“To die with elation is a crappy way of dying… A warrior dies the hard way. His death must struggle to take him. A warrior does not give himself to it.”
Carlos Castaneda

Tales of Power

Yoga For Everybody

n

I’ve been meaning to write about this book for sometime, but I keep putting off (for some good reasons and for some lesser reasons). But Marianne asked today about a book recommendation and this is what I wanted to recommend … so thank you Marianne for the final push. I can either write a lot about this book or a little … I’m going to go with the short version for now (the intensity of a long version is one of the reasons it hasn’t been written yet).

There are many books that have the same name or carry a similar message “Yoga for Everybody” – so why this one? I haven’t read all the books so I can’t really offer an objective opinion … so I am to do something we are often told not to do: “judging books by their covers”.

This book doesn’t have on its cover:

  • An image of a posture that “everybody” most certainly CAN NOT do.
  • An image of a sexy blond in tight-fitting clothes performing a posture that very few people can actually do.
  • Superficial symbolism that has nothing to do with Yoga.
  • Cliche’s and promises of easy or immediate physical or spiritual salvation.

This book does have on it’s cover:

  • Images of day-to-day people in unimpressive (almost ridiculous looking :+) postures.
  • An honest and informative description of what’s inside – routine practice!
  • My teachers name.
  • … and though you can’t see it “on the cover”, it comes in spiral-binding and an extended folded cover so you can easily place it in a standing position beside your yoga mat when you actually want to practice what’s inside.

The book is wonderfully aligned with the teachings I have received in person. It describes in sensible and accessible language basic principles of practice. It introduces, from the start, breathing with movement. Postures are described with emphasis on how to make them effective & safe and with variations that everybody can do! The postures are also integrated into sequence practices that are gradually developed throughout the book. The book is filled with excellent images of real people doing real postures that everybody can really do!

You can get Yoga for Every Body on Amazon 🙂

Posted in Yoga, Yoga Books | You are welcome to read 1 comment and to add yours

Twitter Weekly Updates for 2010-12-19

n
  • @lifeinromania thank you 🙂 #
  • a post from the past for the #omcru folks – a little movement after meditation to compensate for sitting http://bit.ly/fBiIZA #
  • going out to walk a snow covered and Christmas decorated Cluj-Napoca (that's in Romania if you haven't been paying attention :+) #
  • observing food-markets in Romania and seeing them as systems of energy – mayB a strange post mayB not – u decide 🙂 http://bit.ly/f2YRKR #
  • with a specific person in heart, the Shakuhachi was generous with me this morning: http://bit.ly/eXK5P9 #
  • @ronenk ממשיך להתאמן http://bit.ly/eXK5P9 #
  • How to add a reverb effect to sound files with Audacity on Ubuntu: http://bit.ly/hAF7ZD #
  • listening for the 1st time to Branford Marsalis' album "A Love Supreme" … brilliant!!! http://bit.ly/fbyxiF #
  • my first real Christmas tree http://bit.ly/i2cMfO #morefirstsinromania #
  • 2experience the benefits of Pranayama, take up a practice http://bit.ly/ee3CBi … reading about hypothetical promises will not get u far! #
  • not a fan of philharmonic music or of remakes … but Sting Live in Berlin is a wonderful musical performance … just saw it on DVD #
  • highlight1: 1st star of show never physically appears on stage: whoever created the musical arrangements … brilliant, refined, sensitive #
  • highlight2: 2nd star of show is the sound people who beautifully captured and delivered a rich, complex and diverse sound #
  • highlight3: Branford Marsalis and Sting playing together again … just like when I first came across Sting over 20 years ago #
  • highlight4: line dancing in a Sting concert … hilarious and fun … never though I'd see that #
  • highlight5: @DominicMiller1 delicately finding spaces and delivering single living sounds that gracefully rise out of a sea of music #
  • highlight6: Sting's exploding, moving and powerfully resonating voice at the end … outstanding … took me by surprise #
  • fortherecord7: I still think conductors (both in music and trains) are ridiculously odd and redundant people … not musicians, not dancers #
  • 20 years ago String introduced me to Jazz & I followed, I don't think it's going to happen again with philharmonic music #
  • a new post on Bhudeva – some information and resources on harvesting hemp http://bit.ly/gTkvCl – still looking for non-industrial knowledge #
  • over the last 3+ months I've experienced a full cycle of moving away from and back towards Yoga practices http://bit.ly/gCQ6Wv #

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Getting Back to Practice

n

It’s been almost two weeks now that I’ve been enjoying a fairly regular practice routine – it’s still building, still taking shape but it’s presence is stabilizing. It was interesting for me to observe a cycle over 3+ months as I moved away from and back towards a practice.

