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Thursday, August 26, 2010

WHAT HAVE I DONE?? ~ Part 1

A Course in Miracles.

A few years back I was working in the office at another yoga center and a group used to meet there to do "A Course in Miracles". I didn't know what it was, had never heard of it and wasn't interested in finding out. But that brief encounter with that group was enough to put "The Course" on my radar.

Then a few months back, one of my favorite students mentioned that he leads groups through the Course. He started talking about it and everything that he said about the Course was Truth. And everything he said was passion filled belief. Since then It has been like an angel sitting on my shoulder whispering to me.

And so it goes on the spiritual path. This is how you get called. The Truth calls you and once Truth calls, you MUST respond. This is how I was called to teach Yoga. This is how I am being called to focus on healing. And this is how I am being called to change my life.

So once I recognized that this (taking the Course) was what I must do, my ego has been having a freaking field day! "I mean, really now! What the hell do you want with that? Why do you want to put yourself through this? You don't need this." And on and on that bitch will chide me. I even went to several bookstores trying to get the book but could never walk out with one. But I know that I must follow through. So I emailed my favorite student and said, "I'm ready". But he already knew that.

I went by to see him today and he wanted to let me borrow one of his copies until I can get my own. Yeah, I couldn't escape. I tried, trust me. So I left his light-filled presence and came home with the Course. And just having it near me is like a magnet. It is a heavy book of probably 1,000 pages. It feels like a bible and is in many ways. I opened to the preface tonight and already I can feel the shift happening. I haven't even started the lessons yet.

I can't begin to imagine the outcome of this chapter of my life, but I know that I need it, desperately. I am an Aries but when I had my birth chart done, the astrologist told me I was more Pisces than Aries. I asked her if that's why I always feel like I'm drowning.... The Course feels like a lifeline.

"Nothing real can be threatened.
Nothing unreal exists." A Course in Miracles
"Asato ma sad gamaya.
Tamaso ma jyotir gamaya.
Mrtyor ma amrtam gamaya." The Upanishads
(Lead me from the unreal to the Real.
Lead me from darkness to Light.
Lead me from death to Immortality.)

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ps- ALL my students are my favorites!

ps/ps - If you don't know what "A Course in Miracles" is just stay tuned.....

Monday, August 23, 2010

Let's Do the Time Warp Again!

"TIIIIIME is on my side. Yes it is." That's what you think, Mick.


"If I could turn back time. If I could find a way." If you only knew, Cher.


"Tomorrow's right around the corner. I'll get there somehow. But I'm stuck in the meantime and I love the Now." Ok, now that's what I'm talking about, Jimmy!


A few months ago my daughter, Marley, became obsessed with time. She would tell me how many minutes until her favorite tv show came on. She would give us a constant commentary of how many minutes ago we left the store and included a stream of questions about how many minutes until we got home. At first I thought she was just learning about time in school and tried to humor her as best I could. Then I realized this fascination was beginning to consume her every thought. I finally said to her one day, "Honey, do you know that there is no such thing as time?" She looked at me like I had ten heads! "Marley, time is a man made concept. There is no such thing." (I amaze myself when I come out with these motherly gems!) After she marinated on that one, her obsession seemed to lessen.


So if time is a man made concept, why are we humans so utterly controlled by it?


My husband is from a tropical island and he lives on "island time all the time". We have been so late so many times and embarrassed by his perpetual tardiness so often that two things have happened. First of all, I almost always tell him that we have to be somewhere at least 30 minutes earlier than the actual time. It's not really lying. It's more of a self-preservation technique to keep this family moving. (My favorite saying is that he'll be late for his own funeral.) And secondly, I have swung completely in the opposite direction and am constantly ordering everyone around so that we can get somewhere early or at least on time.


It frequently seems that I never have enough time to get anything done. And its not that I'm disorganized. I just don't know where the time goes. Everyone feels like this from time to time, no pun intended. Kind of like when you've been cruising around 'face book' and you look up to see that hours have passed and you don't know where the time went. How about the old saying, "Time flies when you're having fun."


Then there is the opposite. Like when you're sitting in a meeting and all you can think about is what you're doing after work. Time drags. What's worse? Time flying or time dragging?

Are there ways to control time?


I'm a certified Medicinal Aromatherapist and one of the essences that I love and have been working with a lot is Palo Santo. This is a very powerful essence often used by Native Americans. She allows for a very deep meditation. But her most amazing quality is that she warps time. Yep, you read that right. She has the ability to slow time down and bend it. I never would have believed it myself if I hadn't experienced it firsthand.


Recently I had an event that I didn't want to end and I wanted to be present for every moment. I took out my beloved 'Palo' and applied her to my third eye, asking her to do just what I needed her to do. And she did. Time seemed to slow and maybe even disappear. I was grateful for her divine grace.

