Thursday, June 28, 2012

Having attitude

My husband is a tall, 200 pound guy, covered in tattoos and he looks like a cross between an American Indian and a Viking.

The other day he drove, late at night, with his bicycle through a rough neighborhood in San Francisco and had to stop for a red light. He noticed a couple and an older lady talking animatedly, occasionally glancing over at him. He thought they probably were afraid of him, which is something that happens regularly, especially when he is on the road with our all black but incredibly sweet pitbull mix.

All of a sudden the older lady spoke up. “Excuse me, sir?” Obviously she was talking to my husband so he turned his head. “Yes?” he said. The lady went on “I’m going to a place a couple of blocks ahead and was wondering if you would accompany me, so I can get there safely, - please”? Joshua was in a hurry that day, as it was late and he tried to get to the BART station on time so he wouldn’t have to wait for another train 30 Minutes later. So he said” Look, lady, normally I would, but I’m in a rush today. But here is what you do, you hold up your head, and you march with an attitude, as if you know exactly where you are going, as if you had to go to the bathroom in a hurry, okay? You don’t look right or left, just march!”

The woman put a determined expression on her face, lifted her chin up and looked at my husband and said: “like this, is this good?” To which Joshua replied, “yes, exactly – you can do it, don’t let anyone give you any grief!”

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Living in the wild

As a child, I wanted to be an American Indian child, because of Karl May and his novels on Winnetou, a series of books written about the Wild West that were insanely popular when I grew up. Those books, although written by an author who had never left Germany and literally created all the stories out of imagination, created a deeply compassionate and interesting portrait about American Indian Values. Peoples in the German speaking world actually knew about the genocide that happened in America, long before the United States admitted to it.

Now we are moving to the Wild West. Literally. Both Joshua and I are drawn to this life-style that involves living in wild, spacious territory, with horses and dogs. I can’t help but thinking that I trained for this life very early on. I spent most of my childhood, after recovering finally from my illness that plagued me the first 7 years of my life, outside, in trees, stalking, observing, hunting, playing. I was obsessed with knifes, wanted a tomahawk for my 9th birthday and drove my mother crazy with elaborate but rickety chair/table constructions that I used as a pretend horse.

I can’t help but thinking that this was all in preparation for the life I’m yet to lead. For the first time I’m having dreams that are outside of yoga – or perhaps they are the culmination of my practices so far. I’m dreaming about a life that is simpler, more sane, more in rhythm with nature. That involves horses and dogs. But mostly a life that is based on sanity.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Bad habits

I believe that most of our bad habits begin in the mind. This is how we limit ourselves and stop ourselves from reaching our full potential. Like the bear that was left out of it’s cage after 20 years, but it couldn’t even appreciate its freedom but could only do the exact 20 paces it had done inside the cage for so long. This is how our mind limits itself.

Just to imagine that we had a mind so free, that it actually became our friend and ally in order to reach our potential. The training we do in yoga is really ultimately not for the body, but its for the mind. To free the mind from the limitation it has created.

What exactly is a bad habit? I don’t think, drinking, smoking consuming sugar or coffee are necessarily a bad habit. Some of us do quite well on a cup of coffee, a yummy desert can be very good for your soul, a smoke can be sacred experience as the American Indians have practiced for centuries. A glass of red wine can even lower your blood pressure and is good for your heart.

So what exactly is a bad habit anyway? It’s something that we do but feel insanely guilty about. It throws the mind into a loop of shame, guilt and then the compulsion of doing it all over again. That is when a bad habit becomes bad and limiting for your entire organism. It’s when we think we can no longer be happy without the substance of choice, that it becomes a problem and it is time to intervene. We should be exited when we find such a loop in the mind! Because it’s a great opportunity to practice and find the vast unlimited potential of our mind. Everytime we manage to adjust a bad habit and replace it with something that we feel good about, (or adjust our attitude about it) it shows us a way of being free.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Dreams of mayhem

Weird dreams last night. I was trying to catch a flight and was completely unprepared. The usual mayhem. My unconscious acting up about all the changes that are coming my way. It’s unsecure. It’s ever changing. There is no lasting security. Welcome to life.

