Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Solstice - Sun Standing Still


Solstice - Sun Standing Still
I feel humbled sitting under the vast moonless heavens, in the silent pulsation of potential on the deep dark of this longest night. Heart dreams and intentions cook, and I wait for the morning light to permeate the crisp Sonoran desert. The power of the Goddess and how She moves through us all marvels me and I am dazzled by the bright steady Light with whom She dances.

Gazing back on this most wildly Shri-filled year, this is the time to see where we’ve grown, where we can refine, count blessings and extract the blessing energy from the heat of the year’s challenges. I feel so blessed and grateful to have been able to do what I love and love what I do! Every month was full of adventure, wonderment and love. So many highlights, so many new deep heart connections, strengthened old ones, inner thresholds crossed and inner challenges, sick loved ones, death and close calls, new babies, beautiful beginnings and even a few bittersweet and welcome endings, all of which are counted blessings.


From the twilight of this Master threshold year 2011 peering into the unknown darkness of the 2012, our counted blessings illuminate the inner scape of 2012 as infinite points of light on a moonless night. Our blessings light our way as we venture into the unrevealed cycle of Grace.
Next year promises to be full of more blessings both joyful and challenging; friends we haven't met and a deeper remembrance and recognition of our essential Nature and what truly is meaningful. As our awakening planet leaps into higher awareness and healing, I'm honored and grateful to share Anusara’s Tantric teachings on our playground of Shiva-Shakti, this Earth Island third rock from the sun. More opportunities for us to come together as world visionaries; envisioning, co-creating, and taking personal action aligned to something greater than ourselves, to serve the Flow in these uneasy critical times. May we all feel the blessedness of being alive, awake and free to choose how to offer to and cultivate this garden we've be given.

This season is all about the Light. Just about every civilization, tradition and religious belief system has some historical connection to ritual celebration of Light at this time of year.
For those of us in the northern hemisphere, the winter solstice invites us into the cozy hearth fire of our own soul. The sun stands still as the Goddess delivers the physical Sun from the depths of the longest night. It is a time that invites us to dive deeply into the inner Light, the Luminous Love of your Heart, to assess and reflect on the dissolving year. Reflect on yourself, your life, who you've been and how skillfully you've maneuvered the waves on life's ocean. How did you receive your year, all the churnings of life, the blessings of what you wanted and the challenges you might not have consciously preferred or chosen?

The Yule Solstice is the threshold through which the cold birth of winter your center, your dreams and wishes in the warm sanctuary within. We are called to plant the seeds of our intentions, prayers, dreams, and deepest longings to steep in the fertile embrace of your own heart. As days begin to grow longer towards the coming year, those germinating seeds emerge into expression in your outer life. The Universe will take you as far as you can imagine, dream and desire, and it will be even better than you can imagine if you allow it to unfold and align to the Divine Grace of Shakti. What will yours be?
Who will you become by December 2012? What will your contribution have been and how will you have offered the gifts only you can offer? What is your vision for yourself, your community and the world? How and what will you do to help ensure the evolution of yourself, your vision and your world?

It is my deepest wish and prayer that in these times of intense planetary shift and inner journeying, we all can invoke our inner wisdom to make the best choices as visionaries moving fearlessly into the unknown. May you carry the teachings in your Heart, lighting your way, nurturing and cultivating your prayers, longings and intentions into beautiful New Year manifestations of beauty for yourself, your family, your yoga kula, and the planet, for the benefit of all Beings now and to come.
Big Solstice Blessings of Love, Joy and Bright Light from within for these Holy Days and every day throughout the coming cycle!

Luminous Love & blessings of the Maha Light to you always,

Benita


"Light is Love at rest, Love is Light in motion." - Wah!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Party Like It's 1999...Pray Like It's 11.11.11


Remember partying like ‘it’s 1999’? We sit on another threshold in the fabric of time and space. Pray, it's 11.11.11. Energetically every aspect of our world is intensely stirring right now. I don’t know anyone with or without a spiritual practice who isn’t experiencing some sort of transformation, or some deep life transition, chosen or not. During times of challenge, deep intrinsic questioning of truth, life, love and what is meaningful is triggered. What is your vision for your life and your world? What do you want?

