Placeholder Entry

I am home.  Oh, so tired.  4 Days of Yoganand is:

1. Inspiring

2. Invigorating

3. Englightening

4. Exhausting

5. Deep

6. Social

7. Sweet

8. Playful

9. Challenging

10. Did I say Exhausting? Yeah. Exhausting. In that sweet, playful, social, and deeply enlightening way.

I’ve been home for just a few hours. Can I just say that my home is beautiful and that I love how my doggie goes bananas when she hasn’t seen me for a few days?  I love how she howls in glee, then pees on my shoes when I walk in.

Tomorrow I will write a proper entry, but tonight I am going to sleep the sleep of the dead in my own bed, without the sounds of heated arguments coming from the room below (the first night at the Best Western),  or the sounds of sex in the room next door (last night).

Tonight I am going to fall asleep to the sound of  distant thunder…

ahhhh…..

Day 2 in Yoganand’s Playground

It’s fun, but exhausting.  As expected, we attempted all kinds of  impossible postures today, and it was really quite amusing (and somewhat alarming) to see what is actually possible.  I partnered with Kim for the morning and we had a blast doing (or approximating) Mariachyasana and Locust and Supta Baddha Konasana.

It’s very playful, this yoga training. It reminds me a lot of being a kid out on a playground, doing crazy contortions and asking your friends, “Hey, watch. Can you do THIS??”

And they go, “Yeah, that’s pretty cool, but watch this!!”

And you go, “That’s DISGUSTING, dude!  How did you get your arm to bend like that??”

And they go, “I dunno, it just…goes like that. Here.  I’ll help you.” (and this, in yoga, is called an “assist.”)

And then you try to do it, with their help, and you end up dislocating your shoulder and your mother calls your friend’s mother and you’re not allowed to play with that friend anymore.

Except, here,  in Yoga Teacher Training, most of our mothers don’t even know we’re here!

(bwahhahahaha!)

And then we have lunch and come back and put all the crazy postures together in a practice that has most of us slipping off our mat because of the sweat, and begging for mercy, or death, or our mothers to rescue us. (There were many moments when I was going, “Holy mother, is there no end to this??” under my Ujayii breath.)

And then suddenly, bam, the day is over and we all walk out into the glorious sunshine, and say, “See you tomorrow!”

Kim told me about this great Whole Foods nearby (relatively nearby) and I was going to wait until after rush hour to go, but I bonked on my bed, and just now got up, so I guess the playground got the best of me.  Tomorrow morning I may head there, if I go to bed right now and get up early.  Tomorrow we don’t start until 11:30, which is sweet!

Oh, and another sweet thing?  I got into Emily’s March Madness Pool!  And last I checked, I was in 2nd place.  (She’s probably really sorry that she went to all that trouble.)

But hey, there’s a lot of b-ball left.

(But, Go Dukies!)

YTT Day 1

I am sitting in the Best Western in King of Prussia, munching on Mary’s Gone Crackers, sipping water and reflecting on the day that is coming to a close.  There are a lot of things on my gratitude list so let’s start there:

1. Sun.  Today was sunny, mild, and totally life-affirming.  I drove east and south and the farther south I drove, the more lovely the day became.  I saw a car on the Northeast Extension tooling along at 75 with the top down.  If I had a convertible, I would have done the same thing today.  The amazing thing was that not a hair on the head of the driver moved!

2. GPS.  What did I ever do before Wanda, my GPS?  I got a new one for Xmas and this was her first outing.  Sadly though, this new Wanda isn’t as sweet and sexy as the old Wanda. This new Wanda is strictly business.  “Turn left in 1 mile,” she says.  The old Wanda would have said, “In one mile, turn le-ahh-ft.” drawing the word “left” out a little, and saying it with a little smile in her voice.  The new Wanda?  No smile in her voice. Very “driver’s ed,” if you know what I mean.  I’m going to work on her, see if I can make her lighten up a little on the way home.

3. Stillpoint Yoga.  This is the studio that hosts Yoganand.  The practice room has soft yellow walls with swirly sunrises painted on them and a Kwan Yin statue in the corner and a big Ganesha picture on the wall.  The people in the workshop are all repeats from other programs so there was a lot of hugging and catching up this evening.  Very sweet.  Loved it

On the down side, I checked my brackets on my March Madness B-ball pool only to find that for some inexplicable reason, I wasn’t included in my group.  I found my picks, I’m listed independently but I didn’t make it into the little group Emily set up.  Kinda sad about that.  2 years ago I actually won it, so I was really hoping that my b-ball ignorance would once again prevail.  (We play for wine, yo.)

