Monday, February 28, 2011

A natural understanding of emptiness

The term emptiness used in Yogic and Buddhist world-views is a very challenging term to grasp. Through looking deeply into nature, the great teacher, we can come to understand emptiness in a practical sense.

Also called dependent origination, inter-existence, interbeing, and no-self in Buddhist thought, the understanding of emptiness is said to be crucial for achieving the realization of enlightenment- the realization of oneness with all that is. If we are to transcend our limited view to realize the liberation of oneness, we must understand dependent origination- how everything that is manifest is "inextricably interconnected" (avinaabhava sambhandu in sanskrit, as it's put in yoga).

Everything is not only inextricably interconnected, but also free of a truly independent origination, or coming into being, is what the Buddha taught. So what does this really mean? It points to the fact that something doesn't just appear instantaneously, and it orgin goes much beyond its conception or manufacture.

Let us begin looking deeply into nature to begin understanding. First, let's look at a piece of fruit at the grocery store. Certainly, this fruit did not just appear at the grocery store. How did it come into being and come to be here at the grocery store? Well, going backwards, it was placed here by people at the store, brought here by trucks and other humans. It may have been flown into the country or trucked in from the farm. On the farm, a human picked it from a tree. The fruit grew on the tree, which produced it through pollination of its flowers, perhaps by bees. The tree, and thus fruit was nourished by rain, sunshine and all the microscopic bacteria and flora within the soil. All of the weather, wind and storms contributed to the life of the fruit. All of the interactions between insects and tree also contributed to the origination, growth and current state of the fruit. All of the nutrients in the soil affected the growing fruit. All along, from tree to grocery store, we see countless interactions between the fruit and many elements- nutrients, bugs, weather, water, tree, flower, many humans, machines and more. If any one of these factors was different, this piece of fruit would be different. Maybe its color, ripeness, size or shape would be different, or perhaps it could have been eaten sooner and we would not be holding this very same fruit as we know it. This precise fruit would not exist here and now. This fruit did not arise of itself, nor did it come from fruit as an element- it arose from countless non-fruit elements. This is the emptiness of our piece of fruit. It came into being thanks to countless interactions and potential outcomes, it exists due to this and not due to its independent "fruit-ness".

So let us look into an animal example this time, how about a scenario in nature. A bird passes away serenly. Its body its picked at by a crow, and eaten by flies, ants and smaller insects. The constituents of its body decompose by rain, sunlight, wind and bacteria working together. It becomes part of the soil, where worms eat it and enrich the earth with their castings. The rich soil feeds plant-life. The bird was never just a bird- the bird was all of these elements- sun, rain, wind, soil, plants, insects and more.

How does looking deeply reflect on a human being? Are we independent selves? We are the result of countless interactions too. To find ourself is to find the whole universe. Looking at our physical body alone shows countless interactions between the sun, rain, soil, plants, animals, farmers, machines, truckers, trucks, clerks, gasoline, boats, jets- all interacting to grow, harvest, transport and sell us our food. Our mental state or emotional level, our habits, opinions and reactions are created by all of the interactions we've ever had, all of the examples we've seen, the way others have treated us, the way it made us feel, the way we reacted to those feelings, what we've seen and read, what examples we aspire to and more. All of that depended on the ineractions our parents, neighbors and role-models had growing, their reactions, what they've learned and aspired to up that that point in time.

Looking into a tree as we see it here and now, it is made through sun, rain, snow, wind, birds, squirrels, insects, humans, soil, seasons and more. Every interaction, every intersection of phenomena effects the current state of the element we call tree. Any difference going back beyond the origin of its parent tree would impact the current manifestation of this tree. This is dependent origination.

As we see, we are not a solid, independent entity. We are all a manifestation of infinite phenomena intersecting in this particular way. Any differences in the intersecting of any or all phenomena going back well beyond the conception of our parents. If the world didn't unfold precisely as it had, here and now in this very moment we would be different somehow, thus a different being.

