Nothingness

 

Nothing lasts forever.

Nothing does.

For nothing is not

A thing that can be kept.

In fact, it is not a thing at all.

It is not a philosophy or a religion.

It is not our core values, or lack thereof.

We know it is not the body.

It is not any of your relationships,

even the ones that break the laws of space and time.

It is not Karma or Destiny.

It is not our feelings or our will.

It is not instinct, nor impulse, nor gravitational pull.

It is not the elements, or made of the elements.

It is not concepts or ideas, or born from them.

Tell me then,

What is it?

The mind seeks resolution,

longing for the union of understanding.

Is it God, is it Energy, is it Love?

Is it Peace, is it Bliss?

Is it Transcendence?

How is Everything contained in Nothing?

The mind is mulling over these thoughts,

like a child with too many toys

Wondering, pondering, yearning

But the answer isn’t given through the head.

*

Follow the chakras down to the base, and hold.

Pull in the second chakra, two inches below the navel.

There is an energy portal at the spine’s foundation.

Back and forth through this gate, the breath moves in waves.

I have only experienced this acutely through yoga; specifically through the spine-strengthening series from the Ghosh lineage.

I am physically taken to the edge, and there is no room for thoughts.

These breaths are the only thing that matters.

Keep the mouth closed so the body can cool down.

Breathe in through the nose, out through the throat.

Lips are closed, jaw is soft, tongue resting on the soft palate.

There is a noise like tunneling wind as air travels through the chambers of the nose, mouth, throat, trachea, lungs.

My breath is the Ocean.

In through the nose, all the way down my spine to the sacrum –

Waves comes in

Flowing down the channel back to the source

Exhale

Waves go out

The pleasure astounds me

Up my spine

Down my legs

Frothy, bubbling, thrilling waves

Invigorating my cells with life

The tide pulls back while the breath is still letting go

Inhaling back to the base

Harnessing the energy

Feasting upon the breath

Building, mounting, filling up

The release happens naturally, without thought

Waves

In letting go, the gift of life is passing through

It is not mine to keep

There is no “me”

There is no “mine”

There is no thing to hold onto.

No thing, at all.

We will live, we will die, we will all cease to exist as who we know ourselves to be.

And the thing that is not a thing, the source of our life energy, will remain

Unstatic

Alive

Conscious

Free

*

 

 

 

 

 

Creating Space

The room was very, very hot today. With almost 40 bodies and 45% humidity, we were cooking as we made our way through the 90-minute Bikram Yoga practice. I’ve been slacking with my attendance, so every class has felt like a marathon recently. As often happens, during Pranayama Breathing (which is the very first “posture”) I was asking myself why I came. Why do I do this? I would have loved to have just stayed in bed this morning. What compelled me to come here?

But with each deep breath, slowly but surely, my thoughts began to drop off. Some other will and excited power began to generate within my muscles, and I just did the practice along with the rest of the class.

One of the things my thinking brain loves about yoga IS the decluttering of the mind. The “I don’t wannas” fade away. The self-conscious thoughts cease to matter. Even the striving to do the posture perfectly stops being helpful. There’s just one thing to do and the great Teachers and Masters have always said it: be . here . now .

In this quieter space, I notice things. I notice how very Sagittarian the Standing Bow Pulling pose is. We become the archer pulling the bow, holding that expectant moment for as long as we possibly can. “If you fall, fall forward” says the instructor. Don’t fall out from being afraid, dive in, take yourself to the edge, and HOLD HOLD HOLD HOLD.

I AM the bow and arrow in this posture; my left fingers reach forward and my arm becomes the arrow, while my right toes are shooting up behind me and my legs become the bow. The subtle power of this pose lies in creating the exact suspension that the body needs to be the human bow, and in that suspension we pull our limbs apart like taffy. I am taffy, I am muscle, and I am thinking of the qualities of Sagittarius: fun, bold, adventurous. Shooting for the Moon and stars, full of faith and light. Full of humor. Sometimes when I fall out, I laugh.

There simply is just not such a thing as failure, not when we are reaching for the very light within us. There is only practice. “If you fall out, get right back in. You still have time. You can even end in the set-up for the posture. Stay in the posture.”

