Monday, May 31, 2010

A Good Death

I don't know if it was a good death or not because I wasn't there, but it sounded like a very peaceful transition as described by a regular to one of my classes, who's also a yoga teacher.

She's been missing a lot of classes because she's been spending time with her father-in-law as he was passing away in a local hospice. So when she turned up yesterday to class, I knew something had probably happened. He died Saturday night.

What stood out for me in the few details she gave me about the passing was how she sat and meditated with him. "And instead of watching my breath, I started watching his breath." So I'm imagining her tuning in with him, really being with him in whatever state he was in at the time. And then she said, "and then he took his last breath and I was there." That's not exactly how she said it but I got it. Other people were there too, but she was really with him as he transitioned.

As she told me I teared up. I was really moved by how present she was with him and what a generous gift he gave her by allowing her to be so close and to share such an intimate moment of his life. And for her to be able to go right to the edge with him, and then let him go. It was clearly a special moment.

She's inspired by all of the people who work at the hospice and by how peaceful everything is and how they have to handle that sort of transition on a regular basis. Helping people to have good deaths, both the people transitioning and the families taking them as far as they can.

I'm inspired by her story of being so connected to her own breath that she could shift that and be with someone else's breath. That's a great yoga teacher.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Bottled Nonsense

If you've come to my yoga class at all in the past few months, you've probably seen me drinking out of a yogourt container. I am trying to make a statement. It has a few parts. One is, I'm lazy and I lose things. So the truth is, I've had fancy water bottles in the past, but I have misplaced them. I also used to drink bottled water back before I really thought about what I was doing. Now that I've got some sense in me, I drink tap water, and I drink it in whatever appropriate container I have handy.

I've tried a few different containers but some have a rim that dribbles and the best one I've got is a Liberté Yogourt container. It's 500 ml, so it holds enough, or if I'm doing hot yoga, I can run out and refill it. If I lose it, I can get another one easily.

It doesn't make sense to me that YOGA would go unconscious. Yoga is heading towards consciousness, towards the light, not heading backwards. So for yoga centres to even sell bottled water seems to me a bit off. I've been saying for a while, why don't we offer cups and people could use the tap? I even had a "great idea" recently that I'd collect yogourt containers and Rama Lotus could sell them at the cash for two bucks and the money would go to the Shepherds of Good Hope or something. But what if they're dirty? (People going into hot yoga are sweating on each other's mats on a gross carpet in many cases, these are not the people that are going to worry about having a cup be sterile.) I figured people could still buy bottled water if they wanted to so it's not like people are being forced into drinking out of a reclaimed container of dubious origin.

And then I looked into biodegradable drinking cups. We could sell those for two bucks and have the money go to charity. The brand I looked at didn't have lids though.

So I'm back to my yogourt containers. I'm going to bring extras with me to class. I'm going to sell them for ten bucks and give the money to charity (Shepherds of Good Hope) and I'm hoping to raise awareness that this bottled water thing is out of control and would people please use some common sense and be grateful for the tap water system we've spent many years developing. I want it to look good to reuse something. I know those metal bottles are awesome but after awhile they go stinky. They're too narrow at the top to really wash out.

And I've already been exposed to the plastic in the yogourt container. The amount that it is going to leech into my water while I'm waiting to drink it over a 90-minute period I would guess is probably negligible. I've already risked it by eating up all the yogourt. So I've already said I'm ready to take a risk.

So please just give it some thought. $30 water bottles. Hmm. They look cool and they're totally useful. And if you can keep track of them, please keep reusing them! Once you've lost it for good, consider looking around at something you've already got and put water in that rather than buy bottled water. In Ottawa. If you're travelling abroad, drink bottled water. Please. But if you're local, and you're not ill, and you trust the system we've got, please don't worry about how it will look to drink out of an alternative container. You'll be in good company!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Yoga and Meditation are not always relaxing

It came up again today in yoga class (cops this aft) about how yoga is supposed to be relaxing. This also came up on Sunday during the meditation workshop. Especially with meditation, it is like a mirror - you can see yourself - so if you're not relaxed and you show up to meditate, chances are you may notice you're not relaxed. And meditating won't necessarily relax you.

Same thing with yoga. It doesn't necessarily relax you. Sometimes yoga is quick. Some of the breathing is really fast. And sometimes it's slow. Sometimes people slow down and it's not relaxing to be slowed down. So context is everything. Depending on when you're doing your practice, depending on who's doing it, what's going on, where it is, what you're trying to accomplish, and many other factors, it may or may not be relaxing.

