Category: The Spiritual Journey

I have been contemplating something I heard on Free Speech TV, “love has no labels.”
I am reminded of a story about an archeologist who interviewed an indigenous Shaman from the Four Corners area. He said, “I have noticed your people chant a lot about water issues. Is it because you have a lack of water in your local environment?”

“True, true,” the Shaman answered. “And I have noticed your people are always singing about love. Is it because you don’t have enough of it?”

I don’t know what the archeologist’s response was, but my answer would have been, true, true. The culture in which I’ve been raised seems to promote (perhaps for commercial reasons) something very different from “love has no labels.”

We are used to hearing, for example, I love this product, or I love that person; I love this religion, or that point of view. There’s nothing wrong with such statements; however, experiencing the pure energy of love without connecting it to a specific object, is a very different thing and does not seem to be valued enough in our modern culture.

Love can be compartmentalized in such a way that, especially during hard times, does not give much comfort. It constrains the broadest, expanding and uplifting power of love to a narrow path which can lead to intolerance where anything we do not love is easily discounted. At the same time, I am also acutely aware that some behaviors, traits, ignorant and unhealthy patterns etc., do need to be set aside so we can focus on what helps us be the best we can be.

 

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The Spiritual Journey Uncategorized

Swami Sivananda recommended that courage is a good quality to meditate on during the month of March. For me, this has turned out to be difficult to implement.

First of all, there is the task of examining fears regarding the state of the world, regarding the experience of pain, regarding the aging process, regarding traveling loved ones, and so on. However, when fear becomes chronic, I also know that anxiety and other disorders are not far behind. And so it comes down to recognizing the power of choice.

Embracing choice means choosing to acknowledge fear, no doubt, but also transforming the contraction of fear into an expanded awareness where courage can thrive. Now, the month almost over, another storm is expected. Wind rises. Grey clouds stretch out in long lines with hints of light penetrating, and the friend to courage becomes hope.

Gudrun

The Spiritual Journey

I am reflecting on the healing process these days. I recently had a wake up call type health crisis that required difficult changes. The question I am asking today is, does healing come mainly from a mental shift, or does it come from physical adjustments and a natural progression of the body healing itself?

As I was experiencing the body’s debilitation, I noticed how my mental and emotional landscape changed. There was less less joy, more mental and physical fatigue even after the initial crisis. Though this wasn’t surprising, it wasn’t easy.

Once I fully acknowledged the situation, I made a conscious determination to focus on what I’ve learned over many years through meditation and yoga. I replaced negative thoughts with positive ones, utilized various mind calming practices, and kept an open mind about the future potential for well being and continuing productivity. This allowed the body’s natural healing ability to take hold more effectively.

Yesterday, as I began to feel my recovery happening, I made the decision not to go into my usual routine as quickly as possible mode. I promised myself to step back from all that saps my energy and concentrate on that which rejuvenates and uplifts. Today, I listened to one of my favorites, a video of Leonard Cohen singing, Hallelujah, and experienced a surge of hope and optimism.

That is my wish for the New Year to all! May we not reside in disappointments, frustrations, or anger, even as we may need to make hard choices! May 2017 carry us towards greater understanding, strength and perseverance. And may we have the courage to stand up for a greater good.

Personal Updates The Spiritual Journey

YogaTreePose.epsI noticed in the very first hatha yoga class that I took, I was able to focus more easily. I also noticed a remarkable release of energy. I was lucky that, at the time, yoga was not as popular as it is now. I didn’t know what to expect, so this created a more open-minded experience for me.

I struggled, at times, to make hatha yoga practice a regular part of my life. With continued practice over a long period of time, I eventually developed an easier relationship with the positions and how they help to create a healthier connection to my body.

As a yoga teacher, I learned that the new students who benefit most from their hatha yoga classes seem to have certain similar qualities: persistence, willingness to respond to suggestions, openness to the idea that the postures/asanas are explorations of the body/mind/breath systems, not rigid structures to be imposed. Such students also seem to get the importance of the relaxation aspect of the positions.

So I recommend these tips when a student first comes to a yoga class:

  • Do not try to “keep up”
  • Stay as relaxed as possible
  • Understand that the practice takes time to master
  • Do not impose rigid expectations on yourself
  • Notice the negative impact of frustration and impatience
  • Above all, do not overwork the body or be influenced by what other people are doing
  • Do not strive beyond capacity
  • Err on the side of caution, and you will make rapid progress

Then, yoga classes will become a lovely foundation for home practice that does not feel like a struggle or a burden. A sense of ambition and competition in yoga is more of an obstacle than an aid.

 

(By the way, I studied yoga with Sri Satchidananda who founded the Integral Yoga Institute. This is a gentle, breath-focused and meditative yoga. Not all hatha classes have this orientation.)

The Spiritual Journey

 

 

 

“Vigilant among the negligent,
Wide awake among the sleeping,
The wise one advances….”
–The Dhammapada

 

Om

 
Inside our courtyard, as I walked along the pavers I had previously arranged to follow the shape of an Om sign, I became aware that the usual pace I had been maintaining over the last couple of years was much faster than need be. The quicker pace had allowed me to slide over the surface of what my body was experiencing. This insight created a huge shift. The pressure to move more quickly, in order to release tension, dissolved.

I slowed down. The new pace became most interesting as I noticed how many curves and turns were involved in each cycle, and how these complex movements affected various parts of my body. I easily connected to a background sense of presence–the energetic essence of my manthra. Every nuance of the walking meditation, a process of lifting, placing, shifting, became profound and meaningful. As I slowed down, time passed quickly, and I was able to walk longer than I had planned.

The following morning, I continued to enjoy a more easeful walking meditation, feeling light and fluid as I followed the complex design beneath my feet. I remembered what my teacher had often recommended on the spiritual journey, “keep a constant vigilance,” or to say that in another way: be mindful.

 

Gudrun

The Spiritual Journey

The Dhammapada: A New Translation of the Buddhist Classic with Annotations

by Gil Fronsdal

 

I am deeply appreciative of Gil Fronsdal’s translation of the Dhammapada, an anthology of verses on the teachings of the Buddha from the early period in India. There is a wonderful pragmatism, wisdom and simplicity in how the path of liberation is presented in the short space of 107 pages.

The power of the mind in shaping experience and the importance of skillful choices are concepts I find particularly confirming. Also, I was surprised by how much I enjoyed the music of this ancient poetry, or short sayings. Rhythm and melody is created through artful repetition and the transposition of repeated words. Such poetic practices serve to effectively awaken one’s attention.

 

Gudrun

 

(See all of Gudrun’s reviews on Goodreads)

The Spiritual Journey