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Getting Things Moving on Day 12 (the “missing” Tuesday post) February 24, 2021

Posted by ajoyfulpractice in Books, Changing Perspectives, Food, Health, Hope, Lent, Mirabai Starr, Mysticism, New Year, One Hoop, Philosophy, Religion, Science, Vairagya, Wisdom, Writing, Yin Yoga, Yoga.
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Happy New Year! Many blessings to those observing Lent!

[This is the post for Tuesday, February 23rd. You can request an audio recording of Tuesday’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.]


“Some could think that if turning back is so bad it would be better never to begin but to remain outside the castle. I have already told you at the beginning – and the Lord Himself tells you – that anyone who walks in danger perishes in it and that the door of entry to this castle is prayer. Well now, it is foolish to think that we will enter heaven without entering into ourselves, coming to know ourselves, reflecting on our misery and what we owe God, and Him often for mercy.”


– quoted from “The Second Dwelling Places” of The Interior Castle by Saint Teresa of Ávila (Translation by Kieran Kavanaugh, O. C. D. and Otilio Rodriguez, O. C. D.)


If you spend any amount of time with me – on or off the mat, even on or off the blog page – I think it becomes very clear that I am fascinated by human commonalities. I love the way different cultures and different people’s ways of being in the world overlap. Anthropologically speaking, I am fascinated by the things that (I think) come from being human: like the desire for a deeper connection with more than ourselves. It is interesting to note that when it comes to existential questions – that is to say, questions related to our existence – philosophies and religions (even the physical sciences) end up down the same rabbit holes, racing or strolling down the same paths… just sometimes coming at the path from different directions.

It’s kind of like when you walk through a labyrinth with other people, as many of us did on retreat in Minnetonka a little over 4 years ago. In some ways, everyone was on the same path; but, because we were on different parts of the path – walking in different directions, entering and leaving at different times – one’s perspective could easily be that we were on vastly different paths. Also, the perspective was different when you were on the inside versus the outside and/or when you were looking at the practice before you walked the labyrinth versus after you walked it. Then there was the fact that we all came to the retreat and came to the practice from different places and came with different experiences so that our understanding and processing of the shared experience was, in some ways, different. And yet the same.

And yet the same. Because if we learn nothing else from the ancient yogis and mystics from various traditions around the world, it is this: that the deeper you go inside of yourself, the more parallel your journey and experience is to someone else. This is why Joseph Campbell could codify a cycle/journey after studying a hero with a thousand faces. It is why so many philosophical, spiritual, and religious paths have similar elements – and why those paths work after hundreds and thousands of years.

“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 (New Translation and Introduction by Mirabai Starr)

We all know that if we eat something or drink something, we are going to have to digest that something. We may not understand how physical mechanics, but at an early age we start learning that the body processes what we consume. It absorbs the nutrients it needs and discards the waste/toxins; and when the body doesn’t absorb what it needs and/or doesn’t get rid of the waste/toxins in an efficient manner, we experience physical pain, discomfort, and disease. We know this about what we eat and drink – and, when we think about it, we recognize that this is also true about what we inhale and/or absorb through the skin/tissues.

What we may not always realize is that we are continuously consuming things that we don’t eat, drink, inhale, or absorb through the skin/tissues. The principle of consumption, digestion, absorption, and elimination also applies to things we consume with our minds. In other words, everything we experience (i.e., everything we see, hear, say, think, and do) is something we are consuming and therefore something that must be processed and digested so that we can absorb what we need – what serves us – and eliminate the waste/toxins (that no longer serves us). When we fail to appropriately process what we consume mentally, emotionally, energetically, and spiritually, we can experience (physical) pain and (mental/emotional) suffering – which can be just as excruciating as when we are physically constipated or otherwise debilitated by the things we consume.

The mind-body is designed to find balance. It is designed to convert food into energy and even to store the fuel for those times when we are depleted. It is designed to eliminate toxins and anything that could cease our existence. While the mind-body does so much of what it does to keep us moving without any involvement or conscious thought on our part, there are ways in which we can assist the processes. One way we can assist these processes is to be mindful of what we consume. Of course, since we can’t always control every little thing that we consume, it’s important to keep three key elements in mind: water, rest, and movement.

“Rest and digest,” as well as create, are associated with the parasympathetic nervous system, which is often referred to as the mind-body’s brakes. Of course, the only reason a system needs brakes is if it is in motion (or could be in motion). One of the many reasons movement is important is because the engagement of our muscles serves as the pump for the lymphatic system – which provides nutrients for healthy cells and brushes or washes away dead cells. A combination of tissues, vessels, and organs, the lymphatic system is a crucial part of our immune system – and on the first line of defense against disease.

