Posts Tagged ‘transformation’

Lotus Love Blog

The Divine Mother by Genevieve McClendon

Posted on: July 19th, 2017 1 Comment

“Among the trillion mysteries of the cosmos, the most phenomenal is light.”

-Yogananda

Do you believe in miracles? Do you believe in Divine white light? Do you believe there is a life force existing within and around us at all times that is beyond the understanding of our naked eye?  I have a real life account of an apparition that I experienced with the sacred feminine.  In preparing to write this blog in light of the Divine Mother I couldn’t help be drawn to share a miracle I experienced with Her many years ago that I have already written about and I’m still in awe of to this day.  I feel the need to tell my story repeatedly to share that miracles are real and love is all around.  We just need to open our hearts, minds, and listen.

Let me first start by saying, the Divine Mother is omnipresent. She is the incarnation of love that takes countless shapes and forms. Not bound by religion or dogma, the divine mother is the infinite light and love that lives inside and surrounds all of us in all spaces, places and things at all time. She IS the sacred source of unconditional love and light.

In Yogananda’s book, Autobiography of a Yogi, he states, “God’s command brought into being the structural essential: light.  On the beams of this immaterial medium occur all divine manifestations. Devotees of every age testify to the appearance of God as flame and light.”

Here is my miracle with our Sacred Mother:

She appeared to me when I was twelve.  It was a Saturday, I had fallen asleep and was awakened by the brightest white light you could ever imagine!  It was the light that you hear about in scared texts. A light so bright I felt like I should be blinded. The Divine Mother herself had awakened me! Time stopped, space no longer existed. She was gazing at me with the sweetest radiant love you could ever imagine! She took me with her for a moment, I don’t remember where.

Just for a moment, think of your own mother’s love times a billion and then some! The frequency of love was so high she was in me, outside of me, taking up my entire room. She was hugging all around me. As she gazed at me with the most ultimate beaming motherly grace, I could see every detail of her. I feel that she took this shape so that my human mind would be able to make sense of her forever-moving force. The crevices and folds of her were so clear, perfect, radiant, loving and peaceful, so peaceful.

She was with me for a long period of time. Though she never said a physical word, she spoke loudly through energy. She just oozed love through every pore and make up of my body and washed my soul.  As I write, recollecting on this, I feel overwhelmed with the beauty I saw.  Her beauty and love is so calm and intense; Ya’ll, it brings me to tears!

I was permanently changed by this event. Being in the presence of her divine love truly affected me on a cellular level. There is never a day that I don’t think about this miracle happening in my life. I am still in utter awe of it. I have never experienced anything that has come slightly close to this miracle. I have so much love for the divine mother in every way and am forever devoted. I feel she is with me at all times. I know that she is all love and loves us more than we could ever truly know! And that is the ultimate message and why I feel the need to share this miraculous apparition.  Her message was, she Loves us so much and don’t forget it!  Connect to her, dance with her, talk to her, love on her behalf, reach out for her.  She is Here.

“I am your moon and your moonlight too. I am your flower garden and your water too. I have come all this way, eager for you, without shoes or shawl. I want you to laugh, to kill your worries, to love you, to nourish you.”

-Rumi

Genevieve is committed to serving and helping others come into their wholeness. 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 teaches Restorative Yoga with Reiki at Laughing Lotus on Friday from 6:45-8:00pm and Sunday from 6:15-7:30. Her website is http://www.InLightandSoul.com


The Rainbow Bridge by Genevieve McClendon

Posted on: March 29th, 2017 No Comments

“May we live like the lotus, forever rooted in the muddy waters.”

-Judith Lasater

In every class that I’ve attended with my teacher, she states, “May we be like the lotus, forever rooted in the muddy waters.”  I appreciate this mantra and reminder because it allows me to honor the importance of being deeply rooted within myself and the divine.  A way we can create this relationship is through the rainbow bridge of the subtle body and chakras. Through alchemizing the chakras we can root into our own true nature and feel fully alive and present in our lives.  In yoga we honor the subtle body and belief that everyone has an energy field and aura.  We acknowledge that each being radiates their own unique vibration of life force. This subtle body is made up of an aura which is made up of layers around the body composed of energy from the chakras.  There are seven major chakras which are spinning orbs of energy that run from the base of the spine to the crown of the head. The chakras  are also connected to 12 meridian channels that move chi up and down the body through the fascia or connective tissues.  Within the fascia there are 72,000 tubular like structures connected to the circulatory system of our body called Nadis.  These seven major chakras are spinning wheels of light or “life batteries” that are our life force. At the base of our body we have feet and legs that root into the earth connecting us to the root chakra and drawing nourishment.  At the crown of our head lives the crown chakra, also known as the 1,000 petal lotus connecting us to the divine.  It’s as if our spine grows out of our pelvic bowl to reach the light of the sun.  From the roots to the crown there is a rainbow bridge or chakra system that draws connection of the earth self to the spiritual self.  The union of the individual and divine.

