In the pause, when we have the choice to sit in meditation or not, what comes up?
It seems there is both yearning for deep connection with ourselves/world and an impulse to flee into activity, anything that allows us to skim over the deep waters of our being.
If in that pause, without immediately directing ourselves to the meditation seat of formal practice, we feel some quality of being in our body – that is the first note of the ongoing music and dance of the path to liberation we could feel as the touch of the Buddha. The earth that he touched when asked how he knew he was enlightened, “the earth is my witness” he said, because the earth/our body is without opinion or contrivance, real in sensation and mystery and nongraspability, ever changing (the weight of the glass in our hand, the temperature of the floor we feel with the soles of our bare feet, the ache in our lower back – examples of body/mind synchronization that IS already meditation).
We refer to the earth as Mother and let us understand that as Archetype and principle free of gender – she who accommodates everything unconditionally with a love that is Wisdom.
Both wisdom and meditation are associated with the Feminine principle and the elements of Earth and Water.
Let us keep that in mind, as we struggle with our ambivalence and suffer from the conceptualization that bypasses and covers what is real, that our very ambivalence and discursiveness can be the felt experience awakening our heart to the truth of our humanity…
Attend me, hold me in your muscular flowering arms,
protect me from throwing any part of myself away
This beautiful statement by Audre Lorde could be considered the essence of our path, so that Lineage Wisdom resonating from inside ourselves is moved to see through the pain of aggression that denies us the right and ability to open, feel the natural beauty – as in the flowering and learn to protect ourselves from denial.
The act of taking our seat, of moving down to the roots where we plant ourselves for even a short time daily to tune into and stay with the flow of our experience is the gesture of a loving mother deeply interested in the reality of her child.
That child is reality before intellectualization and unwholesome social conditioning like the bubbling waters – life force and expression of the world itself.
In the Shambhala Buddhist teachings brought to the West by Chogyam Trungpa from Tibet and evolving through his son, Sakyong Mipham, caring and kindness are the innate medicinal qualities drawn out by fearless and direct connection to what is through meditation practice: our very Being. This requires a radical letting go of ancient and protective mechanisms that have caused such harm to others and ourselves through ignorance.
Fundamentally, the bravery of the spiritual warrior is to slow down, stop, and feel the aliveness of all that we are – more and more in love with the whole gamut and colorful display – until we can “smile at fear.” The basis of one of Pema Chodron’s books is “smile” because we get to find joy in the discovery of the ineffable reality of impermanence. Rather than rise above our suffering it becomes the touchstone of Compassion, and this is the only reason we would want to meditate, if we dare to look intimately. Then we see death/change as ongoing and our path, away from dependence on anything external (starting with our karmic mothers), builds the beautiful, strong internal structure like our spines rising from earth to heaven so that we can become the response able agents of loving enlightenment – healing the past and nourishing the generations to come.
In literally keeping our eyes open in the form of meditation I’ve been taught and teach, we simultaneously meet inner and outer worlds and increasingly experience the root of the word “kind” as derived from “kin” our family of everything that is born, lives and dies.
So happy to close with this chant written by Chogyam Trungpa:
THE SUPPLICATION TO THE MOTHER LINEAGE
We pay homage to the Mother Lineage.
Your robe is soaked in water,
Your hair is elegant and airy,
Your perfume is exquisite.
From a grain of barley dropped on the ground by seeming accident,
Great prosperity has sprung.
Your milk feeds the nation.
We like the crescent moon on your hair.
We emulate your openness and bounty.
You speak softly but your command carries weight.
Please do not stop loving us!
We bathe within a grove of bamboo.
Please help us to become gentle and tough.
Catch Alice every Monday morning for a guided meditation from 8:15-8:30am. Or contact us for a phenomenal Astrological reading by Alice!
My first committed practice to meditation was when I fell in love with painting and drawing at 17 years old. It was this magnificent state I would enter. Hours would go by, days would go by and I would be in a place of awareness, stillness and being, as splashes of color found their perfect place.
