Class Notes & Quotes

On Being The Universe

January 24, 2021

“It all boils down to this: That all life is interrelated. We are all caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied together into a single garment of destiny.  Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. We are made to live together because of the interrelated structure of reality. Before you finish eating breakfast in the morning, you’ve depended on more than half the world. This is the way our universe is structured, this is its interrelated quality. 

We aren’t going to have peace on Earth until we recognize the basic fact of the interrelated structure of reality.” Dr Martin Luther King, Jr.

“I was no longer needing to be special because I was no longer so caught in my puny separateness that had to keep proving I was something. I was part of the universe like a tree is, or like grass is, or like water is. Like storms, like roses, I was just part of it all.”  Ram Dass

The Posture of Royal Ease

January 24, 2021

Pose of The Week:

The Buddhist goddess Kuan Yin is the perfection of compassion, mercy and kindness and is often shown sitting in the “Posture of Royal Ease.” This posture is more of a “bhava” than asana and brings about an immediate state of grace, dignity and confidence. While there are many different spellings for the world Kuan (Guan, Kwan) Yin is always spelt the same and in this context means one who hears, who observes the cries of humanity. This week we did the Posture of Royal ease as a means for getting into Anantasana (Vishnu’s Couch Pose.) Kuan Yin was originally depicted as a man in China but later morphed into a female goddess. Most images of Kuan Yin are actually gender-neutral.

Chrysalis

January 11, 2021

 

 

GLOBAL MEDITATION: REFLECTIONS ON THE SOLSTICE, THE SATURN/JUPITER CONJUNCTION & THE AQUARIAN AGE

December 17, 2020
December 21st, 2020
10:15 – 10:45am PST
FREE

Join Zoom Meeting: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/97711871269?pwd=UUtHM2M0RDcwSmhQYVQ1SGNMenJrdz09
PC: 751887
This coming Monday on the Winter Solstice, I will be offering a free guided meditation that will be taking place globally. The protocol for this meditation will be similar for all of those joining in from different parts of the planet at the exact time of the Saturn/Jupiter conjunction in Aquarius. In sitting together, we are not only acknowledging this transition but also preparing ourselves for this energetic shift, collectively ushering in this new Aquarian Age that is full of potentiality. In ancient culture, the Solstice was the beginning of the new year, not January 1st, but the moment in time and space when the sun was furthest from the earth and the dark hours of introspection reign. On this powerful confluence, we have the opportunity to activate these energies inside of us.
Tell others! What would happen if a million of us meditate on this powerful day, during this portal through which humanity can potentially unify consciousness for the good of the planet? The meditation itself will last 20 minutes with a short introduction and closing.
December 21st
10:22 AM San Francisco 
1:22 PM New York
7:22 PM London
December 22nd
3:22 AM Bejing
5:22 AM Tokyo
According to Western Astrology, Saturn entering Aquarius is one of the most anticipated transits of the year. (In Vedic Astrology, which focuses more on the moon and the stars than the sun, Saturn remains in Capricorn since there is a difference of about 23 degrees between these two systems.) Saturn enters Aquarius on December 17, 2020 and will stay in Aquarius until March 2023. Shortly thereafter on the Winter Solstice, December 21st, Jupiter will also join Saturn for the first conjunction in Aquarius since the early 15th century occurring exactly at 0° Aquarius. Jupiter and Saturn are closer in proximity than in 400 years, so close they may appear almost as one extra radiant star. This spectacle is believed to have been the Star of Bethlehem that shown brightly at the time of Christ. You can also add in Venus to make a planetary trinity for that rare heavenly moment that will best be noticed just as the sun sets. The last time we began such a 200-year cycle of air sign conjunctions was in the year 1226 (specifically on March 4!). So this is a new 800-year cycle. That era took us from the Middle Ages into the Renaissance. What will our transition be like this time, in this new day and age, this new millennium?

This conjunction on the Solstice and these planets moving through the sign of Aquarius over the next 20 some years has the potential to revolutionize society but only once we each individually revolutionize ourself, by again, letting go of our attachments to fear and those things which no longer serve our personal/collective growth at this time.

