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Still (Not) Clowning Around (mostly the music and links) May 15, 2022

Posted by ajoyfulpractice in Art, Dharma, Donate, Healing Stories, Hope, Karma Yoga, Music, One Hoop, Volunteer.
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Be humble, loving, kind, and groovy.

“We’re kind of a family – a huge, expanded family. And we can do any number of things, because each one of us is going to do a different thing. But mostly we’re just going to try and be groovy, and (uh) spread that grooviness to everybody.”

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– Wavy Gravy being interviewed at the John F. Kennedy airport in August 1969 (about Hog Farm’s participation at the Woodstock Music and Art Fair)

Please join me for a 65-minute virtual yoga practice on Zoom today (Sunday, May 15th) at 2:30 PM. You can 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 (for a slightly faster reply) you can email me at myra (at) ajoyfulpractice.com.

Sunday’s is available on YouTube and Spotify. [Look for ”05152022 Still (Not) Clowning Around”]

NOTE: Due to artist protests, one song may not play on Spotify. As I support artists in their efforts to bring about change, I am not re-mixing affected playlists because of the protests. This particular remix was due to additional content.

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Click here to read last year’s 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.)

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### 🎶 ###

One More Kiss (My Asana)! April 30, 2022

Posted by ajoyfulpractice in 7-Day Challenge, Books, Changing Perspectives, Donate, Fitness, Gratitude, Healing Stories, Health, Hope, Karma Yoga, Life, Mantra, One Hoop, Pain, Science, Suffering, Tragedy, Volunteer, Wisdom, Yoga.
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Happy Riḍván!” to those celebrating the “the Most Great Festival.” “Ramadān Mubarak, Blessed Ramadān!” to anyone observing the holy month of Ramadān. Many blessings to all, and especially to those celebrating or observing Eastertide or Counting the Omer! 

The links in this particular post will take you outside of my blog. Quick Update: Thanks to all of you, I have helped raise 1% of the yogathon’s overall goal! If a few more people donate, I could double my personal goal and help raise 2% of the overall goal. Please consider donating today! Donations will be accepted until midnight on March 15, 2022.

Introducing…the top of the head (part of the seventh Chakra).

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I’m excited to once again participate in the Kiss My Asana yogathon, which is Mind Body Solutions‘ biggest fundraiser and a way to spread the message that a greater connection between mind and body can help all of us live with improved comfort and ease, no matter our condition, age, or ability.

I started Joyfully participating in the 2014 yogathon because I believe in the transformative, healing, and joyful experience of yoga. I also 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 Mind Body Solutions is helping people find their practice!

Mind Body Solutions’ mission and message reach all walks of life – people living with disabilities, terminal illness, chronic pain, trauma, and PTSD – to name a few. Best known for their Adaptive Yoga Program, which provides adapted yoga opportunities for people around the globe. MBS also offers training and workshops for yoga teachers, healthcare professionals, and caregivers (so they can share this work in their communities, too).

Each year, in addition to hosting a fundraising page and making my personal donation, I offer a blog post and/or a YouTube post – sometimes even a whole practice. This year, I am making videos highlighting different parts of our bodies and, in doing so, different parts of our lived experience. Many more connections exist than the ones I’m highlighting. So, keep in mind that these videos – like the classes I lead – are just the tip of the iceberg.

What happens at Mind Body Solutions is the whole enchilada!

If you have two more minutes to spare, I’d recommend you also check out the Mind Body Solutions video (below) so you can see exactly how your donation will help! Thank you for taking the time and for showing your support – and don’t forget to forward this to anyone who you think might want to donate or join!

Mind Body Solutions: Come Find Us

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Please Keep Kiss(ing) My Asana! April 29, 2022

Posted by ajoyfulpractice in 7-Day Challenge, Books, Changing Perspectives, Donate, Fitness, Gratitude, Healing Stories, Health, Hope, Karma Yoga, Life, Mantra, One Hoop, Pain, Science, Suffering, Tragedy, Volunteer, Wisdom, Yoga.
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Happy Riḍván!” to those celebrating the “the Most Great Festival.” “Ramadān Mubarak, Blessed Ramadān!” to anyone observing the holy month of Ramadān. Many blessings to all, and especially to those celebrating or observing Eastertide or Counting the Omer! 

The links in this particular post will take you outside of my blog. Quick Update: Thanks to all of you, I have helped raise 1% of the yogathon’s overall goal! If a few more people donate, I could double my personal goal and help raise 2% of the overall goal. Please consider donating today!

Introducing…the center eye (part of the sixth Chakra).

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I’m excited to once again participate in the Kiss My Asana yogathon, which is Mind Body Solutions‘ biggest fundraiser and a way to spread the message that a greater connection between mind and body can help all of us live with improved comfort and ease, no matter our condition, age, or ability.

