Friday, February 26, 2010

You can call me President

I got a lot done today and it's not even half over yet. And what I did today didn't all happen today, it just sort of all coalesced today. And it's iPhone app-related, which is yoga related, which is why I'm telling you!

If you know me at all you know that I'm a yoga teacher/student and that I'm also a bit of a nerd/geek. Okay, I'm a lot of a nerd. I love my gadgets and sites and connections and doohickeys. It runs in my family and when my 11-year old called me from her cell on the school bus this morning to warn me that she had left her speech on the desk in the office and could I get it to her, it wasn't surprising that rather than getting in my car and driving it over, I picked it up and put it in the scanner, sending it to her teacher's email address.

The call from the school came that she needed it and when I told her that I'd emailed it to her teacher, she said he wasn't in today and could I send it to her. "Which email address? Oh, that one? K," was my reply. So that's who you're dealing with here.

What happened today is I incorporated Capital Yoga Publishing Corp, which is hopefully going to be the name of the company that is making the iPhone/iPod Touch app that I've been on about, in addition, some other things for yoga teachers. I say hopefully, because I only submitted my request and paid the money to incorporate, but the government's approval of the name and all of that is pending.

Once that happens, then my application for funding can proceed and I can put my new programmer guy to work, which he is excited to do. So it's underway. And I'm actually a bit excited about it now that I'm writing it out. Normally, these sorts of things just wash over me and I get all excited by guys and phone calls and ups and downs and all of that sort of drama. But I'm training myself to enjoy the pleasure of just having something go well that doesn't fit into my samskara grooves and is just something going well!

More will be shared when there's more to share. On another note, someone asked me recently if my Mandate is over because it seems I've gone all quiet about relationships and like maybe I'm tucked in someplace. I guess I'm just not blaring out that I'm still single and it bugs me sometimes and I'm not online dating, even though I have in the past and I may return to that. So I don't have a list of people I'm working through to have you vet for me as I may have done some years ago, posts which are probably hidden from this blog. And if you're like, "but what about all of those trips to Florida?" just know I have a good friend. Watch 500 Days of Summer and know I'm Tom in some ways, I'm just faster.

My daughter is at an adorable age that I want to continue to enjoy in peace, without the added drama of me purposely dating someone new. I'm getting some work done, probably in lieu of dating, but it's okay to be productive instead of seductive - hey - that's funny - it rhymes!

So there you have it. The full update.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Oh, Those Chitta Vrittis!

You just gotta love those chitta vrittis, don't you? They're adorable. They even sound adorable. Just try and say it - "chit-ta vrit-tis." Sometimes they get treated like the enemy though like, "we gotta get rid of those chitta vrittis at any cost - let's blast 'em."

Some of you are wondering what a chitta vritti is. Let me briefly explain. Chitta is like the field of your mind where all kinds of thoughts can happen and the vrittis are like the thoughts or the waves that show up. Some of those vrittis are disturbing and some of them aren't. So yogis want to regulate the thoughtwaves or the vrittis so they don't disturb us, so we can do what we want to do and think what we want to think, which for a lot of yogis is nothing itself.

Or we want to concentrate on something or see the truth or experience ourselves, and if there are a bunch of disturbing vrittis in the way or even if they're not that disturbing but they're blocking the view, then we want them toned down or moved aside or even blasted away.

One of the things with the mind is that has a lot in common with the breath, for instance we don't have to think about breathing at all and we can let it do its own thing and we'll get by, however, we can also adjust our breath and enhance certain states (like health - but really I meant states of mind). Same thing with the mind - it will go on and on by itself, but we can also watch it and guide it on purpose, never really getting rid of it, but guiding it. Sometimes we can suspend the breath for periods - we can do that with the mind too - just suspend the thoughts or the vrittis. So the mind and the breath have a lot in common. Both can be monitored and adjusted consciously or they can be left on their own and will function unconsciously.

So if you're in a state where you've noticed your thoughts or your vrittis and they're bothering you or even their existence annoys you, one of the first things you can do is find them adorable rather than objectionable. Just don't be so against them.