This morning I had my last high octane rocket fuel morning juice for the next 5 days.  I am kinda scared about how I’m going to perform without it.  I have not NOT had my juice since back in January when I started the cleanse.  My body could start jonesin’ during pranayam tomorrow.  I could bonk.  Food is an enormous piece of my energy management and the food situation here is very, very sketchy.  I brought some stuff from home, but I am used to eating my big meal mid-day, and now…  It won’t happen.  Stay tuned.

Tonight we had the intro session, and I feel pretty good.  Tomorrow it begins in earnest.

‘night.

Yoganand

This time tomorrow I will be just finishing up the first session of the 5-Day Yoga Teacher Training down in Philly.  I am so looking forward to it.  This will be my 4th class in the 10 class series of Pranakriya (500 Hr) Yoga.  This one is called “Advanced Asana 3,” but really, it’s just Yoganand blowing us all out of the water for 5 days, with some advanced asana thrown in, for good measure.

As I have been packing and cleaning today, I’ve been thinking about Yoganand: how inspiring he is, how floaty I feel after being guided through a practice by him, how his description of what yoga is, and does, clarifies everything for me: my yoga, my teaching, my life path, my dreams, my aspirations, even my core values.

In the last 10 years I have had some wonderful yoga teachers, but none of them have come close to the caliber of Yoganand.

I think that learning yoga is a lot like learning about life on the moon.  You can study about the moon with top-notch astro-physicists who know everything there is to know about the moon: its composition, weather and even how to get there. And I’ve studied with some of these “astro-physicists of yoga”and they are incredible.

And then you can learn about the moon from someone who has been there, an astronaut, if you will, someone who has actually walked on the moon, touched it, lived there for a while. That’s Yoganand. The man knows his way around the moon! He doesn’t actually practice yoga, he lives yoga.  He knows every little neighborhood of yoga, and is fluent in all the dialects.

For 15 years Yoganand lived at Kripalu as a renunciate monk, doing all the advanced (read: scary, weird) practices–the practices  only the monks could do because they didn’t have families or loved ones or jobs to attend to, so they could devote 15 hours a day to pranayama if they wanted, and be out of their minds for weeks and months on end, and no one would much notice, or care.

These days though, Yoganand lives like a normal man, a householder, with a wife and a business and a crazy travel schedule. But he still visits  the moon regularly.  He teaches in his school in South Carolina, and he travels around and teaches teachers, because he wants everyone to experience at least a little bit more of what it means to be a full human being.  He understands, because he’s been there,that we are not even coming close to what we are capable of as human beings in terms of energy, awareness and love.

So tomorrow I will be transported to another world.  I will get a little taste of what it might feel like to live on the moon.  I’ll have to leave the training room every night and go back to my hotel room, which will involve negotiating a car through complex, heavy traffic, then locating my room key, and finding my bed.  I won’t be able to stay on this moon-ride for more than a few hours a day, and after 5 days I’ll have to get off completely and come home.

But that’s okay, because even being close to the moon for a little while makes life here on earth seem just a little bit more magical, or maybe it’s just that it feels a little bit more real.

Foisting Books on People

I really don’t want to be a foister, but I am.  I am reading Seth Godin’s Linchpin at the moment and all I want to do is buy 20 copies and give them to people, press it into their hands with that annoying, desperate pleading in my eyes and say, “Pleeeeze!  You simply MUST read this!!”

And I’m not even finished it yet; I’m only on page 120.  This is such an important book (I believe), it’s about becoming indispensable.  Like all his books, it’s brilliant, super easy to read, and so very RIGHT!

Here are a few of my underlinings:

“The job is not your work; what you do with your heart and soul is the work.” (p.97)

“When you have a boss, your job is to please the boss, not to change her. It’s okay to have someone you work for, someone who watches over you, someone who pays you. But the moment you treat that person like a boss, like someone in charge of your movements and your output,  you are a cog, not an artist.”

