“… and it’s always been a thing with me to feel that all men know the truth, see? … The truth itself doesn’t have a name on it. To me. Each man has to find this for himself, I think. I believe that men are here to grow themselves into the best good that they can be… I’m not interested in trying to say what it will be, I don’t know. But I believe that good will only bring good.”
John Coltrane

Coltrane - The Story of a Sound

Yoga Practice – Closing Ritual – April 2019


The ritual that closes my practice has evolved, as if it has a life of its own, over recent weeks. It statred with the addition of prakrti and purusa … and then prakrti expanded over a few iterations until it has stabilized (for now) on this:

  1. Initiation
    • Inhale opening and raising my palms up in front of me.
    • Exhale covering my eyes (still closed from the sitting practice) with my palms.
    • Stay for a breath or two.
    • Inhale moving my palms away from my eyes back to an open and raised position.
    • Exhale placing my hands on my heart space.
    • Staying here at least for a few breaths … though this is growing and becoming a place I can inhabit for quite some time. It starts by bringing my attention to my own heart, offering softness and inviting healing. If there is something in my body that calls for healing, I spend some time there. After settling in my heart, if I feel called to do so, I open my heart and send it outwards. Sometimes I connect with one specific person. Sometimes I connect with “everyone and everything”. Sometimes I invite connection with people in my life … and I let them flow freely through my consciousness … offering them, as they appear, my heart.
    • Inhale moving my palms away from my heart space back to an open and raised position.
    • Exhale bowing forward my head and bringing my two palms together – cupped forming a space between them – to my forehead.
    • I stay one or two breaths to arrive at this place.
  2. Student, Teacher, Teaching
    • I dedicate a breath to the student in me.
    • I dedicate a breath to the teacher.
    • I dedicate a breath to my teacher Ziva.
    • I dedicate a breath to my teacher Paul.
    • I dedicate a breath to Paul’s teacher Desikachar.
    • I dedicate a breath to Desikachar’s teacher (and father) Krishnamacharya.
    • I dedicate a breath to all of their teachers.
    • I dedicate a breath to all their teacher’s teachers.
    • I dedicate a breath to the teachings.
  3. Purusa & Prakrti
    • I dedicate a breath to prakrti – that which is eternally changing.
    • I dedicate a breath to my mother.
    • I dedicate a breath to my father.
    • I dedicate a breath to the older of my two sisters.
    • I dedicate a breath to the younger of my two sisters.
    • I dedicate a breath to our ancestors.
    • I deiecate a breath to our ancestor’s ancestors.
    • I dedicare a breath to our relatives – those with whom we share blood.
    • I dedicate a breath to my kindred spirirts – those with whom I share(d) heart time on the planet.
    • I dedicate a breath to my guardian angels – those with whom I share(d) heart time but are not on the face of the planet.
    • I dedicate a breath to the planet on which I sit.
    • I dedicate a breath to the atmosphere in which I breathe.
    • I dedicate a breath to the life that emerges in between the planet and the atmosphere.
    • I dedicate a breath to the cosmos which lies beyond.
    • I dedicate a breath to purusa – that which eternally sees.
    • I dedicate a breath or two to Yoga – the wholeness and entirety held by the preceding breaths. I  imagine breathing that wholeness into a small ball of light cupped in the space between my palms.
  4. Closing
    • I inhale moving my palms away from my forehead to the space in front of me. I imagine leaving the small ball of light floating in front of my heart space.
    • I exhale opening my palms wider and lowering them further down.
    • I inhale and imagine that the small ball of light expands to fill the space between my hands.
    • I exhale and imagine the ball expanding into infinity.
    • I stay for a breath or two acknowledging the “nothing” that is left behind.
    • On an exhale I lower my palms to my knees and turn them facing down to indicate completion of the practice.
    • I stay for another few breaths and gently open my eyes.
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If an Asana is a Koan …


There is a lot I do know about asanas in my practice:

  • I know the core position – the ideal form.
  • I know how to modify it to suit me – the form I am able to meet.
  • I know how to get into it and how to leave it
  • I know if I am engaging it statically (staying in the posture) or dynamically (moving in and out without staying)
  • I know where to place my attention
  • I know my breathing capacity in that asana
  • I know what breath ratio I am using
  • I know what asanas come before it and help to prepare me for it
  • I know what asanas come after it and can counter its effects
  • I know what roles it plays in the greater picture of practice.
  • I know how to identify improvement in an asana
  • I know when there is improvement

I also know that if I take a direct approach and focus on physical aspects, that improvement is less likely. But I don’t know how improvement has actually happened … what has improved? what has changed inside me? has my body changed? has my energy changed? has my mind changed?  I don’t know … over time (weeks, months, years of practice) there are accumulative effects that may seem more clear and apparent … but for the most part I know that I have changed, but I don’t know how.

Today I came out of practice wondering if an asana (when done appropriately) is like a physical Koan? A verbal Koan seems to evoke a mind’s thinking capacity. An asana-koan activates something else … I am tempted to say the body … but that doesn’t feel right. While an asana seems, superficially, to be physical … it is really a tool aimed at mind … perhaps a more embodied experience of mind? A concept of mind that includes not just brain, but heart, gut, bone, muscle, tissue and blood?

