Monday, April 03, 2017
- Why we Love the April Rain
~Sweet April showers Do spring May flowers ~ Thomas Tusser
Life begins, it bears fruit, it matures and it dies. Like the seasons each segment of life has its own beauty and its own challenges. The beauty of spring is first glimpsed when it begins to resurrects itself from the icy grip of winter and bring forth a renewed sense of life waiting to bloom. Each spring we are reminded of the cycle of life. Here is California we have had a very rainy winter. This will surely bring us a bountiful bouquet of flowers. The rain after all is nature’s way of replenishing life. Without it life as we know it could not exist.
Rain is often symbolized as dark and dreary. We are reminded that after the rain comes the sunshine. All we need is to wait and this “too will pass.” But rain is also a gift. It reminds me of the Chinese proverb; the traveler hopes for sunshine – the farmer hopes for rain. One person’s darkness can be another person’s sunlight. It is all a matter of your perspective.
In Ernest Hemingway’s “A Farewell to Arms,” rain appears throughout the novel. It symbolizes unhappiness. Falling rain occurs in the book when the characters are feeling anxious and lost. Yet in some cultures rain is seen as a common natural occurrence that is vital to life. Rainfall represents rebirth and emotional cleansing. In some geographical areas where it rarely rains, rainfall brings emotional relief and happiness.
One person’s doom and gloom can be another person’s ray of hope. That is why symbols cannot be held to a single interpretation.
Symbols are often multifaceted and are therefore very powerful because they have many layers of significance that cannot be fully understood or captured in words.
We’ve all heard the rhyme, “April showers bring May flowers” and although there is a scientific truth to this poetic rhyme it also holds a deeper meaning by reminding us that many of life’s greatest things come to those who patiently wait; patiently enduring the clouds and the rain.
In yoga we refer to this as sa tu dirgha or the ability to have the patience to wait for a long time with devotion and faith. Nothing in life comes instantaneously. It is all a long learning process. But if you can endure the rain the flowers will follow.
Everything in life gives and everything receives and all of life is a sacrifice. This is the law of life. Nothing is gained without something being lost. Life does not discriminate. The rain falls evenly on all of us. It sacrifices so the soil can give and life is renewed again.
April brings with it a few notable holidays such as April Fools, Easter and Passover. It also celebrates Arbor Day or the planting of trees and a lesser known celebration called tatting day. Tatting is celebrated on April 1st. It is a celebration of the art of making tatted lace and is often celebrated by eating chocolate. Sign me up! Tatting dates back to ancient sailors and Victorian England. It is the art of making lace, which was highly prized in Victorian times. In Ireland the nuns noticed people were eating grass because they did not have food. So they sold their tats to feed the poor. One person’s tat is another person’s full belly.
April is also the month to take your child to work and it’s a celebration of Patriots Day which commemorates the Battle of Lexington and Concord; the battle that began the revolutionary war. Sometimes we have to endure the battle to have freedom and peace.
Oh and don’t forget about the tax man on April 15th. We all have to give to get.
Life may present you with many setbacks, disappointments or hindrances. Do not be dismayed. Just remember: the wind always changes direction, clouds do not hang overhead forever and Sweet April showers do spring May flowers
Posted on 04/03 at 02:31 PM
Thursday, March 02, 2017
Finding Your Equinox
The spring equinox or the vernal equinox is the time of year when the sun moves north across the celestial equator and creates equality of day and night. It is the perfect balance of time. .The equinox does not last for twenty-four hours, but only for a brief moment when the sun is exactly above the equator. What would you do if you had a moment where time stood in perfect balance with the universe?
We chase time, lose time, waste time, make time, but never can we stop time. Time does not discriminate. The sun and the moon shine equally on all of us. We measure our lives by marking time on a calendar. Birthdays, anniversaries and special holidays remind us of the passage of time. But if you could hold time in perfect balance for a moment would that moment be celestial; saintly, heavenly, divine and supremely good, or would you waste it with fear? This all depends upon your perspective.
