I was running late to class and hobbling still on my sore ankle. I’ll remember Mars turning retrograde at 4 degrees Aquarius (ruling zodiac sign of ankles) for a long time! As soon as I got to the top stair and turned the corner to the studio I saw it, a large white shopping bag with a big pink post-it to Ida…and a heart drawn with red markers. It was sitting on the chair in the hall by the door to The Sanctuary. I looked in the bag and saw a bunch of books with a piece of paper on top. There was no note or card or any clue at all as to the giver of this gift. I grabbed the bag and hobbled some more into the studio.
My curiosity was stoked! The bag held a delightful assortment of astrology books, most very old, but well kept and well read with pages dogeared and jacket covers marking pages. I already had a few of them but some I’d never seen before.
In addition to the books was a piece of paper with what might be a natal chart but there’s no name or birthday or birthplace or any personal data at all. It didn’t look like any other natal chart or chart form I’d ever seen before, and I’ve been seeing charts since 1970 something.
The other item in the bag was an aspectarian, and that item lit me up like a firecracker! But, that’s another story.
Students began to arrive and I put the books away holding aside Dane Rudyhar’s, An Astrological Mandala – 360 Symbolic Phases. I have a yellowed paperback held together with a rubber band at home. I can use this hardcover one for sure. Usefulness is important when you have Mars and Saturn in Virgo like I.
Another Solar Eclipse was due on Aug 11 at 19 degrees of Leo. I look up that degree in Rudyhar’s book thinking it would be a good reading for the class and might offer some timely discourse.
Class begins. It’s a struggle, at first, to pull my mind away from the mysterious gift. But, by the time we got to “OM”, we were all centered, grounded, and ready for our yoga practices.
After class, we chatted some and I remembered how I wanted to share the page on 19 degrees of Leo, Instead, I opened the book to the page that was marked with the book cover. I looked and it read Phase 279, 9 degrees Capricorn. An Angel Carrying a Harp. Stunned, I looked from the page to the beige nubby carpet up to the creamy tan wall and over to the small, Wm Reese, fully levered, maple lapharp perched on her stand in front of me.
After they left I considered what to do with the bag. I pulled out the piece of paper and the aspectarian, packed the books up, and left it at the studio.
Later that night, I looked at what I brought home, and it does appear like a natal chart of someone born in the 40’s or perhaps early 50’s. Sun in Sag, Moon in Taurus (?) the symbols here are unclear, Capricorn is rising. I can’t think of anyone offhand that has that astrological signature. But, Scorpio’s love mysteries. Sometimes.
Is this a gift from a peer, an admirer, or a stalker, or someone who has found me on the internet and chooses to remain anonymous for nefarious reasons, or what?
I am well acquainted to what an imaginative monkey-mind can do. Yet, the bag was left anonymously, on purpose?
Anyway, if you’re still reading this and you know who left it, would you please let me know.
Meanwhile, the solar eclipse has passed and we can now try to make sense of all this summer has revealed…….so far.
Many years ago I had the pleasure of working at the NJ Center for the Healing Arts. A wonderful group of various therapists, psycho-, massage-, art-, and other practitioners of the alternative/complementary arts/sciences all worked under one roof. The founder had a vision for how to treat mental illness in today’s society. She was a beacon of light to many and I applaud her for her accomplishments and the ripple effect of healing & inspiration she provided to the whole community, clients, and the world-at-large. I was honored to offer astrological & feng shui consultations along with some hatha & dancing yoga classes during my early years studying yoga therapy. It was a rich time.
While there, it was clear that much of the physical space was dedicated to art….The walls were filled with paintings painted by past & present clients. Every now and then new ones would appear. I loved peeking into the art room to see them in action. It never occured to me that art or painting or drawing could be therapeutic, or healing, or anything other than a means to an end, a picture upon which lots of opinions/judgements might be heaped. “I like it” I hate it” etc. Of course, I proved myself naive, again, it happens a lot.
