Inhale Poetry; Exhale Prayer

Inhale Poetry; Exhale Prayer

A tribute and dedication to the

Corrymeela Community

It is April! Celebrate poetry!

A poet whom I had not heard of before a month ago has entered into my awareness, and I write this post to honor the significance of my encounter with his work.

The poet’s name is Pádraig Ó Tuama.

In the beginning of March, I received an e mail from “Poem-a-Day,” an e mail list I subscribe to. I subscribe to so many lists that I quickly glance at message subject lines and am very selective about taking time to open a message. But on this day, the subject line “Makebelieve” intrigued me enough to click open the e mail message that contained Pádraig Ó Tuama’s poem, “Makebelieve.” One click is all…

One never knows where as small a gesture as clicking open an e mail message may lead, especially when that message contains a poem with these opening lines: “And on the first day / god made / something up.”

Now, receiving these words delighted me. Fun! To perceive the entire creation can be, quite possibly, one exuberant jazz improvisation! It is great fun to make something up. You go, god! It’s playful! In my own experience, playfulness is the closest I come to divinity. So, yes, I’m in, here we go, let’s play!

In the spirit of improvisation, I encounter this poem, wondering what I can make up here. Suppose this is a first day because, really, it must be a first day of something somewhere for someone. Today is Day One of “Makebelieve.”

Yogi Bhajan taught a meditation that repeats the mantra, “God and Me. Me and God are One.” Repetition of such words primes consciousness to realize Self, God and Creation are one great, shimmering, spinning thrum of spontaneity. With such awareness, the Self may encounter “Makebelieve” as inspiring a creation.

Hello to the flow of possibility!

“Makebelieve” enters my consciousness and begins its elfin dance in my world.

I inhale the entire poem deeply. Let open my cells, nerves, muscles, organs, glands. May I embrace the poem’s vibration within my body. Even the space between each word in the poem enters into my tissues, cells, and nerves. Let words of “Makebelieve” resonate throughout my 72,000 nadis and add to the gospel according to Ida, Pingala, and Sushmana!

And on the first day

god made

something up.

Then everything came along:

seconds, sex and

beasts and breaths and rabies;

hunger and healings,

lust and lust’s rejections;

swarming things that swarm

inside the dirt;

girth and grind

and grit and shit and all shit’s

functions;

rings inside the treetrunk

and branches broken by the snow;

pig’s hearts and stars,

mystery, suspense and stingrays;

insects, blood

and interests and death;

eventually, us,

with all our viruses, laments and

curiosities;

all our songs and made-up stories;

and our songs about the stories

we’ve forgotten;

and all that we’ve forgotten we’ve

forgotten;

and to hold it all together god made

time

and those rhyming seasons

that display decay.


Pádraig Ó Tuama

Read it again over long moments and visualize welcoming this poem into my pineal gland, and inviting the pineal gland to secrete its Nectar of Mystic Pleasure.

I read the poem over and over aloud and then in a whisper and then silently. I inhale and suspend the breath inside while I silently repeat the poem.

Then I exhale and suspend the breath out while I silently repeat the poem.

Filling and emptying myself with poem and with breath in this way I can amuse / observe myself for hours. I combine a simple, ancient yogic breathing pattern with deeply experiencing this one good contemporary poem. And guess what, Mister Pádraig Ó Tuama? I am meditating with your poem, and breathing consciously all while sitting in my yogi cave! And after regarding your work, sir, I do know how you feel about caves. Hello to the Cave between my eyebrows! Welcome in! You, sir, have nothing to fear in this yogi cave as you are welcomed here with great reverence. Friend, you are known in here as

The Lord of the Rings Inside Tree Trunks!

Not that you created the rings inside tree trunks, but you created my fresh-colored awareness of them. Before I read your poem, the rings inside tree trunks were brown. After reading your poem, for me, the rings inside tree trunks are brown tinged with gold.

