“…….(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
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.
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.
It took awhile for the calm to return, and now the whole group has returned to their meditations over on the property further west.
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.
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.
Election shenanigans continue to heat up and Hilary’s exact birthtime is still a well kept secret, as it should be for any high-ranking Scorpio. No doubt she has had some guidance from the astrologers, we’re always lurking around the power centers, if we’re not one ourselves.
Gemini Trump is a poster-child for one who is unable to ‘focus’, the exact opposite of Scorpio.
It’s quite the conundrum, Gemini vs. Scorpio.
Since we’ve just moved into the season of Scorpio, here’s a list of other notable Scorpio’s, lest you judge the sign by Hilary alone. Bonnie Raitt Nov. 9, Vivian Leigh, Tatum O’Neal, Roy Rogers Nov 5, Ted Turner Nov 19, Sally Field Nov 6, Goldie Hawn Nov 21, Whoopie Goldberg Nov 13
That said, today I refer you back to this post. Scroll down to where I’ve listed some dates and you will see that Nov. 9 is when Mars/Saturn begin to move into the next phase of their new cycle which began in August. At 45 degrees of separation a certain subtle tension begins to set in, it happens during the crescent phase of the cycle. (360 divided by 8 = 45 degree phases) However, Mars is dreadfully close to Pluto at this same time, around Nov 8. This is not an easy planetary picture, for anyone & everyone. We are certainly “living in interesting times”, as an ancient Chinese curse proclaims.
The SALON FOR ASTROLOGICAL DISCOURSEwill be meeting to discuss all of this and more at our next meeting, WED, NOV 2, 7PM. If you are in or around Asbury Park, NJ and would like to attend please contact Ida at Time & Space Consulting for details.
” Reading makes a full man, meditation a profound man, discourse a clear man.”
East Brunswick Public Library, 2 Civic Center Drive. NJ
I’ve attended the Harper’s Escape weekend intensive maybe 6 times, and now that I’ve finally gotten the ‘hang’ of it, it’s ending. After 25 years Kathy, the director, and one of my most favorite teachers, is retiring this event. So sad. But, I do understand. The details above is for the final public concert that completes the weekend event. I’ll be there and, it’s free. Come! It’s always a full house so get there early for a good seat, not that it matters.
Taking up the harp at 50 changed my life brain. Switching from piano to harp as my primary musical instrument was a learning curve that proved frustrating, challenging, and incredibly rewarding. More on that another time. Suffice it to say, 8 fingers on 36 strings, re-wired my brain in ways only a yogi could understand….or a brain scientist.
Next year Kathy is taking a group to Ireland! OMG. For those who know me, you know how much I want to go on that trip! In August, 2002 my daughter and I traveled there and searched for all-things-harp for 2 weeks. We landed in Shannon and made our way to Galway during the big horse race event. We journeyed thru dense fog to Inisheer, one of the Aran Islands. We drove on the wrongright long straight road running from the west coast all the way to way to Dublin. The only harp I found was in a glass case at Trinity Library and I wrote about it here. Of course there were images of harps on coins and beer cans everywhere, but, no harp music anywhere. Still, the music we did find was damn good! Money is tight right now so maybe I’ll crowdfund the trip? If everyone I know/love could send me $5. I bet that might get me there! I’ll be happy to entertain you all with my harp when I return.
Anyway, Wally, a Camac Aziliz, (who I still want to swap/sell/trade for a Fisher) needs some serious tuning after a hot, humid summer and weeks of neglect. But, he’ll sing next weekend at the Harpers Escape for sure.
Learning to play the harp, and developing a repetoire that suits me and my abilities has been so much fun. It’s taken me to places both musical and geographical that wouldn’t have happened otherwise. I am blessed.
All three top presidential candidates have Pluto in Leo at their birth.
Between 1937 & 1956 Pluto moved thru Leo and the “Baby Boomers” were born. Astrologically speaking, all those born during the same Pluto placement have the same evolutionary/generational challenge: to transform, revolutionize, and bring to a higher level all the issues of what the sign, LEO, represents. Being the largest population group for a long time, we’ve made some fundamental changes in our society, beginning in the 60’s. But the balance of power is changing now and the Millennial population is beginning to en mass as per their particular Pluto placement. More on them another time.
Pluto represents transformation, guaranteeing that something gets birthed, something dies, and something is reborn. That is the essence of what transformation is. It takes about 20 years for Pluto to move thru a single zodiac sign, 248 years to make one orbit around the sun. Each human generation is measured by the movement of Pluto thru the zodiac. Each zodiac sign symbolizes a whole different life-lesson or soul’s purpose for those born during this time. It all gets clearer as you age. Wisdom has its own rewards. The stress points (hard angles) are particularly revealing.
