Tag: Teachings

cropped_meadow_skyYears ago, I had a website with a page I called the Yoga Weather Report. The idea came from experiences I had with my teacher, Sri Swami Satchidananda Yogiraj. He would return to Santa Barbara from various national and international destinations and talk about the condition of our prevailing psychological climate. He would say things like, “the weather is stormy” at a time when our local California weather was quite sunny and warm. His students learned to look deeper into what was going on.

Some nights ago, I had difficulty sleeping. This was quite unusual. I woke up a number of times; then, I had a hard time going back to sleep. For several days, I had been watching news about the presidential debate. I had also seen replays and commentary on the Internet where someone posted that there could be a new “medical” condition called, “Election Anxiety Syndrome.”

Initially, I did not put my experience in this category; however, after talking to friends and family members, I came to think there may well be a pervading sense that “the weather is unsettling.” We’d also been having intense wind conditions, which didn’t help. Palm fronds fell all over our courtyard. A sharp acorn, during yoga class, hit my car and cracked the window. There’d also been international reports from other countries anxious about the possibility that we might elect someone who is temperamental and psychologically unstable.

Yes, perhaps, there has been a good reason to feel uneasy. As a result, I am using the practice of conscious breathing and other yogic principles to calm the mind. I slept well last night, and I feel a renewed confidence in the intelligence of our electorate.
October, 2016
(C) Gudrun Mouw

Personal Updates

The Sun She Comes and Goes

 

February’s night creatures

often shrink

with cold

and frank impatience.

 

Sometimes warm, sometimes hidden

behind high clouds, today’s sun teaches

about the pleasant and unpleasant.

 

Though thoughts arise,

dissolve,

light continues to spread

beyond herself.

 

SunRiseDkThis morning I woke up late. It was close to 5:30 am. I was not happy about it, because of my schedule to teach a morning yoga class. I was concerned there wouldn’t be enough time for morning meditation and yoga practice. I lit two candles, took some water and, instinctively, began the yoga pranayama called Bastrika, or rapid breathing with retention.

I remember a story told by one of my teachers, Swami Vishnudevananda, at his ashram in Grass Valley, California where my daughter and I stayed for a time. He said, “Meditation is like jumping into a mountain stream. It is crystal clear when you look at it, but even when you just step in, it becomes murky. With stillness and patience you will see how natural currents wash away sediment stirred up from the bottom.”

I realize how the breathing practice quickly created currents that washed away a challenging mind state. My lack of ease about how much time I had or didn’t have could have impaired the meditation process, but the breathing practice released this obstacle.

I am reminded of a story from another Ashram where I lived for nearly two years with my daughter. I asked one of the Swami’s living there: How can I tell the difference between my thoughts and the thoughts of others? I’m having a great deal of difficulty with that, I told him.

He said, “Observe, carefully, how the thought arises, then, you will see where it is coming from.” This has turned out to be very good advice. It has relieved worry and cultivated compassion for the human condition common to us all. It has made it easier to take responsibility for my inner landscape. Today, for example, I was able to observe how anxiety arose but did not arrive, or find a place to reside.

A Poem Personal Updates