In my experience, engaging with an asana well evokes a quieting of mental capacities … for practical reasons: thinking disrupts. The medium of “engagement” in asana is breath. Different asana create different demands (in different people, in different phases of life, in different seasons of the year …) on the breath  – and so invite different explorations.

Breath is a unique intermediary: it both happens autonomously and can be consciously affected. If mental activity attempts to dominate, breath responds clearly and sharply, if mental activity leads you to use force, breath responds with even more force (on the other hand: if mental activity softly surrenders, so does breath!) . Breath invites mental activity into a dynamic and subtle lived experience.

As with a verbal/mental koan, asana does not provide a mentally satisfying answer … hence the experience that I don’t know what actually happened or changed inside me. In a way an asana becomes a practice for a kind of mental-not-knowing.  “Not-knowing” is not some big mystical secret … we walk and talk without “knowing” how we do it … if I look closely it seems that most of my lived experience is like that. Yet, somehow my mental processes seem to carry a desire and expectation for knowing. Asana practice, for me, tempers that expectation.

This is true not just for Asana. Pranayama (breathing practices) are an even more subtle and evolved experience of this. In Pranayama there is a clear quantitive development that I  (and you) can see by looking at the numbers. There is also a qualitative development which I can describe verbally but would come across as more personal and subjective. But as with asana (see list at the beginning of this post) I can plan and do a practice to evoke a developmental change … but I can say even less than with asana, what has changed.

I trust this embodied form of learning more than I trust whatever mental realizations may accompany it. My mental-mind is capable of confusion and delusion without knowing it. My breathing-mind is always clear, direct and honest. My mental-mind would strive to “solve” a koan. My breathing-mind knows no resolution, so it more easily inhabits the asana-koan and in doing so invites my mental-mind into a more peaceful co-habitation.

Viewed in ths light, asana practice is, in a way,  a kind of willful exploration of not-knowing. It is a playground where I train to be in complexity. I can get a sense of how everything is tied together in a web that my mental facilities cannot grasp, but that I (body-breath-mind) can intentionally inhabit.

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Kumihimo: Japanese Braiding


A Japanese spirit seems to be upon me … Kumihimo is yet another beautiful example of a living-meditation:

… and in this video … working with 68 braids … there is a glimpse of what I believe is a key to this art (and any art!?) … the instruction sheet that guides the maker … a specific sequence that has been worked out over generations and used for probably even more generations … the “job” of the maker is to be present so that he/she can inhabit and act out the known sequence:

I am confident that, just as there is are sequences for making these intricate braids, so there are sequences for experiential teaching this art … gradual steps … gradually acquiring sensitivity for tension in fingers, arms and the entire body … flowing movement … learning to read “making sequences” … an artful teaching process.

I often feel that, as I learn most things on my own, when I encounter complexity, what I am missing is a correct sequence and that is where I place my attention – finding a generative sequence instead of a “solution”.

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Japanese Toolmakers


As I stand at the entrance to the space of Japanese Kumiko woodworking, I find myself also getting acquainted with the tools associated with the culture. And one of the fundamental functions in wood-working is cutting … which ultimately involves blades in many forms.

A unique feature of many japanese tools is laminated metal … a thin piece of hard-cutting metal is welded together with a thicker piece of softer iron which makes up the mass of the blade. You can see this in chisels, planes, knives and even hammers. This seems to be inherited from Samurai sword making … a peaceful manifestation of a transformed combat technology. The resulting blades are so sharp that (when used properly) Japanese planes (called Kanna)  leave such a smooth mirror finish that no sanding is required (and it seems that sandpaper is non-existent in traditional Japanese woodworking.

As I watched this documentary about Japanese blacksmiths I imagined a world where this kind of making was the norm and not the exception. A world where many small artisans replace massive industrial scale production. Watching these blacksmiths I felt that such a lifestyle seems to encompass and profoundly address human needs … work that provides a livelihood while creating quality, purposeful objects … and in a meditative setting (where meditation is inherent and not conceptual and disassociated) … an integrated life.

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Echoes from Building Beauty Seminar of April 4th 2019


1: Project as a Living Being!?

In my experience as a Yoga practitioner there is only so much that can be done on the mat. Ultimately the work and qualities of Yoga push up against the realities of life. There is where the real work of change happens. What changes can I make in my life that support the Yoga mat?

If I practice in the morning but then go into an busy and nervous day of work, then the next morning my practice will echo that nervousness. In this way my practice is limited to what my life allows. If I want to go beyond that I need to see how can I change my day so that it becomes a better preparation for the practice that follows it the following morning. This can lead to changing smaller things like food and rest to larger things like career and relationships.

I am wondering if a parallel can be drawn to Building Beauty. If the question of building beauty is confined to the geometry of architecture … it seems there is only so far we can go … or that going further demands a struggle. So my attention moves to the backdrop in which creating beautiful geometry takes place. What choices can be made to create conditions which are more conductive to building beauty? Can I move to a city (or country) where municipal planning and culture prioritize building beauty? When looking for a job – can I look for architecture firms that prioritize building beauty?