There's no guarantee that people will be relaxed doing anything. And different people get relaxed by different things. Somethings that relax one person agitate another, or agitate the same person at a different time. Getting it right is an art.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Funny Meditation

I led a meditation workshop yesterday, like I do sometimes, and I had a great time. At the end of it someone raised her hand and said, "I don't have a question but I just wanted to say you were really funny" and something about how she got a lot out of the workshop, and like that.

I like that I can make meditation funny. It is funny! C'mon. Think about it. You're sitting there and all kinds of stuff happens. We had a big laugh. Sometime I'll tape it and transcribe the good bits. It's late right now and I can barely type let alone remember and put into sentences what I said yesterday.

But hey, if you think I'm funny and you want more and you like Kat Mills, who's even funnier, you might like to come out this Friday to our Living your Yoga workshop. Seriously. It'll be fun for sure.

We're going to talk about yoga and do a few poses and make some plans and get into discussions and it's going to be awesome. We'll share. We'll laugh. Come out.

Friday, May 14, 2010


I came across this post tonight and I thought it was useful. I've been reading about the oil leak/spill and feeling really sad and down about it at times, reflecting on how bad things are going to be for the people of the area and for all of the animals. I'm not saying this video is going to help, but it was something I saw that wasn't just the bad news. It is using the power of intention to help heal an unwanted situation.

Where I spent time this winter in Florida is going to be impacted by this oil disaster. Things there will change for sure. Of course there is an opportunity for things to get better, for new inventions to be made, for things to change so we prevent against it happening again in the future.

But from up here in Ottawa, here's something maybe we can do to support the efforts of stopping the leak at the site down in the Gulf of Mexico.

Adam's site can be found here.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Everything Changes State

I got an email this morning from the iTunes store telling me that my application has changed state. Hmm. Even applications change. Everything changes.

So I watched the rest of the DVD that was loaned to me. The Buddha - by PBS. Everything changes. Of course.

Today's a funny day. Funny like tastes funny, not funny, ha ha. It's almost "siquid," which may be a word you haven't heard me use in a long time. (Siquid is a word I made up in a dream I had after meeting Mother Teresa, which really happened, and taking a long, strange trip in a bus outside of Calcutta, again, really happened, to describe a state of things changing but you can watch it.) So today's a bit siquid in my opinion.

(Oh, the application changed from Awaiting Review to In Review.)

Update: the app has changed state and is now available to download here! This version is free.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Morning Meditation

You know, I try. I try to meditate regularly. And actually, I'm pretty good at it. I picked a time that works for me and I've been pretty consistent with it over time. The time that works for me however, isn't exactly a time that works for everyone around me. This morning at 8 on the dot, the new constructiony thing that's happening at the Shepherd's fired up. The kid upstairs jumped on my head a bunch. And still, I sat. I know I could get up earlier and things would be quieter and then maybe I'd get "more done." My meditation would "go better." But when it's quieter, I've got my own inner noise to deal with.

Back in 1998 there was an ice storm. I was living in Upstate New York at the time and the power went out for a day or two. As soon as the power went out I remarked how the water was still running and there was still some noise in the house. My husband said, "no there's not. There's no noise." "Seriously? Well what's that sound then?"

That led me to a short investigation of my tinnitus and a spot at the MRI Clinic (down in the States you don't have to wait like here). As I was getting into the machine they mentioned something about how if you're pregnant you shouldn't get it done and I was like, "I might be pregnant," and they got me out the machine and I rescheduled. I never got the MRI but I did have a kid. I still have ringing in my ear and sometimes it's more noticeable than others. I find around allergy season I hear it more loudly. I definitely hear it in meditation, even with construction and jumping, and I've resolved to just not let it bother me. It is never quiet in my head unless I get way out of my head...and then it's really super-quiet. (I've also noticed that I like to wear my glasses a bit more during allergy season - not just to keep the pollen out of my eyes - my eyes go more wonky in the spring.)

So I don't really mind if there's a bunch of external noise when I'm meditating. I know there's going to be noise - internal, external, whatever - and it doesn't always bother me. In fact, that's part of my practice, noticing if it's bothering me or not. It's just a gauge...

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Mother Courage

For at least the past eight years I have led a yoga class on Mother's Day. So that whole image of mom getting breakfast in bed, her children toddling up with a tray, a little tulip in a vase, a chocolate kiss on the side - that's never happened to me. What I have done is reflect each year on what it means to be a mother. What courage it took to be a mother. Anybody's mother.

