Sending Metta

Today, someone I know who has been battling cancer for decades, was on her way to Johns Hopkins, shopping for hope in the form of some new clinical trial or some treatment that would stem the tide of the cancer cells in her body.

Her text said: Heading to Johns Hopkins. Asking for prayers.

When I was a little girl in Catholic school I knew how to pray. I would ask Jesus to help. I would even ask my patron saint to intercede with Jesus on her behalf.

But I don’t do that anymore. When you don’t have faith in a particular spiritual metaphysics, the whole “prayer” thing becomes problematic.

But I don’t do nothing. I do this thing I called “sending Metta” that I first learned at Kripalu a long time ago.

Here’s what happened.  There were a lot of us in that yoga teacher training that week, maybe 50, all sitting around in a big circle in the main hall the first night.

The directors of the program asked us to look around the circle and choose one person. This was going to be our secret metta friend. I don’t know if they actually called it that, but here’s what we were to do. Every time we saw that person in the coming week: in the hallway, at meals, in sessions, walking outside, we were to mentally think to ourselves: May you be peaceful, may you be happy, may all good things come into your life. We could also add anything else we liked of a sweet and positive nature.

So I picked this blonde woman named Carole. (We all wore name tags.) Every time I saw Carole that week I would say in my mind, “May you be happy, Carole. May your life unfold with joy.”

One time we were browsing in the bookstore together. I stood right behind her in line to pay and spent a good, solid 5 minutes sending her all this good mojo.

Carole and I were never paired up in a group that whole week, which was really unusual, but that’s how it rolled. Still, I would see her at dinner, and once I held the door to the bathroom open for her.

I was sending this woman a shit ton of metta. I remember sitting on the wide Kripalu lawn one afternoon during a break and watching her walk up the driveway. I sent tsunamis of metta to her every step of the way.

That whole week I almost felt like a love sniper the way I was always on the lookout for her, holding her in the cross-hairs of my attention.

After a week the training ended and we all dispersed and I never told Carole that I was her Secret Santa of Metta. I did wonder, though, how the week flowed for her. Did anything wonderful happen for her? Did she feel anything? Did she have great dreams? Was I getting through?

Surprisingly, I never thought about myself as the target of someone else’s metta.  If I was, I didn’t feel anything. One time I got into a meditative state and tried to pick up a signal but never got one. So I just figured that since there were so many of us, it was totally possible that no one targeted me.

What I did notice though, was that my obsessive meta-sending to Carole changed me. I was always on the lookout for her, I was always sending sweetness and good vibes and well-wishes for this random person’s happiness, and that act, in itself sweetened me.

So I realized, it didn’t matter at all if Carole got my metta-vibes; what was important was the sending, not the receiving.

So I think this is the way I pray. I don’t “pray to God” the way I used to as a child. I send metta. I think of metta like a radio wave that is really strong and can reach anyone anywhere if their antennae are up to receive.

And if it so happens that their antennae are not up, then the transaction just floats through the ether until it picks up one that is.

So when Cindy asked for prayers, that’s what I sent. When someone asks for prayers I think what they are saying is: My receivers are up and on. I am looking for metta so please send and if you do, I will get it.

I hope she got it.

Recommedation Letter and Losing Track of the Days

39 people came to the Yoga Challenge  yesterday. And 39 people came today, too. Not all the same people, but some were the same. It’s funny that the same number came on both days.

I am losing track of the days of the week already.  I know that today is “Day 2.”  Beyond that, not too sure. I found myself in the bike shop today, talking with my friend Jim and experiencing a brain gap when it came to knowing what day it was..

“Surely you jest, my good man. It can’t possibly be Monday.  No, no. Mondays mark the  beginning of the work week . My week began yesterday, so today must be Tuesday.”

But no. It’s Monday. What I want to know is: Since when did the earth stop revolving around me?

After my morning ritual of 750 words, I wrote a letter of recommendation for one of my students, who also happens to be a person I really love and enjoy.