What about the “project” of architecture? Can that be treated as a living being? Can that be treated as something that can be made beautiful? I think (though not sure) that it was in book 3 that Alexander talked about the expansion of the profession of architecture: what about project management (Susan talked about holding on to clear priorities)? what about budgets and schedules (Alexander’s example of working on a 25 year budget for a neighborhood)?what about group decision making (Alexander’s example of building a bench: by finding a correct sequence of small questions – agreement is increased and conflict can be reduced)? what about non-violent communication? There is plenty of innovation happening in many of these fields … innovation that I suspect is in alignment with building beauty.

My life and reflections of recent years had led me to believe that there is much more potential and leverage in focusing on the conditions in which change takes place instead of directly working on that which I want to change. Isn’t this echoed in Alexander’s idea of strengthening a center by working on other centers that support and embellish it. I feel that the conflict that was discussed may be an indicator / invitation / opportunity to look at a bigger picture … beauty that goes beyond geometry and environment in which beautiful geometry may be created.

How can the “project container” of “beautiful geometry” be made beautiful?

2: Commonality

Alexander’s humanistic approach has been a great reminder for me that we have so much more in common than different … and it is beneficial to explore the common-ground! I have a feeling that many (most?) people who are “doing architecture” the mainstream way are unsatisfied with it but don’t know what to do about it. If that is the case, then “conflict” may be an opportunity to help another person find his/her way through their own confusion?

For that to happen, when conflict emerges, it needs to be recognized and given time, space and energy. If the conflict emerges but pressure continues in the default direction of “architectural progress” … then it can’t really be addressed and it becomes a missed opportunity (and accumulates tension).

3: Beware Biting Metaphysics

Though I am personally very much interested in metaphysics, I have come to believe it is something that is usually best to stay away from (with most people). Most people in the modern western world) were raised (often unconsciously!) to believe that the world is a lifeless and complicated machine and that matter is inert. Suggesting to such a person that space itself is alive can undermine their sense of security and place in the world. I’ve learned (the hard-way) that is not a good opening move to finding common ground. Tension is corrosive.

However inviting someone to a simple (accessible) “mirror of the self test” can lead to interesting reflection. It can gently coax out subtle internal paradoxes and invite reflection … and that may lead someone down a path of discovery. Curiosity is nourishing 🙂



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Kumiko Unfolding – Part 1: I Want This


For the past few years I’ve been trying to make myself available to initiatives and projects that felt meaningful and that resonated with me. I’ve tried to merge skills from my past (software design) with my skills in the present … peaceful, gradual, sensitive unfolding!? These efforts, for the most part, have not worked out well. So I have been embracing even deeper my natural tendency to retreat. But this creates a practical challenge, especially in winter (when outdoor work is mostly put on hold): what to do with my free time?

My workshop at Bhudeva has been a place of mixed experience for me for almost 8 years. It has been an empowering place … allowing me to make so much of the physical world I inhabit. The priority has been making as much as possible with as little as possible. As a result the workshop has become a utilitarian place – a place where I go to create things I need. It has not been a place I have enjoyed being in. It is not equipped for quality work. It is equipped with minimal and efficient tools to get affordable, practical but mediocre results. I like that I can create the things that I want, but I don’t enjoy making them because quality is absent.

Almost a year ago I stumbled across a Japanese art called Kumiko in which small pieces of wood are used to create intricate patterns:

Sidenote: I have since discovered a sibling/complementary Japanese art called Hakone that explores similar patterns in which the spaces in between are also “filled”:

I decided to look into Kumiko and to revisit my relationship with the workshop. I wondered if it would be possible for me to transform the workshop from a utilitarian space into a space that can support a quality and meditative experience of making physical things in the world – things like Kumiko. I have been on this journey for a few months now … and to be honest answer is still “I don’t know”. But I did decide to explore this in action (and not just as a mental exercise).

My experience of scarcity (limited resources – materials, tools, money) acts as an inhibiting force on me. Allowing myself to pursue something that is not “really needed” has been challenging. It brings up much doubt and insecurity. I meet that by taking small gradual steps that feel accessible and safe for me. That itself, has become an interesting and engaging process. Wondering what is a good next step for me – and acting that out:

  • What is next?
  • Can I just go there directly or are there preparations I need to make first?
  • What is good preparation and what is excessive preparation?
  • How do I stay in touch with what motivates me?
  • How to meet uncertainty and insecurity?
  • When am I over-reaching and what is driving me to over-reach?
  • What tools do I need?
  • How to balance quality and price?
  • How can I gift myself an experience of quality within a sense of constricting scarcity?

This journey is an interesting process of unfolding. In a way, Kumiko is going to be a setting, a back-drop for the real “play”: how do I approach this kind of exploration into what is for me unchartered territory?

To get started I watched some online videos of other Kumiko travelers. I felt attracted and confident that I want to give it a try. But the videos were not detailed enough to be instructional  – they left more questions than answers. So I did a search and discovered Desmond King who has published a series of books about Kumiko. I ordered the first two books and cuddled with them during winter. I wanted to get a sense of what I would need to make Kumiko. What I found was both informative and annoying and I’ll get into that in the next post(s).


