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.

 

 

Wisdom

Old Woman

Photo Credit: Old Lady by Kevin Demers, Ecuador; cropped

Wisdom can come at any age. Aging just reminds us of it in the nick of time… You don’t have to wait for it to come upon you. The Life Within is constant but unseen to most like the water that flows under the crust of the earth. Dig deep and you will find it and be refreshed!

Link to article: http://www.ramdass.org/the-life-within/

 

 

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

The Road I’ve Travelled…

ImageI received a message in a bottle: “You can never learn less; you can only learn more. The reason I know so much is because I have made so many mistakes.” – Buckminster Fuller.

Although I found this quote to be accurate in describing me and my life’s wandering, I have to say that I don’t really want to use the word “mistakes”. Mr. Fuller might have resonated with the word, he had to have to write this, but I can’t say I do.

Twists and Turns

I believe we go through life as we should. Twisting and turning, having ups and downs, starting and stopping, changing direction as we do a thought in mid-sentence. There is not one thing that I’ve done in my life that I would call a “mistake”. I did what I have done for one of two reasons – either it was the only option at the time and I couldn’t see around the situation in my present moment or I saw a need or a value in going down that particular road a little further to see where I end up – I had a notion, a feeling about it.

Who Is Choosing?

What am I saying? I really did not “choose” to do anything. This is the road that which was shown to me and on which I travelled, for better or for worse, really there was no choice.

As a Spiritual Being, I believe that and I don’t see much wrong with it. It makes sense to me. The twists and turns of my life, as the quote says are why I know so much about a lot of things…yes. All that I know, experienced and thought about, all inform me in remarkable and profound ways. I would never regret, resent or want to change one moment of my life. The word mistakes makes me feel that I should or would want to and I don’t.

Experience Begets Knowledge

So… I would then say this: During the evolution of my consciousness, I have experienced necessary and intense states of clarity, confusion, elation, and heartache. These took me to deeper levels of being and contentment. While on a secular level I may have, at times, displayed lack of direction to those around me, I was being directed inward first. Now looking back at all I’ve accumulated, my knowledge and my practice, I can say that I’ve learned a great deal about the world and more importantly about myself, and am more clear and resolved than ever before within myself. How can anything I’ve been through be a mistake when it has led me to this profound awareness?

The mystery continues to unfold. I am grateful for all of it.

February Update…

FEBRUARY
UPDATE:
The Kirtan evenings with Ram for February will not run due to illness.
However, in place of the kirtan, there is the
Heart Path Meditation on Thursdays from now on!
Please join us!
The schedule for Restless Spirit looks like this:
*Tuesdays – 6:30-9pm – Open Mic Night for Spoken Word, Recitals, Music, etc.
*Wednesdays – 6:15-6:45pm – Q&A; 7-8:30pm – Kirtan!
Thursdays- 6:15-6:45pm – Intro to Meditation; 7-8:30pm Heart Path Meditation!
*Tuesdays and Wednesdays will come together for March
(please contact me if you would like to perform either for Tuesdays or Wednesdays)
Thursdays are running.
Please Call, Text, FB, or Email to confirm your spot. Space is limited!
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Always love.

There’s a difference between being vulnerable and loving deeply, and giving away your power. In vulnerability, the power is in the one who submits. There’s a lot to be learned from that.

Christine U

Always love. …

KIRTAN with Ram Vakkalanka at Restless Spirit!

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We’re starting the year off right with Mantra chanting! Ram Vakkalanka is coming to lead the chanting on three Thursday evenings! I am so excited! If you haven’t attended a Kirtan before it is a beautiful way to imbue your life with Spiritual Energy. These mantras have been sung for centuries and so carry the blessings of the souls who have gone before us. If you have attended Kirtan before but it’s been a while – I can tell you that these three Thursday sessions will remind you why you loved it so much! And if you’re a regular – welcome!
Welcome to all who come to ignite the fire of the Spirit with the vibrations of the Universe!
Revitalize yourself thru Mantra chanting:
Mantras are unique Vibrations that embody specific energies of the Universe. Repetition of Mantras attracts the Cosmic Energies, channels them inward and ignites corresponding energies inside the practitioner. Mantras help energize and centre ourselves, calm the negative chatter of the mind, deal with addictions, improve self-image, break thru obstacles in life and induce inner peace and harmony. Mantra chanting promotes concentration, leads to deep meditative state and helps discover your inner source of strength, courage, peace and well-being. In these Kirtan and Mantra chanting sessions, we will not only chant Mantras in a call-and-response fashion but also learn about the various Cosmic Energies, accurate pronunciation of a few energizing Mantras and practical applications of Mantras. Music may be used sometimes for extra fun in chanting Mantras but participants need not have any musical skills/training.
Please join us for the three first Thursdays in February:
When: Feb 6th, 13th or 20th
Time: 7 – 8:30pm
Where: Restless Spirit 688 Richmond St. W., Toronto, ON, Canada
Cost: $15 (includes HST) at the door

