Touch The Sky

1.10.14



So many timeless themes in this short film. I love it.

Wow, Moscow!

29.9.14


Entering the Red Square



Last weekend I was in Moscow. My second time there and all I can say is, WOW, Moscow! This city is massive. They say it is around 15 million but locals claim it to be closer to 20 million. The landscape of the city is more spread out unlike metropolises of New York, or let's say Hong Kong. In the center the historical sites are in tact and in amazing condition. There is something about the architecture in Moscow that really gets me. A mix of beauty and power united together. Everything is on a big scale if you know what I mean. It has spurred my interest to visit more of the cultural sites my next trip. There will be loads of ground to cover and much needed planning. It is also a dream of mine to see one of the Bolshoi Ballets. Tickets sell rather quickly so I'll have to be proactive in terms acquiring them.

When it comes to the people and the workshop I led, I am further impressed by what is instilled in the people here. There is a formality and a respect, but at the same time a warmth and resiliency that has no doubt been a big part of their history. A history that is complex, rich, provocative and tumultuous. It has always been a great experience to visit. Another dream on of mine is to see St. Petersburg. That's next on my list!


St. Basil's


On Moscow's Riverfront


Chia seed pana cotta at Fresh

 At Fresh - One of Moscow's vegetarian restaurants


With Leonid - The best Ashtanga teacher in Moscow!

Back in Colgone

25.9.14



The weekend before last I was in Cologne, Germany teaching a workshop or better known as Köln. I so enjoy this city. Like Stockholm there are many green areas and the city is made for walking as well as biking. There are quaint cafés that line the streets, perfect for people watching. When in Germany I can still feel the stark contrast from Sweden even though the two countries aren't that far away from each other. One country has felt the travesties of multiple wars in the last century while the other came off affected by pretty much unscathed. It makes a difference in the energetic make up in a country and it isn't necessarily bad. Next visit, I'd like to see some of the well known museums and get more of a feel of the history. Somehow I'll get it inked in the schedule. 

We Are Dead Stars



Imagine. We are dead stars. Wow.

This Summer

24.9.14



Ta



Just under a month I've been back home after an intense and transformational summer in Mysore, India. As always it took me a while to land and digest all that transpired, and in many ways I feel as if I am still digesting. I know transformational is a word that is thrown around a lot these days, and the only way to describe it is something shifted, for better or worse, who knows. I felt challenged on every level, mentally, emotionally, physically and most definitely spiritually. I cried this summer more than I had in a long time. I was broken down to be built back up. A toning from the inside out. A reckoning. The buzz of practicing there has just about worn off. It seems like the more you hold on to it the faster it goes. At the same time there is an inkling of a light that has been lit and the knowing it won't ever burn out.

Having the opportunity to immerse oneself in the way that we did this past summer was an opportunity of a life time, and really every trip I feel it, but this was on another level. I am always so grateful to have the time and space to focus on practice, ultimately focusing on the truer parts of life. I need these reminders. If I didn't I would be lost. It all goes back to the quality we lead in our hearts and minds in day to day living. Thankfully the practice of yoga helps to lead us there.

Moving forward there is so much that comes to mind. It is so easy to be swept away by the rhythm of our rushed society. I'm learning not to be so dictated by it. I too see how distracted I can be and how challenging it is to maintain this internal connection, but no one said it would be easy. It comes down to one's thirst for ultimate freedom as I contemplate what is that really? What does that look like? I'm getting the tiniest sense of it and yet it feels exciting and scary at the same time. Funny how that works. It's like balancing on the edge of a razor. 

True Love

29.8.14


Love is a tremendous caring that arises in the wake of transcending the personal self. In the wake of this transcendence, something amazing arises. A deep love and caring arises from within emptiness, from nowhere. This love and caring seeks only the Truth in every moment and in all circumstances. True love is something far greater than anything that could be called personal. True love is a non-personal miracle. It is the nature of reality itself. It is the natural and spontaneous expression of the undivided Self.

(Adyashanti)

B.K.S. Iyengar

25.8.14


Long over due, I'd like to commemorate the passion, beauty and strength that is B.K.S. Iyengar, who passed away last Wednesday. In many ways through his books and eloquent thoughts on yoga he was a dear teacher to me although I never personally met him. He will be missed and no doubt the dedicated energy of his sādhāna will carry on and carry us on. Thank you, Mr. Iyengar. Thank you for the paving the way. Your light continues to burn bright within all who you have touched. 

