Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Hanuman? Really?

It's not that I don't like Hanuman.  I do.  Really.  I mean, who doesn't like monkeys?  It's just that I've always been a Kali/Durga kind of girl.  With a little Ganesha sprinkled in (I mean, who doesn't like elephants?).  So, when I was at the Anusara Grand Circle at Wanderlust, I took Kenny Graham's Hanuman class because I really wanted to play with hamstrings and hanumanasana.  I wasn't looking for a change of heart (if you'll pardon the pun.)  But, as they say, "Life is like a ...." Well, you get the picture.  

As the class began, Kenny talked about the Hanuman story, which I knew, and we got moving.  My heart had already been blown wide open over the previous three days by John, Hareesh, Elena, and the powerful Solstice.  I was ripe for the picking, apparently.  At the end of the class, we had kirtan, chanted for Hanuman and that was the end of me.  My  heart ripped open, and I saw the entire universe within.  Ok, well, not literally, but it was that big of an opening.  You get the picture.  Tears. Smiles. Embarrassment.  When the entire room broke out into dervish riot, I hopped up, and joined in, laughing at myself for feeling self conscious, and dancing away anyway.  How could I possibly feel so much joy?  How could my heart feel so open?  The kirtan got completely out of control, and the sweetest moment came when Kenny simply looked at us and said, "Oops, sorry about your savasana," which was nowhere to be seen. It was perfect.

All the next week, I felt blown open and full of joy.  So I tested this hold Hanuman had on me.  I chanted on my own.  Tears. Joy. Busted open heart.  Hmmm.  Let's try it while driving.  Tears.  Joy. Again, you get the picture.

Ok, maybe you don't pick your ishta-devata.  Maybe it picks you. Clearly, I've got to look into this relationship.

In the Ramayana, to demonstrate his devotion, Hanuman rips his heart open to show that indeed, Sita and Rama are within.  If Sita and Rama are fabled embodiments of Shiva and Shakti, then the entire universe is within his heart. 

So simple.  By serving Rama, Hanuman serves the world and all its potential.  Likewise, if we serve our hearts with the qualities of constant remembrance, fierce devotion and steadfastness, then we too serve the world.  When my heart expands, the universe expands.  When I remain loyal and dedicated to deepest self, my heart opens up. 

What I love about the Hanuman stories are that no matter the task, his intention is simple.  Serve Rama.  So much of life really is simple if we remember what's important to us.  It's just not always easy.  But it's really worth doing. 

This might be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Cruise Control Meditation

I was driving home from Boston to Cold Spring early Sunday morning and decided that rather than speed (which maybe, just maybe I have a tendency to do.  I'm a vata.  I can't help it.) I would use the oft neglected cruise control.  So I set it for 55 (which really means 75) and cruised from the Mass Pike to  Rte 84 as the sun rose.  I very quickly realized that cruise control was a complete meditation on staying centered.  Immediately, I could feel the need for speed as people rushed by me.  And a bit of anxiety if I was moving faster than the group of cars I approached.  How exactly do we stay solid on our own path when everything else is moving by at different speeds? how hard is it to be constant on an ever changing highway?  It's really hard.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

More Circles...

At the Anusara Grand Circle at Wanderlust, John talked about how simple the sacred circle can be in terms of what you invite into your sacred space and what you leave outside, with loving spaciousness.  And it truly was that simple for me.  (read my last blog?  See? Simple.)  These initial teachings from John have impacted me with their grace and simplicity.  And as all things of Grace do, this has been  unfolding into a grand contemplation of how the idea of the sacred circle fits into my life.  When I looked back on my notes, I realized that he also talked about the bindu, the most minute, focused center point deep within the heart.  So I guess if the center of my world, the center of the circle, is in my heart, is must be a point of love.  Stands to reason then that anything within my circle is within the realm of love. 

So how can I overlay the Universal Principles of  Alignment onto that?  How can I take a simple but powerful concept and make it real in my life and meditations?  The way I took it in, Open to Grace, is my system of remembrance of the bindu.  It's a fierce, embracing remembrance of love.  Then, I use muscular energy as a technology to strengthen the heart and its circle. I have to get strong so that I can hold more love, and also be strong enough to hold that which is outside my circle on the other side.  Organic energy is the she-who-will-not-be-denied will of the heart to grow and expand.  When I grow, my boundaries grow, and as they reach, in love, so far from me, I realize that everything is encompassed in love.  And eventually, the boundaries themselves dissolve and I see and feel only love.