What if “following your Heart” meant the Universe would give you everything you want, even more, even if it doesn’t ‘look’ the way you think it should? For me, the hardest thing is always to figure out what I want. Once I do, the becoming and living it flows, and the result is always WAY beyond, bigger and better than in my dreams. One key is the radical ‘yes’ to what is the Universe offering and then allowing your inner Guide to lead you in making choices that align with what is, what is being offered. It would mean you have to trust what the Universe is giving you, even if it looks different from how you think it might look, and trusting that your heart will lead you in the highest way. The more you do it, the greater your direct experience (anubhav) of aligning with Grace is, and it becomes easier to trust your Heart’s lead. If it scares you, do it. When you let go and trust the inner Voice of your heart, your feelings, what lights you up, the manifestation of the co-creation is exponentially grander than your wildest dreams!
11.11.11 is the end and beginning of a new cycle. It is an open invitation to what will become the experience of your life. It is a clean slate, open mind and heart, unpainted canvas for the masterpiece of your life. It is another seam in time and space you can access Creative generative Power of the Universe, Shakti. Every moment is a point of power to co-create and envision of what can be from the vibrational platform of what is.
Your feelings with thoughts are the fuel for the vibrational Flow of the Universe of what is to come. Conscious co-creating happens from the momentary place of strong feelings. If you feel ‘good’ ('good' comes from Old English ‘God’) that is the vibrational match you will attract. If you feel fear, worry or other shadow emotions, you create what you don’t want, what you fear, opposite of good, opposite of what you want. (You create what you think about whether you want it or not.) You don’t have to know what it will look like, you just have to feel what it would feel like. It also needs to be in present tense, not in future, or it will just stay in the future.
For instance, ‘I feel happy that our world is coming together in greater harmony and peace, and the power of Love, even though the dissolution of what isn’t serving feels hellacious right now. I feel interconnected in service and love with my community and work. I feel soft and deeply connected to Spirit and in love, shared vision and intimacy with my partner and growing family. My roots feel anchored and at home everywhere. I trust Divine order and feel there is always enough for everyone. I feel abundance of wealth and vibrantly healthy and strong. I feel hope and pray for those who are suffering, lonely, sick and hungry, and they and all Beings find peace, love, happiness and freedom.'
Today, and everyday, sit. Let every moment, every breath be a point of Grace filled Power for the next cycle. Allow yourself to dream, pray and feel big. Affirm it in the present, as if it is, feel it, and then let it go. Allow the Universe give it to you, in Heart time, and it won't look the way you think it should, it'll be better.
If you follow your Heart, what you dream and pray for now, will seem small when you see what you're offered. No dream or prayer is too big for your Heart, your Heart will never lead you astray.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Anusara: “To Follow Your Heart”—Lead Teachers Follow Theirs.


