Monthly Archives: July 2012

HOME IS WHERE THE HEART IS

After being on a ten day meditation retreat, I returned home to find many changes, both gross and subtle.  Walking out into my garden the evening I arrived, the roses and lilies (much to my delight and surprise) were still blooming, the tomato plants were almost as tall as me, and the squash were producing countless fruits.  More subtly, I noticed that as we had moved further from the summer solstice in my 12 days gone, the light was slightly different, mellower and more golden.

Stepping into my studio practice space, I found that dust had settled on the floor and as I swept it, I felt renewed gratitude for the trajectory of my life and for the great good fortune to have found the path of yoga, to have the resources to pursue studies of its most profound esoteric teachings, and to have this beautiful home space in which to live, practice, and teach.

I sat down on my cushion curious to see what would unfold inside this first meditation after my intense period of sadhana and studies. Nataraja was still dancing on my altar, but as the day was slightly shorter now I had to light a candle.  I chanted to Daksinamurti, the primordial guru teacher, in honor of my teacher, this space of teaching, my path of teaching I return to, and the teachings themselves.

I closed my eyes to begin my meditation.  I heard the familiar sounds of my home: traffic and dogs barking outside, my partner moving about quietly below, my sweet cat Pearl singing….and the usual thoughts of all that faced me “to do.”  I noticed some bodily discomfort from the many hours of sitting practice and my travels home.

And underneath that, a sweet pulsating throb drew me closer, deeper into a new place I had discovered by leaving to go on retreat. Much as I had just swept the floor of my studio, the retreat had allowed me to remove some of the dust that we all accumulate inside ourselves.  As I settled into that new place, I truly felt home. By leaving my physical home to immerse myself in deep practice, I had uncovered a new home in my heart. It has always been there, awaiting my attention, and now it feels like home, a place to return to daily wherever my physical body is.

As I write this, an immense gratitude fills me once again.  Any of us that have been touched by yoga know that we are extremely lucky to have the opportunity to penetrate beyond a superficial level in our lives.   May we seize the opportunity daily to remind ourselves of, and refresh our connection to, that home in our heart.

Guru Purnima

In honor of Guru Purnima, which is this Tuesday July 3, I thought I would post this essay I wrote a few months ago.

For a whole variety of reasons my teachers have been on my mind: Richard Freeman, John Friend, Douglas Brooks, and Paul Muller-Ortega (in the order I met them). In their own way, each initiated me into yoga, educated me, and supported me personally and professionally.  I would not be who I am today without them. I have so much gratitude for them and seek to honor them in my own behavior and teaching.

Vande gurunam
These are words from the first sanskrit chant I learned from Richard. I bow to the teacher. Richard taught me the art and science of body as mudra: to listen and move with the pulsation of breath, to channel energy with bandha, the focus of drishti and dedicated practice. He supported me as I became a new teacher, allowing me to teach classes at his studio. He also whetted my thirst for yoga philosophy and again supported my first attempts at teaching that. I am so grateful for these gifts and many others Richard bestowed.

Om namah Shivaya
John Friend gave me back my yoga asana practice which was threatened by a lot of low back pain. He showed me how to align my body to be pain free, introduced me to the profound practice of opening to grace and the tantric philosophy that everything is a manifestation of the divine.  He consistently challenged me physically, emotionally, and spiritually to soften, connect with source, and become a vehicle for divine light. John taught me how to be an excellent yoga teacher and bolstered a well-rounded studentship, and these two gifts serve me well to this day. The support of John personally and the Anusara Yoga organization has been unyielding, and allowed me to build a career doing what I truly love to do.

Keep good company
One of the greatest gifts John gives, is to promote others’ gifts and that is how I met Douglas. Douglas ignited in me a profound love of the deep teachings of yoga through its stories, culture, and philosophy. HIs particular interpretation of yoga philosophy turned my world upside down in a way that taught me a radical affirmation for and appreciation of the many gifs the divine is offering me in this life. Not a day goes by when I don’t think of something I’ve learned from Douglas, his teachings have had a profound effect on me, my life, and my own teaching and I am forever grateful our paths came together.

Dakshinamurtaye namah
John also introduced me to Paul at a time in my life when I thought I certainly didn’t need another teacher! Luckily those other teachers taught me to listen to the call of my heart which was clearly clamoring for something more, and my recent studies with Paul have produced a more expansive shift in my being that I thought possible. As my time with him has thus far been relatively short, it is harder to articulate the gifts he has given me, but in a word I would say: sadhana. He has taught me effective techniques and the value of a regular meditation practice, the result of which has been a profound realignment in the core of my being toward the supreme pulsations of the divine. This benefits me daily and allows me to serve as a teacher in a more effective way than I ever though possible. Paul has fed my appetite for a systematic understanding of yoga philosophy, particularly the tantras.  The work I am doing with Paul feels like the crowning jewel of 20+ years of yoga study and practice, and I look forward to much more.

Tasmai shri gurave namah
From these teachers I repeatedly heard an honoring of their own teachers, a remembrance of those that helped them on their own paths.  I also heard a profound respect for the manifest and unmanifest divine and have received the call to attune, again and again, to That, which can take the form of my desires, the teachings, and all of my actions.  May I continue to serve all of you the best I can.