I started Joyfully participating in the 2014 yogathon because I believe in the transformative, healing, and joyful experience of yoga. I also 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 Mind Body Solutions is helping people find their practice!

Mind Body Solutions’ mission and message reach all walks of life – people living with disabilities, terminal illness, chronic pain, trauma, and PTSD – to name a few. Best known for their Adaptive Yoga Program, which provides adapted yoga opportunities for people around the globe. MBS also offers training and workshops for yoga teachers, healthcare professionals, and caregivers (so they can share this work in their communities, too).

Each year, in addition to hosting a fundraising page and making my personal donation, I offer a blog post and/or a YouTube post – sometimes even a whole practice. This year, I am making videos highlighting different parts of our bodies and, in doing so, different parts of our lived experience. Many more connections exist than the ones I’m highlighting. So, keep in mind that these videos – like the classes I lead – are just the tip of the iceberg.

What happens at Mind Body Solutions is the whole enchilada!

If you have two more minutes to spare, I’d recommend you also check out the Mind Body Solutions video (below) so you can see exactly how your donation will help! Thank you for taking the time and for showing your support – and don’t forget to forward this to anyone who you think might want to donate or join!

Mind Body Solutions: Come Find Us

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### OM OM OM ###

Wow, Y’all Are Really Kiss(ing) My Asana! (And I’m So Grateful) April 28, 2022

Posted by ajoyfulpractice in 7-Day Challenge, Books, Changing Perspectives, Donate, Fitness, Gratitude, Healing Stories, Health, Hope, Karma Yoga, Life, Mantra, One Hoop, Pain, Science, Suffering, Tragedy, Volunteer, Wisdom, Yoga.
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Happy Riḍván!” to those celebrating the “the Most Great Festival.” “Ramadān Mubarak, Blessed Ramadān!” to anyone observing the holy month of Ramadān. Many blessings to all, and especially to those celebrating or observing Eastertide or Counting the Omer! 

The links in this particular post will take you outside of my blog. Please consider donating today!

Introducing…this space inside your throat (part of the fifth Chakra).

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I’m excited to once again participate in the Kiss My Asana yogathon, which is Mind Body Solutions‘ biggest fundraiser and a way to spread the message that a greater connection between mind and body can help all of us live with improved comfort and ease, no matter our condition, age, or ability.

I started Joyfully participating in the 2014 yogathon because I believe in the transformative, healing, and joyful experience of yoga. I also 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 Mind Body Solutions is helping people find their practice!

Mind Body Solutions’ mission and message reach all walks of life – people living with disabilities, terminal illness, chronic pain, trauma, and PTSD – to name a few. Best known for their Adaptive Yoga Program, which provides adapted yoga opportunities for people around the globe. MBS also offers training and workshops for yoga teachers, healthcare professionals, and caregivers (so they can share this work in their communities, too).

Each year, in addition to hosting a fundraising page and making my personal donation, I offer a blog post and/or a YouTube post – sometimes even a whole practice. This year, I am making videos highlighting different parts of our bodies and, in doing so, different parts of our lived experience. Many more connections exist than the ones I’m highlighting. So, keep in mind that these videos – like the classes I lead – are just the tip of the iceberg.

What happens at Mind Body Solutions is the whole enchilada!

If you have two more minutes to spare, I’d recommend you also check out the Mind Body Solutions video (below) so you can see exactly how your donation will help! Thank you for taking the time and for showing your support – and don’t forget to forward this to anyone who you think might want to donate or join!

Mind Body Solutions: Come Find Us

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### HAM HAM HAM ###

I Love It So Much When People Kiss My Asana! April 27, 2022

Posted by ajoyfulpractice in 7-Day Challenge, Books, Changing Perspectives, Donate, Fitness, Gratitude, Healing Stories, Health, Hope, Karma Yoga, Life, One Hoop, Pain, Science, Suffering, Tragedy, Volunteer, Wisdom, Yoga.
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Happy Riḍván!” to those celebrating the “the Most Great Festival.” “Ramadān Mubarak, Blessed Ramadān!” to anyone observing the holy month of Ramadān. Many blessings to all, and especially to those celebrating or observing Eastertide or Counting the Omer! 

The links in this particular post will take you outside of my blog. Please consider donating today!

Introducing…the literal space around the heart (part of the fourth Chakra).

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I’m excited to once again participate in the Kiss My Asana yogathon, which is Mind Body Solutions‘ biggest fundraiser and a way to spread the message that a greater connection between mind and body can help all of us live with improved comfort and ease, no matter our condition, age, or ability.

