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Will the Real Reality Please Step Forward

    Tantric yoga holds the view that there is a temporary reality inside a lasting reality. Another view is that this reality is an illusion and a higher reality exists outside this illusion. No matter the viewpoint my take away is that what I am living may not be the entire reality. Think of a video game. At the moment the mind is focused on the video screen, the game is the immediate reality.  As you manipulate buttons or a joy stick, the eyes are fixed, the body may tense and blood pressure may increase according to the actions on the screen. For that moment of engagement with the screen you are living in virtual reality.

     Turn away from the virtual reality to the objective reality of the natural world that we take in through our senses.  The mind is engaged with the world of physical reality.

     When we sleep we are engaged with the contents of the mind. For the moment the dream state is our...

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There is No Solution in Escape

      During the the 1960’s Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. rose up as the spokesperson for justice and peace. This was a time when “Leave it to Beaver” (television’s prototypical white American family)portrayed the illusion of  white American middle class comfort and democracy in America.  Civil rights protests and the Vietnam war broke this illusion, and the hippie movement emerged. The hippies were the counter culture to Beaver and his brother Wally by following psychologist, Timothy Leary, in the psychedelic experimentation and attitude of  “turn on, tune in, and drop out”. Even if Dr. Leary meant something different, it was interpreted as drop acid, tune out the world, and your worries would be over.

     Meanwhile nightly news brought images of civil rights clashes of protesters and police in the United States, and families fleeing from bombed villages in Vietnam.

    Reverend Martin...

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Yoga Sadhana

     Yoga sadhana is a structured daily practice to recognize the divinity in all of us.  We can all think that intellectually, but it is the actual practice that brings our divinity into a felt daily reality. The practice of yoga is often seen in the general public as holding postures for endurance and strength, or jumping through postures for a cardio workout. None of that is yoga if it is done without the intention of revealing your own divine nature.  Most of the time this type of “yoga” practice only reinforces a sense of separation from our divine nature. 

     If the practice becomes a performance of doing postures, then it runs the risk of reinforcing the ego. Strong attachment to the ego is an obstacle to recognizing our inherent divinity. The performance approach to yoga can work well (up to a point) for the individual with low self-esteem who feels an inspired about oneself through the sense of...

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Fulfillment

     What does fulfillment mean to you? In the past I thought that fulfillment was what one received as a result of an achievement.  Instead, the end of one achievement meant reaching for another, while fulfillment remained ever elusive. Achievement can began with getting good grades in high school,  making it to the A team of a sport, then getting in the right college, then getting a good job,  getting the promotion or employee recognition, buying a house,  raising a family, getting praise from family, and on and on.  The social messaging pushes us to keep climbing the ladder of achievements in order to be fulfilled.  We are surprised when "high achievers" in politics, sports, and entertainment end up in divorce, with a substance abuse problems, or  as a suspect in a crime. They make news because they shatter the myth that achievement leads to fulfillment.

     However, there are times...

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Letting Go

     These days I measure my yoga progress not by how many outward postures I can do, but by the degree of familiarity with my inner being. What has kept me on the yoga path for over two decades was not the routine of exercise, but the seeking of life’s fulfillment. What I have discovered is that tapping into my inner essence leads me to greater fulfillment.

 

     With the Western (particularly in the United States) approach of seeking fulfillment through outward materiality, the practice of yoga has taught me that knowing my inner essence is most fulfilling.  Yet, living in the material world is can be very alluring and overpowering. Plus, the cultural push to emphasize our materiality through the acquisition of money and possessions does not leave much room to acknowledge, nor explore this inner dimension of ourselves.  To even mention this desire in some circles is dismissed as “woowoo.”

 

  ...

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Samskaras: Our Mental Grooves

   I took a walk today. It was almost 80 degrees outside. If this was June I would have worn shorts. But, my mind tells me that  November is suppose to be cold, so I wore long pants. Our minds have been conditioned to perceive and act a certain way. This mental habit is known in yoga as a samskara. There can be good and bad samskaras.  In this particular example, if I had been so conditioned as to go out to take a walk in long pants, a hat, and coat and subject myself to heatstroke that would have been a bad samskara.

    Despite evidence to the contrary, I skip over the reality of how warm it is and behave according to my mental conditioning that says November is a cold month so wear long pants. (I did at least wear a short-sleeve shirt.)  It is the ability to be self-reflective to even know that I am playing out a samskara.  When these mental habits are so entrenched that we do them automatically without thinking, then they are ...

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What Does Yoga Do for You?

    Someone commented to me the other day that he has a neighbor who is a yoga instructor and he said, “she is so mean.”  He said that other neighbors also had the same impression so this was not just an off-day the yoga teacher was having. Mean-ness is not one of the qualities you think of in a yoga practitioner.

     Since having a peaceful mind is the goal of yoga, a person who is agitated, or mean is not very far along the yogic path.  ( - Just like going to a physician who smokes and is grossly overweight is not far along the path of health.) There will always be people at various points along the path teaching yoga.  You have to decide for yourself whether that person would be the right yoga instructor for your needs.  The mean yoga instructor may have valuable information to enhance your alignment for the posture part of yoga practice, but will not be able to teach you the way to a peaceful...

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Imitation as a form of Samadhi

     In preparation for my trip to Assisi I started reading a book about St. Clare*.  (I know most people think of St. Francis when going to Assisi, but St. Clare calls to me more.) Like St. Francis she came from a wealthy family. In Italian her name is "Chiara" meaning clear or bright one.  From a very young age she was a devout seeker of universal love eventually ran away from home to join Francis and his brothers who liveded outside the walls of Assisi.  Being a woman she was not allowed the freedoms that the men had. Eventually she moved into a modest convent of San Domiano just below the city walls of Assisi.  Here she did her devotions and contemplated day in and out on the crucifixion of Christ.

    Agnes of Prague was destined to become queen, but instead renounced her nobility and sought guidance from Clare as she was about to enter the monastery in Prague.  It is through the four letters of...

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Connection

     Have you seen it?  The dogwood tree leaves are beginning to turn! September starts in nine more days. Autumn is just around the corner.  For those of you in other parts of the country maybe you noticed that the days are getting shorter. For those in the southern hemisphere the days are getting longer.

In the northern hemisphere the outward movement and activity of summer is winding down. Do you slow down as well? Much about our Western society does not allow much synchronization of our bodies to the rhythms of the seasons. Some only know that fall is arriving by the Back-to-school, and Labor day sales being advertised. Is this why we have been so slow in responding to climate change? We are so detached from our natural environment we do not have a feeling of urgency unless there is an immediate crisis.

Our disconnection to the earth is bad for the health of the environment.  What if we are also disconnected from our bodies?...

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What makes me try to learn a new mantra rather than watch Netflix?

 

        Initially, I came to yoga after getting bored with my Nordic track. I have always been committed to exercise but would get bored doing the same routine after several months. (I don’t get bored with running but my knees complained.) So, I was introduced to yoga as a form of exercise. Over time I was curious about the broader philosophy of yoga that delves into the totality of our being human. Learning about this richer aspect of yoga I became just as interested in yoga for exploring mental and spiritual aspects as well as for my physical body.  I never become bored with yoga because I continually discover new aspects about my being - physically, mentally, and spiritually.  The body, the breath, the mind and my higher Self are all intermingled and the study of this intermingled relationship expands into exploring life as a whole.

     Over the years of my yoga practice I have...

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