Please see the Spring 2010 Willow Street Newsletter to see more about what led me to teach. While you’re reading, check out all the fabulous yoga offerings.
Here’s an aerial view of the back garden on the equinox after I spent several hours cleaning, deadheading, repotting, mulching, etc. As you can see, the moss is ecstatic from having had the weight of the snow on it for several weeks. Coming up in quantities almost enough to pick are lettuce, spinach, cilantro, parsley, chives, onions, lemon balm (always have too much of that — if you’re local let me know if you want some). The first rosebud emerged sometime between Friday and Sunday. It is hard to believe that just a month ago, I was blogging about indoor gardening — how to find delight even when snowed under (scroll to the bottom of the linked post to compare pictures of the same view).
As you can see from comparing the two photos, things were still growing under the snow or getting ready to do so. That is what practice is like for me. Sometimes I feel completely snowed under by an injury or rush jobs at work or personal circumstances beyond my control. I keep practicing, but I don’t have the time or energy for long practices or full weekend workshops, when it is easy to get to a place of delight. Other times, things are less pressured, and I feel brimming over with health. Then practice feels wildly effulgent. For my garden to offer its full potential (as is true with my practice), I need to spend lots of time and effort in it for the next several weeks. I know that if I do so, I will be blessed with fullness.
Is a mystical logician the same as a logical mystic?
Saw this as an email signature from an email on a list serve I follow and had to share:
To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty; to find the best in others; to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.”
–Ralph Waldo Emerson
I am subbing Fusion Flow tonight up at Willow Street. Natalie, for whom – am subbing, has been teaching the yamas and niyamas this session. She asked me to cover “samtosha” tonight.
In contemplating this principle of practice again (it is high on my contemplation list), I thought of the what was drafted by the “Founding Fathers.” We are not guaranteed the right to happiness, but the right and freedom to pursue it.
That leaves open the question of what is happiness and whether and how to pursue it. It contains, I think, a hidden agreement that to keep the right open to all that happiness cannot be realized by the acquisition of external power and things that will prevent others from having the same freedom.
When I get caught up in our current societal vision of what we are supposed to have or be, a reminder that “samtosha” — contentment — doesn’t just happen, but is a practice, always regrounds me. I choose to come back to a space of gratitude, and my my whole self eases. I return to a place that serves me and enhances my own freedom to find happiness, while bringing me to a place that is aligned with that freedom growing for what and whom I touch.
It’s still March, and we’re in the middle of one big and fabulous rainstorm. Tomorrow (Saturday) might not be a great day for getting out into the garden (unless you like wading in mud), but it will be an absolutely fantastic day to do yoga with an intention of readying body, mind, and spirit for the garden and to get in tune with all that is growing and has the potential to grow inside and out. Come join me for Yoga for Gardeners at Willow Street Takoma Park and help support the Youth Garden at the National Arboretum.
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.