Category: Meditation

buddah mudraLately I have become fascinated, once again, with Mudras. Mudra’s are the hand postitions often used in Indian dance, Yoga asana’s, and during meditation practices. If you look at theclassical_indian_dance.jpg pictures of Buddah and the pantheon of other Eastern gods & goddesses you will always see them holding their hands in a particular way.

swami kripaluSwami Kripalu, the guru of Kripalu Yoga, was often photographed with his hands in a particular position. Many of those that had the opportunity to be with him when he was alive reported that his personal sadhana (spiritual practice) was sprinkled thruout with beautiful hand gestures and movements. It was clear to those that watched that he seemed fascinated by his hands.  It seemed quite mysterious and entrancing to me when I watched a video of his practice.

As time marched on these mudras or hand positions took on a life of their own and are believed to be a ‘yoga of the hands’ with specialized healing properties. When used during asana, pranayama, or meditationxwrits-finger.gif it is believed that a particular circuitry of neural pathways becomes established and something happens. (ie. heart rate slows, digestion eases, etc.) If you consider the meridian system as established by the Chinese Acupuncturist, this all makes sense.) After all, we too have all kinds of ‘meanings’ that are attached to various hand gestures in our culture as well.
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Palmistry, divination thru the hands, can also trace it’s origins back to the earliest of spiritual seekers. They understood that our lives are reflected by our hands and it reads just like a book if you have the eyes to see.

Most recently I began to study mudras with one of my teachers, Joseph LaPage. We are using them in conjunction with yoga therapy. Many people are unable to perform the yoga asana’s due to physical limitations. However, just about everyone can do things with their hands. When used along with the breathing practices, affirmations, and meditation, mudras can be a powerful way to create focus, concentration, stillness and a deep sense of peace. Try it for yourself.

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Sabbath

Today & tomorrow all of us will be experiencing the balsamic phase of the moon ending on Wednesday at 3;27 EDT when the New Moon cycle at 26Taurus begins. It’s time to dive in again and clean out the internal clutter.

A few years ago I had the opportunity to meet Wayne Muller who is an ordained minister, therapist and author of Sabbath, Finding Rest, Renewal, and Delight in our Busy Lives. He definitly understood the symbolic meaning of the balsamic phase of the moon. He agrees that, without this time of introverted activity we are doomed to remain a stressed out, disease-ridden, self-centered culture showing little compassion or understanding for others. Whew. It stressed me out just writing that sentence!

The balsamic phase of the moon as I have previously written about here and here is the time to direct our attention to our inner world and our inner life. Many people don’t have a clue what that means which illustrates the need to educate and encourage this practice. Wayne Muller writes about Sabbath from both the Jewish & the Christian perspective. One celebrates this restful time on Saturday, the other on Sunday. I have personally discovered as an astrologer/yogini that using the balsamic time of the moon for my inward journeys to be extrodinarily auspicious.

We on this planet Earth are intimately connected to the cycle & phases of the Moon, our closest neighbor in the sky. We know that the moon affects the tides thru it’s gravitational pull on Earth. We know that we are more than 80% water. It’s not a gigantic leap to realize that we too are affected by that same gravitational pull. And, finally, we know that since the dawning of mankind we have watched and scheduled our lives by the consistent rhythms of the sun & moon. Afterall, isn’t that where our calendar came from? But, I digress.

It does make it somewhat challenging to withdraw from our daily lives if the balsamic phase falls on a Monday & Tuesday! Our contemporary worklife does not have a flexible enough schedule to accomodate the fluctuations of the lunar cycle. We are a solar based society, unlike some of the other cultures on our planet. (See this article on East vs. West astrology)

However, where there’s a will there’s a way. One of the ways I make sure that I acknowledge my balsamic tasks is to step up my yoga & meditation practice during these days. You might want to do the same and attend a class or two. Taking time out to be in nature is another way to celebrate this time. Journaling, napping, day-dreaming, are some other ways to honor yourself and build up your internal bank account. Practice ‘not doing’ as the yogi’s would say. Just Be. You will find that you are even more productive when the new moon comes back around if you take out some time for yourself now.

 

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If you look over to the sidebar on the right you’ll see a post on the Inner Quest Intensive at Kripalu Center coming up next week. If you are a seeker I highly recommend that you sign up for this amazing program.

I participated in it in 1999 and my life hasn’t been the same since. Before that I hardly understood what it meant to ‘transform’ ones life. I only knew that I wasn’t happy, that I was the one holding myself back, and that I had to do something to help myself. I accomplished in one long weekend what might have taken decades on a therapist’s couch to do.

