Thanksgiving quotes and stories from class:
A Year to Live by Stephen Levine
How very fortunate we are to have this moment in this body with some intuitive acknowledgement of that which goes beyond our understanding. Even with the difficulties, even with the confusion, how blessed we are to be here. Grateful for the kindness of loved ones. Grateful for the moments of joy. Grateful for the clarity that arises even during pain. Grateful for the blessings, great and small. Grateful that our pain is no greater than it is.
Thankful for our Great Heart and the capacity to become whole. Thankful to be living in a world and time, in which the value of compassion cannot be overlooked. Grateful that among the billions now on this planet our hearts are so drawn by the possibility of liberation. Grateful for the path that has brought us each so far. Grateful for the love and the grace the spontaneously emerge from our true heart .Grateful for our inheritance of happiness, that joy is our birthright. Grateful for the sense of presence. Gratitude for simply being.
Behind a temple there was a field where there were many squashes growing on a vine. One day, a fight broke out among the squashes and they split into two groups. They made a racket shouting at one another. The Zen Master heard the uproar from the temple and went to the field to find the squashes quarreling.
In a booming voice he scolded, “Squashes! Stop your fighting. Everyone sit in meditation right now.”
While the squashes were sitting in meditation, their anger began to subside. Then the Zen Master turned to them and calmly said, “Each of you feel on top of your head.” When the squashes felt the tops of their heads, they found something strange attached there.
It turned out to be a vine connecting them all together. The squashes remarked, “This is so strange. Here we have been split into groups, arguing when we’re actually all tied together. What a shame…what a mistake!”
After that revelation, the squashes all lived harmoniously enjoying the pleasures of their beautiful field together.
At this time of Thanksgiving, this story helps demonstrate how we’re all connected. The harvest cycle is our constant reminder of beginnings and endings. When we enjoy the bounty of the fields, we have so much more than just food to eat; we have a sense of the circle of life itself!
"I am grateful for my life, my lessons, my gifts, my losses, my endings, and new beginnings, and everything in between-" Sonia Choquette
In Beauty May I Walk
In beauty may I walk;
All day long may I walk;
Through the returning seasons may I walk.
Beautifully will I possess again
On the trail marked with pollen may I walk;
With grasshoppers about my feet may I walk;
With dew around my feet may I walk.
With beauty before me may I walk
With beauty behind me may I walk
With beauty above me may I walk
With beauty all around me,
may I walk.
In old age, wandering on a trail of beauty, lively;
In old age, wandering on a trail of beauty, living again…
It is finished in beauty.
It is finished in beauty.
Why do you suppose this poem is redundant with the word "walk"? What connotations does the word have? What does it sound like? Feel like? Let's start with its sound. Can you hear the heavy trodden placement of each foot, one right after the other. Slow, methodical, conscious, repetitious. There is a lot of repetition in life; the triad of birth, life and death. The lessons learned in climbing one symbolic mountain, then exhaling all the way down. Then another life lesson comes by and we inhale up that mountain to find the exhale is just as rewarding coming down from this mountaintop.
Walking is grounding. It is connecting with Earth's energy in the most natural and basic way. Have you ever gotten so angry, so upset, that you had to just take off to go for a walk? Maybe a run? No destination in mind but just the airing element of leaving stuff behind that sets the soul free. And the grounding earth element finally helping you regain stability and balance so you can, once again, return home. But this time, it is different. This time you have breathed in the essence of the walk and surrounded your heart chakra energy with the beat of each footprint against the ground. Home.
This poem talks about beauty, but don't overlook the fact that the walk, in itself, is beauty. If I were to ask you to close your eyes and imagine yourself peacefully walking, I am guessing the picture that emerges is you walking somewhere you consider beautiful...a beach, a forest path, a flowery field, a cemetery, the sidewalk where you grew up... I highly doubt you would imagine yourself walking through a scary neighborhood or a grocery store aisle or a crowded airport, right?
On native-american-market.com, it states,
"There is a Navajo ceremony that bears the name "Beautyway".... During the ceremony, the patient, the person who is ill, is there in order to re-establish balance and beauty in their life. The reasons why one may lose their sense of beauty, of balance and of harmony are many. But the cure, for the Navajos, is one and the same. One must find the way to Beauty, and if one wanders away from this way, from the Beautyway, then one must re-establish one's link to the natural world in order to regain it."