All exists as it is because of all else. "Because this is, that is. Because that is, this manifests. If this isn't, that is not. If that is not, this cannot be," said the Buddha. This elegant state of complete interdependence is what is known as emptiness.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Signs on the Path

I am sharing a little of my experience of where I am, here and now, on the path. I'm not special, but I do my best to live as I believe, to live my Yoga. I share this to encourage or inspire others in their practice. As it always goes, spiraling ever deeper, tomarrow I'll wake up in a different place. So this is just a postcard from "now", wherever that is.

After my evening practice, now almost two hours later, my body (and beyond) is still tingling peacefully with aliveness, just like it does in savasana. I feel very clear and awake, but extremely calm and peaceful. I can stay awake or go to sleep, as I wish. It's as if my body is resonating palpably with the universal "Aum". I feel very grateful and content.

My mind is still restless at times these days, but my awareness is clearer and sharper. I discern new levels of subtler thought that went unnoticed before in meditation and mindfulness. I don't identify who "I" am with my body, or with my thoughts, not nearly to the previous degree. I increasingly associate "I" with the Witnessing level of awareness, with consciounessness, not intellectually but experientially. This is a new space I'm recently coming into.

My patience is growing, as is my inner peace and universal love. My peace is becoming harder and harder to shake. Even when I am pain, I don't suffer. I am practically free from the suffering mental state, perhaps due to a full embracing of the practice of surrender. I think of my daily chores and activities as "Love in service of Love". I look at life in general as a spiritual journey and my life as service to all life. This brings me great joy. I am dedicated to reaching enlightenment for the benefit of all beings. I feel it is possible, but I'm not too attached either. I am striving joyfully, because the path is so beautiful.

I am increasingly aware of intuitive information, more sensitive to what is or what is about to be. I feel, not just hope for, the loving quality in the existence of all things. I am able to watch, witness and not become lost in certain situations and experiences. I am able to love my body-vehicle. I am increasingly able to find the qualities of the deeper Self in myself and others. I see life as an unending flow of miracles. I can more often feel connectedness. I do better and better to flow with harmony throughout the day.

These things aren't happening because I'm special, they are happening because Yoga works. They are happening because I love Life deeply- I love nature, animals, people and plants, and the Spirit that flows through them all.


Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Meal-time Blessings

Around the world and across all cultures, except perhaps the Americanized world, food is considered sacred. The recognition of the miracle of life, the sacrifice of the plants and animals that sustain us and sheer reverant joy and gratitude for receiving nourishing food inspires many traditions of prayer, singing, reflection and blessings offered at meals.

Most Americans are familiar with the concept of the Christian meal-time prayer, or saying Grace. In the same appreciative tone are the meal-time verses commonly chanted in Hindu homes, that recognize the oneness of all life.

Yogis and certainly those living in an ashram setting, will join hands and bless the food by joining voices in mantra chanting. Often they will chant names of the Divine or words of peace and love to consecrate the food.

There is a whole formal meditation practice surrounding meal-times in Buddhism. In Buddhism, food is accepted as a great gift. It is looked at as being created and brought together collaboritively by the whole universe, by the inter-existence of all phenomena. In appreciation for the hard work and sacrifice of so many, the practitioner vows to be worthy, and to do his or her best to become enlightened for the sake of all beings. There are verses for contemplating the food, and symbolic assosciations with first few bites. There are also verses at the end of the meal. Some monasteries and practice centers have very formal meal-time practices, uniform step-by-step, making the entire meal into spiritual practice.

Nowadays, with ecclectic spiritual practices becoming more common, many families are creating their own meal-time blessings. Some take the form of "Grace", and change the words to make them more personal. Some prefer silent contemplation. A combination of silent contemplation and a simple word or phrase, such as the Japanese custom of saying "itadakimasu", (I receive this) to start the meal. Many families offer the light of a candle to make meal-times stand out as a special experience to be shared in mindfulness with loved ones.

The purpose of blessing or consecrating meals, besides the conveyence of overall gratitude and reverence, is to bring us into the moment. In presence we can appreciate every morsel of food. When we are mindful, we won't overeat. We will chew slowly and savor our meal. We will digest better.

