Why Easter Is My Favorite Holiday…

Easter should be my favorite holiday of the year.

Not because of the bunnies. Although I love bunnies!

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Not because of the chocolate and I do love chocolate!

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Not because it is Spring or Equinox although I wait impatiently for it throughout the entire winter.

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It is because it is the only social cultural religious public recognition of Transformation through Death that I know of. It is the only time we, collectively, recognize death as a part of the human experience.

It is also a time that illustrates an aspect of Spirituality that isn’t talked about much: Transformation – the cycle of Death and Rebirth.

Of course, if you think about it from a strict Christian stance I think, Jesus was the only one who could die and be reborn or resurrect. But put the word resurrect aside and call it Spiritual Rebirth then it does seem that conceivably I could do that and have done throughout my years of practice.

This kind of Death that Easter represents, to me, is not in the corporal sense as in a person dying, leaving this earth. It is not only about rebirth as in only Jesus can do it. It is about the psyche and the heart’s ability to transform.

We Die And Are Reborn In Every Moment – If We’re Lucky

I think of Easter as a celebration of the Death and Rebirth of our Psyches over and over again. Going through Transformation(s) is a necessary part of the Spiritual process toward Awakening. We die and are reborn in our lives. You may not know it, but you go through small death/rebirths with every moment. You may ignore the signs of wakefulness or ego-death, and in response to it, in fear of the little ego-death (Thanatos), you refortify your self (small ‘s’) every time you run into difficulty thereby starting the death/rebirth process all over again (karma). Without awareness, we slip back into our neurosis that veils the True Essence of our own Beings.

The Work – Practice

Any practice worth its Spiritual Weight puts the practitioner through the throes of a kind of death any time (maybe not every time) they sit on their meditation cushions or stand on their mats, or chant or do breath work, etc.. And any practitioner wanting Samadhi which is a state of transformative essence, has to accept this as part of the practice.

You’re On Your Own – As You Should Be

Growing up Catholic, Easter was about suffering and resurrection and what Jesus can do for us.

Now as a mature woman, I realize that I’ve always known there is a flaw in thinking that. No one can do this work but ‘me’. The work is available to me as an adult. It needs a certain kind of maturity that comes with experience. But not the experience that is about traveling a lot (external world) or having a lot of schooling or street smarts (intellect). It’s the experience of existence, moment to moment, life unfolding that opens you up to this process (internally) – only you, the individual can know when that time is to delve into this work.

If You Let The Divine/Universe Guide You

As psyches, we are constantly in flux. It’s like our True Self is in a cocoon for our whole lives and it starts out as an opaque vessel, hard and impenetrable. If you let the Divine/Universe guide you through your life then metamorphosis will take place. The cocoon becomes transparent and it is apparent that growth and change are happening inside. Transformation from the inside out. You can’t see it happening until the outer layer/outer body becomes transparent. And finally what emerges into the world is something other than what it started out as. The butterfly doesn’t need to die corporally in order to change and Be this change. It needs to die to the caterpillar it once was. But not only does the physical body change and it only changes in order to Serve the Essence or Spirit of what has emerged: “Dying ego-ically” as it were, in order to transform is the crux of the success of Transformation.

So then symbolically, Jesus’ story represents the Spiritual Transformation from a Secular life to a life with god, union, Yoga. This is what I would like to think the celebration of Easter is about. The celebration of Transformation from one state to another, the death of one immoveable identity to an existence without labels; An existence of Openness and Self-knowledge.

And although Christians to a certain extent can be very maudlin about the whole process, it is a time of celebration – Spirit over Ego, Awareness over Blindness, Wakefulness over Sleep. It is a celebration to recognize that we all have the capacity to change and grow Spiritually.

 

 

Kirtan This Thursday (Feb 6th) Is Cancelled… :(

Ram Vakkalanka regrets that he can not be with us due to illness. He will be at Restless Spirit NEXT Thursday (13th) at 7pm. I send him warmth and healing vibes! Feel better Ram!

