Community and Family

thoughts on how we fit into the web of community, family and society

Akasha (space)

When we can connect to the essence of the element of akasha, space, within ourselves, we feel less crowded by things pressing in on the outside, whether it be actual confinement or overcrowdedness or the sense of crowding from having too many pressing things to do.  For those of us who live in the District of Columbia, this weekend, with the extra million or two or three people in our neighborhoods and using our transportation systems is a great opportunity to discover the spaciousness within.

Practice dwelling in a supremely spacious place in your heart when you meditate this week.  Start by visualizing a vast space just beyond your third eye (the point between the eye brows).  Once you can visualize that space, the chidakasha, draw the space into your heart and rest there.  Then, when you go out onto to the Mall or onto the metro or onto crowded streets, bring enough of your consciousness into the vast inner space that you can feel comfortable with the crowding outside.  When dwelling in the inner and outer at the same time, it will be easier to marvel at the outside crowds.

For those of you who are extroverts who get exhilarated by crowds, of course, this practice would seem less critical.  I invite you to give it a try anyway.

Share

Food, family, friends, life (and leftovers)

Yesterday I celebrated the bounty of Thanksgiving with my friend Pat and her children, which was just delightful.  The food was bounteous and delicious, but not to the point of groaning excess.  While I was at the yoga fundraiser in Takoma Park, Pat and the children were cooking.

Jonathan, who is eight, made the cranberry sauce.  Being the superb cook that she is, Pat said it’s just the recipe on the back of the bag (one bag cranberries, one cup sugar, one cup water, cook until the cranberries are split and liquid starts to gel), except that she replaced the water with apple juice, replaced the sugar with brown sugar and halved the amount, added currents (nice touch), and then put in orange rind, cinnamon, all spice, cloves, and powdered ginger.  Only a true cook would think that is just the recipe on the back of the bag, but I know what she means.  As long as the proportions are right you can vary anything to taste.  The addition of the dried fruits and spices were just right for the latin-influenced cooking of the rest of the meal.

Rebecca made the mashed potatoes, which we had because she wanted them.  They are amazing, they are miraculous, she claimed, mashed potatoes.  All you do is mash them and then they are amazing.  Ordinary potatoes completely transformed, just by mashing them.  Rebecca also offered grace, giving thanks for “food, family, friends, and just for being alive.”  Simply said from the heart; no more needed to be said.

I was sent home with the leftover vegetarian rice and peas, which Pat had specially prepared for me to honor my preference to eat vegetarian.  As is traditional in her family, I brought home the leftovers with the understanding that when I returned the container, it would have within it a food offering in return.

Pat did cook a turkey as part of the meal.  When we were cleaning up (I was carving the rest of the turkey to store for future meals), I asked Pat whether she would be making stock with the turkey bones, so I would know the best way of carving.  She said she did not have time, so though I am mostly vegetarian, I took the bones to make stock.  I had, then, the leftovers one would never have if you’ve long since stopped roasting birds, and Pat felt more content knowing that we would be using all of the bird that fed us.

Today, when I am home cleaning and cooking and enjoying a precious vacation day, I will make turkey stock.  With the blessing of these particular leftovers, I can make what would be traditional to a Thanksgiving meal that I would have cooked:  roast winter squash and stuffing (using the turkey stock, the remains of a loaf of bread I baked last week, dried mushroom, and celery).  My delicious meal of stuffed roasted squash, will be enhanced by the lingering (not leftover) energy of the friends with whom I shared a delightful meal and the knowledge (that by minimizing what goes uneaten) that we are eating in a more sustainable manner) [yes, it’s all about balance; my vegan friends would no doubt be compelled to remind me that eating vegan would have been more sustainable].

Many thanks to Pat and her family for welcoming me and for sharing.

Share

Abundance and Gratitude

Many thanks to all who came and participated in the yoga fundraising class for Oxfam.  Special thanks also to Suzie Hurley and Willow Street Yoga for making the space available.  True gratitude for the practice of yoga itself.  Together we raised $935 for Oxfam, sharing our own abundance with those who are needier.  Many blessings on this holiday weekend to all of you.

Share

11-11

11-11 is the eleventh day of the eleventh month of our calendar.  It is Veterans’ Day (still on 11-11 and not on the nearest Monday).  It is a day to contemplate what I, as a citizen, can do to invert a National policy of creating war and turning our young people into soldiers and then neglecting and abusing them when they come home wounded physically and psychologically.  Surely, it should be the reverse:  we should be doing everything we can to avoid war and then do everything we can to take care of the health and welfare of those who have served.

11-11 is also a day for me to honor my own ancestors; it is the anniversary of the day my beloved Grandmother Rose left her body.

11-11 is a day of celebration; it is my mother’s birthday.  She has said that when she was a littlge child, that she thought the parades and the day off from school were for her birthday.

11-11 is also a delightful treat of relative leisure (Federal Holiday in the middle of the week).

It is rare for me that a single day has so many different personal imports.  Each day, though, indeed each moment, impacts all of us so differently depending on our life circumstances.  Some of those impacts just happen; some are chosen; some are how we react both to what happens and what we choose.  I’ll be enjoying my day off to the fullest, but will also be sending loving energy to those in need, especially those suffering from current and past wars.

Share

With Gratitude to CHY

Tonight I will teach my last class at CHY’s current space after having taught nearly every Wednesday night for 5 1/2 years.  I am deeply grateful to Marianna, Leyla, and Julie for having pulled together the community and continued yoga in the space when Dancing Heart moved, and to Stacey for joining them and keeping the fire brightly burning.  I feel deeply fortunate for having been given the opportunity to teach at CHY while I went through my teacher training.  I am also deeply thankful to all my CHY level 2 students who went through the Anusara certification process with me; the class that led to my ultimate certification was taught at CHY on the 10th anniversary of Anusara yoga.

I extend my gratitude to all the students who were with me on this path of expansion, exploration, and delight and who have taught me so much and shared of their hearts.

Although I feel a profound sense of loss with the Stanton Park studio closing — how will I know when to end class without Wilbur the dog letting me know it is time to end savasana? — I look on this as an opportunity for the community to coalesce in new ways, and for each of us to deepen the community and our practices.  I regard all of you at CHY as my friends, as well as students and neighbors, and look forward to seeing you in yoga classes on the Hill in new spaces and at other events in the neighborhood.

E

Share