The most important thing that I learned (and this applies to everyone) is that “our issues are in our tissues”. (That’s a quote from Swami Kripalu) What he means is that we can change our minds and change our dialogues but our lives won’t change until we include kripalu-tree.jpgbody-centered therapies to address our issues. So, whether you are dealing with trauma, abuse, addiction or you’re just plain unhappy, you must include the entire body/mind in your wellness program. This is why yoga is so perfect. It’s the original body/mind practice including emotions and spirit in its methodology. If you are simply doing postures on a sweaty rubber mat, excluding practices that address mind/breath/emotions/spirit than you are not doing Yoga.

The Inner Quest Intensive is an opportunity to experience all of the aspects of yoga. It’s a program geared towards eliminating the obstacles and limitations that have held you back from feeling fully alive. I can’t say that it’s exactly ‘fun’, but it is transforming and quite enlightening.

Since participating in the program in ’99, I have returned to Kripalu three times a year to be a facilitator in the program. I can actually say that I have been a witness to miracles, something I never would have said prior to ’99. So, check it out and see if you’re a candidate for the IQI……..guaranteed to change your life for the better.

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………………dharma and karma and how that plays out in my life. The last time I pondered this polarity was here, in Arjuna’s tale in the Bhagavad Gita. Destiny, fate, call it what you will. We have ALL recognized the appearance of such events in our lives. Some of us recognize these synchronicities in their personal lives, and neglect to see same in their public lives. Others vice versa. Are you thoroughly confused now? You might be……..that’s the nature of polarities ( and dualities, too). It’s enought to make your head spin! Then you throw into the mix all the air sign people( Gemini, Libra, Aquarius) with whom duality & polarity are a daily/minute-to- minute struggle/agony they live with. Whew………………enough all ready. The futility of pondering duality is immeasurable.
Time to sit.

zafu

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In this post I published an article I wrote on the Balsamic Phase of the Moon. As I write this, the moon is at 04GE which means that I am in the balsamic phase of my personal lunar cycle. The personal cycle is the one that the general public can’t see. It’s determined by the position of the moon at birth and my moon is at 04CA. The moon today is 30 degrees away from that place, ergo the balsamic phase.

The task here is to take care of my inner self and attend to my inner world. Most of the time I enjoy these days. Sometimes they are painful, frustrating, and downright boring. I’m not sure yet how this particular balsamic phase will play out.

My natal moon lives in the 12th house of my birthchart so that makes it even more imperative that I clean out the internal clutter of my life during this time. The difficulty is that you have to find where that clutter is before you can clean it out!

I’ve spent countless hours in meditation, journaling, consulting with those who are wise, and engaging in various solitary practices that force me to look at myself. Today, at 57 years of age, I can honestly say, I’m okay. Certainly, there have been, and continue to be some rough spots….that’s called life. However, there’s a lot more empty, clear space than there was a few decades ago and these balsamic phases have become restful, peaceful respites from the world.

So, it looks like it might be a very, nice spring day today. Perhaps a walk on the beach and some conversation with the seagulls.

Sea Bright, NJ

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In the beginning there was no existence.
Existence appeared and grew.
It became an egg.
The egg broke open.

Broken Egg

One if its halves was of silver, the other gold.
The silver half became this earth.
The golden half became the sky.
The membrane surrounding the white of the egg became the mountains.
The membrane surrounding the yolk became mist and clouds.
The blood vessels rivers.
The white became the sea.
And the yolk was the sun.

Indian Upanishad

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zafuIn 2001, I had the great good fortune to meet Sylvia Boorstein, a meditation teacher from the Theravada tradition of Buddhism. I loved her at first sight. She was the epitome of The GrandMother archetype for me. Round, jolly, sparkling, and chock full of the kind of everyday wisdom that only comes from deep study and years of personal practice. I assisted her with her 5-day program at Kripalu Center and became enamoured of Metta Meditation as a spiritual practice. Every summer for the following four years I returned to Kripalu to assist, practice and learn from Sylvia all about metta and the practice of lovingkindness.

Metta Meditation is a practice that was given to the Buddah’s students whereby particular phrases are repeated over and over, as in a mantra practice. The difference is that the phrases are first oriented towards oneself, then directed towards someone else, and finally for the well being of All beings. Beginning with oneself is critically important as the following quote of Gautama Buddah suggests.

“You can search throughout the entire universe for someone who is more deserving of your love and affection than you are yourself, and that person is not to be found anywhere. You, yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection”

Nice.

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