03 July 2009


Teaching up at Kripalu this weekend about acceptance.
Full, unbridled acceptance, inspired recently by a talk with Lida Ahmady.

Through a rigorous series of twists this morning, followed by a slightly more sane sequence with juicy hip openers this afternoon, we explored our capacity for unraveling doubt, fear, blame, frustration, through the unraveling of the physical twist itself, observing the way the breathing in the interior space opens, releases, revealing any remaining toxicity as a light on the path to healing. A landmark. A way in.

This spacious breathing can be carefully described. Last night i offered the words of Gopala Ayer Sundaramoorthy, my teacher Douglas Brooks' teacher, to describe the breathing. "The breathing is like moonlight, soft and light." The moonlight's soft luminosity is also an apt description of the post-twist sensation in and around the organs. It's not a super-sharp bright light - it's an all-over, diffused ease. Might we actually have that sort of receptive, luminous experience internally with more consistency?

Yes. What lights me up about teaching is the possibility for consistent interior receptivity in every moment of the day. To this end, prior to asana this afternoon we had a dialogue. I'd hoped to bring about a real awareness of the way to that ease; not through adding something else to do, but something we can all edit out. So i brought up that inner talk, those comments we make in the privacy of our own being - those things we think but would never dare say aloud.

In my experience, the inner talk must cease. Cease. With thanks to Hugo Cory -and Manly P. Hall, Road to Inner Light- i understand that anytime we entertain a negative thought - even privately - the negative field that sweeps our world is strengthened through our contribution.

The big question is how to cease the inner talk and have a more consistent experience of that soft, warming interior light. We cannot expect to stop this commentary immediately; we must first watch its effects on our own state and on those around us, vigilantly and honestly, to see what it does to us. "It is not necessary to keep one's mind completely free of thoughts and conditions in order to heal. What is necessary is... [to observe them] - to slow down the internal dialogue... to not identify with its most flagrant conditioning factors. This will be enough to produce a space in which we can remain alert." - Sat Nam Rasayan.

This alertness, i realized today, is my "spirituality." This alertness is my only offering to the students, teachers, and the practice of yoga. This alertness is the way to that moonlight-esque sensation internally, where you feel softly, cleanly lit up from the inside out. When the desire of your mind becomes the desire of your heart.

And it was with this sweet alertness that we reveled in the music of John DeKadt and Wah! as they played for us, bringing some strong gratitude along with the thundering rain that surrounded us in the superb new sustainable annex up here at Kripalu.

And in the generous words of Bill Gluck in a recent email: "The transformative power of the spiritual alchemy of your classes is embodied in the following synergistic calculus: "Open your heart and the mind will follow. Open your mind and the heart will follow."

Photo: Eric Cahan

08 May 2009


"Your family will see you as they see you...
The important question is, 'How do you see yourself?' If I think that they need the Work, I need the Work. Peace doesn't require two people; it requires only one. It has to be you... [it] begins and ends there."

"If your truth now is kind, it will run deep and fast within the family and will replace manipulation with a better way. As you continue to find your own way into inquiry,
sooner or later your family will come to see as you yourself do. There's no other choice."

Byron Katie is responsible for the above quotes. Here, a brief interpretation offered as support for my own process as well as yours.

Our attention is all we have. Like light, air, water, our attention is an actual substance that we can bring to all of our interactions and exchanges. When we do, there is more space, even more luminosity in our experience of others and our circumstances.

When our attention is elsewhere at any time other than the present, we've forfeited the opportunity to experience the light in the moment. Use your attention to listen to yourself,
your surroundings, your family. We have the capacity to be open enough, via our breathing in every single moment, to hold space for that potential light, as well as our deepest resistances; to hold space for the ones who give to us freely, as well as the ones who seem to take from us.

Each person in our lives is there to show us the way to our freedom. Sometimes the ways in which people seek acceptance are so confusing. In the face of such moments, it is our work to breathe, and through our breathing, soften more, and through that softening, listen well. Once we are listening we have access to our own freedom, as the openings, as the light.

Photo: Pamela Katch

18 April 2009


Today my longtime teacher Hugo Cory came to Virayoga to offer a talk about attention and its role in Self Mastery.

It begins with the simple acts of observation and endeavoring to strengthen the attention so the "observer" in us is always present, aware of the aspects of ourselves that are constantly running the show as they do battle for our attention: the intellectual, the instinctive/physical aspect, the emotional aspect, the sexual aspect. All day long we can begin to watch our VOLATILITY as one takes over, then the other, "I'm hungry, oh now i want to watch the news, now I'd like to read, now I really should go running, I like him, I don't like her. And on.

The work at hand is to begin seeing this volatility. Not CHANGING this, but seeing this. HOLDING this. This volatility, Hugo suggests, is the source of our great strength, for in working with it, we can begin the process of mastering ourselves from within.

As we begin to observe in earnest, to "hold" more of the complaints, speculations, the little ways in which we lie to suit any situation, we cease gossiping and arguing; and start to see the ways in which we've been draining ourselves and our precious resources for far too long.

Hugo was clear: this is not about "repression" as our society has so clearly labeled such "holding;" this is about actually observing and verifying whether something we're about to share needs to be shared, whether it will be truly helpful to even get the "advice" we think we're seeking. It is about noticing that, more often than we might like to think, our attention will best serve us if it is trained on our inner volatility and not on directing our negativity outward, toward those around us.

It's about empowering ourselves to see our own situation and handle it with the inherent power we already possess to navigate the situation quietly, elegantly. It's learning how to MAGNETIZE what we need by offering that energetically; if we want to surround ourselves with creative, vibrant energy, we best deliver that, and only that, to the world around us.
And there is literally no other way to do it.

Among other resonant examples, Hugo spoke about each of the cells in our bodies, and their particular functions. Liver cells, brain cells, muscle cells, all have a specific role, just as each of us serve particular functions in the world. Perhaps the current economic and societal conditions are giving you a moment to really ascertain what your function is, finally. He used the example of white blood cells in the body; they go to the most challenging places and give of themselves to heal those places, to rebalance physical health. Hugo talked about those who choose to be those types of cells in the world, those who serve and heal. A hush fell over the room in that moment.

When you first deliver what you expect from the world, your heart is leading the way. In those moments, all the other "voices" have been quieted, what you "hear" is simply the clear aim, what needs to happen next in order to further your vision for your future.

This is the voice of your heart, the Intelligence of your heart, your intuition.
It arrives in the form of your very next breath.

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