Practice >> Wanting to Practice >> Wanting Food

The journey started with an abrupt break in practice. It happened when we first acted on our decision to move to Romania. I remember that on the first day that we started taking things apart and packing, something about the energy changed from a home into a house – it was no longer our place. For a couple of weeks we managed to keep the Yoga room clean and quiet – but I didn’t visit it anymore. I  wanted to practice but couldn’t find it – I was preoccupied and the rest of the house was degenerating into an inevitable mess. I couldn’t settle into practice.

The days flew by and the movement intensified, things began to leave us and some of the obvious day-to-day patterns became more challenging – some had to be completely surrendered. The new challenge was maintaining a correct effort in the face of change. There were many things to do and many attachments to undo. Some days were physically tiring and some days were emotionally draining. We had to stay tuned to ourselves and to each other – we had to make a conscious decision to stop and rest or call it a day. When we didn’t we became unpleasant inside and towards each other. Practice was not really on my mind – life was enough of a practice.

Towards the end of the leaving-phase of the journey we were guests at my parents home, tending to final arrangements and all I really wanted was to pad my days with peace and quiet and nourishing food.

Wanting Food >> Wanting to Practice >> Practice

When the actual journey began, getting nourishing food on time was a practice. Food was a first priority and a backdrop for everything else. When we first arrived at our hostel in Romania we purchased basic groceries for at least a decent breakfast. The rest of the meals were usually ad-hoc and on the move as we were again making arrangements and looking for an apartment.

When we moved into the apartment most of our expenses were (as planned) kitchen related – we got everything we needed to quickly get back to home cooked food. We quickly transitioned to shopping for naturally grown food in the markets instead of industrialized food in supermarkets (there is plenty of both). The markets are a vegetarian heaven and we are really enjoying the food (though we consume much less fresh vegetables then we used to). Good rice and lentils are surprisingly hard to find (or ridiculously expensive). But I digress … my point is that food was the main issue.

Only after there was good food did I started having thoughts about resuming practice – though practice didn’t come immediately. It took some time. The first semblance of practice was when I began sitting down for short Shakuhachi sessions – sound was the first element I could access as a meditation. I don’t know if it’s directly related – but I first got on the mat for some asana practice the day after our boxes arrived from Israel and in them I found the Yoga-blocks I needed for sitting.

Since then practice has been calling to me more often. Pranayama is the practice that calls out to me most and has been my most regular practice. Asana practice is also present, fairly regularly but not as much as Pranayama and not yet in full capacity. Most of my Pranayama practices are followed by 10-15 minutes of Dharana. I am looking forward to more regulated days as an extension of my (mostly) morning practices. I am looking forward to more regulated hunger, which I hope will lead to additional practice spaces during the day.



Posted in inside, Pranayama, Pranayama Journal, Romania, Yoga, Yoga & I, Yoga & Life | You are welcome to read 1 comment and to add yours

Christmas

n

Neither Andreea nor I practice any religion. Actually … I religiously stay away from anything religious (I am a bit harsher on these things then Andreea). Yet we do Christmas. It began in Israel when Andreea would get a holiday blues around the time of Christmas. So we got a small potted tree that only looked like a Christmas tree and grew with us over a few years (we left it planted near the last house we occupied in Israel) and some decorations.

Eventually I asked Andreea what the tree “officially” symbolizes – and she couldn’t tell me and we looked it up. We found that it may very well be rooted in pagan traditions, and that Christian authorities piggy-backed on it for their own needs. So we did some picking and choosing and created our own symbology for it.

Bringing a tree in-doors keeps us in touch with qualities of nature that surround us. Nature is resilient and abundant. Nature supports us. Nature changes and adapts softly and peacefully, even when facing harsh conditions. Nature peacefully brings together life and death in a neverending cycle of regeneration. All of these qualities and more permeate into our consciousness and walls by bringing a tree into our home.

Ecologically it is a bummer to see all these trees cut, used and then tossed out like garbage. From what we know, at least here in Romania, the cutting of trees is (surprisingly) highly regulated and what is sold is actually just the tops of the trees (which hopefully grow back, maybe even more rejuvenated?). Personally, once we move into our permanent home, we will resume a practice we started in Israel of growing a tree over years and then planting it outside when it is too large and mature to have in the house.

A few days ago I had my first amusing experience of carrying a tree home through the city. We didn’t see anyone else doing it (last year in Romania, most of the Christmas trees we saw in homes we visited were small plastic trees – which really don’t sit well with our symbology – fake is not a quality we are looking to bring into our lives) – so I felt a little like a celebrity. Quite a few people asked us where we got and how muh we payed for it – of course everyone turned to me to ask and, given my limited Romanian vocabulary, I had to send everyone to Andreea for further inquiries. Oh … and one last thing … it is much easier to navigate a city with a Christmas tree carrying the root end first – that way the branches gracefully foldl away from any obstacles instead of relentlessly hooking onto everything and everyone.

