Archive for June, 2016

Lotus Love Blog

Mamaste! Bowing to the Divine Mother, Within us and all around us

Posted on: June 29th, 2016 No Comments

by Jasmine Tarkeshi

10499387_749364415106827_8653600985209624218_o

As soon as I met my daughter I joined my hands in prayer at my heart and with tears streaming from my eyes I said “Namaste”. Meaning the light in my bows to the light in you. A reflection of myself I had never seen before! I did this ritual all through the first crazy, beautiful, life-changing year of motherhood. Then one day, she said it back! But instead of Namaste she said “Mamaste” with a big goofy toothless grin. I kept correcting her, but nope, it was MAMAste. Although, surrounded by the love of her devoted father, grandma and auntie and community of adoring family, “Mama” was the world she came from. And through her the “ Mama” within me was born! A patience I never knew I had, the most intoxicating Love that cannot be described, protection and fierceness of a tigress, caring and nurturance I never knew myself. This has extended to my relationship with the world.

I recently became active on instagram, vowing to participate in social media with a lot of personal resistance. So many of my Yogic guides kept reminding me of the importance of staying connected to my students and sharing my practice with them even if it was through an iPhone. So I set out to document my yoga practice and share what inspires me, but if you check me out on IG, there are only pictures of my daughter, Indigo! Perhaps it’s because I don’t know how to take pictures of myself, but she IS my Yoga! Through her I feel connected to the universe, Mother Earth and all beings. Through her eyes I see oneness, the miracle in all experience, joy for no reason, complete emotional expression and bravery and courage that inspires. I am tested, challenged, on a daily – moment to moment basis to live my yoga to the fullest, since I am her world from which she learns. And WOW, am I tested! THIS is my Tapas (purifying practice) like I have never known. My Motherhood is messy and imperfect; I lose it, I do things I said I would never do – like have her watch a video while I get work done, order take away a few times a week instead of my vision of making every organic meal in a handstand 🙂 But she has no judgment; she still looks at me and says “ Mamaste” even as I beat myself up. In Bhakti Yoga, the path of devotion, this is known as Pusthi Marg or path of the Divine Mother where we look at the world through the eyes of a devoted mother. Like the Buddha said, “Like a caring mother holding and guarding the life of her only child, so with a boundless heart of loving kindness, hold yourself and all beings as your beloved children.”

In Yoga Philosophy and the great Guru Mantra, our first guru is our mother—Guru Brahma our creation/creator is guru. We all have different relationships with our mother or caretaker. We have fought with, disagreed and misunderstood our parents or guardians from childhood on, some which may not yet be resolved to this day. Teachers come to us in many ways. This first teacher was our mother by birth as the Earth is our mother by creation. To appreciate the power of creation is to see all life as valuable, ALL human life, as well also the life force that flows through all living beings.

The love of a mother is unconditional. She knows that through our existence we cause harm to her—yet she continues to nourish and support us with all her heart. Each year thousands of forests are being cut down, oceans, rivers and lakes are polluted and giant holes are mined into Her. But it is not only the Earth herself who is exploited; it is also her human and nonhuman inhabitants.

The Earth itself is referred to as the Mother, Divine Mother or Ma. She is the sustaining and creative force providing food and water for the survival of all the beings that inhabit her. In the west, we endearingly refer to our beautiful blue/green planet as “Mother Earth” as a way to express our interconnectedness with all beings. Our own relationship with the Divine Mother may be very similar to the relationship with our own mother! Sometimes we fight; sometimes we ignore her and definitely do things that we know will upset her! But through both our birth mother and the Divine Mother we are undeniably linked to the source of all life.

In Hindu mysticism, the earth is always referred to as a very patient mother. She has to bear with all our misdeeds. We are all her children. Perhaps there is no greater sorrow for a mother than to see her children quarreling among themselves. In my village, two brothers quarreling or two sisters quarreling will be taken up as a village issue, since this is considered to be something that should never happen; it’s no longer a domestic issue, but a community one. “The word for sibling in Sanskrit is sahodara. Saha, “together,” udara, “womb”: they come from the same womb. They have lived in the same womb. So they should always help each other. Similarly, we all come from the womb of Mother Earth. We are all brothers and sisters.

Just as a human mother is in agony when she sees her children fighting against one another, so mother earth is in agony when she sees nation fighting against nation, race against race. Through the enthusiastic practice of meditation and the allied disciplines, each of us can become instruments of peace and harmony, drawing upon our deepest resources to prevent nation from rising up against nation, race against race, and brother against brother.