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Create “Nothing”


“The story involves two swordsmiths, Muramasa and Masamune. Both were reputed to produce excellent swords, prized among the samurai. The character of Muramasa, however, was said to be jealous and cynical: his ambition and keen sense of competitiveness motivated him to concentrate on forging blades that cut keenly … any samurai who possessed a Muramasa sword … felt its power and quality and was urged to cut people mercilessly. Masamune’s swords, on the other hand, were said to invest their owners with a sense of confidence and serenity. Though these swords also cut well and were brilliantly beautiful, much of the time they remained sheathed …

It is reported that Chiyozuru-Korehide knew that his blades ‘cut well’. This meant, simply, that the cutting edge was extremely thin. Logically, then, the best cutting edge would be defined as the thinnest possible edge, so thin as to almost approach nothing. For Chiyozuru-Korehide, then, the highest achievement of his craft would be to create ‘nothing.’ But once nothing has been created, it becomes something, and this is no longer nothing. It is no wonder that Chiyozuru-Korehide, as well as other blacksmiths, wrote poetry, for their skill and knowledge were inextricably combined with philosophy.”

Japanese Woodworking Tools – Their Tradition, Spirit and Use by Toshio Odate

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The Morphic Field of Hallelujah


What touches me? The eternally spacious words of Leonard Cohen? Jeff Buckley’s poignant and guitar colored delivery? Or is it Lindsey’s voice as she pulls away to conjure up a sharp, powerful energy launched like a penetrating arrow into my heart? Can the elements be separated? Where does the song Hallelujah begin and where does it end? It is OH SO CLEARLY there … a living, changing, growing field … so specific and yet so infinite … a morphic field!

.. this post brought to you by the morphic field of morphic fields … probably instantiated by Michael Pollan’s objection to it (How To Change Your Mind) and by mentioning Rupert Sheldrake …

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Quick Unification


“What we are trying to develop to bring about unification will, if we move too quickly, divide us into pieces”

TKV Desikacahar – Religiousness in Yoga

The context of this quote is the many subtle details that make up Pranayama (breathing) practices. It is not possible to take them on at once, it takes years of practice to gradually take on one detail at a time, assimilate it and move on to the next (in the right order!).

But reading this echoed deeper inside me … reflecting on attempts (from which I have mostly retired) to achieve unification in the social sphere. In most of the social contexts I encountered in recent years I felt there was over-reach. Maybe this says something about the division that is manifesting?

For varying reasons we seem to expect fast & clear outcomes. It seems we like to reference ideas like “10,000 hours to achieve mastery” but are rarely interested in, or able to put in the hours. Deep experiential learning is mostly monotonous and unexciting … small, sometimes barely noticeable iterations that, over time and mostly in retrospect accumulate into (surprisingly!) substantial change. Maybe some experiential unlearning is a prerequisite for this to happen: a shedding of excitement, importance, achievement, drama and passion. When these are peeled off what are we left with? Maybe a slow and  curious engagement, a kind of mature playfulness where the reward shifts from winning the game to simply playing it, from mighty goals to small, stable steps?

I have lost interest in the “making the world a better place” narrative and, at least for now, have settled on something like “better inhabiting the world” … gradually finding ways to introduce quality on a small day-to-day scale. I am grateful that I was taught this skill on-the-mat (requiring much unlearning!) and it applies well off-the-mat.


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Lonely is Better


I have been in Israel for a few days and will be here for a few more. I came because my father injured his spine, went through surgery and is now embarking on a journey of recovery. I came to offer what help and support I can.

Before coming here I was in a long continuous period of retreat. I hadn’t left Bhudeva for almost three months, had spoken to very few people other then Iulia and was quite happy to continue that way. Coming out of retreat into this reality is jarring. I feel a bit like I imagine the Buddha felt in the story where he, a prince, left the confines of the castle and encountered suffering in the world.

Here, now, around me, at ground level, I see an ugly world with so much unmanifest potential. I see people divided, animalistic politics, primitive “reality” on TV, and people moving around like zombies … hardly aware of each other, hardly aware of themselves. My father’s physiotherapy sessions take place on the 5th  floor of a 6 story building that towers over the center area of this small city. I got to see this part of the city, I know so well, from this slightly higher perspective … and it is so ugly. I wonder: if the building was much taller, would the ugliness fade out and be replaced by something better? how high would I need to go for that to happen?

When my father is intellectually engaged with intellectually engaging to “gain a sense of control over an abusive world” he seems vital and distracted from his pains and limitation. At other times he seems to tired and broken, slouching in his seat. I remember a picture of his father, having fallen to sickness, sitting slouched on a his couch … and now I see my father … and a shiver passes through me.

Yesterday the circumstances were right for his broken spirit to come through and express itself. He shared a feeling of emptiness. He says most people their age are busy helping with the grandchildren. They have no grandchildren. He has nothing to do, no purpose to pursue and guide him. When I said briefly that I feel the same, he explained to me that he doesn’t have long to live, I still have plenty of time to figure it out.

… I am getting, for the first time in my adult life, reading-glasses … I felt my eyes get weaker this past year … a clear slightly fuzzy sign that I have plenty of time!

… and here Sunni … at 4:30am … after listening to a rainfall … here is where I meet your words “welcoming … there in lies your work.”