With the blessing we step out of a mundane mind-set and into a deep awareness of the sacredness of every moment. We imbue our food with the uplifting energy of presence. We make the act of eating physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually nourishing.

Experience Montgomery County, Check Out These Upcoming Events!!

Experience Montgomery County, Check Out These Upcoming Events!!
Events at Arkell Museum
Look With Your Own Eyes: Landscapes, Portraits and Pastimes in American Paintings Exhibit
October 04, 2010 10:00am - February 28, 2011 5:00pm
Arkell Museum, 2 Erie Blvd., Canajoharie, NY 13317
$7 Adults, $5 Students & Senior Citizens

For more information please contact:
Arkell Museum | 518-673-2314 <> | <>
On Display October 2010-February 2011
Many of the stars of the Arkell Museum's remarkable collection of American paintings are featured in this exhibition. The exhibition showcases the rich variety of America's landscape from a western landscape of El Capitan by Albert Bierstadt, to Winslow Homer's dramatic crashing waves on the coast of Maine. Portraits in the exhibition include George Washington by Gilbert Stuart and everyday folk by Thomas Hart Benton. A glimpse at how American's spent their leisure time in the mid 20th century can be seen in The Sand Lot Ball Game by Paul Sample, and in circus scenes by Jon Corbino and Ogden Pleisner. The title of the exhibition comes from Gilbert Stuart who stated: "Paint what you see and look with your own eyes." Visitors will discover how realist artists' interpretation of "paint what you see" changed through the decades.
Events at Canajoharie Library
February 22, 2011 2:00pm - 3:00pm
Diary of a Wimpy Kid Party
2 Erie Blvd, Canajoharie, New York 13317

For more information please contact:
Canajoharie Library | 518 673 2314 |
The Ugly Truth is that we’re throwing a Diary of a Wimpy Kid party! If you’re a fan of the books join us for games, trivia, prizes, and a wimpy craft. Plus, the librarian will share some really great Wimpy Kid read-a-like books. A program you don’t want to miss(even if you do have “the Cheese Touch!”) Call 518-673-2314 to register Best for grades 4 and up
February 22, 2011 5:00pm - 7:00pm
Fiber Arts Circle
Canajoharie Library, 2 Erie Blvd, Canajoharie, N.Y. 13317

For more information please contact:
Canajoharie Library | 518 673 2314 |
Drop-in with your knitting, crochet, quilting, etc. to work on and meet other fiber fanatics!
February 24, 2011 2:00pm - 4:00pm
Lego Madness!
2 Erie Blvd, Canajoharie, New York 13317

For more information please contact:
Canajoharie Library | 518 673 2314 |
Our last Lego program was such a huge success we are doing it again! Bring your imaginations and meet us in the museum’s Great Hall as we turn bins of Legos into one-of-a-kind creations. Work solo or with collaboratively with other kids on a large project. This program is ideal for all ages. We will have Lego Duplos on hand for our youngest builders. When we are done we will take photos to put up on the library website. No sign-up!
February 25, 2011 1:00pm -  2:30pm
Family Movie: Alpha and Omega
2 Erie Blvd, Canajoharie, New York 13317

For more information please contact:
Canajoharie Library | 518 673 2314 <> | <>
Puppy love takes on a new meaning in this animated film featuring a slew of celebrity voices. Kate is a dominant and driven female wolf, while hairy Humphrey lives for the moment. But when the two young wolves are captured by park rangers and taken far away, they bond despite their differences. Free, includes popcorn and refreshments.
February 4, - March 28, 2011
Canajoharie Library
Community Gallery : Student Art
2 Erie Blvd, Canajoharie, New York 13317