Posted in Enjoy, Expanding, inside, Romania | You are welcome to add your comment

Branford Marsalis – A Love Supreme

n

This brilliant album was (still is) playing in my ears for the first time as I was writing the previous post. It’s an album based on or inspired by John Coltrane‘s album by the same name. I found this great looking and sounding video of a brilliant live recording. Amazing to see a seemingly simple drum roll build and deliver a clear burst of energy and create an opening. It’s been a long long time since I’ve been to a good jazz concert (and I haven’t been to many) – maybe now that we are in Europe there will be more opportunities for this?

Posted in Enjoy, inside, Music | You are welcome to add your comment

How to Install Reverb in Audacity

n

Audacity is an open-source audio-editing program that I use on Ubuntu to lightly to edit some of my Shakuhachi recordings. It comes with a collection of filters which can be used for all kinds of effects – but on Ubuntu (and apparently all Linux distributions) it doesn’t come with a reverb filter which I like to occasionally use. Fortunately there is a reverb-filter which is also open-source and freely available – unfortunately installing it and using it causes too much unnecessary suffering.

Yesterday I had to go through this painful process again and fortunately I came across two simple solutions to both installation and using it – so I thought to make a note of it for myself for future reference.

Installation

LADSPA is some kind of standard protocol for audio filters (used by many other audio editing programs). The reverb effect is part of a large set of LADSPA filters which are installed as a set. Installing them should be as easy as downloading them and placing them in a certain folder – for the life of me I couldn’t figure out where that folder is. Most of the instructions I found seem to be for either outdated versions of either the filter set or Ubuntu.

I did however come across (here) an easy to use command-line installation which worked like magic (which I’m guessing means that the filters are somewhere in the official Ubuntu repositories). It installs an over-sized set of filters one of which is Gverb which is the one I was looking for:

sudo aptitude install vco-plugins tap-plugins swh-plugins rev-plugins omins mcp-plugins

Usage

The filter itself is a horrific set of of parameters which you have to be either a software engineer and/or a sound engineer to figure out.

I am neither – luckily I found these settings which worked great for me. If you have more refined audio-requirements then I do – you can probably use these setting as a good point of departure for exploring other variations:

  • room size: 100
  • reverb time: 3.5
  • damping: .5
  • input bandwidth: .75
  • dry signal level: -1.5
  • early reflection level: -22
  • tail level: -22

I also came across this page (which I haven’t yet read) which seems to give some insight into what reverb is and how to about shaping it.

Previewing Tips

It really helps to be able to sample what the filter will do which is what preview does. Unfortunately the default configuration for preview is pretty useless – it’s too short ( just a few seconds) and starts at the beginning of the track. There are two things I did to benefit from a more useful preview.

First extend the duration of the preview to something like 20 or seconds. To do this simply go to “Edit -> Preferences -> Playback” and set the “Length of preview” to a longer duration:

Then before opening the filter select a portion of the sound-track you wish to preview:

WARNING: When you’ve found the reverb effect setting you like DO NOT click OK in the filter dialogue (see above) as that will apply the filter ONLY to the selected area (unless that is what you want). So far I have applied the effect to the entire track. To do this you need to close the filter dialogue (it will remember your settings), then select the entire track and re-open the filter window to actually apply it.

Sample Recording

You can listen to a sample recording I created with exactly these settings.

Posted in outside, Tech Stuff | You are welcome to read 1 comment and to add yours

I Shakuhachi – December 14, 2010: Just One

n

being just one
just being one
just being
being just
being one
just one

download recording

Posted in About, inside, My Shakuhachi Recordings, Shakuhachi | You are welcome to read 5 comments and to add yours

Seeing Energy in Markets

n

… I am thinking of food-markets, specifically Romanian food-markets. I’ve visited such markets numerous times in two Romanian cities: in Piatra Neamt (north-east Romania) and now in Cluj-Napoca (north-west) where I live. I’m usually there to shop for food though today I also purchased a (first time for me ever) Christmas tree.

Cluj-Napoca is a much larger city then Piatra Neamt. It has one large market in the city center and two other smaller markets in other areas of town. It’s “market energy” seems to be divided between these markets. The smaller ones have a limited offering and are slightly more expensive then the large market – but they have location working for them. The central market is larger, more diverse (has the lapte-lapte-lapte shop), competitive … generally more dynamic. But even the large market is disappointing compared to the market in Piatra Neamt (keeping in mind that the Neamt area in the east is considered economically weaker and less developed then the west). Today we got a wonderful Christmas tree (more on that in a separate post) and even the ad-hoc tree-market (set right outside the food-market) was disappointing compared to Piatra Neamt.