Let’s just sit here the day long and breathe this poem. Let every word and thought be intimately entwined with breath awareness. Any poem worth reading demands The Slowed-Breath Reading. Elongate the moments of the poem; take it word by word with lots of pause and be aware of the eye’s movements: ask, over which words or spaces do my lids close then open, close then open? What unseen dust do my lashes flit off? What of the play of light the words toss inside these eyes? When I happen upon a word or groups of words I adore, am I open to regarding their effect inside my body as miraculous as, say, news of the birth of our world’s beloved Savior?

Can breathing and being with this one poem align me up for longed-for, deep-connection encounters with my fellow word-lovers who delight in the wordly realm of divine play?

I seek and find a travel companion in this complete stranger, this Gay Irish Catholic poet named Pádraig, who knows nothing whatsoever of my own queer existence. Now, a shadow of me may lurk in his subconscious mind somewhere as “the reader,” but the way his writing resonates with me, I would have to insist I know him too well. I want to proclaim I am his Brother.

Now, I know I can be perceived to be wearing a woman’s body. But the hug I imagine giving my Brother to thank him for his writings, the heart hug I imagine giving him, is a hug that I give him with a man’s arms, with a man’s heart, with a generous amount of gratitude and admiration transferred through all my man-muscles squeezing. And when we regularly squeeze tension into our muscles and then release, we learn how to let go of tension. Hug often. Squeeze often. Let go often.

But now back to “Poem-a-Day.” This daily e mail offers so much more in one e mail message than one poem per day.

Now I choose to create infinite amounts of time, leisure, open hours, quiet light that urges me to listen to the voice of my soul that says, yes, explore here! Though I have a list of “things to do,” I am choosing to listen to my soul and take a heartfelt dive into this here rich library of resources before me offered by Poetry.org. What truth does this tell about my relationship to my “to do” list?

This e mail message relays all sorts of things that relate to the poem, “Makebelieve.” Welcome all this now to relate to all of me. Let me dwell and draw out this moment when my first encounter with this poem, this poet, this stranger exudes its power. The power of this Stranger is that he piques my curiosity, invites me into a fresh realm of the contemplative journey, a new mystery, and fabulous play. Over the month of March, I have been submersing myself in his writing, and my encounter with this writer is guiding me on a lyrical pilgrimage.

He is returning me, after a long time exploring a variety of sacred texts and bowing to the Siri Guru Granth Sahib, his work is returning me to explore love for the The Holy Bible.

The “Makebelieve” poem comes with a list of titles by the author, plus any links to further resources. In the first encounter, I learned a bit of biographical information about Pádraig Ó Tuama. Here is his insight that instantly invited my joyful participation.

“When it comes to ‘Freedom of Religion’, much attention is given to the words freedom and religion. However, the of is also worthy of mention. Religion is free; it is free to query, to make meaning, to break things, to make things up. Religion is—or should be—free to change too, or to wrap itself around the delight and devastation of the human condition. Religion does not only provide a storypoem about the earth’s creation, it also provides a form by which we can create, and recreate, break and makebelieve. We are made of humus, the old texts tell us—we are also made of rot and time; danger and demand. In the beginning was a…what? You tell me.”


Pádraig Ó Tuama

In this beginning right now is longing for friendship. So, I continue to be here. I learn he wrote a book of poems called Daily Prayer with the Corrymeela Community. Reading a bit further, I learn that The Corrymeela Community is Ireland’s oldest reconciliation community. An easy click on the content below that leads me to the Corrymeela Community homepage.

In the “About Us” page, I read that the Corrymeela Community is a people of “prayers, conversation, curiosity, and questioning.” Instantly, I think, Yes, I adore these people! This is my kind of community. How I long to retreat to such a place where people are devoted to sitting fireside together, drinking cups of tea and engaging in deep, honest conversations about difficult subjects.

How I long to spend every Spring season reading poetry, meditating, practicing yoga kriya, and praying my radiant heart out. Then wouldn’t it be nice to sit down with any person, idea, or state of being that has hurt or helped me and engage in a good, long, difficult talk?

Hello to the distance between us.

Hello to closing that distance with sharing contemplative writing.

Instantly, I ordered my own copy of Daily Prayer with the Corrymeela Community. When it arrived to my home in California several days later, I read it over and over. And to dive into the details of how my physical, mental, emotional, energetic, and etheric bodies encounter these quiet poems will take so much longer than this blog post. So now all that and all I wish to contemplate and write while slowly reading through his book In the Shelter is filling page after page of my quiet notebooks.