For more information please contact:
Canajoharie Library | 518 673 2314 |
Featuring artwork from Canajoharie Central School students. On View: February 4, - March 28, 2011
Events at Schoharie Crossing
The historic site has snowshoes available for all ages and sizes. Snowshoe rental is daily for the remainder of the winter. Rental is $5.00 per person for up to four hours
and must be returned to the Visitor Center by 4:00 pm.
Advance reservation is necessary! Call 829-7516
February 22, 2011 at 9 a.m. to Noon -
Children’s Outreach Program “River and Canal Changes Through the Years”
at Walter Elwood Museum.  Registration required!
February 23, 2011 at 7 p.m. - Spring Lecture Series Begins “History of Mohawk Valley Ice Jams”
with John Quinlin of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
at Schoharie Crossing Visitor Center
February 26, 2011 10:00a.m. - 12:00p.m.- Mohawk Language Workshop
Schoharie Crossing 129 Schoharie St, Fort Hunter 12069
$5 per person

For more information please contact:
Tricia Shaw | 829-7516 |
David Cornelius, Mohawk Mohican director of NativEd and an independent scholar will teach the basics of the Mohawk Language for the beginner. He will explain how French and Latin are similar but also how Native American languages differ from European languages. Cornelius will teach simple saying along with some of the famous Mohawk Thanksgiving address. Open to all ages. Please call to reserve your spot.
A Look Ahead
Thursdays in March at Noon
The Lunch and Learn Series is back!
Schedule soon to be announced.
April 16- Clean Sweep Canal Clean Up and Brush Cutting along
the Mohawk River and Old Erie Canal
Meet at Yankee Hill Picnic Area, 9 am to noon
Lunch provided. Please bring all your own equipment.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Become Enlightened, Become Like a Kid Again

Its strange that we often stress seriousness as a quality of maturity in our Christian-based societal norms, since Jesus often referred to being child-like as requesite for entering the Kingdom of God, which he said is within us and all around us.

So if to be enlightened we must be like children, it's unfortunate that even well-intentioned adults often view children as silly, unguided, unknowing and adults as always knowing better. While indeed, adults are more entrenched in material existence and may have a leg up on the mundane, material knowledge and motor skills, children have a leg up spiritually- as freshly incarnated souls they may still remember other planes, and how to be in the Spirit, so to speak.

What can we learn from children? Awe. Wonder. Sensitivity. Non-judgemental views. Children delight in the miracles unfolding all around them and don't dismiss anything as insignificant. They are honest and live by their heart-compass. Kids don't pass judgement on others because of the way they look- not until they are taught to.

Babies are just Present a lot, calmly abiding in the moment taking in the total experience. Toddlers revel in the newness of each experience, and truly enjoy using their senses to explore their relationship to the world around them. They stay honest and open in the moment. Play is a way of celebrating the suchness of the moment and generating a joie de vivre, whole-hearted happiness and peace.

Adults have learned to worship the rational, live in their heads, ignore the familiar and disregaurd the value of playful fun, losing the connection to the heart-compass. How can we find the sacredness available to us in each moment with a closed heart?

Start fresh learning to love and live fully in the moment. Learn from any very young children in your life. Renew your innocence. Believe in goodness. Care for others. Delight in the miracles of all shapes and sizes unfolding all around us. Laugh and smile more. Love like its your whole being and purpose. Enjoy life vividly.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

In Love with the Moment: a couple little love poems for the Universe


To be present is to be connected to the love-current of the Universe,
alive with bliss and knowing,
only by feeling the now we are here and have any idea what life is.

To be distracted is to be fogged over,
eyes glazed, lost in the dark cave of subjective thought,
looking at life through a filthy, filmy window.

To be mindful is to be intoxicated with freshness,
to be high on eternity, unfolding each moment,
to pulsate with starlight, to be in love
with the very existence of existence.

You may think my kind of people are strange,
looking with wide eyes at the same trees day after day,
rolling in the grass, breathing in the air and moaning,
rubbing our hands through dry beans just to delight in the sensation.

We say "I love you" to strangers and we mean it,
we feed off of a child's laughter for days,
we will just stare into the world and smile for hours if you let us.

The only people you've seen like us are on drugs,
but our high comes from far beyond the senses.
Our high comes from knowing that the Maker permeates all that is made,
and every moment is a tender lovesong, a rapturous miracle, an ecstatic embrace,
that lasts only as long as the limits of our focus.

