Thursday, December 25, 2014

Contentment



Contentment sounds like such a dirty word especially in New York City where the onus is on you to make something, be something, do something that's never been or been done before. The bigger, better, newer, brighter, faster, lighter, never good enough culture is the norm and if you are hanging on your couch you certainly are not. This city has options: dinners, parties, late night work hours, and of course... events.  It's a blessing and a curse.

To create. To create or to do work (which is creating) is our duty.  Our DIVINE duty. Figuring out what our specific WORK is in this world is, is pretty much our primary mission. It's an instruction laid out in every religious text and basically the central theme of The Bhagavad Gita, a yogi's bible. You can't get away from the work you are meant to do in this world. We call this your dharma.

So many people get such deep satisfaction from their work (I do), it's even considered the very definition of happiness by happiness philosophers; doing our work and feeling like our existence matters. Would you agree? To me this is the single best definition of happiness I have ever heard.

But, we're not talking about happiness exactly. The second Niyama is CONTENTMENT. To be content is to want for nothing. It's the (famous to yogi's) adage to do the work and completely relinquish all fruits of the labor. Absolutely the most amazing conundrum in the world. We are not just to work, but to find our True work, our true purpose, our true DHARMA. We must do that work, and not just do it, but a yogi must act ARTFULLY with no wasted action. We must aim to do our work in perfection, making every action count and yet... take no satisfaction nor any disappointment in what comes of our work.   



Imagine your Dharma is to be a writer. You are called by THE DIVINE to script words which reveal the truth of human existence. You spend years crafting novels choosing every last comma, re-writing, editing, laboring in silence to be the best writer you can be. You are commanded by the rules of the Universe to leave it at that. Whether you sell zero or 2 million copies, you must live in contentment.

To me, the questions becomes about drive. Can I do the same quality of work without an EXTERNAL goal? Are you following? Contentment asks us to sit in real contemplation of our MOTIVATIONS. If our motivations for action are pure: (because it's the work that needs to be done and that I am meant to do being the purest) we will be content to do our work and there will be no fluctuation of emotion attached to how our work is received. This is an incredible practice.  This is contentment.

From childhood we are showered with "good girl" and "good boy" at each "correct" act and punished for choosing unwisely. Stickers and other gifts are even given for work that is received well.  We look forward to pleasing our parents and teachers and this forward looking motivation creates a strong will in us to do actions we believe will garner those results. When we misjudge and the accolades don't come, we wonder and asses and realign for more approval.  But who is the judge? The truth is that only by listening inside and staying in alignment with the calling of our heart do we know we are doing the REAL WORK and then that is enough. Whether it is received with praise or not means nothing because we know we are in alignment and doing the work was never for that. It is when we start to adjust to hit the moving bulls eye of an external audience that we can become lost. One sees this many times in people's "sophomore projects" as they try to repeat the response they received on a heart felt first project. We see it in the yoga room when a student stands up from a backbend in glorious unknowing and spends a year trying to "figure out" how they did it and do it again. Working from a place of calling from The Divine can never be repeated by aiming for the desired Result of the intellect. (Read that one twice.)



I call on you (and myself) this January to sit in contentment and trust that everything is in alignment. Another way of saying this is to say, I call on us all to RELAX. This doesn't mean we get to sit on the couch (I know... too bad!). There is no getting out of the work. Instead, I call on us to call on The Divine and each one of us ask whole-heartedly to be driven by rightness of action and to be freed from any and all desire of result.

This is my prayer.

Please share your thoughts on Contentment with me this January by posting on Instagram, tagging @landyoganyc and hashtag #alleightlimbs.

Happy Holidays!

Friday, November 28, 2014

You dirty little thing; some thoughts on saucha

Second Limb. First Part.

Saucha means cleanliness, both external and internal. Let's start with our outsides.  Why are we instructed to keep external cleanliness. Why is cleanliness important? Though it may seem too physical a commandment for yoga, always remember that all the Yamas and Niyamas are there to help us achieve the stilling of the mind. Anyone who's ever tried to get work done in a cluttered room, knows the power of cleanliness for creating clarity of mind. I know I and many of my friends will clean up our apartments before sitting down to write an email or take care of an important task. Our EXTERNAL environment affects our internal world and ability to concentrate.  This is reason to keep our space clean.  If you are not sure if that is true for you, remember that every feeling we register consciously is also occurring at those times we don't make the feeling conscious. So if you've ever been outwardly aggravated by a car alarm or blinking light, you can be sure your subconscious is being bothered by subtler forms.   Keep your environment clean and POSITIVE to keep your energy the same. That means WATCH what you WATCH. I simply can not watch that zombie show as great as it may be, because I know it isn't helping me energetically. (AGHH! The downfall of being aware!) LISTEN to what you LISTEN to. Would you play it for your child? If not, think about if you want those sounds vibrating in your being. We may not be able to control all the intrusions we face as we venture out into the world (especially in NYC), but we can at least keep our homes clean and positive.  If you try just this in the coming year, you will be amazed at how your life will change.



Wash your hands people! Clean outer body is a part of practicing Saucha. Hand washing is really the keystone of this.  Our hands serve as our tools and our connection to the world. We handshake, high five, pray, with our hands. Wash them often, especially after interaction with anyone negative and before prayer. It will put you in a different state. Honoring the body enough to keep it clean is mandated and important. I say this loudly because there is a WORLD of spirituality out there right now that does not honor the BODY.... They are getting it WRONG. Your body is real.  You are real. This experience IS happening. Be good to your body. Keep it clean. Don't obsess. Do be aware.

INTERNAL CLEANLINESS.... Are you clean inside...? This starts with our internal bodies... Are we ingesting foods or drinks that harm our organs, blood, what about our mental state? You got it... Go! I thought I'd post this on the holidays to give you that heads up. Everything we ingest either helps us feel healthy and clear or takes us away from that feeling. There are lots of studies on white sugar, caffeine, and alcohol we know changes our mental state. ALL foods and drinks do. Get subtle and keep a journal. Leftovers, processed foods, greens, each type of food is mood and mind changing. Each one of us is different. See what that is for YOU!



Maintain internal cleanliness means cleanliness of mind. Your foods will help your THOUGHTS which of course is what this yoga is all about. Practicing Saucha means keeping our thoughts clean. Practice means becoming aware. As you become more aware and bring more cleanliness into your world, your thoughts too will change. When your thoughts, words, and actions are FREE from harm, discontent, and all the other YAMAS, you have achieved Saucha.

