Tag Archive: chidambaram

Kuan Yin (At Eastern Market)

Last Sunday, when I was at Eastern Market to get apples and pears, I saw a small, painted wood statue of Kuan Yin.  I have been attracted to this one of the 330 million gods and goddesses for some time.  Her primary attribute is compassion. She is said to be a female Chinese metamorphosis of the Buddhist bodhisattva Avalotikeshvara, who, according to some, is an emanation of the Hindu deity Shiva.

She had a price tag of $70 around her neck.  It was too much, especially since her hand and foot looked like they had just broken off in transit.

Still, I was attracted to her.  The vendor, who is from Pakistan, came over to talk to me, asking me if I was interested.

“Too high,” I said.

“What would you pay?”

Knowing it is holiday season, and the vendors really need to do well to survive the winter, I suggested $45, thinking it was really too much, but I very much liked the impeccably serene expression on her face.

“You have bought things from me before,” he said.  I’d bought a couple of older rugs from him last Spring, at which time he had chatted with me for a while and showed me a picture of his chosen guru.  “You are a divine being; I will give her to you for free.”

“I bet you say that to all your customers,” I replied.

“Everyone is divine, yes,” he said, ” but you are different. You know it.”

Somewhat overwhelmed by this, I thanked him for the honor and took out my wallet.  I had $42 and change.  “I will pay $40.”

I paid him and walked her home unwrapped in my arms, thinking it will be hard to live up to his expectations.  Who better, though, to remind me to relate to others, always recognizing their inherent divinity (whatever that might mean to me or anyone else), than the goddess of compassion?

Where the wood was raw from having been broken, I rubbed the edges with ash from Chidambaram temple (that I happened to have in the studio), so that the breaks would not visually distract, and one would only notice the sweet face.



Naga Vaishnava Rupini


Goddess of the unfolding of our deepest desires (of the subconscious).  So I was told.  At the Tillai Kali Temple outside of Chidambaram.

After hours of document drafting and emails and phone conferences today (with the pleasurable interlude of a walk to Eastern Market for celery, Russian pumpernickel, and a ripe avocado), I found myself wanting to remind myself that I have been some times some where other.


Petting the Temple Cows

After a day of teaching and more discussion and emails regarding the upheaval, I had a memory of petting one of the temple cows at Chidambaram.  I was jetlagged and in sensory overload, and then I petted a most wonderful cow.  I dropped into a space where I was perfectly at peace and unaware of the time and all the things going on around me.  This space is always there for us, even in the absence of a sacred cow, and we practice so that we can find it more and more consistently, especially when we are being challenged.

I did not photograph the Chidambaram temple cow, although a nice Indian lady asked me if her husband could photograph the two of us with the cow, so she has a photograph of herself with the strange American lady in a sari who was petting the cow.  I stopped to pet many cows after that.  In one town, a man told me, as I was scritching a cow between ears and horns, that the cow would enjoy a banana.


Holiday Schedule and Greetings (Web Version of E-Newsletter)

Dear  Friends,

Best wishes to all whatever your holidays are bringing and however you might be celebrating.  I write this in the midst of days full with preparing for my much anticipated travel to India with Professor Douglas Brooks, where I will experience among other amazing things, the temple at Chidambaram, where the idea of Shiva as the Cosmic Dancer first arose, seeing friends and family before I leave, and taking care of all manner of things at work and home so that things will be in as much order as possible both while I am gone and when I return.

I typically make the holidays a quiet time.  I enjoy going to a few choice parties and visiting with friends and spending a few days in New York visiting family and exploring museum exhibits and delicious meals, but mostly I use it as time for introspection and refreshment.  I process what has happened over the year and get myself and my house and papers ready for a new year of working and teaching and creating.  I practice and rest.  I take exquisitely long and contemplative walks and write and photograph.  When I have spent the holiday season in this way, come the first of January, I feel ready for whatever might come.   I know that my general health and emotional well-being are definitely enhanced by consistent daily yoga and meditation practice, regular sleep and wellness activities, such as massage, keeping a beautiful and clean home, and eating healthy meals that come in part from my garden, and the holiday season is enhanced for me by honoring my regular practices and health needs.

By choosing to go on an adventure, with the amount of energy I will need to expend to be open to the outragious influx of sensory input and information and to weather the challenges of travel (including a nine-hour time difference) and to get back to work immediately on my arrival in the middle of of a week in which I already have a known deadline, I can be fairly certain that the comforting, well-rested feeling to which I have become accustomed from the holiday break will not be how I start 2012.  In this sense, going on this trip is willfully ignoring and disrupting all that I know keeps me on an even keel.  Sometimes, though, we just have to intentionally shake ourselves up to see what ways we can expand and how much.  Such shake-ups not only open us up to new possibilities and ways of thinking, but they also help us get ready for the invevitable upheavals in life whose exact timing and nature we cannot control.  My holiday blessing is that the shake-up is one I have chosen, that comes when I am healthy and secure, and that will no doubt provide much fuel for growth and creativity.  I definitely am looking forward to bringing home new insights and energies to share with you in the new year, perhaps even the seeds for the first art exhibit in many years.

I wish you all peace, health, and joy through the holidays and the new year.  To those of you who are currently dealing with extra challenges of embodiment, please know that I am holding you in the light and will be sending beams of healing energy from abroad.

For everyone, here are the yoga offerings for the holidays and the beginning of 2012:

No coincidence, my trip is at exactly the same time as Willow Street is closed for Winter Break, and I won’t be missing any of my Saturday noon gentle/therapeutic classes.  The class is continuing in the Winter Session (registration is now open) and I hope to see friends both returning and new signed up for the session.  For Willow Street free class week, I will be leading a gentle/therapeutics class on Saturday, January 7th to welcome those new to yoga, the class, or to Willow Street to all the healing potential of Anusara yoga.  Free class week is a great way to get to class for the first time that curious friend or family member with whom you have been wanting to share the wonders of yoga.

I know lots of you will be wanting the yoga during the holiday period, so I’ve invited two guest teachers for the Tuesday night William Penn House class.  Meridian Ganz-Ratzat will be leading the class on Tuesday, December 20th, and Anna Karkovska McGlew will be leading on Tuesday, January 3rd.  They are awesome teachers, so come check out the classes, even if you haven’t been to the William Penn House class before.

There will be no rose garden yoga classes between Christmas and New Year, but check out the great array of holiday offerings that week at Willow Street Yoga to celebrate the transition from 2011 to 2012.  I’ll be back to neighborhood classes, starting with the house class on Wednesday, January 4th, and hope to see you at William Penn House in the new year.

Thinking ahead for ways to sweeten your 2012 schedule or looking for a great holiday gift to give that enhances health and a celebration of life, but doesn’t result in more stuff being manufactured?  Give the gift of the ultimate nurturing yoga to yourself, friends, and family, with a registration for “Finding the Warmth Inside: Relax Into Optimal Alignment with Anusara Restoratives,” Saturday, February 25, 2012, 2:30 PM – 5:00 PM, Willow Street, Takoma Park studio, $35.00, click to Register Online.  Suitable for all levels.

I look forward to seeing many of you at my regular neighborhood and Willow Street classes and at workshops in the new year.  Much love and many blessings.
Peace and light,