Art and Culture

Invitation to Artistic Collaberation

I loved this collection of ties and sign outside the Studio Gallery in Dupont Circle. It served for me as a great reminder of the tantric yoga invitation to make and share art with our very being, with each other, with the practices, and with the divine. Whatever has drawn and continues to draw us to the practices is an invitation to collaborate in the ecstatic and creative dance of life itself.


A “Mending Party”

A woman on a list serve I read invited others to a “mending party.”  “How delightful,” I thought.  I have a few things in my mending basket.  I usually use mending or knitting time as an opportunity to sit and think and listen to music and sometimes write down in my journal what seems like an interesting thought.  It would be a most enjoyable alternative to sit and converse with others, all of whom have at the least a shared interest in beautifully mending clothes so that they last.  And at the end of the evening, my mending would be done.  I am sure it would be quite alright to knit or crochet or embroider, if there was no mending that needed to be done.


Carbon-Free Website

For those of us living fully in our modern material world, as I am, it is important to think not so much about denying ourselves things or giving them up, but rather, seeing how we can make shifts to living more lightly.  One of my heavy impacts on the environment is computer usage.  Right now, I have on my work computer, my home laptop, and my Blackberry.

All of you who are reading this blog are doing so via computer or by a personal device with web access that requires battery charging.  I’d hazard a guess that most of these portable computers are not being powered by sun and wind.  I am still waiting for Pepco to come and change the meter to hook up my newly installed rooftop solar panels to the grid, and I don’t have a solar charger for the Blackberry.

One thing I thought I could do to help make enjoying this way of connecting have less impact on the environment would be to go carbon-neutral.  In the world of plastic, the ideal is don’t use, reuse, repurpose, recycle.  In the world of electricity, it is don’t use, use from better sources, off-set.  With respect to my blog, I am choosing to use the necessary electricity, but go solar with my house, buy electricity from a source that uses offsets (Clean Currents) for that electricity that is in excess of what the solar panels will provide, and I’m choosing to offset this blog’s impact based on readership through the Carbon Fund.


Last Night I Slept At My Parents House (and akrama)

I slept last night in the room that I slept in as a child. My mother now uses the room to store some of the vestiges of her old antiquing business. The carpet, wallpaper, and curtains from the 1960’s are gone, but the bed is the same one in which I had slept. The picture on the wall is a kit for making a stuffed animal that my Grandma Rose had bought me (probably when I was about 8) at the Brooklyn Museum of Art that my mother decided would be better as framed art than a sewing project for me.

The neighborhood looks different–it is far more developed as is everywhere near a big city–but the bones are the same.

It is a challenge not to feel the weight of my history and ancestry when I return. Taking the time to meditate when I woke helped me stay fully in my adult self.

When we meditate, we ideally dissolve our individual consciousness into the luminous spaciouness of universal consciousness. In that space, where we are temporarily not experiencing ourselves as an individual, we are also not experiencing our individual self in the sequence (krama) of time. The luminous spaciousness of meditative consciousness is sequenceless (akrama) and, as universal consciousness, is the place in which the sequences of being in time and space arise.

What I experienced this morning when I meditated was that I did not have to be flooded with the emotions of my, to try to graciously describe, emotionally challenging childhood. In the space of meditation I could bring to my day an acceptance of all of my life and be where I am at present, coming to a place of recognition that although I lived all of my history, it neither defines me nor binds me from expanding into a space of growing love and light.


Wilmington Delaware Amtrak Station

I witnessed this family standing on the train platform while I was listening to a teleseminar from Paul Muller-Ortega on the “four stages of the word.” That a family dressed this way was waiting for the train gave rise to much thought for me about how I seek to integrate yoga practice into my daily life in a modern Western culture. How much is compromise or disservice to the “purity” of the teachings and how much of it is a part of a pulsing, growing, changing intersection of peoples and times?


Green Festival DC–October 23 -24

Green Festival is coming to DC again on October 23-24.  If you’ve never been (and are in town), it is always enjoyable, if only for the snacks and the comaraderie (odds are high you will bump into people you know).  What I find is that I either learn something new about how to live in a more ecologically sustainable way or I get the affirmation that I’m already making a decent effort.  Join in the fun if you can.


