Latest Posts

New Computer (and the benefits of practice)

My friend D the other week had been talking about how much longer every thing takes to get done in a new city and home (he just moved across country).  I was thinking about that as I work to get up to speed on the replacement computer that came into my house yesterday afternoon.  I can tell there is lots of extra functionality, but at first, I am slower than I was with my old computer (at least five generations old) because I need to learn some new commands and navigation tools, as well as recreate my old bookmarks and remembered passwords, etc.

To be able to cope with life, we need to be willing to go out and explore, try new things, to be willing to have the time and struggle to learn enough to feel comfortable with a new place or technique.  To mature gracefully, we need to sometimes stay with the old (whatever choices led us there) and continue to refine so that we can go deeper and deeper into knowledge of what we have chosen.

Sometimes we have a real choice, sometimes we have no choice, sometimes we have an apparent choice, but only one sensible one.  One of the beauties of steady yoga practice is that it prepares us both for the new and for repetition.  It truly shows us the beauty and delight of revisiting, reexploring, and ever deepening our understanding of the complexities of what appears simple.  It also cultivates the fortitude and openness to start anew when necessary.

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.

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.

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.

“Opening to Grace” (and beginner’s mind)

Capitol 9-09I took this picture the other day when I was walking to work.  I have seen TV cameras set up at this spot dozens of times to film news interviews.  I have seen tourists galore photographing each other.  I’ve seen a couple of photo shoots of brides and grooms dressed in their wedding clothes.   I’ve seen the fountain full of ducks or gulls.  I’ve seen it empty of water, with rain pelting on it to eliminate any reflection, in a blizzard, iced over, full of algae, as a play spot for dogs who like to swim, in fog, in beating down sun, with cherry blossoms floating on the water, and with waves from a strong wind.  Although (or more likely because) I’ve walked past this view hundreds of times in the 25 years I have lived on Capitol Hill and the 18 I have worked for the Department of Labor, I have never taken out my camera and photographed this incredibly photogenic spot.

When I took the photograph on this day when the reflection just happened to be perfect, it led me to see the spot the way tourists see it:  full of freshness and wonder, beauty, and excitement to be in this place that represents a certain mind-blowing type of power.  Reflecting on the act of taking the photo from my perspective as a resident, led me to think about the Anusara alignment principle of “opening to grace.”

One of the many aspects  of “opening to grace” is having a “beginner’s mind.”  What does it mean to have a beginner’s mind on or off the mat?  I think it means being open to new insight, to a sense of joyous discovery, to a feeling of fresh intoxication and wonder, no matter how many times we have done or seen something before.  How many times have you done lunge or downward facing dog?  Eaten a green bean or a potato chip?  Petted a dog?  Turned on a light switch?  Filled a glass with potable water out of the tap?  If it is the “same old, same old,” then you will lose the desire to practice and the possibility of growing.  But most of what we do, especially as we get older, is a repeat of something we have done before.  Grasping at new experience as a cure for boredom or jadedness will only make us unhappy.  If we can see each day with newly opened eyes, then we can find fulfillment in each moment and be better able to grow.  We will be open to ever deepening refinement and exploration within the space of our existence.

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

Lentil, Barley, Mushroom Soup/Stew (and honoring the seasons)

On Friday night, when the cool rain was falling, I looked into the cupboard to see what I had to make for dinner.  I had some pearl barley, some mushrooms that were a bit withered, a celery heart (mostly leaves), and a few carrots.  I threw in an onion, a couple of cloves of garlic, a bay leaf, and one chili pepper, and there were the ingredients for a hearty, delicious meal.

Mince the garlic and onions, dice the celery, and slice the carrot into rounds.  Saute in olive oil in a pressure cooker (ideal for making legumes and winter soups with a minimum of cooking fuel) or a soup pot.  Add the lentils (brown lentils are best for this; do not use red lentils as they will fall apart) and barley until coated.  Add the bay leaf and chili (pepper optional; slice thinly for more heat; leave whole only for a touch of flavor).  Add a little salt.  Add water (5 to 2 ratio water to lentils/barley will make a thick stew-like porridge; add more water for the consistency of  soup).  Add diced mushrooms.  I used crimini mushrooms.  Shitake would work well.  You could also use dried mushrooms (just pre-soak and then use the soaking water, strained to remove sediment, as part of the liquid).

If using a pressure cooker, bring to full pressure, then lower heat and cook for 25 minutes at full pressure.  Turn off heat and let sit for 10-15 minutes allowing pressure to release naturally.  If cooking on stove, bring to boil, stir, lower to a simmer, and then cook until tender, stirring periodically (will probably take 1 1/2 hours).

When I sat down to eat this healthy, inexpensive, warming meal, I felt full gratitude, not only for having plenty to eat, but for the ability to enjoy the change of seasons, to know to change my diet and my rhythms to make the most of the shifting of light and temperature to bring greatest delight.

On Saturday, I diced some roasted eggplant and stirred it in to have a different taste when I reheated the soup.  Chopping up some tender greens (chard or spinach) when reheating to serve also is a wonderful way to tranform the soup for a second time serving.

Enjoy.

Fall Session Theme–Inner Light

This morning, when I called weather, the meteorologist announced that sunrise is at 7am, sunset at 6:58pm.  As the nights grow longer than the days, it is a wonderful time to become more introspective, to use the principles of alignment to focus mind and body so that we are drawn ever more sweetly to our inner light.

In my classes this Fall, I will be emphasizing how we can use the Anusara principles of alignment to help continuously refine and focus our attention on our own and unifying sense of spirit.