We are lovers of the Love that is everything that is.


Words are a blurry poloroid
of the knowing of raw experience.
Looking at a crappy photo won't get you there,
only turning around and piercing the center of this very moment,
burrowing in, boring deep past the thoughts and opinions right into infinite consciousness itself.

When you dive for that mark, bring lead boots
so that the styrofoam of the thoughts can't keep sucking you back to the shallow water.

Marinate in that depth, and soon you will grow gills and die to the shallow world and never look back.
Then you'll look wierd to the zombies who have never drunk the wine of pure awareness.

That you seem strange should never matter,
not after you make friends with All That Is.
All That Is makes all-that-was look like the not-worthwhile it always was.

Did you just want the husk, the appearance,
or did you want the reality of the nut?
You can have your husk-world,
I don't even miss cable now that I have the boundless depths to explore.

Even this trying to put It into words
is growing stale. I'm diving into consciousness itself again,
so Don't wait up, its too delightful to express!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Sunday Satsang (universal spiritual) Retreats at the Studio

Satsangs are spiritual gatherings. What I hope to offer is a 75-minute retreat open to the entire community; individuals, couples, families, friends of all ages and religions. If you are interested, please let me know!

I envision it beginning with 20-minutes of silent meditation/prayer, during which the kids can color, and adults can choose to do rosary/japa or yogasanas if they wish. Then we'd come into 20-minutes mantra chanting/singing. We can share songs that move us in a call-and-response style, bringing us deeply into the moment. Then we can have a 15-minute reading from various sources, letting us partake in the universal nature of all religions. Then we can end with 15-20 minutes of silent meditation/prayer.

I'm hoping to begin building a universal spiritual community. I want it to be a fun, engaging, centering experience that will serve adults and children alike. If we include our children they will grow up seeing the sacredness of all life and the Divine reflection that is everything everywhere. They will grow and mature into adults who cherish peace and have a strong reverence for life. We all need to be patient with the children and accept their presence and right to be fun-loving kids..

So please let me know if this sounds like something that you and your ones would attend! Thank you!

Friday, February 18, 2011

New Programs at Enlighten! Kids~art~poi~trance dance...

CHILDREN'S YOGA- there will be exciting changes in the kids classes.

We will have an hour of Little Yogi Playtime from 5-6pm: Free-flow play with world music, musical instruments, and spontaneous poses or songs. Organic play time to share and explore. (birth to 3yrs)

Following that is Family Yoga from 6-6:45pm: for 3-10 year olds and their families. Come in a playful mood! We become many shapes of nature and animals with our bodies, making all sorts of fun sounds, singing songs, laughing, and having a good time. We also make poses together, learn compassion and sensitivity, while bonding and enjoying ourselves.

Starting children in a yoga program early on helps them to develop body awareness, self-esteem, and tools for handling stress healthfully. It also gives them non-competitive social interaction through exercise, increasing their strength and flexibility. These skills come with them off the mat and can inspire a life-long practice that provides health, inner peace and happiness.

ART CLASSES Introspective art program (coming this Summer): led by a local artist and teacher, projects will explore ideals, values, concepts of self and more. You don't need to be "good at art" to benefit from creatively expressing yourself.

MEDITATIVE MOVEMENT the yogini trance bellydance class will become more open and more meditative. We start in much the same way, with bellydance movements, and move into a longer trance space (free dancing, moving to the music while meditating), at which time you can dance, do yoga asanas or spin poi if you already spin. We also end class with 7 minutes of seated meditation.

POI SPINNING we are still trying to arrange poi spinning classes to begin this Spring or Summer. If you are interested in learning or teaching, please let me know!

MEDITATION CLASS Tuesdays at 5:15pm. Start with yoga asana warm up, then come into two 20 minute sessions of meditation, with an inspiriting reading in between. Learn to meditate and benefit from this powerful practice!

WHAT DO YOU WISH TO SEE? Please let me know!!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Become love.

When we become spiritual, unselfish, unconditional love, we need not worry about any other precepts.

