises awareness and resources for Mind Body Solutions and their life-affirming work to help people living with disabilities. Best known for their Adaptive Yoga Program, which provides adapted yoga opportunities for people around the globe, MBS currently provides live, online resources to people living with disabilities, worldwide. In addition to 11 live online yoga classes a week, MBS has also created a comprehensive library of recorded adaptive yoga classes for students, instructional videos for adaptive yoga teachers, and insightful interviews between the founding teacher, Matthew Sanford, and adaptive students. In the past, MBS has also offered training and workshops for yoga teachers, healthcare professionals, and caregivers (so they can share this work in their communities, too).

All of this helps people with disabilities live more fully, where they are and how they are. Ultimately, however, Mind Body Solutions is all about everyone having better relationships with their mind-body and spreading the message that a greater connection between mind and body can help us all live with improved comfort and ease. So, we can all benefit from the practice, because we all experience trauma, loss, and disability in some way shape or form.

The yogathon started as a month-long endeavor, but switched to a 7-day yogathon in 2020. This week (April 22nd – 28th) I’m planning to practice with purpose. I’m going to “Do Yoga. Share Yoga. Help Others.” – and you can join me! The practices I lead will be full of little bits of teaching/practice I’ve picked up from Matthew Sanford and other teachers and students at Mind Body Solutions. Plus, I’ll be posting on the community page on my YouTube channel.

If you’re interested in my previous KMA offerings, check out the following (some links only take you to the beginning of a series):

You can click here to Kiss My Asana Now! (Or, you can also click here to join my team and get people to kiss [your] asana!)

Saturday’s playlist is available on YouTube and Spotify[Look for “0422020 Earth Day”]

What’s this?

Have you subscribed to my YouTube page? It’s mostly playlists, plus a few mini-practices and videos from previous yogathons. Starting later tonight, I’m also going to be posting on my community page as part of my 2023 Kiss My Asana offering. So, check it out if you want to know more about the pose pictured above (and why we’re doing it).

Thanks to MW!



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