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When considering what to share from my practice this month, the idea of pace came to mind as a relevant theme.

As I tried to write about it, it became overly complex.  So I am going back to basics and simply sharing some personal thoughts that I hope are useful for you.

Years ago, I read an article by the excellent teacher of the Vedic sciences, Robert Svoboda, regarding the cultivation of Prana.  Prana is the Sanskrit term for subtle energy, similar to the Chinese term Chi.

The article had a wonderful effect on me during an especially difficult period of life.  I felt stuck and thwarted in many ways then, and was undoubtedly being hard on myself.  Why was I so slow?  Why did I have no energy?  These were constant, semi-conscious questions I circulated in my mind.

I share with you the first paragraph of this article and a few reflections about how it helped me and informs me to this day.

Whoever you may be, and wherever you may live, you live your life well when you live it at the right rate. Plow your way through life and life will wear you out; poke your way along and your life will grind to a halt. Find a pace that suits you, though, and amble along it accordingly, and your world will spontaneously level a path for you.

The article goes into some depth about yogic matters that I jive with, but what struck me right away was the possibility that slow was my pace.  That being upset about my pace was perhaps the drain of energy.  That maybe it was time to surrender to a deeper understanding of my rhythm, and to life’s rhythm for me.

This insight paradoxically allowed me to slow down more, to drop down deeper, to rest and rejuvenate, to ask different questions, to hear from my heart, and to follow my heart.

In this period since, about 5 years now, I understand my pace more and I do my daily best to honor it and amble along accordingly.    I don’t expect the world to spontaneously level my path but I do seem to understand more what is meant by such a statement.

Our pace connects us to our heart.  Our heart emanates our unique emotional and spiritual longing.  This is what influences the course of our path.

May you know and honor your pace.  May your heart illuminate your path.

May our practice and our healing be of benefit to the whole world.

Here is a link to the entire article for those that are inspired: Prana

When I was in my early 20’s a friend and her mother recommended I see a psychic they thought highly of.  I had already finished my undergraduate degree in history, was practicing yoga, and working in the food service world to get by.  The main question was what would I DO with my life?  What would I be?  It was a pressing concern.

The psychic was serious, lived simply, a devotee of Siddha Yoga, an astrologer , a lesbian, her house had a certain smell- old, a bit musty, like an old book.   I liked her and trusted her for some reason right away.

What I remember most was that she said clearly that I would be a teacher.  I flinched.  I had never particularly enjoyed school and never saw myself as a teacher.  I had a Bachelors of Arts degree and everyone always asked, “What are you going to do, teach?”  “NO” was my immediate response.  I had nothing affirmative to offer next.

“You won’t teach normal things, academic things, not a school room teacher.” I still had no idea what she was talking about and remember feeling deeply disappointed that there wasn’t something else offered up as a more appealing possibility.  Teach?!

Then my yoga teacher, Priscilla, asked me to teach for her one day.  She was going away and wanted me to simply fill in for her.  I was surprised and honored and felt that if she thought I could do it, I could and simply would.  I remember mapping out how a class might unfold together at the table in “Delectables” restaurant and thinking “here we go”, but not knowing what that meant.

I was probably nervous and undoubtedly self-conscious, but I have no recollection of that.  Only that I did it and would continue doing it and then suddenly Priscilla was saying that a teacher training program would happen, her first in Tucson, and that it was me who was begging for it.  I was?

I won’t share the whole story right now, only that the psychic was right and the journey into that truth, its realization, is the essence of what I am doing here with Yoga at Heart.   It is about me and it is about you and it is about the world.  I say that not to be grand, quite the opposite.  Utter humility is what I hope to embody as a teacher and give birth to in my teaching.  It’s about the teaching, it’s about you, it’s about the flow of the life force.  These are not normal things after all, not academics, not a school room…

The word ‘education’ is derived from the Latin root ‘educare’. While education refers to collection of worldly facts, educare is to bring out from within. Education is for a living while educare is for life.

~ Sri Sathya Sai Baba

As we approach the Winter Solstice I am reflecting on the last six months since Summer Solstice.  This is the waning phase of the year, the days growing shorter.  Traditionally, this is an auspicious time for planning and preparation.  What have you been up to? What is the theme of your past 6 months?

