What I Offer At The Studio Has A Lot To Do With What I’ve Experienced In My Life…

I grew up with the notion that women were less than. This attitude was perpetuated by both parents and then siblings. I did not believe this but was victim to it time and time again. I became quiet and reserved with my feelings yet expressed my opinions aggressively. I was confused a lot of the time about who I was and what I was doing, who to love and who loved me. It took me a long time to unravel the mess that was my childhood because it was all about me trying to appease those around me, rather than listening to myself… I lost sight of who I was.

My spiritual practice and training – once I realized that it was do or die, allowed me to become whole again. Through this work, I realized my fullness, and I was able to see a way through.

This is (one of the reasons) why I practice and teach yoga, meditation and offer Transpersonal Therapy.

I believe I can assist those who want it, to see a way through as well. I realized both victim and perpetrator are in constant protection mode because of their feelings of emptiness and vulnerability. I can guide the process of unravelling and then the reasserting and rebuilding that comes after.

I grew up in a family that believed that you have to be “crazy” to go to a therapist. But I soon learned that this is a process of growth and discovery (when done well) and not an exercise in labeling and pointing fingers.

I believe EVERYONE should seek out self-knowledge – to practice self-awareness/self-observation through any means – the best of which are: yoga (taught by a teacher that practices this not only the postures), meditation (taught by a teacher that practices to see passed the egoic nature), and therapy (facilitated by a person who believes that the spirit is a huge part of the equation and that it’s not about “fixing” you). All of this can bring you leaps and bounds into another and more full sense of self that calms the storms of self-absorption/self-centredness. (Self-observation/awareness is opposite to self-absorption/centredness).

Why am I telling you this? Because this is what I do. I offer those who seek it – wholeness through the therapy I offer, and the yoga classes and meditation (private or semi-private) I have at the studio. I believe I have experienced all this – the prejudice, the name calling, the putdowns, the self-doubt, etc. – in order to work through them and come out the other side with understanding and equanimity so that I can be a light to those who are still in darkness and who believe and feel that there is more to them than what those around them are saying, and who would like to live more fully and more present in their own lives.

 

Here’s the article that inspired this note:
http://goodmenproject.com/featured-content/why-women-arent-crazy/

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Missing the Point…

This and that.

This and that.

The 50s moral conduct police are back: *Just sit tight while I’m reviewing the attitude of doing right. There is this trend on most social media sites to *accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative, latch on to the affirmative, don’t mess with Mr. In-between.

Christian Ethic As Yoga

Sound familiar? It should. It is the uber Christian Right attitude of the 50s. And although the name of the social group has changed from Christian to Yoga, it is the same thing. The mores which are associated with Yoga these days come from the same pressures of the material and social/religious worlds that the 50s (and before) were influenced by and have nothing to do with Yoga and its teachings.

Like any belief system, it is an attempt to codify, encapsulate and synthesize the teachings of the Existence of Universal Consciousness and Divine Energy into a graspable, definable, code of conduct that pretends to understand the ineffable nature of Spirit. Once the intellect tries to make sense out of this eternal, ungraspable reality – it is done the same way it has been done for centuries – it is reduced to a myopic view of how one conducts oneself in the society that strives to understand these energies.

This And That

Again, it’s about taking one thing and elevating it to cult status (positivity/god/angel) and casting the other down into the abyss (negativity, devil). Even a well-known pop spiritualist does this. The idea that: all problems are illusions of the mind, without revealing that then all successes (the opposite) are also illusions of the mind. Only half the story is being told and it is irresponsible of anyone to not fully disclose what it is. If one: 1. frees the heart from hatred, then ideally one must free the heart from loving sentimentally – both are projections of our own psyches and therefore reflections of our need to control and protect. And if one: 2. frees the mind from worry, then it goes without saying that one must free the mind from planning/dreaming – both are a result of the thinking mind and therefore as a spiritual being, one must live out one’s life following one’s dharma, not directing it. 3. live simply, again is misconstrued as something it is not. The projection is – depending on the “values” of the society, a reflection of that “value” and has nothing to do with what living simply really means. The outward appearance is taken into consideration not the attitude with which one lives simply – as in looking like a hippy could be misconstrued as living simply or taking on the protestant ethic of living could be just as misguided. It is the attitude with which we live that expresses simplicity. 4. give more – again with what attitude? If one gives for one’s own sake (I’ll look good, I get a write off, I need to feel needed, I want to help) then, personally, I do not want your charity. Really. 5. taking less – again with what attitude? You get the picture.

Who Am I?

It’s a judgement call and who’s the judge? Who is it that decides when one is giving less and taking too much? What I mean by Who is the eternal question that Ramana Maharshi put to himself and everyone he met afterward – “Who is it that wants? Who is it that needs? Who is it that asks the question? etc. Who am I?