Anyway, today it’s nearly two decades later and I’m excited to be working around art again. It’s in a different context, of course, but after such a long time learning & practicing integrative yoga therapy I’m comfortable teaching whever the winds blow me.
Anything can be therapized these days and that’s maybe a good thing? It acknowledges that we all need healing. All of us. Everybody. This is something I know to be true.
And, the kind of healing that occurs when we fully engage in a process that eliminates words can be felt thru and thru. It has to do with how the hemisphere’s of the brain are organized. Healing, though, is not a right-side/left-side experience, but rather what happens naturally when balance is acheived. This is what yoga/meditation teaches us. That amazing blissful state that occurs after one does some focused hatha practice, is the same calm, blissful state that occurs when we’re in the zone of: artistic expression, dance practice,, or musical harmonies & rhythms.
That zone, that particular kind of present moment is a very seductive state of being, and once you’ve experienced it your entire being becomes engaged with trying to have the experience again. The challenge & difficulty is to get there naturally, chemically & substance free. But, I digress. Neptune is one of the astrological significators for spiritual practice, yoga, imagination, fantasy and more. For more keywords of Neptune go here.
On July, I’ll be facilitating a weekend of workshops on yoga & creativity at The Sanctuary. For the *intensive* on Saturday we’ll be at a local art gallery. I’m excited to see what happens! Namaste.
….and I’m still experiencing the joy of learning with every new pattern that I put together. I’ve moved on now to what’s called stitching and weaving. This pattern I focused on stitching. I don’t have the energy right now to explain in words what that means artistically . . Suffice it to say that I fell in love with the technique and choose to continue. Here’s my latest, painted to celebrate grandson(s) and birthday’s.
I’m gonna start an absolute beginners yoga therapy class in June for 6-8 weeks, yoga….for the rest of us.
I sent an email newsletter to my list today. Are you on it? Do you want to be? There’s a widget for easy signup onsite.
I guess it was sometime in December when I stumbled onto a website which had a few free lessons on how to draw geometric patterns using only a compass and a ruler. I was curious and the patterns looked interesting and would be perfect to paint with my new watercolors. So I got out my old drafting tools from college and tried one. Well, that’s all it took.
Today, I’m completely obsessed with drawing these intricate designs and painting them. The process is tedious but allows my mind to become deliciously absorbed into a meditative state. I watch myself struggle with perfectionism as well as self judgement. Those observations allow me to bring my yoga practices into this new found creative activity.
Here’re some of my patterns. They are a far cry from the doodles that captivated me the past few years! Let me know if you’re interested in learning and I’ll share the resources I’ve found. So much is online these days….it’s amazing what one can learn if motivated. The draft at the top of this page took me two days to draw and is my largest most complicated pattern yet. I finished yesterday and today I plan to transfer it to watercolor paper and paint it. Thinking about using some spring colors. I’ll post when I’m done.
Have a nice day. Namaste.
“It’s impossible, ” said Pride.
“It’s risky,” said Experience.
“Give it a try,”
Whispered the Heart.
“…….(on)Writing: shitty first drafts. Butt in chair. Just do it. You own everything that happened to you. You are going to feel like hell if you never write the stuff that is tugging on the sleeves in your heart–your stories, visions, memories, songs: your truth, your version of things, in your voice. That is really all you have to offer us, and it’s why you were born
I’ve been getting my stories down on paper for the last 3 years. Now What?
May I devote my life to learning.
May my highest self shine forth
May I uplift my soul through meditation & prayer
May I join with others to share love & truth.
This Sunday we’ll be practicing Metta Meditation at The Sanctuary. Metta, or loving-kindness is one of the heavenly abodes according to Buddhist thought. It’s a particular state of mind, of being, that is imbued with peace, love, & harmony. It feels good. It feels great to practice it with others. Lot’s of others.
The spiritual practices of the east are very comforting to me. Yoga relaxes the flesh and Meditation reorganizes the mind. Once you’ve got flesh & mind calmed down life is good. The difficulty is that something inevitably changes, and peace is disturbed. When a pebble lands in the pond, the mind alerts and the body, due to the time and culture we live in, immediately goes into fight/flight/freeze. There’s very little pause and reflect anymore, which of course is a YUGE problem everywhere.