The Rainbow Bridge:

Root Chakra

On the rainbow bridge the Root Chakra’s color is red.  It is based at the bottom of tail bone.  The Root Chakra’s energy is stability, feeling safe, security, and standing up under pressure.  When Root Chakra is out of alignment one may experience fear, insecurity, no courage, muscle and structural weakness, hip, knee and foot problems.

2nd Chakra – Sacral Plexus

The Sacral Plexus is the color orange.  It is right above the Root Chakra in the pelvic bowl.  The Sacral Chakra energy radiates powerful emotional and creative forces, along with movement, sensuality, and relationship to ourselves and others.  When the Sacral Plexus is out of alignment we may feel controlling, guilty, frigid, dependent, a lack of creativity, close minded, emotionally stuck, difficulty in relationships.

3rd Chakra – Solar Plexus

The Solar Plexus color is yellow.  It radiates in the belly right above the Sacral Plexus. This energy center holds self-confidence, self-empowerment, honesty, digesting life easily, courageousness and authenticity.  When the Solar Plexus is out of alignment one may experience shame, powerlessness, shyness, worry, victimization.

4th Chakra – Heart

The Heart Chakra is green.  It shines at the heart and chest right above the Solar Plexus.  It is the energy center where the earth self and the divine self connect.  The Heart Chakra’s energy when in alignment is of love, compassion, forgiveness, acceptance of others, open heartedness, connected mind and heart, joyfulness, happiness, gratitude and grace.  When out of alignment the Heart Chakra may contribute to experiences of anger, hostility, resentment, jealousy, attachment to others, sadness, grief, sadness, rage and violence.

5th Chakra – Throat

Throat Chakra’s color is blue.  It is located at the throat and neck space above the collar bone.  The Throat Chakra’s energy is of honesty, mercy, compassionate words, positive words, speaking truth, being heard.  When out of alignment the Throat Chakra may cause babbling, verbal diarrhea, empty words, criticism of self and others, or victimized words.  

6th Chakra – Third Eye

The Third Eye’s Chakra color is indigo.  It is located between the eyebrows, on the forehead. The Third Eye’s energy is of wisdom, intuition, clairvoyants, clairaudient, heightened smell, clairsentience, all knowing, seeing beyond illusions.  When the Third Eye is out of alignment we may experience narrow mindedness, arrogant, narcissistic, stuck in structured paradigms, avidya (ignorance).

Crown Chakra

The Crown Chakra’s color is white light.  It is located at the crown of the head. The Crown Chakra’s energy is our connection to source and divine.  This energy center radiates self realization, self love, expanded consciousness, all seeing, all knowing, all feeling, all sensing, walking between the illusions of the world.  When the Crown Chakra is out of alignment we may experience lack of spirituality, underdeveloped higher self, addictions to substances, belongings and emotions.

Each of the seven energy centers are incredibly important as they dictate how we relate to the world, ourselves and the cosmos.  We can empower ourselves by learning about the chakras and which chakras within our own energy field need support and harmony. Through yoga and awareness of the Chakra’s we can root more deeply into our true nature and create inner peace, honoring our subtle body and giving it the support it needs so we can flourish and be fully alive. Living deeply rooted in the muddy waters so we can be the lotus.

“On our journey through life, the chakras are the wheels along the axis that take the vehicle of the Self along our evolutionary quest, across the Rainbow Bridge, to reclaim our divine nature once again.”

-Anodea Judith

Genevieve is committed to serving and helping others come into their wholeness. 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 teaches Restorative Yoga with Reiki at Laughing Lotus on Friday from 6:45-8:00pm and Sunday from 6:15-7:30. Her website is http://www.InLightandSoul.com.


The Programming Karmi

Posted on: January 18th, 2017 No Comments

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Jen at the Tirta Empul Temple in Bali in 2013

by Jen DeSimone

“47 You have the right to work, but never to the fruit of work. You should never engage in action for the sake of reward, nor should you long for inaction. 48 Perform work in this world, Arjuna, as a man established within himself – without selfish attachments, and alike in success and defeat. For yoga is perfect evenness of mind.”

Excerpt From: Easwaran, Eknath. “The Bhagavad Gita.”

Last year I suffered a career crisis.  I hated what I was doing, and I was frustrated by the people with whom I was working.  It was so bad that my manager noticed and commented on it.  When I realized how evident my unhappiness was, I knew that something had to change.  I seriously contemplated whether it was time to change companies or careers even.  I eventually came to the conclusion that changing jobs was actually running away from the real problem.  The real problem wasn’t the job or other people.  The real problem was me.