Love is honest, love is content. Love cannot harm or kill. Love is joy, love is compassion. Love is pure, love is wisdom. Love is patient and benevolent. Love is our essential nature. True love is universal love, it sees that all of life is sacred, from the very same Source..

If we had to choose just one quality to strive for, let it be love.

If we become infinite love, we become infinite, we become enlightened. Peace is made of love.

Be love everyday, and become extraordinary.

In all situations love is the answer, violence and negativity are never acceptable.

Love is the secret to everything good.

Cultivate an equal love for yourself and all others to truly be love. Embody love. Know that all life is sacred, animate and inanimate. God is in everything and everywhere. See the Spirit in trees, animals, all of nature and everyone. Think this way and life becomes the Beloved whispering love poems through all of manifest reality. There is no greater love then the love that is the essence of all form.

Become that love, as Rumi might say. Don't be "myself" and "love"- let the love dissolve the ego like sugar in water and leave nothing behind!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

March 20th: Our first yoga community gathering (and clothing swap)

Equinox yoga community gathering ~ clothing swap ~ vegan potluck

Sunday, March 20th ~ 11am-2pm ~ All are welcome!

Please save the date and come if you can! It will be an uplifting but casual gathering for the whole community- current students, possible students and those interested in positive, peaceful living.

We'll begin with meditation at 11:00am for 20 minutes to relax and harmonize our energy...

Then we'll share our vegan potluck meal in silence (11:30-12noon) starting at 11:30am. Please bring a vegan dish to pass- you don't need to be vegan to attend, but please only bring vegan foods to the studio, and make sure to list the ingredients on a card or piece of paper for those with allergies!..

We can set out our clothes at 12 and begin swapping at 12:30, what a fun way to recycle and refresh the wardrobe!

We can raise our vibrartions through enjoying the company of other positive individuals, we can nourish our bodies with healthy vegan foods and all the leftover clothes will be passed on and donated.

Let's gather some donations for Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary, so please bring $1-5 to donate (only if you can), more if you wish! You can also make a donation instead to support the rennovations here at the studio, your choice!

Clothing swap, yoga sangha satsanga (community gathering) and vegan potluck. Bring your friends! Anyone who is potentially interested in uplifting community, yoga, meditation or healthy eating would enjoy themselves! Family-friendly, so bring the kids too! Spread the word! See you then!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Tapasya: Straightening By Fire

Tapasya or Tapas: "to straighten by fire", translated as austerity...

Our desires, our likes and dislikes keep us bound to our karma, to chronic dissatisfaction or suffering in life. They block us from the realization of our highest potential. This is an example from my path. It is the kind of thing one may choose to practice to help diminish egoic attachments. However, whatever austerity, or tapas, one chooses should feel a bit challenging but not painfully or dangerously extreme. It may feel natural or even blissful, and thats how you know its right. If there's doubt, it's probably not time yet. Tapas should enhance your sadhana, not become an obstacle to it.


There was a time when I so strongly identified with my body (mistook it as my whole Self), that I suffered greatly. I wanted to live up to the popular ideal of the perfect body, although such a thing sought in that way doesn't exist. I could never be skinny enough. It was as if the lower the number on the scale, the greater my self-esteem. Any natural fluctuation in water or weight caused me so much stress. I had anxiety about my body that caused me very painful digestive problems. It caused me to feel unworthy of love. Slowly, I became so sick and tired of suffering that I found my way to yoga. After years of practice, the suffering slowly faded as my sense of self and center of self-esteem went beyond my body. I finally renounced that kind of attachment to my body, totally embracing my decision to have a child. I fully surrender, no wanting to teach such painful and disordered darshan (views) to my child. I was ready and willing to die to my old body and fully accept what I received after giving birth to my child. Once I fully returned to a vegan lifestyle, what body did I have? The one I suffered many, many years struggling for! But I don't suffer for it at all- I eat when I'm hungry, I rest when I'm tired, I drink water when I'm thirsty. When I was ready to shed my attachment, like a snake sheds her skin, I became free.