Hello to pure contentment.

Hello to my solitary cloister.

I like to contemplate the different ways we sit with the body when we are in prayer; more specifically, I wonder at the various ways we place the hands to pray. Friend, when you pray, do you fold your hands in what yogis refer to as a Venus lock, with the fingers interlaced and finger tips resting on the back of the hands; or do you press your palms together with the fingers aligned upright pointing each skyward, palm flat against palm, and pressing with a bit of pressure between the palms? Do you pray with the forehead kissing the Earth? What gesture do you use to express that your head serves your heart? What ways do you proclaim to the cosmos your sense of humility and awe in the presence of the divine? Perhaps you find comfort in returning to the curled position humans assume in the womb, all curled up, you pray? In what position do you pray? I wonder: How did Jesus hold his hands and his body, privately, while he was making his most private, inward, anguished prayer? What did Jesus feel within his spine? What word did he use to describe the sensations within his Brahmarandhra?

I love to imagine myself present while the Corrymeela Community prays. I image myself engaging in conversations, arguments, question and answer sessions with everyday people who have endured great suffering and conflict. Let me pour you a cup of tea. Let us bow our heads. Let us pray. Let us breathe. Though I am far away and a complete stranger, please feel me close to you. Feel a friend near, a yogi with a big, generous heart. Please welcome me as one who longs to hear your stories of all that troubles you and all that comforts you.

Here is what I admire about the Corrymeela Community: they sincerely work “to be engaged with the world at its points of fracture, faith and potential.” This resonates with me as a kundalini yogi because Kundalini is defined as “the creative potential within a being.” Potential is always beloved of yogis and this potential blooms from within.

Sadhguru says it like this:


If you know how to be equanimous and exuberant at the same time, there will be no fear. Whatever situation you may face, life will always be beautiful. Once there is exuberance and equanimity in you, your destiny will not be ruled by what happens around you, but only by what happens within you.

Sadhguru

I am full of exuberance about this poet I have met through the written word. In my mind and heart I behold his writing…slowly. Perhaps it seems that circumstances prohibit me from physically visiting the Corrymeela Community at this time, other than through my online journey. But as a yogi, I intend to project my subtle body, my intention, and my prayers, which know no bounds. I practice yogic art of subtle transmission to pay my visit to Corrymeela Community. Dear Friends, I am listening.

Here is how I intend to be present and celebrate and be with this community:

I dedicate my own 40 days of kundalini yoga practice of Creative Energy Kriya and the Meditation for Word Power to the Corrymeela Community in “[The] North[ern] [of] Ireland.” Throughout these 40 days, may whatever shifts I observe in my body, my thoughts, my energy, and my consciousness be a dedication to all beings who encounter fracture, faith, and potential. May we engage in these encounters with sensitivity, awareness, listening, and longing for peace. May this practice resonate loving solidarity with those who pray from a place of witness, from a place of humility, from a place of feeling the touch of God’s grace within the depths of human longing.

I repeat: one never knows where as small a gesture as clicking open an e mail may lead. Embracing this mystery compels me to wonder at and imagine the ripples, ramifications and consequences of my larger gestures, the great actions I embark upon throughout the day. What will my hands touch? Where will these feet take me? What words will this tongue speak and what impact will all of that movement have, if any? Would it be better or worse if I keep quiet and be still?

So, to close, I shall bow–forehead smooching dirt–to that singular moment when I clicked open that “Poem-a-Day” message. I bow again to the flow that carried me with my own curiosity through the caves within the land of “Makebelieve.” And I bow to every small gesture that guided the poet,
Pádraig Ó Tuama, to complete and share his poem “Makebelieve.” I bow to everyone who reads the poem and encounters it with their full consciousness. As this will keep me bowing for quite some time, I surrender some part of my Self to dwell in an inward repetition of Infinite Pranams.