Poems, like the one above, were chanted or sung to those ill in hopes of helping restore their balance. Chanting sounds methodical, much like the methodical placement of feet on the ground when walking. The chakra bija (seed) sounds are chanted to help the energy centers stay balanced.
"To Walk in Beauty means not only walking physically. It also, and primarily in fact, means being in harmony with all things and all people, with all objects, all the animals, all the feelings, the plants, the weather and all the events in your life. It means being at peace, serene in the knowledge that all around you is well and that you are well with everything in your life. You accept and are accepted, there is nothing that pulls you in one direction or the other, the polarities are neutralized, you are one with everything. You are ready to walk in Beauty. "
THAT IS YOGA.
Love wasn't going to be my theme for class today. No...I was going to share a Navajo prayer poem called In Beauty May I Walk. But, it will have to be my theme on Tuesday because, upon awakening this morning, the words in my head (that were not my own) said, "The theme is love". Can the theme of love become redundant? I am thinking not. If our true nature is love and our life lessons seem to be based on love, it is apparent most of us need reminding. So, I am guessing the Universe is sending someone to my class this morning who needs to be reminded of love, that they are loved, that they are love. Or, someone will (non-coincidentally) stumble across my website today for the first time and read this, because this is something they need to hear. Maybe the theme is a reminder for me; I was mopey yesterday for no reason and kept thinking what a human-journey day it was. I kept thinking, I just need to make it to my Sunday morning yoga class, because that will put me right back in my spiritual realm. I feel it starting already in anticipation. Or, maybe, (lol) it's because Thanksgiving is around the corner and being with family can sometimes seem more challenging than loving...hmmm.
Melissa Amber Lawrence wrote, ‘Let Go Let Love’
To “let go, let love” is to surrender to your higher self and intuition. You are a powerful being!
To “let go, let love” is to love thyne self, the way you are right now. Be your own best friend.
To “let go, let love” is putting yourself first and realizing you take care of others more by caring for yourself.
To “let go, let love” is to realize you create your own life so choose love in all that you do.
To “let go, let love” is to allow learning and growth from all experiences without judgment.
To “let go, let love” is to make the most of yourself and your gifts. Shine your light to the world.
To “let go, let love” is to leave judgment aside and allow another to be a human being too.
To “let go, let love” is to allow others to mold their own destinies and create their best lives.
To “let go, let love” is to always grow and develop and flow with the divine universe.
To “let go, let love” is to accept the present moment without judgment., there is love and learning there.
To “let go, let love” is to search out your own life lessons, learn from them, grow and keep moving forward.
To “let go, let love” is to open up to love more and more everyday in every way.
As you let go, let love, allow yourself to take responsibility for how you are feeling emotionally. Take responsibility for how you are feeling physically...on the mat. It would be irresponsible not to; to push yourself into poses not meant for you today.
An unknown author wrote, “You can’t punish yourself into change. You can’t whip yourself into shape. But you can love yourself into well-being.”
Right? You can't punish yourself into a headstand! You can't whip yourself into a deeper forward fold without paying the consequences tomorrow. But you can love yourself into well-being. You can love yourself for the fold you are in, not the one you expected to be in or thought you should be in.
Anthony de Mello: "Compare the serene and simple splendor of a rose in bloom with the tensions and restlessness of your life. The rose has a gift: It is perfectly content to be itself. It has not been programmed from birth, as you have been, to be dissatisfied with itself, so it has not the slightest urge to be anything other than it is."
There is a Zen story titled, "Why anger shouts, and love whispers."
A saint who visited the river Ganges to take a bath, came across a group of family members who were shouting at each other in anger.
The saint turned to his disciples with a smile, "Why do people who are angry shout at each other?"
After a little while one disciple said, "Because we lose our calm. Then we shout."
"But why do you shout when the other person is right next to you? You can say what you have to say in a much softer manner," said the saint.
None of the disciples could give a good response. Then the saint decided to explain it. "When two people are angry at each other, their hearts get further apart. To cover that distance, they have to shout to each other to be able to hear each other, and reach out. The angrier they get, the louder they must shout to be heard from such a great distance."
He then smiled, before he asked the disciples a new question, "When two people fall in love, what happens? They talk softly to each other. Why? Because their hearts are very close. The distance between them is very small.."
He concluded, "When two people's love grow even stronger, they only whisper because their hearts are so close. In the end, the love is so strong that they only need to look at each other. That is all."