My meditation was deep this morning. I pulled one of my cards and it said to embrace all change and to trust that everything is unfolding in just the right way. Just what I needed to hear. Hasn’t it always been that way?

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Calling each other and yourself on your stuff

How refreshing is it, to have someone tell you the simple truth. Not sugar coated, not enhanced but simply pointing things out the way they are. We have such confusion about that – especially those of us who follow Patanjali’s guide lines, or similar rules that say: Don’t cause any harm. But what if the harm caused is tiny in comparison with the big harm caused in the bigger picture? I know, it’s not an easy one, but like I said. It’s just nice to see things as they are.

For example a couple of days ago I saw very clearly that I have a petty side. Was that kind of harmful to admit to myself? Sure, it hurt some to accept it. Because it kind of hurt, I wanted to quickly stuff it back to where I can’t see it but instead I said it out loud to a couple of trusted friends. Both of them immediately said, yes, that’s true.

Hmmmm - literally that is what I thought. They didn’t try to talk me out of it, or try to distract me from the fact that it was true. Then I went a step further with the first trusted friend who happened to be my husband and I said. “Yes, I’m petty”. I thought to try it on and see how it felt. But my husband immediately corrected me and he said. “No, you are not petty, you just have a petty side sometimes”. And I realized that this is true, because I also have a generous side, and an inclusive side. The truth is that I’m all of these and none of these. And now what? I have noticed that every time that petty voice arises in me, the one that literally sees the world in black and white and tit for tat and measures everything I can actually see it for what it is and then choose whether I want to listen to it or not. Sometimes I do for a while because it feels kind of good to go tit for tat and then all of a sudden I get tired of it. That’s it. It’s a simple way to be free.

Everything to me is about freedom these days. I just want to be free, no matter the circumstances. I know the dharma works, but we have to actually practice in order to remember. And instead of having a petty side, we actually become petty. There is a big difference there. I’m thinking of naming my petty side. How about Mathilda?

Saturday, June 23, 2012

So What?

My Mantra today is: So what. I told this to my students this morning. For example, when you can not do a pose even when you’ve tried your best – so what? Or you can do the pose perfectly and again – so what? My brothers didn’t call me after my surgery -  So what?

We are moving and leaving everything that we know behind: So what?

It’s so extremely helpful.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Pain, Fear and Flying

I dreamt that I had been taught and had discovered the art of flying. I was wonderfully light and I flew wherever I wanted. It felt right and natural. I was completely free and I felt incredible.

I understood that this was the fruit of my spiritual practice, and I tasted what the Dharma will finally lead us to: Complete inner freedom. I knew that I had earned this through my many years of dedicated practice. It was finally working.

There was a person down below on earth, and I wanted something from this person. I wanted it really badly. I flew down, and showed her how much fun it was to be free. But she was preoccupied and not interested. I remember trying a few times. Then it became clear that I had to decide: I could either go down, give up my freedom and engage in a purposeless pursuit go get something that I couldn’t get anyway, or stay where I was and enjoy my freedom – the choice was mine.

And I chose. I saw clearly that I was no longer willing to give up what I have learned so easily, I no longer wanted to visit the same patterns over and over again.

The choice was clear and I woke up, in complete happiness.

For the first few days after surgery, I had a lot of pain in my foot. But because it was to be expected, I experienced no fear to go along with the pain. Fear and pain together are harsh fellows to bear and as a child when I had pain, it was often associated with something quite bad, so fear became a part of pain. But this time I had no fear because I knew that there would be pain after the surgery. Even in the first night, when the first pain wave hit after the anesthesia and blockers started to wear off, I didn’t want to take an other painkiller right away but opted to simply be with the pain and observe it. I did this for a few hours and it was a most interesting and informative few hours I spent.

What I learned with this mediation that pain is just pain. I can be with it without freaking out, creating stories in my head around it