My yoga students are often surprised when I tell them that my full-time job is writing software.  To them, as to many people, yoga lives in a completely separate world from technology.  I too am sometimes surprised, but not for the same reasons.  When I was in high school I wanted to become an academic.  While I was in graduate school, however, I became disillusioned with academia.  As a result, I quit school and got a programming job while I figured out what I wanted to do next.  Eighteen years later, and I am still coding.

Technology is, as everyone knows, a male-dominated field in which egos abound.  Last year during my career crisis, I realized that after almost two decades working in this domain, I had developed quite the ego.  To be clear, when I say that I had an overdeveloped ego, I mean to say that my self-worth had become dependent on how my work was regarded.  When I was praised, I felt like a rock star.  When I was criticized, I felt like a fraud.

When I was trying to figure out what and how to change, I realized that my attitude to my programming was in sharp contrast with my yoga teaching.  Since beginning to teach in 2012, I have always regarded my teaching as service (“seva”).  The class is never about me.  I observe and help my students as best I can.  If a class is well received, that’s great.  If someone has a critique or a suggestion, that’s great too.  I always walk away from the class with a clear heart and head knowing that I did my best.  This is in the spirit of karma yoga, the yoga of selfless action.  This form of yoga is described in one of the great Hindu texts, The Bhagavad Gita.  In it, the god Krishna teaches a reluctant warrior named Arjuna the importance of taking action, but all the while not being vested in the fruits of that action.

As a result, I realized that I needed to carry over this notion of service into my full-time job.  Of course putting this into practice didn’t happen overnight, but it helped that I had been doing this in my yoga teaching for a few years.  I volunteered to be in meetings more.  In those meetings, I listened to my coworkers.  I was also willing to toss my own assumptions out the window when they didn’t hold true.  And, when things went wrong, I didn’t beat myself up. Instead, I tried to learn what we could do differently in the future and moved on.

When I decided to make these changes, it wasn’t to impress anyone or to get ahead.  I simply wanted to end my own suffering.  The changes, however, did not go unnoticed.  People remarked on them to my manager, who later related them to me.  Whenever he brings it up, I simply say, “I try my best.”  And then, I silently think, “This is also yoga.”

Jen first discovered yoga in 2001 and has been practicing it ever since. Since completing her 200 hour teacher training with Laughing Lotus four years ago, Jen has been offering classes where students are met where they are. You can follow her on her Facebook page.


Now, The Teachings of Yoga

Posted on: September 7th, 2016 No Comments

by Laura S
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It’s hard not to begin with Chapter 1, Sutra 1 when contemplating “The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali.” Depending on the rendition, there are approximately 196 sutras (or threads) that make up this classic work of yogic philosophy, and each time I pick up my copy, there is something new to explore. The sutras build upon one another, so in some ways randomly opening to a sutra (while fun!) means missing out on the profound accumulation and unveiling that happens if you read the sutras in order.

The Sanskrit word “atha” translates to “now begins.” So, the first sutra, “Atha yoga anushasanam,” means, “Now begins the teachings of yoga.” I’ve also heard this sutra translated as practice or sharing instead of teachings. I like each of these word choices for slightly different reasons. In recent weeks I’ve been nerding out a bit over comparing and contrasting three different translations that I have, and I like the nuance of revisiting a familiar sutra with a slightly different translation to examine. Regardless of translation, the key word in this first sutra for me is the word NOW.

Yoga (whether the physical postures, meditative practices, daily sadhanas, or off-mat/real world scenarios) is about our relationship with the present moment. Our practice is about what is happening in our awareness and actions right now in this very second. Everything else (in the Sutras and in life) seemingly comes next, but really we are always in this ever-present now. This is where the practice/teaching/sharing continually exists. Now is always happening, always changing, and always the only thing. It’s overwhelming, but also pretty awesome!

I’m drawn to the idea that each time I step on my mat or open my Yoga Sutras, the practice of yoga starts anew. Now, again and again, I begin. There is something urgent about this sutra. We must begin NOW. But there is also something reassuring. No matter what else has happened, no matter what has come before, we can begin again. Now is always here for us to step into and inhabit.

Of course, after this initial declaration of now comes the work of the remaining 195 sutras. My newest translation is quite fat and at first I was anxious to tear through the pages and get to the end. But, I resisted, and instead have been savoring the first five or so, and especially this first one. The sutras are not merely conceptual; each one can and should be threaded into our practice in real ways. One way to work with the first sutra is to lie down on your mat, or take a walk, or find a comfortable place to sit. Next, simply allow yourself to rest in the now without any concern for what will come next, in your practice or in your day. Feel what the present moment really brings with it and move from moment to moment within the body and the breath. I love this practice because there is so much potential in it: for relaxation, for discovery, for self-reflection, for creativity, for healing, for really noticing.

