Archive for June, 2009

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Length, Width, Breath

June 22, 2009

Two statements from my childhood and early adulthood keep popping into my mind lately.  The first, from some time in early high school, came from my theater director, in response to students’ nervousness regarding upcoming auditions: when you get on stage to audition or perform, the only thing in the world you can control at that moment is your breath, so let go and breath.

The second came from my aunt, I think during college.  I don’t remember how the conversation came up, because I generally don’t talk about my dating life, or lack thereof, with my family. It’s possible, in retrospect, our conversation had nothing to do with men, but historiography of the moment has made it so. But I remember my aunt responding to my frustrations by telling me “if you make space in your life for what you want, it will appear.”

It’s no shocker these thoughts have been surfacing – as you can imagine, in teacher training we talk a lot about breath, and yoga in general is nothing more than creating anatomical space in the body for breath to move. But in my personal life, as well, these topics keep rearing their heads, lately in opposition to one another; or maybe it’s not opposition, but counterbalance.

The problem with me and my big super ego is my monkey mind will happily grasp on to anything that says I’m failing.  So it’s very easy for me to blame the lack of romantic intimacy in my life right now on something I’m doing preventing me from making space.  At those times, I have to remind myself that the only thing I can ever control is my breath in the present moment… and even that’s subject to change.  Just because the next He hasn’t shown up yet, doesn’t mean I’m necessarily doing something wrong, it can relate to countless factors having absolutely nothing to do with my actions or inner weather.

It’s hard to wrap my  brain around the thought that He exists somewhere right now, I just don’t know him yet.  That we are two paths which will ultimately intersect, “when the time is right.”  PS, Author’s Note: that sentence, “it’ll happen when the time is right,” kind of makes me want to rip my eyeballs out.  I understand it’s truth intellectually, and I appreciate why people feel moved to say it, but emotionally there are only so many times you can hear it at 28 before it drives you to hari-kari.

But it’s true. He’s out there somewhere, and when the space exists and all the myriad factors over which I have no control collude he’ll appear. Patience, however, is not my greatest skill.  To wit, I wrote a poem a couple months ago, which I’ll air here.  I admit, I’m sheepish about publishing it – it doesn’t feel done to me, especially the end – but I’ll just breath, copy and paste in the space below:

You’re out there You-ing
I’m in here Me-ing
And I hope in your You-ing
You like what you’re doing
But I’ve spent a long time longing

I’ve always wanted an Us to be
But I was busy for a while, hating my Me
I’ve freed up some time and some space for a We
Maybe it’s rude to ask you to hurry?
It’s just that I’ve spent a long time longing

I’m trying to let go of my Will-ing and Was-ing
I’m trying to grasp my Being and Is-ing
I’m trying to live Now and not in Then
I’m trying to like where I am, but
I mean, I’ve spent a long time longing.

I don’t know what it means to We
I’ve only ever had to Me
I know a PerfectUs just Isn’t
But a TryingUs can Is
And my Me would sure like to try
After a long time longing

So I’m here in all my Me
Waiting to meet all your You
If you could please just pick up the pace
Damn it, I’ve spent a long time longing

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Sutra II.44

June 18, 2009

This was my answer to a recent homework question, “what does this sutra mean to my personal practice?”  I thought my answer would be an interesting post here.

“By study of spiritual books comes communion with one’s chosen deity.”

This is one of those sentences that makes me cringe when I first read it, thanks to years of self-induced conditioning against organized religion. Even though the sentence contains ambiguity in regards to the individual’s definition of “deity”, I still have a knee jerk reaction of negativity. However, if I am mindful of this reaction, allow it to be, and consider the sutra further, it is more of a personal life thesis statement.

Having turned to non-theistic systems of thought at this time in my life, I believe in an internal wisdom, not a god per say, but a “Quietest Voice” of knowledge and goodness which resides in all of us – in some mired deeper than in others. The quest in life becomes a search to peel away the layers of mental and emotional muck in order to hear that voice more clearly. A bigger, clearer internal self becomes both the “deity” with which I am seeking to “commune,” as well as the spiritual book from which I am attempting to garner information.

Along these lines, I believe education is one of the most important parts of being human. Reading, exploring, asking questions and cultivating informed curiosity on a broad spectrum of interests is, in my opinion, not only one of the great joys of being alive, but a necessity for this evolved understanding of self. I believe only through studying the world around and within us as broadly as possible do we become citizens of the world, understand our inherent interdependence with the universe, and gain the compassion for one another these endeavors elicit.

Thus, if my “chosen deity” is my greater Self, then accumulating information, reading, being informed, and realizing and accepting that all sources are flawed and subjective is the “study of spiritual texts” that facilitates my self-communion.

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Take What You Like, Leave The Rest

June 4, 2009

This tenet from Al-Anon and AA has become my constant mantra (so to speak) the last five days in school.

Maybe that’s not accurate.  I’ve actually been repeating that to myself for the last four days.  On the first day of classes, I was enamored of everything about my teacher training.  Every teacher, ever lecture subject, everything resonated for me across the board.  I even found myself getting emotional during lectures on my first day, so overwhelmed by the confirmation that I was in exactly the right place.

Thankfully, I’m still convinced I’m in exactly the right place (and as I’ve said, I firmly believe we are always in exactly the right place), but the shiny coat of paint is beginning to chip away.  The foundation underneath is still pretty awesome, but there are some aspects to this program that have me squirming a bit.

Issues I have with the make up of the studio itself I will keep to myself, but one thing that has come up a few times now in classes is seriously bothering me.  There seems to be rampant misunderstandings of and – more disturbingly – distaste for Buddhism.

I always thought of Tantra (the particular lineage of yoga I’m currently studying; and no, it’s not all about sex) and Buddhism as working in lovely synergy with one another.  In my personal experience (which in both schools of thought is ultimately the only thing that matters) my study of Asana (the physical practice of yoga), Metta (compassion meditation), and the Buddhist Dharma (essentially a suggested framework for happiness) have always worked hand-in-hand to inform my spirituality and world view.  But in class, Buddhism is talked about like something to be ignored and subordinate to Tantra Yoga.

Certainly, as a Buddhist (though I vacillate with my comfort in calling myself as much) I’m offended at the intolerance, but furthermore, I think it is a sign of weakness in the program that instead of drawing parallels between modalities, it has erected walls.

I’d be lying if I said my frustration with this wasn’t effecting my practice and my studies – it certainly colors my mood and my ability to garner the more esoteric of the lectures.  I’ve found myself skeptical to subjects by which I was previously fascinated and to which I was open such as Chakras and Ayurvedic Doshas; it’s sort of my brain saying, “oh yeah? You don’t like me? Well I don’t like you either…LA LA LA I can’t hear you.”

But I think I need to look at my relationship with this studio like the folks in Al-Anon talk about relationships with the addicts in their life: you can’t solve their problems, and you can’t fight their battles.  If my school is going to be ignorant on a certain subject, but still nourish me in other ways, then I have to figure out how to love it, love its flaws, and absolutely know, love and trust myself first and foremost.