The tired soul wishes for a longer night and the adventurer wishes for more sunlight. As the scale tips one person wins and another loses. But not for long! Eventually like the tide everything recedes, only to return again.
What about equality? Is there such a thing? In yoga equality means to identify self with all of life. It is a realization that we are all dependent upon each other for existence. However, just like the equinox where the sun and the moon stand equal they are also different and it is this difference that allows us to live and survive. As much as we need the sun for life, warmth and energy we also need the moon to orchestrate the tides, dictate the length of a day and provide stability for our planet. So although at the Equinox they may be equal they are still very different.
Everything in nature has a purpose and reason for being different. Once we begin to identify the interconnection of life we begin to appreciate and respect the differences. A tree is different than a plant and yet both are necessary for life to exist.
Your equinox is the moment you realize that you are equal, but different and at the same time understand that sometimes you must either give way to the light or to the darkness. Each spring and each fall the sun and moon remind us that equality also means that sometimes you will need to recede and sometimes you will need to precede, but in the end the pendulum always swings back to remind us that equality is not measured by our worldly view, but by the deeper understanding that at the center of life we are all equal. You, me, the trees, the birds, the sun and the moon may look different, but we’re all the same energy.
When night and day are perfectly balanced neither reigns supreme. But this only happens for a moment and then one must give way to the other. This is the nature of life. However, as the moon gives way to the sun in spring the sun must give way to the moon in the fall. Life after all has a perfect counting system and nothing goes unnoticed.
Posted on 03/02 at 10:58 AM
Thursday, February 02, 2017
Love –-is it a Ritual, Sacrifice or Martyrdom?
Here is a blog article I did for Sheknows Love – is it a Ritual, Sacrifice or Martyrdom?
This is the time of year when we all think about love. It is not that we don’t think about love at other times during the year, but in the month of February love takes center stage. Americans alone are expected to spend $20 billion with an additional $680 million of pets. The reminder of love is everywhere. Cards, red hearts, candy and more remind us that on Valentine’s Day you had better be ready to give some token of love. But what exactly is this love thing all about; a ritual, sacrifice or a tribute to martyrdom?
Legend tells us that this festivity we call Valentine’s Day is a hybrid combining the elements of ritual, sacrifice and martyrdom into a mixture we call love.
If we try to define love we only come up with adjectives such as fondness, warmth, caring, intimacy, attachment and endearment. But all of these adjectives leave us with the same struggle when it comes to defining feelings. We can never accurately describe a feeling. Feelings are felt and not described.
But that has never stopped humans from trying to define and express love. There are many ancient Love Goddesses and many rituals that have been performed in the name of love and marriage. Valentines presents us with two such legends; one of ritual and sacrifice and one of martyrdom.
In February the ritual of Lupercalia was a festival carried out by Roman Priest to celebrate the sacred cave where the founders of Rome were believed to have been cared for by a she-wolf or Lupa. A goat was sacrificed for fertility and a dog for purity. They would then strip the goats hide, dip it is sacrificial blood and take to the streets slapping women and the crop fields as a way of insuring fertility. The women welcomed the slap of the hide because it was believed it would make then fertile. Later in the day the young women would place their name in an urn so the city’s bachelors could choose a name and become paired with the chosen women for a year. Often time these pairing ended in marriage. Sounds like a reality show to me!?
At the birth of Christianity Lupercalia was outlawed and replaced with St Valentine’s Day. During the middle ages it was believed that birds began to mate on February 14th which further added to the idea of St Valentine’s Day being a day of romance. But where did St Valentine’s Day come from?
The Catholic Church recognizes three different saints named Valentine or Valentinus, all of whom were martyrs. One legend contends that Valentine was a priest serving Roman during the third century. Emperor Claudius decided that single men made better soldiers’ than those with wives and family and so he outlawed the marriage of young men. Valentine believing this to be unjust continued to marry young lovers in secret. When Claudius discovered this he put Valentine in jail and ordered that he be put to death.