Stephen Cope’s book “The Wisdom of Yoga” is an interesting exploration of the sutras. He shares personal stories and anecdotes from both himself and his students with the sutras as a pervading wisdom that can be applied to each person’s situation (and I love that these ancient aphorisms really can apply to our modern lives). One line from Cope’s book has become a mantra of sorts for me, and I have written it down and taped it above my desk: The self is a process, not an entity. This idea is what inspires me most in my yoga practice: we are all in the midst of a fluid and dynamic process where who we are and what is happening is never fixed. Each breath is new. Now, the practice of yoga.   

Laura believes the transformational power of yoga is accessible to everyone. Catch her Lotus Basics classes on the schedule later this fall!


The Divine Mother and all her forms

Posted on: July 13th, 2016 No Comments
by Astrud Castillo

astrud meditation green heart

My experience with this theme always comes back to the way I relate to the Earth and Mother Nature and how that reflects in my relationships and Yoga.

This topic now has a name, it is called Eco Yoga. This would be the study of the environment in which plants, animals, and humans live, and the application of moral and spiritual principles of Yoga, an ancient practice, while applying it to our modern situation.
We can apply the Yamas (how we relate to others) and the Niyamas (how we relate to ourselves) to how we relate to Mother Nature.

I heard the acronym G.O.D standing for the Great Out Doors.
I believe in the sanctity of the great outdoors and know the power of connecting to spirit through a walk in the woods, a hike on the mountain, or a nap in the park.

So I ask myself: How can I apply the Yama-Ahimsa (nonviolence) to consciousness about what our planet needs? In what ways am I harming the environment? And how can I lighten my carbon footprint?

I picked some examples of how we can apply these principles starting with the Yamas:

AHIMSA translates to Nonviolence or reverence to ALL forms of life. The main practice here would be to adopt a vegetarian or vegan diet. We are invited to be mindful of how we may cause suffering to animals and even plant life. If you choose to consume animal products, be mindful to not support the widespread and cruel practice of factory farming. Get educated! Join P.E.T.A

SATYA means truthfulness. Can we be honest about our situation with the environment? How can we stay informed and not fall into a pit of ignorance around these issues. We must remain awake on all fronts, not just for our own salvation but for the salvation of our surroundings. We might be concerned about the local air quality if we practice pranayama (breath control). And in order to sustain healthy bodies and eating habits we want to make sure our fruits and vegetables have not been laden with pesticides. Here is a site to keep you informed and to inspire you! earth911.com

APARIGRAHA means not hoarding or taking only what we need and relating to life in a balanced, non-grasping manner. Do I respect the rights of others to share limited resources? If you take something, consider how you can replenish it.

Here are a few examples of some Niyamas and how they help us relate to the environment:

SAUCA means cleanliness. I may consider how respectful of the environment I am. Do I pick up after myself or ask how I contribute to pollution? How I can eliminate it from the environment and my own life?

TAPAS means discipline or commitment. Am I personally committed to making an effort and making a difference no matter how small?

ISVARAPRANIDHANA translates to devotion to the Divine or to reality. G.O.D, the Great Out Doors! Do I revere nature and make an effort to commune and connect to my source and have respect for not only my inner environment but my OUTER environment too?

There are numerous efforts we can make. Maybe riding a bike instead of driving a car, or changing light bulbs to compact fluorescent bulbs to avoiding products with a lot of packaging (reducing your garbage by 10% reduces carbon dioxide emissions by 1,200 pounds). Planting a tree (a single tree absorbs one ton of carbon dioxide over it’s lifetime) or turn off electronic devices when not in use. The most powerful effort you could consider would be going vegetarian. 51% or MORE of global green house gas emissions are caused by animal agriculture!!!

These are some basic concepts most of us are familiar with.
We are now starting to look at them through the Yogic lens.
It is said we have two eyes we look out of, but really one we truly see from. Developing a relationship with the natural world and what sustains us as a species helps us to rediscover wisdom and live in the harmony and balance we seek as Yogis.

Jai Ma…
Astrud

Astrud teaches Yoga, leads her Kirtan group https://www.facebook.com/Astrud-and-the-Cosmic-Caravan-126578667531850/ and leads retreats to India. *Upcoming retreat to India October 20-November 17th 2016 – For Info on all the above check out http://yogawithastrud.com/ Or my FB page https://www.facebook.com/AstrudMaitriYoga/


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

Posted on: June 29th, 2016 No Comments

by Jasmine Tarkeshi

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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.


Meditation is the Medication

Posted on: May 11th, 2016 No Comments

by Astrud Castilloastrud meditation green heart

It is a new moon tonight and there is a sense of emptiness in the sky. I have longed for this sense of emptiness to be so in my head. I chased all sorts of behaviors to quiet the chatter in my overactive mind.