I could not be happier that our Saucha challenge occurs as we head into holiday season.  This is a great time to be mindful of our internal and external cleanliness.  Starting December 1st and for the whole month of December, post pictures which represent your thoughts on Saucha on INSTAGRAM and tag us at @landyoganyc with the hashtag #alleightlimbs.  Winner will receive a beautiful mala from The Easier Softer Way.  Happy Holidays! Can't wait to see what you come up with!



Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Student Spotlight: Elizabeth Griffin



I always told myself and others that I hated exercise. I thought the only way I would enjoy working out was if I had a TV in front of me watching one of my favorite television shows. I decided one day to try yoga just to stretch out my body. I was only hoping to get a good stretch, as they say. Little did I know that I had walked not into just an exercise studio but into a new way of life.

When I started at Land I decided to take one led class a week. I had Dana or Lara leading me in the beautiful postures. Week after week I would come and enjoy the beautiful movements. I always felt great afterward. I had heard about mysore but was really intimidated to start. I figured that since I am not a yogi there was no way I could do it, it sounded too intense. In fact, I would not even buy a mat for the three years I took the led class. I just could not commit to a practice.

Then over this past summer I had the opportunity to do yoga more frequently while I was on vacation in the country. I noticed how I felt after class, day in and day out. The feeling was uplifting, enlightening and something I wanted to have in my daily life here in New York City. I decided to give it a try and join mysore practice. The first day I was nervous, but Dana was so kind and so encouraging that I was able to feel right at home. The second day when I woke up in the morning I found my body kind of on autopilot, taking me right to the studio and I felt like I really wanted to be there. My body knew it too. Ever since I started,I have always felt wonderful after class. I feel proud of my progress and stronger and more serene then ever. It is the perfect balance to my hectic life as a mother, professional and NYC dweller. 

I am an example of someone who thought she hated exercise who fell in love with practice. I feel open and connected to my life in a new way after doing Mysore. I encourage all to try it.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Aparigraha


Aparigraha has us ask the question: What is enough? Will we ever feel that we have and ARE enough and stop grabbing at things and trying to be "better" than others? Can we stop comparing? How?

As you go through your day are you constantly assessing your worth against what others have? You would not be alone. This is a common and dangerous cycle that simply has no ending. If we judge ourselves this way we will never be happy.  It will always appear that someone has more or seems to have more money, power, beauty talents, etc, than we have. Envy and disappointment will stress us and cause illness and sadness inside.

What to do? How do we know how we are doing if we don't look at how others are fairing? Is there another measure of our success?  I believe there is. In fact, I believe our very ability to be satisfied is a true measure of success.  Otherwise what do we want all these THINGS for except that we think they will make us finally satisfied. We get a new toy and for an instant there is happiness, but it is superficial at best. Days or weeks later the feeling is gone and we need something else to bring us that rush of joy and satisfaction. This cycle never ends. To find lasting happiness we must probe deeper. What is the acquisition of the object giving us? How can we find that feeling by going inside instead of looking to some outside source to fill the void? What is inside we know we can rely on. A car, a position, even a compliment may not always be available to us, but the beauty and truth inside is always there if we only look for it. Go there when you hear the mind chatter begin to become envious.

Say "I am enough" and press your thumb and pointer fingers together each time jealousy creeps up. In time you'll create a new mental pattern.



Many people question how one can be satisfied with what they have and still keep the drive to do their best work. These are not mutually exclusive.  In fact, they are separate topics all together. Your work is your dharma. If you are doing the work in life that you were sent here to do, whether that is baking cakes, cleaning floors, or counseling, you are on the right track. HOW you do is more important than WHAT you do. Again, HOW, over WHAT. Whatever your work is you should do it best you can and with out attachment to result, meaning you should not teach a certain way because you hope to be nominated Teacher of the Year. You should teach THE way that is the best way to teach your students the information at hand for the reason that it is the best way to convey said information, stepping away from the desire for recognition or reward. This is harder than it looks. It often seems to us that we want nothing in return and yet an unconscious desire is there that buds and bursts out years later as deep resentment. To avoid this we must do the great internal work of discovering our doubts and confronting why we feel we need outside recognition to feel we are valid. We must sit with the FEELINGS that come up and be with them, observing till they change or diffuse. There is no permanent change and release from the pain cycles until we go to the FEELING VIBRATIONAL level. That is why physical yoga practice (asana) is important. It releases tons of held emotion.



From Brahmacharya we get immeasurable strength.  From aparigraha we come to understand the why  and how of who we are.  Aparigraha is non-possessiveness, non-attachment, non-hoarding.  From taking nothing but what is necessary we are free to explore and realize the truth of our existence.  Each object we own occupies a space in our minds.  A new fancy object may take up lots of room. Acquiring a car brings with it the worry of a scratch on a city street.  A new dress may fill our minds with thoughts of rips and stains. Was it the right car/dress to make the statement we desire? Should we have spent the money on something else? How will we care for our new item? What will others think? These are just some of the churnings that may occupy our minds after a new purchase. These and others pull us from deeper focuses such as life purpose and bonding with The Divine.

Coveting is endless and demonstrates an insatiability inside of us.  We can counter it by recognizing our own unique internal beauty and by practicing gratefullness around what we've been given. After all, as we're wishing we had another's attributes, someone is out there envious over ours. Why not end the cycle and give thanks? They can see what is desirable in us.  Let us turn inward and see it as well. 


*** Share your thoughts on Aparigraha on Instagram. Tag us at @landyoganyc and hashtag #alleightlimbs to win a unique prize 

Monday, September 1, 2014

Brahmacharya



"On being established in celibacy, vigour is attained."

If you were aware of even the tiniest sliver of your power, you'd be established in Brahmacharya.  You are energy. Every act you take, intentional or non ripples for eternities. Every intention you have whether you act on it or not bounces through the universe shaking everything in its path.  You are magic. 

To practice Brahmacharya means to walk in the path of the Creator. 

To live Brahmacharya means that each expression of your energy is perfection. No waste. No misdirection.  (See why we can't call ourselves yogis? This practice is HARD!)

There is a downward current of energy that is naturally occurring in our human experience in this world. Think gravity, digestion, blood flow.  The aspiring yogi is not concerned with "going with the flow" (a common misconception) but with reversing this downward pull and moving energy upward. Using Mula Bandha, Pranayama, and other techniques, we create a dam and harness the energy of this current redirecting our energy upward and outward toward unification with the Divine. 