Today I led a short metta meditation that was just a short reflection on your mother. Whether you knew her or not, whether she's still alive or she's passed on, and just imagining what it might have been like to have you. Imagining your mom as her young self, with you in her arms. How scary it might have been, how exciting it might have been, maybe both. There's no easy way to be a mother I don't think. I mean, it can all work out of course, but I don't think you can get into Mammasana without having to face a lot of fears. I don't think you can do Momasana without finding your courage.

I became a mom in South Africa and one of our friends there was a great meditator (they have a fabulous meditation retreat if you're ever looking for a far away place to go) and he said that mothers must get enlightened to have a child. And how it's curious that that enlightenment fades away. Giving birth can definitely be a big moment of enlightenment.

No matter what though, to have had you, meant your mother passed through phases of internal witnessing over time, that may have been some of the most tender moments of her life, perhaps some of the scariest, and in the end she had you. If you're reading this, your mother had you. She did a good job. So if you haven't acknowledged your mother for the courage it took her to have you, I would recommend you at least silently do that today. If you have it in you, contact her and appreciate her for how risky it was to be your mother and how wonderful a job she did.

And if you're a mom yourself, acknowledge yourself for taking a risk to be a mother, the courage it took to be pregnant and give birth and maybe even raise that child! And if you gave up your child or lost your child, it still took courage and maybe even more, so acknowledge yourself for what you went through. It's a big deal. It's natural, it happens everyday, and yet, it's a very big deal.

One other thing, as time goes by and we see our mothers as very human and we maybe feel more distance, it may be a good reminder to allow ourselves to be loved like our mothers did or maybe still do. Let in the love that's there. Allow yourself to be loved by the earth, loved by the people who are close to you. Your mom just really wanted you to be loved and to feel good. Of course there's more, but honour that part by letting yourself be held by your life, allowing your life to love you, allowing yourself to be mothered, in a totally good way.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Getting There...

So the App I've been telling you about is undergoing a change and its new incarnation will be available any minute. We're uploading it to Apple as I type, so when they're through with their process, there will be a new, free app to try. It'll look a lot like the one I've been telling you about but that's because I'm using the same pictures and content.

What's happened is that I've been approved by IRAP (Industrial Research Assistance Program) to hire someone with skillz to do the programming for me. I found him a few months ago and he's been working steadily for the past few weeks while we've been waiting for the official word to come from Toronto that we'll really be okayed. He did not work on the original app. We found out last week that we've been approved and my programmer will actually be paid to build more apps as well as build an interface so you yoga teachers out there can create your own mobile apps for your students.

The new app will be available when Apple has reviewed it. The status we just saw on the screen said "In Review." Whoohoo!

Next steps are to finish my full app so my students can have the whole class as the free version will just have a few sequences. I need to find teachers who are willing to come up with content so I can provide them with apps. And we have to build the input system, but that will take quite awhile. It's a behind the scenes thing that when it's rolled out, will make so much sense. But for now, we've got our first one ready to go and it's cool!

Yoga on the go - really!

You can "like" Capital Yoga Publishing on Facebook if you want to follow the progress from there and see more screen shots :)

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Day of UnPlugging

My daughter and I did another "No Technology Day" on Saturday. Well, from Friday at sundown until Saturday at sundown. We are both lovers and power users of some technologies and we've agreed to take a day a month to just not be plugged in. At first she was resistant and even put up a bit of a struggle, so we argued and I won and we lasted the whole day. This time there wasn't much struggle, plus the weather was nice and we went out and did stuff, so the time went by pretty easily. She's even planning future No Technology Days - this time we went to our trampoline school for an extra hour outside of our normal time. My daughter said, "next time we have NTD, let's do two hours of trampoline!" I did not agree to go along with that idea but who knows how I'll be feeling next time!

During the fast we have an opportunity to notice so many other things. We were getting ready for bed, reading our books and my daughter mentioned that she was having trouble reading her book because there was a song going on in her head. The song was drowning out the words on the page! We are influenced by the stuff we're ingesting all the time and we barely even notice. All the news and images and sounds. Sometimes it takes unplugging to notice the residue that we're coated in.

(We call it No Technology Day, but we don't mean no technology at all - we still have tools we use and accept phone calls, for instance - we mean the Internet and TV generally.)