(This post was originally posted at ElephantJournal.com)
I was in Israel leading an Anusara teaching training when I got news that three of my friends and highly recognized Anusara teachers resigned their certification. My first thought was, “whoa, bummer, what’s up?” Ultimately, all three teachers have developed their own expression of the teachings and the way they transmit the yoga to their students.
One of the main teachings of Anusara is to ‘Follow Your Heart’—even the word Anusara means to ‘Follow your Heart.’ Two of the three teachers articulately and publicly claimed that in their heart they don’t align with Anusara’s philosophical vision (darshan) anymore and want to offer their service in ways that are not fully aligned to the method’s philosophical view.
As the great Tantric philosopher Abhinavagupta said, “one’s svadharma (heart’s duty, life path) can never be abandoned.”
Just as our teacher John Friend, came to the point in his studentship and teaching that his heart did not align to his teacher’s method, he had to resign from his yoga method to honor the inner voice of his heart. However painful and challenging it was, it was the right thing to do for everyone. In the same way, since in their heart they are not aligned to the method, the highest thing to do is to give thanks and love to their teacher and go on to shine their brightest, follow their heart.
One of the tenets of relationship Anusara ascribes to is mudhita (feeling joy for someone else’s success) from the brahmaviharas (ways to be with God). Speaking for myself, and anyone else in the Anusara community who truly aligns with the teachings of Anusara, we all bless them with love and appreciation and truly wish them the highest and to see them be brilliantly successful as they courageously cross this threshold of their life journey.
After all, if you do what is right for your heart, it is right for everyone’s heart.
~
Anusara: “Seguir tu corazón”- Los maestros líderes siguen el suyo
Estaba en Isarel liderando un entrenamiento de Anusara para profesores cuando recibí la noticia de que tres de mis amigos y altamente reconocidos profesores de Anusara, renunciaron a su certificación. Mi primer pensamiento fue “guau, qué está sucediendo?”. Con el tiempo, estos tres profesores han desarrollado su propia expresión de las enseñanzas y la forma en que transmiten el yoga a sus alumnos.
Una de las principales enseñanzas de Anusara es “Seguir Tu Corazón”-incluso la palabra Anusara significa “Seguir Tu Corazón”. Dos de los tres profesores sostuvieron públicamente que dentro de sus corazones ya no se alinean con la visión filosófica de Anusara (dharsham) y que quieren ofrecer su servicio en formas que no están completamente alineadas con la visión filosófica del método.
Como dijo el gran filósofo Tántrico Abhinavagupta, “el propio svadharma (responsabilidad del corazón, camino de vida) nunca puede ser abandonado”.
Tal como nuestro gran maestro John Friend que llegó a un punto como estudiante y maestro, en que su corazón no se alineaba con el método de su maestro y tuvo que renunciar a su método de yoga para honrar la voz interior de su corazón. Por más doloroso y desafiante que fuese, era lo correcto para todos. De la misma manera, como sus corazones no están alineados con el método, la acción más elevada es dar las gracias y amor a su maestro y continuar adelante haciendo brillar su más elevada expresión de luz, seguir su propio corazón.
John honra y aprecia que ellos sigan su verdad y los ha bendecido con amor en su nueva aventura. Uno de los principios referente a las relaciones al que Anusara se alinea es mudhita (sentir alegría por el éxito del otro) de los brahmaviharas (formas de estar con Dios). Hablando en mi nombre, y en el de cualquier otro ser de la comunidad verdaderamente alineado con las enseñanzas de Anusara, bendecimos a los tres con amor y aprecio y les deseamos lo más elevado, y verlos brillantemente exitosos al tiempo que cruzan con coraje este umbral en el viaje de sus vidas.
Después de todo, si haces lo que es correcto para tu corazón, lo será para el corazón de todos.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Light in the Forest of Life...



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Don’t you just love those moments of deep recognition where you realize everything is exactly in perfect order, just the way things are supposed to Be? Ever since I was a little girl I have had a deep fascination with ‘the G word’, Spirit, that which will remain un-nameable, Supreme Consciousness, the Universe, the very Power that is the Essence of everyone and everything.
At the beginning of my sadhana (path of Truth) or yoga journey, the moments of deep awareness came close together and there were many of them. It was a time of profound remembering of an ancient omniscience already present within, everyday rich with awakening. As the experience of time marches on, the moments of ultimate recognition become fewer and farther in between. That recognition that is beyond the knowledge that I am completely immersed in the Ocean of Consciousness at all times, but the actual direct experience (anubhav) of ‘“I Am” the Wave, Current, Ocean, those moments of Light and deep Awareness are often elusively concealed behind the left arm of Nataraja (Cosmic Dancer of Bliss), hidden in shadows of the forest dance of life’s day-to-day duties. This is the dance of concealment and revelation, forgetfulness and remembrance.
At any moment in the jungle of householder life there exists a possibility of stepping into sublime Light of remembrance between the shadows. Whatever awakens your Heart to Spirit is the Guru Principle, the revelatory power of Grace (anugraha).
Last night on a sunset walk in the Black Hills Forest of South Dakota, I took a detour off the beaten path for no reason, except ‘I wonder’ what was over that hill on that little jeep trail. The trail wound up a few hundred feet through the ponderosas, and all of a sudden poured into an enormous grassland sea etched in strewn wildflowers. It is a breathtakingly beautiful meadow bordered by the forest and hills Custer knew intimately. The meadow is always there just being for it’s own delight, the ground of Shiva, whether anyone is there to witness it or not. In its steady presence, Shakti is continually expressing a pristine wild beauty, the kind of western beauty cowgirls dream of.
The sun nestled behind the silhouetted needles casting a gentle hue over the wilderness only a sunset can offer. The power of the Goddess in the silent splendor thundered my heart and tears of deep reverence washed over my cheeks. I remembered,….again. Divine Beauty, Shri, and Grace is always there, a choice and the closest thing to me, and the closest thing to you.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Why and to what are we aligning to anyway?