Piatra Neamt is a smaller city and is geographically built around one city-center. It has one large-market in the center. I remember it as being physically larger then the one in Cluj and Andreea (who visited there a few weeks ago) confirmed that it has more variety and much (30%-50%) cheaper prices (though prices may reflect east-west differences). Last year, also located right outside the food-market, there was an impressive variety of Christmas trees – far more impressive then the small offering we saw today in Cluj.

When we got home some thoughts appeared around these differences – they reminded me of Yoga’s core idea of qualities of energy. The “market energy” in Cluj is diffused and weak compared to the condensed energy of Piatra-Neamt. I wonder if this kind of perspective can shed light on more complex systems and social structures such as cities and villages … and self-sustaining homes, or even commercial structures – such as Romanian markets, industrialized super-markets … and small productive communities.

In an individual person (which is the focus of the science of Yoga) condensed energy is better then diffused energy. Diffused energy is a state of illness, condensed energy a state of health & strength. Yet it is also possible to abuse Yoga practices and to generate energy that is too condensed – to the point that it can’t be contained and it burns from within. When I am in the city (as I am now – temporarily) I can feel in my body the density, commotion … there is too much vibration … there is too little space for settling. I wonder if in some ways cities have become too condensed and too intense to contain and give expression to human life. I wonder if the economical break-downs all around the world are expressions of systems that have also become too condensed, that the exaggerated heat is melting the foundations which are giving way and causing the systems they support to collapse.

The industrial revolution which carried us through the 20th century was in the spirit of growth, expansion – an age of quantity. Is it not sensible that the next era (for such industrialized societies) should be one of settling and gathering – an age of quality?

Posted in AltEco, Expanding, inside, outside, Uncategorized, Yoga, Yoga & Life | You are welcome to add your comment

A Snow Covered & Christmas Decorated Cluj-Napoca

n

Yesterday and today the snow really piled up for the first time here. Tonight we went for a walk in the city to have a look 🙂

Posted in inside, Romania | You are welcome to add your comment

Twitter Weekly Updates for 2010-12-12

n
  • it is wrong to approach a social conflict with intellect -had there been intellectual compatibility there would not be a social conflict #
  • @IndustrialHemp re:investor I would be happy to share with you hemp related eco-project ( iamronen [at] iamronen [dot] com ) #
  • discovering that Gwibber can be a great twitter client (+ lots of other things social-online) on Ubuntu #
  • Blogging can be like a new and uncomfortable yoga posture – but with correct practice u can settle into it comfortably: http://bit.ly/fZ032y #
  • The Insanity Virus http://bit.ly/a7VSeW courtesy of @gblakeman #
  • todays coffee is from organic fair-trade coffee with buffalo milk #
  • a business that has and works towards a purpose must ultimately gravitate towards becoming a non-profit #
  • we've been using ghee 4a long time but only now when we got fresh butter did I realize it's a method of preservation: http://bit.ly/hFz6uK #
  • @lifeinromania can you recommend when is a good time (price/selection) & where in our part of town – to get a christmas tree? #
  • my limited experience with social-media has reaffirmed my belief that quantity is no indication of quality #
  • I am excited to finally share iBreathe – a setting for one-on-one online teaching of Pranayama http://bit.ly/hJGC3f please pass it on 🙂 #

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Introducing iBreathe

n

This blog has been running for over 3 years. It’s center of gravity has shifted numerous times as has mine. Yet over the last two years I’ve let Yoga insinuate itself into many parts of it – including ~150 posts dedicated to teachings of Yoga as I have receive them and as they reflect through me. There have been two motivations to this process – one internal (it’s what I want to do) and the second is external sharing – I feel I’ve been blessed with rare and quality teachings and that these teachings need to keep moving.

Yet one thing I haven’t pursued with focus is interaction.  Not for lack of wanting – I simply could not find a context and mode of interaction where I could effectively share and teach. Yoga is mostly about practice. I cannot teach Asana without physical presence and contact and I am not (yet?) inclined to teaching theory or philosophy. My thoughts continued to travel until they came onto the shores of Pranayama breathing practices. I’ve published some posts on breathing in general and on Pranayama – including breath & movement, structured breathing and breathing techniques – little did I know that as I was writing them I was sowing the seeds that would one day grow into an online offering.

That day has finally come. I am happy to present and offer iBreath – an individual, personalized, in-depth, long term and hopefully affordable setting for learning and practicing Pranayama.

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank Marianne Elliott who’s 30 Days of Yoga inspired some of the practical issues I needed to address in order to make iBreathe possible.