I feel like my consciousness has been lifted in this lifetime … maybe not much … just a bit  … the 5th story feels like a suitable metaphor. High enough to see the numbness and zombieness. High enough to discern that there is so much potential … and so many good intentions. High enough to discern that good intentions do not obviously translate into good actions … that correct effort is not yet a common skill.

I managed to escaped the zombies and the numbness. They would have been content hypnotizing me into believing that I am depressed … that there is something wrong with me … and that THEY can help me, THEY can fix it. They would have filled my body with chemicals that would have numbed me … enough to not feel depressed … enough to not feel me … enough to not feel. And that would have been a lucky outcome … because in the not too distant past they may have tried to “reboot” me by electrocuting my brain or to actually cut a part of it out.

It feels darker around me, now that I am looking at the laptop screen … but the bird-song tells me morning is coming … and that the birds feel refreshed by the rain.

There have been many times that it seemed that a baby would have “made things right” for others around me … and through them maybe even to the “totality” of my life experience. There have even been times where I felt swallowed by a deep, powerful, loving, demanding presence that “surrendered” me to it. I have many times felt a deep capacity to love. But, there have not been times where I felt able to be sincerely welcoming.

Welcoming to what? I feel like I can barely make my own way in this world. I feel profound hurts and pains as I write those words … tears coming to my eyes. I also feel peacefully able to be with and in those hurts and pains. But the sum of those two movements, the hurting and the being, adds up to a delicate emptiness … a stillness. It doesn’t add up to “welcoming”. It doesn’t add up to feeling adventurous. It doesn’t add up to feeling like I have a capacity to nourish and provide for and protect a baby. For that it seems that AT LEAST I would need to feel welcomed and nourished and protected.

But, for whatever reasons, that hasn’t been my life experience. I do not say that as an excuse and I carry no sense of blame towards anyone in my past. And I recognize the love and caring that has been and is present in my life. I simply want to acknowledge that is where I am. I do not have a time machine to go back and re-do / un-do what has been done. I am grateful that I’ve found my teachers and the teachings that pass through them that make it possible for me to peacefully inhabit what I am. Being present in your meditative space makes me feel connected … as if I am looking across the town center to another building that is also slightly higher than its surroundings … and there in a window I see you … and you too are looking around … and our eyes connect … and we connect … and in our eyes I see that you have seen what I have seen. But those words “welcoming … There in lies your work” … feel like a punch to the gut.

It seems like there are plenty of narratives which could explain how my life journey is devolving, how I’ve given up, how I’m stuck, how I’ve lost. There are moments where I am vulnerable enough to be effected by such narratives. But for me the loneliness I’ve arrived at in life represents a journey of clearing, healing and strength. Peaceful, clear & lonely is, for me, better then “depressed” and medicated into a numbed and comfortably socialized life.

… welcoming … not there (yet!?)
… and I don’t know if there is space enough in this lifetime for me to get there
… and I don’t even know if “welcoming” is at all on the trajectory that I am on … is it ahead of me or have I passed it?
… I do feel that I am open to receiving clear guidance that I can assimilate, hold and act on
… and I do feel that I am open to receiving guidance that I may not even recognize as guidance and that will move in me despite my conscious rambling
… I do know that that one word leaves my exposed heart feeling alienated and alone.
… I do know that I increasingly … feel like an ending
… and it is a difficult notion to hold peacefully

… and dawn has come and gone .. and morning is here and I want to close my eyes a bit more.





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The Isolation of Science


This is a good example of intellect-run-amok … how to heal science from its isolation and to bring it back into context? is there a more pertinent and fascinating science question? how deeply has this systemic flaw held us back from developing as individuals and societies? how much effort will it take to repair the damages we have incurred because of this arrested development?

“Over the next decade, Osmond and Hoffer tested this hypothesis on more than seven hundred alcoholics, and in roughly half the cases, they reported, the treatment worked: the volunteers got sober and remained so for at least several months … ‘we considered not the chemical, but the experience as a key factor in therapy’

… Osmond and Hoffer were learning from their volunteers that the environment in which the LSD session took place exerted a powerful effect on the kinds of experiences people had and that one of the best ways to avoid a bad session was th presence of an engaged and empathetic therapist, ideally someone who had had his or her own LSD experience … Though the terms ‘set’ and ‘setting’ would not be used in this context for several more years … Osmond and Hoffer were already coming to appreciate the supreme importance of those factors in the success of their treatment.

… Based on this success the Saskatchewan provincial government helped developed policies making LSD therapy a standard treatment for alcoholics in the province. Yet not everyone in the Canadian medical establishment found the … results credible … In the early 960s, the Addiction Research Foundation in Toronto … set out to replicate the … trials using better controls. Hoping to isolate the effects of the drug from all other variables, clinicians administered LSD to alcoholics in neutral rooms and under instructions not to engage with them during their trips, except to administer an extensive questionnaire. The volunteers were then put in constraints or blindfolded, or both. Not surprisingly, the results failed to match those obtained by Osmond and Hoffer. Worse still, more than a few of the volunteers endured terrifying experiences – bad trips, as they would come to be called.”

Michael Pollan – How to Change Your Mind , The New Science of Psychedelics

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This is the most discerning demonstration I’ve heard of overtone singing!