Before one can dissolve the ego into the ‘I’, the practice then is to cultivate an attitude that ALL things within our understanding and beyond it, must be taken equally into our mind. One must not have sway over the other. The weight of one has to be the same as the other. Mr. Inbetween or the Buddhist concept of the middle way is the way to calm the mind. Then once the mind has calmed, through mindful reflection on Who Am I – the Ego can release all concepts of “this and that” and sit in the quiet knowledge that ALL THIS THAT WHICH IS SEPARATE FROM US IS the Illusion of the Mind. AND ALL THAT IS – IS ONE.

* from the song: Accentuate the Positive

** Link to Ramana Maharshi

Reflection: Looking in the mirror…

Reflection: Looking in the mirror...

What if the only mirror you had was sitting right in front of you.

Answers To Some Questions Someone Asked Me…

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Someone asked me about my practice. It is hard to articulate and I don’t think I’ve expressed it as well as I can. It’s hard for me to express something that I do so intuitively. But here goes – I hope you find this informative and inspiring! 🙂 Peace!

What brought you to devote your energies to yoga?

It wasn’t really my decision. I think all my life had been directing me that way. Since I was a child, I had this feeling that I was to heed the call of the universe but obligations in regular life kept me from seeing my path clearly. It took me years to follow the calling. And when I did, it threw my life into a tailspin. I lost friends and my family because they could not understand the direction my life was taking. I sacrificed a lot but gained so much. I attained a disposition that is contentment itself. I could not have experienced this without the pain and sacrifice, without the missteps. I devote my energies to yoga, because all there is – is Yoga. Everything else is Maya; superficial; unreal.

How does it “in-form” [sic] the person that you are?

If Yoga speaks through me then there is a truth that is in my eyes. I cannot hide or “get rid of” the organism I am; the human I am. I cannot ignore that I am a very sensitive human being. Not only in emotions – because I’m not as sensitive that way as others – but my organism is sensitive. I taste more, I smell more, I feel more, I vibe more. This, when attached with an ego, can get very irritating and precarious and at the same time, can make me acutely aware of my surroundings and the other humans near me. Yoga takes my hand and leads me through the jungle, swamp as my teacher likes to call it. So yoga doesn’t take away the uncomfortable moments as it doesn’t take away the blissful moments. Yoga doesn’t distinguish one from the other. It is all experience. It is all about being human. Being a restless spirit. Yoga informs my organism by allowing my humanness to express itself without judgment. I feel the embrace of god no matter what I do these days. Yoga – as I become transparent – accepts the incarnation of whatever happens through my ego.

How does it relate to seeing in terms of sacred and profane and to your quest to integrate these poles?

Yoga then is ultimately a heart path. It is not just an intellectual path. It is not just a physical path. It is not just a mindful path. Once the ego has been exposed to the Yogic path; after all the fighting and resisting, the heart opens up to all possibilities of expression; that there is no right way or wrong way to attain Yoga. The heart, in the ego’s evolution to spirit, casts a wide net and sees which way to turn next. All movements toward deepening are accepted and in line with the dharma – whether it is sitting in meditation or learning a (big or small) lesson from a decision made. The stronger the heart path the more sincerity, with sincerity there’s honesty and humility, with honesty and humility comes equanimity. With equanimity, there is acceptance of all. Integrating the sacred and the profane in one place, one organism, is to practice non-dualism or advaita and that is what I think is the truth of the universe. The restless spirit goes through stages of evolution and revolution to reach Yoga and anything can get you there if you are listening and done with sincerity.

 How is your practice related to architecture?

When I was practicing architecture, I was concerned with how the ‘spirit’ was expressed through building. I turned to a lot of the modern architecture of Europe but also and more importantly of Japan.

Japanese architecture always fascinated me – at least when the architectural space expressed the concepts of opposites and their juxtapositions through materials, expression of space and how they use it. The Zen garden was a part of that as well as placing cool water in relationship with warm wood, or stone floor as transition between garden and tatami mat. And so on. To me, this created an experience of balance between sensations of the senses. A yin yang of living if you will. It reminds me of Hatha yoga – balancing energies through the physical manifestation of opposites.

As well, I studied a lot of medieval architecture and urban landscapes because they showed how humans met their needs in built form and at that time it was unstructured (to a certain extent), unhindered by intellectual notions of design and unself-conscious. Take gothic cathedrals for instance – they were built simply to express their devotion to the Divine. And like gothic architecture, the spiritual path takes time, patience, devotion (to the work as well as god), vision, concentration, and contentment (because you might not see your efforts come to fruition in this lifetime).

