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Introducing…. July 11, 2020

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“Place yourself in the background; do not explain too much; prefer the standard to the offbeat.”

 

– from “An Approach to style” by E. B. White published in The Elements of Style by William Strunk, Jr. and E. B. White (b. 07/11/1899)  

Think about your body for a moment: how it works, how it functions.

Of course, you can’t think about your body – how it works, how it functions – without thinking about your mind. So, think about your mind for a moment: how it works, how it functions.

Now, think about the breath… connecting the mind and the body. Notice how that all works.

Notice yourself, noticing yourself: your mind, your body, your spirit at work. Or at play – the way you think about it is up to you. I just want you to think about it for a moment.

I want you to think about how everything works together – even when it doesn’t.

Yoga Sutra 2.25: tadabhāvāt samyogābhāvo hānam taddŗśeh kaivalyam

 

– “Due to that lack or absence [of ignorance], the union or relationship [between our power to see and what is seen] ceases, and this leads to freedom known as absolute freedom, liberation, or enlightenment.”

 

Yoga Sutra 2.26: vivekakhyātiraviplavā hānopāyah

 

– “The clear, unshakeable awareness of discerning knowledge (insight) is the means to nullifying sorrow (created by ignorance).”

 

Yoga Sutra 2.27: tasya saptadhā prāntabhūmih prajñā

 

– “A person [with discerning knowledge] has seven levels [of insight] the highest being ‘prajñā’ [intuitive wisdom].”

 

There’s an experience we’ve all had, at various times throughout our lives. We can call it “being in the zone” or “zoning out.” We can call it “going with the flow” or “being in the flow.” We can call it any number of things, but it is that moment when everything (including ourselves and our sense of ourselves) collapses and converges into a single moment and a single activity. We can call that experience of those moments anything – as it has been called a lot of different things – but, just for this moment, let’s call it “a yoga moment.” What I mean by calling it “a yoga moment” is that in that moment, everything (including ourselves and our sense of self) is united – there is no separation.

Think about that for a moment: union = no separation. No separation… but also no confusion or delusion.

Now, consider your mind-body-spirit again. At the beginning, we separated it out – only to realize that we are talking about one unit. When every aspect of the unit is in good working order, it is easy to have “a yoga moment” – we just need a focal point (a seed, if you will). However, when something isn’t working properly, it’s a little harder to get in the zone. We can do it; it just takes more effort.

The more parts that don’t work together, the harder we have to work to get into the pocket. Or, you can think of it as the harder we have to work to get out of our own way. After all, the mind-body-spirit is connected – that’s the way we were all created – but we think of the parts of ourselves as being separate parts. In thinking of ourselves as separate parts, we sometimes miss how the parts interact and affect our ability to be productive, satisfied, happy, or even healthy. In thinking of ourselves as separate parts, we make the process of being whole harder.

Of course, I’m not just talking about our selves here; I’m also talking about the practice of yoga.

There are eight parts or limbs to the philosophy of yoga. Each part leads to the next part and also is intended to work with the other parts. I often use the image of a climbing tree: There are the limbs you use first, to get into the tree, and the limbs you use to climb up high; and, anywhere along the way, you can pause – standing on one limb, while holding on to another for extra stability. That’s the practice. If there were no low limbs, it would be impossible for a regular person to start climbing. If there were no sturdy limbs towards the top, you would be stuck with the same view you see when you are on the ground. If the limbs were not appropriately spaced and connected you would be hampered going up or coming down. Which (tree) limbs you use the most also depends on how your body-mind-spirit is working. After all, you don’t have to physically climb the tree to reach the top of the tree.

“That’s the thing about books. They let you travel without moving your feet.”

 

– quoted from The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri (b. 07/11/1967)

Of course, I’m not just talking about our selves or the practice of yoga here; I’m also talking about ourselves as a community, but we’ll get to that later. What’s important is to remember that what affects the body affects the mind; what affects the mind affects the body; and both affect the breath – and you have some control over the breath, which affects the mind and the body. It’s all connected. That’s what I want you to remember (if you remember nothing else).

Yoga Sūtra 2.28: yogāngāuşţhānādaśuddikşaye jñānadīptirāvivekakhyāteh

 

– “Unshakeable discernment (or knowledge) comes from the sustained practice of the limbs of yoga, which eliminates/destroys impurities and illuminates knowledge.”

 

You can look at this week’s yoga sutra as an opportunity to review some of what’s come before or as a teaser of what’s about to come. Either way, it is an introduction to the practice. Really, truly, everything up until now has been an introduction to the practice. Just consider the first chapter and a half as the back story.

Yoga Sūtra 1.1: atha yogānuśāsanam

 

– “Here, now, at this auspicious moment [having been prepared according to the ancient tradition] the instruction of union begins.”