Peace is not created by governments and fighting forces. Peace is made by little people like you and me getting to know other people, other countries, other races.– Eknath Easwaran

Our personal relationship with the Divine Mother Earth lives within us in the Muladhara Chakra. Chakras are energy centers within the body that correspond with the elements as well as the endocrine system and physical, emotional and mental systems. “Mula” means root and “adhara” means to support. Located within the perineum at the base of the spine from the tailbone through the legs and feet, it connects us with Mother Earth as well as our own roots, our maternal mother or support when we were children, as well as our ancestors. It is within this most important Chakra that our early childhood experiences are recorded like magnetic tape and influence all we do including our feelings of survival, belonging, and guardedness and whether or not our basic needs were met. When Muladhara is in balance, we feel strong and confident; we can stand up on your own two feet and take care of ourselves and feel connected to the earth and others, grounded and present. We are trusting in others and feel a part of nature, a family, tribe or community. We feel safe in the home of our bodies and create a safe environment to live. We care for and nurture others and ourselves and stand up for others and ourselves. We take care of the planet and see the Divine in a all beings and the sacred in everything. We care as much about our own survival as the survival of others.

This is the philosophy behind most shamanic and indigenous healing. That our own well-being is interconnected with the whole.

When it is not in balance we feel like victims and blame everyone and everything for our misfortunes or are over materialistic, hoard and disrespect others and the planet. When it is blocked or out of balance, we can become needy, have low self-esteem, or have self-destructive behaviors.

Here are a few ways to become aware and honor the Divine Mother, our own, Mamma Earth and the Divine Mother within! Jai MA!

1)Create an ancestral altar: Place pictures of your parents, family and ancestors, artifacts from their countries of origin to connect to your roots and feel the support of this deep connection as well of the pain that may be associated with it. We cannot change our pasts but we can vow not to be lineage barriers of past traumas by healing the wounds of the past through actions and sadhanas (spiritual practices) we can take today.

2)Practice Yoga and care for your physical body through diet and exercise. Cook your own food as much as possible, eating organic food from local farmers markets. Move toward a vegetarian diet, which lessens the suffering of other beings and damage to our mother planet. This self-care and discipline wakes up the Divine Mother within as a doorway to truly care for all beings. Nourish your self with healthy habits and move away from toxic ones. Surround your self with a “tribe” of like-minded but diverse people to create community and healthy family, work environment and relationships based on mutual respect. Look for ways you can use your privilege to be of service to others less privileged due to the color of their skin, sexual orientation or class.

3) Connect to Mother Earth. This does not have to be only through spending time in nature, although, get out and spend time in nature! Get your feet in the dirt and your body in the water and the sunshine, smell the flowers and taste the fruits, meditate on the moon and stars. At the same time, Our Urban/ Concrete jungle is just as sacred along with beings that inhabit it. Have plants and animals in your home. Walk the city streets to connect with the world around you, yes, the muddy, mucky mud and try to see the beauty and divinity that surrounds you within it. Meet your brothers and sisters from different cultural backgrounds; go to cultural events with music, dance and food celebrating diversity. Do selfless service and volunteer. Oneness does NOT mean we are the same in every way, the true nature of oneness to celebrate the uniqueness in every being by acknowledging equality and non-duality and honoring the sacred within every being.

With my hands at my heart in prayer, “Mamaste”!

This beautiful Mantra honors the Divine Mother in all her forms and sends me into an ecstatic state!

Ya Devi Sarva Bhutesu, Matri Rupena Sansthita
Namastasyai Namastasyai Namastasyai Namo Namah
(repeat after each line)

Ya Devi Sarva Bhutesu, Buddhi Rupena Sansthita
Ya Devi Sarva Bhutesu, Shakti Rupena Sansthita
Ya Devi Sarva Bhutesu, Nidra Rupena Sansthita
Ya Devi Sarva Bhutesu, Chaiya Rupena Sansthita
Ya Devi Sarva Bhutesu, Daya Rupena Sansthita
Ya Devi Sarva Bhutesu, Kanti Rupena Sansthita
Ya Devi Sarva Bhutesu, Bhranti Rupena Sansthita
Ya Devi Sarva Bhutesu, Shantih Rupena Sansthita
Ya Devi Sarva Bhutesu, Tushti Rupena Sansthita
Ya Devi Sarva Bhutesu, Lakshmi Rupena Sansthita
Namastasyai Namastasyai Namastasyai Namo Namah