So, it makes sense that after 11 days of celebrations that involve rich, heavy food and drink, people who celebrate the 15-day Spring Festival as part of the Lunar New Year celebrations need a break before the Lantern Festival that concludes the celebrations. Day 12 is that day of cleansing and resting – and also for getting ready for what’s to come. Under “normal” (i.e., not pandemic) circumstances, most businesses have opened back up and people are back at work. There will still be prayers, offerings, and a remembrance of elders. There might even still be some leftovers. However, for the most part, this is a day when people rest, relax, eat light… and process/digest all that’s happened before.

“… and our body has this defect that, the more it is provided care and comforts, the more needs and desires it finds.”


– quoted from “Chapter X” of The Way of Perfection by Saint Teresa of Ávila

Throughout our physical practice of yoga, we either break up the movement with stillness and quiet (as we do in vinyāsa) or break up the stillness and quiet with movement (as we do with Yin Yoga) – and, even though that looks and feels very different, the path is still about processing, digesting, absorbing, and eliminating what has been consumed. This applies to what has been consumed physically, as well as mentally, emotionally, energetically, and spiritually. While any movement can help someone process what they have consumed, the physical practices of yoga can allow us to be very deliberate and very intentional in the way that assist the digestion process. Again, when I say “digestion” here, I mean the processing of what has been consumed by all the aforementioned methods.

From the outside looking in, the way we move through our vinyāsa practice can seem mysterious, odd, or even magical. However, the deeper we go into the practice (and into ourselves) the more we recognize that there is a science and a system to the movement. We move in a way that exaggerates the mind-body’s natural tendencies while, at the same time, moving through the mind-body-spirit’s symbolic manifestation of our biography. Thus, the poses and the sequences are very intentional on a physical-mental level, as well as a psychic-symbolic level, and an emotional-energetic level. Each practice is, in some ways, intended as a non-alcoholic apértif and digestif; simultaneously something to increase your appetite (for life) and to help you digest what you’ve consumed.

“Before fully uniting himself with her, he fills her with burning desire for him. He does this in such a delicate way that the soul doesn’t understand where her longing comes from, nor could I successfully explain it except to those who already know from experience what I’m saying. These impulses rise from so deep inside that the soul and are so subtle and refined that I can’t find a fitting metaphor to describe them.


This experience is far different from anything we can taste in the world. It is even different from the spiritual delights we have talked about so far.”


– quoted from “The Sixth Dwelling .2.” of The Interior Castle by Saint Teresa of Ávila (New Translation and Introduction by Mirabai Starr)


Tuesdays playlist is available on YouTube and Spotify. [Look for “March 28th Dogs & Castles 2020”]


DON’T FORGET! The next “First Friday Night Special” is March the 5th – at which time, I will encourage you to “give something up” / “let someone go.” Time and additional details are posted on the “class schedules” calendar!




2016 Kiss My Asana #24: Guiding and Pulling (In) the Light February 26, 2016

Posted by ajoyfulpractice in Bhakti, Books, California, Changing Perspectives, Confessions, Daoism, Depression, Dharma, Donate, Faith, Fitness, Food, Gratitude, Healing Stories, Health, Hope, Karma, Karma Yoga, Kirtan, Kundalini, Life, Loss, Mantra, Minneapolis, Minnesota, Mirabai Starr, Music, Mysticism, Oliver Sacks, One Hoop, Peace, Philosophy, Qigong, Religion, Science, Suffering, Tai Chi, Tantra, Taoism, TV, Twin Cities, Volunteer, Wisdom, Women, Writing, Yoga.
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“Music can lift us out of depression or move us to tears – it is a remedy, a tonic, orange juice for the ear.”

– Excerpt from Musicophilia by Oliver Sacks


“When you squeeze an orange, orange juice comes out – because that’s what’s inside. When you are squeezed, what comes out is what’s inside.”

Wayne Dyer

Yogi #24 (Marilyn) gave me some amazingly delicious oranges once. She told me a little of their back story – they had been given to her by a friend who, if I remember correctly, has a grove in California. Eating the oranges gave me great joy (as she intended) and thinking of their back story filled me with awe and gratitude – but it also made me realize that, in reality, I knew very little of their back story.

How many people were responsible for the planting, the nurturing, the harvesting, and the transporting? How were their lives affected by the oranges? Who even had the idea to start all these endeavors? There was just no way to know. In the end, I could only be grateful.

“Gratitude is our ability to see the grace of God, morning by morning, no matter what else greets us in the course of the day. That has the effect of making us gracious as well.”