Please join me for a 90-minute virtual yoga practice on Zoom today (Saturday, July 11th) at 12:00 PM. You can use the link from the “Class Schedules” calendar if you run into any problems checking into the class. Give yourself extra time to log in if you have not upgraded to Zoom 5.0. You can request an audio recording of this practice via a comment below.

Today’s playlist is available on YouTube and Spotify.

[Full disclosure, this will not be an E. B. White / Jhumpa Lahiri themed class.]

 

### OM OM AUM ###

 

What You Notice About the Earth (on April 22nd) April 22, 2020

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“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

For the last few days, I have asked people to notice things. Now, I’m wondering if you have noticed that the earth is healing itself. Oh, we have unwittingly played our part – just as some have unwittingly played our parts in the insult and injury – but… Have you noticed that Earth is healing herself? People in India and China are seeing mountains they haven’t seen in generations. Canals in Italy appear to be clearing up, and filling up with dolphins, fish, and swans. Wild animals are reclaiming their turf. Nitrogen dioxide air pollution has dropped 30% in certain parts of the United States. Earth has hit the reset button.

At the same time, one country (cough, cough, cough) has proposed rolling back emissions and clean air legislation just as the world commemorates the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, the most celebrated secular holiday in the world. This Earth Day also happens to coincide with a pandemic that seems to hit hardest where there is the most air pollution.  I do not, however, want to get into an argument about scientific facts and semantics, however. I want to know if you’ve noticed what’s happening with Mother Earth.

“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.’”

 

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

 

“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.”

 

– from Silent Spring by Rachel Carson (published 1962)

When we move from Autumn to Winter, which coincides with busy holiday seasons for many people around the world, I often mention how different our habits and activity levels are compared to the rest of the natural world. Everything else is slowing down, while we humans speed up. Some of us do the same in the spring and summertime, we slow down and take lazy vacations when everything else in the natural world is speeding up, blossoming, and playing around. I often suggest that, since we are also organic and part of the natural world, (perhaps) we can benefit from taking more clues from nature. Perhaps, I suggest, we might feel better if we followed the natural rhythm of the Earth.

Have you noticed, the Earth is healing herself?

“We stand now where two roads diverge. But unlike the roads in Robert Frost’s familiar poem, they are not equally fair. The road we have long been traveling is deceptively easy, a smooth superhighway on which we progress with great speed, but at its end lies disaster. The other fork of the road — the one less traveled by — offers our last, our only chance to reach a destination that assures the preservation of the earth.”

 

– from Silent Spring by Rachel Carson (published 1962)

 

“I am pessimistic about the human race because it is too ingenious for its own good. Our approach to nature is to beat it into submission. We would stand a better chance of survival if we accommodated ourselves to this planet and viewed it appreciatively, instead of skeptically and dictatorially.”

– E. B. White, author of Charlotte’s Web

If you are interested and available, please join me today (Wednesday, April 22nd) for a practice where we notice and appreciate this place we call Home. Classes will be on Zoom at 4:30 PM and 7:15 PM. Some of the new Zoom security protocols have definitely kicked in; so, please use the link from the “Class Schedules” calendar if you run into any problems. If you have not done so, you will need to register for the 7:15 practice. Wednesday’s playlist is available on YouTube and Spotify.

Kiss My Asana is almost here (cause the yogathon starts Saturday, April 25th!

As I mentioned in earlier posts, part of my offering to support Mind Body Solutions this year will be to tell seven special stories, your stories! Check out Friday’s post and then you can either email me or comment below.

Founded by Matthew Sanford, Mind Body Solutions helps those who have experienced trauma, loss, and disability find new ways to live by integrating both mind and body. They provide classes, workshops, and outreach programs. They also train yoga teachers and offer highly specialized training for health care professionals. This year’s yogathon is only a week long. Seven days, at the end of the month, to do yoga, share yoga, and help others.  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

I need your story to Kiss My Asana!!!

You don’t need to wait until the end of the month, however, to consider how you might participate. Start thinking now about how you can add 5 minutes of yoga (or meditation) to your day, how you can learn something new about your practice, or even how you would teach a pose to someone close to you – or even to one of your Master Teachers/Precious Jewels.

To give you some ideas, consider that in past years my KMA offerings have included donation-based classes and (sometimes) daily postings. Check out one of my previous offerings dated April 22nd (or thereabouts):

30 Poses in 30 Days (scroll down to see April 22nd)

A Musical Preview (scroll down to see March 22nd)

A 5-Minute Practice

5 Questions Answered by Yogis

Answers to Yogis Questions

A Poetry Practice (notes)

A Preview of the April 22nd Practice (see “A Poetry Practice” link above)

 

 Leaves of Grass

### HE MA DURGA ###