I started Joyfully participating in the 2014 yogathon because I believe in the transformative, healing, and joyful experience of yoga. I also 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 Mind Body Solutions is helping people find their practice!

Mind Body Solutions’ mission and message reach all walks of life – people living with disabilities, terminal illness, chronic pain, trauma, and PTSD – to name a few. Best known for their Adaptive Yoga Program, which provides adapted yoga opportunities for people around the globe. MBS also offers training and workshops for yoga teachers, healthcare professionals, and caregivers (so they can share this work in their communities, too).

Each year, in addition to hosting a fundraising page and making my personal donation, I offer a blog post and/or a YouTube post – sometimes even a whole practice. This year, I am making videos highlighting different parts of our bodies and, in doing so, different parts of our lived experience. Many more connections exist than the ones I’m highlighting. So, keep in mind that these videos – like the classes I lead – are just the tip of the iceberg.

What happens at Mind Body Solutions is the whole enchilada!

If you have two more minutes to spare, I’d recommend you also check out the Mind Body Solutions video (below) so you can see exactly how your donation will help! Thank you for taking the time and for showing your support – and don’t forget to forward this to anyone who you think might want to donate or join!

Mind Body Solutions: Come Find Us

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### YAM YAM YAM ###

It Would Mean A Lot If You Kiss(ed) My Asana! April 26, 2022

Posted by ajoyfulpractice in 7-Day Challenge, Books, Changing Perspectives, Donate, Fitness, Gratitude, Healing Stories, Health, Hope, Karma Yoga, Life, One Hoop, Pain, Science, Suffering, Tragedy, Volunteer, Wisdom, Yoga.
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“Happy Riḍván!” to those celebrating the “the Most Great Festival.” “Ramadān Mubarak, Blessed Ramadān!” to anyone observing the holy month of Ramadān. Many blessings to all, and especially to those celebrating or observing Eastertide or Counting the Omer! 

The links in this particular post will take you outside of my blog. Please consider donating today!

Introducing…the back of the belly (part of the third Chakra).

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I’m excited to once again participate in the Kiss My Asana yogathon, which is Mind Body Solutions‘ biggest fundraiser and a way to spread the message that a greater connection between mind and body can help all of us live with improved comfort and ease, no matter our condition, age, or ability.

I started Joyfully participating in the 2014 yogathon because I believe in the transformative, healing, and joyful experience of yoga. I also 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 Mind Body Solutions is helping people find their practice!

Mind Body Solutions’ mission and message reach all walks of life – people living with disabilities, terminal illness, chronic pain, trauma, and PTSD – to name a few. Best known for their Adaptive Yoga Program, which provides adapted yoga opportunities for people around the globe. MBS also offers training and workshops for yoga teachers, healthcare professionals, and caregivers (so they can share this work in their communities, too).

Each year, in addition to hosting a fundraising page and making my personal donation, I offer a blog post and/or a YouTube post – sometimes even a whole practice. This year, I am making videos highlighting different parts of our bodies and, in doing so, different parts of our lived experience. Many more connections exist than the ones I’m highlighting. So, keep in mind that these videos – like the classes I lead – are just the tip of the iceberg.

What happens at Mind Body Solutions is the whole enchilada!

If you have two more minutes to spare, I’d recommend you also check out the Mind Body Solutions video (below) so you can see exactly how your donation will help! Thank you for taking the time and for showing your support – and don’t forget to forward this to anyone who you think might want to donate or join!

Mind Body Solutions: Come Find Us

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### RAM RAM RAM ###

I Really Need You to (Please) Kiss My Asana! April 24, 2022

Posted by ajoyfulpractice in 7-Day Challenge, Books, Changing Perspectives, Donate, Fitness, Gratitude, Healing Stories, Health, Hope, Karma Yoga, Life, One Hoop, Pain, Science, Suffering, Tragedy, Volunteer, Wisdom, Yoga.
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“Happy Riḍván!” to those celebrating the “the Most Great Festival.” “Ramadān Mubarak, Blessed Ramadān!” to anyone observing the holy month of Ramadān. Many blessings to all, and especially to those celebrating or observing Orthodox Easter, the Second Sunday of Easter, and/or Counting the Omer! 

The links in this particular post will take you outside of my blog. Please consider donating today!

Next up, the hips (part of the second Chakra).

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I’m excited to once again participate in the Kiss My Asana yogathon, which is Mind Body Solutions‘ biggest fundraiser and a way to spread the message that a greater connection between mind and body can help all of us live with improved comfort and ease, no matter our condition, age, or ability.

I started Joyfully participating in the 2014 yogathon because I believe in the transformative, healing, and joyful experience of yoga. I also 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 Mind Body Solutions is helping people find their practice!