While in jail Valentine was visited by the jailors daughter. Supposedly they comforted each other and fell in love. Before his death he wrote her a letter signing it “from Your Valentine.” This most likely was the first valentine card.
A ritual, a sacrifice and a martyr tell us the story of Valentine day. But is this really what love is all about?
Certainly love has its roots in ritual. The defining emergence of a civilized society is thought to be as the result of the ritualistic creation of events, holidays and festivals. Love finds its way into many celebratory events.
The dance of love has many sacrificial steps. We sacrifice our time and energy for those we love. By giving more we hope the fertility and purity of true love will fill our lives. Who would doubt the sacrifice of a parent for a child or a lover for the beloved? Many a kingdom has been relinquished in the name of love.
But what about martyrdom? Is that a part of love? A martyr is someone who is willing to die for their beliefs. They are willing to sacrifice their life for the love and devotion of a cause, a person, a religion or a moral and ethical position. Many have given their lives in the name of love.
We may no longer kill goats and slap women with sacrificial blood, but we do perform rituals, sacrifices and even martyr ourselves for love. Without rituals, sacrifice and martyrdom civilization as we know it would never have evolved. That is because it is the nature of life to perform according to prescribed order and in this order something of devotion must always be sacrificed.
In karma yoga and all of yoga for that matter sacrifice means to performs actions so that each moment of our life we are giving up(sacrificing) the small egotistical self for a higher fulfillment. A sacrifice is not necessarily a loss. It is actually a gain. It is an attempt to overcome selfishness and increase the dimension of the soul by removing selfish actions in favor of gaining a greater good. And isn’t that the true nature of love?
Love is not about the rituals. But through rituals we have an opportunity to express love. It is not about the sacrifice, but the wiliness to give for the greater good. It’s not about dying. It’s about a deep devotion that surrenders to nothing. We call this unconditional love.
However, we could say then that love is a ritual of sacrifices that leads to martyrdom. It starts out gushing with romance, leads to ritual and sacrifice then somehow ends up with unrelenting devotion and commitment.
In all relationships, but most assuredly in loving relationships you will need to perform daily ritualistic forms of love through your commitment and willingness to sacrifice for the good of the relationship.
On Valentine’s Day join the ritual of love. Spread love wherever you go and then in the days that follow be willing to sacrifice with devotion toward the thing we all want the most and that is to love and be loved. And just like with karma yoga you will discover that to sacrifice the lower ego for the higher self is not a loss at all; it is the definition of true love.
Posted on 02/02 at 04:40 PM
Sunday, January 01, 2017
Ten Virtues to Uphold this Year
Do no harm, do not steal, be faithful, speak the truth, live harmoniously, speak kindly, act wisely, keep your thoughts pure, do not envy and be at peace with what is.
Happy New Year- you are as you think- so think positive and live well.
Posted on 01/01 at 11:42 AM
Wednesday, December 07, 2016
The holidays have always been a time of reflection for me. Perhaps that is magnified by the fact that, as well as, Christmas and the New Year, I also have a birthday. I always feel the need to take a little time to pause and reflect back upon both my accomplishments and my disappointments. Reflection has taught me that wisdom is nothing more than the ability to realize that you and you alone create your universe. How you see the events in your life greatly determines the outcome. Everything has a purpose and a meaning. But you must be willing to stop and reflect if you are to discover the underlying meaning. Circumstances may disappoint, hurt, sadden or bring on fear, loneliness and exhaustion, but it is how we see these things and how attached we get to these things that determines the outcome. Circumstances change from moment to moment so that a disappointment can quickly change to an opportunity, but we must be open with a reflective and self-aware mind. Otherwise the opportunity will slip by us. For every loss there is a gain and for every gain there is a loss. Understand this and you will develop an appreciation for all of life.