*In replacement of the Kirtan I thought I would start the Heart Meditation Sessions this Thursday. So…

Thursday Feb 6th

6:15 – 6:45 – Intro to Meditation (by donation – suggested $5 min)

7pm – 8/8:30pm – Heart Path Meditation Session (by donation – suggested $15 min)

I hope you’ll join me.

Stay warm!

Peace!

Christine

Learning from Ourselves… Injury in Yoga

This blog post is in response to this article which was making the rounds on Tumblr. It’s about avoiding injury in yoga. yada yada yada. Yes. I have a fair amount of dismissiveness toward those who insist that we be careful all the time – what are you my mom!? Sure go easy when you’ve never done something before and so on that’s just common sense (as someone said in response to this article on Tumblr).

But I say that sometimes (when it comes to yoga especially), it’s a good thing…

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What follows is the conversation.

me: If you look at the Pema quote …

“We regard discomfort in any form as bad news. But for practitioners or spiritual warriors – people who have a certain hunger to know what is true – feelings like disappointment, embarrassment, irritation, resentment, anger, jealousy, and fear, instead of being bad news, are actually very clear moments that teach us where it is that we’re holding back.”
– Pema

… you would understand that injury (pain) is sometimes a big part of the whole practice (not just asana but includes it). Sometimes the body needs it. Sometimes the mind needs it… if you’d like to know more, ask me a question! 🙂 Peace! #1barefootgirl

#playitbackward: Injury is not the same as pain, but I would like to know more!

Me: Yes. True the kind of injury I’m talking about is not just pain. What I’ve found in my years of practice of asana that an injury can be one of two things (but is not exclusive to these two):

1. when I say injury is for the mind what I mean by that is it reflects outwardly what we are manifesting psychically. The mind has its own agenda and sometimes the body can’t keep up. We are told to push, to not give up, etc. (not in yoga necessarily – but there are some…) in our lives and unconsciously we bring this to our practice. A lot of people think that they can overcome their “egos” easily by just practicing asana or sitting in meditation but sometimes these are exactly the places where the ego will assert itself. Strongly sometimes. You can not eradicate the ego entirely and it’s very good at playing tricks. Injury is a sign that there is something you’re doing in your body that needs to be listened to (body/mind) that the ego is refusing to acknowledge. For example: I was teaching this woman for the longest time – good student and very flexible (naturally). She complained about lower back problems all the time that were so specific that it could only be coming from the way she did forward bends. I adjusted, I explained, I pleaded with her but to no avail. Every time she would go into the forward bend, she would over extend herself (I can explain how some other time).

What it would take for her to be deeply in her forward bend without creating “injury” are two things:

one – She had to change her mind/ego about what sensation in her body is telling her that it feels good. Her “feel good” sensation in her forward bend was telling her that she was deep in her bend but was neglecting or overriding the feeling of pain in her low back. So every time she came out of it she was reminded of the pain.

Two: If then she changed her approach to the posture and were to pull back and start to work into the posture enhancing protective measures for her back which are basically muscle engagement issues (she had weak abs and so on) and pivoting issues, she would have slowly worked the bend by letting the posture unfold from the very top of the posture. She would have enlisted her body/mind consciousness better and she would work into the bend more along the lines of her body’s reality rather than what her mind was used to which was her “chronic” body and therefore into the injury.

So here I’m talking about the mind latching onto a sensation that is only part of the story. But the ego is satisfied because on the outside it looks like (and feels like) a very deep forward bend. What I always tell my students is to look for the depth of the posture not just the surface sensations and then I try to teach that through meditation and deep asana work. In other words, work on the body/mind connection deeply.

We throw around the phrase body/mind a lot but most do not know what it is because the work is not forthcoming. It takes a great deal of sincerity and surrender. IMHO.

2. When I say the injury is good for the body I mean that the body has chronic holds and old injuries that sometimes can only be dealt with by breaking it apart first. Sometimes the injury is in a place in your body where there was deep scarring, early (sometimes in vitro) injury which needs release which manifests in “injury”. We talk about injury in negative terms always and never really talk in terms of the body actually healing itself by readjusting itself or releasing itself and so we call these “injuries”. Perhaps the word is inaccurate for these types of “body manifestations”.