Mind Body Solutions’ mission and message reach all walks of life – people living with disabilities, terminal illness, chronic pain, trauma, and PTSD – to name a few. Best known for their Adaptive Yoga Program, which provides adapted yoga opportunities for people around the globe. MBS also offers training and workshops for yoga teachers, healthcare professionals, and caregivers (so they can share this work in their communities, too).

Each year, in addition to hosting a fundraising page and making my personal donation, I offer a blog post and/or a YouTube post – sometimes even a whole practice. This year, I am making videos highlighting different parts of our bodies and, in doing so, different parts of our lived experience. Many more connections exist than the ones I’m highlighting. So, keep in mind that these videos – like the classes I lead – are just the tip of the iceberg.

What happens at Mind Body Solutions is the whole enchilada!

If you have two more minutes to spare, I’d recommend you also check out the Mind Body Solutions video (below) so you can see exactly how your donation will help! Thank you for taking the time and for showing your support – and don’t forget to forward this to anyone who you think might want to donate or join!

Mind Body Solutions: Come Find Us

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### VAM VAM VAM ###

It’s Time to Kiss My Asana, again! April 23, 2022

Posted by ajoyfulpractice in 7-Day Challenge, Books, Changing Perspectives, Donate, Fitness, Gratitude, Healing Stories, Health, Hope, Karma Yoga, Life, One Hoop, Pain, Science, Suffering, Tragedy, Volunteer, Wisdom, Yoga.
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“Chag Sameach!” “Happy Festival!” to anyone celebrating Passover. “Ramadān Mubarak, Blessed Ramadān!” to anyone who was observing the holy month of Ramadān. Many blessings to all, and especially to those celebrating or observing Lazarus Saturday, Easter Week, Counting the Omer, and/or Riḍván! 

The links in this particular post will take you outside of my blog. Please consider donating today!

I’m excited to once again participate in the Kiss My Asana yogathon, which is Mind Body Solutions‘ biggest fundraiser and a way to spread the message that a greater connection between mind and body can help all of us live with improved comfort and ease, no matter our condition, age, or ability.

I started Joyfully participating in the 2014 yogathon because I believe in the transformative, healing, and joyful experience of yoga. I also 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 Mind Body Solutions is helping people find their practice!

Mind Body Solutions’ mission and message reach all walks of life – people living with disabilities, terminal illness, chronic pain, trauma, and PTSD – to name a few. Best known for their Adaptive Yoga Program, which provides adapted yoga opportunities for people around the globe. MBS also offers training and workshops for yoga teachers, healthcare professionals, and caregivers (so they can share this work in their communities, too).

Each year, in addition to hosting a fundraising page and making my personal donation, I offer a blog post and/or a YouTube post – sometimes even a whole practice. This year, I am making videos highlighting different parts of our bodies and, in doing so, different parts of our lived experience. Many more connections exist than the ones I’m highlighting. So, keep in mind that these videos – like the classes I lead – are just the tip of the iceberg.

What happens at Mind Body Solutions is the whole enchilada!

First up, the feet (part of the first Chakra).

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If you have two minutes to spare, I’d recommend you also check out the Mind Body Solutions video (below) so you can see exactly how your donation will help! Thank you for taking the time and for showing your support – and don’t forget to forward this to anyone who you think might want to donate or join!

Mind Body Solutions: Come Find Us

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### LAM LAM LAM ###

Light in the Darkness (a Monday post practice post) December 14, 2021

Posted by ajoyfulpractice in "Impossible" People, Baha'i, Bhakti, Buddhism, Changing Perspectives, Chanukah, Dharma, Faith, Food, Gratitude, Healing Stories, Health, Hope, Karma, Life, Loss, Mathematics, Meditation, Music, Mysticism, One Hoop, Pain, Peace, Philosophy, Ramadan, Religion, Rosh Hashanah, Science, Suffering, Surya Namaskar, Tragedy, Twin Cities, Volunteer, Wisdom, Women, Yoga.
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Happy Holidays!

This post practice post for Monday, December 13th. You can request an audio recording of Monday’s 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.]

“He who fights with monsters should look to it that he himself does not become a monster. And if you gaze long into an abyss, the abyss also gazes into you.”

 

– #146 quoted from “CHAPTER IV. APOPHTHEISMS AND INTERLUDES” of Beyond Good and Evil: Prelude to a Philosophy of the Future by Friedrich Nietzsche (b. 10/15/1844)

For many years, when it was time to set our personal intentions during the practice, I would reference something/someone related to the practice and/or something/someone related to current events. It didn’t matter if it was a local tragedy or something unfathomable on the other side of the planet; it made sense to me to offer a little kindness and compassion. Be it a man made or a natural disaster, it made sense to remember that no matter what I or the people around me were experiencing somewhere in there world there was someone who could benefit from our positive energy.

