Life cannot be Hurried

[Lately, whenever we experienced ‘diarrhea of words’ between my partner and I.. meaning they can be worth, because of getting rid of it from your system.. or just meaningless flow of unnecessary spitting… he always said ‘the important thing is now, not the past.. because now I am with you!  It took me a while to digest it, until I bumped into the following entry by Leanne in True Yoga website (www.trueyogainc.com).  And it goes very well within the context of being in the now, not only applicable for yoga practice, but, indeed for life.  You may notice by now, no matter how I have practiced yoga and which level I have attained.. as long as I cannot practice it in my real life as a day-to-day behaviour, attitude and approach to life.. I may as well continue to practice, to learn, to draw experience, to be humble.. to improve myself and becoming better every day.]

 

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[Gyantze Tibet – photography courtesy of Gladia Budianto]

This is a Maasai saying.  The Maasai people live in Magadura in East Africa, a small village in the highlands above the Serengeti.  When I first read this quote the other day, I felt tremendous amount of relief.  It is simply another way of saying ‘life is a journey, not a destination’ yet everytime I hear this I awaken to a new perspective of life and a deeper experience of peace and well being.  Said another way: The good life is a process, not a state of being.  It is a direction, not a destination. – Carl Rogers.

 

Recently in class, I’ve been reminding students to experience the fullness of each breath.  So often we are breathing with the intention of getting to the next place, the next moment, the next breath.  This becomes particularly obvious in our yoga practice.  Not long ago, as I was practicing yoga, I noticed I was hurrying through breathing in each pose.  I began to see how this shows up n my life.  This obsession with always looking to the next moment…

 

My practice is beginning to shift and slow down since I’ve had this awareness, as well as, my teaching.  I am realizing the true practice of yoga is in the quality of our breath, not the pace of our movement or the number of poses we get into each practice.  The true practice of yoga and living yoga, is in breathing each breath to the fullest.  To feel each breath be complete and fully expanded, before we seek to take our next breath…

 

The following poem is called Lost, by David Wagoner:

 

Stand still.  The trees ahead and the bushes beside you

are not lost.  Wherever you are is called Here,

And you must treat is as a powerful stranger,

Must ask permission to know it and be known.

The forest breathes.  Listen.  It answers,

I have made this place around you.

If you leave it, you may come back again, saying Here.

No two trees are the same Raven.

No two branches are the same Wren.

If what a tree or bush does is lost on you,

You are surely lost.  Stand still.  The forest knows

where you are.  You must let it find you.

 

May we awaken to the joy of the journey with each full breath of the way.

 

Happy, Full and Peaceful Breathing!

 

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Rumi and The Whirling Dervishes

[There are various approaches to meditate, besides the typical cross-legged one.  We know there is also walking meditation or any repetitive physical movements which actually form a rhythm to ultimately quiet the mind.  There is chanting which not only repeating mantras or sentences to focus the intention subsequently form as a prayer.  I am always enchanted with the Dervishes who keeps on singing, dancing, whirling and whirling in a trance mode… what are they achieving by doing so.. where does it come from originally…  In the light of a series of entries about Rumi, here is the connection between them and the mystery behind it.]

 

images31The Whirling Dervishes were founded in the 13th century by the great Sufi mystic and poet, Muhammad Jalaluddin Rumi.  Rumi, born in Afghanistan in 1207, he came to Turkey when the Mongols invaded his homeland and settled in the city of Konya with his family.  Following in his father’s footsteps, Rumi became a scholar in spiritual readings, and a practitioner of Sufism or a theosophist, besides he is also known as a mystic poet, a thinker.  If you ask him, ‘What are you?’  He would say, ‘I am nothing but a simple lover of God.’  A true lover of God has no definite nationality, language or race for loves everything without discrimination.  Rumi turned to poetry and losing himself in dance and song to reach ecstatic states and thus commune with God.  His disciples called him Mevlana (our leader), and that’s where the Mevlevi Whirling Dervishes took their name.