So to whoever needed a theme on love and, that very well may be all of us, read the following and believe it in your heart: I am loved (or Sandra wouldn't have taken the time to write this down for me!!!:)). My true inner nature is love. Everything else is illusion, maya. My emotions are temporary. Love is eternal. I am happy. I am peaceful. I am beautiful. I am... (fill in the blank with a POSITIVE word). I am love... I am... I... Now close your eyes and soak that in.
"I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free."
Picture a block of stone before its statue has been carved free. The statue's essence is not merely stuck in the stone; it is non-existent to most. Only a sculptor's eyes and hands can see the limitations of the excess stone that encases the beauty that the sculptor knows lies within. The statue to be is essentially bound, frozen, trapped in that space. Cannot move. No room to breathe. Paralyzed. Have you ever been there before? Are you there right now? Do you allow your spirit the freedom to move and breathe, unconfined by worry, fear and doubt? The more we let go of what holds us back, the more we can grow and expand.
Michaelangelo : "The more the marbles wastes, the more the statue grows.” Hmmm...the more excess baggage you let go, the more room there is for your spirit to expand.
Michaelangelo also wrote: "Every block of stone has a statue inside it and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it."
It is your job, your life's lesson, to discover what is truly inside of you. Should you choose not to- which most people seem to do- how do you not get to a point where life feels stagnant; no fresh air being swept in to inhale deeply into the lungs?
Take the statue of Nataraja. Shiva is surrounded by eternal flames representing the never ending cycle of birth, life and death. Yet, amidst that chaos, Shiva continues to dance, to move forward. He does not stand in the circle of flames stiff like tadasana; there is movement and breath to his posture. He holds two of his four hands in abaya mudra dispelling fear, as if to say I am strong. He stands with one foot on the dwarf of ignorance, crushing maya, which can be overcome. His other leg moves forward with motion and dance...forward, always moving forward.
Michaelangelo: "In every block of marble I see a statue as plain as though it stood before me, shaped and perfect in attitude and action. I have only to hew away the rough walls that imprison the lovely apparition to reveal it to the other eyes as mine see it.”
The following are the poems I used in class tonight. I really wanted everyone struggling with life right now to remember how strong they really are.
Bird Wings by Rumi
Your deepest presence
Is in every small contraction and
Expansion. The two as beautifully
Balanced and coordinated as
Mary Oliver from the book Thirst
It doesn’t have to be
the blue iris, it could be
weeds in a vacant lot, or a few
small stones; just
pay attention, then patch
a few words together and don’t try
to make them elaborate, this isn’t
a contest but the doorway
into thanks, and a silence in which
another voice may speak.
“Heavy” by Mary Oliver
I thought I could not
go any closer to grief
I went closer,
and I did not die.
had his hand in this,
as well as friends.
Still, I was bent,
and my laughter,
as the poet said,
was nowhere to be found.
Then said my friend Daniel,
(brave even among lions),
“It’s not the weight you carry
but how you carry it -
books, bricks, grief -
it’s all in the way
you embrace it, balance it, carry it
when you cannot, and would not,
put it down.”
So I went practicing.
Have you noticed?
Have you heard
that comes, now and again,
out of my startled mouth?
How I linger
to admire, admire, admire
the things of this world
that are kind, and maybe
also troubled -
roses in the wind,
the sea geese on the steep waves,
to which there is no reply?
Wild Geese by Mary Oliver
You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting–
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.
Today's theme is about freedom...but in how letting go of your attachments makes you free.
I heard one of the strangest things on the radio yesterday. I was listening to Rush Limbaugh when a black gentleman called in to discuss the use of the "n" word. He was saying that certain words only became offensive to him when someone else or society told him he should be offended by the use of the word. He felt that if all people of all colors were able to use that word freely, and if black people made the choice to not be offended, how freeing that would feel. He went on to add that
he, himself, has tried many times to offend white people with words but finds he can't because "white people will just not get offended." He said, I want that feeling because it must be so freeing.
I am not making this up; this is what I heard from a caller on November 18, 2013 sometime around 1pm.
I pause in writing this, because I am not even sure which tangent to run off with first! First, let me
say that I am not writing about the specific word alluded to above at all; it happens to be the word the caller chose to discuss. I am not getting into the debate of are we too politically correct so as
not to offend. So, if you think my theme is about either, detach yourself from that thought and read on...