Leo, is possibly, the most self-absorbed sign of the entire zodiac, most especially about aging, and those boomers are the seniors now. The youth driven culture that we initiated in the 60’s is now poised to take over the governance of our nation, again as evidenced by the majority of this years presidential nominee’s.
Part of a boomers charm is the ability to remain the eternal child, the puer aeternus. and that about says it all. We are the kids who just want to have fun. It’s a natural response to our Pluto in Cancer parents. Leo is all about ego and prioritizing ‘self’ over group. Pluto in Virgos & Libra are our kids. And, Pluto in Scorpio and Sagittarius are our grandkids. But I digress.
Mundane astrology is the study of world events, rather than people. I don’t spend much time with event charts, but there is a lot you can glean from them. This chart here is the birthchart of the USA. There is some disagreement among the astrologers as to exact time of birth and other charts have been put forth and argued for. I choose to use this one.
I bring it up because it’s important to note, even before this election cycle began, that Pluto has been making some serious aspects to the chart of our country. There’s no denying the fact that we are in the process of re-birthing our nation. It’s very serious and we need to understand that regardless of how the media (transformed when Pluto traveled thru Sag from 1995-2009), portrays the news and the candidates. Once again I refer you to the mundane astrologers who have analyzed this better than me.
That said, the candidates are, as usual, perfectly suited to represent the times we are living in. Bernie & Hillary actually have a lot in common and seem to be quite compatible in many ways. Jupiter is at the midheaven for both of them and that bodes well. Donald, on the other hand, well, it’s frightening to consider. Seriously.
Anyway, that’s enough for now. Look at the charts for yourself. It’s a good way to begin studying astrology….watching famous people be who they are.
If you want more of my humble opinion you can sign up for my newsletter on a widget over there on the right. The Salon for Astrological Discourse will be returning later this summer.
Well, I’m back and it was an over-the-top fabulous week and worth the wait. As usual, my well gets filled at Kripalu. I am grateful.
Kripalu is a different place these days and I miss the community feeling that was created by the ashram lifestyle. Volunteers vs Employees creates a totally different environment. Thus, to me, today, it feels like any other 5-star holistic center….ie Omega, Esalen, The Open Center, etc. Many of the best senior teachers are gone, a serious failing since that’s when the wisdom of the yoga practice can really express itself. The emphasis no longer includes any of the off-the-mat practices of Kripalu Yoga. Too bad. It’s so needed as a counterpoint to the body-based exercises that pass for yoga today.
That said, I still love it there. You just can’t not absorb the incredible magical, metaphysical, and spiritual energy that permeates the entire landscape. The mountains, the lake, the fertile land, the trees and the prana in the air all conspire to create feng shui perfection.
The program, Sharing Your Life Story with Ann Randolph was over-the-top amazing and I highly recommend you see her performances or take her workshops. I am so inspired to continue my creative non-fiction projects and hope to post some Kripalu stories here in the near future.
It’s been a while since I’ve blogged anything, but, I have been writing….
Last December I took a 4-session workshop on Writing Memoir, and in January I began to audit a local college course on Creative Non-Fiction. It felt so good to have a pen in my hand again. I’d forgotten how the kinesthetic experience of scribbling words on paper could be so immensely satisfying., especially with the right pen. There is a certain pleasure from typing too, particularly the sound of the keys as they make contact. But, writing more by hand over the last 4 months has reactivated older neural pathways and lit them up with new creative impulses. Typing just doesn’t tap into the memories the way handwriting does.
In class we’ve been doing things like: free writing, writing from prompts and pictures and maps, and learning how to craft scenes, dialogue, and sensory information. All the assignments are to be drawn from our personal life…..aka: non-fiction. Although I had plenty of english and writing courses in school, this is the first course like this I’ve ever taken and just as I’d hoped it’s the genre that suits me most. Putting my stories on paper, breathing some life into the characters that inhabit my life, and then sharing the stories has been immensely humbling and satisfying. It feels more like therapy then entertainment.
Not sure yet how all this comes together, but I have faith that it will. My goal, if I were to have one, would be to assemble all these stories into a hard copy book. But in the meantime it shouldn’t hurt to publish a tale or two here online on my website? What do you think? Who’s reading this? That’s the amazing thing about the internet, you’re writing for who?
New Moon yesterday in Aries. We’re in an action oriented cycle right now, but speed has nothing to do with it. As Confucius says,
” It does not matter how slowly you go, So long as you do not stop.”