Thursday, September 19, 2013

Finding the Texture

"What is the texture"
Have you ever had a yoga teacher advise you to notice the texture of your exhale? If so, were you able to understand and feel for yourself what this meant? Wiktionary defines texture as "the feel or shape of a surface or substance; the smoothness, roughness, softness, etc. of something." Yoga jargon often expands on these descriptions. When noticing the feeling tone of a particular sensation, you may observe something which feels coarse, solid, or crumbly. A particular area may feel silky, spongy, or dull. You might notice a layered sense of changing sensation. At times, you will be asked to notice the quality of your breath, or feel the 
Describe how this feels
essence of a particular sensation. It may be tempting to just skip this part of the yoga instruction and concentrate on perfecting your outer form. Like so many things, yoga too can become a display, rather than an experience. 

Create an in-depth yoga practice by developing an attentiveness to any and all sensation, as it arises, changes, and disappears. This practice of presence can be used anytime, and is an effective way to alleviate unpleasant mind states. Observe life energy as it is, on a sensation level, without getting attached to any of it. Practice finding the texture, and letting it go. The natural world (which includes ourselves) is always shifting. Observing our shifting sensations without clinging or reacting, generates inner peace and contentment, which is not dependent on any particular sensation being present or absent. May we all have unconditional peace and contentment.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Celestial Moves

Crescent Moon Pose with Moon
Can you imagine leaning into the curve of the crescent moon with the side of your body? Picture this celestial move with your creative mind. Allow your weight and the downward flowing energy of your legs and feet sense the root for this pose. Once your awareness finds this root, feel where you lift up and out of it. 
Visualize the crescent moon taking shape within your mirroring body. Energies sychronize. Your side body releases into the inner arc of the moon, while established roots hold your ground.
Keep your shoulders dropping down,
while arms lengthen in opposite directions. Hands stay relaxed and enlightened. Sense the center of your being, as it is gently stretched and strengthened. The lower body continues to ground while the upper body ascends from stability. 

Salute both the waxing & waning cresent moon by switching sides; Re-establish the root of the pose each time. Practice twice on each side, feeling the subtle sensations and changes. 

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Silence for 10 Days

Meditation retreat grounds: Menomonie, Wisconsin.
A 10 day silent vipassana meditation begins today. No reading, writing, talking, smart phoning, etc. I will be picking up another participant who needs a ride, and we will begin the course this evening.  If you would like to join in at anytime, just close your eyes and look/feel within yourself. Spend as much time as you can with a felt sense of being present in your body, watching the coming and goings of the mind with loving kindness. Feel the coming and going of breath and sensation.

What I love best about this practice is the inarguable confirmation that I am not my thoughts. I am consciousness. I just am. There is never any turmoil in the present moment, something I can easily forget when running around in my mind much of the time. During meditation, thoughts come and go, yet my experience is not tied up in the content of the thinking/plotting/planning/controlling mind. Again, not controlling or trying to prevent thoughts from passing through, just noticing that thoughts are not reality. Stay tuned into everything present; bodily sensations, environmental noises, more thoughts. There is a gradually a loss of interest in the content of thoughts. It gets easier to see how the thinking mind tries every angle to distract from the Now. Imagined stories of past and future parade through like urgent matters needing immediate focus and fixing. In the now, the thinking mind loses it's job, so I can understand it's desperation and drama. Once the thinking mind loses it's authority, the breath becomes unbelievably interesting, always present, just waiting to be noticed. Tuning into the breath, you can be released from the controlling nature of the mind, and released into the the reality of now.
You may find "Finding the Feeling" a valuable practice in getting started or reacquainted with meditation. It is a brief practice found in Pema Chödrön's new book, How To Meditate. A Practical Guide to Making Friends with your Mind. For some on-line meditation tips, check out Yoga International here.

"You are the Saviour
but only of yourself.
To save yourself
simply means to awaken
out of the past and future
into the present moment."

-Leonard Jacobson

Monday, August 5, 2013

May All Beings Have Clean Water!

Filtered water at the airport!
What "thing" do you most need while traveling? I imagined missing my pillow, comfortable bed, access to clothing packed away, or maybe a favorite cast iron pan. In actuality, the thing I most need and want is clean, clear, safe, water. Ever since watching the documentary Tapped, I've not been comfortable consuming water from plastic bottles. Not even the disastrous effects of fracking, which was in progress just a few miles from my Los Angeles location, brought me to purchase plastic jugged water.  One afternoon, my host in L.A. suggested that we watch Gasland, an insightful documentary about fracking, which had me wondering what was in that southern California drinking water? The smell of chlorine stood out and the taste was confusing. I decided to stop drinking the city water, coupled with refusal to buy plastic bottled water, which led to the dragging effects of dehydration. Water, I needed good water!

A few days later, I had the urge to book a ticket to the Land of 10,000 Lakes for a home visit. Spotting a filtered water machine at the Chicago Midway airport, I wondered if it was a mirage! It invited me to "Refill your water bottle here." The machine calculates how many plastic bottles are saved by using a water filling station. I drank one down and then another. I felt like a dehydrated apple coming back to life. The taste of this water was divine and it had a brightening effect on the way I felt. A delayed connecting flight ended up being a blessing for my body. It kept me near that machine for the next few hours, rehydrating and thinking about the preciousness of water.