“When one has nothing to lose, one becomes courageous. We are timid only when there is something we can still cling to.”
Carlos Castaneda

The Second Ring of Power

Not Quite There

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The only I person I kiss on the lips is Andreea, the rest of the people get a peck on the cheek. The last few days we have been staying at my parents place – visiting with my family.  Today I went out for a meeting and when I came back Andreea opened the door to greet me. I bent in to kiss her on the cheek (she tried to compensate for my navigational error and we ended up with half of the lips touching)!

It was an amusing and enlightening moment – directly experiencing the power of habitual patterns. The dominant pattern in my mind is “kiss on cheek when door opens at parents place”. Had I been truly present in the moment the pattern would not have taken over, but I was preoccupied, my mind was elsewhere and for lack of a better choice automatic behavior took over.

This is (another reason) why Yoga needs to be practiced consistently. No matter how much we create and practice new patterns we can never remove the old ones. When we let down our guard we will fall back to the rooted and familiar patterns.

Posted in Yoga & I, Yoga & Life | You are welcome to add your comment

Twitter Weekly Updates for 2009-09-20

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My New 2.4 Shakuhachi

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A couple of days ago I met my new Tai Hei 2.4 Shakuhachi and the meeting was surprising and, well… intimidating. When I first saw it I was sitting in a car – so I didn’t have a space to hold it properly – which just amplified my initial impression of “It’s huge and I can’t even get my fingers to close the holes”. The new instrument is a longer 2.4 Shakuhachi then my first 1.8 Shakuhachi and it is much heavier and massive.

Yesterday, a beautiful ray of sunset light entered my practice space and provided warm illumination. So I took out the camera and created these closeup photos hoping to capture some of the beautiful and subtle visual elements of this instrument.
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shakuhachi_sidebyside

The 2.4 Shakuhachi is exactly what I had hoped for but not at all what I expected. When I got home and sat down with it, I still couldn’t hold it peacefully – my fingers, wrists and arms ached – before I even made a sound. The thought of moving a finger to play the instrument seemed ludicrous. When I tried to change my grip and posture to bring comfort to my hands, the Shakuhachi reached so high that if I didn’t move my head it would have lodged itself up my nose and into my brain.  My mind went into a frenzy, and came up with a brilliant solution … ahum … “Send it back and get a different one”. Thankfully my mind was not in the driver seat.

The first thing I did was to blow into it as best as I could to experience it’s sound. When that happened I realized that this was indeed what I had hoped for. A 2.4 is tuned to a lower pitch then a 1.8 and it’s sounds are deep and warm. The sounds also brought some calm to my mind. Then I wrote an email to Monty Levenson (the maker) and asked if he could offer any advice. He answered very quickly and had some great advice which helped bring the instrument to rest peacefully in my hands.

It’s now been two days and I am thankful and grateful for having this instrument with me. It’s amazing that despite that massive presence of the new Shakuhachi it needs to be played much more gently then the 1.8. A very gentle breath brings it to life with a deep and resonating tone. Slight changes in the position of the head greatly affect the sound as well. My fingers are learning and adapting to playing it much faster then I expected (they don’t hurt any more, even after moving them and playing).

This new Shakuhachi and my experience of it embody and clarify some changes I expect to introduce into my Yoga practice:  “more” & “more subtle”.

Thank you sis :)

Posted in inside, Shakuhachi, Yoga & I | You are welcome to read 5 comments and to add yours

I Should Have

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During my morning Yoga practice, a thought came to me about a change I should make in it (something about it’s energetic qualities). It was a special moment -  a new, fresh and subtle perspective – a crystallization. It happened in an instant and then, within a few seconds, a second thought appeared in my mind: “I should have done this a few weeks ago”.

The Yoga Sutra – Chapter 1 Sutra 30 offers a list of 9 obstacles/distractions to clear perception: disease, dullness, doubt, carelessness, laziness, over-indulgence, delusion, non-achievement & instability. The problem is that when perception is clouded it doesn’t know it!

So the next Sutra (31) gives us a diagnostic tool – how do we know our perception has been clouded? These are the signs: suffering, negative thinking, unsteady body & unsteady breath. Yes it’s that simple – when our perception is clouded we don’t feel good. This works both ways so – when we don’t feel good it is because our perception is clouded.

I place attention and effort in my life (off the mat) and my practice (on the mat), on being present. I call on faith to put aside inhibitions from the past and hesitations about the future. In my practice (on the mat) I do this by working with familiar postures and going into subtle details in body and breath – remaining open to experience and making small adjustments. Simply put, I’m doing my best to do my best.