The Vedic understanding of time is vast and incorporates eons. Our individual lives are part of an enormous whole.  We come from the invisible womb of being and return there, again and again until the soul’s journey is complete.  We are made of stars and possess the innate intelligence of the universe.  This is a theory of course, an ancient way of framing the unknown, a poetic contemplation.  It is true that we are literally made of stars, the same substance of the universe.

Time is personified as Kala Purusha. The word Kala contains sounds related to the beginning, middle, and end of all manifested things.  Purusha is the essence of consciousness, beyond manifestation.  The implication is that we each have a time limited opportunity to express our essence.  We are all bound by time and go through cycles of time; natural, collective, and personal.

Classically, yoga practices are designed to work with natural cycles, to help us be in harmony with the deeper pulse of the planet and cosmos.  For instance, dawn and dusk are the considering the most powerful times to meditate and pray.

Collective cycles relate to our family, our peers, our place on the earth.  Consider your family’s cycles,   your generation’s expectations of life (boomers, x’s, millennials), the cycles of your neighborhood, your city, state, country?   Can you sense how this contemplation of time turns us towards the complicated subject of karma?  Why me?  Why not me?

There is a great Hindu story regarding how personal time cycles affect even the mighty Shiva.   It is believed that we all go through regular periods where the harsh gaze of Saturn tests us and transforms us.  It is called Sade Sati, the 7 ½ years of Saturn, and occurs every 23 years or so in a person’s life. When you are in Saturn’s gaze specifically, depends on personal birth factors.

The story goes that Saturn was the student of Shiva, yet still had to do his duty and cast his terrible gaze upon his guru.  Shiva tried to outwit him by submerging himself in the River Ganges for the entire 7 ½ years.
When he emerged he was delighted with his feat and cried,
“Oh Saturn! What could you do to Me?”
Saturn replied,
“You call that doing nothing to You?”

Where ever you are in regards to Saturn, in regards to your personal cycle, may the new phase of the year bring you deeper peace, greater wisdom, and fruition of your current hopes and dreams.

Happy Solstice, Happy Holidays.

Natasha

 

 

There are 2 Free Mindful Meditation classes in December

December 8th we will honor the mindfulness methods of Thich Nhat Hanh.
Present Moment, Wonderful Moment: Experiencing Mindfulness

December 15th a mindful practice related to the change of seasons.
The Fruitful Darkness: An Evening of Mindfulness Practice

All are invited to attend either or both classes:
Simply register 
No experience is necessary.

 

Ongoing Class

Meditative Yoga Sundays (Class continues uninterrupted thru the Holidays)
10 – 11:30 am at The Movement Shala 435 E. Ninth Street

Class happens every week without fail.  You never have to wonder.  On the rare occasions I am away, one of our regular students, who is also a trained teacher, subs and you get to experience someone else who appreciates meditative yoga.  Downtown is flourishing too, with great places for Sunday brunch- come to class, stay and play!  First time students are always free.
$10 class or $32 for a 4 class pass

 

Upcoming

Winter 2015 MBSR Schedule

MBSR Free Information & Introduction Session For Winter 2015 – Monday January 5th

Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction Program MBSR Winter 2015 – Monday January 12th

Please see the full Schedule and Complete details here

My Peter says I should mention my praise for a little Indian restaurant in Tucson.  So here I go- never wanted to be a person who blogged about what they are eating…

Let me back up for a moment and say that I recently met a dear friend at another local Indian restaurant- that shall be nameless.  It has been in operation for many years.  Peter and I had our first meal together there.  The food is decent and the woman who owns it is, well, cranky.  Peter calls her the “cranky lady” and we accept that when we go.  He even enjoys it, being from New Jersey were cranky proprietors are quite acceptable, I am told, if they do a good job with their product or service.

I have not been to this restaurant in a while, and I thought intentionally of going this day to patronize them.  It was cold and rainy and I was early for my meeting.  No greeting or seating was offered so I simply sat down and waited.  Nothing.  I went and found the lady and she was true to form, cranky, when I asked for tea.  Tea was delivered, not particularly good.  My friend arrived and it was expected we would eat the buffet and no service would occur.  We ate, it was decent.  We visited a long while and only once perhaps was there service- she came and removed our plates.  I wanted more tea but was uncomfortable asking.  It seemed like she was annoyed we were there so long but it was pretty empty, so we weren’t taking up valuable real estate.