Sound heavy?  In some ways it is. But as with all aspects of the yoga practice, we are advised to move slowly and consistently towards our goal.  Especially with Brahmacharya, the practice should feel natural and gentle and not at all forced. Whenever we speak of an aspect of the yoga practice we are mean to acknowledge its expression in thoughts, words, and actions. It's important to point out that this remains true with the practice of Brahmacharya.  Any restraint in action that causes confusion, anxiety, or any mental frustration is not correct implementation and is moving AWAY from yoga.

So, what does it mean to be a Brahmachari? For the monk, this practice is celibacy and restraint from thoughts, words, and actions which are sexual in nature. Most of us are not monks, however, so I will concentrate on exploring the practice of Brahmacharya as it relates to the householder.



For the house holder, the interpretation is more complicated.  This yama is requiring that we be wise with our energy especially our sexual energy so that it is focused and we are not depleted.  When we focus our energy in one direction, toward one goal, we see that we become very skilled in that subject.  When we allow distractions to pull our energy and fragment our thoughts, we do not master said subject.  Keeping energy focused and avoiding distractions such as doubt and laziness is one way to practice Brahmacharya. For the aspiring yogi, the goal is enlightenment and all energies should be focused toward union with Divine Energy.  Our sexual energy is very powerful. Harnessing it is one way to do this.

Where your energy goes, you go.  As we begin to understand our true power, our responsibility to ourselves to be careful with our energy also increases.  One of the biggest ways to deplete our energy is by talking. Try not to talk before your asana practice, or too much at all. Practice being mindful of your energy.  Worry and negative thinking also are energy zappers.  So are negative people.  Experiment for even a short time cutting these energy stealers out of your life and notice the immediate boost. You are under no requirement to keep relationships with those who bring negativity into your life. Especially in the early stages of practice, surround yourself with those who lift you and energize your spirit. 



It is important to speak of oneness and loyalty to a single partner when discussing Brahmacharya as well.  Just as with hobbies, jobs, and tasks, we find that when we commit to the right partner, energy is increased.  When we focus on a single partner, the energy created through the partnering actually fuels back into the individual, so not only does one not lose, one gains.  Contrast this with the loss of energy which occurs by taking multiple partners and the choice is clear.

Misuse of sexual energy is big temptation and common trap even amongst the greatest of practitioners.  Remember that simply refraining from wrong doings in the physical sense is not enough to satisfy the conditions of Brahmacharya.  Using sexual energy in thoughts or words to manipulate others to give us status, comfort, ego boost, or recognition is a misuse of our very powerful selves and should be avoided at all cost.  Looking closely you will probably observe, however, that this occurs all the time even in some seemingly platonic arrangements. Avoid misuse of sexual energy by focusing strictly on your work. Put your energies there and take ownership of your actions.  Look to yourself and to The Source for moments when you feel lacking, not to other beings.

We are living in a time of extreme lack of commitment.  There are so many choices that most find themselves afraid to make one for fear of missing out on another.  Sadly when we try for a bit of everything, we really end up with nothing.  Having a personal mission statement and checking frequently (every six months) that our energies, decisions, and commitments are supporting our larger life goal is the best way to stay on track and avoid projects, people, and situations that rob us of our energy and purpose.  Discovering our true life purpose and how to continuously moving toward it is what we do in my Train Your Brain Workshop.  I share this work locally and abroad to help individuals as well as communities meet their goals.  Invite me to your city or join me for my FREE session this September at the Harlem Mind Body Soul Conference.  I will be posting exact details on that shortly on the Land Yoga site.

****** 

Understanding Brahmacharya in its many interpretations is the goal of our Instagram challenge this month.  As always, I hope you will participate.  Each contribution enhances the conversation and opens us up to learning more from each other.  Keep your eyes open. I will be sharing some personal discoveries about the practice of Brahmacharya in my life. 

Here are the guidelines: 

*Nominate THREE friends to join you in posting on the subject of Brahmacharya (At least ONE of your followers must participate for you to be considered for the final prize.)

*Post THREE times each week quotes, pictures, or video on the subject of Brahmacharya.  Could be related to Focus, Commitment, Energy, Sexual Responsibility, Keeping on your personal mission statement, Conserving energy in asana or anything that inspires you on this topic.

*EACH POST MUST TAG @LANDYOGANYC and hashtaged #alleightlimbs.

This is a very important conversation for us to have. I look forward to sharing more on my personal experience with this yama and to hearing from you as well.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Land Yoga partners with Down to Earth Markets by Nikita Cassidy

Last month, Land Yoga hosted a free yoga class in Morningside Park in collaboration with Down to Earth Markets, who has a farmers market in Morningside Park on Saturdays during the summer, and has done so since the year 2005. I had the chance to talk to Keely, an employee of Down to Earth as well as many of the vendors who sell their produce at the market. Keely tells me that the farmers market helps connect people with their community and those who grow their food. The location attracts customers because it is in a green space, near public transportation, and is currently the only market in the Harlem neighborhood.

Farmers markets give people the opportunity to meet with farmers and those who produce their food, to know exactly where their food is coming from, to know what methods were used to grow or produce their food, and also gives them a way to connect with their community and the food that they eat in a great way. Urban areas, much like New York City, have access to fresh, local, and sustainably grown foods through the presence of farmers markets. This is what makes them so important to our city, our residents, and our community. Much of New York is filled with fast food restaurants, delis and supermarkets with little to no availability of fresh fruits and vegetables. Farmers markets give communities with no access to these foods, or what we call “food deserts,” access to the fresh, sustainable, local foods that everyone deserves.


Farmers markets are well known all throughout New York City, in different boroughs and neighborhoods. We often see the tents of vendors in parks all throughout Manhattan, but what makes them so different from grocery and food stores? Farmers markets bring consumers closer to their food. We get to meet the people who grow and prepare our food, something that doesn’t happen in grocery stores. Farmers markets create a sense of community in various neighborhoods. Collaborating with local businesses, receiving feedback from shoppers, farmers markets are a way to create change within a certain area.


Acevedo's Farm, located in Orange County, has been selling at the Morningside Park farmers market for 4 years. They think that farmers markets are important mainly because they give people access to fresh foods. Living in the city lessens our connection to our food, and farmers markets bring that connection back to New Yorkers.Sohha Yogurt, based in New York City, has been with the Morningside Market for about a year. I spoke with one of the vendors, who told me that she likes farmers markets because they provide food that is fresh, and without preservatives. She likes the farm to table food options and how it brings fresh food to the people of New York City.


