Monday, March 29, 2010

"that one holy moment . . . when I suddenly find that I have shed my pain and failings"

Today's post comes from the March 2010 issue of Yoga Journal. Elizabeth Gilbert writes about the transformation that yoga has brought into her life, and the ways in which even the most badly taught yoga classes can allow moments of peace, clarity, and transcendence to occur:

"There always comes that one holy moment, usually somewhere in the middle of the class, when I suddenly find that I have shed my pain and failings, that I have shed my heavy human mind, and that I have metamorphosed for just an instant into something else: an eagle, a cat, a crane, a dolphin, a child. And then I go home again in my own skin to take another stab at living, and to try to do it better. And things are better, so much better. And the impregnable vest is gone forever, by the way. And no, my back does not hurt anymore." 

Sunday, March 21, 2010

"your breath is your most intimate companion on your journey through life"

I've been planning to produce a few brief pranayama (breathwork) videos to give my students a quick shot of relaxation that can be tapped anywhere, anytime. While there are many wonderful and simple pranayama techniques, many of them can already be found on youtube in dozens of versions.

Wanting to search deeply within to offer something fresh, and thinking about the techniques and ways of presenting them that have been favorites with my students, I'm also reaching back to some favorite books for inspiration, including The Power of Breath by Swami Saradananda. Here's a paragraph from the book's introduction:

"Your breath is your most intimate companion on your journey through life. You began to breathe just a moment after you were born and some day you will 'expire' with your very last exhalation. In between, your breath is with you wherever you go. Your breath is nearer to you than anything else, and dearer to you than your wealth and the people you love the most -- for if you lose your breath, you lose everything. And yet, like most people, you probably rarely, if ever, think about how, or even why, you breathe."

Want to get a peek at the 3-minute pranayama videos I'm creating? Sign up to follow this blog!

Friday, March 12, 2010

"I believe that the purpose of life is to be happy."

My grandmother often used to say, "We weren't put here on earth to be happy." The Dalai Lama has a different view:

"I believe that the purpose of life is to be happy. From the moment of birth, every human being wants happiness and does not want suffering. Neither social conditioning nor education nor ideology affect this. From the very core of our being, we simply desire contentment. I don't know whether the universe, with its countless galaxies, stars and planets, has a deeper meaning or not, but at the very least, it is clear that we humans who live on this earth face the task of making a happy life for ourselves. Therefore, it is important to discover what will bring about the greatest degree of happiness."

Here is the rest of His Holiness' article on Compassion and the Individual. Wonderful to read on a day when you may be feeling down and questioning the meaning of it all.

Also I highly recommend the films 10 Questions for the Dalai Lama, Kundun, and Seven Years in Tibet.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

"In the midst of life, we are all burning, and in that sacrifice of self and all, is God."

Another tremendously powerful offering from Peter Malakoff is his wonderful visual meditation on life and death Benares. Still recovering from the death of my mother just two months ago, I found Peter's visual/sound collage very comforting and centering.

And for a full-length film set in this "oldest still-living city in the world" (as Peter Malakoff calls it), see this Benares: A Mystic Love Story.