Monday, December 30, 2013

Life is a Pomegranate • Sacred Flower Happy New Year! 2014

Like the yoga mystic nerd that I am, my morning Goddess-food breakfast became an inspired metaphor for it all. After my kalecucumbapplegingerlemoncilantro green juice in the new juicer, I sliced open a pomegranate.

Two ruby red Sacred Flowers stared at me. Another moment of recognition, each ruby leaf the center of the vesica piscis, (‘fish bladder’) which is the mathematically sacred geometrical basis of all life. From the One become Two, the Vesica Piscis, the cells split in krama shakti (power of sequencial order) and become the Sacred Flower of Life, and ultimately a human being. 2014 is the year the seeds sown of the past will ground and grow.

It looks delicious. As I peeled apart the thin matrix holding the ripe red seeds together, I’m reminded of every moment embedded in each other moment that is happening now. Each moment of the last year, the last decade, the last 50 years, a individual yet never separate seed imbued with flavor, color and potential to create more thriving trees, flowers, fruits and more seeds. It is exponential potential and possibility. All of the moments strung together held in the matrix of the everyday worldly moments, every bit as holy and necessary for the succulence of the fruit to grow into ripeness.

There is a certain amount of self-effort and reflection necessary to extract the blessing of the alluring seeds. It is kind of messy and some of the blood red juice gushes out so I have to be mindful gently disengaging the sweet fruit from the slightly bitter matrix. Not so easy, until I figure out the pattern and get into that flow, and still some of the dull papery membrane gets stuck to the red treasure. It’s the fleshy stuff that we have to deal with, the obligatory duties or karmas that aren’t so juicy, sometimes boring, sometimes bitter, yet necessary for the nectar. It’s the parts of life that when it’s served it’s purpose, I can just bless it, and let it go. I don’t have to chew and consume that too. So I carefully separate the chaff from the grain.

Every moment is part of the whole; the juicy fruit, seeds, matrix all held together in the microcosm in the skin of potential. Our spiritual and yogic practices give us the tools to learn to gently disentangle the necessary mundane matrix from the sweet succulence of the colorful fruits. The invitation is to recognize it all as sacred. Gratefully let go of the superfluous, and relish the succulence of what you love, the sweetness, beauty and enthusiasm of delight. Save some seeds, nourish them and grow them into your own sweet delicious gifts to the world.

I love pomegranates. Life is a pomegranate. Happy 2014!

Anchoring and Growing the Power of Love. Hello 2014!

180* degrees of picture windows frame my view overlooking the ice clad Hudson River on this shades of steel blue and gray morning, I have been contemplating the last year and the coming year. I love the fact that no matter how the river and day is waking, it is beautiful. It’s spectacular when it’s sunny and warm, gorgeously contemplative on days like this, Nancy Drew mysterious when its misty, and exciting when there is an Atlantic hurricane. The River’s beauty isn’t dependent on the conditions, it just Is Beauty.

I feel so grateful for all the Love in my life, and I feel grateful I Love my life and get to share what I love! My kids, grandkids, family, all the beautiful friends and students I’ve had the honor to sit with and continue to teach Anusara yoga this last year. You have all been my teachers too. I feel grateful for all my friends who are supporting and managing the vision of ASHY, those who have hosted me, trusted me and my friends who see Me. All of you have held me in my glory and in my gory! I am grateful for your kindness, love and ferocity when I need it. Thank you

I commit to serving the Maha Shakti, Universal Flow, Energy, Supreme Consciousness, Nature, God/dess, whatever ‘label’ you put on that underlying Presence of Love.  The next year is an invitation to anchor in all sweetness of the last few years of challenges as we’ve been transitioning from an era of love of power to the Power of Love. All the seeds that have been planted in our hearts must be ignited by our love to anchor and create expression in the world. It is time to root love and share the Power of  Love in the world. I commit to holding, anchoring, igniting and sharing the frequency of Love, serving Love.

Looking over some of last year’s images, mostly the ones other people have taken of me teaching or playing, I find two that totally touch me in a way that no others do. They aren’t images of me being holy, or rocking out a killer handstand or poses. My best handstands are seen only by the Unseen anyway.
The photos I chose represent the feminine in my family lineage.
One is of my mother, Bette Wolfe and me. She taught me so much about who I am as daughter, mother, wife and wise woman, as well as the ways I heal my own feminine energy  and make other choices as an empowered woman in any role. Grateful to her for everything, this image represents all the love and fierce Grace that healing of the Divine Feminine holds for myself, my sisters, the mothers, grandmothers, the healing in all our brothers, sons, fathers, husbands and grandfathers.