I spoke with The Peanut Principle, a vendor that sells peanut butter and other spreads, who had only been at the farmers market four times. He stated that farmers markets have helped him expand his business. He also enjoys meeting his customers on an individual basis and the diversity of people in New York. Karl Family Farms, located in Modina near New Paltz, are grateful for farmers markets because they support small, local businesses and individuals, rather than huge chains and corporations.


Finally, I spoke with a vendor from Momo Dressings, located in Brooklyn. He thinks farmers markets are important because they help farmers and producers connect with the consumer directly in comparison to selling products wholesale to supermarkets.


Farmers markets are a great way to connect with your community. Yoga and healthy, sustainable living go hand in hand. Farmers markets help build community just as our studio does. Land Yoga and its students come together to create one outcome, a peaceful, safe place to practice. Farmers markets bring people and farms together to create a community between producers and consumers.Yoga is something that helps keep people grounded, calm, and at one with their mind as well as their body. Farmers markets help people stay connected to the Earth because they enable people to find out exactly where their food is coming from. They are able to become one with their community through farmers markets, meeting people, and meeting the farmers that grow their food. Yoga helps create a community within certain neighborhoods, as events are planned, friendships are made, and dreams are found. When connecting two things that bring a community together at once, the outcomes are infinite and incredible.


My passion for farmers markets, food justice, local and organic foods began when I took a class in high school that stressed things like community access, gentrification, and food deserts. I learned that many neighborhoods in New York City do not have access to healthy, fresh, or local foods. I knew from that point on, that I wanted to make a change. I knew I had to help make healthy, fresh, organic, and local food available to everyone, regardless of where they live or how much they make. I found my passion in this, and am currently studying Sociology, Environmental Studies, and Food Systems, in order to ensure that every person has access to these very important parts of our food system. I saw the importance of this issue and related it to applying for an internship here at Land Yoga. Yoga has always been a very important part of my life, and has changed it in many ways, so I know it has the ability to change the lives of others. My goal while working at Land was to see the other side of a yoga studio, running events, social media platforms, and reaching out into the community. Seeing Land Yoga’s collaboration with Down to Earth Markets and Lara’s contribution to the Harlem community, I knew that this was a place where I could begin my journey towards helping others and creating change. 

Land Yoga will be at Down to Earth Markets on Saturday, August 9th at 11am for another FREE YOGA class.  Bring your own mat! Looking forward to meeting you!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Analyzing Asteya

Ramakrishna Ashram, Mysore India

Asteya: Non-Stealing or the Opposite of Stealing

When I introduce this concept to my young students I always ask them to list for me things people can steal which aren't possessions.  Here are some of the answers they give:

1. Confidence
2. Heart
3. Ideas
4. Happiness

I add Time and Focus and Attention to the list.  Then I ask them to give each other full focus as one by one they lead the group in Sun Salutations.  From then on they never forget.

Asteya.  There are so many levels to what this instruction of Non-Stealing can mean.  Stealing comes even from accepting a gift that doesn't belong to us a teacher once told me.  What's a gift that doesn't belong to us?  The one we know deep inside there is a hidden price for, those gifts which are not really gifts.  With many gifts there is an expectation of something being given back in return.  As long as that is there it will cloud our thinking and our purity of action, taking us further away from the self realization which is yoga.  The deeper we go into our practice, the more hesitant we'll be to accept anything we didn't truly earn and even those things we have.  Focus becomes on doing the work and staying away from collecting objects and accolades which quickly become distractions.

After explaining that the Sanskrit "A" in front of the word Steya can be taken to mean "the opposite of" (stealing), I had one young student surmise that ASTEYA could mean giving, give back, or service.  I liked that definition, and it works.  In it is also the answer to how to work on this concept of Non-Stealing.  When we want to avoid a behavior it is helpful to cultivate the opposite habit.  If we become completely involved in giving, it soon becomes habit for us to give instead of take.  After forming that habit, stealing feels unnatural, and wrong to our inner being.



Why we steal is the next question that arises.  Is it a feeling of scarcity?  A fear of falling behind or not having reserves?  Do we feel cheated and owed?  Is it unconscious habit?  There are many motivations, some extremely deeply rooted, which drive our behavior.  It's helpful to remember that all the Yamas and Niyamas have positive results.  Only by experiencing the positive results of Non-Stealing will we be encouraged to keep vigilant about this behavior.  The effect of being firmly grounded in Non-Stealing is that all means will come to you.  If you think carefully you probably already know at least one person who lives this way.  She never seems to want for anything even though she never seems to try too hard.  There's a trust. 

Don't listen to me!  Build your trust through experience.  Practice the month of August, non-stealing.  Don't take anyone's space, time, gifts, or ideas.  Treat it as an experiment and share your thoughts and experience with me on Instagram by tagging @landyoganyc and hashtag #alleightlimbs.  I can't wait to hear what you find! One vigilant practitioner will take home a well earned Lululemon mat and mat bag at the end of the month.   Keep Sharing!  Keep Growing!  Keep Practicing!  All Eight Limbs.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Anger, Truth & Yoga: Betraying the Bluff of the Modern "Yogi"

We've been celebrating TRUTH this month as part of the All Eight Limbs movement.  I've been enjoying so much everyone's posts on Instagram and the positive feedback when I shared some of my personal truths instead of the usual Universal quotes.  I made my first confession there, "I have good days and bad days."  Now I want to tell you more.  I even get angry. 

I get angry.

I don't just get angry.  Often I choose anger.  It's must more fun than sadness and must more usable for creating change.  I enjoy my anger energy, thrive in it.  I love it most when it comes out slashing in red cutting through the untrue swift and clear, and with precision.  In those rare beautiful moments when my anger is manifest and expressive, it is the perfect tool for destruction.  And destruction is essential for creation.  That's why I'm always saying, "Make space."