Meditation softens and widens our ability to connect and listen to the depths of our inner being, and witness our oneness with everything. It is the practice of ultimate awareness in all that is and all that we do. It creates mindfulness, gentleness, compassion and goodness.
For the last two years I have been working closely with the disabled community at art centers, such as Creative Growth and Stepping Stones, in the East Bay. In this blog post, I get to pour out my love for these beams of light! Working with this community has completely changed my life. I’m never surprised as to how my heart bursts open every time I’m around their Buddha natures. So pure and strong in their vulnerability.
When I’m in their presence I feel fully seen. They are my teachers and my inspiration. It is the most incredible job to help them create what ever comes into their imaginations, and make it happen. Their engagement in awareness as they create is incredible to watch. They are meditative, they are yogic, they are wizards.
As an artist and a healer, I can deeply appreciate the importance of the healing meditative state that occurs when making art. Meditation and art offer rich medicinal qualities such as: lowering anxiety, lowering depression, reducing stress, changing your brain, enhancing feelings of well being. Thank God for these centers because they are a place of great healing for this community. To be able to have a place where they are able to show up everyday and live in the meditation of their art, and express the essence of their souls is the greatest gift. They are so authentic, free and devoted to their craft. By being at these centers one is able to see the value of art and mindfulness, and how it changes lives in the most positive way. It is only through sharing love and compassion with each other that we can feel that we are all the same.
One year ago I started practicing sitting meditation and chair yoga with these disabled artists. I know how much of an impact these practices have had in my life and I wanted to share the gift with them. Also, I could see how important their relationship with their art was and the meditation that was happening while they were creating. Due to the fragility of their bodies and openness of their minds and hearts, I felt it was my obligation to give and share these incredible practices of yoga and meditation because they are already meditative art making buddhas.
Many of these disabled artists suffer from anxiety and various disorders because their sensory is so high, and I knew that these practices would empower them to feel better. In my own way I can relate to them because anxiety is something I deal with myself. After the first week I could see how much they loved the movement and breath – they were naturals. Now after a year of practicing, I can’t even explain how much they love meditation and yoga! Oh my goodness, they eat it up like birthday cake and ice cream – I only say this because cake and ice cream is their favorite. They are upset if we ever miss a day of yoga and meditation. They are committed meditators and yogis that are incredibly in tune with breath and feeling the sensations of movement. To be able to have the permission to be still and breath is so stabilizing. Witnessing their joy inspires me in how to feel breath and move into deep meditational states myself. I highly encourage everyone to spend time with this community. They are full of wisdom and light, understand suffering, are more present than most and know how to love big time!
These practices are God given tools in helping us to be in our inherent nature, honoring our essence as we awaken more fully to ourselves. I wish to extend all my gratitude to Art and Meditation for being the most healing stabilizing friends in life. God bless us all and may our Buddha nature be enhanced and shine through in all that we do.
Genevieve is committed to serving and helping others come into their wholeness. She is a compassionate teacher, and invites all of her students to live their truth as they celebrate who they are. As a passionate Reiki Master Teacher, Genevieve believes in the practice and power of healing touch. Genevieve teaches Restorative Yoga with Reiki on Fridays from 6:45-7:45 pm, and Sundays from 6:30-7:45 pm.
by Minerva Arias
Patterns are so easy to fall back on, they are familiar, they are safe, and no matter how unhealthy they may be, they offer us comfort.
I’ve done it. I do it. We all do.
Last year when I embarked on a healing journey across my ancestral lands, I would have never guessed that my travels would prove to be so challenging! As a native NYer when I was given all this “free” time to myself during my travels, I tried to fill it up with too much “stuff” and ended up caught in my neurosis instead of riding it, instead of “going with the flow” I was trapped in a downward spiral of thoughts and stories!