Here is a prayer: May this forty-day Sadhana be a journey into deeper awareness of how creative energy works and what we do now, and can do, with creative energy. May there be realization of heart-to-heart connection. And though each personal “here and now” may seem distant, different, dissonant, or distinct from one another, may we perceive at the heart a brotherhood of glory and a brotherhood of grace. May we come to appreciate the ways in which we are co-creators of peace, conscious repeaters of hurts and reconciliations, and quiet strugglers with internal conflict in a universe of ever-shifting bounds and seasons. May I feel the courage to ask: Is there room enough at your table, you who explore the “Spirituality of Conflict,” to be open to a dialogue with one who wants to learn more about you as she also studies the very-softly-whispering gospels according to Ida, Pingala and Shushmana (the three subtle energy channels that run on the left, right and middle of the human spine that are most important to ancient yogis)?

May every inhale gift a poem; may every exhale give a prayer.

Sat Nam!



In the Shelter Talk with dear Pádraig

Music for Your Elevated Self

Music for Your Elevated Self

Jens Jarvie is a master musician who is also a sage.

As blessings would have it, I have enjoyed listening to his album Path of Prayers over and over since the start of 2019.

My connection with this album, produced by Ben Leinbach, has been like getting to know a new friend with whom I am freshly enamored. This music has been the perfect companion for my journey as I turn inward every day to explore the wonderland of my consciousness.

Here I am going to attempt to write consciousness absorbed in this music. I write slowly and to a beat, lovingly placing word-after-word, letter-next-to-letter, writing the way a tantrika walks — now this step, now this step, aware of totality, playfully welcoming Infinity. As these fingers press down on this keyboard to type, my breath is coming and going; the sentences rise and fall. My body’s biorhythms engage in a dance of pulsing, beating, flowing, hormones releasing, digestive enzymes stirring. There is life arising and dissolving in the microscopic realms of cells and DNA. All opposing forces, seen and unseen, merge into blissful union. And the Path of Prayers album repeats the mantra Aad Guray Nameh.

Before I go more deeply into the internal reality, I enter this journey at a foundation from which I will launch.

That foundation is a traditional music review.

Suppose this is a traditional music review: I might say that Jens Jarvie entrances listeners with his rhythm and blues, folk guitar and djembe. I could say that his guitar riffs remind me of Eric Clapton. His vocals remind me of Eddie Vedar. His spirit reminds me of Jimi Hendrix. And his message reminds me of Bob Marley. Then I could also use some juicy adjectives to describe his music as innocent, poignant, penetrating, nuanced, and tender. Listeners can enjoy the way the recording deftly traverses musical styles: folk and blues, classic rock, jazz, reggae, modern kirtan, Indian classical, and gospel. All of this is true about Jens Jarvie and the Heart Wide Open music. Of course the whole album, like any Girish or Jai Utal album, inspires listeners to chant, dance, and be happy.

Now, this more typical music review is here to serve as an informative offering, to give a reader a compass; there are comparisons and categories to guide the listener in what to expect from this conscious kirtan rock band. From the music review a reader can decide whether or not this music is her jam.

But now let’s continue the journey within and awaken a creative inner expression.

Welcome, yogi. Welcome, tantrika. Time to intuitively engage with the elevated Self as this music echoes deep within the caves, tunnels, blacks holes, solar storms and galaxies within the body. Yes, let the 72,000-Nadi slam dance begin now!

Abandon categories and comparisons. Yogi, Tantrika, Reader, Word-lover and Music-lover, on this path of prayers, we play in the land of peace and plenty.

Let’s play.

So, what happens on the inside while listening to Path Of Prayers?

From the interior of the infinity of the soul to the solid root of existence, these songs connect to every dimension. Listen closely, and hear a calling to the inner realms of subjectivity and silence; let all that is subjective and all that is silent reign and receive our undivided attention. Let us weave the sacred into this breath of life now. Suspire in sync with the Himalayan winds that move the monk’s prayer flags. Ah, the sacred cadence! Sync breath with riff, heart with drum.

How is this music impacting the electromagnetic frequency of my soul? There is a sense of coming home to peace, to learning, to being guided by teachers and saints. The electromagnetic field of my soul aligns in soothing harmony with mystery. Facing the Great Mystery bring tears to these eyes. Brother Sun warms these cold tears. It’s been decades since my spiritual master left this Earth plane. Finally, music that can ease my grief.