 

images8Sufism is a mystical sect of Islam that believes God is in everything, and that humans can come in direct contact with the Divine spirit through love of life and all that is around them.  Rumi firmly believed that Muslims are by no means the only people to whom God has revealed himself.. love of God transcends particular religions and nationalities.

 

Dervish literally means ‘doorway’ and is thought to be an entrance from material world to the spiritual world.  Their dance is called Mevlevi Sema – the dance of the Whirling Dervishes.  It becomes part of the Turkish history, beliefs and culture.  The Sema ceremony represents man’s ascent to Heaven, his spiritual journey, his turning towards the truth, growth through love, desertion of self to lose oneself in God.  

 

autr6jacap77z8sca44si02ca58mhgmcailznonca349sgpca17wmygcafqrhudcapqzvb7caxtsbjlcazqflotcae3kakccav22ag7cab3r732cahmzh0ucaet92aqcab8ihghcaslghy7The whirling is a prayer during which the Dervish’s body can become open to receive the energy of God.  For this to occur, the Dervish attempts to be empty of ego or sense of self.  Turning with one palm extended upward to receive and one palm extended downward to give, the Dervish does not attempt to keep the power.  Dancers are wearing tall conical felt hats and long white robes with full skirts covered with heavy black cloaks.  The white robes symbolize their worldly tombs and the hats, their tombstones.  By the third circuit around the hall, they drop their black cloaks, which is symbolic of their deliverance from the cares and attachments of the world.  One by one with arms folded over their hearts, they approach the sheikh, and bow to him.  Upon receiving blessings or instructions whispered in their ears, they spin out on to the floor.  The whirling induces a trance-like state that allows them to forget about their earthy lives and join in mystical union with God.

 

images11Everything in the universe revolves – the planets around their Sun, the Earth on its axis, the protons, electrons and neutrons in our body.  The Whirling Dervish aligns him or herself with that Universal Truth so that when the Dervish turns, the universe opens.

 

The practice of the Whirling Dervishes may have declined in Turkey since Ataturk’s ban, but international attention and admiration of the Sufi tradition has increased significantly.  Today Dervish groups from Turkey travel all over the world in cultural exchanges, whirling and sharing their love of God.

 

The above note is collated from different sources.

Upala Yoga

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‘The art and practice of stone balancing has been cultivated around the world for thousands of years.  It’s known by names such as Land Art, Awareness Art, Petromancy and Earthworks.  I call it Upala Yoga (Stone Yoga).  Upala and Yoga are Sanskrit words; Upala means stone and Yoga means union.  Upala Yoga is temporal, hours can be spent on a sculpture and a subtle vibration or light wind can take it down in an instant.  It’s a meditative art that evokes a sense of amazement, focuses our attention in the moment, and challenges us to examine our attachment to the material world.’

 

The above text was written by Shane Hart, the artist who is practicing balancing the stone in Bellingham, WA, USA – where he lives with his family.  A steady crowd and followers bring also a sense of community around where he lives as he practices his Upala Yoga at a city park.  Check out his link on www.stonetostone.com

 

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Tranquil Tummy

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Soothe a troubled digestive system with these natural remedies.

 

According to Ayurveda, gas and constipation are signs of disturbed vata and low agni.  Vata, meaning ‘wind’, governs our body’s internal and external motion.  Agni, or ‘digestive fire’, transforms what we eat into the nutrients the body can assimilate and transform into energy.  Certain foods, cold or dry weather, or disruptions to your schedule can upset both, resulting in slow digestion and stagnation in the digestive tract.  For mild constipation or gas, follow these guidelines to calm your vata and stabilize your agni.

 

Eat right – Balance vata’s cool, rough dryness with moist, warm meals of freshly cooked whole foods.  Avoid cold, dry, fried and processed foods.  And eat moderate amounts at regular mealtimes even if you don’t feel hungry.

