Saturday, May 10, 2008

Opening to the way of life, without expectations

Have you ever felt disappointed when things do not go your way? Have you ever resisted trying something new out of fear it will not go your way? Maybe there is a better way - the way of adventure. The "just do it" way, to one open to "whatever" happens. What? Allowing life to unfold without following your script? Allow me to share a few incidents that remind me of the value to let go of wanting to control (as if I could!) the fruit of my actions:

1. I dropped off some books at my sister's friend's house with the purpose of getting my sister off my back quickly enough to join some friends. I met my husband there.

2. After years of not driving (living in Manhattan), I forced myself to practice with no destination, even though here in Miami Beach many necessities are walking distance away. As I was starting to get comfortable again, I received an invitation to attend (at no cost) a yoga intensive 2 1/2 hours driving distance from home.
I was ready!

3. One day I overslept, I was feeling stressed out about falling behind schedule. My dog sorely needed exercise though, so I took her to the park. I met my first yoga therapy client there.

Friday, May 9, 2008

The opportunity in now

"The nature of the wise person is not to desire for those experiences which one does not effortlessly obtain, and to experience those which have already arrived."

-Yoga Vasistha

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

The Mother in all

The Divine Mother represents to me diversity in manifestation of love. The same way the body sometimes needs mint when it's hot and ginger when it's cool, the Divine Mother has a bottomless basket of goodies she presents on a daily basis according to the needs of the moment. Everything is the Mother and the Mother is in everything. There is no one person, no one image, not one thing in this world that can encompass the infinite - for that we have diversity. The world is one huge altar to You, as You.

"Where there is love, there is no effort" -Amma

Cultivating silence in the mind makes space for love. Love births naturally arising actions with endless energy.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Love is the choice to be happy

Last night a few thought fragments whispered in my mind: "unconditional love is the key ... perfectionism is not love, perfectionism is ahimsa (violence, injury), perfectionism is not satya (truth)".

Every day it feels more like the source of hurt or irritation or frustration or sadness is lack of forgiveness and conditional love. Does it matter if I made the mistakes or someone else did? Isn't what is "intolerable" in others merely a mirror of what we find intolerable in our own thoughts or behavior, or what we are afraid of?
Forgetting this takes me in and out of love with myself, over and over.

I dreamed Amma gave me a hug a few nights back. The media calls Amma "the hugging saint" because that is a large part of her humanitarian work - to be everyone's ideal mother by hugging, loving and accepting others unconditionally. Don't we all crave this "unmotivated tenderness of the heart" (as Swami Muktananda said) on a primal level? The good news is we can give ourselves that love, that hug, any time. The same light that breathes life into the body of a saint is the same light inside every being. That is who we really are. We are not "lazy", or "pathetic" or "stupid". Unconditional love recognizes that. This is truth.

Today is a good day to choose to live by the truth. Choosing negative thoughts and emotions results in violence and delusion. Choosing a friendly attitude towards happiness breeds compassion for the mistakes we all make in forgetting who we really are. Today is a good day to be happy.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

An awkward teenage mind in a 38 year-old-body

OW! Only in the spiritual path can advancement be evinced by the awareness of not knowing (or infinite learning, as I prefer to call it). Just as I think I'm "getting it" POOF! the growing clarity of self-observation saves me from the glory of illusion, tempting me to give it all up to avoid the discomfort of discernment.

OW! My mind expands by getting used to feeling uncomfortable, and even though this is "natural" it hurts like a teenager's body through a sudden growth spurt. Having noticed a tendency to try to avoid situations that make me feel awkward, and having noticed the great energetic expense of this futile effort, I undertook the experiment to switch gears and face one fear per day, without prior deliberation. So guess what? The world didn't come to an end. New scenarios are starting to play out. Encouragement grows. However, because of a tendency to be competitive (or a desire to make up for lost time), some days I may take n 3 challenges instead of one, resulting in biting more I can chew, resulting in mental indigestion = OW.

I say I want to know how my mind works but when it shows me I don't want to look unless I like what I see. For example, let's say I am learning to do something new. I don't avoid being an awkward beginner - I put myself out there. I do relatively "well" until I notice a mistake. Then my mind recognizes it's not just a mistake, but a habit engrained from decades of diligent repetition. Then I notice frustration and anxiety from the analysis - it's usually either the "how do I get rid of this?" - or the "I need to get over this right away!" The bottom line is, my mind wants to cross the bridge before reaching the river. It doesn't want to be in the journey, to observe the moment. It wants to jump across the hole uncertainty, not fall down the rabbit hole. Judgment suppresses feeling.

Maybe the issue is the "fix it" attitude. Maybe the journey serves its own purpose, irrespective of the destination. A writer once said, "we all know how every book ends, so better make story an interesting one". Is it possible to get fascinated with our own lives instead of wanting them to be easy? Can one approach life like a New York Times puzzle or a Rubik's cube - with curiosity, without expectations?

When the head gets too heavy, maybe the real challenge is not to "fix it" but to put it down. Like a lake with ripples, an over-stimulated mind lacks clarity.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Excerpt from Vasistha's Yoga

"[T]he conditioned mind alone is bondage; and liberation is when the mind is unconditioned. The conditioning of the mind drops away when the truth is clearly seen and realized; and when the conditioning has ceased one's consciousness is made supremely peaceful, as when the flame of a lamp is put out. To realize that 'The Self alone is all this, whatever one may think of anywhere' is clear perception. 'Conditioning' and 'mind' are but words without corresponding truth: when the truth is investigated, they cease to be meaningful - this is clear perception. When this clear perception arises, there is liberation."

"Bondage is the craving for pleasure; and its abandonment is liberation".

- from Yoga Vasistha, translated by Swami Ventakesananda

Thursday, May 1, 2008

What if?

What if that annoying co-worker or that button-pushing relative are only personifications of your undigested pain? What if all one sees is as real as a dream, and no one or nothing has a separate existence? I wonder...would that encourage a commitment to a practice of forgiveness and compassion?

Bhagavan Nityananda says: "to search elsewhere for what you hold in your hand is fruitless."

A case of mistaken identity?

Yesterday, a friend's hands spun in disjointed spirals as he related his encounter with a stranger. "He just approached me and said: 'What you are now living, I am already forgetting', so calmly, with such conviction - he blew my head open!"

The stranger's riddle left me with my own thoughts to ponder. It reminded me of the story of the 2 monks who met a woman at the riverbank as they were about to cross. The senior monk picked up the woman, carried her across the river, and set her down on the other side without a word. The junior monk remained silent throughout. Twenty minutes later, the junior monk turned to his elder and asked: "I thought monks are not supposed to touch women!". The other monk responded: "I see that you are still carrying her. I put her down by the riverbank 20 minutes ago".

If the unmet stranger is still letting go of what happened in his life 20 years or so ago (based upon my friend's calculations of the stranger's age), I wondered, what could I still be carrying around from my past, and - is it weighing me down? Could I still be reacting to a memory of a life/circumstance that no longer exists?

In the Yoga Sutras Patanjali says that "yoga is experienced in that mind which has ceased to identify itself with is vacillating waves of perception." He defines memory as "a vacillation of knowledge created by not allowing the objects of sensory experience to escape." If the world we experience is in constant flux- money is gained and spent, food is obtained then eaten, night gives way to day, a breeze turns into a hurricane - no wonder suffering ensues when we try to interrupt the flow of nature. Maybe the reason is a case of mistaken identity. Instead of a fleeting role, label or occupation, maybe we are more like a screen that always reverts to blank after the end of each movie. What movie do you choose to play today?