Posted in Expanding, inside, Pranayama, Yoga, Yoga & I | You are welcome to add your comment

My Grandmother’s Homemade Wafers

n

It’s been years since I’ve had these wafers in my mouth or on my mind … until these ready-made wafers caught my eye in the supermarket. I spoke to my grandmother and asked her how she made these into delicious wafers. The recipe is simple but a far cry from health food … but so delicious. These images are here for my grandmother to see what happened after we spoke.

As instructed I tossed everything into the pot and cooked into into a thick paste.

As I poured on the first layer onto the wafer I realized (actually Andreea realized first) there was nowhere near enough to create 3 or 4 layers.

Indeed it was enough for only two layers.

So I cut the spread wafers in two and piled them one on top of the other and covered them with another half-wafer.

I then wrapped it all in tin-foil and put some weight on it for half a day.

Then this evening, as I was making us a herbal tea I unwrapped the package and this is what I found.

I cut them up like I remember my grandmother used to.

… and voila 🙂

delicious 🙂

Update: Recipe

  • 150 grams of ground nuts & peanuts
  • 3/4 cup of honey
  • 200 grams of margarine (I used butter)
  • 1 spoon of Cocoa
  • 1 spoon of Rum baking essence.

All cooked together for 10-15 minutes and then spread on the wafers 🙂

Posted in Enjoy, Expanding, inside, Romania | You are welcome to add your comment

Walk from our home to Iulius Mall

n

The following images are snapshots from a (~30 minute) walk we took from our apartment building to Iulius mall to do some shopping. They are snapshots intended to relay the day-to-day qualities of walking in a part of Cluj-Napoca. See if you can post the traffic sign that I can only guess means something like “When you see Jesus make way for yellow cars driving down the middle of the road” 🙂

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Twitter Weekly Updates for 2010-12-05

n
  • periodic reminder: looking for web-developer to collaborate on meditation website inspired by #omcru #
  • … and now sitting for a short Shakuhachi meditation #omcru #
  • @buddhidiot what is ur question? #
  • @buddhidiot ahhh (1) thank u 4 the question (2) hard to answer in 140 chars (3) #omcru shines for me (4) it's website doesn't at all #
  • @buddhidiot (5) some ideas appeared within an #omcru meditation (6) I feel they could resonate wonderfully and enhance with #omcru #
  • @buddhidiot (7) I'm a designer (8) I'm not a developer (9) why not? #
  • @buddhidiot would love to thank u 🙂 I've already communicated some with @The_KamikaZEN where/how should I continue ? #
  • @buddhidiot @silvercrone @violetsblue @shing999 @TheZenOutlaw thank u for asking for me 🙂 When an answer arrives I will followup on it 🙂 #
  • Shakuhachi recording from recent #omcru meditation: http://bit.ly/hk5n4L #
  • @spacecadet31 maybe another browser would work better? I recommend Firefox. I've also added a download link 4u: http://bit.ly/hk5n4L #
  • realizing that though my energy is still not consolidated, my body has really been great throughout this transition! Thankful #
  • dear #omcru twitter community: why all the defensive energy heading my way? who/how/why did I my words create offense? #
  • @silvercrone I don't know where 2begin … u make too many assumptions with too little acquaintance – make me feel unwelcome 🙁 #
  • @silvercrone … but I will take a step back and reconsider my thoughts and words 🙂 #
  • @spacecadet31 my only question, 4now, is how/where 2go about sharing my thoughts with the community ? (as kindly suggested by @buddhidiot ) #
  • @spacecadet31 OGG files = Freedom – here's why: http://bit.ly/gkkMdv here's how: http://bit.ly/apKeiC 🙂 #
  • sitting for a Shakuhachi meditation #omcru #
  • @buddhidiot my thoughts (inspired by @RestoraCircles & #OMCru ) on the #OMCru SYSTEM: http://bit.ly/fbWbkk cc: @TheZenOutlaw #
  • most of the year, any place that's not heated is a natural refrigerator #whatiloveaboutromania #
  • I miss music – our humble computer speakers have still not arrived – still not released from Romanian customs 🙁 #
  • @The_KamikaZEN in this case I am not a ship builder 🙂 so I thought to offer my thoughts to a larger #omcru community … maybe together #
  • when meaningful change first appears it probably isn't going to be pleasant and appealing … yet somewhere deep inside it will be right #
  • really enjoyed my coffee this morning, still haven't eaten (though I should have) … now thinking of a 2nd coffee … hmmm … #
  • @buddhidiot maybe share with others … hope to encounter someone who can complement your skills 🙂 #
  • finally got around to posting some images from the botanical gardnes in Cluj-Napoca: http://bit.ly/gsItaB #
  • another recording of a Shakuhachi meditation: http://bit.ly/hocWLO #
  • bread take 2 – this time I'm making it … #
  • @Shuliji your #omcru checkin reached me half way in to your meditation – thank you 🙂 #
  • If you've had to deal with web hosting plans and couldn't make sense of it – this may help: http://bit.ly/fMea24 #
  • Barcelona welcomes christmas with the worlds largest statue of a guy … ahum … pooping: http://on.msnbc.com/ffOdxm #
  • followup: pooping guy is what I came across when I searched for satellite photos of the devastating fire in Israel … c'est la Internet 🙂 #
  • this morning DHL called 2say our things r held up at customs – this afternoon they delivered … ha ha double ha ! music in the air again 🙂 #
  • = Be closer 2the people that make u feel good … RT @Shuliji "Any person close 2 us vitally affects how we feel, who we are…" -Gendlin #
  • Yoga is not about changing your body, it's about using your body to change your mind 🙂 #
  • breakfast: organic butter, home-baked whole-wheat bread, organic eggs, village grown vegetables & hot chocolocate with real milk #goromania #
  • dinner was cabbage and tomato soup with mamaliga #
  • fresh milk has been boiled and some of it set aside and should become yogurt in a couple of days – blessed food day 🙂 #
  • nice post by @keenan "It’s not time we wrestle with. It’s priority and we get to control that." http://bit.ly/gTVrgS #

