A parable

Cutting off the bacon

A newly wed husband noticed that his wife always cut the ends off the bacon and asked her why she did that. She replied that she did it because her mother always did it. So the man asked the mother why she always cut the ends of the bacon off. Her reply was that she did it because her mother had always done it. So the man went to grandma and asked her the same question. She solved the mystery by explaining that she had always cut off the end of the bacon because her frying pan was too small.

Blindly following tradition can sometimes be limiting.  It is good to go to the roots of a tradition.  Seeking out the sutras and other ancient texts is a must for yogis.  However, once the tradition is understood there may be room for change and improvement.  Doing something just because that is how it has always been done is not always for the best, or at least not always necessary.

 

story credit: http://shamakern.com/should-you-study-thai-massage-in-thailand/

Memory [writing]

I wrote this during the last full moon.

In Namibia I could never sleep during the full moon. The light was overbearing. On a clear night, the light illuminated the sand, a cold white sea. The silhouette of the palms like tall stately ladies, long hair blowing in the breeze.

I listened to the crickets and the silence. So much silence you could almost hear the pull of the moon on your skin.

Now I lay awake and remember the restless nights. The cat gone out to hunt. My spirit longing to follow her through the darkness. If only for something to do, somewhere to be. Because the full moon has no use for sleep. She calls you to something more. To something wild. Something deep in all our memories.

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On my wall

Here are a few of the articles, videos and pictures I have shared recently.  I loved them so much I thought I would put them up on my wall here!

1. Dove Real Beauty Sketches : This campaign is fabulous!  I wonder how I would fare in creating an accurate sketch of myself.  I definitely think the women look more like their partner’s description than their own!  Check the website for more videos.

2. Branko Return to Auschwitz : This video is haunting.  A short documentary about the producer of Schindler’s List returning to Auschwitz for his bar mitzvah.  The end where he fears that people will forget the atrocities of the Holocaust is heartbreaking.  I have met survivors and for their sake and our own I feel it is so important to educate the next generation.

3. This article on the Boston bombing expands on what I was trying to get at yesterday in as tasteful a way as possible.

Instruments of Peace

I don’t watch the news or read the newspaper. Not everyday at least. Not even with any sort of regularity. Still I know people died today. People die everyday. Not in their beds at the ripe age of 97. They die of violence.

Everyday people die of violence. Somewhere. Out there. Beyond my window. My little world has never been closely attacked. I have not experienced violent death or injury. I cannot begin to know what it would feel like to be invaded in such a way. Yet, I can imagine. Because I am not just my little world. I am one part of the millions and billions and each tragedy is my tragedy.

It is hard to talk about tragedies without sounding flippant, cliche or overly sentimental. These are real lives that were lost and real people who are left behind in the wake. Nothing I or anyone else can say will change this. There are no memes or inspirational quotes to take away the pain that will be felt. There is no comfort in violence. That is its nature. The comfort comes later. Or never at all.

I believe it is important to acknowledge the deaths in Boston. These are “our” people. Americans. Each time we are hit with a large-scale tragedy in the United States, I am reminded that these things, guns and bombs and death, are “normal” occurrences for some people. And there is little I can do about that.

Today in Baghdad, 200 were wounded and 50 killed. In Somalia, 20 are dead. In Syria, 12 died. Too many people to count died due to gun violence alone here in America over the weekend. Each one of these numbers represents a living human being, someone’s someone. These do not discount the pain of the victims in Boston, they add to it. This is just those ripped from the NYT headlines and they can leave you feeling empty and helpless, knowing the extent of senseless acts of violence across the globe.

All we can really do is be a weapon of peace. It is unrealistic to demand the whole world cease to be violent. We cannot stop the whole world, be we can demand of ourselves that we not add to the violence. As yogis, we are asked to practice ahimsa, the Yoga Sutra of “non-violence”. This encompasses all violence towards others and oneself in thoughts, word and deed. You don’t have to punch someone in the face to be violent towards them. It is not an easy practice, even in times of our lives where we are not angry or upset. It is that much harder when we have real anger and real reasons for revenge.