And here is what linchpins (aka indispensable people) do:

“They produce more than you pay them to, because you are paying them with something worth more than money. They do more than they’re paid to, on their own, because they value quality for its own sake, and they want to do good work. They need to do good work.  Anything less feels intellectually dishonest, and like a waste of time.” (p. 36)

The whole book is about doing emotional labor, work from the heart, work that goes beyond what’s required.

It’s a great book and you should read it!  Now! Today!  Go on Amazon and order it! If you can’t afford it, I’ll buy it for you, just let me know.

And here I am being a “foister” and I really hate foisters.  When someone tells me that I have to read something, I feel this icky pressure, particularly if I know, love and respect the person.

It’s just that we might not have the same interests, the same taste in books.  The person foisting also might not understand  that I have a STACK *this high* of books already queued up, waiting for some time to open up to get to, and their recommendation is just adding to the pressure of that stack.

But all that being said, if you want to be indispensable? If you want to live in a world where people are going the extra mile in their lives and in their work? If you’ve ever experienced first-hand a person who makes a business simply because they give so much more than they  have to, who are emotionally invested in their jobs and in their life? If you want the recipe for this?  Linchpin by Seth Godin

(Sorry for the foist.)

Defogging Meditation

I am writing a book–or trying to, the basic premise of which is that everyone needs, and should have, an Owner’s Manual that they can 1. Refer to daily when questions arise about how to behave, and 2. To give to loved ones to help explain, (ahem) their inexplicable behavior. (‘Here honey, read the chapter about Doors and Locks.”

I am using the Owner’s Manual of my car as the model.  Today I was working on Chapter 4 which is called “Instruments and Controls.”  This involves the Fuel Gauge, Temperature Gauge, Speedometer, Warning Lights, Defogger, Horn and Mirrors.

The thing about your instrument panel is that you always have to keep an eye on it, but you can’t sit and stare at it while you’re driving, or you’ll crash.

But there is one time in your day when you should sit and just watch your panel, and that is during meditation. Meditation is the time you set aside when you take your eye OFF the road, OFF what’s going on out the windshield, and turn all of your attention to your Instrument Panel and Controls.

People tell me that when they first try to meditate either one of two things happens: They either fall asleep due to boredom, or else their minds go a mile a minute and they can’t get any peace whatsoever. In both cases the problem is fog.

When fog forms on your windshield it’s because there’s a discrepancy between the temp inside the vehicle and the temp outside. You have to decide if the temp inside needs to be raised or lowered. You can never  control the outside temp, but you can always raise or lower the temperature inside.

During meditation, when it is very hard to SEE, you have to determine if you need to ramp up your attention (stop sleeping) or lower your attention (stop thinking). Only by experimenting and tweaking will you be able to get the windshield to clear.

Another defogging device is the manipulation of the headlamps. When driving through dense external fog, you need to focus the beams of your attention very narrowly on just the immediate few feet in front of your tires. Using regular or high beams in a fog will just illuminate the fog, rather than disperse it. The definition of self-knowledge is to know when and how to use the fog lamps on your vehicle.

When you sit down to meditate, here’s what to do:

1. Turn your attention away from what’s going on out the windshield.

2. Look at your Instrument Panel.

3. Check your Fuel gauge, your temperature gauge, your speedometer, odometer and your Defogger.

4.Determine if you need to “cool down” or “turn up the heat.”

5. If the outside fog is dense, turn the fog lamps on and just concentrate on the piece of pavement right under your tires. You can’t see very far, but you can make the whole trip that way.

6, If it’s a matter of internal fog, adjust your activity level so that the internal temp is neither higher nor lower than the outside temperature.

Balance is the key to happiness.

A Rumor of Robins

All this week I’ve been hearing rumors of robin sitings.

Facebook Status Update: “I saw a robin!!”

Another one: “Robins!  Yay!”

And another one: “No robins, but redwing blackbirds!”

Then yesterday, on the bike path, during my training run, I saw my first robin.

It’s amazing what the sighting of a little bird sets off in me.  I want to thoroughly clean the house. And today I started by taking down heavy winter drapes and putting up the sheers.  I mopped the floors; I bought a bouquet of flowers for the table.

I thought about changing the bedding, but I know that there are still cold nights ahead, so I didn’t.  But I wanted to.

I am so ready for warm and sunny.  I am ready for long days and lafuma chairs on the porch and sitting out at night and watching the stars.  I am ready for flip flops and fires in the chiminea.

All this because I saw one robin in March.

Amazing.