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New Spinach (and Udyamo Bhairava)

The fifth sutra in Abhinavagupta’s Siva Sutras, is “udyamo bhairava” — the great upsurge of consciousness.  When we are open and aware, we can witness this upsurge, the very pulsing of life energy in all that is in and around us, from the springing up of thought in our minds to the burgeoning of spring.  The more we practice and live attentively, the more we will see the joy in this upwelling.

When I go out into the garden on the early spring days to see what needs to be cut back, what is volunteering, and what is coming up from fall plantings, I approach with great openness.  When we plant in the fall, we do not know with any certainty what kind of winter we will have.  Although the long-range forecast was for colder than normal with precipitation near normal (which translates into more than average snow), who could have expected three mammoth snow storms?

I plant with hope and some expectation, but am ready for the loss of some perennials, the failure of some seeds to germinate, and the unexpected pleasure of experiments working or welcome volunteers.  This steady planting without specific expectation, with openness to discovery, with joy and attention to the miraculousness of what rises up in the spring, is a very tangible example of what I read in the yoga philosophy.  It is how I, I believe, we most optimally would approach asana and meditation, as well as all aspects of our daily being.

Below:  new spinach coming up in a container from seeds I planted around Thanksgiving from an expiring packet.

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Full Moon

The moon had risen in all her glory when I left Willow Street Yoga in Silver Spring (from a talk with Dr. Manoj Chalam about archetypes yesterday evening and headed for the metro home.  I thought about how the moon shines fully no matter what is below:  a pristine mountain lake, a construction site, a palace garden, a land devastated by one of the Four Horsemen, or the street in front of my house.  What I think is the goal of most “spiritual” practice is to find a place where, being able to see the light all the time, one can live with uncertainty and challenge and have a greater capacity to serve from one’s unique place.

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What’s Blooming Inside Right Now for Me (is it “forcing” or inviting?)

I’ve been living with blooms from bulbs since just before Christmas.  The amaryllis in the vase is the third bloom from a bulb I bought at the beginning of January; the third stem got too tall, so I put it in a vase, so it would not topple over.  The orchid I have had since it was about half this size and have been tending it by bringing inside and out with the seasons for over a decade.  It has bloomed every February without fail.  The paperwhites were a gift.  I enjoy a little of the scent, but find the usual presentation of several flowers simultaneously overwhelming.  I have brought them to flower one at a time.  As soon as the bulb flowers (and inevitably needs to be propped up somehow), I have cut the flowers to put in a vase and started the next bulb.  By the time the flowers in the vase have faded, the next bulb is budding.

The cherry blossoms — this is why I dreamed of cherries blossoming; I had them in my bedroom.  In a previous post, I showed the nearly bare branches from a tree that had fallen in the blizzard.  Although gardeners would call bringing the branches inside “forcing,” I wonder whether I really “forced” these blooms.  What I did was take branches that would have gone to a landfill, brought them into an auspicious environment and invited them to bloom.  This seems to me, not unlike using props in yoga:  I might not be able to experience the full opening of a pose myself, but if I properly use props, I can expand what I can experience.  It is not the same as doing it on my own, but it still gives me a different sense of the beauty that can be experienced, just like bringing in branches that otherwise would have fallen or need to be pruned into the house to reveal their glory in advance of the spring blooming outside.

The last photo is of dogwood and cherry that were on the side of the street two days ago (cherry tree down at the Japanese War Memorial); dogwood in a pile on the north side of the street in the 300 or 400 block of D Street, NE.  Start your own blooms, there is more winter in the forecast.  I am fairly certain from my previous experiment that the cherries will start blooming in a couple of weeks, but it remains to be seen whether the dogwood will want to open.


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Cherry Blossoms

When I ventured out into the streets yesterday morning to get some air, greet some neighbors, and get some fresh vegetables if possible, I saw that a very large branch had come off of a cherry tree a block from my house.  I have lived in my house long enough to have watched the tree grow from a three-foot sapling to a tree that has swollen past the confines of its row house corner yard.  The branch that broke off in the snow was four or five times the size of the sapling when it was first planted.  I spent an hour walking and then made sure I went back to the tree.  It was starting to bud.  It was warm last month, and it’s getting lighter every day. I don’t have high confidence that the buds were far enough along to force blossoms.  I thought I’d give it a try.  Whether I see blossoms early or not, I can use the branches to stake young herbs in another 7-10 weeks.

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