I read a lovely blog on alignment earlier, which inspired me to contemplate it… again,… and share my thoughts, scary, but here they are.
Alignment matters, from my perspective, an Anusara perspective. When I’m in alignment, I feel happy, connected to my Self and the world, I feel free; when I’m out of alignment, I feel contracted, alone and stuck, not free.
As a yoga student in class, I want to know 'why' the teacher wants me to align in a certain way, and I want to know 'to what' or ‘to whom’ am I aligning? Kim artha, for what purpose, why? The 'goal, reason, purpose' of our practice is to awaken to and recognize Supreme Consciousness in ourselves, each other and all beings and things, sentient and non-sentient.
My lineage, (a lineage is considered when it’s teachers can be traced three generations back according to Douglas Brooks) is an "Align with the Divine" hatha yoga practice, Anusara. In Anusara, the 'why' we align is to remember and express the highest part of ourselves, Divine Spirit, which is first the ‘to what' we align to. We align to the Highest first, to the Divine.
Based on the premise that non-dual Supreme Consciousness is the case, (our Essence), the five bio-mechanical Universal Principles of Alignment (UPA's) are applied sequentially with balanced action in every pose. Our physical outer Material body aligns to our inner subtle Energy body, aka the inner manifestation of Divine Spirit that is both eternal, yet constantly changing and becoming us. This is the ‘how' we Align to the Divine, with principles based on Nature, not rules dictated from outside. (Key = you can use the UPA’s to be in the Flow in every area of life...they work if you actually apply the knowledge!)
And of course there is 'what' are we doing? We are doing the physical hatha yoga practice as an expression of beauty and art, to awaken to and celebrate Ultimacy expressed as the multitudes of diversity.
This is what I love about alignment. It took the edge off me trying to transcend this life, trying to get to Oneness, trying to stop the inner currents, my vrttis, that would take at least a whole lifetime.
Because the UPA's are universal they can work for anyone, they worked for me. As my teacher John Friend says, "Good Therapy is Good Alignment. When you align with Nature, healing happens." Good alignment and any movement towards optimal alignment is healing. Anyone can actually do almost any pose to their fullest potential at that moment in time and feel better! Whether it is a 70 year old grandmother (or 50!) or a 25 year old man, anyone can experience an inner illumination and healing. The Heart's desire plus good alignment and balanced action equals a opening that reflects the inner radiance in the outer form of the pose. The best thing about the alignment technique of Anusara (besides being relieved of pain and suffering) is doing it in a class with other people who share the same vision of CommonUnity and love for their world,.. our world, all of us creating art, beauty and love through yoga.
The benefits of good alignment from the Anusara perspective are innumerable. When there is good alignment in the physical postures the yogi heals, experiences her/his Essence, begins to recognize It in the outer world, experiences a greater vitality, is happier, starts loving life again and expresses her/him self in the world in a sweeter, kinder, nicer way, creating ripples, waves of loving kindness through the ocean of embodied time and space. If everyone would get their thighs back, the whole world would be a happier place! (I'm serious!)
In our tradition, it’s always the Highest first. The ‘iti sampradaya chara’ of good alignment (what it means to our lineage, according to us) is to awaken to the Source within, to recognize that we are the embodiment of Spirit, and we are here to awaken with each other. We are always connected to Spirit and each other. Ultimately, we become our own best Soul friend, (Gita 6:5) learn to love ourselves and love each other. This is the highest teaching, and this is why we 'Align to the Divine'. Love....Now.