Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Nature Deprivation Disorder

Eloise Butler Bird Sanctuary
     Cityscapes create a romanticism for my senses. I feel energized by the sight of people everywhere. Erratic urban noise has been known to put me into a deep sleep. There always seems to be a new and creative concept being unrolled, making city life even better. I notice the positive aspects of city living more than the drawbacks, and have long felt at home in this environment.

Then, last summer, I started to feel more like a robot then a human. A strong case of "Nature Deprivation Disorder" had kicked in. Whether or not this term was backed by medical research wasn't important to me. The term understood my physical and psychological need for Mother Nature. I knew I needed quality time with life, outside of a city routine. I could feel this need for nature in my bones. Michael Todd shares more about our deep need for nature here.

Standing in Nature
Dedicating several seasons to re-sync with nature has already been inspiriting. Carving out a chunk of time in a congested schedule did not seem possible or likely, which was exactly why I had to do it. Taking time to revel in being alive is not just for the young, retired, train jumping hobos, or super wealthy. 

When I stand in silence with nature, the teachings are beautifully obvious: 

-There is no need to rush.
-All things happen as they are suppose to  happen. 
-Conditions will not always be pleasant, nor will they always be unpleasant. 
-We are all part of nature, reflections of nature, and reflecting back to nature. 

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Thank You S.N. Goenka

Sculpture by Kimber Fiebiger
     A great contributer and teacher of Vipassana meditation, S.N. Goenka, died a couple of days ago. He was 90 years old. I feel fortunate to have attended a 10 day meditation just last month, using his technique and guidance. His talks (via video) were incredibly inspiring, always leaving me with a beaming smile. One night he mentioned, "Buddhists are not afraid of death." They considered death to be a promotion. How wonderful it is to think about him moving onto his promotion now. May all beings be happy, peaceful, liberated. This was his greatest hope, and the purpose of vipassana meditation.

Goenka spent his early life preoccupied with money and business, which he remembered as the years of greatest discontent. In a search for migrane headache relief, he was led to vipassana meditation. The practice changed him profoundly. He dedicated the rest of his life sharing the teachings and practice of meditation. He wasn't interested in plaques, statues, or applause of any kind. He wasn't interested in living a life fulfilling his egoic needs. Some might imagine him to be dry or dull? Although he was serious about his practice and dedication to mediation, he had an instinctive sense of humor (of the side-splitting variety). He lived peacefully and undoubtedly departed in peace. 

The shortness of our life span can be mind boggling. When we live mindfully in the moment, there is nothing else we need to do. Life is being met and lived. When we sit in silence with our ever changing selves, we learn to be present for all aspects of our precious lives (death included).

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.