I've been thinking a lot about Anger and the bad reputation it's gotten in the often confused modern day yoga world.  These days yoga teachers seem never to stop smiling, as if doing so will prove yoga makes one happy all the time.  One by one they've all made this silent agreement and now it feels near betrayal to call their bluff.  Behind the scenes and beneath the grin, though, trouble looms.  Inside burning are lies and resentments.  Lies and resentments are worse than anger by a margin too large to calculate.  They stew and boil and grow until they overflow unpredictably.  They cause internal sickness and that sickness can spread. Lies and resentments are the things of wars of genocides.  That was the truth I felt from my Rwanda experience and Rwanda's been on my mind too.
Chamundeshwari Temple

I prefer my anger outright.  I was thanking it today.  Thanking it for coming hard in my belly and breaking through a sadness that was there.  I don't get angry much anymore, but when I do I recognize it as a powerful energy useful in my creative process.  Managed correctly it has been the stimulant for many of my projects.  I've come to understand and appreciate my anger.  Now when I feel it, I channel it, gratefully.  It's a fuel I can use and it can make me strong and clear and productive.  I've worked with that fuel before.

I was thinking about my anger and how I play with it and enjoy it and allow it to help me when I remembered it was Chamudheshwari's birthday.  She's the Goddess of this city Mysore where I am currently living in India.  And she is fierce.  She killed the demons Chanda and Munda and then took their names Chamunda.  Hardly apologetic.  Talk about owning your anger.  There are plenty more stories like this in the Hindu tradition and while yoga practitioners are not by any means required to practice Hinduism, I think it's important to point out that our yoga tradition comes from a place that is A-Okay with anger.  So anyone trying to prove they are a "yogi" by smiling all the time, may in fact be proving nothing at all, and giving themselves and awful ulcer.

 On my down a resting spot overlooking all of Mysore.

Of course confessions are dangerous, so I must add a disclaimer. Please don't say I've suggested we all be mean.  No.  We did in fact celebrate a month of AHIMSA (non-violence) last month, and hopefully we are still working on that practice.  I know I am.  Yoga philosophers always link Ahimsa and Satya, urging us to speak truth but in a way that is not harmful.  I'm suggesting we look at the Ahimisa/Satya connection the other way and make sure our Kindness is Truthful.  After all, without that, it's worthless and phony and fake.  In my experience the way to get to a place where it's easy and natural to be kind and happy most of the time, is to acknowledge and move through all the different emotional energies that present themselves.  That's where the yoga practice has made me a kinder, more patient, more smiling person.  That's the work that shows up on the mat each day.  The amazing thing is the emotions pass so quickly when observed and not repressed, sometimes dissolving simply in their being named.  Perhaps that's the meaning behind Chamunda taking the name of her demon victims.  By owning the expression of her anger, she becomes released from it and is able to move through to her next phase and create.

Whatever the meaning you take.  I hold this to be true.  And in the spirit of Satya and truth telling, I wanted to share with you my truth.  I am not a yogi, but I am an aspiring yogi with a pretty serious practice and I still get angry.  I get angry.  I get sad.  And as I said on my instagram, I have good days and bad days.  Does that mean the practice isn't working?  Of course it is.  I'm so much more aware of the impermanence of emotion and of how to process and remove negative energies from my system.  I'm more aware of others emotions and energies too.  This whole thing is a process.  Skip the process and fake the perceived smiley ending and you'll end up feeling awful inside.  Not only that, but by faking your process you gain nothing, no knowledge of self and no chance at all at becoming a yogi.  Submit to the yoga and you'll likely have to feel some unpleasant feelings, but you'll get through them, grow from them, and learn how to articulate them with an artistry that suggests you desired them all along. 

Practice yoga. All Eight Limbs.


*Special thanks to the brilliant minds and souls here with me here in Mysore and who have inspired my thought process with their incredible contributions to every conversation.  You are lifting me through your presence.





Friday, June 27, 2014

Satya

The month of July our All Eight Limbs focus will be on the second of the five Yamas, Satya.  

Typically Satya is understood to mean TRUTH, but translated to English, Satya means UNCHANGEABLE.  Most of us are not there yet.  We change our perception of reality in split seconds convincing ourselves of anything we like, then disagreeing with ourselves, then agreeing again. This moving, contradictory truth can not be our Satya definition. Satya for a yogi means ABSOLUTE TRUTH of REALITY.

Even when we make a strong effort to see and live in real TRUTH it is difficult to say what that is.  When we look at truth we see that it is different for each person.  It is as if each of us wears a variety of tinted glasses which color our life experience causing us to see reality differently. When we realize this, we are more able to understand why others can feel so sure of something we "know" is untrue.  Truth is different for each individual ego, but for a YOGI, truth is ONE, ABSOLUTE, UNCHANGING.  The question becomes how to rise from our individual, ego centered authenticity to the larger interpretation.

There are levels of truth.

These days there are many voices telling us to BE TRUE to ourselves.  This has validity only when we look to the most inner part of ourselves which is in fact connected to the whole of humanity. There exists the little self and the larger self.  The little self says, "How can I be true to my wants and needs?"  The larger self asks, "How can I in truth serve others?"  Satisfying the little can lead to the large, but we should be careful not to mistake our ego authenticity for the ULTIMATE truth which is without ego and rests in love, and service.

Swami Vivekananda said TRUTH is "unselfish even unto death" and that "Our duty is to encourage every one in his struggle to live up to his own highest idea and strive at the same time to make the ideal as near as possible to the Truth.

He said:

  • That is the one test of truth. It never decays, it is always the same.
  • That which is true must be infinite and eternal.
  • Truth can be stated in a thousand different ways, yet each one can be true.
  • Truth can never come to us as long as we are selfish.  

Do you agree?  What are your thoughts, feelings, struggles with TRUTH?  We want to hear. Share THREE images, quotes, or musings on SATYA each week for the month of July on Instagram. Tag us @landyoganyc and hashtag #alleightlimbs for a VERY special prize!



Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Tranquil Tuesdays



The AHIMSA challenge continues today with Tranquil Tuesdays.  Ahimsa means non-harm or non-violence.  When an A proceeds a word in Sanskrit, it can also be translated as "the opposite of" which means another definition of A-HIMSA would be the opposite of violence... or PEACE.

Today we practice peace and tranquility.  It is said that when a person is completely peaceful no harm can happen around them.  

Practice smiling, calm breathing, and committing to TRANQUILITY today.  I look forward to hearing what happens!


Remember to post your picture of peacefulness on Instagram. Tag @landyoganyc and hashtag #alleightlimbs. What you share can inspire another!


Monday, June 2, 2014

Limb One, Part One, Day one: All Eight Limbs




Last week I announced my intention to educate on the definition of yoga and begin to communicate all its different parts or limbs.  The first limb of yoga is called the YAMAS and there are FIVE of them.