So now, another attachment feels ready to be severed. This time I am choosing to practice a small austerity to help me "straighten by fire" the attachment to the appearance of my face and hair in the mirror. I have never been satisfied with my hair for long. Long, short, medium, wavy, straight, up, down, it rarely satisfies me when I look in the mirror. No matter what stylist I see, style I try, it never "looks right". What do I wish to see? What am I looking for?

Our mental outlook and the rollercoaster of emotions colors what we see. Being slightly dehydrated may make what we see not look so good because we are a little worn out, for example. Looking for satisfaction externally never satisfies us because the world of form is in constant flux.

So I look in the mirror and leave the present moment to think "I would better if..." or "I need a haircut, I'll cut it like ..." or simply "I look terrible". Then in my mind here and there is the re-emerging thoughts of what I should do with my hair. It would repeat here and there until I did it. My mind would get off that trip for a week and then start in again. It was never satisfied, which is funny, because that's just what the Buddha said is the case with human minds- they are never satisfied by nature, thus we suffer.

Frankly, I am commited to the Bodhisatva Vow- I am working toward enlightenment for the sake of all beings, and I have a lot of work to do, I just don't have time anymore to care about seeking acceptance or self-worth through my external beauty. I never felt like I fit in much in my brand of external beauty anyway. I am working on inner beauty through sadhana.

So enough with the million haircuts, the chronic dissatisfaction, the looking for something more in the mirror. So I dreaded up my short hair. Thats the end of it.

Conventionally speaking, I look like a dude, I mean, its really quite boyish how short it is. I don't like the way it looks. I'd love longer dreads on me, but this is not about that.The point was to detach from what's in the mirror, to stop looking so hard or riding the rollercoaster of mood and emotions. What does hairstyle have to do with the meaningfulness of life? Not much at this point. So when I catch myself looking in the mirror more than is basically neccessary, thats my bell of mindfulness to come back to the moment. When I catch myself thinking about how my hair looks, thats another bell of mindfulness. Be here now!

Don't get me wrong, I am still grooming in the basic sense. I'll throw a scarf or headband on, whatever brings balance to me visually. For those who don't know, yes you wash dreadlocks, twice a week. But I'm off the treadmill of judging whats in the mirror, after initial establishment my maintenance needs are minimal, and I don't need cuts or to think about cuts all the time. More time freed to be here and now. One more present moment closer to enlightenment.

I will let them grow and grow, until they get too long for peace's sake. If they don't lock up (mature) well, I can start with a pixie cut or shaved head and do the same practice. Detachment, and full surrender to what is are important, so if they work out, great, if they don't, great. Another note about why I chose dreadlocks is that they are very common among yogis, especially in India, because of their low maintenance needs and longevity.

Remember, attachment dissolves naturally. "You can't pull the skin off the snake. The snake sheds its skin when its time" -Hari Dass Baba

when its time, shed your skin, layer by layer. Free your self of the veil of the ego. Liberate your heart, be your self, be boundless once again.

sometimes a little fire can clear the path. Let the Cosmic Blacksmith straighten those crooks with you. Ahhhh! Isn't that much better?!


Friday, February 4, 2011

What is True Love??

With Valentine's Day coming up, and the toughest part of the Winter As well, I felt inspired to reflect on love. May this inspire you to practice true love in your life, and thus receive true fulfilment.

When we Westerners think of love, we often think of what in yoga is considered to be attachment, not real love. When we love someone, it often begins as attachment- a sort of qualified love that can be all consuming and at times obsessive. That describes what we often call the "honeymoon stage" of a relationship. This is the blind love that looks at another with rose-colored glasses, glosses over the things we wouldn't otherwise find appealing and flls in all the unknown details with what it wants to see.

When this "love" fades, as all worldly things do, we are challenged to develop real love for our partner or be chronically dissatisfied and complain alot, or else end the relationship and look to start over anew where "the grass is greener". But the grass always seems greener in the honeymoon stage, but it cannot last. So we must finally learn to cultivate real love or forever chase new relationships like a drug, the high of which inevitably will end.