 

Butter up – Stoke your agni by adding a teaspoon of ghee (clarified butter) and some warming spices such as ginger, cumin, or cinnamon to your meals.

 

Go herbal – Traditional Ayuverdic herbal formulas such as hingwashtak, avipattikar and trikatu are effective agni boosters when taken in powder form added to warm water.

 

Make lemonade – Warm lemonade alleviates the tissue dryness associated with constipation and gas.  Upon waking, stir the juice of one-quarter lemon into a large mug of warm water, along with a teaspoon of raw, unprocessed honey.

 

Try Triphala – Triphala is a traditional combination of three dried fruits, in powder form, that acts as a mild laxative for some.  Mainly, though, it’s a tonic that detoxifies the colon and improves its ability to absorb the subtle life force, or prana, from digested food before waste is eliminated.

Smooth moves – Forward bends and twists compress the lower abdomen to release gas.  They also relieve tension that can disrupt peristalsis, says Jillian Pransky, director of retorative yoga teacher training for YogaWorks, who suggests the following poses:

 

Pavanamuktasana (Wind-relieving pose)

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Balasana (Child’s pose) supported

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Paschimottanasana (Seated forward pose)

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Supta Baddha Konasana (Reclining Bound Angle Pose), supported

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Janu Sirsasana (Head of the knee pose), supported

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Jathara Parivartanasa (Revolved abdomen pose)

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By Niika Quistgard from Yoga Journal October 2008

 

Note:

Hingwashtak – provides relief from Vata type digestive problems such as bloating and flatulence.  Contains:
Pippali (Piper longum), Ginger (Zingiber offinale), Marica (Piper nigrum), Ajamoda (Carum roxburghianum), Saindhava (Rock salt), Sveta jeeraka (Cuminum cyminum), Krsna jeeraka (Carum carvi), Hingu (Ferula foetida)
Avipattikar – relief digestive heat Contains: cane sugar, nishoth, cardamom, clove and ginger.

Trikatu – Trikatu is a renowned Ayurvedic digestive compound, which raises the metabolism to eliminate toxins and ensure efficient digestion of food.  Contains: Pippali (long pepper), Marica (black pepper), Sunthi (dry ginger)

Spice makes Nice

Fragrant cardamom lends its subtle sweetness to chai and

is natural digestive aid.

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Ever taste the earthy vanilla undertones in chai or Indian milk desserts and wonder what that special flavor is? Most likely it’s the spice cardamom.  In the traditional Indian medicine, Ayurveda, cardamom seeds are also used as lozenges to suck on after meals to help digestion.  From an Ayurvedic perspective, acid from tea and coffee, and spicy foods like curries, irritate the intestines, leading to an increase of gas-producing mucus that then makes congestive ingredients such as milk, cheese, and wheat much more difficult to digest.  

 

It turns out that the tiny cardamom seeds reduce mucus buildup caused by heavier foods – especially rich desserts – and contain natural carminatives, which reduce gas.  Cardamom is also alkaline, making it natural antidote to acid.  As a member of the ginger family, cardamom has been used to make heavy and acidic foods easier to digest for more than 5000 years.  Throughout the Middle East even coffee is brewed with ground cardamom seeds, reducing its acid and neutralizing the stimulating effects of caffeine (plus it tastes good!).  Cardamom is also one of the richest sources of the phytochemical cineole, a potent antiseptic for bad breath, gum disease, sore throats, and respiratory conditions.

 

Ground into a spice with a mortar and pestle, cardamom can be dusted on French toast, stirred into puddings and squash soups, or sprinkled over vanilla ice cream.  It’s sure to make ordinary foods naturally sweeter on the palate and easier on the tummy.

By John Douillard – Yoga Journal, October 2008.

Note: Cardamom = kapulaga in Bahasa Indonesia.