Today we dedicated the month of June to the first of the five yamas which is called AHIMSA and means Non-Harm.  Much harder than any yoga pose I've ever attempted, is navigating through life without causing harm to myself or others.  Rather than try to take this all on in one chunk, I'll be sharing small ways we can practice AHIMSA together through the month of June.

In line with the already extremely popular movement Meatless Monday, I've dedicated Mondays in June to practicing non-harm of animals. You can participate with us by sharing an image and/or recipe of your vegetarian meal on Instagram, tagging us @landyoganyc and using the hashtag #alleightlimbs.

Devoting a day to eating only vegetarian isn't just an act of non-violence toward animals, it is a great aid to the environment.  Depletion of natural resources, most significantly fresh water, and release of harmful gas emissions from the abundance of waste are just two of the negative consequences of such abundant livestock.  I'm not a pure vegetarian and I'm definitely not preaching to anyone about what they eat. The goal is mindfulness, education, and balance. This month let's keep Meatless Mondays.

I ask you to rise to even a higher standard of NON-HARMFUL eating each Monday than simply the elimination of meat.  Mondays this month, we watch any consumption that may injure our minds, bodies, or spirits. Food has a strong effect on all levels of our being.

Eat Smart. Practice Yoga. All Eight Limbs.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

All Eight Limbs



There is no question that yoga has moved far from its original state.  Beyond becoming synonymous with Yoga Pose, even the poses and structure of classes are a far far stretch from what the word in that context once meant. Stuck in my AshtangaYoga bubble I've remained close to the source, but then Instagram came... The introduction of Instagram into my life was eye opening to say the least, but in retrospect of course makes sense.  What I learned is not only that mastering yoga has come to mean performing some fancy yoga pose (usually handstand) on the beach, but that there are a world of people doing poses they are ill equipped for, out of context, in dangerous places, in the name of YOGA. I'm not impressed.  And I'm scared. Scared for the future of our darling sacred practice.

Yoga means many things to many people and that is okay. Life is a magical mystery of "blurred lines". I think it's time I draw mine though, in the Memorial Day sand.  To me a yoga is not a yoga that doesn't encompass all eight limbs. The eight limbs that define Ashtanga Yoga are: Yama, Niyama, Asana, Pranayama, Pratyahara, Dharana, Dhyana, Samadhi.  My movement, All Eight Limbs is not strict to being impossible about following in detail each limb, but the words All Eight Limbs are a call to include all aspects of yoga into our lives both on and off the mat.

In the coming months I'll be sharing more about what that means and how you can lead a happier, more fulfilling day to day life by incorporating even one new yoga concept.

Stay tuned. Contribute to the conversation. Be a part of the Journey.

Follow @landyoganyc on Instagram
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and          adventuresinyogaland.blogspot.com

Hashtag #alleightlimbs and @ us when you find yourself incorporating All Eight Limbs.

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Big News is Coming!




Monday, May 12, 2014

Get Out the Funk, Six Quick & Easy Activities to Boost Your Mood





Funks happen.  Positivity is a wonderful thing, and it is nice to see it praised, but to deny the funk is unfair, unreal, and untrue.  If you are as passionate as I am funks can happen almost daily.  It's how you deal with them that is important and will determine how long they stay.  My funks are now minutes when they used to be hours or even days or weeks long.  Practicing yoga has been the slow and steady cure, increasing self awareness and demonstrating the way everything passes.  Sometimes even with a yoga practice, we need a little extra boost.  Here are some easy to apply, quick fix cures for a mid day funk.

1. Red (or just COLOR for some of you) For me RED.  Red dress, Red Shoes, Red Bag. When I'm feeling down I'm looking down, but when I see my red shoes, I'm suddenly looking up.  How can you frown at pure fire engine red?

2. Flowers.  Buying myself flowers feels so indulgent and naughty and that's one of the reasons I love doing it.  It's a real treat.  Plus they keep the funk away all week long, brighten up the house and keep it smelling fresh.  The more senses you can satisfy the better chance you'll beat a funk.

3. Brisk Walk. A fast paced mid-day or evening walk is a great way to switch things up and get out the funk.  I'm lucky to live and work steps away from Central Park.  If you have a favorite park near you, use it for the extra funk fighting powers of fresh air and nature.  Otherwise anywhere will do.  Just move!

4. Kids!  Children are triple mood boosters.  They are so present, so animated, and so in need of our precious attention.  It's nearly impossible to stay funked when they are around.  Grab a niece or nephew or a child of a friend.  Your friend will appreciate the time off and you'll get to enjoy some good play time and seeing the world through a child's eyes.

5. Service. Any time we put our thoughts and actions outward toward others it is powerful and funk fighting.  Volunteering is not only good for the recipient but fantastic for our own positivity.  I've been volunteering once a month at the Food Bank (always on a Monday morning) and I have never had a Monday blues since then.

6. Chocolate. Possibly the ultimate in mood alteration is piece of delectable chocolate.  I don't care what kind you get.  I like the real bad (and bad for you) convenience store stuff.  Then I get the added mood boosting benefit of feeling just a bit naughty, like I broke the rules and got away with it.  I eat a piece of chocolate nearly every day and its super seductive mood boosting affects have never gone away.

Follow @landyoganyc on Instagram for more from the Mood Booster series.  Do you have a get out of a funk trick that's not listed here?  Take a picture. Instagram @landyoganyc and hashtag #moodbooster so we can feature you! 

Friday, May 2, 2014

Staying Motivated All Year Round




If only every month were May. May the moment of Springing Sprouting Bursting life. May, my emerald birthday month.  May should be all year round.

May is Land Yoga's annual perfect attendance challenge and boy do the yoga practitioners come out. They come out for one, ok, two reasons: a STAR on our chart and the word... CHALLENGE.  That's it. I'm always delinquent to announce any real prizes and even when I do, they are admit-tingly lame. A star on a chart.  A t-shirt. A bag. A chance to win a FREE month at Land Yoga.  (Okay, that's a good one!)

May challenge speaks to our child-self. The little one in us that still wants to succeed, find approval, meet a goal.  We all have that part of ourselves and star stickers certainly do bring it out.  But what to do during the other 11 months of the year to stay energized, motivated, and improving?  In the Ashtanga Yoga practice there is a strong relationship between the teacher and the student which creates a healthy pressure for the student to show up.  Many teachers even require their students to practice a minimum amount of days per week in order to study with them.  Still, some fall off the bandwagon.  Some have no regular teacher and are doing self practice at home.  And those of you not studying Ashtanga Yoga may not have this positive pressure at all and truly need to self motivate.  How do we make every month May?