Feels like I needed to hear this now … two tones: sometimes one is still and the other moving, sometimes the other way around, sometimes moving together … sometimes moving apart … always relating.

… works for me as a sound that sends me in … doesn’t work for me in the context of western music.

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Yoga Practice – Winter 2018/19


I am again nearing a review with my teacher and so decided to take note of where I am in practice.

Current Practice

My current practice routine fills my morning and is about 120-150 minutes:

Part 1: Entering Practice (~ 5 minutes)

  1. Samasthithi – hands on my heart space, allowing the mind to settle and come to body and breath + transition to Ujjayi breathing.
  2. Short chant (currently: ma aham)
  3. Kapalabhati 3×40 breaths

Part 2: Asana (~75 minutes / ~ 140 breaths)

the asana sequence is still very close to what it has been (<- link includes stick figures diagram of very similar practice) for some time now, with the addition of shoulder-stand and a continuous evolution of breath within the practice.

(the sequence below does not include counter-postures and rests).

Standing TOTAL: 34 breaths
tadasana R4 4 breaths
uttanasana R2+S2 6 breaths
parsva uttanasana R2+S2 / – 12 breaths
trikonasana (uddhita + parivrti) ALT4 + [ALT4 + S1] 12 breaths
utkatasana R6 6 breaths
Kneeling TOTAL: 6 breaths
adhomukha svanasana S6 6 breaths
Lying TOTAL: 18 breaths
raised leg variations 8 breaths
dvipada pitham R4 – S0/1/2/3 10 breaths
Inverted TOTAL: 10 breaths
sarvangasana S10 10 breaths
Backbending TOTAL: 20 breaths
bhujangasana R4 4 breaths
bhujangasana + bent knees R4 4 breaths
ardha salabhasana R4 + S1 8 breaths
salabhasana (incremental) R4 4 breaths
Seated TOTAL: 52 breaths
dandasana R2+S2 4 breaths
janusirsasana R2+S2 (midrange + micro) 12 breaths
matsyendrasana R6 12 breaths
mahamudra R12 / – 4×



24 breaths

Part 3: Sitting (~30-60 minutes)

  1. Resting: a couple of minutes
  2. Pranayama – 36 breaths: ~ 15 minutes. I am comfortable with all the variations I’ve been exploring (for over two years now?), recently I’ve worked with variation 3 and before that 1.
  3. Sitting:
    1. Bringing my attention to the space between each thumb and index finger … if that works
    2. Seeing which hands calls for attention first
    3. Very slowly (butoh style) bringing the thumb and index finger together until they touch (cit mudra) on that hand
    4. Very slowly bringing the thumb and index finger together until they touch on the other hand
    5. Placing my attention on the two points of contact
    6. Staying …
    7. Gently disconnecting the two contact points – first one hand then the other
  4. Closing ritual
  5. Counterpostures

Part4: Chanting (~10 minutes)

  1. Yoga Sutra verses 1-11 incremental

Questions for my teacher

  1. In what direction to evolve pranayama? I have had quite some days where I felt my channels open enough to support nadi-sodhana (quite a milestone after years of practice) … but I am not sure that there is enough stability for such a transition.
  2. How to continue my chanting practice and exploration? I like the YS chanting because it has body … depth enough for me to experience immersion … I don’t get that feeling from short chants.
  3. Overall balance of practice.
  4. Psychedelics


Posted in Pranayama Journal, Yoga, Yoga & I | You are welcome to read 2 comments and to add yours

Indra Adnan On New Politics, Soft Power and the Feminine


I am increasingly feeling disconnected from podcasts (and other materials) about subjects I care about (or think I care about!). I mostly feel that ideas are not well grounded and talk about (what strikes me as) disassociated fantasies. The latest wave of disappointment comes from this list from Richard Bartlett (whose work and person I admire very much!). But then I came across this podcast with Indra Adnan who talks about politics from a practical and actionable feminine perspective – a nourishing and soothing listening experience.

There were quite a few shimmering thoughts in the interview, but what stood out and stuck in my mind was an invitation to explicitly re-ask what politics is about – what are we coming together to do when we “do politics” … do we automatically inherit the (seemingly default) work of keeping the economic-growth machine running, or do we want something else … maybe the well-being of our society?

I also felt softly and intimately “seen” when she talked about people who have stepped outside of society and who have acquired tools and offerings that society needs. That also triggered some sadness in me as I don’t feel hopeful about that happening for me.

I am not currently engaged in anything political, but I did want to make a note of this so I can share with a few relevant people.


