Author: <span class="vcard">Gudrun</span>

 

After the Super Moon


We are having monsoon
weather, air heavy and moist,
predicting possible July
thunderstorms and flash floods
to assault our two year drought.

I have taken walks,
protein powder,
and stocked up on vitamins
not knowing, what am I
preparing for?

Watching the bleached-blond hillside,
a mother and fawn
marauding what’s left
of our garden, I sit
suspended.

Do I spread my arms,
yell, or hide?
None of the above.
My silence is not my silence.
This silence moves everything.


(c) Gudrun Mouw, July 14, 2014



 

A Poem

tallStackBooksDuring my college graduate years, I discovered a love for teaching. Much to my surprise I felt myself more alive in front of a classroom. I already knew I wanted to write, because I would sometimes wake up in the middle of the night to write a story or a poem in a lucid, dream-like state as words came pouring out.

So, when I realized I was not just the shy, indrawn person I thought I was as a result of having been assigned to give presentations to classrooms of fellow students, I had a new vision for my writing dream—teach during the school year and write in the summer. Now, I am living that vision. With my weekly teaching responsibilities much reduced for the summer, I am spending my days on the final draft of a novel scheduled for release next year.

When I received the line editor’s copy of the first 94 pages two weeks ago, it appeared to be a daunting task. Fortunately, I had already received her summary letter which gave me encouragement to move quickly through even a threat of paralysis.

Every day I feel consumed by old draft and research boxes, the line editor’s questions and suggested changes, which I know to be helpful and clarifying, but which take some pondering as well as further research. I have awakened during the night more than once with additional questions or, more rarely, with possible answers. The subject matter, also, is emotionally intense, and I am very grateful, at such times, for my background in yoga and my meditation skills. Today, a yoga teacher friend came for brunch and tea, and we did asanas (yoga postures) together. I had not planned to do that, but it was perfect. We both felt relaxed and refreshed afterwards, and I was ready for another work session.

My current situation, as writer and teacher, though it fulfills the vision I had for myself many years ago, as is often the case, also has some unforeseen consequences. Loving what I am doing when I write, I may lose track of time. I may forget to take a break, or to drink enough liquids. It is important for me to keep up my yoga practices, a good exercise program and to maintain a healthy social life.

To be passionate about one’s work feeds the soul. To stay balanced feeds sincerity, which reminds me of one of my favorite raja yoga sutra’s:

           Practice becomes firmly grounded when well attended to…in all earnestness

–THE YOGA SUTRAS OF PATANJILI

Forthcoming Work The Process of Writing

LotusCloseupMomI finished the final hatha yoga class of the spring series this morning. We don’t usually go this long into the summer, but there had been unique difficulties with space.

After teaching the class, I sat down to continue my contemplation of a verse from the HATHA YOGA PRADIPIKA by Swami Muktibodhananda, sent to me by a fellow yoga teacher as a birthday present. Yesterday, I was puzzled when reading the verse about not “bathing in the morning…,” and I also wish to examine further, in the same verse, the instruction about avoiding “tasks which produce pain in the body…” I have violated both “rules” in the last two days. Today, I study Swamiji’s commentary and am relieved to read how she clarifies the first part of the verse by adding that one should not bathe in the morning with cold water when the weather is wintery. I nod, of course.

The second caution, which I try to practice and often relate to my students, about avoiding tasks which produce pain, is sometimes hard for me to follow when I am doing yard work. Years ago, I was diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder. The health practitioner who told me this also said: “You are the most healed patient with this disorder I have ever seen.” When I heard this, I thought I was home free; but every once in a while I see a recurring symptom, especially, when I push myself without realizing I have gone beyond my capacity to finish some outdoor project such as weeding, fire clearance, planting and watering.

Taking a warm bath before teaching the class this morning, however, is something I instinctively did to counteract the back pain resulting from too much yard work the other day, even before reading the clarification. Today’s study of the HATHA YOGA PRADIPIKA verse also reminds me of my guru, a raja yoga master. I heard him say more than once, “Yes, there are various ideas a yoga practitioner may find useful to follow, but you might also have to make an adjustment for the sake of your health.” I am grateful that I have not felt the push to blindly adapt arbitrary belief systems.

What I have always loved about being a student and teacher of raja yoga is the encouragement I get to investigate and decide about the many practices and suggestions for myself. No yoga dogma is the happy result. At the same time, I’m aware there is more for me to learn—I need to work shorter hours; I need to work smarter.