Translation:
Salutations to the Goddess who resides in all beings in the form of:
{wisdom, light, abundance etc}
To that constant, eternal Presence, I gratefully offer myself again and again.
The feminine energy or nature resides in all beings (RupenaSansthita). As the flow of life, she is expressed in us as wisdom (Buddhi), sleep (Nidra), the shadow (Chaiya), misunderstanding (Bhranti), peace (Shantih), contentment (Tushti), abundance (Lakshmi), Matri (Mother), Daya (Compassion, Kanti (Radiance) and Shakti (primal Source Energy).

resources : Doug Whitiker, Eknath Eashwaran, Amma’s Mantras

#Mamaste #DivineMother #JaiMa #MuladharaChakra #Yoga #GuruBrahma #LoveIsMyReligion #LaughingLotusSF #JasmineTarkeshi

Jasmine Tarkeshi is Co-Founder of Laughing Lotus Yoga Centers in NYC and SF. She is a humble student of the ancient and transformative teachings of Yoga and has been sharing the passion for the practices for 20 years. She comes from and bows to her mystical heritage of Muslim, Jewish, Buddhist, Yogic backgrounds that all merge into her love for the performing arts and healing traditions of the world. She is a dedicated activist through her life and practice and beloved foundation Love Saves the Day and teaches nationally, internationally and daily at her home studio at Laughing Lotus Yoga Center in San Francisco with the belief in everyones ability to awaken and heal to be true agents for change as intstruments of Love.


The Source

Posted on: June 22nd, 2016 No Comments

by Genevieve McClendon

HEART-26

The Source
The lovely melody of a flute
is found neither in the instrument
nor in the player’s fingers.
You might say it comes from the composer’s heart,
but if you opened his heart
you would find no melody.
Where, then, is the source?
It is beyond—in the supreme cosmic Energy
which the ego will never know.
Only if you act from your heart
will you know life’s divine power.
-Amma

When we are born our heart is one of the first organs to develop along with the spinal cord, its beat setting the tone of our lives. We are then born into the world and given the constant rhythm of breath, synchronizing all the sounds and tones of life force. Nada yoga is the union through sound, inner transformation through sound and deeper listening. We honor them as the source and vibration of Om (also know as AUM, broken up into three letters) and anahata, the sound that is always in you, the vibration within the sound, the sound within the sound. It is the vibration within each cell of our being. Nada yoga is to feel the sound of God within us.

This past week I went to visit Amma, the “Hugging Saint” at her ashram in San Ramon. Being there was like being bathed in a celebration and party of blessed sounds and an intoxicating vibration of omnipresent love. Whenever first entering Amma’s ashram there is a restoring of harmony within my inner sounds as I receive all vibrations and sounds of the temple. It takes moments to synchronize myself with her loving presence and the sounds of chanting, repeating mantras, and the vibrations of all the people. There is a change in the atmosphere when a true Guru is present. The vibrating sound of the crown chakra and OM is everywhere. Communing with the Guru I am left feeling focused and relaxed. A feeling of hOMe.

As I was sitting in my seat waiting for my turn to receive a divine Amma hug I was mesmerized by her japa, or repetition in hugging one being after another. To me it was as if each hug was a mantra on a mala bead. And these aren’t just hugs, she snuggles you into arms with all her divine love and it’s as if a thunderbolt of love moves through your body. This alters your vibrational field and awareness. I could feel my heart’s capacity expand and my energy cleansed. Being in her energetic vibrational field I could feel all the cells in my body shift by the immense love she was radiating. Helping tune every one of us back into who we really are. Showering everyone in the purest vibrations of love. Restoring our hearts divine rhythm and tone. Shedding pain and suffering.

Patanjali states, “vibration is still there in the mind in an unmanifested condition. Scientifically, we can say that when manifested objects are reduced to their unmanifested condition, they go back to the atomic vibration. Nobody can stop that atomic vibration.” The omnipresent vibration of love is never changing – it’s always constant. Whether it’s through chanting mantras, thinking good thoughts, giving silent empathy, prayer, singing your heart out, dancing, being in nature, visiting a Guru, laughing with friends, we are given the opportunity to vibrate with our truest self, the sounds of divine love. The rhythm of our heart, the tide of our breath, the sound of divinity that vibrates inside and outside of us are reflections to the ever present Om and love in the universe. Nada yoga transforms our inner and outer sounds into love, vibrating our truest self. Sending waves and sounds of love from me to you through this blog. Om Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu Om Shanti Shanti Shanti

“Your heart is the real temple. It is there you must install god, good thoughts are the flowers, good actions the worship, good words the hymns, love, the divine offering.”
-Amma