Posted in AltEco, Community, Intake, Oameni, outside | You are welcome to read 1 comment and to add yours

Yoga Practice – Closing Ritual


I have an instinctual distrust of ritual behavior. Though I can understand that rituals can act as anchors for desired attention and action, my impression is that they can easily default into a training of absence – blind repetition devoid of attention or context. So it was interesting for me to witness over the last year or so, a ritual form at the end of my practice. It is a living ritual that has been changing, growing and refining and may continue to do so. It comes at the end of my sitting practice and before my chanting practice. This is its current state:

  1. Inhale opening and raising my palms up in front of me.
  2. Exhale covering my eyes (still closed from the sitting practice) with my palms.
  3. Stay for a breath or two.
  4. Inhale moving my palms away from my eyes back to an open and raised position.
  5. Exhale placing my hands on my heart space.
  6. Staying here at least for a few breaths … though this is growing and becoming a place I can inhabit for quite some time. It starts by bringing my attention to my own heart, offering softness and inviting healing. If there is something in my body that calls for healing, I spend some time there. After settling in my heart, if I feel called to do so, I open my heart and send it outwards. Sometimes I connect with one specific person. Sometimes I connect with “everyone and everything”. Sometimes I invite connection with people in my life … and I let them flow freely through my consciousness … offering them, as they appear, my heart.
  7. Inhale moving my palms away from my heart space back to an open and raised position.
  8. Exhale bowing forward my head and bringing my two palms together – cupped forming a space between them – to my forehead.
  9. I stay one or two breaths to arrive at this place.
  10. I dedicate a breath to the student in me.
  11. I dedicate a breath to the teacher.
  12. I dedicate a breath to my teacher Ziva.
  13. I dedicate a breath to my teacher Paul.
  14. I dedicate a breath to Paul’s teacher Desikachar.
  15. I dedicate a breath to Desikachar’s teacher (and father) Krishnamacharya.
  16. I dedicate a breath to all of their teachers.
  17. I dedicate a breath to all their teacher’s teachers.
  18. I dedicate a breath to the teachings.
  19. I dedicate a breath to prakrti – that which is eternally changing.
  20. I dedicate a breath to purusa – that which eternally sees.
  21. I dedicate a breath or two to the wholeness held by the preceding breaths – to Yoga. I  imagine breathing that wholeness into a small ball of light cupped in the space between my palms.
  22. I inhale moving my palms away from my forehead back to an open and raised position.
  23. I exhale opening my palms wider and lowering them further down. Staying for a breath or two, I offer the fruits of practice to … all … and imagine the small ball of light growing and expanding infinitely.
  24. On the next exhale I lower my palms to my knees and turn them facing down to indicate completion of the practice.
  25. I stay for another few breaths and gently open my eyes.
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We don’t stop the bad, it stops


“Even when some things are good, we cannot prompt ourselves to do them even by will. Some people try forcibly to restrain themselves from doing certain things. This will never work because the activity of forcing, constraining, and struggling tends to become a distraction. We become so involved in the negative action that we never progress … Someone might smoke sixty cigarettes a day, and he might understand intellectually that he should not smoke, but he cannot stop. Nobody smokes because they like the idea of inhaling tar and nicotine. There is some other reason … something must happen to such a  person that will tell him, “Look here, I can do without cigarettes.” Ideally when we move into the practice of yoga, we begin to develop a process that stops the detrimental. This stopping is not caused directly — we don’t stop the bad, it stops.”

TKV Desikachar – Religiousness in Yoga

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Deeper & Discerning Perception


This scientific article was not written for me to read, but the essense of it does resonate with me: there is value in learning to better discern between how things appear and what they are, to learn to perceive deeper, beyond surface phenomena to deeper underlying dynamics:

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Emotions & Feelings


A few days this thought seeded in me:

emotions are a scent from the past, feelings are aromas from the future

I feel a need to discern, at least for myself, between emotions and feelings (I can think of reasons why, but that may become more clear in the future). The question this seed left in me was: how can I tell the difference between emotions and feelings?

Emotions are intense and demanding. They are extreme – they can suddenly lift me very high or drop me very low. They tend to fill me up and overwhelm me. They want to occupy me completely. They demand attention and they demand it now. They reject reflection and demand immediate action. It is as if they block me out: I become the emotion. They activate mind and make it bounce around considering options, leaving a trail of doubt.

Feelings are soft and subtle. They can be penetrating but not overwhelming … somehow they appear, in a just right intensity, at the edge of my peripheral vision as if to inquire if I am ready for them. If I’m not ready, they go away, they don’t hold a grudge, and if the circumstances are right they appear again. They are not imperative, they generate peace, presence and contentment. They settle in heart, leaving a sense of sweet, clear, vague knowing with a scent of soft confidence.

Emotions erupt from the inside out, consume and burn out wildly. Feelings move gently from the outside in and light a delicate candle that burns slowly and gives good light.

Emotions are social, they seek others, they want to be spoken out, shared, acknowledged and celebrated. Feelings are private and shy, they seek a quiet, undisturbed presence in heart.

The purpose of of emotions seems to be conservation through inhbition. They are an established past meeting an unknown present. They sense change and ask for re-consideration. They ask that what is established not be blindy rejected for an unknown promise. If possible (depending on both past and present) they speak moderately. If unheard they speak louder.

The purpose of feelings seems to be to navigate gracefully into an unknown future. They are stepping stones that appear just in time, forming a path that has not yet been traveled. They are like magical breadcrumbs that show not the way back to a familiar shelter, but a way forward to a new potential.

Confusion seems to live amongst emotions. There is an abundance of not-knowing in feelings, but since they live in heart, they seem to be relatively immune to confusion (which seems to be a capacity of mind). Clarity, not specific, seems to live amongst feelings.

