Author: <span class="vcard">ifc</span>

Tanpura - WikipediaIt was midnight of the third day when the chanting ended.  Jan 1, 2008.  We’d been at it, 2 hours on and 4 hours off, around the clock. After the first 24 hours I felt myself slipping into an altered state that felt amazing.  For the entire 3 days, the chant never left my mind…there was no room for discursive thinking, worrying, obsessing, analyzing, wondering,. There was no past, no future, just the chant. …there were no thoughts…just the chant…   Looking it up for the first time I discover that the moon was conjunct natal neptune/ketu.  It feels good to *know* that.

I was one of the musicians alternating between harmonium and tamboura.  This was my first time on a harmonium for ‘performance’ and I was nervous about that.  The tamboura however was sheer joy for the memories it brought up.  Years before I accompanied a local sitar player with his gig at the nearby Indian restaurant.  He needed the droning of a tamboura to play his best. He had one and taught me how to play it.   Loving all stringed instruments I was eager to learn and quickly mastered these 4 strings.

The tamboura I was handed at Kripalu was an entirely different instrument.  Little did I know that tamboura’s could be female, like the one I learned on, or male, like this gigantic gourd that was bigger than me!     The powerful, resonant, droning sound could project throughout the entire Main Chapel at Kripalu with only the most gentle touch.  I’m in trouble I thought, for I always err towards loud.

I was grateful for the time we spent together earlier getting to know each other, learning the chant, practicing with the instruments, and rehearsing the ‘changing of the chanters/musicians’ from one shift to another. Although I had received many invitations to join this team, I was only able to participate twice due to family responsibilities

I remember the first meeting of our team.  We sat in a circle on  dusty pink velour cushions and listened to Bhavani & Atma lay out the program and how it was going to work.  After time spent on the logistics, Bhavani brought out the instruments and introduced the chant.  I can still feel my excitement at being one of the musicians.   Although the Sanskrit was short and simple to say, the melody was difficult.  It required good breath control, along with some notes that were hard for me.  I was really impressed with those on the team that were the lead chanters and yearned for a voice as beautiful as theirs.

Over the course of the next three days we would chant Om Nimah Shivaya in Swami Kripalu’s chapel.    It was my favorite room in the whole building with it’s soft pink carpet and cushions.  The light wooden paneled wall behind the riser was rounded.   In one corner was a supply closet hidden behind a wooden door that matched the paneling.  On the other side was the space that housed the artifacts from Swami Kripalu’s time in the USA.  This was also the room where Amrit Desai, the founding Guru of Kripalu Center, would have his most intimate gatherings, I supposed.

On the last night, without missing a beat or a syllable, we moved ourselves to the expansive Main Chapel on the 2nd floor.   The backdrop to the riser we were sitting on displayed a huge OM symbol. Behind the OM backdrop is a mosaic left behind by the Jesuits who previously owned the property   The alcoves on both sides were open with the a/v station on the left.  I am sure that it looks very different today.

Everyone from the surrounding area of Lenox was invited for the final 2 hours of live chant and they began arriving soon after we began.  Slowly the room filled while all 20+ of us, all dressed in white chanted away.  I was grateful not to be the tamboura player for that last session as I was so high from bliss using a “gentle touch” would have been impossible.

There were easily 500 people on the floor in front of us all chanting and swaying away.  I saw thefamiliar faces of teachers, mentors, fellow students, and strangers that I have come to love in my years there.  The entire room was one with the chant.  You could feel it.  Everywhere.  Surrounded by sound & vibrations.

And then,

finally,

we chanted the final Om.

I understand now how “Silence is deafening”.

I don’t have the words to describe the exquisite experience of those silent minutes.  I don’t remember how long it lasted.  It might’ve been 2 or 20 minutes?  Time stopped.  Tears streamed down my face adding to sensory experience of this silence.  It became easy to understand the devotional Bhakti path if this was the reward for practice.  Of course, I had been immersed in it for 72 hours, not 2, a realization that took some time to comprehend.

Eventually, the sounds of bodies moving and voices whispering spread throughout the room.  Most of the audience had only joined in for 2 hours and maybe occasionally during the 3 days in the other chapel.  I wondered if they were feeling what I was feeling.  There was no way to know.

It didn’t take too long for the holiday cacophony to erupt.  It was New Year’s Eve and the kitchen had prepared a feast that everyone was eager to partake.  I didn’t have a bite.  Even though I hadn’t eaten much that day, I was filled up with something that left no room for food.

