Ximena Rojas, Health Counselor, and I will be bringing Flow into Food to Sangha House on Sunday, January 29. This informative workshop will discuss why the principles of eating seasonally are not just about being green, but why it’s exactly what your body needs at particular times of the year. After a beautiful open-level vinyasa flow, we’ll settle into a wine tasting and discuss the basic principles of organic and biodynamic wines followed by a delicious seasonal three-course meal. Sign up by Wednesday, January 25 by calling the studio at 212-213-4397 or online at mindbody. It will be a beautiful and educational event that you won’t want to miss. I look forward to seeing you!
If you’ve never seen it, A Christmas Story is a movie about a kid named Ralphie in the 1940’s who wants a Red Rider BB gun. The story takes us through the ups and downs as Ralphie sets his intention on getting the BB gun for Christmas. Throughout the story, Ralphie comes across many naysayers, including Santa himself, each telling him he’d shoot his eye out.
This year, as I was watching airing after airing of the movie, I began to think about how single pointed focused Ralphie was even with all the naysayers. Continue reading “You’ll shoot your eye out kid…”
When a candle is lit in a dark room, it illuminates the room to some extent, but its power is limited. But if you use the same candle to light another candle, the total brightness increases. If you continue to do this, you can fill the room with brilliant illumination. The idea of transferring merit to others is like this. If we keep our own light selfishly hidden, it will only provide a limited amount of illumination. But when we share our light with others, we do not diminish our own light. Rather, we increase the amount of light available to all. Therefore, when others light our candle, we issue forth light. When out of gratitude we use our candle to light other people’s candles, the whole room gets brighter. This is why we transfer merit to others. This kind of light is continuous and inexhaustible.
Master Sheng Yen, “Rich Generosity”
Joy has many different flavors. It might overflow from us in song or dance, or it might gently arise as a smile or a sense of inner fullness. Joy is not something we have to manufacture. It is already in us when we come into the world, as we can see in the natural delight and exuberance of a healthy baby. We need only release the layers of contraction and fear that keep us from it.
– James Baraz, “Lighten Up!”
I love children. Everyone who knows me knows this. Kids on the street, kids I know…whatever. I love watching what they do…how they interact…listening to what they say. It’s magical. It’s always honest…real. They’re always clear. While I don’t have children of my own, I do have the great luxury of knowing many people who do. I try to take advantage of that as often as possible…and I say luxury because it’s pretty awesome to have them for a few hours and then hand them back to their parents. 🙂
So…last Friday, I had the pleasure of spending the afternoon with my friend Phoebe and her two beautiful sons, Finnegan and Django, in Brooklyn. Continue reading “Be Quiet!”
Summertime in New York is the great equalizer. There are those days where the heat is so intense that you feel like you’ve walked into a wall when you step onto the street. We walk slowly and lethargically from our homes to the subway, to work; all the while sweating. No one is immune from the heat. The other week’s 100+ degree temperatures created the perfect reminder of this idea. There wasn’t one of us who walked the sidewalks or stood on the train platform who didn’t have that little bead of sweat run down their back.
Early last week I finished work and headed to the subway. The station itself wasn’t uncomfortable, but it still held the residual effects of the prior week’s heat. The train rolled into the station. I generally get on the last car as its closest to my exit and typically less full than the other cars. That day, however, the car was unusually empty. I boarded the car and it was immediately obvious there was no air conditioning in the car. And while it was indeed warm, I found it to be tolerable and I sat down enjoying the feeling of rare physical spaciousness around me.
As the train entered the next station, people boarded the train. The immediate reaction for many was to escape to the next car where it was cool and comfortable. For others, exasperation immediately set in. They sat, shook their heads, looking around to see if there were others as miserable as they were, and began to mumble and complain. One particular woman was so irritated, you could see the blood rushing to her face as she feverishly fanned herself with her magazine. Finally, there were those who boarded the train who recognized the car was hot, but took their seat and sat quietly.
So how is it you deal with the challenges and adversity that present in your life? Do you flee the moment things are uncomfortable? Do you sit and complain only to make matters worse and create more suffering? Or do you take your seat and allow the “heat” to wash over you knowing that it won’t last?
Meditation and asana create this “hot subway car” scenario every time we practice. There are those days when you sit and close your eyes and within the first ten seconds you want to get the hell out of there. If you wind up staying there, rather than fleeing, the mind races thinking about how closed my hips are, how tight my shoulders are, how stiff my back is only to create more suffering on top of a challenging practice.
And then there are moments, despite all the challenges, you’re able to quiet the mind. You’re able to calm the body. You sit and simply let it all wash over you. Sure, the discomfort may still be there, but you don’t let it distract you from the work.
On the flip side, sitting on the train that day and observing the different responses to the hot car, I began to think about those moments when I flee from uncomfortable situations, when I sit and complain only to make matters worse, and ultimately when I am able to sit at peace.
And this is ultimately what it’s all about. I become the proverbial “observer and the observed.” Recognizing the “I am that” in every scenario and begin to widen the space between those moments when I can sit quietly within my challenges from those when I flee. The perfect equalizing moment.
I’m grateful to have stumbled upon Sankalpah Yoga three years ago. Isaac Pena, co-founder of the studio, is an awesome guide and practitioner. Anyone who knows him knows this. His classes are strong, powerful, and transformative.
Near the end of recent class, as is customary at Sankalpah, handstand, forearm stand, and headstand were all in play. The room was full of upside down yogis/yoginis. One young woman, new to Isaac’s class, was simply lying on her back watching everyone go upside down. Isaac swaggered over to her and asked, “Whatcha doin’?” She responded, “Watching.” Isaac motioned to her, said, “C’mon,” and with his impish smile began the process of coaching her into handstand. After coming out of handstand and back to sitting up on her shins, Isaac said, “See…now you’re part of the show.”
Seems like a simple enough statement, eh?
How’s that watching thing working out for you? Is life happening around you or are you making life happen? It’s in the “taking action” that we become part of our show. We come to be at center stage in our own life. How will you take action today to become part of your show rather than watching from the audience?
In order to practice, we have to surrender, we have to take a risk. Otherwise, what we’re doing is standing back in order to judge, in order to feel superior. Often the obstacle is fear: we don’t think we’ll ever succeed. And so we’d rather stand apart and be cynical, to feel protected in that way, not having to try…
We need to be able to utilize the positive energy of wondering, of wanting to know the truth for ourselves and working to do that, and not get lost in cynicism or endless speculation.
-Sharon Salzberg, “Sitting on the Fence,” from Tricycle Fall 2001
How will you take a risk today?