The Power of Unity

14.8.14


I love the following story. If we followed this example there would be much healing in the world. The best part is we don't have to wait. We can start today. I think even recent news guides us that one just never knows what pain is held inside someone.

There is an old story of a farmer who was proud of the fruits produced in his orchard. There was one diseased tree that never produced  anything of value but merely took up space in the orchard. He tried everything, but couldn't get rid of that tree. He tried cutting it down, but it would grow again from a shoot. He tried poisoning it, but it never quite died. Then one day, following someone's advice, he planted many healthy trees around it. They were vigorous and healthy trees that suited the environment well. Soon it was difficult to see where that diseased tree was amongst them. Gradually those beneficial healthy trees took over the entire space and when the farmer looked for his old adversary, that diseased tree couldn't be found; it had become healthy and on its branches were growing crops of beautiful fruits.  
(B.K.S. Iyengar, from Core of the Yoga Sutras)

Inspiration: Roads

13.8.14



Tagore

10.8.14

Banyan Tree 400 years - Mysore, India


I seem to have loved you in numberless forms, numberless times…
In life after life, in age after age, forever.
My spellbound heart has made and remade the necklace of songs,
That you take as a gift, wear round your neck in your many forms,
In life after life, in age after age, forever.
Whenever I hear old chronicles of love, it’s age old pain,
It’s ancient tale of being apart or together.
As I stare on and on into the past, in the end you emerge,
Clad in the light of a pole-star, piercing the darkness of time.
You become an image of what is remembered forever.
You and I have floated here on the stream that brings from the fount.
At the heart of time, love of one for another.
We have played along side millions of lovers,
Shared in the same shy sweetness of meeting,
the distressful tears of farewell,
Old love but in shapes that renew and renew forever.
Today it is heaped at your feet, it has found its end in you
The love of all man’s days both past and forever:
Universal joy, universal sorrow, universal life.
The memories of all loves merging with this one love of ours -
And the songs of every poet past and forever.
(Rabindranath Tagore)

Sādanā: In the Heart of it All



"What is to give light must first endure burning"  
(Victor Frankel)

Sādhanā is often referred to as spiritual practice. However, much more is intertwined in the term and has been one of the main themes of the course here in Mysore this summer. In another light, sādhanā is our own masterpiece we create to connect to the Divine. This in turn takes consistent effort and determination and by no means comes easy and at the same time is a worthwhile endeavor that gives more everlasting happiness and fulfillment than we could ever imagine, but first, there is a climb. Each step reaching us closer to the goal while playing with the paradox of detachment.

Sādhanā is also viewed as an ego transcending practice. The goal being liberation and freedom from bondage (samāra). The steps take daily effort where in my case includes regular asana practice, pranayama, and self study and also evening japa, prayer and/or chanting. Tapas (the effort to achieve self-realization) comes in those days where the warmth and comfort of the bed tells us better to stay put but instead we throw the covers off and take the necessary steps toward the mat. Tapas can also be viewed as discipline, an important ingredient in cultivating one's sādhanā.

The practitioner is referred to as a sādhaka, an aspirant. One who skillfully applies the learned rituals and practices, uniting body, mind and soul toward the spiritual goal. A sādhaka is dutifully committed and enthusiastic, though that can wax and wane in the beginning, and doubt part of the path for some, overtime the wavering ceases as the sādhanā strengthens and becomes a way of life. The important part being the intention behind it, something R. Sharath Jois has stressed time and time again this summer. Simply bending the body and/or going through the motions of ritual with no internal reflection often bring fruitless results. Another word for this heart/mind intention is bhāvanā. Bhāvanā can be thought in terms of planting seeds. Our sādhāna makes for fertile ground but what seeds will we plant?

"The practice of yoga, as a whole, is a profound science of internal purification which leads practitioners very gradually to the realization of the non-difference between the jīvātma, or indwelling Self of the individual, and the paramātma, or Universal Self. For this to occur, a proper intention and direction of energies needs to be established from the outset of a practice; in Sanskrit, this is known as 'bhāvana.'"     
(Sri K. Pattabhi Jois, Sūryanamaskāra)

The thirst needs to be there. Yes, there may be days we feel apathetic; however, the beauty of our sādhāna is what it is pointing us to. This keeps it alive. It must stay alive within us. We must fan the flames. Each day carving out our masterpiece of transformation. The beauty being, no amount of effort is wasted. Each step, leading toward illumination.