As the holidays approach I reflect on what they mean to me. First comes my birthday. OMG! I’m another year older. I can’t believe how old I am. I don’t know how I got here, but I do know part of me doesn’t mind getting older. I have so much more knowledge than when I was younger. I’m wiser and this is serving me well. I know what to hold on to and what to let go. But the worse part about getting older is the skin. Yes, I said the draping, sagging, wrinkling skin! That’s the price for wisdom. Something is gained and something is lost.
Christmas means a time of peace and good will towards all. Too bad Christmas wasn’t 365 days a year. But if it were I would not appreciate the nature of both peace and violence. Both serve to teach us how to be better people.
New Year’s always leaves me with a gasp. I cannot believe how fast the year has passed. There have been wonderful moments and there have been stressful moment and lots of other moments in-between. I have accomplished a lot and I have been disappointed by many things. As I reflect back over the year I realize that when guided by balance, strength, flexibility and the moments of peace and serenity I have found prosperity. I’ve learned a lot from my experiences. I owe my gratitude to yoga. It reminds me constantly to stay centered and balanced, maintain an inner strength, be flexible and flow with life, and take time to reflect, relax and be at peace.
Posted on 12/07 at 03:30 PM
Thursday, October 27, 2016
Haunting - A Yoga Moment – Give Up The Ghost
Are there things that haunt you? These are the things that disturb your sense of peace. Most likely these are things that are in the past, or anxiety and fear you anticipate about the future. The past is like a ghost. It is no longer alive, but lingers in a diaphanous form caught in the memory and blurred between the lines of fact and fiction. It is always the past that haunts us. The future, on the other hand is like an evil spirit just waiting to bounce on you.
In Celtic times people gave offering to the dead so that the poor ghostly souls would rest in peace and not return to earth and haunt. The next morning they would celebrate the harvest and a new year. In modern times we spend money, use drugs and alcohol to escape the ghost and dull the uncontrollable haunting past and scary future.
Perhaps it might be better if we made peace with our soul. A peaceful soul is unperturbed by ghostly presence. That’s because it has offered the light of honesty, nonviolence, compassion and understanding to its haunting past.
Embracing our ghost tethers us to the past. We keep being pulled backward into the dark night and the haunting continues. To break the haunting chain offer sweetness to your soul. Give from the heart forgiveness, compassion and understanding and like the ancient Celts wake up to the light of a new day celebrating the bountiful harvest of your labor.
Posted on 10/27 at 06:31 AM
Saturday, September 03, 2016
In yoga anything that is excessive, “inflames” our passionate and emotional self. We know that excessive physical and mental stress can lead to problems with physical inflammation. Excessiveness can also lead to a mind that becomes “inflamed”. Greed (excessive desires) is one of the four great passions of karma yoga. All our problems in life stem from one or more of the four great passions.
The body has a wonderful way of telling us when something is wrong. It also has the incredible ability to correct a problem. The body can withstand tremendous pressure, severe illness and exhausting times and still remain healthy and strong. The problem is that if we continue to overtax the body it will eventually weaken and turn on itself. That’s why simple yoga poses can be very helpful in helping us to cleanse and detoxify the body.
Standing Half wheel pose is a simple pose that anyone can do, any time and any where. It cleanses the liver, spleen and intestines by putting slight pressure on the lower body area. This pressure squeezes the lymphatic system which supports the immune, helping the body to rid itself of toxins by allowing a fresh flow of blood and oxygen to be pushed through the body giving the entire body healthy cleansing.
Standing Half Wheel Pose
Stand straight and lift your arms up over your head with the palms pressing up towards the ceiling. Exhale bringing the hands down and place them into your lower back. Now inhale as you bend backward as far as is comfortable for you while putting a little pressure on the spine. Hold and take a few deep breathes. Take a deep breath and come back to standing prayer. Do this about five times.
Now sit cross leg or in a chair. Close your eyes and take in three deep long breathes. The mind quiets and the body rejuvenates and that is a healthy way to tackle inflammation body, mind and soul.