When we meet for metta practice, we are acknowledging that some of our life’s challenges are other people, or better said, our relationships with other people. Metta Meditation is a way to relieve the stress of our internal conflicts with people, places, or things.
The Jersey Shore is packed, already. It’s like it was when I was a kid. It’s time to see with ‘new eyes’ again.
Jai Bhagwan. Om Shanti Om.
It’s my one ‘day-off’ from Seva and I’m sitting at the end of the dock on the Lake observing the wildlife. There’s about a dozen cranes meandering around the shore line, calmly strutting and passively standing around the shallow edge. Nearby, one fat, outrageously large goose is surveying the group. He reminds me of a sheepdog herding cattle. The cranes don’t seem to mind him.
Suddenly in the middle of all that wonderful calm and peacefulness a mutt of a dog came chasing out of the nearby woods and raced towards them all! Everyone began to honk and quack and bark and scream and run and fly! The cranes took off together in flight and the goose got him self into deeper waters where the dog couldn’t go. It was a delightful scene produced by Mother Nature for this observer.
Isn’t that like life? We’re having a nice peaceful day and then a disturbance comes. We get rattled. We yell. We object. We run away, thinking peace might return to us somewhere else.
The teaching here is asking us to take a closer look at our reactions. We are told that those reactions are most likely a coming from our past and not necessarily the proper response to what is happening now.
Running away from a hungry, excited dog is probably the proper response for the cranes and the goose. Yet, even though their peace was disturbed, no doubt they are calm again in this moment. I doubt they’ll need anty therapy to get over their trauma?
We humans, however, have a mind that retains memories, makes predictions, and plans for future. It jumps to lots of conclusions, and assumptions far beyond what is actually happening where the feet are. Some of us have wild imaginations that spin in or out of control. Some are absolutely delusional at times. The point is, like all the masters have said, stay in the now….and if a disturbance comes act accordingly if action is required. Otherwise, observe the responses in the the body and remember to breathe. Calm returns quicker that way.
There are many ways to practice yoga. Seva, is one.
In 1997 I became a volunteer at Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health in Lenox, MA. I was offered room & board in return for my service. Mostly, I worked as a Faculty Assistant. Other times I was on the production team for the larger weekend conferences. Eventually, I became attached to the Inner Quest Intensive (IQI), Kripalu’s signature self-discovery program. For 10+ years I led the Kripalu hatha yoga practice and served as a Facilitator with this life-changing program.
Then in 2008 Kripalu’s governing body decided that faculty volunteers like myself were no longer needed and they began to remove us from the program rooms. It was a significant change for those who remember, and my time at Kripalu was greatly reduced. The few of us who were attached to specific master teachers/programs were allowed to continue and I was grateful. The IQI was offered three times a year and that would have to be enough seva at Kripalu.
In 2015, Kripalu cancelled the IQI and soon thereafter cancelled all other remaining volunteer opportunities. This decision signaled a significant course correction for Kripalu Center.
Aside from the yoga experience, knowledge, practice and karma points I gained over 15 years of service at Kripalu, what was so unexpectedly rewarding was the experience of living together with others on the same path, to be a part of a spiritual community where like-mind and like-spirit came together.
So, last December, when the days were short and the nights were long I responded to a call for volunteers at the Amrit Yoga Institute in Florida. In early March a call came and I have been invited to practice Seva there during the first weeks of May!
For those in the know, AYI was established by Amrit Desai, the guru who introduced Kripalu Yoga to the USA. This means that the practices, philosophy, and methodologies will be consistent with everything I have learned thus far and for that I am grateful, and so excited, and terrified too. And, he will be on the campus during my stay.
Florida is not as easy as driving to the Berkshires, and this pitta person hates hot weather, but I am honored and grateful to be invited to this campus to experience Gurudev’s wisdom for myself.
Jai Bhagwan. Namaste. Om shanti.
to be continued.