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The Bhagavad-Gita Answers the Question; When Should I Help?

I was an honorary panel member at the Third Annual  Global Bhagavad-Gita Convention in San Jose this year. Our topic was societal well being. A question was posed from an audience member. When is it appropriate to offer help to someone you see in need? Though I’m quick to opinion it also takes me a bit of ruminating to run the gamut of possibilities that both a question and answer offer and another panelist answered as I was still considering more than my first thought which was a question, Do they want help? That was only the initial thought which lead me to two more questions. Do you want to help? Do you have the capacity to help? The Bhagavad-Gita tells the story of a troubled Prince Arjuna who asks a trusted mentor, Krishna, for help. Krishna is a steady hand and one with authority and investment in the Prince meeting his destiny with integrity and a clear mind. He is the one best suited to help Arjuna through his struggle. The body of these 700 verses is Krishna convincing Arjuna of his destiny and duty. Simply, Arjuna asked for help and Krishna was both interested in and capable of helping. This is a great formula which I use myself on a regular basis when I find myself feeling guilty about not helping or frustrated that I can’t help or even confused about when it is appropriate to help. One doesn’t want to make others powerless by doing their work and more often, one doesn’t want to be the object of anger when trying to help where help is...

Yoga for Relationship

Relationship is comparison, necessary because in isolation there is no measure by which we can define objectively. Things don’t exist in non-relationship. Relationship is most quickly identified in opposition. That requires judgment. That word triggers yoga folks who are stepping all over themselves to practice non-judgment. So that word is repurposed as discernment which takes the subjective opinion out of the picture. That alone might take a lifetime of practice. Everything is relative. True identification takes patience. What is truth anyway? Do you know that in relation to what is false? What is false but its relationship to truth? There must be a neutral jury! What you intuit from your heart must be considered in light of what you know objectively and historically. What’s outside our skin we can only surmise. We use our skin for the knowing in yoga. Sensation clarifies with patience and experience. You are not patient. It is trained out of you. Go faster is your mantra. Life’s become a game of seconds. Split those seconds. Quarter them. Anticipate. Aggravate. Accelerate. Agitate. Yoga is the in between. Yoga is neutral. Brain gray. Yoga preaches patience. Sensation is anything but gray. It is all colors and then maybe just light. You can feel it in the neutral zone of a yoga practice. You are building sensitivity and intuition. Your relationship to yourself colors relationship to other. Put “other” in the neutral zone of yoga to see true colors. Shine your own light to see out there. Notice that relationship is fluid. Relationship is a flow....

WIRED.

  I always ask them, why did you come to yoga today? Most of them stay silent hoping I’ll ignore them or just do anything, anything other than demand an answer. Today a couple of folks wanted a body mind connection.   You will move your body. You will breathe with intention to inspire that movement. That will connect your body and mind. But your mind is a tricky construct created between you and impressions of the world. It is both your protector and foil. You want to connect to more of yourself than that. But the mind says there is nothing more. This is the work. And the work is intimacy that you were trained to avoid.   We are a network of nerves.   What does that have to do with your yoga practice? You came here expecting to move in familiar ways. You came here expecting me to tell you to breathe as if that was the measure of your endurance or consciousness, as if that done with precision will mean the yoga is working.   We see, hear, taste, smell, touch and think of that which comes in from an outside source. We have another sense of our movement in relation to space. Simultaneously, we have internal senses that measure impressions of the world within. These senses dictate our behavior both consciously and automatically.  We are a matrix of nerves wired to compute 24/7. We are not familiar with all of ourselves because all of ourselves is vast beyond present measurement.   People come to yoga for relief and they try to blow past sensations...

Are Your Relationships Working? The Body of One is the Body of All.

  Hatha yoga, is the physical experience of relationship.  It is the relationship of bone to bone, bone to breath, breath to muscle, muscle to muscle, fiber to fiber and cell to cell. Stretching doesn’t make muscles longer as much as it makes relationships between fibers and cells become efficient. Stretching wakes us up.   When posture is pleasurable it’s likely we’ve found the right path. It is an indirect path. The map is provided by a teacher but not all vehicles are suited to drive the same way on the same path. We learn by trial and error. Some of it is obvious and some more subtle. The more refined the mind, the more refined the yoga practice which results in greater awareness of the unseen. One thing is for sure. If there is pain, sorrow or anger, the relationship is off. And that bad relationship takes its toll on parts that had no part in creating the problem.   When there is discomfort in a relationship it’s helpful to look at the forces individually. Work unilaterally in the pose as you would look at your own part in an argument. Maybe look and feel how one group as one side is different than the other.  Then take measures to make the best “deal” for each side.   Perhaps you guessed that I’ve got the contentious governing body on my mind. The incoming is trying to make the best deal for one group. Healthcare and tax reform are big topics. The filter of my yoga mind sees we the people and the people of the world as one...

One Day at Middle School

They come from disparate worlds. They are many colors and many income bracketed families. It takes a no time to see how many struggle or don’t even bother to pay attention. Some of them come every week but every week there are newcomers as well. Yoga is simply a means to focus attention and hold attention I tell them. To do that, we use our bodies. I ask them not to talk to each other during class unless it is a necessity. The class is short I tell them. This will let us make the most of our time. This will help us pay attention. I ask them to follow me in a wide squat. I drop one shoulder and then another. We are squatting. We are twisting I tell them. And we are breathing. We will lose our attention toward the squatting and twisting and we will find our breath to bring us back to our movement. We will be in charge of that movement. We will practice this and we will eventually do it in our own way and in our own time but we will keep moving unless we need to rest. We will be good to ourselves and the people in our room because that will make things easier for us. We will move in rhythm with the breath, I say as they continue to follow me. I raise my arms overhead in mountain. Breathe in and as we bend forward with bent knees I ask them to breathe out. A little boy named Marcel who hugs me before class has stopped and is swinging...

“Yoga in America”

My chapter published in the book of the same name titled Yoga in America in 2006 reprinted here for students of yoga     A support group                                                                      The joy of community and the awareness of one’s singular peculiarities The first solitary foray into the wilderness The awakening of a budding teen The first trip to a foreign land The promise of peace A step toward the truth The struggle to be creative and the fight to be competitive The running of the bulls What your friend did to lose weight The sweetness of Satchidananda and the sternness of Iyengar Competitive, corporate, and consumer driven Clothes, gear, and music A traveling circus of superstars The video on the television set of the Kansas farm wife. The workout of the suburban housewife and the Hollywood star An option on the fitness menu at The Golden Door Spa A small class at the community center Offered in rehab and at the local church The silence of meditation and the hip hop on the Dee jay’s playlist Recognized as” Hot” Forever considered cool A rapt audience The innocence of the unsophisticated offering obeisance to the cloth The condemned tenement on New York’s lower East side transformed into a multi-million dollar Mecca An ingredient tossed into aerobics and strength training classes An escape from stress A chance to improve Where East meets West Used to be patchouli and now it’s nag champa Disguised by different titles Confused with enlightenment A step toward enlightenment The memory of the first kiss and the practice of the last breath An open marriage with secret resentments Where groovy...