Monday, July 26, 2010

Swami Cat Speaks:

Hari Om to my Yoga family,

Today I found proof that relaxing music works not only on your human species but
of the feline kind as well.
Music Calms Cats

Therefore music shall be playing today as I edit the voice overs in my first Yoga Video on how to meditate.  Hopefully Yoga Girl will place it up on this internet site very soon.

I am also starting my own Facebook page which I have heard is how all the modern Yogis are corresponding these days.  We must all keep up with the times, learn from the past, and stay in the present.  Isn't it so?

With many purrs and nuzzles,

Swami Cat

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Ananda Ashram

Going into the woods is the most connecting thing I can think of.  Nature growing all around you and it doesn’t care if you get the laundry done.  Nature doesn’t care if you organize your closet today.  It is a universe all to itself, with or without you.  And sitting among the trees, tall weeds, grasshoppers and ants, I was reminded of how I am a part of a larger story and I am not the main protagonist.  I began to breathe better and sink into my own bones, you know what I mean? 

My friend and I took a mini-vacation to the woodsy Monroe, NY Ananda Ashram, because my friend really wanted to experience an ashram.  But I wasn’t really sure why I went.  I felt guilty for going away when my fiancĂ©e just moved in.  I felt guilty for leaving my parents just when their parents were moving in with them.  And I felt that I didn’t even deserve to spend on a mini-retreat when I was not working this summer and had my days to go to Yoga classes and make my own retreat if I wished.  The thing is, I didn’t.  I was filling my days with errands and email.  It was an eye-opener witnessing how many thoughts of guilt I could have in a minute.  I knew it was self-made torture and yet it was hard to let it go.  I let it go successfully in the classes I took and the conversations I had with the new friends I met at Ananda.  I learned so much from the Yoga class.  There was a beautiful closing of looking at your hands and realizing they were Gods hands and a prayer of doing something to help others with these hands.  The wonderfully sweet instructor told me it was a poem that was in a book entitled, “Love Poems From God.”  I would love to find it and use it in my classes.  Then I was really inspired and intrigued by the Chi Gung class we took which had especially challenging breath work that left you tingling from head to toe.  I thought Chi Gung was slow – ha ha, was I mistaken.

Sitting as a guest in an ashram is such a treat.  I have been to Yogaville, but most of my experience with ashram life is in practice for the future Yoga Life Society ashram.  I have wonderful memories of singing songs to myself while washing dishes and nervously but successfully leading the 7am morning meditation.  So I felt a little odd not having to do anything but get my own food, sit and eat.  We sat next to very interesting folks who have been working with or coming to the ashram for decades.  They told me that Swami Satchidananda had lived on these very grounds for three years.  I didn’t know that!  He was pictured near the altar in one of the meditation rooms.  I don’t know why but that made me very happy.  I felt a sudden deeper connection to the place.

In the evening we listened to a brilliant Jazz band with a vocalist that was part Billie Holiday and part Krishna Das. Rev. Kim Lesley’s soulful singing was like nothing I had ever heard before.  What a fun evening.  The best part was seeing the little two year old girl, with closed shaved hair and a little pink dress on scurry up to the stage to clap and turn to the audience and say, “Daddy!”  Her father was the saxophonist.  She was so cute.

Hmmm, thinking back to sitting in the woods, I remember telling myself I have to do this more.  I have turn off the computer and go out into nature more.  This weekend I hope the guys at Ananda are all in the pool because being in nature means just dripping in sweat.  But I bet they are all enjoying themselves anyway.  A little sweat is good for you, body, mind and soul.

Now I highly recommend going away, ignoring any “guilt” thoughts and Ananda is a very affordable trip.  It’s nice to have people cook healthy vegetarian food for you and then sit in meditation with you twice a day.  There really is an energy in the room when so many are meditating at the same time.  I could really feel the earth shake when somebody sneezed.  And if someone shifted on their cushion, the energy shifted as well.  It was as tangible as a breeze. 

Ahh, taking time out for oneself.  Very important and now I have rededicated myself to a real meditation practice.  (I have been sitting but not long enough to quiet the mind.)  At Ananda I was reminded of what true Peace feels like.  It’s a softly bubbling up inner smile that helps you float in nothingness yet at the same time be a part of everything.  Mmmm.