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I Shakuhachi – November 30, 2010

n

download recording

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Romania – Botanical Gardens in Cluj-Napoca

n

We missed the fall colors this year – so I am looking forward to seeing it next year 🙂 We went for a stroll through the Botanical Gardens which, like most everything else here, are humbly pleasant. The gardens include a greenhouse structure which brought a smile to my face – the entrace reminded me of an out-dated school hall and the plants reminded me of the usual plants you come across in Israeli homes 🙂

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The #OMCru System

n

Personal Disclaimer: I am not a fan of communities. It may be my understanding of “community” that is unclear – but it is what it is. I’ve been rejected by many communities most of my life. Most of the communities I have experienced were aggressive towards and threatened by my personal sense of freedom. For many years this led me into a false belief that I am not a people person, it has taken me a long time to realize that community does not equal people. People I like and I can do, communities I don’t.

What is OMCru?

Over recent months I encountered on Twitter an inspiring phenomenon called the Online Meditation Crew which can be found on Twitter using the hashtag #OMCru. People affiliated with this stream announce when they are going to sit down for a short meditation so that others may join them – thus fostering group meditations. I really liked the concept though until recently I never got a chance to participate because it seems to be happening way out of my time zone. Then a couple of months ago I lucked out and ran into a meditation checkin by @shuliji (who indirectly introduced me to OMCru). I came out of the meditation with a flood of thoughts for a web-service based inspired by OMCru. I have since reached out to the founder of OMCru to share my thoughts and yesterday when I tweeted about it – I was ambushed. Coming from meditators made it soft – but it was an ambush.

Systems

Yesterday’s swift flood made it clear to me that there is no point in talking to or about an OMCru “community” – there are too many diverse voices, personalities, qualities and motivations participating in it for me to relate to it as a whole. Yet there is an OMCru System in place and my thoughts pertain to it rather then to it’s members. As a precursor to my thoughts I am calling on another precious resource also introduced to me by @shuliji. Following is a video by Dominic Barter of Restorative Circles that wonderfully explains and demonstrates an understanding of “system” that I embrace:

I suffer from an opposite symptom to Dominic’s “System Blindness” – I am prone to “System Brightness” – systems shout out to me and many times the underlying is so powerful that I cannot benefit from the system itself. So I am going to apply my “System Brightness” to OMCru. There are numerous underlying assumptions of order that drive the OMCru system – such as:

  1. To use it you must use Twitter. It is also useful to be an advanced Twitter user – you need to know what hashtags are and how to use them if you want to stay intune with the OMCru stream.
  2. To join a meditation you must either connect to a daily scheduled meditation or be with Twitter on you at all times (or at least around the time you want to meditate) – to see who’s meditating now.
  3. You are awake and active in or near a USA/Canada time-zone which is where the core and most of OMCru meditation originate.
  4. You can meditate on your own.
  5. You can time your meditations.

… and the list probably goes on and on with gross and subtle assumptions that define  the system. Some of the assumptions are inherited from people/ group dynamics and others are inherited from technological dynamics. It is the technological dynamics of it that I don’t like and, in the spirit of Dominic Barter, “are not serving me well”.