The next day, we met again to say goodbye and share our experience of that year’s Saptah.  After the hugs I floated out of the building and made my way back home, a 4 hour drive.

 

This year Bhavani & Atma will be leading the Saptah Chant on Zoom & on Facebook.  I’m excited to participate in this way!  I don’t have a tamboura or a harmonium, so I’ll use my harp & a drum for some musical accompaniment.  The chant itself is a difficult one and requires a lot of practice to do it well.  At least that’s how I felt about it 10 years ago.  That said, the melody has never left my mind even though I haven’t heard it anywhere since that night in the Main Chapel.

I’m not sure how long they’ll keep the Facebook link live.  There may be some issues around “recording” this particular melody?  That said, I’d recommend to those who are serious about their seeking to keep the chant on repeat until the clock strikes midnight of 2021.  Om Nimah Shivaya.  Jai Bhagwan.  Jai Gurudev.  Namaste.

Blogging journal entry Music Teachers Yoga

May I be a guard for those who need protection

A guide for those on the path

A boat, a raft, a bridge for those who wish to cross the flood

May I be a lamp in the darkness

A resting place for the weary

A healing medicine for all who are sick

A vase of plenty, a tree of miracles

And for the boundless multitudes of living beings

May I bring sustenance and awakening

Enduring like the earth and sky

Until all beings are freed from sorrow

And all are awakened.

Shantideva    6th century sage

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About a month ago I volunteered to tell a story  for the 8th annual Storyteller’s Tellabration.   It’s been a few years since I’ve tackled this kind of creative endeavor and I’m a little nervous.

My genre of storytelling is a hybrid of personal memoir and ancient mythology.   In the past I’ve delved into ancient gods/goddesses from different cultures and I’ve always learned something important.  I’ve added some links below of stories told if you are interested.

Thanks to the internet I found my muse right away.  She was hardly known in the pantheon of gods/goddesses.of Hindu mythology.  She was called Askilandaeshvari and her name holds the key to understanding what she is all about.  In Sanskrit, Aki is Universe, lan is ruler, and deshvari is Goddess…………..she is the Goddess who Rules the Universe and her powers are unmatched by any other.  But the Sanskrit also says something else.  Akilanda can be  also translated as Never-Not-Broken.  She is the Goddess of Never-Not-Broken.  Reconciling those two translations took a bit of meditation and contemplation. Within days my obsession took over and I researched and read and tried to paint the image I found of her.

I looked at all the places where I was broken, physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually.  Slowly as I came to understand her story and the symbolism I could see why Never-Not-Broken = Ruler of the Universe.  As a life long yogini I have learned what it means to ’embody’ something.   I watched my self *embody* Ashkilandaeshvari.

Her story teaches us about resilience and how with each break, crack, rupture, trauma, crisis, catastrophe we survive, we become stronger.

I suspect that her fame will grow during these turbulent times we are living in.  The way she rides the crocodile down a raging river is a lesson in itself.

…to be continued

Here’s an invite to our Tellebration if you want to come.

Divine Dramas………

More Divine Dramas – Daghda’s Harp

 

Ancient Wisdom Mythology StoryTelling The Jersey Shore Yoga

The name Chiron comes from the word chiros.    Astrologically, Chiron represents our essential wound and provides much information on how/when to heal from it.  The erratic orbit of the asteroid symbolizes weaving together the traditional and the alternative to create hybrid paths towards healing what hurts us.  The glyph, which looks like a key, symbolizes what becomes possible when we unlock/unblock our internal/unconscious wounds.  Additional keywords for Chiron are here.

Chiron entered Aries early this year and will remain until April, 2027 when he collapses into Taurus.   The last time Chiron was in Aries was 1970 but that was before it’s discovery, which means that, this current transit in Aries will be the first time we are experiencing it ‘consciously’.   In Aries, it’s all out front, nothing much is hidden.  Chiron here will be interesting.

Mars moves fast compared to Chiron.  Every 2 years Mars comes back to the same place.  Mars entered Aries at the end of June, 2020.  He’s getting more and more comfortable “acting out” as only Ruler Mars in Aries can.  Last week, Mars moved into a conjunction with Chiron. Every 2 years or so Mars and Chiron meet like this.  It’s no big deal, necessarily.  But, since 2012 those conjunctions have all been in Pisces.  This cycle is the first of 4 conjunctions in Aries, ruled by Mars.

I’m already exhausted.