What does listening to this music feel like in my Shashara, or Crown Chakra, or what Yogi Bhajan referred to as the command center? The 1,000-petal lotus opens and each petal vibrates Om Mani Padme Hum. My arms stretch up to the heavens in a gesture of offering this Crown Lotus to the Beloved One.

Does this music connect me to the radiance of my pineal gland? The divine flame, eternal flame, continues its dance and organizes itself from chaotic spasms into a rhythmic spiral. This rhythmic spiral connects me to cosmic consciousness. Music of the spheres, beyond time and space.

What about the pituitary gland? How can I tell? If I feel strong; if the music gives me strength. Listen closely and deeply enough and hear the pituitary gland’s unique rush, a Shri release of hormonal cocktail that brings revitalization to my entire being.

Yogi Bhajan taught that “your expansion and contraction is based in your throat chakra.” When I sing along with Jens, my throat chakra opens and yes here is a feeling of expansion such as a bird must feel when she spreads and beats her wings in flight. When the movement of life is in perfect synchronicity with the divine rise and fall of the Pavan Guru. When I next speak, may I speak only words of love.

Great happiness and warmth fill the heart. The deep silence of the heart remains silent, and with Jarvie’s Om Namah Shivaya in the distance, the heart’s silence grows into radiant silence.

Beloved World, feel my heart embrace All of You!

Grit and endurance are in the navel point, and I would say there are drum beats and powerful base rhythms that one can feel in the gut. Move the hips to Govinda Jaya Jaya, and let unity consciousness arise from the secret depths.

The master said that productivity and creativity, and all-prevailing nature is in the creative organ. Well, that is where I feel an impulse to write this blog post, the music ignites my creative expression. Dear One, I wonder what listening to this music will inspire you to create.

On this high note, this solitary yogi and tantrika relaxes deeply and spends hours contemplating the ways this album serves to help her find God within her own body. Does Jens Jarvie’s Path of Prayers help me to realize God within my body?

Yes!

May all beings benefit from listening to this album over and over again while paying attention to and playing with the symphony that is within. Let the music vibrate your inner universe with the ecstasy of pure being. May you experience the God that is always within you. And may you simply say a big YES to this experience.

Sat Naam!

https://www.jensjarvieandtheheartwideopen.com/

Garland of Words

Garland of Words

This garland of words attempts to engage in an intimate reading of the bestselling novel Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens with the sensibility and sensitivity of a yogi.

Just for fun, I tried this breathing pattern: while reading Owens novel, I inhale slowly and deeply through the pursed lips as if drinking in Life, and exhale very slowly and completely through the nose.  Breathing and reading so slowly and deeply, I place my gaze and easygoing concentration on one word then the next. This makes the act of reading a very slow and sensual meditation.

In this way, let us awaken the wisdom of the ecstatic tremor here and now.

Try it, Beloved Friend. For now, breathe slowly and deeply through the pursed lips while we focus together closely on this one scene in the novel.

Tate is the young man who teaches Kya to read. Eventually their physical desire to touch each other reaches the climactic point where they must kiss.

In this moment, Tate asks Kya a loaded question, “Where is your Ma?” Kya reveals the heartbreak: her mother abandoned her. In his turn, Tate shares the loss of his mother and sister in a fatal car accident. United in the psychological scar of Losing Mother revs up to the moment when they smash lip to lip. Here goes:

“And just at that second, the wind picked up, and thousands upon thousands of yellow sycamore leaves broke from their life support and streamed across the sky. Autumn leaves don’t fall; they fly. They take their time and wander on this, their only chance to soar. Reflecting sunlight, they swirl and sail and flutter on the wind drafts.”

These leaves, flying, no, soaring into death, spark joy. In the spirit of feeling the freedom that is Death, Tate rises and invites Kya to play, to catch as many leaves as they can before the leaves touch the ground. In the height of fun, they bump and lock in their gaze.

“He took her shoulders, hesitated an instant, then kissed her lips as the leaves rained and danced around them as silently as snow.”