Saturn is Maha Guru or great teacher. Some of Saturn’s keywords are rules, discipline, patience, responsibility, and maturity. It is also about structure, discipline and order. (aka, a great time to keep practising yoga and meditation!) Saturn wants us to grow up and it moves slowly so that we don’t miss the opportunity. It was in Aquarius early this year when the lockdown measures were implemented. These measures forever changed the way we interact with others. We had: Social (Aquarius) distancing (Saturn). Air travel (Aquarius) delays (Saturn). Online (Aquarius) and remote working (Saturn).

Saturn in Aquarius will expose the limitations of technology and make us use it for what was meant for: to spread knowledge and bring like-minded people together. It is concerned with the spiritual, abstract world. It is more about ideas, policies and new visions for the future. Aquarius is that freedom we can only find when we take responsibility for our lives and become fully autonomous. This type of freedom cannot be found by fighting against the establishment, but when we stop looking up to the establishment and giving it our power. What keeps us small, enslaved and out of integrity? The Saturn in Aquarius revolution will take place within. Not that we won’t have a ‘proper’ revolution. With Saturn square Uranus most of 2021, and with an angry Mars conjunct Uranus in January 2021– people will take to the streets…

(“When the moon is in the 7th house and Jupiter aligns with Mars” (actually, Saturn, but poetic license was taken in the song “Aquarius” so since Mars & stars rhyme!)

Saturn in Aquarius is about how we, as individuals – every single one of us – contribute to a better world – by helping ourselves, our fellow humans and other living beings. The highest manifestation of Saturn in Aquarius is the sum of the sustained actions of each individual to make the world a better place. The Global Meditation is just a marker in this long journey but it represents us all moving at our own rate through this threshold.

(The preceding has been taken from several different commentaries on this conjunction and this time, with my own view added.)

The Crown & The Irony of The Iron Lady

December 14, 2020

After starting season 4 of The Crown, I was inspired to go back and rewatch The Iron Lady (Merle Streep’s 3rd Oscar.) Much to my surprise, Olivia Coleman plays Margaret Thatcher’s daughter, Carol! I didn’t become aware of Coleman until Broadchurch so complete didn’t realize she was in IL and love the full circle and poetic justice of her now playing the Queen to Thacher. There are so many reasons to love TC, the acting, production, the operatic scope of the Royals’ history but I also loveit from a spiritual view–the Royals are in a prison of their own making. None of them is happy with their lives and little realize that they can do something about it, that they possess the power. How often do we tell ourselves a story and then torture ourselves living up to it? We are prisoners by our own choosing? It’s what humans do the best and the most blindly. To feel safe we place boundaries on ourselves and then fight to breakout. Who would we be without these imposed concepts and regulations?

Election Potluck & Media Immunity

November 9, 2020

“Que sera, sera, whatever will be will be, the future’s not ours to see, Que sera, sera…” I am confident that I have done all that I can around this election to help create positive change. I am also certain that being attached to those efforts and stressing about their impact serves nothing and no one. “Be not attached to the fruits of your labor” Krishna advises Arjuna in the Bhagavad Gita. The play that we are all a part of is much bigger than all of us. We are not the playwright or director except for the way we react or respond to reality—pleasant, unpleasant, or neutral are the choices of the mind, constantly changing from one to the next.

We are aware that we must build our immune systems and to do those things that keep us healthy and vital in the face of the virus but, we also have to build our immune system to our collective psychic disease and mental madness known as social media. Being obsessed with every play by play, fleeting poll and prediction will only weaken our immunity and we will be on a roller coaster of mental and emotional upheaval no matter who wins. As part of self-care, I will be off of social media and all forms of the news from Sunday evening till Wednesday afternoon.

(Listen to music, read poetry, listen to the talks of Eckhart Tolle, do MOR yoga, hike, bake several pumpkin pies, be with family and friends…)

In 2016 I taught my weekly Tuesday evening class which was on election night and again first thing Wednesday morning the day after the election. Even back then I asked students to shut off their phones and to leave them off for the night. Most couldn’t do this and after a deep practice designed to elevate our collective stress, they immediately turned on their phones before leaving class. I could actually see their skin tone turning grey… They had moved from connection and grounded stillness to victim. We are only the victim to anything and anyone once we react. Both yoga and meditation help create some distance between reacting and responding and from being attached to how we conceptualize reality. “Just breath” has become such an obnoxious passive-aggressive statement, but if we can do that it will help bring us in a moment that is free of drama and the reality that we are not the drama but just a breathing, safe and alive human.