In the early phases of a new (synodic) cycle, it’s best to observe and notice what is going on.  That’s a lot to do right there.  Noticing.  There is much that gets past our wandering minds/bodies.

The Salon for Astrological Discourse meets again Friday, July 31 at 4pm.  We’ll be discussing this cycle and it’s impact on current events.  Go here if you want to join us.

Astrology Planets and their Cycles Time Management Yoga Therapy

Back to the drawing board….. that’s a phrase that comes to mind whenever I have to start something…again…from scratch…   That’s what it feels like these days..like I have to re-create my *life-plan* again.  Who knew a global pandemic would upend life and country in such a way? Surely not I, even with the decades and hours of study and practice of ancient wisdom traditions.  Oh well.  One breath at a time is a good way to live these days, as long as it’s a long one.
I’ve been taking online courses on geometric art.  Some teachers are well versed in Sacred Geometry and they weave the ‘teachings’ of that ancient science as they teach us how to draw patterns.with only a compass and a ruler.  It is a fascinating combination of spirituality and science.

Sacred Geometry caught my attention when I was learning feng shui & vaastu shastra.  With half the solar system in earth signs at my birth, my connection to all things ‘earthy’ is embedded in my DNA.  Geometry is sacred because it enables us to turn time and space into matter.  It’s interesting because there is no Sacred biology, or Sacred trigonometry, or Sacred chemistry.  Physics is believed to be the bridge between matter and energy, but we don’t call it Sacred. Yet Sacred Geometry has been understood as such for thousands of years, probably more because if it’s sacred it’s origins are likely beyond our understanding.

I stumbled into this current artistic obsession while looking for instructions on how to draw the Sri Yantra.  I found a course on Udemy and in no time I was hooked!  Because of the pandemic many of today’s masters of this art have put their classes on Zoom.  The first class I attended in March had 300 students from around the globe all eager to learn the ways of the compass and straight edge.  Many are well versed in Sacred Geometry and can articulate the metaphysical symbolism inherent in the basics shapes/forms of the patterns.  After the geometric pattern is completed biomorphic motifs are added.  In this way masculine & feminine elements are combined to produce a finished pattern with harmony, balance, and satisfaction.   It is fascinating process to engage in and it’s become part of my meditation practice. Start with a dot.  Draw a line.  Draw a circle.  Keep going.  Om Shanti.
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Ancient Wisdom Blogging Geometric Art StudioIFC

A Lunar Eclipse….so, between now and then we are in the Gibbous phase.  Act Accordingly.  Please.  Best use during this 3 day period?  Self-care. Self-reflection. Spiritual practices.

Om Shanti.

Astrology lunar phases The Lunar Cycle Yoga Yoga Therapy

 

How aware are you of what you are feeling in your body when you walk into a house/office/building/room?

Today’s movement to declutter our homes/live has it’s roots in feng shui which is not the same thing as interior decoration or artistic design with an Asian flavor. Feng Shui is much, much more than a pleasing appearance. When properly understood feng shui is a methodology for creating harmony, balance, prosperity, health, & an elevated consciousness of environment and self.

Every culture on the planet has their own spiritual tradition of connecting buildings & man-made structures with nature and the cosmos.  The idea that we are affected by our surrounding is universal. As above, so below and so it goes.

vaastu shastra

(In India, vaastu shastra was practiced. Their spatial map looks like this. (Geomancy & sacred geometry are both related fields that have their roots more in western culture. The medicine wheel might be the way native americans lined themselves up with the cosmos, which is the original intention of all of these disciplines, to align oneself with that which is greater as represented by sun, moon and all the planets in the night sky.)

wind/waterThese chinese characters, wind and water, are the characters used to describe Feng Shui. (Just remember, when we begin to translate from language to language, a lot of translation gets lost; just one of life’s paradoxes)

In today’s culture, feng shui is showing up as an offshoot of interior design/decoration, and it can be a great reason to give in to ‘shopping’ addictions. Awareness is a key element in knowing what is really needed.  Some people regard feng shui as folk art, old wive’s tales, or magical actions time-fully performed in  affect our lives, and there’s certainly an organic truth to everything you’ve heard.

Feng Shui provides the map for us to see ourselves in relationship to others and the greater whole of our communities.  It’s intention is to bring peace, love, & happiness to all who enter upon the  space. And, where there is peace, love & happiness, there you will also find prosperity, health, & joy.