A Correspondence on Charitable Contribution to Aids Walk DC

I print the correspondence below not so much to ask you to give, nor to let you know that I made a donation, but to initiate a discussion on what motivates you to make a donation of money?  What about of time?  They have different practical calculations, depending on whether time or money is of more relative importance or shortage  (real or apparent) at the time of the giving?  Does it make you more likely to give if you have a personal connection to the cause?  Does getting personal satisfaction from giving make it somehow not a fully spiritual act? [I’ll try and blog on the last in future posts].
Dear Friends,
On Friday, Sept. 17, 2010 I thought I sent 30 targeted e-mails from my AIDSWALK webpage to former and potential donors to this annual fundraising event. Unfortunately, I did something wrong and the messages were never sent. With time very short, I’m sending this “broadcast” message to the listserve in the hope that some of you who have not already sent a donation from my initial appeal will do so now. For those of you who have already donated now is the time to delete this message.
This year’s walk is benefiting about 15 different organizations that assist people with HIV/AIDS, in addition to Whitman-Walker Clinic.
Thanks for all the support you’ve given in the past,
Joe Izzo
Help us fight the epidemic! REGISTER for AIDS Walk TODAY! We look forward to seeing you on October 2nd!


In response to this plea, I clicked on the link to make a donation to the AIDs Walk.  Joe graciously sent me a thank you note, and I responded as follows:
E to Joe

Thank you Joe.  I have been giving to WWC since the late 1980s.  When I was in my 20s and 30s I had close friends die of AIDs or go through the tribulations of the early drug trials for HIV.  I like that I can now give in a more personal way.

Peace and light,


The Search Continues (based on some dreaming)

In 2000 or 2001, shortly before I started practicing Anusara yoga, a teacher who regularly played music in class, played for us a recording of Alice Coltrane singing a tantric chant to Siva and the Goddess Bhuvaneshvari.  I only heard the chant once while we were in savasana — corpse pose/final relaxation.  Although I only heard the chant once, for several months afterwards, I found myself having a recurring dream that I was wondering in a neighborhood that looked like the one where I grew up and went to high school and chanting the full chant.  At the time I merely found it curious that I seemed to have learned the sanskrit just by hearing the chant one time.  I have since learned that the recording may have been done right near my high school; that is where the Coltrane’s had a recording studio.  I also learned that the chant was a tantric chant.  At the time, my teachers were coming from a classical yoga perspective.  Did I actually learn the chant by osmosis?  Was having the very vibration of the chanting near where I lived and studied the catalyst for me, as a receptive being, discovering a path of tantric yoga?

I have found other recordings of the chant.  One is Atman’s “Dancing to the Goddess” on the Eternal Dance CD, which is an electronica version.  The other is Ragani’s “Om Mata” on the Best of Both Worlds, which is a very nice kirtan/pop version.  I have several of Alice Coltrane’s recordings, which are great jazz, if you aren’t familiar with Alice Coltrane as a fabulous musician in her own right.  Recently I searched again on the internet to see if the bootleg had become available.  There was nothing on YouTube (though some good Alice Coltrane things to watch).    I bought Alice Coltrane’s “Radha-Krsna Mana Sankirtana,” which was originally recorded in 1977 (when I was in high school) and reissued in 2005, as I thought that was a promising source.  It has some good things on it, but no luck finding the recording I wanted to hear.

The chant goes like this:

Samba sadasiva, samba sadasiva, samba sadasiva, samba shambo.

Om mata, om mata, om sri mata, jagade mata.

Om bhuvaneshvari, sri bhuvaneshvari, hari parashakti, devi bhuvaneshvari.

It is a chant to the benevolent, auspicious one within, the radiant goddess, the creatrix of the world.  Bhuvaneshvari is one of the ten wisdom goddesses.

Please advise if you have access to the Alice Coltrane or another recording of this beautiful chant.