This overactive mind, which feels like a dangerous neighborhood at times, is what brought me to my knees and lead to my spiritual practice over 20 years ago.
My mother had been urging me to meditate long before I fell to my knees but couldn’t hear it coming from her. As they say when the student is ready the teacher appears.

I was in a big transition, ending a relationship, moving, confused, uncertain of my work and completely lost. At that time I was introduced to a wonderful women named Nancy, who was in her 70’s at the time but looked like she was in her 50’s. She had quite a story and had been a big time fashion model in NYC in the 50’s – a wild child of sorts. She was trying to rebuild her life after her long stint of modeling and addiction and in her 40’s had found Meditation. Nancy invited me up to Dai Bosatsu Zendo, a Zen Monastery located in the Catskill Mountains of upstate New York.

It was a life changing experience for me.

I was completely ready to embrace where I was, I was ready to sit with myself and not run away. I was so gently reminded – THE ONLY WAY OUT IS THROUGH. In stillness, I would continuously struggle with berating myself with violent thoughts that followed with brutal actions towards myself. This was the farthest behavior from the Yoga practice of AHIMSA, non-violence. Sitting for me was uncomfortable to say the least more along the lines of terrifying. I believed the hype in my head and I thought I WAS the hype in my head. As I began to practice sitting regularly I started to recognize the little spaces between my thoughts and I could see and feel the light of love not fear and self-hatred. I started to watch my thoughts and recognize the mind was simply doing what it does best, entertaining me! I began witnessing and not participating in my thoughts.

THAT was REVOLUTIONARY for me!

Like Chogyam Trungpa said, “Meditation is one insult after the other.” I completely understood this. If it wasn’t “you’re not good enough,” then it was “you don’t have time for this.” It was a constant roll of negative mantras and insults. As a result of discipline, which for me translates into commitment, I started to develop a spine by sitting up tall and taking my seat. I became less dependent on outside forces, I became more responsible for my action, I became much more compassionate towards myself and as a result towards others and I developed and embodied the practice of Ahimsa. I became aware of an inner strength and the ability to comprehend what was real and what was not.

Meditation has been one of the most precious and transformative gifts of my life and is what lead me to Yoga. My meditation after many years is not a formal sit today. Communing with nature and music have replaced a formal sit. These practices have allowed for me to be completely absorbed and engaged with what is right in front of me. I shower in the morning, have some tea and engage for 20-30 min of chanting. After chanting, I sit and embody the power of sound and vibration and how it wakes me up on a deep cellular level. I engage with stillness. Every Monday (Moonday) I commune with nature. I take a very intentional walk and or adventure and let myself reap the healing effects, such as peace of mind, connecting with my breath and with that which breaths me.

Sri Desikachar, a beautiful man I had the honor of studying with in India over several years and the son of Sri Krishnamacharya, talks about linking the mind to something good-subha (auspicious) and how this is a necessary aspect of meditation. He says: “What is subha, what is auspicious, is something that only a caring guide can indicate, one who knows you well enough to choose.” I am eternally grateful to Swami Satchidananda for this reminder, “Don’t think that only when you close your eyes, you are meditating. Anything that you do with total attention IS meditation.”

“All those who love Nature she loves in return, and will richly reward, not perhaps with the good things, as they are commonly called, but with the best things, of this world- not with money and titles, horses and carriages, but with bright and happy thoughts, contentment and peace of mind.” – John Lubbock

“The object of Indian music is the training of the mind and soul, for music is the best way of concentration. When you tell a person to concentrate on a certain object, the very act of trying to concentrate makes his mind more disturbed. But music, which attracts the soul, keeps the mind concentrated. Besides, the beauty of music, there is that tenderness which brings life to the heart.” – Hazrat Inayat Khan, the great Sufi master and musician.

A simple, profound & gentle instruction by Jack Kornfield goes like this:
To awaken, sit calmly, letting each breath clear your mind and open your heart.

Hari Om….

http://yogawithastrud.com/ For info on India retreat in October 2016
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https://www.facebook.com/AstrudMaitriYoga/ for latest on Yoga.
https://www.facebook.com/Astrud-and-the-Cosmic-Caravan-126578667531850/ for all Kirtan updates


Meditation: compassion towards Self

Posted on: May 4th, 2016 No Comments
by Yurina Kim

Yurina

What do you do when someone tells you your opinion is wrong? That your feelings and emotions aren’t warranted. That you should change the way you think. A common reaction would be resentment toward the that person and sadly in some ways, thoughts of dissatisfaction toward yourself.