Where the Crawdads Sing, page 124

Owens writes the scene with the grace of a wildlife lover. Her expression gives a sense that the bliss these characters enjoy in this kiss is the bliss always in the trees, the leaves, the birds, the sky, the marsh, and the stars — all joined together in the Dance of Life. What’s more, Tate and Kya’s kiss brings awareness to the inner life of trees, leaves, birds, sky, and star as these beings eternally tremble with the same energy that humans tremble with when two humans kiss.

Tate and Kya’s moment of union creates bliss in the human physical body, the intense pleasure of two beings kissing. Often it takes kissing for humans to remember the bliss quiver of life that is always present in every piece of life. This is a state of being that we long to connect to with a human physical body; but what does it take to maintain the human body to be completely free of any pain or discomfort and to abandon all that we are to pure thrill and excitement? We long for this state of pleasure because in this state it is easiest to sense the Sacred Tremor that is always there, or what tantrikas* refer to as Spanda. (*Please note that tantrika is simply a spiritual adept who knows how to weave the energies of the sacred into every dimension of life: eating, shitting, fucking, fighting, the comic and the tragic — to a tantrika, it is all sacred). The question is this: how do we sustain this state of pleasure, freedom, and ease every moment?

In certain yogic breathing exercises, we purse the lips and breathe through the mouth. This way of breathing stimulates the tenth cranial nerve, the vagus nerve, the longest cranial nerve, which goes all the way from the head to the abdomen, stimulating heart, lungs, and digestion. The vagus nerve, when stimulated and refined, brings circulation, respiration, and digestion into synchronicity.

Kissing the lips of another being feels so satisfying because we engage in a moment in which one being’s vagus nerve syncs up with another being’s vagus nerve, creating a moment of physical union. The vagus nerves of two bodies spark simultaneously. Two hearts drum at once. Lungs lift and shift. Digestive dance within two bodies comes to a welcome pause. The link is so gratifying that one kiss can even unite two beings for years or even lifetimes. One kiss united Kya and Tate. And kept them tangled psychologically and spiritually long after their physical bodies endured years of separation.

Kundalini Yoga Master and Maha Tantric Yogi Bhajan once taught the Trikuti Kriya.  In this kriya, we chant the Wahe Guru mantra. When we chant, we focus the sound Wa at the belly, Hey at the heart, and Guru at the lips. On Guru, the lips purse out stimulating the vagus nerve. If the yogi maintains one-pointed focus on the lips while vibrating Guru very powerfully through the lips, then the exercise reveals itself not as a physical exercise but as a sensual and playful act of kissing the Wah Hey Guru mantra. 

If humans think it feels nice to lip kiss each other, well contemplate all the possible pleasure of kissing the Wahe Guru Mantra! Kissing Wahe Guru gives the sensation of kissing infinity, and it continues as an Infinite Kiss. Embracing the Trikuti Kriya as a Sadhana while one reads Where the Crawdads Sing can possibly give exalted pleasures because the tremor in the words and the nerve tremor in the body can collaborate to give a perception that every moment is a divine smooch, a mystical merge with a marsh, and a grand, exalted, salty coupling of wildlife with humanity.

I guess this is what it means to read with the sensibility of a yogi. It means to perceive the story dissolved until it is no longer about Kya and Tate, but about polarities coming into union: reader and writer, wild and tame, boy and girl, past and future, up and down, spring and autumn, hot and cold, literate and illiterate, leaves and roots, modern pubescent physical desire and ancient yogic mystical wisdom, pleasure and pain, on and off, loneliness and companionship, life and death. The totality of polarities included. No polarity left behind…

All polarities unite that is a state of yoga. Pure and simple union.

May all beings realize the ways reading while breathing through the pursed lips creates unity with the Infinite. May all beings realize the deep pleasure of practicing Yogi Bhajan’s Trikuti Kriya every day as a way to experience Sacred Kiss. And may all beings continue to feel the ecstatic tremor within making out with G.O.D.

Sat Naam!