For a moment, we formed a cosmic “prayer circle” and many of you told me that that practice resonated with you. Some of you would even come up to me afterwards and say that you too had been thinking about the plight of someone that normally wouldn’t have crossed your mind. It wasn’t an excuse not to reach out a helping hand when we could. In fact, it was sometimes the opposite. It was a good reminder of hope and charity and, also, that we are all part of something more: a larger community than the one right in front of our noses.

But then the pandemic hit – and it didn’t make sense to offer our energy, condolences, thoughts, and prayers in the same way. It didn’t seem fair for me to highlight one person or one group of people when we were all directly affected. Sure, some people were still more affected than others. But who was I to say “look over here, look over there” when we were all suffering?

So, perhaps over the last 21 months the offering, the dedication, has felt a little more personal. Perhaps it was less of a reminder that we were all in this together, and more of a reminder that, as First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt said, “We have to face the fact that either all of us are going to die together or we are going to learn to live together and if we are to live together we have to talk.” Maybe you had to remind yourself to be more intentional about your energy. 

Either way, it was still an opportunity to extend a little bit of our hope, love, kindness, compassion, hope, and joy into the world. It was still a much needed moment… a moment to metaphorically stare into the light. Because Friedrich Nietzsche’s words are no less true when we flip them around. In fact, flipping them around highlights two parts of the yoga practice, as outlined by Patanjali: turning inward to study yourself and to focus on your own light.

Yoga Sūtra 2.44: svādhyāyādişţadevatāsamprayogah

 

– “From self-study comes the opportunity to be in the company of bright beings [of our choice].”

The following is an expanded version of a portion of a post related to the practice on December 13, 2020. Some class details and references have been updated.

Yoga Sutra 1.36: viśokā vā jyotişmatī

 

– “Or [fixing the mind] on the inner state free of sorrow and infused with light, anchors the mind in stability and tranquility.”

How does one keep the faith? This is a question we can ask at any time, but it becomes a particularly significant question when we are faced with doubt or fear. Or darkness. We all have moments of doubt, of fear, of darkness. Those moments can come from the inside and also from the outside, from things that are going on all around us. Those are the times, I think, when it is good to remember the words of Yoga Sūtra 1:36 which instructs us to focus on our inner light. However, even if you are not familiar with this thread, every culture and every spiritual (and religious) tradition has a story that serves as a similar reminder – and, during the darkest times of the year – people in the Northern Hemisphere bring out these stories, re-tell them, and celebrate them.

There are some aspects of light celebration in Samhain, the pagan holiday marking summer’s end. But, in truth, this year’s celebrations of light started with Diwali, the 5-day Indian festival of lights. Next up was Chanukah, which starts at sunset each year on the 25th of Kislev. Last year (in 20210), the 8-day festival of light in the Jewish tradition overlapped the (Western Christian) Feast Day of Saint Lucia (also known as Saint Lucy’s Day) on December 13th – and I noted that we were getting double the light. Of course, that might have implied that this year we would have less light.

But that’s not really how light works – and that’s not really how light celebrations work. If anything, this year’s celebration of Saint Lucy was an opportunity to highlight one person’s contribution during a challenging time, a dark period in history (if you will).

“And God said, ‘Light will be,’ and light was.”

 

– Transliteration of the Hebrew from Bereishit – Genesis (1:3), most commonly translated as “And God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light.”

 

Saint Lucy’s Day is also a day centered around faith, persecution, and the miracles that come from someone doing what they can in the midst of so much “can’t.” It is mostly celebrated in Scandinavian countries and Italy, as well as places like the Twin Cities where there is a large Scandinavian population, as well as a strong Catholic, Lutheran, and/or Anglican presence. Prior to calendar reformation, it was celebrated on the shortest day of the year – meaning, the day surrounded by the most darkness.

The day honors a 4th century virgin-martyr who would bring food and drink to Christians hiding from religious persecution. Lucy herself was persecuted, and that part of the story is a little gory – although, notably, full of miracles. She is often depicted wearing a white robe or dress with a red sash, both the colors of which are symbols of her purity, piety, and her martyrdom. Being chosen to wear her symbols and to represent Saint Lucy or her court (including the “star boys”) is an honor not because of what was done to her, but because of her faith led her to alleviate the suffering of others.