One of my favorite Buddhist authors, Pema Chödrön, wrote: “it’s a transformative experience to simply pause instead of immediately filling up the space. By waiting, we begin to connect with fundamental restlessness as well as fundamental spaciousness.” I forgot the power that comes by just sitting still. All to often we are so anxious to fill up our time, our days, and our empty spaces with stuff. It does not matter what “stuff” we fill it with, we just need to fill it because we are not accustomed or comfortable with space or spaciousness. In my darkness while traveling in the Dominican Republic, I took a deep inhale and exhale, stumbled across this quote and decided that maybe I should look for a good meditation book to read for some guidance. It was not suprising that Pema’s book on how to meditate was the first that popped up in my iBook’s search (and it is such a good book!!). I began to read. Time to put in the work Minerva. I spent three days near the ocean just reading Pema’s book on how to meditate and reflected on the powerful words, advice and guidance on a meditation practice.
Fear is an emotion that constantly stirs up certain patterns for me. Believe it or not, I was actually afraid to fly! Yes, as much as I love to travel, I was so afraid to fly. Over the years it has gotten better (when I first started flying I would begin to get anxious one week before my flight, which included a constant state of nervousness, butterflies and knots in my stomach, binge eating, insomnia, etc). On my flight from the Dominican Republic to Ft Lauderdale, even though the captain said it was going to be a smooth flight, it got bumpy. Normally when flights get bumpy, panic sets in and pretty much does not leave my body until the flight is completely smooth again for a while or we land! This time, since I was on the chapter of Breathing with the Emotion (part three of the book is Working With Emotions) instead of giving in to my pattern, I decided to actually WORK through it, through meditation.
So often we hear “just breathe” or “breathe it away”. But oftentimes we either don’t really know what that means, how to do it or even how to sit still enough to actually breathe! Pema talks about instead of breathing the emotion away (because that in effect isn’t really working with the emotion rather just pushing it away, allowing it to accumulate and become overwhelming) to breathe WITH the emotion. “Emotions are simply energy that we attach our thoughts and stories to.” So in her next chapter Drop the Story and Find the Feeling, she gives a great meditation exercise to try to do the work of dropping the story, finding the feeling and breathing with the emotion.
The fear was beginning to set in, the tremors in my legs, the sweaty palms, the thoughts of why we were experiencing bumpiness on the plane, trying to rationalize it all out in my head, the tight chest. So this time, instead of letting fear and my patterned response to it return, I decided to drop the story and find the feeling. So I sat up tall in my chair, began to breathe, and started scanning my body for the feeling. Where was I feeling this abundance of energy? What did it feel like? What did it look like? Oh, there you are! Around my heart, across my chest, it feels tight it feels warm. Ok, Minerva, now send your breath there. Breathe deeper into your heart, into your chest. Sit with this abundance of energy. Not the thoughts, not the story, just the sensations you are feeling right now. Whenever my mind would wander, I gently reminded myself to pay attention to the feeling and breathe with it. After about 20 minutes of this, when I felt the intense amount of energy around my heart and chest dissipate, I did another body scan to see if there were any lingering feelings. When I was ready I opened my eyes and I felt immensely present, spacious and calm.
I am not saying that will happen every time. Nor am I saying that will happen immediately for everyone. What I am saying is that healing takes work. And you have to be willing to put in the work, to do the work and to stick with the work. It is not always easy but it is always worth it. Commit to what you really want from the heart not the mind, lead with love in the work you put in for yourself. Because as my dear friend Hesel reminded me “fear is a natural reaction to getting closer to the truth.” Be You. Sat Nam.
Every time she steps on her mat, Minerva thoroughly enjoys the dance between the breath and the asanas that create stillness in the mind. Come namaste it up with her every Mondays 7:00am, Tuesdays 10:45am & 5:30pm, and Wednesdays at 7am & Noon! This was originally written for her website: namasteitup.com where you can read more of her writing.
by Jasmine Tarkeshi
On Sunday we celebrate Mother’s Day and pay homage to our mothers, expressing gratitude for their unconditional love and the sacrifices they’ve made for us that we so often take for granted.