Let me give you an example: I had been practicing and teaching asana for years. My body is such that it takes a long time to unravel into a posture any of them no matter what. So I work diligently day and night to unlock the mystery of my body. Because of my body’s reluctance to open up without creating a lot of pain for me (at night I would wake with excruciating pain in my hips and legs), I would be very clear (cultivated slowly through my own practice) as to how I was moving and not to move anything that didn’t need to move. One day I was working on Upavistha Konasana – simple right. But I ripped the tendons and leg out of the hip socket. I don’t think I’m strong enough especially in a seated posture to pull anything out so securely in place, but it came out. And the reason, I think, was because the femur head was in the wrong place in the first place. Forever I had pain in that leg and the knee. I didn’t run because of it. My lotus sucked because of it. I had trouble in most postures because of it. After the “injury”, it took 3 years to recover (I lost all the forward bend capability in my body) but as I taught and practiced I was very aware of the injury and moved in a very methodical exacting way. For the three years, I became acutely aware of how I moved my body especially in forward bends but also in other postures. After healing, I got the worst hamstring pulls, still do every once in a while, and my body still took time to move and advance in postures. But, there was a huge change in the sensation in my hip socket and leg. It felt looser and there was actual sensation deep in the tissues so I could finally develop more body/mind. What I learned was that the injury actually readjusted my leg in my hip socket. So my forward bends became deeper, and especially my body/mind deepened. I move my leg from a different place in my body now because of the injury – in a good way.

I am not saying we should all go out and injury ourselves for the sake of self-discovery. But there are times of injury that can’t and shouldn’t be avoided just because that’s the place where the real learning is…

(…and that’s why you can’t separate asana practice from the rest of its counterparts… without the spiritual aspect yes then injury is just about being an idiot…)

Hope this helps… 🙂 Peace! 1barefootgirl.

Letting Go…

Letting Go...

Vulnerability IS the human condition. Yes – You ARE vulnerable to EVERYTHING.

We get on a plane – we can catch a cold or worse. We could fall out of the sky – yet we fly!
We live, work, ride on buses, drive on highways, interact with people who are in variant stages of insanity (including us) yet most of us get home every night. By the GRACE of the Universe, we do not live in a war zone!

We get up every morning and we step into the world in some form or another.

We are by virtue of being human – Vulnerable.

What a cruel joke it is that at a moments notice you could be gone – heart attack, stroke, getting hit by a car – simply being at the wrong place at the wrong time… or is it right place at the right time… There are countless stories about people ‘cheating’ death in one instance and weeks/months later It catching up with them.

Our hearts are vulnerable – how many of us have lost those near and dear to us, family, friends, lovers one way or another? Everyone has! Being in relationship is part of the human condition which is what makes vulnerability a part of the human condition. You can’t “fight” it – it is not “like height”. It is not measurable, it is not material – it is as it is.

Stop fighting it. Let go!

Beyond the layer of fear is a place of warmth that is the embrace of the Divine. The Ecstatic Surrender. Do this and vulnerability will not be your enemy. Look at the sculpture of the “Ecstasy of St. Teresa” by Bernini – it is her surrender to the Will of God – Ecstasy through Grace.
To know and live through your own heart is to know the Divine – and isn’t that ultimately what we are here for!?

Give up the need for control. Shit happens for better or worse. If you must, learn from it. We always want reasons for everything – ‘why’ is a question that can never be answered. Especially to our satisfaction – so let go.

Everything makes sense when you die to your own idea of yourself. Fear of vulnerability comes from an Identification with the small self. Me and I; an attachment to you and your physical and mental ability to stave off intruders. To protect oneself at all costs – to the cost of one’s Heart (not the sentimental heart though).

Non-attachment is key.

This energy that we live, flows through us whatever we are masquerading as – take it off – take off your costume and live as you truly are.

Sharath Jois in Copenhagen…

Lovely vid of Sharath in Copenhagen. Wish I were there…

vid by Alessandro Sigismondi.

The Meeting: Maharaji and Ram Dass

The Meeting: Maharaj and Ram Dass

This is a beautiful story. I love hearing it. It is the magic of meeting your teacher.

Photo: Neem Karoli Baba courtesy of the internet