“The world that we live in, so much cold and strife
One little light to warm another life
Fill the darkest night with the brightest light
Cause it’s time for you to shine
A little dedication, a small illumination
Just one person to change a whole nation
Let me see the light”

 

– quoted from “Shine” by the Maccabeats

In 4th century Syracuse (Roman Empire), the best places to hide were in the Roman catacombs, the very epitome of darkness on every level. So that her hands were free to carry the food and drink, Lucy (whose Latin name, Lucia, shares a root with the Latin word for “light”) would wear a wreath of candles around her head. Being the source of her own light, while carrying a feast, required her to stand and move very carefully, very deliberately, and very intentionally – almost as if she was in Tādāsana (“Mountain Pose”).

When we practice āsanas (“seats” or poses), a significant amount of energy and awareness goes into how we sit (or stand). This deliberation and intention allows us to pay attention to our breath (which is a symbol of our spirit and life force) and also to extend and direct our breath (and therefore our spirit and life force). In a sense, we are careful about how we stand specifically so that we can be intentional about how we use our energy. Another way to think of this is that how we move and hold our body, as well as how we breathe and pay attention to our breath, allows us to very intentionally, deliberately, and mindfully start to focus on our inner light. When we focus-concentrate-meditate on our inner light, it appears to get brighter. In fact, over time, our inner light begins to shine out into the world – but, first we have to be able to see it.

“What’s the reason we’re alive
The reason we’re alive

Bound to stumble and fall
But my strength comes not from man at all
Bound to stumble and fall
But my strength comes not from man at all

Do you believe in miracles
Am I hearin’ you? Am I seein’ you?
Eight nights, eight lights and these rites keep me right
Bless me to the highest heights with your miracle

Eight is the number of infinity
One more than what you know how to be”

 

– quoted from the song “Miracle” by Matisyahu

While I realize that posting two days in a row about the divine symbolism of numbers may lead to certain conclusions, let me be clear on two points. First, I like numbers and appreciate the science of equations (maybe as much or more than the average person), but I can’t really call myself a mathematician. Likewise, even though I often encounter numerical symbolism when I study religion and philosophy, I can’t say that I know very much about numerology or arithmomancy (also called arithmancy). All that said, when I keep hearing about certain things I perk up and pay attention. So, I’ve started getting curious about the number 9.

I was born on the 9th of a month, as were some of my favorite people; but I’ve also had a love-hate relationship with the number. It’s not 7; which has a lot of personal significance for me, is sometimes considered a symbol of humans, and is related to a lot of aspects of (and stories within) the Abrahamic religions as well as several energetic and/or spiritual systems.

It’s not eight, which is associated with infinity.

It’s not a 10.

It’s 9. 

Sure, it’s the highest single digit natural, or cardinal, number. It also pops up a lot in relation to harshad (“joy bringer”) numbers like 18, 27, and 108. Of course, I remember that the holy month of Ramaḍān is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar. But I missed (or forgot) the fact that the Baháʼí Faith considers it a symbol of completion – so much so that it is incorporated into the faith’s name and sacred buildings. Similar reverence in relation to completion is found in Hinduism. In fact, four times a year there are periods of nine nights (and 10 days) that are devoted to Durga, the mother goddess, with each night dedicated to various manifestations of God as mother.

Sure, somewhere in the back of my brain, I knew that the Buddha had nine virtues; that (in Christianity) there are nine Fruits of the Holy Spirit and nine “Choirs of Angels” (divided into three spheres of three); and that the Enneagram is a nine-pointed system. But I had forgotten, or not given much thought, to how the number nine pops up in prayer.

I hadn’t given much thought to the fact that one of the prayers offered during some Jewish services actually comes with extra blessings on Rosh Hashanah – bringing the total blessings to nine. Neither had I contemplated the numerical significance of “the nine days” (Tisha HaYamim) of mourning preceding Tish’a B’Av, the ninth day of the month of Av (the eleventh on the Hebrew calendar) and how that date marks the anniversary of the destruction of the First and Second Temples in Jerusalem (in 423 BCE and 70 CE, respectively). And, honestly, I didn’t know that other significant historical events and tragedies in Jewish history happened on that date – the ninth day of the eleventh month, which is eerily reflective of the tragedies and historical events associated with Schicksalstag (the ninth day of the eleventh month on the Gregorian calendar).

There’s more… a lot more that I didn’t know. However, here’s a little more that I knew, but hadn’t really thought about: A novena is a nine-day (or nine-week) period of prayer within some Christian traditions.

The word “novena” is used to describe the period, the practice, and the prayer(s). It comes from the Latin novem, meaning “nine,” and it is a period meant to parallel the time described in The Acts of the Apostles (1:13-14, NIV) when the twelve Apostles “all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers.” They did this, per Jesus’s instructions (and with a little guidance from some “angels”) in preparation of receiving gifts (or powers) from the Holy Spirit. Of course, as indicated above, the practice of praying (and even fasting) for nine days predates Christianity – some historians even track to the practice back to the Roman Empire (again, as it relates to mourning).

