Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Practice Gratitude with Enthusiasm!

Growing up, I remember when my mother got her first new luxury car. Before that, she had been driving a Volkswagen and it was quite spartan, but the new car had power everything and soft, supple seats. My brother, who had only recently acquired his drivers license, unfortunately had an accident with my mother's car and totalled it. My mother said "God took the car away from me because I loved it too much." I have never forgotten that and only recently I had a light bulb moment where I realized that when I am grateful for something, that gratitude is limited by my fear that I will lose the object.

Just this week I attended a beautiful funeral service for a friend's mother. My friend had a very close relationship with her mother and did an amazing job at the service making us laugh and cry with stories of her mother. We love and cherish our friends and family knowing that we are guaranteed to lose them at some point. Either we leave first or them, but the loss is going to happen. The Universe gives us the gift of family, friends and even beautiful objects. It is a shame to not fully appreciate those gifts and to let the gratitude and appreciation be inhibited with fear of loss. Resolve to practice gratitude with enthusiasm: from en theos- to be with God. I am firm believer that the Divine rewards passion and enthusiasm. The Universe delights in our joy. Gratitude and love have the highest positive biofeedback effect on the body. When we feel grateful it is physically healing.

There is a cute parable about a Yogini who goes to her kitchen and smells poop. She investigates, but the poop smell remains a mystery. She goes to her bedroom, it also smells like poop. She goes to work, her office smells like poop. She goes to Publix, the store smells like poop. Finally she goes to the bathroom and looks in the mirror. There is poop on the end of her nose! We often try to look for fixes outside of ourselves when the problem, and the solution, begins with us.

Yoga is the cessation of the fluctuations of the mind.
This famous line from the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali defines the goal of Yoga and the path to that goal. Yoga is that state of a quiet, peaceful and powerful mind- no thoughts. That state where we are no longer a victim to negative self chatter. Until we reach that exalted state, we are seeing reality through the distorted lens of our thoughts- we see reality as we are. If we feel poopy then the world looks poopy. If we are angry, then the world seems like a violent place. If we are peaceful, then our world is peaceful. Practicing gratitude with enthusiasm changes our world view and alters our perception of reality.

I cant get too excited about say, Columbus Day, but Thanksgiving, on the other hand, is a beautiful tradition. Carry the spirit of the day with you throughout the year.

PS: I am so very grateful to all the amazing Yogis and Yoginis at Bliss Yoga Shala!! We all grow together and small communities like ours are changing the world. We are the ones we have been waiting for.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Temperance: Moderation

There is a famous story regarding the Buddha which recounts how He gave a teaching to a sitar player who wanted to study meditation. The musician asked "Should I control my mind or should I completely let it go?" The Buddha answered, "Since you are a musician, tell me how you would tune the strings of your instrument." The musician said "I would make them not too tight and not too loose." "Likewise" said the Buddha, "in your meditation practice you should not impose anything too forcefully on the mind, nor should you let it wander." This is the teaching of letting the mind be in a very open way, of feeling the flow of energy without trying to subdue it and without letting it get out of control, of going with the energy pattern of the mind. This is meditation practice.

Chogyam Trungpa from Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Misguided Loyalty

Pitt Bulls are extremely loyal dogs. They are so loyal in fact that they will hurt themselves and others in order to please their masters, right or wrong.

"We Americans are the ultimate innocents. We are forever desperate to believe that this time the government is telling us the truth."
Sydney Schanberg, former New York Times reporter

When the United States went to war with Iraq for the second time, we were told that there was irrefutable evidence that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. The Jacksonville Times Union reported "Iraq is Busted". We now know that this was absolutely not true and that if the American press had done its job and investigated those reports, that fact would have become abundantly clear and some further investigations would have been warranted to determine if the people prop0sing these claims were doing so in a criminal way, with intention to deceive the American people and the world. This is not the first time that the American government has been caught red handed in a lie in order to go to war. We know now that the Gulf of Tonkin incident which preceded the Vietnam War was not accurately reported to either Congress or the American People.
It is estimated that 25 million people world wide were in opposition to the 2nd Iraqui War. Yet, people in this country who opposed the war were labelled as unpatriotic and were often afraid to speak out. Committing nonvirtuous acts and witnessing nonvirtuous acts without at least speaking out are both actions which carry negative karmic debt. Many Americans are like the pit bull, with loyalty to a fault to our leaders. This misguided loyalty allows this country to act in ways that make the rest of the world see us as the global bully. Many Yogis I have known over the years have dropped out of the political arena, some do not even vote. They incorrectly think that if they don't vote, they aren't connected to the karma of this country's actons. Putting one's head in the sand like an ostrich and pretended we don't see any wrongdoing is juvenile and we are all karmically tied to the US just by living here.

"The master class has always declared the wars. The subject class has always fought the wars. The master class has had everything to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose, especially their lives."
Eugene Victor Debs

"There is no flag large enough to cover the shame of killing innocent people."
Howard Zinn

Civilian casualties in WWI were 10%
in WW2 50%
in the Vietnam War 70%
and in the Iraqi War civilian casualties are 90%. 90%!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

"Men who have no respect for human life or for freedom or justice have taken over this beautiful country of ours. It will be up to the American people to take it back."
Howard Zinn

"Where people lead, their leaders will follow."

Annual Military Budgets

UK 34.8 Billion United States 379 Billion!
France 27 Billion (More than the rest of the world
Germany 23.1 Billion combined)
China 14.5 Billion
Russia 29 Billion
Iran 7.5 Billion
Saudi Arabia 18.7 Billion
India 15.9 Billion
North Korea 1.3 Billion

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Thanksgiving Holiday Schedule

Thanksgiving Holiday Schedule:
Wed., Nov. 24: 9 am Mixed Level Class ONLY
Thurs., Nov. 25: 9 am Mixed Level Class ONLY
Regular Schedule Resumes on Friday
Happy Thanksgiving!