So what is true love? True love is built over time, learning to repsect and fully appreciate another being without judgement. It is found in sharing time & space with another in ways that feel wholesome. It is found in allowing your self and the other to explore your selves openly, to evolve as individuals toward enlightenment. It is found in sharing household chores, surrendering the ego, supporting positive efforts, gently offering constructive criticisms when absolutely needed, and serving each other with respect. It is more like what Westerners would call friendship. But that sort of friendship that is bold and gentle, purely honest and raw.

True love, love without attachment, is the kind of love that would do anything for the highest good of a loved one, sacrificing of oneself in any way required to uplift the other, free the other from pain or suffering or inspire deeper joy.

True love is not just for your lover, for your spuse, for your children or for the rest f your friends and family. The truest love is the love that is made of the Four Infinite Thoughts: Infinite kindness, Infinite compassion, Infinite joy and Infinite equinimity. The practice of these four qualities to the point at which they become infinite can lead us to enlightenment, loosening all the blockages of ego and karma and liberating the true love that is our essence.

"Love is not love that alters when it alteration finds." -Shakespeare

Practicing infinite kindness means making sure that we rise to every opportunity to bring wholesome happiness to others. Infinite compassion means taking every opportunity to relieve the suffering and discomfort of others. Infinite joy means using every opportunity we have to encourage the generation of wisdom in others-not book knowledge, but presence, peace, meditation, positive lifestyle, etc., the factors that bring lasting happiness. Infinite equanimity is the desire and effort to extend these qualities to ALL living beings, all sentient life forms. We cannot be lovers of animals and harm them. We cannot be lovers of life and destroy life.

Perhaps the most important thought, especially for the Westerners to know, is that all the love you need is within you. Until you feel that love within yourself you cannot find enough love elsewhere to satisfy you, ever. You must break through and heal the ugly layers of hatred and cynacism, of judgment and comparison. You must find the peace within yourself before you can enjoy relationships with others. If you look for lasting fulfilment outside yourself you will always fail. If this idea rubs you the wrong way, then it is you who most needs to hear it. One of the best ways to begin finding the love within is, however, to cultivate true, unattached love for others. Serve as a volunteer with animals, sick or the needy, the old or the young, and let the self-pity, self-judgement and ego die. Then you will slowly become the love that was within you all along.

What is true love? Our very essence and nature.


How Can We Allow This Kind of Suffering?


This is a re-post of a Farm Sanctuary Update......

"Daniel Lee Clark, the Pennsylvania man charged with 832 counts of animal cruelty after hundreds of pigs were found dead and abandoned on his Fulton County property in November, was sentenced on January 7. Clark pled guilty to 10 animal cruelty counts, and the remaining 822 were dropped. His sentence: a $2500 fine. 
At his appearance, Clark told the judge that the pigs’ deaths resulted from an agricultural disaster, explaining that an equipment malfunction caused the animals to drown in liquid manure. Yet, regardless of the cause of death, Clark’s minimal sentence demonstrates just how weak animal cruelty laws are when it comes to farm animals. In many cases, cruelty charges are not even filed, and egregious suffering is overlooked.  
The fact that cruelty charges were even filed – thanks to the more than 12,000 of you who took action by contacting District Attorney Kendall – attests to some legal progress for farm animals. And, had you all not taken action on this effort, the plight of these pigs may never have been known outside of Fulton County either. While we are encouraged that farm animals are beginning to receive some recognition under the law and in our courts, it is important that we continue advocating for better legal protections and justice for farm animals who are treated with such wanton disregard. 

Yours in compassion,
Gene Baur
President and Co-Founder"

This is why in our current times, in order to practice Ahimsa (non-harm), we can't help but look to veganism as a sound option. If you are eating products that came from pigs, this is the kind of industry you are supporting! Please consider a change in diet that will help end this kind of suffering in the world. At the same time, you will improve your health and sharply reduce your negative environmental impact, benefiting all earthlings.    Namaste.

click on blog title to view the ~enlighten~ vegan resource page...