We went out over the weekend to try to buy a car for the new driver in the family. Car buying
is an entire theme unto itself, right?! We went to a dealership that seemed to have a huge inventory of the make and model we were looking for and took along our own list of requirements for the car we would buy. After driving several, we were down to own that met the checkpoints on our list except, for the fact, it had a loud issue with the venting system. We sat down with the salesman and the three different managers who came over to pressure us into feeling that this was our car and if we were to just fill out the paperwork on it, they would do everything they could to ensure our satisfaction with the noise. Let me point out that this is just like what the caller was saying when he said he wasn't offended by words or things until he was taught that he should be. It wasn't my car but they wanted me to feel it was. People, in various ways, want to make you feel attached to certain outcomes. They rely on your guilt to get what they want from you; they count on your fear pushing you towards their suggestions.
Rely on your yoga tools as a guide to your truths, your inner Self, and just say no.
I explained to these men that I was not attached to the car. I didn't care if I bought a car today, next week or next month. This non-attachment is freeing, like the caller said. I freely left with my husband and we bought the same make and model somewhere else later that day with half
the miles on it, in perfect condition and with a warranty all for the same price.
I love the word "choice"; it is such a powerful word.
Choose to not be offended. Choose to not be attached.
I literally can hear the counter-argument in my head... but you don't have a personal connection with the "n" word so, of course, you are not offended. Stop. Just stop. I can think of a word that I cannot stand (so can we all!). I have never used it nor will I. And, as I stop to think about this, I could totally allow myself to find this word offensive if I chose to. It is more that I find the word disgusting. Its use causes to me to question in my mind the person using it. If I chose to be offended, what would ensue is anger. My blood pressure would probably rise, my heart would beat faster, and I would want to shout to the word-user, you are wrong! I am free from all that. The caller was right, in a sense, but hasn't yet figured out how this applies to him. He said
that "whites will not get offended." I would argue that it is not a white, black, yellow or purple issue; it is an individual choice. I choose to feel that the user of such words is bound and attached to those words; not I.
And you aren't bound and attached to them either.
"The Spirit of the Warrior
Although we have been made to believe that if we let go we will end up with nothing, life itself
reveals again and again the opposite: that letting go is the path to real freedom.
Just as when the waves lash at the shore, the rocks suffer no damage but are sculpted and eroded
into beautiful shapes, so our character can be molded and our rough edges worn smooth by changes. Through weathering changes we can learn how to develop a gentle but unshakable composure. Our confidence in ourselves grows, and becomes so much greater that goodness and compassion begin naturally to radiate out from us and bring joy to others. That goodness is what survives death, a fundamental goodness that is in every one of us. The whole of our life is a
teaching of how to uncover that strong goodness, and a training towards realizing it. "
- Excerpt from The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying By Sogyal Rinpoche
In today's class, we talked about the effects of meditation on the brain. Here is the link to the article that I was quoting from: http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/08/19/v-fullstory/3572882/um-researcher-helping-soldiers.html (Thanks, Kathy, for sending it to me!)
Another experiment in Pam Grout's book, E Squared, has to do with proving we are all interconnected by using the idea of nonlocality to send messages. Most of us may be stuck
in the belief system that says you can't effect or change something unless you have direct contact with it. But is that true? As a Reiki Master Teacher, I am able to send Reiki energy long-distance.
On three separate occasions that immediately pop into my mind (leaving out names and specifics for privacy reasons), I sat in my Reiki room, far, far away from these people who were in different states, and was able to pick up information off their energy as I offered Reiki healing. All information I received was later validated. How can we not be able to connect? I cannot even explain that without the premise that are connected!!!
Grout tells the story of her middle school daughter who began answering everyone's questions with 222. And, how later that year, they took two trips and both times were put in hotel room #222. We send these thoughts out there, however goofy or crazy they may be. But, what's even crazier is that we are surprised by the "coincidences" that follow!!!
This experiment is fun and effortless and its intention is to prove to you that our energy fields are connected with everyone we meet. So, think of someone you know. And simply send them a clear message in your head. Be specific. Mary Jane will call me in the next 24 hours for my advice...Uncle Bob will call me to recommend I read a book... Picture the person in your mind as you send out this request. Send them loving thoughts as well. I like Grout's example of a woman who set her intention that men would start calling her. Within days, all past boyfriends had called and the phone even rang in the middle of the night, albeit the wrong number, but they were men!
And, that counts!!!
The holidays are fast approaching and this is typically a time when people get stressed out. It seems we generally feel stress arising when we have a plan in mind (like preparing Thanksgiving dinner) but are faced with limited time. In a previous class theme, we talked about how time is based on perception, which is why it seems to go faster when you are happy and slower when life is a struggle.