The second yoga sutra in Patanjali's yoga sutras is "yoga chitta vritti nirodhaha." Swami J's definition goes like this,

1.2 Yoga is the control (nirodhah, regulation, channeling, mastery, integration, coordination, stilling, quieting, setting aside) of the modifications (gross and subtle thought patterns) of the mind field.
(yogash chitta vritti nirodhah)

and he's got a lot more to say about it all on his website, which I recommend you check out over and over again!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Hot Yoga

Some of you may be surprised to know that I'm actually teaching a hot yoga class now. Surprised because I haven't taken on teaching a hot class on a regular basis up until know, thinking maybe I was against it somehow, which I'm not. I like hot yoga and it's nice to sweat. I don't like packed, packed classes as a student, and I don't like it when it doesn't feel like yoga but more of a fitness class to me. But the class I'm leading I like. It's not packed, and it feels like yoga to me. We even meditate for a couple of minutes at the end, which we're not doing in any of my other classes at the moment.

I'm trying to stick to a set routine that was outlined by the other teachers, but to be honest, I'm sort of winging it and doing what I like to do, which is based on the outline I was given. It has been enhanced, let's say. And I like it! It's nice to teach something different. And it gets me a big break between classes, which gives me time to have a snack and blog and read, which I didn't have before when I taught a class that chanted om 15 minutes before my next class started. So now I can hang at the Bridgehead (as in this photo) or shop at Staples or just relax a bit.

Plus this new hot class is 15 minutes shorter than the other ones and I like a class that's an hour and 15 minutes. That's the amount of time we did at Kripalu. I think the 90 minutes thing came in because of Bikram and other classes were worked around that schedule. Personally, an hour, an hour and 15 minutes, is nice for me.

So now I'll head over to Rama Lotus to lead the next class that starts in 20 minutes. Sweet.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Prayerful = Grateful?

In case you're wondering how the Prayer Project is going, the update is that I'm still doing it. I'm not doing it so much for specific people anymore as the requests faded out and I was reminded of something Caroline Myss said and that's "God's not deaf." So I let those peter out. If you want me to ramp it up again, just let me know!

My prayers have become more like energy awarenesses, if that makes any sense. Just noticing how the energy is in my body, in the imagined body in front of me, and keeping it open with my awareness. Fine. I don't know if it does any good, but it's what I'm doing. And sometimes I notice that I'm praying or wishing that things were different than they are. Like praying for obstacles to be removed. Not a bad prayer, but definitely a request that things be different than they are.

So this morning it got me to thinking, "what if I just prayed for things to be as they are?" And that led to, "that's silly, things are as they are and don't need my prayers," and that moved me over to "how about be grateful for how things are?" That seemed to fit this morning, so I just sat with being grateful for a minute.

Sometime over the weekend I read some quote on Twitter that was a reminder that if you don't like how things are, one of the things you can do is also be grateful for what you don't have that you don't want. Example - cancer. As far as I know, I don't have cancer and I'm sure I don't want it and that can be a blessing I count if were up to counting things.

Gratitude can look like being satisfied with what we have but also with what we don't have. Welcoming things as they are and as they are not. So I'm practising allowing the moment to be just as it is (like it needs my permission - ha!) or maybe it's better for me to say I'm resisting the urge to edit the way things are and I'm playing with just holding what's there. So even praying that I can stay in the moment is a shift away from being with things the way they are.

And one of the ways things are is that I like to mess with stuff. I tend to wish things were different. I like to improve my situation. I'm not satisfied in a number of areas and I'm constantly scheming and strategizing how I can make things go more my way. And that's how it is. That's how I roll. Today. I'm not committed to always being that way!

So today's prayer that turned into gratitude even includes me being a little meddler of my life trying to arrange things to please myself.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Writing in Books

I have a habit of not writing in books. Even though sometimes I may get the urge to underline a passage or make a note in the margin of a book I own, I don't normally act on it. It's as though defacing the book will harm it or make it less valuable, like I'm going to resell it or something. I'm talking about non-fiction here, which is pretty much what I read mainly.

I never like reading books that others have underlined or highlighted - I won't even bother reading a book if someone else has scribbled in it - especially if it's in pen. It's like reading someone else's interpretation of the book layered on top and when I read a book, I want to read the author's words or my own interpretation.