I will again be teaching my Tuesday night 6:PM class on election night and not only invite all of you to join in but we will do a Zoom POTLUCK DINNER after class (7:45-8:30) to delight in our community and to stay off of the news and free of speculation for as long as possible. Please join us anytime. We are in this together.

Non Reactivity: Staying Centered In A Storm

October 1, 2020

Do we watch the Presidential debates or not? We have a choice, over and over again. Do we pick things that are toxic to eat, breath, see, or do we pick those things moment by moment which enables us to thrive and be proactive? Self-Care also means watching what we give our attention to and how those things affect us…  That doesn’t mean that we are inactive or ill-informed but that we are conscious of how we bring in things to our psyche and how we respond or overreact.

The Dust of Things Gone

September 19, 2020

I grew up in a Chevy Biscayne on the Pasadena freeway. I lived in cars; jeeps, trucks, a BMW and the first SUVs, one per decade. But none of them was black, I’d always wanted black. Today that black car, my new shiny toy is parked outside my window, sprinkled with ash. The air is unbreathable, visibility dismal. California is on fire, ash falls from the sky. The sight of something new covered by the dust of the dead is more than ironic. How absurd it would be for me to get annoyed. The ash is all that remains from pines and ferns, grasses, bears and people, coyotes, crows and mice. This snow of ash is someone’s home, memories, neighborhood, their life’s story. Should I have my car washed, rinse these vestiges down a drain, or scoop them into my palms as something sacred? Say a prayer, ring a bell, light a candle, burn sage or avoid flame all together? Fire has eaten so much its belly must be full. In my palms, I hold your life. I see you, hear, smell, honor you, celebrate you, mourn. With you in my hands, I call out to the rain, to the clear, cool waters of heaven to cry upon us. I remember you, your colors and shape.

Some blame it on the year. Some say it will change when the year changes when the election is over when the vaccine comes like there is a start and stop button to this fire–this transformation, these end days, this collapsing dawn of a new age. But I say the fire will burn until it doesn’t. We are riding the story that we have all created, we knew this time was coming and now it’s here, we are all in it, ashes in hands, all looking for a way out, somewhere to move, some way to put it off–just a little longer, just long enough to assure our safety, to preserve our lifestyles, save our fortunes. But that’s what we’ve done for decades and now there is no there there. So, we burn like Catholic Saints, eyes cast upwards. We are on fire from an inconvenient truth which we all contributed to bit by bit. Ashes in our grasp, thirsty, scared, confident, anxious, our spirits cry out, the forests and creatures cry out—water. Ashes in palms, the dead float then sprinkle themselves among the fearful living, settling on our shoulders and hair, blinding our eyes and windshields, cascading downward like dust on the flowers and sidewalks. Honor them, give them a resting place, celebrate their lives, remember their names. We are in this together. We knew that we would be, remember? Consumed by a fog of smoke a black car drives away, a dust of ash blows away. “Spend no time fretting,” go the departing words of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg “find a way to do what is important to get done.”

David e Moreno

The Yoga of Somatic Consciousness

September 8, 2020

Notes from the “30 Day Mindfulness Challenge”

“The only spiritual life you need is not to react. To be calm [or present, in the moment, mindful…] is the greatest asset in the world. It’s the greatest siddhi, the greatest power you can have. If you can only learn to be calm you will solve every problem. This is something you must remember. When you are perfectly calm, time stops. There is no time, karma stops, samskaras stop. Everything becomes null and void. For when you are calm you are one with the entire energy of the universe and everything will go well with you. To be calm means you are in control. You’re not worried about the situation, the outcome. What is going to happen tomorrow? To be calm means everything is alright. There is nothing to worry about, nothing to fret over. This is also the meaning of the biblical saying, “Be still and know that I am God.” [Exodus 14:14] To be calm is to be still.” Ramana Maharshi