Genevieve is committed to serving and helping others come into their best self. She is a compassionate teacher that invites all her students to live their truth and celebrate who they are as they are. She is a passionate Reiki Master/Teacher. Genevieve also teaches Restorative yoga with Reiki at Laughing Lotus on Friday from 6:45-8:00pm and Sunday from 6:15-7:30. To learn more, please visit her website at www.InLightandSoul.com


Nada Yoga

Posted on: June 15th, 2016 No Comments

by Astrud Castillo

astrud meditation green heart

NAMAH SIVAYA GURAVE NADA-BINDU KALATMANE, NIRANJANA-PADAM YATI NITYAM YATRA PARAYANAH

Salutations to the Nadam, which is the inner guide and the inner life the dispenser of happiness to all! It is the inner Guru appearing as Nada, the inner music, obtains the highest bliss.
-Hatha Yoga Pradipika IV.1

Translated by Shri Brahmananda Saravati
The Nadam is the inner current, light
and the dance that occurs, in us as us.
It urges us to listen with the ear of the heart!

I recently returned from Hawaii and Big Sur, where the purest form of sound was to be heard both inside and out—the sound of the ocean, the birds and the wind. I fell asleep each night to what at first was the sound of the tide rolling in and out, and at some point, there was no separation—there was no beginning, no end-just the sonorous sound of the water itself, which evolved into the eternal hum or sound of Om.

I also recognized this powerful sound inside the sound while I was observing large birds flying in unison over me, flapping their extremely large wings.The sound was filled with effort and had a rhythm all of its own. Then they would rest their wings in mid air, and you would only hear the power-FULL silence of the wind, the breath inside the breath. The reason the silence is so powerful and healing is it creates a vibration inside of us that then reverberates through each one of our cells—awakens consciousness and dissolves and breaks down any obstructions in the body and mind.
Nada Yoga reminds us that when “Entertainment” leads to “Innertainment,” music then becomes Yoga. The most powerful moment in Nada Yoga is when the music stops!

There is said to be two sources of sound. The AAHATA NADA (struck sound, that which is played using instruments) and the ANAATHA NADA, which is the uncreated sound—the sound of silence, the cosmos it is the sound of the void.
The sound of the Cosmos dissolves into the seed sound of all sounds, the sound of OM.

AUM is broken down into simple terms for us.
A-manifestation, creation and is symbolized by the SUN and waking consciousness.
U-growth, preservation,and the MOON is represented here as the dream state.
M-completion, destruction, perfection it is the sphere of FIRE as well as deep sleep.

You are encouraged to explore the sounds of nature—take a walk in the forest, by the ocean and listen to the sound inside the sound. Pick up an instrument and play or turn on some good dance music and explore the movement that naturally happens. Then pause and feel the vibrations.

Find some Kirtan in your community and chant the names of gods and goddesses and bathe in the sacred sounds and their power—before during and after the music.

“Enjoy the Silence” -Depeche Mode
“Great is the intoxication of money, of physical power and strength, of the relative world. But far greater still is the infinite bliss of Anahata Nadam which, takes one beyond time and space and makes all temporal intoxications fade away, useless.”
-Kabir

Om……

originally posted June 25,2014


The Music of the Soul

Posted on: June 8th, 2016 No Comments

by Robin Wilner

RW-dancer pose

I came into the world with music in my veins. Genetics seemed to predetermine my future profession as a dancer/singer – grandma was a symphony pianist, grandpa was a cantor, mom played guitar, sang and taught music in elementary schools. So it’s no wonder that I was drawn to music as a means of expressing myself – physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Our family sang traditional prayers together during the holidays; pop music always bellowed from the car stereo or at home during dinner; a classical pianist accompanied my daily dance classes. From as far back as I can remember, music and dance were integral part of my life. Movement and singing were a means of connecting to the world from a very young age, making sense of the overwhelming feelings that accompany young adulthood, and articulating myself as a creative being as I matured.

Music is a universal language, it touches people of all different races and creeds and social backgrounds. The piercing beauty of an opera singer’s soprano can bring a room to tears; a rock and roll band can inspire entire generations towards creating change; a drumbeat builds anticipation, church bells signify joyous celebration, the cello may accompany a somber affair. What we hear has the power to affect how we feel, and music itself can break through barriers. And so it is that many spiritual practices seek higher states of consciousness through sound.
The “yoga of sound” or Nada Yoga, is a meditative practice that involves deep internal listening for the sacred sound of the Divine within – known as the anahata nada. Through purification of the mind, one might tap into the central energy channel (sushumna) and begin to hear this unstruck sound in the ear of the heart.

