Yoga with Mirella Nicholson

Yoga with Mirella Nicholson

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Atma Upanishad......

I often find inspiration in the pages of the Upanishads. I open the book to a random page and read the passage.  Here's today's random selection:

Atma Upanishad

"The inner self perceives the outside world, made up of earth, water, fire, air, and space.
It is the victim of likes and dislikes, pleasure and pain, and delusion and doubt. It knows all the subtleties of
language, enjoys dance, music, and all the fine arts; delights in the senses, recalls the past, reads the scriptures, and is able to act. This is the mind, the inner person.

The supreme Self, adored in the scriptures, can be realized through the path of yoga. Subtler than the banyan seed, subtler than the tiniest grain, even subtler than the hundred-thousandth part of a hair, this Self cannot be grasped, cannot be seen.

The supreme Self is neither born nor dies. He cannot be burned, moved, pierced, cut, nor dried. Beyond all attributes, the supreme Self is the eternal witness, ever pure, Indivisible, and uncompunded, far beyond the senses and the ego. In him conflicts and expectations cease. He is omnipresent, beyond all thought, without action in the external world, without action in the internal world. Detached from the outer and the inner, This supreme Self purifies the impure.
Om shanti, shanti, shanti" 

Friday, April 29, 2011

Adventures of a spiritual seeker.

It's no secret that my heart's desire is to find a guru, a spiritual teacher who will lovely guide my spiritual evolution.  I thought the only person who understands the longing in my heart is Yogananada. (it's quite amusing to watch the silly things that go on in my mind).  Anyway, I've been listening to Autobiography of Yogi on cd in the car.  

Yogananda's beautiful words are so inspiring.  They also fuel the inner fire of  desire for a spiritual teacher.  In Yogananda's day, a spiritual seeker travels from place to place in search of a guru.  Today, a spiritual seeker has a much harder time, especially here in the good old USA.  I suppose in India there are gurus on every corner but here, in Abington, PA - not so much. 

I start wondering what I would find if I do a google search for a guru.  With Yogananda on my mind, I google the self-realization fellowship and TA DA!  there is a center just 5 minutes from home!!  How do you like that!!  Could it be that just like Yogananada who searched all these far off villages only to find that his guru's ashram was only 12 miles from his home?? 

I found a self realization fellowship center.  The direction say its above a motorcycle shop and directs you to use the side door. I open the door at the top of the stairs and find myself in a dark dingy hallway. The door at the end of the hallway indicates it's the meditation group. So I open the door. There's a man standing in this dark little room with his back towards the door. He's doing some sort of weird movements and I don't want to disturb him so I wait. I rumple my paper in hopes that he would turn around but he doesn't. I look around the room. No one else is there but there are tons of photos of Yogananda and his gurus, books, CDs. Ok maybe I'm too early so I decide to leave the room and wait outside for other meditators.

There I am in the dirty, stinky hallway. After quietly backing out of the room I realize that I left my shoes in the room. While I'm waiting there are"biker dudes" coming in and out. There's a group of women practicing their singing and dancing act in another room. Then a guy comes walking down the hall. Tattoos everywhere but I notice he's wearing malas. I ask him if he's going to meditation. "yes" he says and leads me into the room. He directs me into the "chapel". I sit and the guy doing the weird movements begins the"service". He chants in English and plays the harmonium. Not very well but whatever. They pray and we meditate for a long time. 1 1/2 hours! They end with prayers and weird hand gestures. I left and as I walked to my car I felt strangely lighter and I couldn't help but wonder. "how'd I get here again?".

I'm not sure I'll find what my heart desires there in that group but I know for sure I'll find it in the lotus of my own heart through my own sadhana. 

Hari Om~ Hari Om~ Hari Om~

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Why am I doing this again?

I love getting involved in huge projects but usually I get half way through and start wondering what the hell I was thinking when I started the project. That's basically where I'm at in the huge project of self-realization.