More Than Half Way

8.8.14



It's hard to believe our trip here to Mysore is already more than half way over. Like I always say, coming here feels like being in a time warp. The days go by at rapid pace and yet a deep sense of feeling at home in the practice sink in, as if I've been here for much longer. It comes at no surprise and yet it always startles me in a way. The monsoon rains have given opportunity for internal reflection and is indicative of my time here. There are periods of darkness within, a pouring out, a purging as one could say, and then the clouds part, the sun shines, drying up all that was washed away. To then see things in a new light, a new perspective. I feel filled up. I also have sense of what new areas that are present for new growth. Ever endless. An exciting opportunity to peel new layers of existence to the surface. It must not go wasted.

When I Look In The Mirror

4.8.14



Portraits of a Sadhu

28.7.14



Toxic Parents

People can forgive toxic parents, but they should do it at the conclusion—not at the beginning—of their emotional housecleaning. People need to get angry about what happened to them. They need to grieve over the fact that they never had the parental love they yearned for. They need to stop diminishing or discounting the damage that was done to them. Too often, “forgive and forget” means “pretend it didn’t happen.”
I also believe that forgiveness is appropriate only when parents do something to earn it. Toxic parents, especially the more abusive ones, need to acknowledge what happened, take responsibility, and show a willingness to make amends. If you unilaterally absolve parents who continue to treat you badly, who deny much of your reality and feelings, and who continue to project blame onto you, you may seriously impede the emotional work you need to do. If one or both parents are dead, you can still heal the damage, by forgiving yourself and releasing much of the hold that they had over your emotional well-being.
At this point, you may be wondering, understandably, if you will remain bitter and angry for the rest of your life if you don’t forgive your parents. In fact, quite the opposite is true. What I have seen over the years is that emotional and mental peace comes as a result of releasing yourself from your toxic parents’ control, without necessarily having to forgive them. And that release can come only after you’ve worked through your intense feelings of outrage and grief and after you’ve put the responsibility on their shoulders, where it belongs.

(Susan Forward, Toxic Parents)

Why Do We Gossip?

20.7.14


Why do we gossip? A good question to contemplate. 

Third Week

19.7.14

Mysore, India

Just rounding out our third week in Mysore. The weather has been touch and go with bouts of daily rain and glimpses of sunshine. Most trips have been during the winter months, usually December/January. The last time I was in Mysore during monsoon was in 2007. I like it here during this time of year. It's still warm but not stifling with refreshing breezes. The rains clean the air. The dryer months are lovely too with endless sunshine. Mysore is like an oasis.

Practice has been running rather deep. With it being Friday I can feel it. A good tired. Like everything has been rung out of the body at an intense level. There are lapses in the practice where I feel as if I have no more to give but somehow I make it through anyway. More than a physical challenge it's a mental one. No matter how high the climb all you can do is take it one breath at time.

As the toughness of my practice arises there is an opportunity to dig deeper inside. To be in it, fully. Not wanting to be anywhere else.

Leaning in. Letting go.

The Gold

17.7.14

KPJAYI - Mysore, India 
You are perfect, whole and complete right this very instant. You are the whole itself, Being itself, watching a show in which you are the entire canvas, you are the entire cast - you are literally looking at your Self in everything. 
We are seeking something that is already present, already the case. It’s as if we held a diamond in our hand while we dig for pennies. Gold itself, taking itself as a mere chain, seeks to find out the truth of this elusive essence called Gold. By what means can Gold find Gold? It can only BE what it already IS - there is no reaching itself through any method. 
There is an expression - you can’t see the forest for the trees. You’re focused on each tree and missing the forest, which is already the case. Each tree IS forest, in expression. Each tree is a manifestation of forest - the collection of trees we call “forest”. Each thing IS the whole in expression - but we’ve given each “thing” an independence of existence. We say it came into existence - we think of “things” this way - this very concept is the obstacle - this way of thinking of reality. 
(Randall Friend)
 

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