For Me the OMCru System Sucks

  1. I don’t live with Twitter – I review it only occassionaly. Twitter can easily generate too much noise for my liking. I don’t have mobile internet at all.
  2. I live in Europe – which means that most of the (current) OMCru meditation activity takes place when I sleep.
  3. My scheduled meditations take place within a wider practice – which does not include sending updates to Twitter.
  4. My spontaneous meditations usually meet a thin or silent OMCru stream.
  5. I like my Twitter stream concise and clean. The OMCru dynamics make an awful mess. Yesterday I encountered a person from the OMCru stream that appealed to me and I wanted to follow. I hesitated to do so because that would bring more useless OMCru noise into my stream.
  6. I had some thoughts to share with the community – but there was no where to share them (and finally put them up in this post).

For Me the OMCru Idea Rocks

It was just a few days ago that I managed to see beyond the obstacles of the OMCru system and to reconnect with it’s core inspiration. Even though I don’t participate in OMCru meditations it is present with me. I love knowing that many others are engaged in meditation. “System Brightness” tells me that is a system that can bring clarity to the world. I realized that I partake in it even if I don’t meditate with others at the same time. I realized that I partake in it even without meditating, by just witnessing it. Then I realized that my Shakuhachi meditations are a part of it – and I even indulged in sending shoutouts on Twitter. Then I remembered the flood of thoughts that came to me after my first and only OMCru group meditation. They are NOT meant to do anything to an OMCru Community – they ARE intended to improve the OMCru System.

Imagine a web-site where you can join or create meditations:

  • You could see a list of upcoming meditations and the people who will be participating in them.
  • You could be reminded (by Twitter, Email or a nifty mobile application) of upcoming meditations.
  • That nifty mobile application could also signal you gently when a meditation begins and ends.
  • You could create a spontaneous or planned meditation, you could invite others to it – you could even give it a theme (a word, a thought, a color, an image, a sound …).
  • You could offer or partake in a voice guided meditation.
  • You could make a note of reflection after a meditation and/or share with others – in a unique form of dialoge which lends itself to peaceful attention.
  • Eventually you could review your meditation history – your reflections, the people you’ve spent time with, etc.

All of this, I believe, would make it easier for the OMCru idea to spread, to reach more people (including me), to create more opportunities for connection, to facilitate a cleaner means of communicating and coming together. In addition it would make it possibl to experience a “bigger picture” of what is happening:

  • You could see a map of the world with indications of meditations taking place all over.
  • You could see how much meditation has happened & how many people have meditated in the last 24 hours, week, year … or since the inception of the system.
  • You could see where in the world meditation is established and where new seeds are growing.
  • You could effortlessly organize and coordinate large meditation events.

Anyways … these are just some of my thoughts and my intention was (and remains) to share them in the hope of collaborating with others to transform them into a good working system, to support and nurture the OMCru idea.

Unhealthy Systems

Systems (and communities!) tend to become self propagating – which can cause them to lose sight of the values and ideas they are intended to serve. They can become so self-serving that they can even work against their purposes – this is a state of illness. I was surprised by the mass of defensive reactions in the spirit of “We like our community, don’t change it” I received yesterday. I was disappointed by the absence of curiosity.

Posted in AltEco, Open Source, outside, Tech Stuff | You are welcome to add your comment

I Shakuhachi – November 28, 2010: Place on the Planet

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This is my first shakuhachi recording in Romania. I’ve recently associated some of my meditative Shakuhachi sessions with the building resonance of the Online Meditation Crew (blog, Twitter stream).

I hear in it coming and going, still arriving, edgy, confident … it reflects how I feel – still coming together in a new place on the planet.

click to download

Posted in About, inside, My Shakuhachi Recordings, Romania, Shakuhachi | You are welcome to add your comment

Twitter Weekly Updates for 2010-11-28

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  • samkhya this morning: the "cup" I'm holding is an illusion, the subtle elements that uphold it (earth, air, fire) are real objects #
  • being an outsider of Israeli society and away from Israel illuminates even more clearly the raw-calousness of it's social norms #
  • @MettaYogaIL thank you for taking the time to read it 🙂 re: Degeneracy & Yoga: http://bit.ly/cEQr3n #
  • a charming coffee shop and cheese makers in Romania: http://bit.ly/9zfpuA #
  • ~1$ worth of vegetables from the Romanian market have transformed into a mouth watering soup! cc: @lifeinromania #
  • @zenpeacekeeper @spiver I believe "goodness" of a teacher is an experience reserved for a student, it's an intimate & personal experience #
  • 2 beautiful 1sts in Romania – home-baked bread from a couple of days ago & a first blanket of fresh snow this morning: http://bit.ly/f9YnLi #
  • stunning contrast between darg gray skies and bright & warm rays of sun light #
  • surprised to find myself thinking & writing about nationality & Israel – there's no such thing as "a right to land" http://bit.ly/gpOdsD #
  • sitting down to a short meditation playing Shakuhachi #omcru #
  • @iandstewart what would you use on a self-hosted domain instead of facebook? #
  • first time home alone in Romania 🙂 Andreea has gone to visit her family #
  • @iandstewart sadly I feel WordPress isn't ready to replace Facebook ( it should) but it will b a gr8 day when it is!! http://bit.ly/hq9vCu #