Last night I was watching a show on the Discovery Channel about Time Travel and how scientists are starting to prove that it is possible. I can barely get my mind to even listen to some of these concepts but I was so fascinated that I couldn't turn away! When they talk about space and time as the same thing, my mind goes crazy trying to understand! I can't possibly comprehend most of these mathematical space/time concepts. Still, why am I so obsessed?

Maybe it is because I wish I could go back in time and change my own mind. How do I know I haven't already whispered into my own 17 year old ear and helped her with a decision? Haven't we all wished we could do at least one thing differently in our lives and wondered how a different decision would have molded the rest of our lives? Have you ever thought about one sweet moment in your life so much that you felt like you were actually reliving it? I can remember the moment my son was born like it happened yesterday. Or the last memory of my father alive. The last thing we ever did together was swim in the ocean. When I miss him dearly, I conjure up that memory and can still feel how cool the water was and hear his laugh mixed with the waves. Isn't that a sort of time travel?

Yoga teaches us that the only reality is the present and that even the present is a veil of illusion. Science is teaching us that the past, present and future exist all at the same time. Somehow, when I wrap my time-warped mind around it, both seem possible.

Now if I can just get the damn Delorean up to 88 miles per hour......

Friday, August 20, 2010

Highest Good

"Please allow that the outcome of this situation is in the Highest Good of all involved."


That's my latest, regular prayer. That's some heavy shit right there. Read that prayer again, but insert it into your own life, then breathe.


"Highest Good" is a concept that I have only been actively using over the last few years. Let me tell you, this is no easy prayer. First of all, what's in the "highest good of all" may not include your immediate good, nor may it involve anything that you even want out of the situation. Most of us don't really even know what we want, we only think we know what we want. That's why I like this prayer. Hey, I have a hard time making decisions. Why not turn them over to The Big Guy? (see The Big Guy http://shootingstaryoga.blogspot.com/2010/06/big-guy.html )


This prayer involves a H~U~G~E amount of faith. Did I mention HUGE? You can't pray this prayer if you don't have any faith, or even a wavering faith in a Higher Power. It's impossible. Your ego will fight you every step of the way. The ego hates this prayer because it knows that you are completely surrendering a difficult situation and it's outcome over to an unseen force. Completely surrendering. Completely surrendering. Completely surrendering. (Hard to write and read, never mind actually do) You have to get yourself out of the way for this prayer to work. Here's where I frequently fall short.

My mother keeps telling me that at the moment of death all of your life's questions are answered. I'm not sure I can wait that long. But I keep praying for the highest good, hoping that all of this life crap works out in the end. And I keep praying for strong faith that someone, somewhere knows what She is doing up there.

I've worked on my faith a lot over the past several years. It seems that I have the most faith when I need something or want a particular outcome and lose all faith when things go astray. This prayer doesn't allow me room for wavering or losing faith. And I mean, sure, I still have those moments of human doubt but I have to admit I've done a much better job lately of talking to my maker on a regular basis, instead of only when I need something. Just like a typical kid, huh? Plus when I pray this sentence, I'm reminded that I'm not alone on this planet. That someone else may need the outcome of a situation I'm in to turn out differently. That's a rough one to swallow depending on the situation. But even then, I put myself in a situation where the faith kicks in. Faith that there is an energy out there greater than me who knows more than me. Thank Goddess for that, right?!

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And it helps to have a sense of humor. God frequently seems to like stand up comedy with me as His punchline. I said to a friend recently who was not happy about his current state of affairs that he should just trust that the outcome of his dilemma would work out in the "big plan". His response, which included a combined sigh and laugh, was, "I'd like to have a look at those plans!"

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Down, Dog!

Everything I need to know about Yoga I learned from my dog....

We have a yellow lab named Lola. She is only about 16 months old and she is the second dog in this family. She's named after the Jimmy Buffett song "Frank and Lola" (see Parrothead Yoga http://shootingstaryoga.blogspot.com/2010/06/parrothead-yoga.html)

Our first dog was a beautiful, rare Viszla mix, named Tucker. We rescued him through an arduous adoption process that included my husband getting up at 2am on adoption morning in order to get a spot in line that would guarantee this family a puppy. I got up at 1:30am that morning, packed him a cooler full of breakfast and coffee and told him not to come home until he got a dog. We looked at each other, shook our heads and laughed; another escapade in the story of our family. We lost Tucker, tragically, less than a year later when he was only 13 months old. He ran out into the street in front of our house and was killed instantly when he was hit by a car. It was the most painful event this little family has ever experienced. Even now, over a year later, we still grieve his loss.