Mantra: So’Ham [I am That]

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So’ham is perhaps the simplest of all mantras but these two syllables are immensely sacred and powerful.  They mean ‘I am That’ with ‘That’ referring to the Divine foundation of all reality.  So’ham is a simple breath mantra: Mentally repeat ‘so’ on the outbreath, and then ‘hum’ on the inbreath.  When you begin, with each outbreath you may be aware of receiving act of giving and letting go.  With each inbreath you may be aware of receiving of honoring the Self in the moment.  Eventually, all intentions dissolve into the simple pulsation of the mantra’s sonic qualities, bringing a stillness and peace within the rhythm that is like serene ocean waves.

 

Hamsah is a Tantric version of this mantra.  The word hamsah means ‘swan’, which represents the individual soul, and can be translated to mean ‘I am That,’ as well.  Repeat ‘hum’ on the inbreath and ‘sah’ on the outbreath, observing the innate energy of your breath as it rises and falls in the spine.

 

Either version of this mantra is perfect to use in meditation or in Savasana.  Synchronize the repetition of the mantra with Ujjayi Pranayama to realize powerful results over time.

 

By Christopher D.Wallis, who is a Sanskrit scholar at the University of California, Berkeley (yogasthana.org) – Yoga Journal May 2009.

Sigit Witjaksono, ‘Hoakiao’ dari Lasem

By Ahmad Arif

Printed in Kompas Cetak, 09 September 2008

 

Lasem, kota tua berhawa panas di pesisir utara Jawa Tengah pada tahun 1961.  Seorang hoakiao muda membuat udara Lasem tambah gerah setelah mempersunting gadis Jawa, putri seorang panitera dan keponakan wedono dari Tulungagung, Jawa Timur.

 

Hoakiao – istilah untuk Cina perantauan – itu bernama Njo Tjoen Hian, putra perajin batik.  Pernikahannya tersebut melawan arus masyarakat waktu itu, yang masih menganggap miring pernikahan antar-etnis dan antar-agama.

 

‘Pada waktu itu perkawinan Tionghoa dan Jawa biasanya delik-delik (sembunyi-sembunyi).   Sementara saya menikah resmi di catatan sipil,’ kata Njo Tjoen Hian, yang sejak tahun 1959 lebih sering menggunakan nama Sigit Witjaksono ini.

 

Tentang namanya ini, Njo Tjoen Hian menjelaskan, ‘Sigit Witjaksono itu merupakan versi bahasa Jawa dari Njo Tjoen Hian.  Artinya sama, yaitu kebaikan dan kebijaksanaan.’

 

Perjuangan Sigit mempersunting Marpat Rochani, putri priayi dari Jawa Timur, itu memang tidak mudah.  Tak ada satupun keluarga dari pihak istrinya yang mau datang pada acara pernikahan mereka ketika itu.  Sigit sampai merasa dipermalukan.  ‘Saya menangis wkatu itu,’ kata Sigit.

 

Akan tetapi, dia tidak pupus harapan.  Ia selalu mencoba untuk terus berbuat baik terhadap keluarga istrinya. ‘Lambat laun, mereka mulai ikhlas dan bisa menerima, apalagi setelah mereka melihat rumah tangga kami yang rukun.  Wong belah gowo damar, Gusti Allah ora samar,’ kata Sigit mengutip pepatah Jawa, tentang Tuhan yang akan selalu menjaga.

 

Ketika keluarga dan warga sekitar mulai menerima perkawinan campur itu, tantangan justru datang dari pemerintah.  Akta kelahiran anaknya diberi cap: akte kelahiran untuk warga keturunan Republik Rakyat Tiongkok (RRT). ‘Saya RRT saja tidak tahu bentuknya.  Tanah Jawan ini tempat lahir dan mungkin tempat nanti saya mati juga.  Kenapa seolah-olah kami belum juga diterima ?’ kata Sigit.  Dimata Njo Tjoen Hian, pembauran antara Jawa-Cina sebenarnya bukan hal baru. ‘Saya keturunan hoakio (Cina perantauan) kedelapan di Lasem,’ kata Sigit menambahkan.