For so many years I would hear the word “meditate” and draw back from it because of people telling me I should try it to help me with my mental and emotional issues. That it would change my life. Now, this doesn’t sound so bad right? The reason why I cringed at the idea was because I already had thoughts of dissatisfaction toward myself and was defensive at the thought of someone telling me ways to “fix” myself. The last thing I wanted to do at the time was listen to my own thoughts in absolute quiet! I needed distractions, I needed solutions, I needed to actively seek ways to help my situation change with more immediate results.

After many years of seeking my path of happiness to no avail, I finally caved and tried meditating. I took baby steps. First, it was by going to yoga classes and sitting quietly for a few minutes at the beginning and end of each practice. I remember one day we started the class with Dharmachakra Mudra with our eyes closed. I saw vivid colors circling through my fingers and the energy around me soft and with purpose, like I was meant to sit in that room in that exact moment. I felt like I was grounded but floating at the same time. My internal and external was in harmony. My energy was balanced. At that moment I thought, well if this is what meditation feels like, this is great! Well, that moment was exactly that – a moment that came and went.

Meditating is the hardest thing I ever had to discipline myself to do. Meditation takes incredible COURAGE. Honesty. Focus. Compassion toward Self. This seemingly innocent practice challenged me to unearth the layers of imperfections and insecurities I was constantly pushing further and deeper inside to hide that part of me from the world. I had to start listening to my own voice inside. The child-like innocence, the bruised heart that came from years of beating myself up over not being better than I was. Warm compassion would flood through me for that imperfect person I was trying to escape. I started loving that person because my unique journey, just like the unique journey that all of you have, made me the person I am today and in this moment I accept me for me. Those so-called imperfections create depth to who I am and meditation helped me learn to embrace all parts of myself. I can finally learn how to let go of the expectations I put on myself. I can let go of what I now realize as aggression toward myself. That person who was telling me I was wrong and needed to change? Ultimately, that ended up being me, the very person who I was resentful toward in the beginning.

Rather than “fixing” yourself by trying to make yourself a supposedly better person, meditation helps you become friends with yourself. To accept the imperfections which create YOU. Meditation allows acceptance versus change. Letting go versus force. Change is a byproduct. Meditate so you can navigate your current self through the constant flux that is the universe we live in.

Just like there’s no right or wrong way to think or feel, there’s no right or wrong way to meditate. We all have our own poisons and our own path we need to find and follow, which is why it’s important to practice meditation regularly to figure out what YOUR path is. With that said, guidance is wonderful.

Here are a few basic things I learned in my own routine to prepare myself for meditation:
● Morning distractions? Push those aside! How many of you check your phone right after you wake up, before your feet even touch the ground? Keep that phone outside of the bedroom.
I wake up, take a deep breath of air, say thank you to whoever I feel grateful toward that morning, feed my dog, oil-pull with sesame oil, brush my teeth, drink warm lemon water, eat breakfast, read a few pages of something yoga-related in the morning to exercise my mind, walk my dog, then I open my laptop and start my work day.
Trust me when I say, my first instinct in the mornings is still to check my phone and sometimes I slip. And on those days that I slip, I do feel off in the morning but will close my eyes briefly, take a deep breathe, and let it go.
● Mantra with mala. I switch between my rosary my mother gave me when I was younger, and a mala bead necklace. They both speak to me so I use both of them! I recite a morning mantra that I need during the day. Sometimes it’s a simple “So Ham”, which translates to “I am that, that I am”.
● I love mudras. Usually I use Gyan mudra on my left hand with my beads in my right hand. I also love Dhyani Mudra because of the bowl your hand creates which represents receptivity in the purest form to whatever path lies before you in that moment. Knowing the meaning of a mudra and using the physical act during meditation helps to create more space in the mind for clearer, non-cluttered focus.

All you need is the basic energy of life that already flows in you to experience moments of enlightenment. Enlightenment itself can be a loaded, intimidating word because some people strive for this fantasy-like place that you stay in forever once you reach it. This defeats the goal of release, of letting go. So it can be a simple “a-ha” moment or a feeling of complete and utter satisfaction. That passing moment of seeing colors coursing through my hands that I mentioned earlier? That energy was always there since the day I was born through all the ups and downs, is still inside of me now, and will still be there as I survive through what life throws at me next. These little moments of enlightenment come and go but they help you remember that the energy that creates those moments channels through you with every breath you take. Sometimes I find myself in these periods of total surrender to the universe when I’m not in a seated meditative position because the meditative tools I’ve cultivated stay with me. One example is when I’m scuba diving, particularly muck-diving. From the outside, you would find me staring at one square meter distance in the sand for a good hour. But from my eyes, I see the symbiotic relationship of a gobi fish and shrimp, the spots of a hiding stingray, the head of an eel poking out from a nearby rock, a baby octopus changing colors. Ignoring the big school of fish everyone is trying to photograph because I’m focused on the teeny tiny frog fish barely perceptible to the eye, slowly making its way across the sand. All this color and beauty made me become one with the vast ocean surrounding every part of me, and I felt total freedom. These are the moments we live for and to feel. Freedom that comes from being honest in your truth, in the space you occupy, in your present moment with who you are, just as you are.