As a recovering perfectionist/self-defeatist, I really need yoga. It has taken me years to slowly gain perspective about who that rigid voice demanding perfection really is. The voice that is dangerous when taken seriously. That voice has gotten quieter over time, less demanding. When the voice does cry out to me, I can usually hold space for it and give it some love, like a “you’re ok, kid”. Or a “what do you need, beloved self?”

When the voice is quiet, or asleep, or absent — my mind thinks in a different way, and I see possibilities where before there were none. When I fall out of the posture, I might chuckle softly as I get right back in. There is a curiosity about mistakes: “Oh, that was a little too far forward, let’s see if I can lean back into my heel more this time….”. With a relaxed face, I go for it again. There is nothing to lose! There is no need for pride; pride is totally boring now. What’s interesting is THIS! What is happening RIGHT NOW.

There is a secret that’s not a secret, but we keep calling it a secret because it’s so obvious, we have to create a veil to even see it.

The secret is that we are the ones dreaming the dream of our existence. There is no separation between us and the Source of that dream. So go for it. You are perfectly held, even when fall out, fall down, or appear to be screwing up. Try again. Follow your strength. Do the thing that makes you say YESinside.

These are the thoughts that appear when the “noise thoughts” are abandoned. They are still thoughts, it is still thinking….but there is a different quality, a different flavor….it doesn’t take me to the same place of unnecessary suffering.

I keep following the instructor’s voice.

Eventually, even the inspired thoughts drop off. By the time we finish the Spine Strengthening series on the floor, my thoughts are like wooden blocks sitting a few feet away from me. I have retired them completely. Less is more in these moments of heavy breathing as we recover for 20 seconds in Savasana between postures.

I begin to think of class being almost over when we catch our breath in Fixed Firm pose, but we still have Camel to do. And Camel is the ultimate re-calibrator. In between the two sets of the deepest back-bend of the class, we are just existing, maybe floating, maybe feeling nauseous. Emotions can swell — anger, sadness, gratitude, love. I have shed tears during the Savasana more than once, and I have known that I am releasing old wounds, stagnant energy and fear. There is a presence all around me during those times, a presence that is rejoicing in my release and celebrating my freedom.

A spaciousness occurs.

I carry some of this open space with me when I leave class. Buffering the noise and stress of the outside world feels a tiny bit easier because I am aware of the strength that I just tapped into, the energy I played with, and the gratitude for a practice that can fill me with life. There is a lightness and slight euphoria after getting all that sweat out.

I return home to my teenage children and my messy apartment. I don’t have more money in my bank account. Nothing has been solved as far as my “problems” go. But my mind and my body are connected again. My worries aren’t running me. There is a little more space.

*

The Yoga Teachers are like Cats

 

Cats and yoga teachers are very similar.  They are like deities.  We bow very low to these advanced creatures.  We bow low enough to scoop kitty litter, clean up cat puke and deal with an eternal sheath of cat hair.  We bow low enough to give up our comfort-zone for 90 minutes in order to complete their class.  We bow low, and these deities grace our lives and keep us humble.

My girl cat, Tova, is my daughter.  She has the entire household wrapped around her pinky claw.  She is the Natalie Portman of cats, perfect in every way.  This morning she was cuddled up next to my shoulder when I awoke.  I got up and put my feet in my slippers to find UGHH!  Little perfect Tova had left me a nice wet hairball in the right slipper, ready and waiting for me like a dead bird.  It was so very unpleasant.

This is akin to when you are in one of the more strenuous postures from the Ghosh lineage, such as Bow pose, and you’re doing great, following the yoga teacher’s voice, following her cadence, and you’re giving it all you got, you’re holding out until the end: “Lift up, Lift up, Lift UP!”  But then she keeps going: “LIFT and surrender into the posture.  Find stillness.  Hold, Hold, Hold.  NOW release.”  That felt like eternity.  Half the class had dropped at that earlier point when we all thought we were done.  But the yoga teacher is sneaky and surprising, offering gifts that in the moment make stepping onto a wet hairball seem like a pleasant sensation in comparison.