There is a shifting, living relationship between emotions & feelings, (confusion & clarity). An excess of emotions creates an imbalance that leans towards excessive and ineffective action – doing much of little consequence. An excess of feelings creates an immobilizing stillness. Excess emotions create instability outside, excesss feeling create instability inside.

These features are indicators of what is manifesting. I want to be able to recognize when I am emoting from the past and when I am sensing from the future. I want to be able to experience both clearly and know which is which. I want to be held by both: supported by the familiar ground of emotions, levitated by the flickering invitation of feelings.

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Yoga of Groups


Yoga is a solitary practice, it focuses inwards … my body, my breath, my attention. Maybe that is one of the reasons it appealed to me. When I researched Yoga, I also considered martial arts where there seems to me to be more potential for interaction with at least one other human being. But I settled on Yoga.

The deeper I ventured into Yoga practice the more I experienced meditative qualities in action. I became convinced that such qualities are key to good outcomes. Yet in business meetings I felt these qualities were, for the most part, absent. I wondered what could be done to improve the business environment? My naive conclusion was that everyone needs to practice Yoga before we get on with business. That conclusion did not lead me to profound discoveries but, ultimately, away from work and deeper into practice.

Fast-forward 8 years and I had a chance meeting with Sociocracy in Cluj with Andrei Iuroaia. Annelieke and Iulia “convinced” me to go despite my skepticism. It was a one day workshop and I was surprised and impressed (even though the work and presentation did not yet feel mature). I felt then and still feel that this is the most practical (sensible, accessible, inexpensive to adopt… ) framework I’ve encountered for good group decision making.

I haven’t gone deeper because there are currently no social contexts in my life where these tools can be applied. However, I’ve been watching it from the sidelines (and occassionally sharing it where I felt it may be relevant). Fast-forward another 4 ot 5 years and this video is published. In it James Priest demonstrates, in a facilitator role, decision making guided by Sociocracy 3.0:

I am grateful and relieved that this modality of being, discussing and deciding together exists and that it is penetrating into organizational bubbles. It confirms that better group decisions are possible and it softly (yet undeniably) illuminates the flaws and limitations of current modalities. Our current hierarchical societies, on so many levels, seem to take for granted the capacity of a group to come together and make informed, good, safe, gradual decisions. I felt sad that this was not around when I was engaged and working. It feels that this approach would have greatly altered my experience of working with others and my potential to contribute.

From where I am now though, this work shimmers as an expression of Yogic qualities in group settings. I see parallels to my experience of personal Yoga practice. I see a practice space where a group, as a cohesive entity, can explore and discover itself in action and that the exploration itself is the technique through which subtle change is introduced. I sense a clear path of invigorating (awakening ideas – asana), containing (giving the awakened ideas coherent flow – pranayama) and focusing energy (directing ideas toward specific outcomes – dhyana).

Beautiful and inspiring work.

Posted in AltEco, Business, Community, Design, Intake, Oameni, outside | You are welcome to read 1 comment and to add yours

Hilma af Klint


A few months ago an article appeared in my twitter feed (I believe via Michael Pollan) about the Hilma af Klint exhibition at the Guggenheim museum. I do not consider myself at all associated or in touch with the world of art so I hesitated to engage, but because if came from Michael Pollan (who’s context at this time is psychedelics) I did … and, like many other tabs, it stayed open until I had an opportunity to look into it.

When I finally got around to it … I was going to use the expression “it took my breath away” but the opposite happened … I experienced a long and relaxing exhale into these incredible drawings and into myself. I did an image search to see more and the search result itself felt like a mesmerizing work of art.

I spent quite some time with these images and then did some more searching and reading … until I discovered an article that had an image like this, where the physical scale of her work (especially the series of ten images titled “The Ten Largest”) became clear … and I can only imagine what it is to take these works in at full scale

Discovering Hilma af Klint’s work was an experience similar to meeting Shahar. It cut through layers of intellectual inhibition and pretense. It reminded me that art does not require intellectualized understanding, that it is a felt experience. It reminded me to trust myself, to trust in my own felt experience. It penetrated my heart. It sat there and resonated clearly, softly and intensely inside me. It shattered through alienation and made me feel a belonging.

A book of her work now lives next to me. Actually it came with another book, but that is for another sharing. The context of her life, in which her work was created is as touching as her work … a woman, 120 years ago!, within a small group of 5 women exploring the occult, inviting and acting on spiritual guidance … birthing abstract expression when the very notion of such work was still on the horizon of imagination. Then asking that her work be kept private until the time was right for it to meet the world (long after she departed her body) … which took almost a century. So much of that story resonates with me and gives me a sense of … distant, lonely and intimate companionship.

HIlma af Klint

I’ve been playing around with painting for some time. The current iteration of paint-play was triggered by Christopher Alexander mentioning gouache in The Nature of Order (book 4 goes into color). It took me some time to pronounce the word gouache out-loud and recognize it as something I’d already met it in my childhood. It took me some more time to experiment with it again and then to find and experience the qualities of good paint. I was curious and amused to discover that “The Ten Largest” were painted with tempera (a water color similar in quality to gouache).

I felt and continue to feel that something came loose inside me when absorbing Hilma af Klint’s work. It is inviting me to explore something in my own painting. I’m curious to see over time what that may look like.

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