Author: <span>ifc</span>

 

During the winter months I took a writing class with Ann Reynolds and the prompt was

Think about a time that you were wild and green in the ways of the world…the whole world was before you, green a newness, a novice, sense of adventure, anything was possible…a curiousity, maybe stumbling and fumbling during this time too…excitement, anticipation, or maybe the wild and green in the ways of the world got you into trouble….if you think about the phrase Wild & green in the ways of the world…is there an openness & Curiosity to that now…and if so, what does the picture look like? we just to a future moment of being wild and green  in the ways of the world…what would it look like for you, in this case green= learning something new that brings you joy, delights you, brings you adventure? 

A month or so after that I participated in an online watercolor class where we would learn how to paint The Green Man using various techniques involving crackle paste, ink, and other stuff.  Purist that I am, I prefer to limit myself to one medium.  Choosing colors is complicated enough.  The Green Man is part of Celtic lore and gets Spring up and running. 

Green is the color that aligns best with the Heart (4th) Chakra. Anahat in Sanskrit. Within the heart space are the Four Immeasurables (also know as: heavenly or divine abodes, divine abidings, or the four Brahma Vihari’s.

Equanimity,

Compassion,

Sympathetic Joy,

Loving Kindness (Metta)

The philosophy and practices that focus on these four *states of being* have attracted millions of *followers* who *like* it a lot, to use a modern-day cliche. the instructions are simple. stabilize your mine through: mindfuness, or calm abiding, or meditation. Then bring each immeasurable to mind, first to yourself, always, and then over time extending out toward all sentient beings.

Many have said that these four are the only emotions worth having.

June 21 is the Summer Solstice and I guess I’ll have to find a different face to paint? For the solstice I will be facilitating a one day retreat at the Grounds for Sculpture. I can’t think of a better place to connect with nature, art, silence, space, and the heavenly abodes. Namaste.

Blogging Buddhism StudioIFC Watercolors

Drawing lines is (sometimes) easier than writing words. So I’m posting these pictures to show you what I’ve been doing  This video tells the whole story in 30 seconds.

The artist is Richard Henry and I’ve been taking courses at his school since the pandemic locked me down.  There’s something very soothing and fulfilling to drawing lines, straight & curvy.  Using a straight edge and striving for perfection can be easily witnessed.  And, letting go brings joy.   The whole of the process can be, and frequently is a meditation.

This particular geometric pattern falls into the category of 8-fold.   It’s a common pattern seen  and pictured here in an archway at .Humayan’s Tomb,  Delhi, India .

Often, it is used as a pattern for a jaali screen.  Here we use shades/blinds/curtains to adjust the amount of sunlight that enters a space.  In other places……jaali screens.    

This is as far as I’ve gotten.  Soon, it’ll be transfered to watercolor paper and then the fun really starts!

It’s a full moon…….  See the Light.

ps.  see that shaded out shape.  It’s called a tabla.             

Om shanti,

 

Geometric Art Watercolors Yoga

Hibernation ends for me with the advent of the Chinese New Year celebrated this year Feb 11 – 16.

I fell in love with many of the  ancient Chinese practices & beliefs while working as a real estate professional.  One of my most memorable experiences was the year I was a featured speaker at the state convention for the North Carolina Board of Realtors.  It was held in South Carolina, and so many of the attendees were from New Jersey.

The room was packed with many waiting outside and we quickly arranged for a second session.  My topic was Feng Shui & Real Estate, and I was ‘in my glory’.  Selling and listing and managing and administrating never brought me the delight that I experienced when speaking and teaching to a group on integrating ancient wisdom with modern-day sales.  I was a pioneer here and I loved it.

About 10 years after that convention my attention drifted from the far east to the nearer east as my yoga practice evolved into teaching.  The Hindu/Buddhist culture of India took hold as I immersed myself in vedanta, yoga & ayurveda. Vaastu Shastra is the vedic complement to Feng Shui . Both ask us to pay attention to our environments.  Coming from different parts of the globe, with different climates and cultures, they both developed a systematic way of looking at our spaces and bringing more consciousness to what we see/hear/feel/touch.  Seeing the connection between what is in the environment to what is in the body usually goes beyond our conscious awareness.  It takes discipline and training to *really see things as they are*.

Within our homes, we all have things we don’t want to see. Some of those things are hanging on our walls in plain sight.  Other things are tucked into the way back of drawers and closets.  But, according to the feng shui masters, out of sight is NOT out of mind. We still *know* it’s there and can feel the emotional pull of it’s ‘story’.  Addressing clutter is the first step to improving the chi/prana in your environment. Defining what is and what is not clutter may take some professional help? Long before Marie Kondo came on the scene teachers like myself were encouraging the public to clean up their space.

Astrology is also a major part of far east philosophies.  Both China & Tibet use a system 12-year repeating cycles.  Each cycle is an animal, which is then divided into 5 categories representing the five elements.  It’s unlike any other astrological system that came out of Babylonia, Greece, or India.  And, I don’t know much about it.  This year, 2021 is the year of the Ox and that’s me!  I was born an Ox, and if you were born in: 1937, 1949, 1961,1973,1985,1997,2009 or 2021 then you, too, are an Ox.   It’s possible that I’ll still be around for the next ox year,  2032, but I know not to count on that. So I am encouraged to celebrate myself for this whole year and live every day as best I can.

I’ll be incorporating these topics into our weekly classes and more specifically into this month’s workshop:

Inquire Within

Feb 21, 2021  1-4 pm

Hold the date.  Details to follow.  All Welcome.

 

Yoga

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

Yoga

Yoga

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.

10-stars
black geometry
Complete BlueGreen 8Fold acv
IMG-4586

 

 

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