I’ve written my fair share of recs, but this one was actually fun. This person wants to go to YTT at Kripalu and she’s applying for some scholarship money. Kripalu both is, and isn’t, like corporate America. It has to be in a way, because of all the money involved in keeping such a place afloat, but they don’t subscribe to the corporate paradigm in a big way.  That’s why it was easy to write this rec. I know how they see themselves and how they like to be seen.

They like it real. So I told them stuff about this woman that I know they think about when they think about propagating the Kripalu name. They want teachers who are competent, but also dynamic and charismatic. Solid in their skills, but also good at representing the brand, which has always been kind of nebulous, if you ask me. Beyond BRFWA, it gets a little murky.

I didn’t feel like I had to write a bunch of bullshit nonsense but could give them a picture of this person. That’s what you want in a rec, right? You want the person writing it to tell you the down low on this person, who they are, as people.

I think I did that.

Now I need to go to bed.

I am incredibly tired.


There’s No Place Like Home

“The only constant is change.”

That quote is from Heraclitus.  True dat.

I went to Kripalu to “fill my cup” after the “30 Days for $30 Yoga Challenge.”  .

I needed lots of sleep, good food (that I did not have to prepare), and lots of yoga (that I did not have to lead.)

For me, Kripalu has always been my destination of choice for a few days of R&R.  It is one of my favorite HDIZs (High Density Inspiration Zones.)  It’s a place that is totally “count-on-able” for meeting my physical and spiritual needs.

Except this time it didn’t.  And it “didn’t” in a big way.  And here is where Heraclitus steps in (again).

‘You cannot step into the same river twice, for fresh waters are ever flowing in upon you.’

Damn that Heraclitus.

I don’t know if Kripalu has changed or I have changed but the experience did not meet my needs for inspiration.  I found the yoga classes flat, boring, uninspired.  The teachers seemed tired and just “phoning it in.”

I used to love going to Kripalu mainly because I loved being in an environment where people were streaming out of classes all lit up by their programs or the yoga they just experienced.

I loved over-hearing them bubble over with joy and excitement.  It was crazy, infectious and I felt a tribal affinity there.  This time, all I heard were dull, cranky conversations about nothing from the people exiting the practice rooms.

But since I have taken a vow of non-complaining, (ahem), here’s all I want to say:  Either  I have changed, or it has changed, but something changed, and as a result, I won’t be going back to Kripalu again for R&R.

I was in deep mourning about this for awhile, but I have come to realize that, just like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz who goes looking for her heart’s desire over the rainbow, but comes to find out that it was in her own backyard all along, I too have a High Density Inspiration Zone right here at Main Street Yoga.

During the month of April, I would come home from my classes reeling, my head spinning from all the vitality, the energy, the smiles, the expressed gratitude of my students.  I could not fall asleep at night because I was so high from it all.  It was such a rush!  The small container of “me” couldn’t contain all of it.

It was powerful, but also exhausting.  That’s why, when it ended, I needed to rest and be nurtured. I was hoping to surrender my body to the reliable guidance of Kripalu yoga teachers whose cups were full and who could lead me into new places in my own practice.  I was hoping that I could then bring the news of those new places back to my own students.  “Hey guys!  Look what I found!  And I can show you how to get there, too!

But, no.

Instead, my trip became a cautionary tale.  Here is what I learned:

I learned that to do the work I do, it is not just good to be inspired, it is absolutely essential.

I learned that the most important part of being a yoga teacher is to love your students.  Swami Kripalu once said:  “I have not come here to teach you; I have come here to love you.  The love itself will teach you.”

I learned that this kind of “love” is not a “job.”   But teaching yoga can be relegated to “job” status, but as soon as it does, it’s time to walk away from it until you can find the juice in it, the love in it, the joy in it again.

I learned to never, never, never step on the teacher’s mat unless I am full of love, and feeling “juicy.”

My teachers at Kripalu this time were burnt out.  It was clear.  It was unmistakable.  It was sad.

I was sad for them.  I was sad for me.  The whole experience was pathetic and regrettable.

I learned (again) the importance of staying inspired and juicy in my life.

I learned that “There’s no place like home.”