Today’s experience was mixed. On one hand, I clearly knew (still do!) what to do about my practice, I also know it needs to be a gradual process over time. On the other hand, I was harsh and judgmental about my past choices – it felt wrong – it was “negative thinking”. My sweet moment of clarity came with the distraction of doubt.

Yoga Sutra Chapter 4 Sutra 12 says:

“The substance of what has disappeared as well as what may appear always exists. Whether or not they are evident depends upon the direction of change.” (translation by TKV Desikachar)

This is a warning that no amount of practice will change the past. All of our experiences remain within us, they are a part of we are. They may be dormant, but they are forever present. We must always be vigilant because we never know when they may reappear. They are tricky and slippery – just when we think we got it – they pop up and pull us down.

“I should have…”  is a bad call. When it happens you should recognize it for what it is – clouded judgment. Embrace it so it doesn’t sow the seeds for future “I should have’s….”. Don’t let it take away from your present clarity and experience. What you realize now is the truth of this moment. What you realized before was the truth of that moment. Appreciating them both is a good practice for the truths yet to come.

Posted in Yoga, Yoga & I, Yoga & Life, Yoga Sutra, Yoga Texts | You are welcome to read 2 comments and to add yours

Strong Undercurrents

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I followed a twitter status from Fred Wilson to a blog post by Seth Godin about “freemium, abundance, and scarcity“.  Seth demonstrates  his point about “free” (as in a business model) by referencing a company that gives “free Yoga lessons” in order to sell and promote their brand of yoga clothing. I followed the link and read the article and lost heart (disclosure: I am a yoga practitioner & teacher).

Fred & Seth have way more practice & experience then I do when it comes to business, so I can’t challenge them on that front. There is only one thing I can responsibly relate to in all of this – and that is Yoga. That stuff that was given for “free” in the park is not Yoga – it is an illusion made to look like Yoga  – a misapprehension due to a lack of Yoga. Therefor, any logical argument based on that illusion is tainted by it. I very much wanted to reach the conclusion that Seth is wrong – but I honestly couldn’t because:

  • I think he’s a smart guy and I’ve have been inspired by him numerous times.
  • I wasn’t able to follow his train of thought.
  • I didn’t care to make an effort because I felt that this post (which is just a case in point, that happened to brush closer to me) doesn’t qualify for a  “wrong and right” argument. It lacks context – as did most of the battle around the idea of “free”.
  • I believe that his thoughts would shed a different light if they were applied in a context.

I’ll stick to the Yoga. The fact that Yoga is so popular indicates that:

  • People are suffering (this is so spiritually obvious, yet seems to get overlooked – after all those yoga-clothed people in the park look happy – don’t they?).
  • From that suffering shines a small yet unwavering light of seeking (there is hope).
  • People associate Yoga with a remedy to this situation (people know good).

People are looking for something – and that’s a promising prospect. Seeking is a treasure of potential energy that can be used or abused. Yoga (and I am assuming other spiritual) teachers rely on that energy to guide people towards freedom. Others ab-use it to create bondage. Business, the way I see it as of the writing of these words, is dominated by ab-users (though I can see islands of inspiring change).

As a Yoga teacher I often get an urge to shout out to people “you are getting it wrong, let me help you” – but  I don’t act on it. It doesn’t work for me because that very thought is an act of enslavement – it insinuates that I know better and you should follow me (and abort your way – your freedom), and I know, from my practice, that’s just plain wrong. In the Yoga-related article Seth linked to there is a quote that depicts an opposing position:

“You don’t need anything to do yoga. You don’t even need shoes. ”

This is also misleading. To take on a practice of Yoga you have to have a caring and passionate interest in yourself, in others, in life and in nature , a sense of purpose – and maybe, just maybe, if you carry those with you for some time you may encounter a teacher. Passion, care and purpose can’t be sold off shelves in stores. Fortunately – they exist in infinite abundance inside every one of us and all we have to do it sit still long enough to take notice of them.

The only conclusion I’ve been able to reach and sustain about the idea of “free as a business model” is that the people who support and use it, think they can afford to. There are strong undercurrents in this post of my critical views of current business practices. I have not yet matured enough to connect all the strings needed to make my point in writing. So, I leave you with two video clips from two seemingly unrelated issues – and I leave you to invest your own caring efforts in making your own connections:

Posted in AltEco, Business, outside, Yoga & I, Yoga & Life | You are welcome to read 1 comment and to add yours