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Ram is inspiring in his devotion to passing on this lineage of this practice.
Bio of Ram Vakkalanka:
Ram Vakkalanka is an internationally known Nada Yogi, Sanskrit expert, Yoga philosopher and Meditation instructor.
Ram is a Master of sound energy and vibrations.  So far, ten CDs and one DVD of his works have been released with a book on its way. For more about Ram, please visit www.aksharayoga.com.

Conversations between two Yoginis…

Yogini:

How can I simultaneously be overwhelmed with teacher training and wanting to add more workouts?

I’ve been taking around 5-6 yoga classes a week, including Mysore, and I’m starting to miss a more well-rounded routine with a bit of running and strength training thrown in (also, I’d love to look really, really good for Mexico).

But at the same time, I have very little time, feel constantly tired, and I’m very stressed with work. Not sure how to work this all out in my head.

My response:

“The distance between what you desire and what your reality is, is in exact proportion to how much pain you’re in.” – Wayne Liquorman said something like this…

Meaning that your desire for what is not yet reality (that’s your belief): “to look really, really good for Mexico” or to have the time to have a “well-rounded” training, is getting in the way of you being fully and completely in the present moment. When we’re not fully in the present moment, meaning appreciating – those who are with us, or the task at hand, then our lives feel empty and we believe we are lacking.

As far as I can see, there are two things going on for you: 1. you are not appreciating (but trying to) your effort and work in your yoga training because you think – one, that you should be doing more, and two, that there is some goal you’re not reaching if you don’t run or strength train…, and 2. you are not aware of the work that is actually happening. You may be “constantly” tired because you worry about not doing enough and can’t see that you might be pushing you too much – perhaps.

Go deeper.

I used to think like you. I did yoga. I worked out. etc. But when I finally relaxed into the practice and did nothing else I found that yoga gave me my body back! I wasn’t looking like every one out there because I am not every one out there. I came to appreciate my body more and stopped fighting against it.

Really what I have to say, or anyone else, will not do anything for you until you (your organism – not your head) are ready for a change.

All you need to know – truly – is that: you are in the place you need to be right now at this moment. This is your moment – the confusion, the dichotomy – it’s not a bad place to be. Listen to it. Be aware of how it rises and falls this feeling of being not “good enough” yet… Be aware and give yourself permission to feel this way. Identify the feeling. Where is it? Then just sit with it.

Immerse yourself in the present moment. When thoughts arise about the future, let them go as quickly as possible and say these things: I am here right now. I feel my… (hand on my lap – insert what is appropriate), I see… (insert what is appropriate), I smell… (insert what is appropriate). Repeat this over again, siting different things. Relax into the not knowing of where you’ll end up.

Learn to trust the universe!

Good luck!

Peace!

Christine

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Restless Spirit Hours the Week of December 16th…

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Come in for a visit and let’s chat! We’ll sit here and do cards or a session for your deepening. Or we’ll sit in meditation in the space right behind me and let Grace take over. Whatever it is that you would like to do, Restless Spirit is a very harmonious, spiritual place and you are welcome anytime to come talk with me!

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I’m planning to be in the studio Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday: 11-7pm, and maybe Friday. Oh of course it all depends on the weather.

On Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday I have some appointments so I’ll be there for sure. Text me to make sure I’m available at the time you want to drop in.

Hope to see you all soon!

Remember to book your appointments with me here or email, or by texting or calling. Thx.