These avatars, cats and yoga teachers, they can both peer into your very soul with their transcendent gaze.  By watching how they live, by following their teachings, we can learn to put ourselves in the role of observer more and more.  Learn to respond with a sense of knowing our own avatar nature, our own regal state of being.  When I tap into that, I am forgetting about “me” and “mine.”  It feels good.  The lid comes off the brain.  Gardens begin to grow again.  The doors of the heart open.  A smiling sun, a radiant jewel and a pool of clear water are revealed.

I bow low.

Namaste!

Addiction to Stress

I am chronically late.  I was even born two weeks late.  It is a flaw in my DNA, for sure.  I’m not trying to be rude.  I’m not trying to control other people by making them wait for me.  I am being selfish with my time, and reluctant to enter the whirling speed of the world, yes – I admit to that.  My speed is island-time, Solana time, roly-poly puppy time.  Forgive me!

The younger son teases me and says I’m going to be late to my own funeral.

But I’m realizing, although I’m a peaceful woman, my pathetic time-management skills have something to do with my own version of stress addiction….

As humans, we seek stress.  We crave the adrenaline, the cortisol, the inflammation response.  We crave the irritation, the distraction, the “What the FUCK?!” feeling.  Give it to me.  I want it/need it/got to have it.

So many ways to fulfill our addiction to stress.

The things that gives us a rush….

Do we really want to give them up???

Somewhere inside of us (I’m not the only one), a little maniac is freaking out – screaming “Stop me!”

And once in a while, or as often as we like, we can breathe deeply into that tumultuous chaos, and we can give it the break it is begging for.

Stress wants more stress.  It doesn’t want to die.  But what it “needs” is a break.  Longer and longer breaks, and someday maybe a permanent vacation.

Instead of banishing stress and punishing stress, we can reassure it that we are okay without it, and we can hand it that ticket to paradise.  Be sure to wave goodbye with love, for if it senses you are missing its company, it will come running back to fill your false needs and set both your nervous and endocrine systems out of whack.

As in everything, as always, we remain at choice.

Like me, for example.  I can stay set in my chronically-late ways as long as it takes.  I can blunder about, fighting with Time and plying myself with guilt for my addiction to tardiness.  But whenever I’m ready, I can allow Time to take my hand and teach me how to waltz.  Giving myself space between obligations.  Developing a willingness to be early. Drinking the moments in and finding the pause.  Letting go of the need to rush.

Anything can happen….

Now excuse me, I need to hurry up to get to yoga class!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Old Things

I walk into the heat

I don’t know how hot they keep it, I’ve been meaning to ask

The more bodies, the hotter it is

The room is packed today

38 yogis and yoginis

Ready to sweat

I find a spot, making sure I can see myself in the front mirror

Not for vanity,

so I can hold my own gaze during the balancing poses

So I can watch my foot rise above my head and kick out, kick out more

*
Class begins

26 poses, all but one repeated twice

I thought it would get boring, but it doesn’t

I feel the charge of my own ego and the egos around me

It’s hard not to let the ego rise in this room of glistening, semi-bare bodies

Watching ourselves in the mirror as we contort our forms into one challenging posture after another

“Try not to let your eyes dart around,” the instructor will say

Class continues

*
We finish the standing series and move onto the floor

Usually I begin to cool down a bit at this point

Not today

I am sweating profusely, the heat is almost unkind

My physical heart is pounding like I’ve just been sprinting

As we rest briefly between poses,

blood and lymph circulation is accelerated

The locks in my body and mind are melting

Unwinding

And I feel the tug at the lock of my other heart, my feeling heart

And now the lock is open, and old things are being lifted away

Old things, dead things, sad things, dark things

Tears smart in my eyes

No, not now!

*
There is a message: Don’t dwell on

those old things

As long as you keep sweating, keep following the instructor’s voice

This purification will continue

It won’t happen all at once, but over time

Over this entire lifetime

And someday,

someone will know your secret heart

where joy and compassion are triumphant

The feeling heart that has made the lotus journey

It begins in the mud long before it blossoms on the surface of the water

Class is over

Cold shower

Old things remain

But less of them

*

from 1/26/14