 

Rombongan awal para hoakiao ke Lasem itu semuanya laki-laki.  Mereka kemudian menikah dengan orang-orang dari pesisir Lasem hingga Tuban.  Setelah Belanda berkuasa di Jawa barulah didatangkan para pekerja dari daratan Cina untuk bekerja di pertambangan dan perkebunan.  Sebagian di antaranya perempuan.  Mulailah ada perbedaan antara Tionghoa totok dan Tionghoa peranakan.  Antara mereka yang pribumi dan pendatang.  ‘Belanda juga yang menciptakan pemisahan itu’ kata Sigit.  Pemisahan itu semakin tajam setelah terjadi geger Cina – pemberontakan Cina terhadap Belanda – pada tahun 1740.  Waktu itu, Lasem menjadi salah satu pusat perlawanan Cina terhadap Belanda.  Penjajah Belanda sengaja menjauhkan orang Cina dan Jawa agar mereka tidak kembali bersekutu lalu melawan Belanda.

 

Batik Laseman

 

Jejak pembauran etnis Jawa dan Cina di Lasem itu, menurut Sigit, sangat jelas terlihat antara lain dalam selembar kain batik laseman.

 

‘Motif batik Lasem merupakan poduk silang budaya, terutama antara Jawa dan Cina,’ kata Sigit yang mewarisi usaha batik dari ayahnya, Njo Wat Jiang.  Motif yang terpengaruh budaya Cina adalah burung hong, bunga seruni, banji dan mata uang.  Adapun motif Jawa terlihat dari motif geometris khas batik vorstenlanden (Surakarta dan Yogyakarta), seperti parang, kawung dan udan liris.

 

Selain kedua motif itu, para perajin baik di Lasem juga mencipta motif lokal seperti latohan, gunung ringgit, dan kricak atau watu pecah.  Konon, motif kricak (batu kecil) diinspirasikan dari kenangan atas kricak sebagai bahan pembuatan jalan Raya Pos era Daendels, yang membawa banyak korban pekerja di Lasem.  Ketiga motif itu sering dipadu, seperti yang terlihat dalam motif batik tiga negeri.

batik-lasem-3negeri

 

Melalui budaya

 

Upaya Sigit untuk pembauran telah mendorongnya untuk membentuk paguyuban seni tari Tunas Harapan pada tahun 1977.  Dalam paguyuban ini, Sigit membaurkan anak-anak Tionghos dengan etnis Jawa.  Tarian yang sering mereka tampilkan adalah Srikandi Mustaka Weni dan Menakjingga-Dayun.  Kelompok tari multietnis ini, pada waktu itu, laris diundang ke kota-kota lain hingga Semarang dan Magelang.  Bahkan, pada tahun 1979, Tunas Harapan diundang tampil di Balai Sidang Jakarta, di hadapan Presiden Soeharto. 

 

Sigit juga menjadi Ketua Yayasan Sekolah Dasar (SD) Wijayakusuma, yang mengelola SD di Lasem sejak tahun 1979 hingga 2002.  Sebelum Sigit menjadi ketua yayasan, SD ini dicap eksklusif oleh masyarakat setempat karena 90 persen siswanya Tionghoa.  Dia bertekad menghapus cap itu.  ‘Saya datang dari rumah ke rumah, menemui keluarga Jawa agar mereka mau menyekolahkan anak mereka ke sekolah kami,’ tutur Sigit.

 

Selain menawarkan pendidikan kesenian tari, Sigit juga menyediakan pelajaran berbagai agama di sekolahnya itu. ‘Siswa bebas memilih pelajaran sesuai agama masing-masing.  Hasilnya, 60 persen siswa SD Wijayakusuma sekarang etnis Jawa, ‘ kata Sigit yang ikut bermain dalam film Cau Bau Kan pada tahun 2002 ini.