And finally, Sacred Geometry and Alchemy. My studies informed me that there are unseen forces which can be expressed through certain parameters – that the Divine is revealed through them. In built form, sacred geometry harnesses the energies from the universe – the sun and stars. The architecture then becomes the energy field. It is then interesting to compare the practice of yoga asana with this harnessing of energy of the universe. Sacred geometry is expressed through form and mathematics. I suppose you could say that asana can be and, in theory, is that precise and practical. Sacred geometry and its expressions need to be precise in order to harness these energies. Hatha yoga need not be – precise – in form. Every body is different and can not express postures in the same way. Then what is it? It needs to be precise in ‘energy’. Energy to me equals mindfulness (or right-mindedness) plus perseverance (dedication) plus forcefulness (effort) with breath. Enacting Hatha yoga postures in this way is the harnessing of divine energy from within – not without. Where sacred architecture draws from outside and then contains the energies within, a human being creates the energy within and contains it. This is known as Prana, created through breath and enacting the postures with force (Hatha yoga – the ‘forceful’ practice). Both the architectural space and the individual contain the energy within.

Is yoga as you practice it a kind of embodied, spiritual architecture?

I suppose if I read this like: that the practices of yoga and meditation are a kind of architecture which endeavors to express the restless spirit – so in a way, to find new form by building or by practicing; by sensing the changes that are needed and making adjustments; by recognizing the potential and limitations of what you have to work with; by harnessing and containing these energies (prana) within, and finally, by knowing that this kind of embodiment is much bigger than you. To that, then yes, I’d say so.

How do your Buddhist meditative practices relate to or complement your yoga practices?

Buddhist meditation practices complement my yoga practice because of its simplicity. I practice Zazen, which really means to “just sit”. I take that into my asana practice and although I’m very aware of structure, my meditation practice helps me to “just practice” and breathe. We sometimes like to put values or qualifications on our practice – do this and you will be healthy or fit or whatever; do meditation and you will be calm or mindful and so on. Really there’s no guarantee that any of that will happen for you. We say, build your core and you can do handstand easily or this or that arm balance. But in truth there’s a lot more going on in an asana, which does not relate at all to how strong your core muscles are that would hold you back from realizing that goal. So then, in the “just sitting” or the practice of Ashtanga (in my view) is the means to the end. The practice or rather to practice is the goal. And you do the best you possibly can in your body, your organism with sincerity.

How do you see the evolution of your path?

Really to just keep doing. Keep making myself available to my own practice, to the universe, to others. Making myself available to others also drives me down my path. Making myself available to the universe means to cultivate intuition, heart and mind. So on that note – thank you for asking these questions because it has helped me to articulate these things that I do intuitively.

I hope I’ve answered your questions for you. Please feel free to ask me to clarify anything that you are unsure about.

Peace!

Christine

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.

Lessons of a Yogini

Lessons of a Yogini

The body is a funny thing. Every day is different. Last year I was able to almost reach the ground: about 2 inches to go. Then all of a sudden I was unable to get low at all. My inner thigh muscles were excruciatingly tight. No warning. Nothing. They just didn’t want to play anymore.

My first reaction was – sadness – not anger. I was sad because “I’ve worked so hard…” etc. I was sad because I have the type of body that snaps back and sometimes can’t do things I suppose a ‘normal’ body can – or what we think a normal body can – it snaps back and I basically have to start pretty close to the beginning again. I was sad because when you get to a certain stage in your practice there’s a kind of flow that allows for that elusive sensation of freedom in the body which can be viscerally experienced and I lost that – at least I thought I had. I still feel it – even when I’m tight and my body seems uncooperative.

As I get older, I’ve realized a few things:

That this is really as far as I can go – physically. There are postures that I will never be able to do “successfully” – whatever that means.

That I know my body so well, that I can feel the small changes in my body which can be very satisfying, and therefore I work very smart these days.

And that what I was chasing in my early years of practice are not important anymore. Oh that doesn’t stop me from working postures to the point of a good sweat or at least feeling satisfied with my efforts. But that pendulum swing back and forth of emotions about what my body looks like in the posture does not equal my efforts doesn’t drive me.

I am grateful for all those years of effort though. The wish to be the best teacher drove me to really get to know postural yoga in a different way. In a way that was about asking the question: When I do postures, what makes it an aspect of YOGA? How am I expressing YOGA in an ‘imperfect’ body? Perseverance, courage and humility are the foundations of practice – am I expressing those? What is the difference between:

perseverance and greediness?

courage and ignorance?

humility and self-consciousness?

With those questions and more inspiration I became very attuned to my body, mind and spirit.

Back to the task of practice: it is more now about practicing and working on things as a matter-of-course rather than trying to get somewhere…fast.

So with the help of a combination of postures in my practice – including some unconventional ones like squatting sideways, with warrior twos and side angle, some seated and lying down hip openers. Now with a few months work I am slowly making my way down again. First time in months I am able to place my chest on the floor.

I am very content with my body and my practice these days. There is a certain amount of calm. That I suppose is what it means to really do YOGA.

Peace!

Creating From Limitations = Boundless Creativity

Creating From Limitations = Boundless Creativity

Great vid!

A TEDtalk about an artist and his Art process. A lesson for life.