The other one is of one of my grand daughters, Lilly, and me. I dedicate this next year, and the rest of my life to serving the Power of Light and Love in her eyes, the same Light shining from all eyes, this is what I am committed to serving, Love. Happy New Year, New Moon blessings, the year of the Green Horse, the year to Anchor the seeds and grow the Power of your Love. Blessings to you for 2014! Life is Pomegranate. Read that blog..It's the New Year!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Svatantriya.. Self Weaving Freedom... It is your Nature. Happy 4th of July!

Svatantriya. Freedom. One of the aspects of the Absolute Universal Supreme Energy is freedom. Unbounded, unlimited, freedom. Inexplicably uninhibited Conscious Energy. Eternal presence with no boundaries. A Universe so entirely free it can and does, unfold upon Herself, weaving an intricate web of everyone and everything. Svatantriya is a Sanskrit term and means “self weaving freedom.” A Bug’s Life,..the whole adventure took place in a drop of water.
The Uni – verse, or One-turn, is constantly unfolding upon itself and holds all the unlimited multi-verses within it. Just think of all the little universes spinning together, your own body, all the rest of the bodies, all the forests, oceans, heavens, all animals, beings, and on and on, all simultaneously pulsing with potential, with life force at this very moment in a symphony of ecstatic being we call, Life. If that doesn’t make sense, think of the movie A Bug’s Life,..the whole adventure took place in a drop of water.

One of the great gifts of the yoga practice, or hopefully any spiritual practice, is to experience or recognize this Universal energy (Spirit) within and as yourself, and ultimately with in and as everything and everyone around you.
You are a Universe within the Universe and the Universe is happening as you. As Stephen Hawking said, “you are what the Universe is doing.” This is it, this moment, this body, this lifetime, your heartbeat right now. Svatantriya, unfolding and weaving the entire cosmos and you are woven inextricably into it. Whoa.

The desire to feel free is a very powerful motivator. This desire instigates everything from a nation starting a revolutionary or civil war seeking independence from a dictator, to the guy next door starting a hatha yoga practice seeking freedom from low back pain. Everyone wants to feel free. We are always seeking freedom either “from” something, or someone, or  freedom “to” something or someone.  We abuse drugs, alcohol, etc..  to be free from pain, and we flee oppressed countries to be free to earn enough money to care for our families. Freedom is empowerment, having the capacity to choose, freedom from, or freedom to. The other side of that choice is the disempowered story, which is the victim story. When you feel free, you are experiencing your essential Nature, you feel empowered. You recognize your birthright that is Svatantriya.
Photo by Laura Kay
to care for our families. Freedom is empowerment, having the capacity to choose, freedom

Freedom is the difference between being a victim or being empowered. Ultimately, it is a choice, on some deep level, no matter what the circumstance. The highest teaching of Anusara yoga is the first principle, ‘Open to Grace’. To me it means, ‘open to whatever Life is presenting you in this moment’, which sometimes has to include bad, crummy stuff we don’t like or want. That takes courage. The courage to engage your heart, having fear, and facing the scary, unknown anyway.  It means open to ‘what is.  The tantric teachings call it the ‘yes’, no matter what, and then the empowered yogi looks for and acts in the highest way that enhances the greater flow of Life.

Victor Frankel, holocaust survivor, author of Man’s Search for Meaning, talks about the way he survived because ‘they’ couldn’t imprison his heart and mind. While physically he was imprisoned, he was free in his heart and mind. He was ‘free’ to search out the beauty in the iris of the dead fish head served to him in a bowl of dirty water as dinner, and he was grateful.  When Annie Herz-Sommer, the oldest surviving holocaust survivor, was recently asked what her secret of life is, she answered, “Optimism, and looking for the good. I see beauty everywhere. I know about the bad things, but I look for the good things.” 109 ys Holocaust Survivor. If anyone has earned the right to hold the ‘victim’ story it would be both these great beings, and yet they consciously actively chose to look for beauty, look for the good when things were bad, bad, bad!!! And the greatest part of these stories, is there is gratitude. Gratitude for life, gratitude for the blessing of the challenge. There isn’t a denial of the bad, or pushing it away, it is a free choice to actively affirm good, beauty, what IS life affirming of the whole cycle of life.