When I got home I didn’t feel well.  I don’t think it was the food but the whole experience was distasteful.  Why go there at all?  Why feel uncomfortable when I am patronizing her?  Why was it so empty?  Does she treat all of her customers this way?  If so, no wonder there is so little business on an ideal day for Indian buffet lunch.  Was she mad because her business was slow?  If so, this was not helping.  If I was unusually brave and kind, I would tell her what I am thinking- which is I do not feel inclined to come back there.  I would give her a chance to understand the effect her attitude had on me and her business.  Instead I will simply chronicle it for us all to consider- how are we behaving that may be adversely affecting what we hope for?

Now on to the delightful surprise I had at lunch yesterday.  A small restaurant formerly called “Amrutha” and currently called the “Curry Leaf”.  It opened a while ago and we patronized it a few times.  What was unusual is that they served some South Indian food, which is more uncommon- dosas, idili, sambar.  The décor was odd and the food was only alright then, but you could sense there was an Indian family determined to succeed.  With the name change and some renovation and a new menu it felt like a new place, yet the same owner was there which made me happy.  The food was delicious, the service warm and friendly, the prices perfect for a weekday lunch.   Next time I know where I will suggest my friend and I meet for our long visit over our meal.

Try making your mealtime harmonious by avoiding upsetting discussions.  A nicely set table also adds to the pleasure of eating.  So does a smiling face, a cheerful word, a beautiful flower or a picture.  Bless your food, and enjoy it. ~ Indra Devi

The word synergy is a fabulous word isn’t it?   Synergy is the combination of two or more agents or forces so that their combined effect is greater than the sum of their individual effects.  Synergy implies dynamism and flow.

The word balance is similar in meaning but we could say it has a different tone or quality- it is two or more things or components that come together and create a state of equilibrium or equipoise.  Balance is used to imply physical, mental and/or emotional stability and sound judgment.  In design, balance refers to placement of elements that produce an aesthetically pleasing, integrated sense of whole.  Balance infers steadiness and calm.

I played with these two terms and gave ideas about how to experience and accentuate them in a talk I gave in New York City several years ago when I was there representing Miraval.  Looking back over my notes of the talk today, I’m noticing how the terms bring to mind one of my teacher’s favorite statements from Patanjali, the ancient codifier or yoga philosophy.  I hear her voice now in melodic Sanskrit- “Sthira Sukham Asanam.”

“Sthira” means steady, firm, immovable.  “Sukham” means comfortable, pleasant, willing, sweet.  “Asana” means posture or attitude.  (There’s more to this word for another time)

My teacher Rama used to translate this as “Find comfort in any pose”- which was not a typical translation.  More often it is something dry and literal like, “Posture should be firm and comfortable.”

What does this have to do with Synergy and Balance?  Synergy to me feels like sukham- sweetness and flow.  Balance feels like sthira- that quality of steadiness and calm.  What does it mean in terms of practice and life?  I remember when Rama used to talk about it, it gave me a deep sense of what I was “doing” when I was doing yoga asana.  These 2 qualities equally engaged created a sort of holy state for me that has informed the way I practice and guide ever since.

She meant a lot with that statement though, more than yoga or meditation postures- she was also suggesting that we were learning how to flow with life.  To not effort, control, inflict our will upon certain situations we would find ourselves in.  That there was a way to find comfort anywhere, with anyone, under any circumstances. This was the realization of the sutra, the deepest meaning.

Consider for a moment right now, where or with whom in your life are you being too rigid or static or serious?   How might you find comfort in this pose, circumstance, relationship, situation?

One last thought here:  In Vedic Astrology the term “sthira” shows up again, it is used in reference to the signs of the zodiac that have a fixed quality:  Taurus, Leo, Scorpio, Aquarius.  On the positive side “sthira”  gives stability, endurance, consistency to the matters these signs govern in your chart and on the difficult side it can cause inertia, resistance, stagnation.  In Astrology when a lot of your birth planets end up in fixed signs you learn a lot about both sides of the “sthira” equation.  I will tell you I have 5 planets in fixed signs, so I know of what I speak!

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