Cover of Where the Crawdads Sing designed by Meighan Cavanaugh

A Book Review & the Himalayas

The writer in me longs to communicate and reveal conflict; the yogi in me longs to be in silent and be in unity.  My first travels to the Himalayas brought to the surface the tensions between these two dimensions of my being. 

When I journeyed to the Himalayas for a yoga immersion in the Fall 2017, I received a golden opportunity to travel with a master yogi.  My job was to pen down and transcribe his teachings.  My writing journey and my yogic journey finally received an opportunity to merge.

I am generally reserved.  I get to know people intimately before I am ready to share.  When I started to open up to this group of traveling yogis, a deeper conflict vexed me:  back home among my writing friends, no one expressed much enthusiasm for the benefits of the practice or the esoteric dimensions of yogic philosophy that fascinate me; meanwhile, among my yoga friends here bumping around in this old bus on this dangerous road from Chandigarh to Leh, there was no interest in lyrical writing.  No one shared a joy for reading.  So, I got to wondering:  How shall my writing life and yoga life resonate a sense of communion?  If no unity is possible, will the deeper yogic exploration of consciousness compel me to give up writing?  Or, conversely, will the word-lover in me — and my love for literary writing — urge me to abandon yoga practice? 

Himalaya: A Literary Homage to Adventure, Meditation, and Life on the Roof of the World is an anthology that offers me companionship through this inner conflict.  This collection of over thirty essays reveal a range of voices.  Ruskin Bond and Namita Gokhale are astute editors who created a gathering that perceives the Himalayas from all angles.  This book offered me a way to reconcile my spiritual practice with my writing life. 

For instance, in his essay “Ladakh Sojourn,” Andrew Harvey contemplates: “Every object in the light of Ladakh seems to have something infinite behind it; every object, even the most humble, seems to abide in its real place.” 

This reminded me of practicing meditation at Lake Pangong.  We stared, unblinking, at the space between our eyes and a mountain.  We gazed so long with empty minds at the space between our eyes and the mountain until every object grew blurry and dissolved.  In his essay, Harvey continues his mind’s wandering over the myriad ways Tibetans, Kashimirs, Ladakhis, and Muslims live, struggle, and pray side by side in this ancient mountain town.  I welcomed everything I gazed upon to show me how to abide in my real place.    

Arundhathi Subramaniam’s presence in this anthology fills me with deep pleasure.  She is a kindred spirit.  She travels with her teacher, Sadhguru. In her essay, “Just a Strand of Shiva’s Hair: Face-to-Face with the Axis of the World,” Subramaniam struggles on an uphill trek toward Mount Kailash, her whole being so fatigued it hurts to breathe.  Her essay describes her inner journey, one in which her consciousness shifts from respectful observer to cautious participant, and finally, reluctantly, she realizes she is a devotee.  This is the kind of inner crossing that the Himalayas inspire.  

There is a theme that repeats in yogic stories wherein the seeker comes to realize that book knowledge is inferior to lived experience.  As a reader and literacy advocate, I am always uncomfortable with this theme.  Finally, I have found that this anthology supports my personal notion that a book gives an experience; reading is an experience.  Perhaps in the past some yogis and sages realized that books do not give ultimate spiritual experience, but books are not the problem. The problem arises when there is any sense of upholding one kind of experience superior over another. Books are not superior to lived experience. Nor is lived experience superior to book knowledge. Neither is higher nor lower. We bow to both.

Now, I remember the feeling of cold stones touching my forehead when we bowed on the bank where the Indus and Zanskar Rivers meet.  With my consciousness flowing over memories of my physical journey to the Himalayas mixed with reading the anthology followed by arriving to the end of writing this essay, there exists a flow that comes to a meeting where my awareness blooms.  There is reconciliation.  I realize I shall write as a way of paying homage.  My every act of writing can be an expression of bowing to these mountains, to beloved teachers, writers, readers, yogis, sages, scholars, poets, friends.  I secretly contain this intention — may every word I write open a sacred space within me; and may every spiritual discipline light the secret flame burning on the shrine within that sacred space.

Words to Sculpt the Cosmos

Words to Sculpt the Cosmos

The purpose of life is to love the Word.