Freedom is your intrinsic nature. “You are not a bound being seeking freedom, you are free being, free to choose to whom and what and how you bind yourself to.” –Douglas Brooks. This is one of the most liberating teachings I’ve ever received. The contemplation reveals an opportunity of empowerment in life as opposed to living as a victim of your own story. Free to choose to bind yourself, and create attachments. Attachments that serve the whole cycle of Life are the ones you want to make. You want to be attached to your spouse and kids! I feel so happy two of my friends who are gay and have been together for over 40 years, and FINALLY this week were free to legally marry, to public affirm their committed devotion to each other for all the world to witness.
That public expression of chosen attachment, the chosen bond, actually creates freedom. You are free to choose your mate, choose your job, your home, choose how you spend money, what vehicle, kids or not, adopt or not, what you do with your time, energy and money, what ideas and beliefs you hold, the people you hang out with, pretty much everything. Or do you have a story of being held captive by attachments to your partner, your career, finances, your friends, possessions, kids or not, etc. etc? This is a big contemplation, attachment vs. freedom. Will the story of your life, your myth, be one of victim or one of the empowered hero?

Yoga’s boons are tools for empowered living. With practice, you learn you have a choice and you learn how to choose. You learn you are free to look for, to actively seek an opening, an opportunity, the good, the interconnectedness underlying everything and all experience. Easy when life gives the good stuff, the happy, happy, joy, joy. Looking for the Highest, or ‘good’ isn’t denying or ignoring horrible, demonic evil actions being chosen in the world. There is NO way to explain away hideous evil choices people make and do to others, especially if you have been in the path of anything atrocious. Most everyone has experienced some degree of being on the receiving end of someone else choosing to do harm and create suffering. Another great teaching I learned from Dr. Brooks is the good news is, you are a free being, free to choose, the bad news is, so is everyone else. Unfortunately, there are people whose hearts are so blocked from their connection to the Divine and each other, they do ugly things to each other and our planet. This is where empowerment and freedom of the heart and mind are challenged. Ultimately, the response, what you do with tragedy, is the juncture between empowerment or victimhood.

The practice of yoga, (practice meaning over and over, with devotion to the universal Energy within and without) coming back to your mat, your seat in meditation, the mantra, the ‘yoga practices’, cultivates the tools and capacity to see even dark experiences as expressions of the One. In the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna (the Divine) tells Arjuna (the Soul), again and again, that he is everything, both delicious and horrific. “I am the death that carries off all things… of beasts I am the king of beasts, I am the beauty of the beautiful.” Krishna. The Gita is something every yogi eventually will read and contemplate.

The highest perspective is the knowing that the Universe is so free even the ‘bad’ horrifying experiences are woven in as part of the web of Life’s cycles. Seeing the dark as an expression of the Universal doesn’t mean you like it, support it, grab or push against it, it’s the acknowledgement that is the empowerment.  Then you are free to choose.

To me, the yoga is to look for and make the Universal connection in any experience. The empowered freedom of choice is how you consciously respond to and contribute to the world, no matter what. What will you do with your experiences? How will you show up? Can you be grateful for even the challenging hard parts of life? Will your thought, word and deed create more freedom, beauty, love and light ,…or not? Every breath, every moment is another opportunity to exercise your free will of choice. You are a free being, free to choose how you receive Life, all of it’s experiences and happenings, how you move in the world, what you think, say, and do. You will make a difference, make a wave on this Ocean of embodied Spirit. What difference will your wave make? You are free to you weave your own life and your choices will be the legacy you leave. The Universe is so free, out of it’s own freedom it has chosen to become you, therefore, you are free, free to choose. You are Svatantriya. Choose Freedom, choose Love, choose Gratitude. (It’s always your choice.)

Happy 4th of July! Land of the Free, Home of the Brave. That is the birthright of the whole planet... Not just U.S.

“The secret to Happiness is Freedom, the secret to Freedom is Courage.” – Thucydides 471-440 bc

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Deer and the Spider • A Summer Solstice Super Honey Moon


It has been so long since I’ve felt motivated or inspired to blog. Even journaling has been all over the place since the Anusara melt down. It seems like yesterday and a few lifetimes ago that we were all flitting around the planet coming together growing a dream and vision of ‘Goodness’ to change the world for the better. It will take a few more yesterdays and lifetimes to totally comprehend the complexities of what happened and why. There are as many perspectives on it as there are different people with opinions.