In a modern context, novenas are often used to request a Divine gift or as part of a larger ritual. They are often associated with Marian Feast Days – sometimes being recited in anticipation of a feast day and sometimes starting on the feast day. For example, some people started a novena on November 29th and completed it on December 8th. Others, started praying (a different novena, see below) on December 13th.

Western science has shown that there is power in prayer and meditation. Said power is also magnified when people gather together (even virtually) and/or engage in prayer and meditation at the same time. So, while you could pray a novena at any time (and it is believed that there is power in that practice), there is more power at certain times. That extra power comes from an exponential increase in energy going towards light (instead of darkness) when we all focus, concentrate, meditate together.

Kind of like when set our personal intentions and dedications towards the beginning of our āsana practice.

“O St Lucy, preserve the light of my eyes so that I may see the beauties of creation, the glow of the sun, the colour of the flowers and the smile of children.

 

Preserve also the eyes of my soul, the faith, through which I can know my God, understand His teachings, recognize His love for me and never miss the road that leads me to where you, St Lucy, can be found in the company of the angels and saints.”

 

– quoted from A Novena Prayer to St Lucy, Protector of the Eyes

 

There is no playlist for the Common Ground Meditation Center practice.

 

“‘Remember, dear friend, that I am subtly inherent in everything, everything in the universe! I am the all-illuminating light of the sun, the light in the moon, the brilliance in the fire – all light is Mine. I am even the consciousness of light, and indeed, I am the consciousness of the entire cosmos.’”

 

– The Bhagavad Gita: A Walkthrough for Westerners (15:12) by Jack Hawley

 

MARK YOUR CALENDARS! I will once again offer two New Year’s Day practices on January 1st (2022). You can start the New Year with 108 Sun Salutations at 10:00 AM or a Yin+Meditation practice beginning at 5:00 PM. There will also be a reflective “First Friday Night Special” on January 7th. All times are Central Standard. Log-in details will be updated on the “Class Schedules” calendar

 

### Keep Shining! ### 

From Where Does Your Light Come? (the “missing” Sunday post) December 7, 2021

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Happy Holidays, Everyone!

This is the “missing” post for Sunday, December 5th. You can request an audio recording of either 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.)

“You are so young, so much before all beginning, and I would like to beg you, dear Sir, as well as I can, to have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don’t search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.”

 

– quoted from Letter #4 (dated July 16, 1903) addressed to 19-year old officer cadet Franz Xaver Kappus, published in Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke

During the December “First Friday Night Special,” I mentioned that the light-related questions during this year’s Chanukah classes were prompts to get us thinking about our “field of possibilities” and then, on Saturday and Sunday, I revealed that the questions were partially inspired by Ranier Maria Rilke’s advice to the young office cadet and poet Franz Xaver Kappus. If you’ve followed along with the questions, it would be natural to expect that one of the questions would be, “Do you believe in miracles?” It’s an obvious connection when the connected to something like the Chanukah – which, according to the story is all about miracles.

There’s just one problem. Your answer, regardless of what it is, begs another question: “Why?” 

Why? Why? Why?

I could be like a three-year old, because all of your answers could lead to another question (albeit the same question), which all comes down to what you believe. The Chanukah story is full of a series of events that could be described or explained as miracles, serendipity, coincidences, and/or really good plot points. For those who believe in Abraham’s God, it doesn’t matter what you call the events, because “with God all things are possible.” [Matthew 19:26] For those who do not believe in God, well, anything is possible…but there’s probably a reasonable (and scientific) explanation. Either way, what you believe determines the probability of certain possibilities.

To be clear, this is not just about what you believe about miracles. This is also about what you believe about your light. Or, a better way to put it is that this is all about what you believe about yourself. Me asking you about the source of your light is really me asking about the source of your life. And what you believe matters, because what you believe bridges the gap between what you think about doing, achieving, and experience and what you actually do, achieve, and experience.

“What’s the reason we’re alive
The reason we’re alive

 

Bound to stumble and fall
But my strength comes not from man at all
Bound to stumble and fall
But my strength comes not from man at all

 

Do you believe in miracles
Am I hearin’ you? Am I seein’ you?
Eight nights, eight lights and these rites keep me right
Bless me to the highest heights with your miracle

 

Eight is the number of infinity
One more than what you know how to be”

 

– quoted from the song “Miracle” by Matisyahu

There’s a moment that happens again and again in professional sports and sometimes in the performing arts. Sometimes it even happens when someone is walking across a stage after receiving their diploma. It’s a moment that happens when someone is doing their job – but it’s their dream job, one that many aspire but few achieve – and everybody’s watching. They’ve made mistakes, but they got up, brushed themselves off, and endeavored to win the game and/or take the audience’s breath away. Then they do! they succeed! And when they do, when they score – especially in a phenomenal way – or they receive a standing ovation, we witness a moment of faith. They’ll point a finger to the heavens or make some other gesture that signifies what they believe.