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Nationality

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My thoughts have been moving towards a post I intend to publish on oDharma about blogging. Those thoughts have not yet consolidated but this morning they led me in a surprising direction – to thoughts about nationality. If you speak Hebrew then I invite you to view this talk by Yeshayahu Leibovitz (a prominent Israeli philosopher) from 1982 in which he tackles a volatile political question “To whom does Israel belong?”:

The dialogue begins when an Israeli farmer describes a conversation he had with his arab (Palestanian!?) neighbor who said to him that the land he is working belonged to him 30 years ago and was taken from him. The Israeli farmer also admits that he sometimes hires his arab neighbor  to work the land (the very land that was taken from  him) for him. The Israeli farmer asks how to face that question – what can he say so that they (he and his arab neighbor) can live in peace.

Prof. Leibovitz answers that “no people have any right to any land” that even “the Swedish people do not have a right to Sweden” – there is no such “right”. He explains that the existence of a country is a result of a large group of people (a majority?) who share a common relationship to a land – it is what  is in their hearts that associates a people to land and makes it into a country. Israel is (and this he said almost 30 years ago) in a difficult position – because there are two people’s claiming an association of ownership with the same physical land. This is not a legal matter and therefore cannot be debated as such and pretending otherwise is just plain stupid. It is a matter of heart(s) – and hearts don’t reason. Prof. Leibovitz then goes on to say that there are only two possible solutions to this situation (emphasizing that there isn’t a 3rd) – either a fight to the death (nothing less) or the reknown solution of separation – two countries for two people’s.

These two solutions used to delineate a clear structure in  Israeli politics – the right embracing all out war  and the left embracing peace through separation. Over the last 30 years two processes of evolution have occured. (1) There are no clear mainstream political delineations anymore (though there are small extremist groups on both sides) –  the idea of separation-as-a-solution engulfs both right and left – leaving a mediocre and stale political system. (2) The realities of life have created a friction-filled but single living entity. On the national level Palestinian territories rely on Israel for basic sustenance – things like electricity and food (I’m sure there is much more and two way business – I simply do not have more information on it) are sold from Israel to Palestinian territories. On a local level, having lived for 18 month with arab neighbors (within as-yet uncontroversial Israeli borders) – lives are completely intermingled on a day-today basis.

I wonder if time has revealed a refined perspective – I am offering myself as an example – my Judaism is just an inherited title, my Israeli nationality is also a reality into which I was born (yet, especially now that I’ve left Israel, I can say there is a sense of belonging and connection though no longing to the place). I have come to believe that most people share common interests, things like a house, food, a sense of security, kids, education. It’s really not very complicated – yet somehow (and today my finger is pointed more in the direction of industrialization and capitalism than it is at politics and religion) leaderships and societies seem to lose sight of that. I’m sure that even right-wing extremists enjoy a warm embrace, a nice dinner and seeing their kids grow and mature.

That’s how I live my life and how I meet and experience others. I prefer an experience of connection over an experience of separation – as seems to be the case with actual life in Israel (not political life or the life-image depicted in mass media). I am constantly discovering that if I let my guard down my mind draws a picture that distorts or even goes against what is in my heart. One way I can tell which is dominant is through a simple rule of thumb – if I experience connection it’s coming from my heart, it I experience separation it’s coming from my mind. What is in the hearts of Israelis & Palestinians is, whether they admit it or not, a shared experience – there is connection. What is in their minds masks that and contorts it into separation. Even if the two leaderships eventually find a “solution of separation” they will quickly need to create “mechanisms of connection” because hearts and life will demand it.

Ironically – there is something else shared by Israeli and Palestinian societies – they are both filling their minds and the minds of their young with wrong perception, perception that creates a sense of enmity, separation, insecurity and eventually violence. That can be changed – though I am not sure it will be (sometimes death arrives before enlightenment). Minds can be changed – it happens all the time 🙂 Separation is not sustainable in the long term – it’s against nature. My contribution to Israeli society was changing my own mind and allowing that change to echo within my life circles. It doesn’t really matter if I am right or wrong – what does matter – and this is something that largely escapes Israeli society – is that I am a product of Israeli society and I am not the only one.

Posted in Expanding, inside, Israel, Quality | You are welcome to add your comment