When it comes to finding this joy, we all have the lotus flower inside that’s always ready to bloom, to show its existence while pushing through the mud. This mud full of of insecurities, worries, fears, doubt. This beauty, wonder, and mystery that is life, is present in every ordinary thing we do. Every breath, every step, every time we blink our eyes and realize we’ve been staring right past the very thing right under our nose that makes us smile, in an attempt get a better view of whatever it is that everyone else is looking at.

From the outside, someone sees you staring at nothingness, not really doing much of anything. But inside, there is so much more than what meets the naked eye. Meditation allows you dive deep, look within, and find freedom to love who you are and where you are right now.

Yurina Kim is our Marketing and Community Relations extraordinaire.


Mirror of Love

Posted on: February 17th, 2016 1 Comment

by Genevieve McClendon

HEART-12

“When you say something like (“I love you”) with your whole being, not just with your mouth or your intellect, it can transform the world.”
-Thich Nhat Hanh

When was the last time you looked at yourself in the mirror and said I love you? I don’t mean checking to see if your makeup is in place or if you feel you look the part for the day. I mean to truly look into the depths of your own soul and emanate love for your own being and to marvel at the essence of your soul. When I first heard one of my teachers suggest this as a daily practice I felt my ego say, I don’t need to do that , that is so vain and sometimes I don’t feel the love. Then I heard my higher self say, what a different way to see and activate love. This is my Bhakti practice I want to share with you. This is my act of love and compassion towards the Beloved that lives in all of us.

The essence of Bhakti yoga is showing up and loving in every moment in all that one does. Loving the Divine within and the Divine all around, Bhakti yoga is the path of spiritual devotion to love. It is realizing the connection between the self and omnipresent love, also known as God, Goodness, Higher Self, Breath, Spirit, Atman, Beloved, Buddha, Mystery, Universal Life Force, Divinity, Supreme Love or Source. The Sanskrit root of bhakti is bhaj, “to engage with affection”. There are nine different forms in Bhakti that one can use to practice devotion:

1.) Sravanam- hearing stories of gods/goddess and vibrational sounds
2.) Kirtanam- chanting or singing
3.) Visnu smaranam- remembering God
4.) Pada sevana- serves at the feet of God
5.) Arcanam- deity worship
6.) Bandanam- prayer
7.) Dasyam- executing order, doing your duty
8.) Sakham- serving as a friend with God
9.) Atma Nivedanam- complete surrender, releasing the concept that we are separate from anything I believe that one of the greatest acts of love is moving inside and deeply loving all the different aspects of ourselves. We deserve love even when we let down our friend, even when we show up late for work, even when our relationships fails, even on the worst day of our lives. There is true essence of goodness in all of us and we don’t come any closer to finding it if we don’t love ourselves. Love is the most powerful force in the universe. That is Bhakti yoga, connecting to the supreme love within everything.

In Narada’s translation of the Bhakti sutras he states, “Supreme love is love for everything and everyone at all times. It is a love that gives without limit and receives without limit. One sees God everywhere and loves what he sees, and one feels himself a part of God and accepts the love of the Divine. It is activating our ability to be the Lover and Beloved.”

When we tap into our willingness to love ourselves, with active awareness, we are serving as a friend to God (Sakham). I say, I love you three times to myself in the morning. As I look in a mirror, standing before myself in vulnerability to see through my ego’s judgments, I actively engage that day, I allow an act of presence with myself. Saying those three words, I love you, I love you, I love you, causes a ripple effect of gratitude for the wonder of my life. It allows me to open the floodgates of love into my world as the day starts. I feel the sweetness of this gift to myself. At first, this practice of love felt pretty awkward. Some days I may not feel as well as other days, some days feel like nothing is going right, but I still enter into this daily practice giving conscious love. This discipline and commitment to loving oneself, despite the trials of life, have contributed to my stability, perseverance and gratitude. That is my act of devotion to self. Now I can engage with the lover in me, the mother in me, the father in me, the child in me, the beloved in me as I allow myself to be present with devoting conscious love. Next time you look into the mirror, look deep into your own eyes and say I love you three times. See what comes up for you. Then everyday for the rest of your life, give this sweet, fun, deep act of love to your Self.

When you realize that you are the light of the world, you will also realize that you are the love of it; that to know is to love and to love is to know.
-Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj

I love you, I love you, I love you!