– Excerpt from Hustling God: Why We Work So Hard for What God Wants to Give Us by M. Craig Barnes

Marilyn herself is a lot like those oranges: Bright sunshine on a cold January day and present after long journeys, she is delightful, joyful, and fills me with awe and gratitude – yet I only know bits and pieces of her back story. I know she teaches; I know she heals; I know she loves animals, travel, and bicycling. Bottom line: I know just enough about Marilyn to know she has seen amazing places, people, and things in the world and encountered the very best and, possibly, the very worst that the world has to offer. Yet, she is always kind and graciously grateful, for the smallest things, even when someone has wronged her. And her smile lights up a room, even when she is frustrated.

“No other light, no other guide,
Than the one burning in my heart.
This light led the way
More clearly than the risen sun
To where he was waiting for me
– The one I knew so intimately –
In a place no one could find us.”

– Excerpt from Dark Night of the Soul by Saint John of the Cross (translated by Mirabai Starr)


“Every human life is made up of the light and the dark, the happy and the sad, the vital and the deadening. How you think about this rhythm of moods makes all the difference. Are you going to hide out in self-delusion and distracting entertainments? Are you going to become cynical and depressed? Or are you going to open your heart to a mystery that is as natural as the sun and the moon, day and night, summer and winter?”

– Excerpt from the introduction to Dark Nights of the Soul: A Guide to Finding Your Way Through Life’s Ordeals by Thomas Moore

Marilyn practices qigong as well as yoga, which means she’s one of the people who get’s my little energetic puns when I describe one set of arm movements as “Gathering Prana” and the complimentary set of movements as “Gathering Qi.” Both qi and prana are words used to describe the life-force energy that is within us and all around us. Like ruach, pneuma, and spiritus, these are also words which were once used to simultaneously define breath and spirit.

Our ancestors, from all their different cultures, didn’t distinguish between spirit and breath – they were both divinely given and received. Our ancestors, from all their different cultures, believed spirit/breath was the light of the world – it was in them and all around them. Now, the modern mind turns to quantum physics to confirm the Truth our ancestors already knew: We can gather it, guide and pull it; dance with it and in it. Like Marilyn. Or not.

 “Of the deities presiding over light, I am the one for January, loved by all for turning the world’s course toward warmth. Of the wind gods who bring immense good in the world, I am the whirlwind. Of the daytime luminaries I am the radiant sun, and of the lights of the night I am the moon.”

Bhagavad Gita 10:21


“Of David: YHVH is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? YHVH is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?”

– Tehillim (Psalms) 27:1

Jesus said, ‘I am the light that is over all things. I am all: from me all came forth, and to me all attained. / Split a piece of wood; I am there. / Lift up the stone, and you will find me there.’”

The Gospel of Thomas 77

 “I sit in my own splendor. / Wealth or pleasure, / Duty or discrimination, / Duality or nonduality, / What are they to me? / What is yesterday, / Tomorrow, / Or today? / What is space, / Or eternity? / I sit in my own radiance.”

– Excerpt from Heart of Awareness: Translation of the Gita by Thomas Byrom 19:2 – 3

One of my favorite sacred texts is the Ashtavakra Gita (The Song of the Man with 8-Bends in His Limbs). It presents the wisdom of a person whose outside is considered less than ideal, by the people around him. According to one of Ashtavakra’s back stories, he was 12-years old when he walked into the court of the King (who would eventually become his pupil) – and everyone laughed at him. Ashtavakra also laughed, and then he started to cry.

When the King asked why he first laughed, as everyone laughed at him, and then cried, Ashtavakra said, “I started laughing because you saw only my outside. I started crying because I crawled all this way to discuss the Truth with great scholars and all I find here are shoemakers and leather workers.” When the King took great offense and proclaimed his court a court of great scholars, Ashtavakra shook his head and said, “It is only shoemakers and leather workers who are so concerned with the quality of the outside that they can’t see the Truth within.”

I’d like to believe that, in these modern times, we’re not so one dimensional that a shoemaker and a leather worker can’t also be great scholars. Yet, too often, people in a position to teach the Truth get caught up with the quality of the outside. Too often, people in a position to receive the Truth get turned away because their outsides are considered less than ideal. Too often we all forget that we are in bodies together – and these bodies are the ideal vehicle for our spirits. The work being done by Matthew Sanford and Mind Body Solutions allows more people to experience the Truth of who we all are and how we are all connected. KISS MY ASANA if you see the Truth – or the light.


My donation-based KISS MY ASANA class on Saturday, February 27th is full; however, I still have spaces available for March 5th (6:30 – 8:00 PM at Flourish). Contact Myra at a joyfulpractice.com to reserve a spot (or two.)Space is limited. Bay Area yogis, don’t forget: Sandra Razieli’s KISS MY ASANA class is in Oakland on Sunday, February 28th.



~ “If the family were a fruit, it would be an orange, a circle of sections, held together but separable – each segment distinct. – Excerpt from Family Politics: Love and Power on an Intimate Frontier Letty Cottin Pegrebin ~