During the yoga teacher training Robert encourages people to write in their books and I think it's fine but I just don't do it to my own books. It's like a respect thing for Saraswati, the goddess of paper and books.

Pick up any book in my house and there are no bent pages, no scribbles in the margins and god forbid, there are no highlighted passages. I use bookmarks and post its, which don't leave traces or signs that the book has been used. If I were to take my books in for resale (which I never do!) I'm sure I'd get top dollar. My books would be in "excellent condition."

But then something happened. When I was in Florida over New Years, I picked up a copy of a book that I had at home but that was Michael's. He had written in the book. In pen. Underlined parts. Comments to himself in the margin. Totally marked that book. I went to share a passage with him, the location of which I had basically memorized, because that's how I do it, sort of geographically. I noticed my judgement but didn't say anything. It was his book after all.

Before going to Florida the second time, I bought a couple of books to take along and read before going to meet Swami J. And I did something I hadn't done in years. I read those books with a pencil in my hand and I underlined things that struck me. I noted things in the margins. And it felt good. It felt like I was actively reading the book, getting my hands into it, as opposed to reading it behind a glass window. I got even more connected to it.

So when I got down there, I mentioned it to my friend about how I'd been influenced by what I'd seen and we had a big conversation about it. He feels that it's respecting the book to devour it with comments and highlighting. That writing in the book is a way of really using the book to its full potential. I explained that I feel influenced by other people's comments when I'm reading a pre-marked book. He said he loves reading books that have already been commented in because it shows the book is worth reading and is being used up.

After giving myself permission to write in my books, I've read another two that I would probably not have completed if it weren't for the fact that I had a pencil in my hand, allowing me to participate completely in the book's unfolding. I call it "active reading." I don't pretend I'm going to save these books and resell them. I'm just going to use them. Get the story, the info, and keep them around for reference, which they'll be great for because they'll have the places that were important to me marked and I won't have to hunt very far for that quote I want to share with my class or talk about in a discussion.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

What's Your Mantra?

I was just sitting here, doing some japa to my guru mantra, and it got me to thinking. What's your mantra? Do you have one? Do you use one? Can you tell me or is it secret? Do you use more than one? If so, what's your system? I'm curious.

The mantra I use is the one that I was initiated with at Kripalu. It's not secret - anyone can use it and we did use it as a community way back in the day. That mantra is Om Namo Bhagavate Vasudevaya. The translation I was given is, "Thy will be done Lord, not mine," basically, "I surrender to what is."

While I lived at Kripalu, I did receive another mantra with a group of people during a retreat. It was supposed to be kept secret, except for those of us who were together that day. It was one syllable and I'm not going to try and spell it out here - I don't even use that mantra.

I like to chant the Gayatri Mantra and there are others too, but if I'm going to sit down and "do a mantra," the one I do is the first one. It's comfortable, I know it, it comes naturally to me now, and it seems to be effective.

So, what do you use?

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Standing some more inside a giant jar of peanut butter

This is the final cut for now. Titles, music, and now it's time for dinner!

Standing Inside a Giant Jar of Peanut Butter

This is the draft of the video. I meant to edit voices out of this one but the way I did it meant that's not doable - I'll have to go back and work on it some more. I'm learning lots! I can hardly wait to shoot some yoga video stuff in front of a green screen. I'll have to work on a spot in Ottawa though as my time in Florida is quickly coming to an end.

It's fun!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Chilly in Florida

It's cold here. I heard it may even snow tonight! They cancelled a Mardi Gras parade in New Orleans due to cold weather yesterday, which is about a 6 hour drive west of here. I was considering doing some yoga video stuff here but it's been so cold that to do anything on the beach hasn't felt like a good idea. We're not even driving back to see Swami J again. Things worked differently than we'd planned and so I'll stay put in Tallahassee for the weekend.

What I did do today though was stand in front of a green screen and do my "scraping outside the inside of a giant jar of peanut butter" thing. I'm hoping to find a good match of a peanut butter jar and my scraping and see if I can get it to look as planned. I've got a few more steps to do before that's finished though. So there's nothing here for you...oh here's a picture of a jar and one of me in the Circle K cafe using their wi-fi.