Genevieve is committed to serving and helping others come into their wholeness. 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 teaches Restorative Yoga with Reiki at Laughing Lotus on Friday from 6:45-8:00pm and Sunday from 6:15-7:30. Her website is www.InLightandSoul.com


THE PATH OF THE HEART THROUGH SONG

Posted on: February 3rd, 2016 No Comments

by Robin Wilner

robin

“There’s nothing you can know that isn’t known / Nothing you can see that isn’t shown / There’s nowhere you can be that isn’t where you’re meant to be. It’s easy / All you need is love, all you need is love / All you need is love, love. Love is all you need.” – The Beatles

I’ve always adored these lyrics, simple in their phrasing yet so profound in their meaning. Imagine if life really was that simple? What if every thought, deed, or action we experienced was fully surrendered to the extraordinary power of Love? How would we interact in our most intimate relationships if we regarded every being with a tender heart? This is the essence of Bhakti Yoga, the yoga of devotion, or the pathway of the heart.

The Sanskrit word bhakti comes from the root bhaj, which means to “engage with affection.” Bhakti yoga has been called “pure love” or “devotional service.” While the word yoga means “union,” Bhakti yoga thus refers to engaging in a union with the Divine through a chosen path of love and devotion. Like the other paths of yoga – Jnana (the path of knowledge and introspection), Karma (the path of action and service to others) Raja (the path of transcending the mind) and Hatha (the path of the physical body) – Bhakti Yoga is a gateway to self-realization and the experience of Oneness with every aspect of the universe.

You can call it the Beloved, the Divine, God, or more simply, the deep connection to all other conscious beings on this earth; no matter the chosen words, the language is universal. With bhakti, we are inviting compassion and empathy into our relationships, using acts of love and service to help others, and in essence practicing our connection to the universal concept of yoga.

I used to be terrified of saying the word God out loud. Somehow, it seemed so inappropriate, as though the reference instantly invited more vulnerability into a conversation than I was willing to let in. And yet, I never had trouble SINGING the word. In Hebrew prayers growing up I hummed Adonai; in choral groups in college, we harmonized to Deus or Dio in Latin and Italian hymns; then I found myself vacationing at an ashram in the Bahamas and chanting to Ganesha, Krishna, Saraswati and numerous other Hindu deities. Somehow the power of song had been guiding my heart all along towards a universal idea – all worship in the form of love (no matter the chosen words) ultimately leads to the same Truth.

My first real exposure to Bhakti as a practice came on my first night at that ashram in Nassau. Each morning and evening, the residents and guests would come together for satsang (a spiritual gathering) under a great dome. After thirty minutes of meditation, someone would begin to play the harmonium and lead this beautiful call-and-response chanting. I remember the hundred or so voices in the room coming together so harmoniously and passionately that it took my breath away. I had absolutely no idea what the words meant, but I followed along in my manual and soon got carried away clapping and swaying and singing at the top of my lungs, as other yogis took to various instruments laying about the room. It was the most joyful experience to have with a community of people I’d never met before; I felt an overwhelming connection as my heart started to burst open towards this unknown pull. These morning and evening satsangs became my favorite aspect of ashram life. Then on my return trip, I had the incredible opportunity to attend several Kirtans with Krishna Das. As we belted out the various names of God together in a series of Sanskrit chants, our group of voices merged together to become One Voice. I was hooked.

Mantras – these short phrases packed with energy and intention – were my way to find the Source with words, as dance had for years been my way to find God without words. My love for chanting grew as I continued to practice at Laughing Lotus, where I knew that each class would begin with a devotional mantra and an opportunity to generate unity with my fellow yogis through sound. I learned to play the harmonium while immersed in an advanced Bhakti training module, and soon discovered an infinite array of Sanskrit mantras designed to promote healing, insight, creativity, and spiritual growth.

Ever since I bought my own harmonium, the floodgates of creativity have been unleashed, and I now write music almost every day! Never did I dream that I would have the ability (or even the desire) to compose music…but when I chant, I feel passionate but peaceful, joyful but meditative, withdrawn from my troubles but powerfully connected to the Source.

There are many layers to this path of devotion – whether through the simple acts of showing kindness to a fellow being, saying a prayer of gratitude before a meal, chanting a mantra for peace on your way to work, reading or writing poetry about Love, or devoting your yoga practice to someone in need of healing energy. All of these acts have the power to enhance your relationship with God / the Beloved / the Divine / your true Self. Choose your language, but know that it all leads down the same path to the same truth. And all you need is love, love…Love is all you need.

Join us all month long at Laughing Lotus as we bathe in this yoga of devotion through movement, mantra, and the joy of being together on the path of Love!

Robin is a passionate dancer/singer and yogi who loves to explore the power of expression through creative movement and mantra. She also happily speaks, writes, and sings the word God with pride. Catch a class with her at Laughing Lotus on Monday/Friday at Noon, Tuesday/Thursday at 9am, or Sunday at 10am.