Posted on 09/03 at 10:16 AM
Thursday, August 04, 2016
Mind the Mind
The body, although complex is really very simplistic. Each part has a job to do and given we stay healthy all the parts work together. The heart pumps the life current throughout our body. Its only job is to keep life flowing. Likewise the liver works to detoxify the body. Its only job is to cleanse and purify. But the mind is a bit different. The mind likes to mind itself, your body and the minds of others.
The mind is constantly moving, but what is it really doing? Does it keep the body alive and healthy? Yes and no. It is not necessary to sustain life, but it is an essential part of living a full and conscious life.
In yoga mind stuff is called chitta. It is the accumulation of your sensory experiences, your intellect and your ego all coming together to create what we call the mind. Yoga teaches us to slow down and become aware of how the mind works and how we can learn to control it. Not control by force, but control through relaxation. This creates a stage for peace of mind. Peace of mind is one of the ultimate aims of yoga. Mind your mind. Pay careful attention to how your senses affect your thoughts, how your intellect interprets information and what your ego chooses to do or not do. Mind your mind.
Posted on 08/04 at 10:10 AM
Friday, July 01, 2016
Taking A Stand
The warrior pose represents the strength within each of us. Not strength of brute, but the ability to be aware of what it takes to win the war over the battle that goes on in our minds. This is a discipline that allows us to be ourselves no matter what. But it also involves control. Not control over another person, but control over ourselves. When we lose control we tend to either repress or inappropriately express our emotions. We are afraid to honestly express ourselves and therefore become the victim. The warrior on the other hand learns to refrain from expressing emotions until the time is right and the circumstances are appropriate. That means that the warrior is aware, in control, and then waits to express or act in the right way and at the right moment, and not a second before. The warrior is never surprised, but always in control and therefore is always impeccable. Like the warrior, become aware of your emotions, control them with your thoughts and thereby control your behavior. Express your emotions in the most appropriate way and at the most opportune time, and you will always win the battle. This is what it means to be the mighty warrior and not the poor victim. Take a stand!
Posted on 07/01 at 05:49 AM
Monday, June 13, 2016
The Blessing Mudra
Stop! Take a deep breath and relax. Then let me ask you…what have you blessed today? When we think of a blessing we often think of a prayer. But a blessing is actually an act or words that are meant to bring happiness and well being.
In yoga we use a hand gesture called the blessing mudra to bless our food and our life.
It is usually combined with the chant of a mantra, “Om shanti, shanti, shanti”, which means, ‘Oh lord of life, of laughter, of love, reestablish in all the facets of my being tranquility, serenity, harmony and peace.
Bless your life today! It’s a gift!
Posted on 06/13 at 07:27 AM
Friday, May 20, 2016
Mudras, in yoga, are hand gestures that help us to regenerate our life current back into the spinal column’s chakras, whereby we can then emanate that energy outward into our everyday lives. One of my favorite mudras is the lotus flower. In Buddhism the lotus flower represents an opening heart chakra. The flower blooms on the surface of the water, anchored by deep roots that hold it firmly to the ground. It is a symbol of light and beauty emerging from the darkness.
Sit in a cross leg position. Sit up tall and wrap your hands into the lotus mudra. Place the mudra against the heart chakra and begin to take in deep long breathes. Feel connected to your roots and remember the greatest source of steadiness in life is an awakened heart.
Open your heart and experience a moment of quietude and peacefulness and you will discover why the lotus mudra is one of my favorite gestures.
Posted on 05/20 at 07:07 AM
Saturday, March 12, 2016
That which is taken from us is not really taken from us, but replaced by that which we need more dearly. Sometimes this is a difficult pill to swallow. We cannot always see why things slip away and what good has come to replace them. In yoga it is the practice of contentment. Being content with your life just as it is in the moment, realizing that life is constantly changing and what might be important today may be of no value tomorrow.