A mother’s love comes in many forms, from tender and loving to fierce and protective. In yoga classes, we often hear about cultivating the nurturing qualities of a mother with ourselves and as buddha said “Like a caring mother Holding and guarding the life Of her only child, So with a boundless heart Hold yourself and all beings.” I used to associate Nurturance with the traditional image of a mother baking pies in an apron and actually felt disconnected from the word since my eccentric, creative, and cosmic mother never baked once!
But as I explored the concept of “Mother” in my practice, life and teaching, I realize she comes in many forms and the pies are a symbol for all that nurtures our growth. Well, in that sense I had the most nurturing mother! In Hinduism, there are 1008 names and forms of the Divine Mother, from Laxmi the Goddess of beauty and wealth, to Saraswati the Goddess of Wisdom and Creativity and Kali or Durga, the fierce Goddesses of protection and destruction or tough love.
We get to recognize and bow deeply to all these qualities within our own very special and divine mothers. Perhaps not the ones we wanted at the time as children, but with which we can look back upon with deep appreciation for how they shaped and encouraged our growth and who we are.
As I am now on my own journey of being a mother, I so appreciate my own mother, Alice, and the lessons, gifts and guidance she gave to me. Here are just 10 things I learned from my mother, the cosmic apple pies that nurtured and shaped who I am. What are 10 things YOU learned from your mother?
Happy Mother’s Day to all moms everywhere!
1. Be who you are.
From birth, my mother cultivated the unique qualities and celebrated the differences between me and my older sister Ariana. From clothes we wore to games we played, foods we liked and creative differences we were each guided to honor our selves as well as our differences.
2. Be creative.
My mom tells me my first word was “make.” As an infant, before I could walk, I’d roll around with paper and crayons, chanting “make, make, make” and scribbling and circumambulating around my creation. We didn’t have traditional toys or TV growing up in the Middle East and were always making our own toys and games, writing, drawing and singing and dancing.
3. Be compassionate.
When faced with being teased at school or challenges within the family, my mother would teach us the practices of compassion, offering deeper insight and larger perspective into the situation.
She also taught me to be of service to all those less fortunate than myself through the endless service she provided to underserved communities and people.
4. Speak your truth.
Well, this one got me into trouble too as I became more rebellious, but soon I used this gift to become a confident speaker and activist.
5. Learn from life.
One could say I was raised with no real discipline of being told what to do by my mother as I paved my own mysterious path, rich with the ups and downs of life. But now I see how I was allowed to make my own mistakes and learn from them rather than being sheltered from life. Life was my teacher instead of a formal education, and it was overflowing with wisdom.
6. Do whatever it takes.
After my parents divorced, my mother raised us single handedly. She went back to college to get her degree, worked two jobs, and received public assistance to care for us while she developed and worked on herself. My mom was incredibly strong as well as creative and spiritual and has been such a role model of doing whatever it takes and working hard.
7. Expand your mind.
At an early age we were introduced to many cultures, traditions and spiritual paths. There were many wild characters along my mom’s many spiritual paths, and she always shared them with us. We leaned to respect and connect with all people and faiths.
8. Commit to a spiritual practice.
Although she never forced us to sit and meditate, we grew up seeing her devoted to her teacher Chogyam Trungpa and the Tibetan Buddhist path of Shambhala. I witnessed my mother’s daily devotion and practice as well as the sacrifice of taking time for longer retreats and deepening her practice for over 30 years and it has inspired my own daily practice and commitment.
9. Youth is not age.
As my mother grows older she seems to be getting younger at heart and in spirit! After retiring from a life of service to San Francisco’s most challenged communities, she is the busiest person I know, doing what she loves and serving selflessly. She can now offer astrology readings, commit to her practice and sangha, constantly creating and always learning something new.
10. A mother’s love.
Never for one second of my 45 years have I doubted my mother’s love and deep devotion. She has loved me unconditionally from near and far and supported me in everything I do. I am so honored and so happy to offer the gift of my mother to my daughter, and hope to pass on just a fraction of all I have received.
This Sunday in honor of Mother’s Day, all Moms are free at Laughing Lotus SF! Check out our website for our complete Class Schedule this weekend.