When I began attending week-long and month-long Vipassana meditation retreats back in the ’90s, physical movement like yoga or Qi Gong was discouraged. Instead, practitioners were urged to keep within the prescribed structure of sitting and walking meditation to enable mindfulness and minimize distraction. During this period yoga was rapidly spreading throughout the country and many serious yogin were infiltrating these meditation intensives. The yogin were coming to these retreats already familiar with discipline and enduring challenging situations, through movement and physical exercise. So, it wasn’t uncommon for some of us to be stretching or standing on our heads near our tents or in the restrooms, anywhere out of sight while breaking the rules. To just sit, restricting the body for days on end, presented a different type of obstacle for the yogin–the ego’s innate attachment to the body and the pride from identifying with a highly flexible, finely tuned one.

It took decades before meditation centers like Spirit Rock in California began offering combination meditation and yoga retreats, co-taught with yoga teachers who had gone through their Buddhist studies program. The inclusion of yoga was a welcome addition, yet the integration of yoga into a silent retreat was often not as seamless as one might think. The movement from cushions to yoga mats, the reorganizing of the room, the often-excessive verbal instruction of the yoga teacher compared to the mostly silent instruction of the meditation teacher made these two very similar disciplines feel distantly related. Yet, those experiences inspired me to find a way to more efficiently integrate these two paths with one goal.

For me the most important and pleasurable part of teaching yoga has evolved to focusing on postures and practices that bring instantaneous shifts in consciousness, creating a deeper union between the mind/body and the field of awareness that the mind/body appears within–instead of a mindfulness practice, more of a mindlessness experience. The result naturally allows an integrated meditative state to arise spontaneously, whether standing, moving, holding, or sitting. This experience is created by using specific elements and sequences from Qi Gong, somatic therapeutic modalities, various yoga pranayamas, kriyas, and particular asanas, all of which can elicit an immediate impact on the nervous system and the body’s connective tissue—myofascia. I also weave the open meditation practices of Dzogchen Buddhism and the Shakti Bandha–energetic cultivation and release modalities–found in the tantras of Kashmir Shaivism. In doing so, this causes the active thinking part of the mind to instantly settle and at the same time expand into Shiva consciousness, or as the Buddhist refer to it, the Big Sky Mind.

My role then, as an instructor, is to design the grouping of postures, movements, and practices, to evoke and then point out when this collective state of awareness is happening. Students then may become more familiar with its nature and to recognize, not only their internal experience but also the external collective experience as being one and the same. When this is experienced by each student at the same time, whether in a classroom setting or over Zoom, the energetic nature of the room perceptibly expands—consciousness is experienced as something palpable. We truly are one, we are eternal, in that moment presence is all that is happening. The student is no longer an individual sitting in a classroom having their individual experience but a communal experience of authentic nature as one united field of consciousness that can be felt beyond the senses–but includes the senses. Within this non-dualistic approach, its silent nature is heard, its infinite nature touched…“Namaste” suddenly transcends cliché and is realized as something genuine and boundless.

“Few skills are more essential than the ability to settle your body. If you can settle your body, you are more likely to be calm, alert, and fully present, no matter what is going on around you. A settled body enables you to harmonize and connect with other bodies around you while encouraging those bodies to settle as well. Gather together a large group of unsettled bodies or assemble a group of bodies and then unsettle them–and you get a mob or a riot. But bring a large group of settled bodies together and you have a potential movement–and a potential force for tremendous good in the world. A calm, settled body is the foundation for health, for healing, for helping others, and for changing the world.”  “My Grandmother’s Hands” — Resmaa Menakema

Walk With The Wind

August 3, 2020

Excerpt from Civil Rights Leader and Congressman John Lewis days before his passing.

“Though I may not be here with you, I urge you to answer the highest calling of your heart and stand up for what you truly believe. In my life, I have done all I can to demonstrate that the way of peace, the way of love and nonviolence is the more excellent way. Now it is your turn to let freedom ring.

When historians pick up their pens to write the story of the 21st century, let them say that it was your generation who laid down the heavy burdens of hate at last and that peace finally triumphed over violence, aggression and warSo I say to you, walk with the wind, brothers and sisters, and let the spirit of peace and the power of everlasting love be your guide.”

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