While this intense practice can be challenging, a more accessible practice for the modern yogi is the ahata nada yoga practice, which involves listening to external sounds. All life creates its own music – the whisper of the wind or crashing of waves, the chirping of birds and buzzing of bees, the rustling of leaves or a crackling fire, a giggling child. Whether we listen to nature or the soulful melodies of voices and instruments in harmony, we can strengthen our ability for internal listening and concentration and, in essence, experience more peace and tranquility.

Whether I’m feeling joy, sadness, anxiety, fear, anticipation, or exhilaration, music has always been my greatest companion. There are songs whose poetic lyrics force me to sing along. As soon as I hear a fierce pulsating rhythm, my hips start to sway and I feel the intense desire to move. Sometimes I simply need to be still and listen, and it’s the graceful harmony of bells and strings that bring me to a state of quiet calm. Other times, I come to sit at my harmonium and chant various names of the Divine in the spiritually charged language of Sanskrit. The droning of the chords creates a soothing vibration and the melodies somehow write themselves.

Sound is merely vibration….vibration is energy…and energy is life force, which connects all living things. A series of sounds in harmony can create a portal for our spiritual healing. Whether you croon, chant, play an instrument, clap, tap, boogie or rap, let your heart resonate with the rhythm of your soul. The more we can open our outer and inner ears to the vibrations of Life, the greater our capacity to enjoy it. As the late Robin Williams said, “You know what music is? God’s little reminder that there’s something else besides us in this universe; harmonic connection between all living beings, everywhere, even in the stars.”

Robin Wilner is a former Broadway dancer/singer/actress who took a leap of faith, moved to the west coast, and is devoted to teaching and practicing yoga. Mixing her dance background with a love of chanting, meditative healing, and philosophy, she strives to lead her students to a state of being that reflects their own inner radiance. Flow with Robin on Mondays & Fridays at 12pm, Tuesdays & Thursdays at 9am, Fridays at 5:30pm or Sundays at 10am.


In between all these sounds I hear….

Posted on: June 1st, 2016 No Comments

by Brima Jah

Brima Jah

I sit down to write this blog.

A fly with big, loud wings collides into my left hear. People yelling and Muni buses jetting down the street downstairs from my apartment echo into my bedroom. A wall in my bedroom shakes to the beat of the latest Drake album that my neighbor blasts on repeat.

In between all of these sounds I hear my breath and quick glimpses of silence.

Listening to all of these different sounds and the accompanying silence in between them are part of the experience of nada yoga. The Sanskrit word “nada” means sound and is related to another Sanskrit term “nadi,” which means stream or flow. “Nada yoga” is therefore a union through sound or the flow of sound. Sounds of all different forms including music and our voices are part of nada yoga.

These sounds can be placed in two categories:

there are “ahata” sounds that are created by striking objects together such as drums, clapping hands, or maybe less obvious, wind blowing through trees and air colliding with our vocal chords when we speak or sing; and,

there are “anahata,” or inner sounds that are created without striking objects together and are heard from within.

It’s been said that our mind can become entrained or during meditation become absorbed in inner sounds, to the extent that we no longer listen to it but rather become one with it. However, the idea getting “absorbed” in inner sounds can take years and may seem inaccessible.

Still, research studies done at the Bihar School of Yoga have demonstrated that we do have access to connecting, or perhaps to RE-CONNECTING, with our inner sounds. This reconnection can happen through chanting mantra and participating in kirtan that can unite our breath, body and mind.

In essence, chanting mantra and kirtan helps us use of our voice to become a medium for communicating both with others and with our selves. There is rarely any instance in which we use our voice without feeling it vibrate in our body, repeat in our mind, or move us in some way emotionally.

As newborns, we create the same sounds. Within the first few months of life, the sounds we create are universal across all races, ethnicities, culture or nationality. Acquiring language and speech as children, unfortunately, starts to create demands on us that sacrifice our vocal freedom and spontaneity.

Exploring our voices, whether in chanting mantra, kirtan or by speaking, invites us to return to a sense of freedom and spontaneity that is more universal. This exploration is grounded in our body. As our voice resonates, we learn what we sound like alone and in community as one.

While we may chant mantra or sing when we are happy, singing can also support our coping with sadness, pain, and suffering. Chanting mantra and kirtan, as practices of nada yoga, give us each a means for freedom of expression when we feel happy, sad, or a mix of both. As in the words of Hazrat Inayat Khan, “the shortest way to attain to spiritual heights is by singing.”