I became interested in feng shui, per se, in the late 80’s. Previously I had studied architecture & interior design in college. At the same time I was working as a real estate agent which enabled me to see thousands of homes & businesses…although with a different focus. My right brain began to relate to my left brain in  new ways and I began to understand  how different surroundings impact our lives in significant ways, and that we could change our lives with some simple ‘cures’.   Feng Shui became a tool for self-discovery as well as practice that kept me grounded and stable through difficult times. Another awakening occurred when I discovered the role that astrology plays in determining auspicious design & placement.

The compass school of feng shui  makes specific use of astrological information.The practitioners used a luopan which was placed in the home in alignment with the birth information of the head of the family…..usually the father.luopon With the advent of the computer, we are now able to create personalized maps of the planetary locations for anywhere and any time on earth. When these maps are placed in your home/office/business it is easy to see the ‘lines of energy’ radiate through physical space. From here, we can then apply ‘feng shui’ to mitigate, minimize, maximize, alter and adjust our interior spaces to take advantage of the movement of chi. The results are usually pretty immediate and impressive.

localspace_compassThis is what a local space map looks like. You place it in the center of the space and work from there. (If you live more than 50 miles from your birth place then you need to recalculate the map for the current location.)

Of course you also need to be knowledgeable of all the other correlations and correspondances that are part of the astrological/feng shui vocabulary…..none of these techniques are as simple as they appear and one needs to be quite balanced with both information and intuition to make use of the data.

I like to think of feng shui as environmental acupuncture, or perhaps astro-ecology.
How you choose to define feng shui is a personal choice since Feng Shui can be either a noun or a verb.

The Yoga of Space….June 3, 4pm on Zoom.  Go here:

As Above, So Below

@All Rights Reserved 2020

 

 

Ancient Wisdom AstroCartography Feng Shui Holistic Health

I knew it was coming.  It was inevitable.  Today the announcement was made in the Berkshire Eagle.  It’s too much to process right now.  It’s a big deal for me, and many, many others.  There will be many stories in the days to come.  Mine will be one of them.

My first visit to Kripalu Ashram was right after Gurudev Amrit Desai, the Guru, had left.  That was 1993?  Over the next couple decades I commuted to Lenox frequently to assist/teach/train/volunteer/retreat and then some.  The Kripalu Community spans the globe and when I did volunteer work at the Amrit Institute in Florida a few years ago,  I discovered even more how the teachings of Swami Kripalu are available in other places as well.  Nevertheless, the feng shui and energy of this property will live on.  I hope I get to go there again.

I’ve written a lot here about Kripalu.  If you’re interested type Kripalu into the search bar.

more to come.

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back to the Hill House

 

 

Holistic Health Kripalu Meditation Yoga Yoga Therapy

Self Study or Svadaya in Sanskrit, refers to the practice of introspection to ‘study of the self’.  It encourages one to practice focused awareness and nonjudgmental self-reflection.  My intention as facilitator is to align various yoga (therapy) practices with cosmic forces to create optimal conditions for participants to have a meaningful experience.  Transformation, healing, or enlightenment are  possible side effects.  Read more here.

INQUIRE WITHIN – ONLINE!!

Under a Pisces Moon

May 16-17, 2020

Our workshop this weekend will take place 1-4pm on Saturday and 9-am-12 on Sunday.  We’ll be alone and together online.    You are welcome to attend one or both.

The Moon will be moving thru Pisces, a perfect time to explore the topic of Healing.  Healing is not curing.  We don’t need to be deathly ill to reap the benefits of healing practices. Whatever throws us out of balance, be it by choice, chance, divine will, or the unexpected consequences of a global pandemic, we all have some healing work to do.  If not for ourselves, then in service to others.

This workshop-on-retreat is an opportunity to do the kind of inner work that frequently occurs when we travel to be with strangers.  Participating from the confines of your home without the external structure of the typical retreat experience will be an interesting experiment in svadaya. 

Experiential portions of this program may include: Asana, pranayama, mudra, yoga nidra, meditation, art, journaling, expressive movement,  storytelling. Hatha yoga and experience with astrology is not necessary. The practices will be gentle & challenging at the same time. Experiences and insights that stimulate the mind-body-spirit connection can be profoundly transformational. Inner space explorations of outer space can at times stir up the unconscious and help us to see places we don’t often visit consciously.

Submit the form below to register or call/text 721 531 9013.  Once you’ve registered you’ll receive the zoom link and an information sheet on how to prepare.  There is no set fee for this program.  Donations gratefully received thru Paypal/Venmo/Personal Checks  PayPal button is here.

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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