Here are four ways to stay motivated in your yoga practice all year round:

1. Trick Yourself

Imagine your teacher or someone who motivates you is in the room.  I have a very strong imagination which I use for many aspects of the yoga practice.  When I need a push I envision my teacher in front of me, even hearing his voice.

2. Create your own Challenge

You don't have wait for us!  Set up a challenge for yourself each month. When I was learning Ashtanga Yoga's Primary Series, I created tons of secret challenges for myself.  No one knew what I was working on, but I was deep in my own 30 day challenge all the time.

3. Reward Yourself

New bag. Red shoes. Day off.  Know yourself and choose rewards that really work for you. I like fancy restaurants, but I don't pick that all the time. Vary the rewards and keep them proportional to the goals you set.  Give yourself something huge when you complete a challenge that was particularly, well, challenging.

4. Take it in

We all know that the real reward of a challenge completed is the positive change we've succeeded in making in ourselves.  It's extremely important to acknowledge and sit in that good feeling. When you begin to realize how much better you feel after making healthy choices, you won't need challenges or rewards anymore.  You will be motivated naturally and self improvement will come easily. 

Monday, April 7, 2014

Yoga Skills



This weekend I was invited to teach yoga at the Yale Symposium on Skills and Practices.  The thought was that I could offer some respite from the long hours of sitting and keep the audience and speakers awake, engaged and feeling well during the course of the workshop.  I had concerns about participation, but these intellectuals were enthusiastic about participating and even requested additional short yoga sessions from their chairs between talks.  It was great to see them so responsive.

In addition to leading the yoga session I was welcome to attended the conference which I did.  I heard seven talks over the course of two days, all on the topic of skill.  Six were from philosophers and one was given by a neuroscientist.  Exhausted themselves from the rigor of such detailed thinking, they were all surprised that I elected to attend.  For me it was an incredibly stimulating and fulfilling experience which taught me a ton and reaffirmed many of my previously established positions on skill gained through my own analytic process of my work as a yoga instructor.



One of the most interesting talks for me was by John Krakauer, the neuroscientist from Johns Hopkins University.  John shared studies which demonstrated the futility of verbal instruction in correcting human behavior, at least in cases of motor control.  What was found through various studies is that the  most affective method for a human to correct her aim is simply to practice making her own adjustments to achieve the goal.  John also spoke briefly about there being an optimal and necessary rest period between trials in order for the subject to cognate what she has learned.  These two findings are exactly what I have witnessed as an Ashtanga Yoga teacher. There is nothing that can beat daily practice for learning and there is most definitely rest needed between practices.  We can see that during this rest period some work has been done and when the student returns the next day, she is able to do poses that she would not have been able to achieve had she practiced any more the day before.

The other talk I found relevant and affirming was given by Tamar Gendler, Deputy Provost at Yale University.  Tamar spoke about Alief, a false belief that we know is false but are still unable to talk ourself out of. She gave numerous accounts, such as a study of people told to smash a plastic doll against a table, knowing that it is plastic and not a real baby, who still wince or refuse to do it.  She gave us as another example of Alief the false fear we have when we watch a scary movie.  The finding that most interested me is that we are unable to talk ourselves out of false belief (alief) using any intellectualizing. In fact it is the main component of Alief that no amount of "logic" about statistics will override our fear of flying if we have that deeply rooted fear.  This can be applied in cases of prejudice and in all sorts of instances where we hold things to be true about the world even though all evidence proves otherwise.



If intellectualizing won't remedy the phenomenon of Alief, what will?  We must find a way eliminate the unwarranted feelings that we can't seem to shake.  I believe this is the work we are doing in our yoga practice.  Through breath, eye focus, and posture, we become more mindful and self-aware and we are able to dig into deeply rooted misconceptions and dispel the fear feeling that keeps them present.  This powerful result of the yoga practice is only just beginning to be studied but has been experienced by many daily practitioners through the years including myself.  With more and more interest directed toward yoga and its benefits, I predict we will be hearing about this soon.  I am so grateful to Yale for having me thanks to my good friend and Professor Jason Stanley, and I look forward to more opportunities to be included in the conversation.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Student Spotlight: Mary Ewing-Mulligan




Mary Ewing-Mulligan, 64, practicing at Land Yoga for 2 1/2 years 
 
What made you decide to try us out?  Had you done yoga before?
I used to be a fairly serious recreational runner. I trained for 5 marathons, ran 3 of them, and was so proud of my accomplishment. But I had injuries along the way. In 2011, I was suffering from plantar fasciatis and a heel spur: I couldn't even walk without pain. I had just moved into the city from the suburbs and knew that I needed to find a new form of exercise. Land Yoga had just opened, just around the corner from my home. I was unfamiliar with the various types of yoga, but loved the idea of Mysore practice — the freedom of the schedule and the individual nature of the experience. That's what motivated me to join, 2 1/2 years ago.
 
What did you think when you first started?  Did you expect to still be here now?
I was amazed at the proficiency of the other students, but I didn’t feel intimidated because the instruction was caring. I was impatient to progress quickly, but Lara took me along very slowly. “There’s always time,” she said. My impatience was a big challenge that I had to overcome. I did know that I would continue with yoga, though; I sensed that it is an activity that I could sustain for the rest of my life. What I didn’t expect was the degree to which I have embraced the practice, and how much I love it.
 
What do you enjoy most about the practice? What are the challenges and what do you do when you encounter them?
I enjoy the physical challenge of it, and even more so I enjoy turning my attention inward and watching how my body responds to that challenge. I love the fact that one’s practice is personal — it’s between me and myself.  In that sense, it reminds me of the solitary nature of training for a marathon, which ultimately is just between you and the road.

My limited physical ability can frustrate me sometimes, and when that happens, I try to smile at my stumbling efforts and remind myself how far I’ve come. Distraction is a challenge for me on some days; I try to notice it when it happens, and use my breathing to bring myself back inward.  
 
How has this practiced helped you outside the yoga room?
I am not the same person I was 2 ½ years ago. I feel more alive and more present in the world, instead of existing amidst the niggling anxieties within my mind. I feel younger than ever both physically and mentally. The experience has simply been transforming. I am so fortunate to be able to sip from the fountain of youth every morning!
 
