Community and Family

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

On the Bus

on the bus 2Shortly after I took this picture, a young couple came and sat down in the two seats in the photo, which are at the back of the bus — they were the only seats together.  The couple just sat down quietly and held hands; they weren’t even talking.  The woman in the corner immediately sat upright and began cursing at them.  She threatened them with calling the police because they were harassing her by following her.  The bus driver, who was having a hard enough time dealing with cars cutting in and out of lanes in the stop and go traffic jam created by the Marine Corps Marathon street closings, advised her to calm down.  She got louder and louder.  The woman in front of me kept turning around to stare.  I sat quietly, trying to send soothing energy.  The bus driver suggested to the woman that the police were located just around the corner.  He said he’d stop so that she could go get the police.  “No, no,” she cried, “we are almost at my stop.  I’ll be quiet,” and she became completely still and quiet.  At the next stop, she stayed on and a few other people got off, so that the couple was able to find a seat elsewhere on the bus.  For the rest of the trip, even with people standing, these three seats stayed open.  Later, I went up front to ask the driver what exactly was the route for the marathon detour.  It turned out to be a good detour for where I was going.  I commended the driver on how quickly he calmed down the woman, acknowledging what a challenge it is to be a metrobus driver.  He obviously appreciated my simple gesture (mostly people just criticize bus drivers) and shared a few recent stories.  When I got off, I thanked him and wished him a good day.

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What is “really” yoga?

Gopi Krishna, in this book The Awakening of Kundalini, writes:  “Yoga exercises can also be directed toward worldly objectives.  There are exercises that are conducive to the health and efficiency of the mind, others that lead to psychic gifts, and still others that strengthen the will and improve the ability to deal with problems.  However, no single achievement of this kind — or even several of them taken together — is Yoga.”  He continues to state that “Yoga is a transhuman state of mind attained by means of the cumulative effect of all practices combined, carried on for years, and supplemented by grace.”  Other texts say enlightenment comes to some just by “grace” with no need for the yoga practices.  Others need various amounts and types of practices.

Me, I have no idea what is a “transhuman state of mind” but I want for myself and those around me being healthier and stronger, with an improved ability to deal with problems.  (Imagine, for example, those gifts applied in the context of providing universal health care, while simultaneously educated and shifting our society to a healthier way of living).  I don’t think anyone can judge or determine whether one’s self or someone else is truly enlightened or can lead others to enlightenment (whatever that means).  But I am certain from my own experience that yoga helps me to be more grounded, more centered, more intentional, stronger, and healthier.  Thus served by steady practice, I am more content and find it easier to be kind.  I’ll take that for now.

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Alas and Alack (still without my computer)

Last week my computer crashed.  I have purchased a new one, but it needs to be configured and brought to the house.  With luck, it will be possible to recover all the the data since my last system back-up.  I have everything since May (that’s five years worth) and all my photos since the end of August (that’s most everything), and some more that is stored on email or this server or facebook.

It is a good opportunity to reflect on attachment.  It is an even better opportunity to think about the difference between necessities and wants and how our current way of living and communicating blurs the two.

 Of course, being human and a product of this society, I am not happy about it.   I’m just trying really hard to approach this in a positive way.  I know I will fully enjoy having an up-to-date system.

I will be mostly not blogging until I have my own computer, but hope to be back fully soon.

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A Graywater Inspiration from Friends (and opening to grace/muscular energy)

When we are on our mats, being open to grace — the first Anusara alignment principle — includes being open to the teachings so that we can receive and act on them in a healing and loving way.  Adding to that muscular energy by lovingly embracing skin to muscle to bone in a conscious embrace, drawing into our center to recognize our inner spirit, and drawing from periphery to the focal point brings us into optimal balance.  This pulsation serves as a way off the mat to open, inspire, and engage us in progressively more intentional and uplifting ways of living.

Being open to inspiration from friends and about town, open to learning new ways to be kind to the earth and to ourselves, is a way of bring the principle of “opening to grace” off the mat.  Actually keeping the intention and acting on it has the attentive embrace of muscular energy, which draws us onto our inner light in a loving embrace so that we can better serve.