This is a writer’s inner journey at play with yoga kriya (Trikutui Kriya), Sadhana (daily practice), Shabad Yoga (chanting So Pukh), while enjoying an ecstatic love relationship with the Sacred Tremor (from the Yoga Spandakarika).

I am a lover of yoga and a lover of words, and my practice involves merging these two. Words are all welcome to arise here on this blog as they please. I am simply giving words the space to arise. I am acknowledging and bowing to words as sacred beings that have consciousness. Thank you, Beloved Words, for being my gurus and my companions when others have abandoned me. When those whom I have held dear choose to walk away form me or are suddenly taken away from me, the Shabad / Sacred Word is the only companion that remains.

Rise words. Rise. I am here to listen.

Here is a Vision Quest for today:

Morning places a soft hand on my shoulder to comfort me while I weep. She tells me to keep heart. Though today I must bury a dearly beloved One, a dear one who was so close to me, Morning is here. Though I must move into a state of deep grief, Morning assures me she has something to offer . Morning looks so ravishing in her crimson gown, even through the veil of tears flooding my eyes. Morning raises her empty palms before my face and says, “Here is your gift.” The gift is invisible, yet also incandescent; it has no fragrance but carries the fragrance of roses. The gift floats before me, then lovingly makes its way into my nostrils and my mouth. The Gift is My Breath. Morning has brought me The Gift of My Breath. I must grieve; I must breathe. I must move on. Thank you, Beloved Morning, for bringing me My Breath in this moment.  

Sat Nam.

When Mothers Pray, Infinity Must Listen

Yogi Bhajan said, “The most powerful prayer in the universe is the prayer of the mother.”

So, envision a whole collective of mothers coming together to pray for schools and communities that are safe, nurturing, and conscious.  This collective prayer is for communities that encourage mothers to raise blissful children.  This prayer is for every human being to heal and uplift the mother within and the child deep within everyone.

Sat Naam!

 

Divine Mother

Thresholds and Twilight Zones

 

Now, I am spinning with joy.

 

I have just joined the San Diego Threshold Choir.

 

This is a volunteer organization that offers the service of singing to people who are on their deathbed.

 

It is an honor to use my voice and my heart in this way.

 

I love to sing.

 

I am not a professional.  Few people have ever told me I have a beautiful voice.  In fact, though I have longed for it, no one has ever requested me to sing to them.  But nor has anyone ever told me that I should not sing to them.

 

Whenever I sing, there is almost always a voice in my head that says, “What are you doing?  You are no Tori Amos or Snatam Kaur.  Why are you singing so loudly and with so much love and confidence?  Maybe you should shut your mouth and keep quiet.”

 

This voice in my head is not me.

 

Now, I could waste a little time wondering, where ever did that inner message come from?  After all these years that I have been singing in a variety of situations from college choir to morning Sadhana with Kundalini Yogis to Music Together circles with Mamas and Babes, why would such a critic still exists inside of me?  Hasn’t this voice gotten the message that no matter what it says, I will sing?

 

Or, I could just keep singing.

 

As for now, I am bowing my head to those few people who have ever told me that I have a lovely singing voice.  Their kind remark has given me the energy and nerve to step up to use this voice to serve.

 

I am eager to begin my adventure with the San Diego Threshold Choir.  It may seem that the people who are visiting the dying are paying a service to those who are dying.  That may be true.  But I also recognize that being invited to pay a dying person a visit to sing to them is one of the highest blessings that a dying person could give to his or her visitors.

 

It is actually a high honor to be in the presence of anyone who is on the threshold to pass from one lifetime to the Beloved Beyond.  The dying being is in a twilight zone; this means he or she is not fully alive anymore, but nor fully dead yet.  These twilight zones are where the Amrit, the nectar, flows most freely.  And wherever the nectar flows freely, I grow soft, open, receptive, willing, and joyful.

 

May we understand threshold spaces as spaces of infinite possibility and enchantment.  May we realize this possibility and enchantment to grow in love and ecstasy.  May we continue to request those near and dear to us to sing to us and to sing with us.  May the next words I say to the next person I see be, “Please, sing!”

 

Sat Naam!

 

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