Whether it is a finger to the sky or prayer hands to the sky, it’s a moment that indicates an individual believes that the source of their life (and their light) is God. We may not witness that exact moment in other arenas, like when someone finishes a big project or lands a plum assignment. There may not be witnesses when a student aces a test or a parent gets their toddler to stop climbing out of bed in the middle of the night, but there may be a similar feeling. It’s that same surge of emotion that makes us do the happy dance (even if it’s just on the inside). It’s a combination of success and a feeling of gratitude. 

Of course, part of what I’m describing is a dopamine rush. It’s a feeling of greatness and it’s a heady sensation that we humans crave and chase. Here’s the thing, though: We can get that surge of feel-good brain chemicals without doing something at which we might fail. We can get it without taking any risk at all. In fact, to a certain degree, we can get if from watching other people take risks and win. We can get it from being part of a team… even if we’re the 12th man or 12th player.

So, why do some people take the risk? Why do some people do the things at which they might fail? Why do some people show up and shine (or show up and suck until they shine)? Why do some people give it all they’ve got, while others (just) watch?

It all comes back to what some one believes. Which brings us back to the Chanukah story.

Had some Jewish people not truly believed in the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob it’s possible that they would have started assimilating under Alexander the Great. Had Matīṯyāhū, his sons, and the people that followed them not believed it’s probable that they would have become Hellenic Jews under King Antiochus. Had they not studied Torah or believed in the laws and commandments of God, it is possible that Matīṯyāhū would have broken the commandments and sacrificed to the idol – or maybe he would have just allowed the Hellenic Jew to do so in his stead.

Had the Maccabees not believed their history, their fate, and their destiny, perhaps they would have stayed in the wilderness and not taken on the mighty Greek army. Perhaps there would have been no battle cry. Maybe they would have fought and failed. Then, too, there’s always the possibility that they fought and won – despite the odds – and found that single vial of oil, but never considered using it because it wasn’t enough. Then, too, all these centuries later, if people didn’t believe we wouldn’t still be lighting the candles and telling an “impossible” story.

Take a moment, as we did on Sunday, and practice a little svādyāya (“self-study”). Put yourself in the shoes of the Maccabees. Consider how you might have felt and what you might have done given your current beliefs. How might the story be different simply because your beliefs might be different? Now, consider this week’s questions (see below) in that light. Consider how what is in your heart and mind determines your words, actions, and deeds.

“The Maccabees no doubt knew their options, yet decided to light the menorah in the most preferred way. This was done despite the fact that it entailed exhausting their entire supply of pure olive oil on the first day, leaving them with the probability of not being able to maintain the highest standard they so aspired to reach. But they decided to do their maximum with the resources they had, and let the Almighty take care of the rest.

 

There is a deep message here for us today. How many worthwhile endeavors are cast along the wayside because we are not guaranteed total success? Yet the result of inaction due to fear of failure, is failure by default. We can learn from the Maccabees that when there is a worthwhile goal to achieve, one should let go of immobilizing perfectionism, and instead capitalize on existing assets and do ones utmost under the circumstances.”

 

– quoted from the article “Give It All You’ve Got: The Maccabees taught us that immobilizing perfectionism leaves no room for God.” by Aliza Kramer (posted at Aish.com Dec 12, 2006)

Today’s playlist is is available on YouTube and Spotify. [“Look for “Chanukah (Day 7-8) 2021”]

NOTE: All of the YouTube playlists (for Chanukah) contain extra videos after the practice music.

1. Monday: When do you shine the brightest? 

2. Tuesday: Why so much focus on light?

3. Wednesday: How do you shine (brighter)?

4. Friday: What’s at the edge of your light?

5. Saturday: How do you know brilliance? (this link will be updated)

6. Sunday: From where does your light come?

7. Monday: When do you feel free?

 

“Even if you’re down there for one hour, man, you’re down there.”

– “Tommy” (Kirk Acevedo) to “Vince” (Mark Wahlberg) in the movie Invincible

In 1985, the United Nations General Assembly designated December 5th is International Volunteer Day. The 2021 theme was “Volunteer Now For Our Common Future. The Chanukah story is about people showing up and shining in a way that changed the future of their people. Remember: You too can make a difference!

### “Let me see [your] light / Give me something to live by” ~ Maccabeats  ###