Steve Maraboli wrote: "Release the stress. You were never in control anyway." How's that for the truth?! If you can allow yourself permission to let go of this crazy notion of control, how much easier would life seem?
And Dan Millman wrote: "Stress happens when your mind resists what is." Isn't that true, as well? We seriously do let the mind get riled up because of things we cannot change; because of what is. Let that go. I gave an example in class about cooking the Thanksgiving turkey. Let's assume you told the crowd of ravenous people at your house the dinner would be served at 3pm. But at 3pm, the turkey isn't done. And at 3:30pm, little hungry people are coming up to asking when will the food be ready? And you glance at the turkey and it is still not done and you feel your stress level start to rise. The level of anxiety seems to mount within the confines of your house and at 3:31 the turkey isn't done, or 3:32 or 3:33 (because now you are hovering over the oven, right?!). But, the turkey has no perception of time. The turkey is either cooked or not cooked. You would prefer to eat a cooked turkey and its level of being cooked just IS. Do not allow your mind to fight against that concept. People will get fed eventually and life will go on. Stay in peace mode.
We used the concept of anchoring in class to teach the brain what relaxed feels like. Simple put, you allow yourself to become extremely relaxed, allowing tension to slip out of every cell in the body. And you say to yourself, I am relaxed. Then you create a trigger or anchor, like squeezing a thumb or your wrist. Breath in and, as you breathe out, squeeze this trigger and say I am relaxed. You are teaching the brain that squeezing this trigger means relaxation and for your body to go to the state it associates with relaxation. This may take a little practice to teach this cellular memory to your body but, seriously, what do you have to lose?! Time? LOL!
I heard world-renowned psychic and vibrational alchemist, Sonia Choquette, speak last night. It was my third time going to hear her; she is so amazing!
Sonia classifies people as either 5 sensory or 6 sensory. A five sensory person seeks answers outside of their Self while a 6th sensory turns inward to their heart for guidance. She is adamant that we all must get to that place where we are being are true selves, yet most of us have trouble going there. But when someone is in tune with their spirit, their words resonate as
truth and their eyes light up; you can feel their passion.
We played a game by pairing up with someone and rattling off as many descriptions of ourselves as possible. I am caring, I am a teacher, I am ... Sonia explained when someone can't look you in the eye while saying these things and their body language becomes uncomfortable, it is a clear indicator that their words do not resonate with their Spirit. They might very well be caring but they aren't committed to that statement fully and, therefore, back off when saying it.
Own who you are.
Someone said I am a nurse and Sonia said, no, you nurse but you are not a nurse...you
are Spirit; nursing is just one avenue for your Spirit to reach out.
In order to be in touch with your Spirit, Sonia explained you cannot unless you are fully present.
But then the next word that you have to be, scary in itself, is vulnerable. Let me ask you, can you
be vulnerable? Feel the effects of that word for a minute. What happens to your mind set when you say it? What fight and flight signals go off in your physical body when you think about being vulnerable? Does that make you want to give up right there and go back to being, what, not really
you? So, Sonia offered up a different word with the same meaning that changes everything...available. Can you be available? Isn't that easier to say yes to? Can you be available to receiving what the Universe wants to offer you? What do you want the Universe
to offer you? Are you open to that?
One of the best messages (to me) that she relayed has already made an impact on my Spirit. She was talking about one of her teachers who had asked her, long before she was an author, when she was going to write a book. Sonia said I don't think I can do that. Her teacher
simply said, sure you can...you just have to be open to writing a bad book. I think that is what I needed to hear to sit down and finish the two I have started and put off...and started and put
off. I can be open to writing a bad book!!!!!
You can do anything your Spirit wants to. If you want to sing but can't hold a note, be open to being a bad singer and sing out from the heart! If you want to dance but can't find the beat, turn off the Ipod and hear the music in your head!
“ Self-love starts with knowing that we are Spirit. We have bodies. We have personalities. We have histories, stories, and experiences. But we are not those things- we are Spirit. Our bodies, egos,
intellects, and personalities are tools that our Spirit uses to express itself in our physical embodiment. They’re useful. They color and influence our experience. They affect our outlook, behavior, responses, and choices. They make life interesting-but they’re nevertheless only implements for our Spirit to use. They aren’t who we are." Sonia Choquette- The Answer Is Simple