 

Pewaris

 

Bulan Agustus 2008, lelaki itu duduk di beranda rumah.  Dia mengenakan batik warna merah dan celana panjang katun hitam.  Tubuhnya masih sehat dan gagah.  Dari tempatnya duduk, dia bisa melihat seorang perempuan tua yang tengah membatik.

 

‘Pembatik di sini rata-rata sudah bekerja sejak saya masih kecil.  Tetapi, belum  ada anak-anak yang mau meneruskan usaha ini.  Semuanya bisa dibilang memilih bekerja di luar kota.  Lasem lalu menjadi kota mati,’ kata Sigit.  Ada nada getir dari suaranya.  Oleh karena itu, bagi Sigit, batik Lasem bukan sekadar urusan bisnis.

 

‘Batik Lasem adalah saksi sejarah, tentang pembauran budaya, yang tidak boleh hilang, ‘tuturnya.

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[Post note:  another story about Lasem and its family history as represented by my uncle, Njo Tjoen Hian, fifth child in the family from my father’s side.  Njo Wat Jiang is the name of my grand father.  He was born and died in Lasem. 

In the original transcript, the term of ethnic Chinese as ‘China’, I do not believe this is the correct term in Bahasa Indonesia.  It should be Cina, therefore I take the liberty to change.]

Coffee Culture 3: Little Flowers with Big Potential

The name Blumchen Coffee place probably not as famous as any other chain places whether local or international.  It’s location which is on Jalan Fatmawati probably not so much looked after, like those located in malls or shopping centres.  But I think this is what makes it more unique and interesting.

 

Owned by a Korean which already converted to Indonesian national, Blumchen was opened in February 2008. 

 

Menu and serving:

It’s simple and straightforward – black, latte, cappuccino, mochacino – either hot or cold.  Various teas are also served.  So far, they serve simple sandwiches (tuna and beef) and ready-made cake.  I think they are still focusing to perfect their coffee serving.  They have various blend of coffee from home blend, Java (Blawan, Jampit, Kayumas, Pancur), Sumatra (Mandailing, Lintong, Gayo, Kopi Luwak), Sulawesi (Toraja), Bali, various foreign coffees (Ethiopia, Papua, Columbia, Kenya, Guatemala).  The kopi luwak costs IDR500 thousands (or approximately USD45) per 100 grams.

 

Roasting is done in-house using Probat machine from Germany.  Coffee making is using la Pavoni, a powerful coffee-maker from Italy. 

 

I tried the spiced coffee and my partner had the iced coffee mocha.  Both are satisfying and refreshing.  Especially for my spiced coffee, the Java beans were smooth and fresh, with a dash of cinnamon and nutmeg, not too many.  The down point was that a dollop of whipped cream was put in it.. not really expected.  I would hope for a plain one.

 

They might want to add some pastries savoury or sweet as additional menu; and try to get rid of the packaged ready-made cake.

 

Ambience:

Quite relaxing with 3 sofa settees scattered, with soothing colors.  Vespa seems to be the main focal points and other hobby of the owner, surely was the show-case in the premise.  Books and magazines are available, especially those related to ‘boys’ toys’.  Some artifacts of coffee grinder and coffee machine were displayed.  Or if you got bored, there are some coffee table games, including ‘dhakon’, a Javanese solitaire or two-person game.

 

Parking space is plenty in front of the café.  They need to get rid of the artificial flower arrangements and pots inside.

 

Overall, it is quite a cozy place to relax and sip your favorite coffee. 

 

Blumchen Coffee, Jalan RS Fatmawati 1, Jakarta 12430, 021 91959112.

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on MEMORY and AGE

[Getting old, the process of becoming old, being old scares many people.  Sometime the fear is because of the unknown.  The unknown on what will happen, what should one’s expect… Vanda Scaravelli in Awakening The Spine, talked about being old gracefully and what to expect physically and mentally.]

 

Memory is connected with attention.  An attentive mind remembers.  A distracted mind forgets.  Attention is energy and produces energy when we use it.  It is like the battery in a car, that recharges itself in the running of the motor.