It feels funny not to be teaching yoga for so long. This will be the longest I've gone not teaching in I can't remember how long. Years for sure. I've taken a week off before but this will be over a week! I do like it too. It's really nice being on vacation, I must say. Even though there's weather and ups and downs and all of that, but all in all it's good.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Mind Wrap

One of the exercises we did on the weekend was to allow our minds to take the shape of certain things - in this case we were using our bodies. So we'd wrap our mind around our head and allow our mind to take the shape of the head. Then remove the mind, letting it rest in the heart and then put it in the arms, letting it wrap around that and become the arms. It progressed from there.

It was a cool exercise for me because I hadn't noticed that my mind actually takes the shape of the thing I've wrapped my mind in. It actually becomes that thing and loses sight that obviously, it's not that thing. Consciousness is just consciousness but it gets close to objects and takes their form. In this type of example, the object that the mind wraps itself around could be an idea just as easily as a physical object. When that's happening, it's so clear that thoughts and ideas are form as well - they're matter just as much as a knee or table or anything outside.

So today my mind took the form of an idea or a sense that things aren't the way they should be; that I'm not the way I should be; and my mind wrapped around that mental object and has been holding on tight. I've tried unwrapping it, letting it go back to my heart centre, but it is super-clingy and just gets stuck again on "things aren't going the way I want them to," and I must say, it sucks. It's interesting to watch on the one hand, when I can get around to that, but then it just goes right back to forming the object that includes self-judgement.

And then my mind does something so powerful - it actually becomes the object and then I get to be a zombie or robot and all of a sudden I'm on auto-pilot, unconscious and acting from a place of being the object of "rejection" or "rejecting" and there's pain. And then I unwrap, notice my super-powers, look around, notice my body, and then the mind wraps around something else. "I'm on vacation, I'm supposed to be having a good time. I don't have room in my experience right now for things not working out the way I want them to," is one of the objects my mind forms.

So I'm watching. And it is kind of neat. As I've said lots before, the only way to really practise attachment is to notice where you're attached. This is the same thing. My mind is attached to certain objects and the way to have it reform into something else is to be well-aware of what my mind is currently in the shape of/wrapped around. Then I can see if that is serving me or not serving me and go from there.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Swami J

I spent a couple of days with Swami J, and by couple of days I mean a couple of hours in the morning and a couple of hours in the evening for a couple of days. I'm going to go back in a couple more days and spend a couple of days as I just described :)

It was refreshing to be with a teacher who obviously knows his stuff, but it is able to impart it in a way that is soothing rather than jarring. Sometime I hear new stuff and I have to filter it and convert it to my internal language, but for most of the time I was with him, it was easy to listen to and fit in with what I already understand. I learned new things as well, but mainly it was new ways of describing things I've learned before, like Patanjali's Yoga Sutras, for instance.

He's really low-key and the ashram is his townhouse, which is a small place near a small mall in a small town in northern Florida, also known as LA (Lower Alabama). He's also all about yoga is not just asana, which is something I appreciate, and that without meditation, we're really not practising. And trying to separate them is untrue, as the term yoga includes meditation, but the way it gets practised in the West at a lot of places, people are basically doing asana classes without the other aspects of yoga.

He offers online classes/conversations to anyone who wants to join in. I haven't tuned in yet, but I plan to when I'm back in Ottawa.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Mac Takes a Trip

I wish I could show you a picture of my new computer in Florida but it's taking the picture so I can't get a picture of it right now. So here's a picture of me instead.

I made it to Florida last night and today's a day just to relax and chill before heading out tomorrow to do some visiting with a swami in Ft. Walton Beach.

On the way down I read a book by Swami Rama, who's the main teacher of Swami J,, who I'm going to visit tomorrow. I've heard about Swami Rama before and I was at a conference back in the early '90s that his people presented and I must say, I was a bit apprehensive to learn more about his teachings based on what I've read on the internet. So basically, in the end, the guy was a creep and a sexual predator, which seems to be a common story for these gurus who come from the east to the west. I decided to read the book based on the fact that the guy I'm planning on seeing tomorrow mentioned that it would be a good one to have read before coming, and we happened to have it on the bookshelf at Rama Lotus, so I bought it. I had an open mind and a lot of time on my hands yesterday so I read it.