Baby Tucker

I know that everything happens for a reason and it makes me feel better to think that his death brought Lola to our lives. About 10 days after we lost Tucker, I had arranged another dog adoption. This time the rescue group seemed less than legitimate, but they had promised me a yellow, female puppy. Now we found ourselves meeting a stranger and her dirty box van in the parking lot of a shady motel in the dark of night. When she opened the back door, at the top of a pile of filthy crates full of animals she had driven all the way from Georgia to Connecticut, was a silly looking yellow critter who appeared to be laughing at us.

Elijah and Lola on the night we brought her home.


The first thing we noticed, besides how filthy she was, was that she had "sad eyes" but seemed to be always smiling at us. It's this combination of sadness and silliness that endeared her to us so much, so quickly.

She turned out to be a really good dog. She's smart, she listens, and she is a comedian. When she was a puppy I wanted to train her to ride in the car as much as possible. That came to a screeching halt after she decided the only place for her to ride was on my lap with her paws on the steering wheel. She helped ease the pain of losing Tucker. She let's the kids climb all over her and love her. She has never once nipped at them no matter what they do to her. Sometimes she will walk up to me with a spy gadget attached to her collar if the kids need another participant in a secret agent game. She still smiles. She'll sleep with anyone of us if we are sad and need a warm body to cuddle up next to and she'll smile at you after the nap.


Nap Time

She never judges me when the house is a mess. She helps with the laundry by laying on it. She only eats when she's hungry. She will nag you to death until you stop doing housework so that you can play with her and then she will only play until she gets bored. She is over 50lbs now but still thinks she is a lap dog. We take a lot of pictures and videos of her because we didn't do that with Tucker. And she is always happy.

She rescued us far more than we could have ever rescued her.


video

Friday, August 6, 2010

On the Dark Side

"From out of a shadow she walked like a dream...."


I have been away from home and my practice for almost three weeks. This is the longest time I have been away from my "life", probably, ever. Whenever I go on vacation I usually take a break from asana (posture practice) and focus on the other, deeper, practices of Yoga. This time I have been focusing on darkness. Yep, darkness.


I know that sounds creepy, dismal and weird but it has been quite enlightening. This exploration of darkness started the day before we left. We had a tornado in Litchfield and the kids and I drove up right behind it. I knew then that it foreshadowed what was to come. Right before we left on our 3,000 mile road trip, I received horrible news in the mail, and it has been pretty much downhill since. This includes an emergency room visit for pink eye, a pulled groin, strep throat and other assorted life nuisances including coming home to a flea infested home.


But my real exploration has been in the human side of darkness; how does darkness exhibit itself in humans?


I have a horrible mean streak that I absolutely despise about myself. I have worked on killing that damn thing for most of my life and on only really bad days does it ever show itself. It is the darkest place in my being and I work at lighting up everything else to keep that shadow hidden.


Some people are great at putting others down. That's darkness. I spent a majority of this summer with my mother. No matter what clothing I had on, she would look me up and down with a scowl on her face. This is new behavior for her but she has a huge dark side so it didn't surprise me when her darkness exhibited itself like that.


I have another family member that is obsessed with designer labels. It's not even about good quality, she just loves to show off like those brand names. This is a huge darkness of the ego; "Everyone will respect you more if they see you wearing that."


I have a friend that is a huge chain smoker. Talk about darkness! How can you shine your light when you are surrounded by a cloud of smoke!


These were just a few of my observations over the last few weeks. And I'm not judging, really. These are just observations from this point of view. The issue resides with how you deal with your dark side and balancing your dark with your light as well as how do you continue to stand in your light when faced with other's dark sides. Here's where the work is. During my little observations, I found that it was hard to focus on someone's light when I was looking for their darkness. I also noticed that my dark side liked it when I was focusing on someone else's darkness. Misery loves company, right? And, vice versa. When I found myself standing in someone else's light, my light shined even brighter.


I bumped into an old friend recently who definitely has a shadow side. This is someone who loves life and wants to experience it all, both good and bad. But this person is so filled with light that the shadow doesn't seem so dark. It was more like that sensuous swirl of yin and yang; an equal play of dark and light. It was in the fascination of witnessing this dance of light that started my exploration. I couldn't help but think that this friend was a light worker and didn't even know it.... And even though I was looking for the dark side of this soul, there was a light shining so bright that I found my own light trying to equal it's luminescence.

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The solitary tree in a meadow will continue to grow towards the sun no matter how deep it's roots extend into the earth. If that tree grows to more than 100 feet in the air and even if no other trees grow near it, it will still cast a shadow. But it will continue to strive towards the sun.
Find your light and grow towards it. You will, from time to time, still cast a shadow. But the more you shine your light, the smaller your shadow will be.