 

People who continue to live intensely even at an old age, with their power of concentration and the passion for what their doing, are capable of modifying the physical limitations by which the body is conditioned.  The efficiency of an attentive mind is incalculable.

 

The old seem to forget, but it is only that they are not interested in what they are doing.  They lose contact with the world, with their environment, with themselves.  They too easily give up their activities and the things they care for, taking refuge in their own protective shell.

 

We have to keep on using and entertaining our memory.  It is a delicate organ and must be looked after with care.

 

Do not press your brain to remember, on the contrary, give it time, relax it.  Why do we want to remember?  If we forget, we forget; we are going to remember when we least expect it.  Can we not see that it is the fear not to remember that paralyzes the brain?

 

The full blossoming of maturity is the best fruit that life can offer.  The need to become is over.  Can we not feel the beauty to be what we are in total acceptance?

 

The body has its own memory and after the yoga poses (through which you are not pushed but invited to collaborate) and especially during the night, it continues to work in its joyful expansion.

 

The delight of the body’s unfolding is surprising.  Even the pores of the skin, in their slow opening, seem to participate with the rest of the body.

 

We forget things collected mechanically by the brain but we easily remember events in which we are somehow emotionally wrapped.

 

They remain, painted with vivid colors.

 

Memory is there.  It contains our past conditioning; our childhood, our education, our culture, our experiences, our knowledge, our environment, our country, our family, our friends.  Let us leave all this alone and not use those things, not exploit them or speculate upon them.  They should remain there in complete immobility like the background of a picture or a map.

 

Not to carry them along is a blessing! With a purpose of pointing out the beauty of a fresh mind, Krishnamurti told this story:

The story concerns two monks traveling by foot together.  On their way, they meet a woman sitting beside a river.  She asks them to help her to cross the stream.  Courteously, they lift her up, putting her on their shoulders and, with the water up to their knees, after reaching the other side of the river, they lay her gently down.  Then they keep on walking silently along the road.  After some time, one of the monks asks his friend: “Was it not a sin to take her in our arms?’ The other monk answers ‘You still carry her on? I left her a long time ago!’

 

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Vanda Scaravelli in the pose Mulabandhasana.  This is an exceptional and difficult asana that very few are able to do without damaging their knees as it entails the inversion of the ankles and heels.  The advantage of this asana is that the muscles of the abdomen are pulled and drawn inside, causing even the last vertebrae of the spine to elongate.

Breathing, Inhalation, Exhalation

[As I reflected on my yoga practice this morning, it becomes more and more apparent the important and consciousness of breathing.  Breathing may and is a natural mechanism of our body, but it sometimes follows our shift of emotions, which we can consciously control.

 

The most beautiful movement in breathing is to watch it without judgement, without evaluation, let it flow.  Therefore it is important to look after

this simple, beautiful, natural flow in life.

 

The following is taken from the book Awakening The Spine by Vanda Scaravelli.  Signora Scaravelli was a direct student of BKS Iyengar, when he visited Gstaad, Switzerland.  A very deep and profound reading which is very enlightening for me.]

 

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BREATHING

 

Breathing is the essence yoga

 

Breathe naturally, without forcing

No pressure, no disturbance

Nothing should interfere with the simple,

Tide-like movement of our lungs

As we breathe in and out.

 

What is important is the regularity

Of the breathing.

Do not try to take long breaths,

Their length will slowly increase;

It is only a question of time.

 

INHALATION

 

Do not be tense when you inhale.

Do not get involved, but receive the air

In a passive, detached way,

As though you were only an observer,

An outsider.

 

The movement of inhalation is an ‘un-doing’ movement

In which tension is released.

The body must be relaxed

So that the lungs can receive

The new inflow of air.

 

EXHALATION

 

To exhale means to empty the lungs,

Expelling the air that has been used.

The deeper we exhale, the greater is our capacity

To inhale new, fresh air.

 

The important thing is that

The outflowing breath should expand in large wave.

 

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