I'm not strong enough to hold it all the time, but I've gotten beautiful glimpses of the hrdyam, the truest of hearts, and it hasn't failed yet to rip my heart open like Hanuman and bring me to tears of joy.  I can use the practice in meditation and asana to stay fully commited to the path of love.  Now that's some serious magic.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

What's in your circle?

I hardly know where to begin.  I'm just back from the Anusara Grand Circle in Vermont. And as promised, my batteries are recharged for the next cycle.  I feel replenished and invigorated.  Not only by the masterful teachings of John Friend, Hareesh Wallis, Bill Mahoney, Elena Brower and the many talented teachers at the gathering, but also by the friends I reunited with, the beautiful mountains, and not least, the incredible Solstice.  Over the upcoming weeks and months, my little black book of insights will make the rounds as the basis of all that I offer in my teaching.  The beauty of taking such deeply insightful classes, for me, is that I get to offer them back out, and in turn, absorb them once again and more deeply.

If I were to try to fully unfold all that I was offered, it would be a complete mess, much like the dumping out of my suitcase all over my bed.  So it will have to eke it's way out over the next few months.  Don't miss class; there are some incredible gems in there.  Yet,  I can tell you're already itching for a little something—

The biggest gift I walked away from this week with, was an image of a circle.  One that surrounds, enlivens and protects you.  This is truly a sacred circle.  Traditions for eons have been using the circle as a sacred delineation of what is inside and closest to our hearts.  And also, by definition of the circle as a boundary, a delineation of things we choose to keep farther away. 

Through the ever refining practice of yoga (in all it's forms) we skillfully choose what we wish to put in our circles.  This is a very powerful image and unbelievably tactile and useful to me.  If I envision every choice, every interaction, every internal conversation as something that's either in or out, then I can be clear about my actions and the energies I surround myself with. Do I really want thoughts of being "less" in my circle?  Do I want to clutter up my space with negativity and pessimism?  Is that what I want to be supported by?  John was very clear with his wishes for us.  He told us that when we see our own "cloakings", we should just drop it.  Just like that.  If it's not in my circle by my own choice, I'm dropping it.  Sounds deceptively simple.  And that might just be the beauty of it.  Why do our life choices have to be so complicated? The situations themselves might be complex, but within the sacred circle of our hearts, it's quite simple.  Does this choice, decision, cigarette, person, serve my growth and expansion?  That's not often a hard choice. 

I have so much more for you all, and in time, it will be revealed (to me as much as to you!) but for now, I invited you to draw your own heart's circle and under the bright light of this week's full sun, figure out exactly what you want in there, and with gratitude, treasure the circle you've built in the form of your own life. 

Friday, June 17, 2011

The Rising Of The Light

One of the loveliest sanskrit words I know (and there are not many) is Purnatva.  It means fullness.  But not just fullness in terms that the glass is full of water. It's a fullness of the heart.  One that allows us to feel contented, blissful and operating at our highest.  Doesn't that sound like a place you'd like to live?  

As we approach solstice here in the awe inspiring Hudson Valley, a truly magical place to live, the rising of the sun is met by the rising of the mountains.  This Tuesday will be the brightest, longest, fullest day of the year and there is magic in that. The veils between you and the Divine are thinned, and you can place your "bets" for the upcoming season.  Ooh, I got me some big plans.  As we approach the day of purnatva, this is a magic auspicious time to reach for our own highest, fullest potentials.  It's time to ask for the very sun and then devote our hearts to it.  So, I ask you: What are you capable of?  What is your highest aspiration and potential?  Now is not the time to hide in the shadows, because come Tuesday, there won't be any shadows in the corridors of your heart.  Solstice is a sacred, turn your whole being to the sun, wish for the entire world kind of day.  What are you willing to reach for? How much do you want it?  What are you willing to do about it?  Think about it.  Get back to me.

@anusara @grandcircle