The main thing I resonated with was that we need to appreciate and train our inner worlds as much if not more than our outer worlds. The inner needs attention too. That I can get on board with.

So I'm at a cafe spending some time with my new computer, letting my body thaw out after the deep freeze that I left back in Ottawa.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Thought Powered Computers

I've been saying for awhile it's going happen. The energy of the future. It's our thoughts! Maybe not the energy but the director. Like this new thing that will assess the brainwaves and direct lights for an installation at the Olympics. I like to think one day we'll be able to start our cars with our searing gaze of concentration. Maybe if we can sustain the concentration, the dharana, we'll be able to keep the car moving. Let's begin with just starting the car up though.

Here's the link.

We had some great lessons this past weekend in the YTT with presentations of Patanjali's Yoga Sutras and some car analogies came up. Like our body is like a car and when we die, moving to another body is like getting out of our old car and getting into a new car. I went with the visualization. I like it. I don't "feel" that yet, but I'm trying it on.

This weekend coming up I'm going to visit Swami J of in Florida. Too bad, eh? I know. Bummer. Florida. So far. Away. From the cold. And by the time I get back, winter will almost be over!

Anyway, I'm heading down to Florida for some more yoga studies and some visits and videoing and relaxing, eating and studying, and I'll see you when I get back! I may send thoughts and reports as I find internet connections, but if I'm sporadic, that's why.

Monday, February 1, 2010

The Best Place to Be

I really believe that the best place to be is where you are. And I don't mean in geographical space. Of course it's rotten in Haiti and other parts of the world right now. That's not what I'm talking about. I'm talking about internal realms. If you know where you are, then things line up - you come into alignment - and things flow more freely.

One of the best ways to find out where we are is to look at areas of unconsciousness, or where you're being "inauthentic." Look around your life and find a place where energy is not moving freely, where you're stuck and where you think you shouldn't be. Like I think I should be "further along" in relationships and thinking I should be that way is an "inauthenticity" or is unconscious thinking. I think all sorts of things, I have lots of beliefs about my life and about how it's not going the way that it should. And again, I've got lots of areas that work and where I'm not bothered. But that's not what this post is about.

So when I get present to where I really am, thanks to that area of unconsciousness that allows me to see myself, I can just be there. (In the Landmark Education it would be to be authentic about an inauthenticity.) Maybe have a cry, maybe just look around, but notice that I wish things were different, that I have expectations of things being other than they are, and just that, the noticing of where I am frees me up. And when I look at where I am, in this case in the area of relationships, and I see that I feel like I'm not as skilled as I think I should be, I just see a place where I'm adding suffering that I don't have to. I see that that's how I feel, that I'm holding myself to expectations of things that are not how they are, and poof! the suffering disappears and I feel freed up.

It doesn't usually last. To blast the mountain out of the way I'm going to have to use many sticks of dynamite, but it's a process of chipping away at it. Sometimes the blast is the final one and the thing disappears, the obstacle is removed. But usually it's a gradual hammering away at the thing. And it feels good to blast a bit of unconsciousness away for a bit. Because the thing about being present is it's the same no matter what the circumstances are. So being present in a place where I feel lousy feels just as good as being present in an area where I feel good. Present is present. It's how good times can happen even in the midst of normally lousy external circumstances.

The other thing about being exactly where you are, no matter where that is, is it's very attractive to other people. When you can just simply be where you are, and really own the place you're in without blame or judgement or self-criticism, other people find it nice to be around.There's something so refreshing about being with somebody who just is where they are, especially if it's a place that normally is associated with misery or doubt. When someone is awake in their own discomfort, we trust them, we like them, we want to be in that place too.

So this morning I had some moments of feeling unconscious and small and I was able to see it, see what I was doing to myself and how I didn't need to do that and poof! it passed and I feel my power is restored and I'm back to balance. For now! Balance will need to be restored again, but for this time right now, I am present and good with myself in an area that I tend to judge myself about. What a nice break.