When we moved into our house about 5 years ago I had grand plans for the back yard.  My first project.... a brick patio and walkway. I had total confidence that I could do it. I watched tons of HGTV home improvement shows and I was armed with my how to instructions I printed from google. "How hard could it be" I think to myself.  My husband, in his usual fashion, came up with a 100 reasons why it wasn't going to work. This only made me more determined then ever to do it.

After hours and hours of pulling up the old bricks I pause. I look to the left - I had pulled up, oh, about 100 or so bricks and was left with a slab of dirt and a pile of old bricks. I look to the right and see that I have about 200 more bricks to go. Suddenly the old walkway doesn't look so bad. I'm tired, sweaty, sore and I'm wondering why the hell I ever started this project in the first place.  The dilemma is I'm too far along to turn back and I'm not quite far enough to stop. The only option is to regroup and plow ahead.

For years now, I've been pulling up the old bricks (samskaras) in my consciousness. I felt confident at the beginning. I had my instructions (my meditation course). I had taken many yoga classes. I even had a few awesome teachers in my corner. "How hard could it be" I think to myself. After years of practice I pause. I look to the left and see how far I've come. I look to the right and see how much farther I still have to go. I'm tired and I'm wondering what the hell I was thinking when I started this project. I've come too far to turn back now and yet I'm tired and feel too discouraged to continue forward.

The last few weeks I've found myself putting some of the old bricks back but they no longer fit.  The old bricks aren't working anymore. I'm accepting the fact that old patterns are no longer an option. A new pattern is required. I can't turn back now. Forward is the only way. I pause for a moment, re-group and plow ahead.

When I reached that point of frustration in the back-yard project I remembered why I started the project in the first place. I wanted to have a nice space where I could enjoy the back-yard. I also enlisted the help of someone who knows about laying a brick patio and walkway. I then felt refreshed and ready to tackle the work that lay head.

At the current point of frustration in the self-realization project I again must remember why I started the project in the first place. I wanted to have space in my mind where I can enjoy the vast landscape of cosmic consciousness. Here too, I need to enlist some help. I haven't found a guru willing to help me pull up the bricks of my old samskaras yet so I have to rely on my how to instructions - my sadhana.

Over the past few days I have come to my sadhana with a renewed sense of purpose. Remembering how far I've come and why I started this project makes the work that lies ahead not so bad. I know there is much more work to be done but just like with the back yard project it will be worth the effort. 

Om Gum Ganapataya Namah~ Om Gum Ganapataya Namah~ Om Gum Ganapataya Namah~

Friday, April 22, 2011

Got milk?

Today is earth day so it was fitting that the bhavana for this morning's class was the earth.  Through the course of the class the teacher reminded us to feel the support of the earth.  "Draw in the earth's energy".
I wasn't feeling it today.  I was actually feeling the exact opposite.  Feeling like I've been stranded on a wobbly suspension bridge.

This week I was once again reminded that my "great expectations" are the root of my disappointment. I know, I know, that's certainly not a newsflash.  It was also pointed out to me that my expectations of others causes distress to them.  It puts unnecessary pressure on others when I expect  things from them or I expect them to behave a certain way.  I appreciated this point as I honestly never gave much thought to it.  Mostly because I didn't realize that my expectations were unreasonable.  Okay, sometimes they are but mostly they are reasonable expectations.

Keep in mind that I am fully aware that my ego is playing a huge role in what I'm about to say but humor me anyway........ I will do my best to keep my ego in check.

In order to be a yogi am I required to forgo all expectations?  Wow! my ego is throwing a huge party in my head right now.  It sounds something like this:  "If you invite someone to your home for dinner is it unreasonable to expect a reply?" I don't think so.  "If you ask someone a question  is it unreasonable to expect an answer or even an I don't know?"  I don't think so.  "What if you show up for a yoga class that you know to be a specific style but what you get is totally different?  Is it unreasonable to expect the specific style?" I don't think so.   Aren't some expectations perfectly reasonable?  If you walk into the ice-cream shop don't you expect to find ice-cream.   Don't you expect milk when you milk a cow.

