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Dear Friends, Last month, we emphasized staying centered and grounded within as we transition through the darkest time of year. We are on the other side of the winter solstice, but wintertime encourages us to remain reflective and drawn in, not to overextend ourselves as our energies are different at this time of year. Continue to take advantage of the shorter days and longer nights. Go to bed early and encourage deep rest during the remaining few weeks of winter.
This year's political season in the U.S. highlights some of the most monumental achievements and pitfalls of the past century and inspires a renewal of the dream of peace, hope and change. Yet in such an atmosphere we must also ask ourselves where the realization of such broad specturm dreams is to be found if these ideals are really to be more than just a dream after all is said and done. We know now that the ultimate resolution of the seemingly eternal problems of humanity is not to be found in a battle between nations fought with weapons of mass destruction, nor in a war of words among politicians, nor in the battle of the sexes. So where and to whom do we turn to answer the most difficult questions of our lives?
As we step into spring, we move forward out of darkness and into light. Flowers bloom and babies are born. It is a time of renewal. If you're like me, there are times when your practice has become routine and lackluster. Stale. Even boring. Use spring as a time to introduce a new sense of play and investigation into your practice. Take this time to address a pose or series of poses that are challenging to you and approach them without attachment. I particularly like arm balances and inversions(who doesn't love a little handstand at the wall at impromptu moments?) but any remix of your old routine will do. Always do triangle first? Maybe make a pact not to do it for the next week.
On June 17th, 1744, the commissioners from Maryland and Virginia negotiated a treaty with the Indians of the Six Nations at Lancaster, Pennsylvania. The Indians were invited to send their boys to William and Mary College. The next day they declined the offer as follows:
Renew thyself completely each day; do it again, and again, and forever again. Chinese inscription cited by Thoreau in Walden
Most students report that they come to yoga because of strees; and certainly yoga can bring relief. However, yoga offers many more benefits in addition to relaxation, such as flexibility, strength, increased circulation to organs and glands (often resulting in enhanced health), better sleep, improved digestion, and a quieter and more centered mind. Over several years, this practice can add up to the true essence of yoga: living life with a joyful spirit and a peaceful mind in a relaxed and healthy body. Although these benefits are tremendous (and I have found as I get older they are truly priceless!), they cannot occur if students don't come to class.
Today I am feeling hungover, even though I have not had an alcoholic drink for at least six months. This hangover is the result of my indulgence in cake and coffee after 10pm last night as part of my birthday celebration. Kathleen Maier, Director of Sacred Plant Traditions, purports that the medical traditions recognized hangovers long before the prevalence of alcohol over-consumption. These hangovers, while intensified by a heavy night of alcoholic drinking, can also take place when the liver is simply overtaxed with its job of detoxifying the body.
I am going to make gratitude a part of my daily ritual. Every so often I read a passage which reminds me to be thankful. Or I am listening to the news and I hear about something awful. ( Which is most of the time.) And I think about how lucky I am in so many ways. Then I give myself a hard time for being so selfish. ( Remember the Second Arrow? ) But when we start our day with gratitude instead of "What are you going to do for me today?" or "What do I have to do today?", it automatically changes the tone for the whole day. I tend to feel softer and lighter almost immediately.
I used to feel uncomfortable expressing any acknowledgment of my monthly menstrual cycle to anyone but myself. I know I am not alone in this. Not only do people get squeamish at the thought of blood, but the idea of it coming from "Down There! Good Heavens!" And on top of that we are taught by society to ignore that which makes us part of the Feminine Divine Creative Essence of the Universe. There is immense power in this so we are not encouraged to access it or own it.
Spring is the natural time for restoration and renewal. After a season of drawing the energy inward, it is time to undo the stagnation and accumulation of ama (stagnation of toxic particles that clog our energy channels) that has occurred over winter. I just returned from an amazing 3 days at Prama Institute, Marshall, NC (pramainstitute.org), with the most wonderful, brave, curious explorers! We dedicated the weekend to our own journey inward, seeking the truth of our own consciousness, with the help of some great meditations and cleanses. If you are interested in partaking in your own cleanse (cleansing physical, emotional and mental toxins), please click here for some recommendations.
This weekend I was thrilled to be asked to talk about "Love" at my friend Tom and Rhonda's wedding. Since I have always wanted to get a doctorate in the "Philosophy of Love" this was an apt topic. We spend so much time thinking about it and it is good to become clear about what this powerful force called Love really is. Here are excerpts from the wedding speech I came up with. Enjoy: Is there any other concept that is more important that LOVE? I spend so much of my life trying to answer many questions about Love: Specifically, 'What is it?', 'Why does it feel so good?' and 'How does so much of it fit in one body?' We all seek it.
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