This past spring equinox I participated in a significant sweat lodge in Costa Rica with some very powerful teachers on the planet. The energy was so potent when I left the inipi (sweat lodge, or 'womb’) I truly felt re-birthed. It was then I decided to reclaim  my birth name, Benita, ‘Blessed’. 
During the next 24 hrs we did a shamanic journey meditation calling in a power animal to guide us for the next cycle of our Path. I have had power animals join my life path before, so this wasn’t a new practice and it was to invite the energies of what I need now. In the vision, a Deer came to me. At first I was like “a deer?”, kinda wishing for something sleek and cool like a panther.  As I contemplated the deer energies, I felt alertness, swift graceful power. I remembered the murghi mudra taught to me by my philosophy teacher. It is a story about the celestial beings that take form as deer to enjoy each other in intimacy and love. Intimacy is where art, love and learning take place. The mudra stands for sweetness of the conversation of teacher and student. It is a beautiful hand mudra of the kissing deer, to remember the love and honor between teacher and student. I love and miss that teacher and feel grateful for him, I feel grateful for all my teachers.

Deer has been teaching me about powerful authenticity inside and a sweet, mercurial gentle grace on the outside. There are stories and myth how Goddesses embody as deer, and highly sensitive, deer can perceive subtleties even in the dark. She is about the power of gentleness, grace and love. My intention is to embody and learn from the energies of deer as I move forward through this time of change and awakening we are all moving through.

About a month later, I woke up and noticed a little spider bite on my leg. It was a little irritating, itchy and I did my best to ignore it and not scratch. Within a couple of days it got red and angry, my beloveds urging me to go get antibiotics. I only had one day to get ready for a three-week teaching trip and going to urgent care seemed like a waste of time, besides, I do homeopathic and naturopathic care anyway. I had grapefruit seed extract, tea tree oil, all of the natural remedies you can think of. To make a long story short, the bite was horrible, with a fever and gaping infection. 24 hrs later I ended up on antibiotics in Argentina (the 2nd time I’ve taken them in over 25 yrs). The bite was from a brown recluse, and the muscle on my thigh was affected, and the skin and tissue died creating a huge hole silver dollar sized and very deep. Somehow I was able to teach and practice anyway. 
As I was contemplating the bite and life, I realized the bite was ‘spider’ medicine, a call to consciously and creatively step into weaving a web of love and light for awakening on the planet. With the practice of bhavana, (contemplation, being with an experience or feeling) the spider reminds me about the infinite nature and interconnectedness of all life, I am the weaver of my own life. 
The relationships we engage in are woven networks of love that touch everyone, threads of connection the delicate spider can move back and forth across with love and gentle strength. OR, the webs we weave create patterns that can be webs of entanglement, sticky and harmful. The spider represents feminine mother or grandmother energy, creativity, writing and communication and She is calling me.

Sitting on the threshold of high summer before the sun begins to wane and the dawn of the Super Honey moon, as I reflect over the past couple of years, I remember. The teachings of non-dual Tantra offer, everything and anything can be an opportunity for recognition and expansion of consciousness, gateways to awaken to our Divine nature. I’ve learned that the love transcends all the petty bickering and earthly stuff. I’ve studied with a few of my friends, ex-Certified Anusara teachers over the last year, and they are all still as excellent as before, evolving their individual expressions of the teachings that wove our hearts together into something they can name their own. I see my friends shifting and risking, finding their new path, opening spaces to share the love of yoga, creating programs and offerings. I love them and I truly feel joy for their great beauty, service and success. 
My vision going forward on this full moon night carries the energy of the spider, a weaver of the web, a web of love, grace and yoga. As a spider weaver I walk the matrix with grace and ease. Holding the energy of the deer with her gentle watchfulness, attuned to her environment and subtle movements around her, I hold the murghi mudra in my heart, the symbol of the kissing deer, love and honor for my teachers’ grace, and love and honor for the grace of my students. 
Tonight as the moon rises over the Rockies, I will envision the Web, a global community collaboratively woven with gentle power, grace and Love.  Blessings to all under the abundance reflected as sweet luminous light of this Honey Super Moon.
"Envision the best expression of yourself, and then be your vision." - Benita