I was thinking about Anusara principles off the mat, yesterday when I went visit a friend in NW one of whose roommates fosters cats.  There is a community garden in the back and the house is warm and friendly.  In the bathtub were two buckets filled with water leftover from showers.  Instead of using fresh, potable water to flush the toilet, when it is time to flush (honoring the drought axiom about yellow mellowing, etc), the house residents fill the tank with the gray water from the shower.

Find it too complicated an idea to shower with a bucket in the bathtub with you?  You can still save water by filling your watering can or bucket when you run the water to warm up enough to get into the shower.  That will save a few gallons.  Not up to using the water to flush the toilet?  Use it to water houseplants or for cleaning floors, etc.  Or take it outside to water potted plants.

First step is opening and witnessing the possibilities and understanding where you are ready to expand.  The second step is to try to more consistently live your inspiration.  I know when I see people living with such intention I take better care to move in that direction, even if I am not ready to go as far.

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Glad to Have Friends Who Inspire Me to Think

My friend K, whom I love and respect for her very self and for her sustained peace activism, had this attached to an email yesterday:

Rev. Howard Thurman (1899-1981): “Don’t ask what the world needs. Rather ask — what makes you come alive? Then go and do it! Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”

So good I wanted to re-share everywhere.

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October Newsletter (web version for those not receiving mailings)

Dear Friends,

What splendid fall mornings we are having.  The neighborhood dogs are frisking in the park and the fall colors are starting to show.  It is time to make tomato sauce and pickled peppers with the last of the summer harvest and continue planting greens (containers are great if you don’t have much space) for some fresh eating through December.  Now is also the time to start shifting to a more introspective practice, seeking inner illumation as the days get shorter and the nights get longer.

This Fall, classes will concentrate on refining the principles of alignment to more sweetly and deeply appreciate your own inner light.

Join us any Tuesday night on a drop-in basis at William Penn House — bring a friend for a delightful all levels experience.

It’s not too late to join the Willow Street Fall session — Saturdays at 8:30 level II or, if you need a gentler practice, including a therapeutic focus, try the noon Gentle/Therapeutics class.  Drop-ins always welcome.

October Serenity Saturday (October 17th, 3-5pm) is just around the corner.  Sign up early to get the Capitol Hill Yoga early bird discount!

Starting to plan the holidays?  If you’ll be in town, make sure to plan to join me for the 7th Annual Thanksgiving Day Fundraiser for Oxfam, which will again be at Willow Street in Takoma Park Thanksgiving morning.  It is a great way to start the day and bring a focus of gratitude to this day of abundance.  As always, in or out of town guests, friends, and family welcome whatever their experience level.

For the Wednesday night practice, October’s charity will be the Whitman-Walker Clinic to honor its work in providing health care in some of DC’s neediest communities and to help send energy for universal health care.  I’ve decided that I have so much fun with these practices that in addition to donating all the proceeds, I will donate to attend too!

As always, feel free to email me with questions, comments, suggestions, or just to be in touch.

Info on all classes and workshops at www.rosegardenyoga.com.

Peace and light,

Elizabeth

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Devil in the Details (and jnanam bandaha)

The second sutra of the Siva Sutras is “jnanam bandhaha” (knowledge is bondage).  In the context of the Siva Sutras, this tells us that getting caught in trying to acquire knowledge of the manifest world and all of its infinite minutiae can lead us away from a sense of connection to a universal spirit.

We have the phrase in the work place that the “devil is in the details” both because getting caught up in the details can take us away of accomplishing a desired result and because the details need to be worked out to realize the result, and the details (not the theory) are the hard part.  At the societal level, for example, working out the details of a health care bill and how it will actually function seems to be preventing us, as a society, from offering health care to all.  On our yoga mats, we need to understand the details of physical alignment so that the practice strengthens and optimizes our health, rather than taking us physically and energetically out of alignment, but we do not want concentration on the details to take us away from heart and spirit.

The “devil may be in the details” but we cannot stop the details from being part of our existence.  As much as we need not to get so bogged down in the details that we have discord, distrust, unhappiness, and ineffectiveness, we also need to cultivate knowledge of the details.  As beings embodied in space and time in the manifest world, we need to cultivate knowledge so that we can recognize when the details are not in optimal alignment, so that we have sufficient knowledge, strength, intuition, and subtlety to be able to shift the details so that they lead towards good for ourselves individually and collectively.

What a devilish conundrum.

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