Still, if my goal is to experience peace, love and freedom, how can dogma be helpful? My experience of Raja yoga is that it begins with an ethical foundation, moves me through mindful, physical, mental, emotional and energetic explorations with an eye towards an ultimate goal, whether it be samhadi, satori, freedom from suffering, clarity of mind, ease of body, or other visions about what my ideal human experience might be.

 

Gudrun

Personal Updates

cactuswithflowerAttack
I intend to create a cacti fence
at the forest edge, drop several sharp thorn
plants and do not see how I angered
yellow jackets that fly up without warning
under my hat, into my shirt.

24 hours later, when face, chest and arm swell
to unsightly proportions,
I understand how instant karma is better
than when I have forgotten the cause,
and that pain is only seeking compassion

for all creatures,
so I open my windows,
welcome wind, welcome sun,
knowing a song to heal this day
is about to be born.

© Gudrun Mouw

A Poem

momflowerSince adolescence, I have been an avid journal writer. I learned, over time, to go back frequently and read through my journals in order to get a feel for certain themes and patterns. I haven’t been doing that much lately and right after breakfast this morning, I decided it was the right moment. I open my current journal to the first page and am shocked that I had begun it over 4 years ago. I remember many journals that ended after just a year. Becoming a grandmother has been a rich and beautiful distraction.

The current journal begins with a quote from the Gospel of Tomas: “If you bring forth what is within you, it will save you. If you do not bring forth what is within you, it will destroy you.” I do not remember how I came by this quote, but it still seems incredibly relevant. The next journal entry spoke of tumult I had been experiencing in one of the yoga classes, because of a particular student, who I considered to be difficult at the time. Looking back, I see that the problem got resolved, because I was, finally, able to “bring forth” my anger and speak truthfully about the situation….

I escape outside to do yard work before it gets too hot. This morning’s fog didn’t last very long. Living on over an acre next to a forest, there is always much to do. I consider fire clearance work to be a year-round effort, and this year I feel an even more urgent need to be diligent in the face of California’s drought. I recycle water from the kitchen sink to care for plants that have survived an unusually dry and cold winter. We have long given up on a lawn.

I like outdoor work, raking, weeding and hauling away dry grasses to our compost pile, not minding the lack of help. A long-ago yoga student, who in exchange for my role in his life as a “spiritual/yoga advisor,” used to come once or twice a week to assist me in the yard. I lived in Santa Barbara at the time. The garden was overgrown in spite of the professional crew who came once a month. My student and I talked yoga stuff and life stuff while we pruned and watered. It was great fun.

Near noon, more tired than usual from nursing a burn on my right hand, my glove was beginning to irritate the healing process, and I come inside ready to “bring forth what is within.” I treat my wound, have a well deserved lunch, smiling as I write this, because what is within is a sense of peace and contentment that comes from having worked hard, without agenda, without resentment, with enthusiasm and perfect timing.

 Gudrun

Personal Updates

 

calmblossum

 

The poems in the series called, “Six Movements” in Wife of the House are, for me, an example of how poetry “pokes holes” in consciousness, which I mentioned in my blog called, “The Book Release Reading.” After a night under the stars in a heightened state of consciousness, having just read The Kabir Book: Ecstatic Poems by Kabir, Versions by Robert Bly, it seemed as if a veil had blown away. Clear space opened, and then rapture

…arrives
electric in the red river
reason shatters

from Movement 2

apricotblossumexplosionRapture is not about a feeling of reward one might get after a goal is achieved, or a desire is fulfilled. Rapture is more like a surprise explosion and is often interpreted as an intoxication, or even “over joyfulness;” or it is seen as a trance-like state.

For me, rapture is an expression of consciousness moving with great force toward new understanding and insight. In that sense, rapture isn’t self-indulgent, as some might think, but it serves a greater purpose. In its highest form, perhaps, rapture may move one closer to a state the yogis call “samadhi,” or enlightenment.

 At midnight it goes
that boundary between my arm
and the breeze

from Movement 5

Jack Kornfield, in Seeking the Heart of Wisdom, talks about rapture as one of the “Seven Factors of Enlightenment,” and as a process of “learning to live and practice with a light heart.” Once that happens, I think, the real work of integration can begin. Though rapture stands apart in its truth, beauty and intensity, my teacher and guide, Swami Satchidananda Yogiraj, often urged that the benefits of our attainments be used to “lead a dedicated life,” meaning to lead a life that serves a higher purpose than one’s own selfish interest.

The Process of Writing