I, my dear friends, have come to the conclusion that I must be crazy.  That's the only explanation I can come up with.   I admit that I do sometimes try getting orange juice by milking a cow but I'm feeling like I was happily milking the cow and enjoying the milk and one day the cow decides to give me yogurt instead.  The only problem is that I hate yogurt.  Is expecting milk from the cow a perfectly reasonable expectation?  I think so.

Okay, ego, give it a rest!  Unfortunately, I cannot change the world.  I cannot make people behave the way I think they should.  I can't even control my own thoughts I certainly can't expect to change anyone else's.  I accept that.  I apologize to those people who feel that I expect too much.  I accept the fact that it is my own expectations that are the root of my "suffering".  But I do not accept that ALL expectations are unreasonable.

I was hoping today to clear my head.  Instead I'm feeling more confused than ever.  Is hope the same as expectation?  If not, what's the difference.  Is letting go of expectation the same as giving up hope?  If we give up hope what do we have?  Is lower my expectations of others the way to happiness?  I don't think so.

So here I am, on the wobbly suspension bridge.  What now? Do I sit on the bridge and cry or do I keep moving forward? Do I suck it up and eat the yogurt or do I go in search of milk?  I will try to accept this predicament I find myself in but I'm not loving it. Since I'm not feeling the support of the earth beneath my feet right now I will need to find the support I need in my own heart and in my own sadhana.  I will step forward in faith.  I accept that the Divine, in her infinite wisdom is offering me an opportunity to grow.  I accept that I need to practice discernment when it comes to my expectations.  The only way to practice discernment is with a clear mind and a pure heart.  I have a feeling my butt and my meditation cushion are going to be seeing a lot of each other........

Hari Om!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Post-card from the jungle

The reason I haven't posted much lately is because I've been on a journey.  I've been spending lots of time in the jungle of my mind.  I can tell you it's a scary place.  Just when you think you're on safe ground you find yourself in quick sand!  The deeper into the jungle you go the scarier it gets.  The sound of a bird rustling in the trees becomes a monster ready to bounce to the unsettled mind.  Every twisted tree limb becomes a snake ready to attack when our perception is unclear.  The mind behaves just like those crazy little jungle monkeys, they entertain themselves by playing tricks on the weary travelers.  While on this journey, I tell myself that if only I had a map or better yet, a guide who knows this jungle to help me, then the journey would not be so scary.  

I open the closest thing I could find to a guide book, the Upanishads.  Here's the wisdom of the ancient sages:

"It is the mind that frees us or enslaves. Driven by the senses we become bound; master of the senses we become free.  Those who seek freedom must master their senses.

When the mind is detached from the senses one reaches the summit of consciousness. Mastery of the mind leads to wisdom.  Practice meditation.  Stop all vain talk.  The highest state is beyond reach of thought, for it lies beyond all duality.

Keep repeating the ancient mantram OM until it reverberates in your heart."
(Amritabindu Upanishad)


Mastery of the mind leads to wisdom...... Practice meditation.  That's pretty clear, right? Stop all vain talk.  The highest state is beyond reach of thought. We're not going to think our way out of thinking, the same as we're not going to think our way out of the jungle.  Keep repeating the ancient mantram OM until it reverberates in your heart.  Pretty clear instructions to find our way out of the jungle of our mind right? Mantra meditation is the road map out of the jungle of the mind.  

The lesson from this journey is two-fold.   #1:  It's best to stay out of the jungle in the first place.  #2: If you do venture into the jungle - remember the only way out is meditation.  No matter how far into the jungle you are, no matter how long you've been lost, the way out is the same - meditation.

This guide book, the Upanishads, is over-flowing with wisdom!! Don't leave home without it! (Unless you want this to happen!!!)