Contentment reminds us of the importance of balancing the energy of the lower chakras or energy center of our being. The base or the lower triangle of the chakras must be balanced so that we can obtain peace of mind, which is needed to tap into the energy of the higher chakras.
First we must find our footing in the root chakras, second establish the fine line of balance between giving and receiving in the sacral chakra and third establish ourselves in the solar plexus, the seat of our power, so that we can be focused and fearless in the face of life’s events.
When the base is solid and grounded and the energy is balanced, we stand strong even in the face of uncertainty and disappointment. We don’t let life’s constant changing throw us off balance. We remain content with the full knowledge that what is here and important today may be of little importance tomorrow. So be empowered by the moments!
Posted on 03/12 at 07:30 AM
Friday, February 12, 2016
We give off and we collect energy. How we balance our energy has a direct bearing on the nature of our lives. It is said that our bodies contain hundreds of chakras or spinning wheels of energy and that these wheels of energy are keys to how we exist as soulful beings. These spinning wheels draw in energy from our environment. The energy we draw in has a profound effect upon the physical, mental and soulful selves. That is why toxic environments and other people’s moods affect us.
Come in contact with someone who is depressed, angry, or manipulative and you may feel the energy begin to penetrate and throw your energy field off balance. That is what is known as getting a good or bad vibe from a person.
The best way to protect from disruptive energy is to build a strong energy field within you. In yoga we refer to this as your aura or the shield of energy that surrounds your body-mind. The aura is a by-product of the chakras. If the aura is strong and balanced then negative toxic energy finds it difficult to penetrate your being. Instead you deflect the negative energy. Balanced chakras protect the health of the body-mind, and the sanctity of the soul.
What is the best way to balance your energy? First surround yourself with healthy people and then live a healthy life. Practice yoga, eat healthy, smile, laugh, hug, eat celery and remember to seek balance in all things and in all things find balance.
Posted on 02/12 at 06:00 AM
Wednesday, November 11, 2015
Ever woken up in a “bad” mood? You create your own universe whether you are aware of it or not. Your moods set up a pattern that eventually manifest into your external world. Your moods create the nature of your day. How do we change these so called “bad” moods?
Yoga is a wonderful way to lift a bad mood and it only takes about three minutes! Sit cross legged and upright. Make your hands into fist and pull your arms back past the plane of your body or back so your fists are even with your chest. Press your chest out and take five deep breathes. Now inhale, hold your breath and punch one fist forward. When you can no longer hold your breath release it and pull your fist back. Now repeat on the other side. Then sit quietly and take a few deep breathes. Relax, open your eyes and begin your day.
Using yoga poses we bring balance to the body by stretching it, flexing it, strengthening it and releasing it from its tense and drooping stature. This release then moves within and releases the mind from its “bad” mood by releasing endorphins or the nectar of happiness. Bathed in happiness there is a mood shift within and without. You are a reflection of the universe that exists within. Shine brightly!
Posted on 11/11 at 10:50 AM
Monday, October 05, 2015
The Greedy Mind
In Yoga the opposite of contentment is craving and craving produces greed. It is a disturbed mind that keeps us in the constant battle with our cravings. The purpose of yoga is to bring peace to the mind so that we can gather the energies of our conscious and subconscious mind and balance out our energy. The only antidote is moderation.
Halloween candy is temptation. But it is also something that only comes once a year. Life is full of temptations. Some are good, some are bad and some are just fun. Candy is not bad. It simply needs to be consumed in moderation.
The mind will see the candy and want to eat every morsel. After all it tastes good. So what we need to do is control the mind. Now we know the breath can increase our output of leptin and that leptin can increase our ability to burn fat, so if we apply yoga breath may-be we can find a compromise.
Before you eat the candy close your eyes and take three deep breathes. After you eat the candy take another three deep breathes. More than likely the mind will release its greedy hold and one piece of candy will lead to- well just one piece of candy. That’s moderation!
Posted on 10/05 at 09:53 AM