What would you say to someone considering joining?
I would highly recommend it, of course, and I would say to stick with it even if it seems slow going at first. I would urge him or her to practice daily to gain the most benefit. In a word, I’d say, “Commit.”
 
Is there anything you've found unique about the experience here?
I have no basis for comparison, but I find it hard to imagine another yoga studio that combines such kind and talented teachers, such a strong community focus and such emphasis on giving and goodwill. Land Yoga not only teaches yoga but also teaches a way of life.
 
 
What you do and how people can support you?
I have a wine school in NYC, International Wine Center, (www.internationalwinecenter.com) which many people consider the leading wine school in the U.S. Because I am one of only 314 Masters of Wine in the world, some of our classes attract a serious crowd, but we welcome novices, too. I also write about wine; I have a regular column on Wine Review Online (www.winereviewonline.com) that features wines I particularly like. Finally, I am the co-author of Wine For Dummies and seven other wine books in the …For Dummies series — together with my husband, Ed McCarthy. We are so proud of that book, now in its 5th edition and translated into 37 languages! If you want to learn about wine, please check out our book!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Please Do Sweat the Small Stuff (notes on asana practice and beyond)



One of my favorite things to talk about is truth and its contradictions.  The deepest truths often have opposites that are also true.  For example "You are perfect the way you are" and "Never stop growing" are both truths.  I believe ones ability to live with contradictions like these is equal to his ability to thrive in life.

In this blog I want to talk about the opposite and equal truth to "don't sweat the small stuff".  Though this phrase is clearly true and extremely helpful in many contexts, its opposite is also true.  It is often the case that making a few small changes in life can make a huge difference.

Let's talk yoga asana.



It is not unusual for students to come to me with pains and issues located in their body.  Especially as a student begins to practice, he becomes even more aware of his body and starts to notice every misalignment, ache, and pain.  Sometimes old injuries will come to the surface asking to be paid attention to.  This is great.  It's a sign that the yoga asana journey has begun.

But "why," the student asks me is this pain coming just on the right or left side.  She wants to know if she is doing something wrong in class.  Usually she is doing nothing wrong.  That's when I ask the student to look at the "small stuff" she is doing in LIFE.  Does she always wear her bag on one shoulder?  Does she always sleep on one side?  Making a "small" change in one of these off the mat habits is going to have a large impact on life on and off the mat.  Just try it!

Small changes in ones practice can also have huge consequences.  You may not be able to change the Ashtanga sequence,  (We like our tradition.) but you can jump through with opposite leg on top than you usually take.  You can thread your fingers with other thumb on top.  Doing all your poses where the hands are laced, such as Prasarita Padotanasana, Halasana, and Sirsasana with the opposite grip alone will fix almost any imbalance in the body. You can shift your focus from making, to listening to the breathing.  You can give uddiyana bandha priority over mula bandha or vice versa.  It's not that one point of focus, hand grip or jump through is  better.  Big shifts happen when we allow ourselves to become unstuck by making tiny changes which disrupt our patterns.

One student may need to move faster.  One more slowly.  A simple speed of practice change, a "small" thing, will open up a whole new world to a yoga practitioner making the practice seem new and strange in the most beautiful way.  Confuse the body and we start to discover the nuances of the mind learning that methods of doing things we believed were a given and only way, are in fact systems we impose based on our genetics and previous experience.

Our habits are so deeply engrained that they can be nearly impossible to see.  That is one of the many reasons a teacher is so important.  This past Sunday I held my regular Train Your Brain workshop where I teach students how to look at some of those habits and assumptions and disrupt them using small physical changes.  Giving yourself a tactile trigger, like every time you touch your door nob, as a signal to become self aware is an effective example.  And the "small act" of momentary self awareness is, well, no small act.

So go ahead, and sweat the small stuff.  Change your bedspread.  Walk to work. Wear that bag on the other shoulder.  Pick one small shift, disrupt that brain, and start your personal revolution.  You won't be sorry.  You'll be transformed!




Friday, January 31, 2014

Musings from Hampi



Yeah man, I'm pretty sure I'm not supposed to be here. Rule breaker. Travel rebel. My friend Jason would be proud I think. Only minutes from my guest house, but off the main road nevertheless. I'm happy.  Barely anyone is here wandering through rice paddies, climbing rocks, in the mid day heat.

For sunset sure. For sunset they will pack their provisions, buy chai from children and "chill" boulder high smoking mediocre weed and singing poorly, but with all their hearts, songs by Dylan and Bono and John.  Today I can see where they played last night.  Plastic and ash.  Litter for the goats.  It paints the landscape like some graffiti stains walls.  Maybe one day we'll be banned from here like we are from entering the Lotus Mahal which has the marks of forbidden lovers I can only imagine are like those that span Chamundhi Hill.



"What are you searching for?" asked the Israeli boy matter-of-factly. He was twenty two, really not such a child post three year army term. I tried not to be one of those thirty-three year olds who calls a twenty-two year old a boy, but it was hard. I forgave myself, remembering all the thirty three year olds I also called boys.

"I'm not searching for anything," I said. And it was true.

Sure, searching never ends, or life ends. Yearning, learning, beginner mindset are all daily mantras I hold dear, but I'm not on a quest here.

I'm okay.

He was looking for a girlfriend. He told me. An Israeli girl or maybe an American Jew. Was I Jewish? Yes. He could tell by my nose. The other wanted me to stand to see some defining Israeli characteristic that was clearly below belt. I declined and sadly never did find out which quality of which part makes Jewess.

Strangers.

They seemed like best of friends. I imagined them going to war together, vowing to take Hampi and Goa and where ever else Israeli's go as soon as they got out, but when I inquired I found they'd met last week.Travel does that though. It binds people together, especially people seeking themselves but really seeking another.  Am I wrong? I'm proposing.



I was always an outsider looking in. Though lately I'll have an experience. Lately I'll try groups, immerse, bond, play, etc.  So many people smarter than I have said we humans are social creatures. Not meant to be alone. Some calling solitude an illness. That, I'm not sure. Somewhere there's always a balance. Somewhere always two opposites are true. (That's another blog, a favorite topic of mine.)

For this blog I'll conclude like this: Travel is lovely. Quite time is good. So is talking to people. I hope every traveler finds her way. I think broken hearts are mended on river boats and rice paddies. Nature is a real healer. The quiet way she softens. The shocking way she clears. If there's any nature left I'm sure we'll always be healed.