It is easier to hate someone for their differences than learn to love them for what is the same. To do that we must see our brothers as ourselves, and that as I wrote earlier is “The Greatest Challenge.” If we are going to make any impact in this world, it will be because we were able to be an instrument of peace and through our actions, teach others to be the same.

It is true that everyday there is violence, but it is equally true that everyday there are people who work for peace. These people give me hope. These people make a difference in the lives they save. They may not win the war yet but they keep going to battle.

My sister is a peacemaker. She is a social worker fighting each day for children in rough home situations. I can not understand what she goes through everyday, but I am grateful that she keeps getting up in the morning and going to work. She gives me hope that the decent will always outweigh the terror, good does defeat evil. Every person knows someone in their life that restores their hope. Who is yours?

My heart goes out to all those reeling from the loss of a loved one. I send prayers to all those overwhelmed by tragedy. I am grateful for all those who each day work towards building a more peaceful world, no matter how discouraging it might seem. Om Shanthi.

…Here’s what I DO know. If it’s one person or a HUNDRED people, that number is not even a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of a percent of the population on this planet. You watch the videos of the carnage and there are people running TOWARDS the destruction to help out. (Thanks FAKE Gallery founder and owner Paul Kozlowski for pointing this out to me). This is a giant planet and we’re lucky to live on it but there are prices and penalties incurred for the daily miracle of existence. One of them is, every once in awhile, the wiring of a tiny sliver of the species gets snarled and they’re pointed towards darkness.

But the vast majority stands against that darkness and, like white blood cells attacking a virus, they dilute and weaken and eventually wash away the evil doers and, more importantly, the damage they wreak. This is beyond religion or creed or nation. We would not be here if humanity were inherently evil. We’d have eaten ourselves alive long ago.

So when you spot violence, or bigotry, or intolerance or fear or just garden-variety misogyny, hatred or ignorance, just look it in the eye and think, “The good outnumber you, and we always will.”

-Patton Oswalt

Possibility

Sometimes we have such rigid views of what is possible for us that we stop ourselves from becoming theperson we want to be.

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look what I can do!

I used to say “I have no upper body strength.”  One day during the teacher training I decided this was no longer the story I wanted to tell myself.  So I instead started saying “I’m working on my upper body strength” or “I’m working on getting stronger.”  This did not immediately make me The Hulk.  However, it did change the story that I created.  Once I said I was working on my upper body strength, I did just that.  Instead of not even trying because I didn’t believe it would ever be happen, I let it be a possibility.

The stories we tell ourselves are powerful.  It was completely true that I did not have upper body strength.  It was a fact.  The problem is, as long as I saw the situation that way, I did not give myself permission to change it.  It wasn’t until I came up with a true but positive statement that I could allow myself to progress.

This lesson has been helpful off the mat as well.  Recently I have been working on my issue of envy towards my friends for the great qualities I perceive in them that I would love to have.  The story in my head was “I am a envious person.”  That may be true, but I would rather not be.  I would rather be happy and excited for my friends.  Which I am.  So whenever I feel that little thought of envy, I say to myself “I am happy for my friend.”  And then I examine why it is I might want whatever it is that I’m feeling envious of and frame a sentence around that as well, such as “I am my own person.”

It is not magic.  It sounds outrageous, to just talk yourself into more positivity.  It is outrageous.  It’s outrageous that we tell ourselves such horrible things over and over.  It’s outrageous that instead of creating new stories each and every day, we get stuck in the old ones with seemingly no way out.  It is outrageous we block ourselves from becoming the people we would most like to be.

For me being able to do an arm balance isn’t about impressing my friends (though I do like that little bonus), it is about proving to myself that I have the power to change my outlook and therefore the power to change my life.  It’s not magic, but it is miraculous.

What are you stopping yourself from achieving?  Are the stories in your head helping or hindering the person you would like to become?

 

Sutra Sundays: How to Be Happy Always

Here is some beautiful advice from Swami Satchidananda. I have been watching this on a loop.

Release expectations, you will be happy always: