Thursday, August 26, 2010

Swami Cat's response to Marianne

Dearest Marianne,

I empathize with your problem of constant lateness and was moved to respond to your comment on Yoga Girl's blog.  Ah yes, the lateness habit.  I too once had this particular problem.  As a kitten I was so excited by life, I wanted to do everything at once and unfortunately that meant that nothing was done well.  I was often late to dinner and missed out on the best, juiciest morsels. 

Things became easier for me when I began to practice Yoga off the mat.  All of a sudden the teachings of Yoga that I learned in my classes were spilling out into my life.  While studying Patanjali's Yoga Sutras with my master, Sri Swami Purrananda, I learned that one of the most important teachings is of Ahimsa or non-violence.   This means non-violence in action and in thought.  I began to see that my lateness was actually causing others discomfort.  They were disturbed by my lateness for they have as many pressures and things to do in life as I, yet they could show up on time and began to become angry, resentful and grumbled under their breath.  Furthermore I caused myself much suffering.  Isn't it true that when you realize you are late your body, mind and spirit begin rushing and beating yourself up.  The whole trip in the car there are a few choice angered words at yourself, at the traffic and maybe even at God for creating the traffic jam.  This is violent thought, violence that we have self-created and can easily remedy. 

So what to do?   I began to put others' needs in front of my own.  I thought about them waiting for me and the beating myself up and endless excuses I would make up on the way there.  I began to get up earlier and meditate more.  In meditation I set my intentions for the day and start the thought process of thinking of others first.  It became easier and easier.  And now I arrive early, and guess what?  I have time to look around, take in the surprise beauty of a quick passing hummingbird, smell the honeysuckle, say hello to passersby-- things I didn't have time to do before.  It is so wonderful not being late as a habit.  I highly recommend it.  I feel lighter with a great sense of accomplishment. 

It is not easy to break a habit.  In Yoga we focus on creating new positive habits.  It is said, you need to practice a long time, without break and with enthusiasm. 

I hope this helps you, my friend.

Let me know how it goes.

Remember the Yogic life is not a purrfect, it is a practice. 

Om Sweet Om.

Swami Cat

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Gift of Waiting

Today I waited.  I know you’ve done this too — U.P.S. called and said they would deliver my package today anytime from 9am until 6pm.  I really thought it was going to be around 9am.  I don't know why I thought that, I just hoped, I guess.  I had errands to run and I didn’t want to be stuck in the house all day.  Turns out I was.  It wasn’t until 5:50 tonight that my doorbell rang. 

And it struck me that I wasn’t that annoyed with U.P.S.  I had decided to stay home so I wouldn’t have to go pick up the package.  It was my decision.  Yet, normally I would have been counting the hours, and bad TV shows I watched, wondering where the UPS man was. 

Instead I used this time at home to go deeper into a long meditation this morning.  My mind wouldn’t stop forming stories of future plays I want to write.  But it did become quiet at some point and I was glad that the day was wide open and I had extra time to meditate.  Then I worked on wedding projects, answered emails for Swami Cat, (since I take care of all his correspondence) and around 5pm waited for my honey to come home for dinner.  He was stuck in traffic right near home but couldn’t get to the exit. So I had to wait some more. 

While waiting I remembered a time when I hated to wait.  I was furious with one ex-boyfriend for leaving me alone all day and then coming home just in time to eat and go to sleep, when he could have been home earlier.  He just stopped by a friend’s to help him do some gardening or some other very nice thing that left me at home re-warming dinner.

Lately people have been telling me how proud of me they are that I “waited” for the right man to come.  My Gyno actually told me this.  Friends have mentioned it.  I do feel very lucky, but I don’t know if you call what I was doing waiting.  I was praying, begging, manifesting my life partner into existence with all my heart.  So I would not call it waiting, unless maybe waiting impatiently.  The very notion of “waiting” makes me think pacing, agonizing, short shallow breaths that cause one to become angry.  I have had this type of waiting several times in my life. 

But today no.  I waited patiently.  Whoa- did I just say that?  One of my spiritual goals in life is to garner patience.  I have never been a patient child, so my mother reminds me often.

I have a book on my bookshelf that a friend loaned me.  I took it down today as I thought about this idea of waiting.  It’s called The Seven Spiritual Gifts of Waiting by Holly Whitcomb.  It’s such a great reminder that all good things come to those who wait.  The seven gifts that she writes about are: patience, loss of control, living in the present, compassion, gratitude, humility and then trust in God.  What lovely gifts.  In the book she quotes one of my favorite writers, Madeleine L’Engle:

“During the two years when A Wrinkle in Time was consistently being rejected by publisher after publisher, I often went out and shouted at God.  “Why don’t you let it get accepted?”  But when Wrinkle was finally published, it was exactly the right moment for it, and if it had been published two years earlier it might well have dropped into a black pit of oblivion.”

Madeleine also is quoted saying that what seems a “NO” is often a prelude to a greater “YES.” 

So true, so true.

Now I have to hope my friend doesn’t mind waiting a little bit longer for me to return this book.  It’s only been a year and a half.  What’s a little more waiting?

My question of the week is, how do you spend your waiting time? 

***The first three responses to this blog posting get signed photographs from the famous Swami Cat himself.***

Om Shanti!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

What is Yoga Philosophy?

“What is Yoga philosophy?”

Last night over dinner a friend asked me what Yoga philosophy is.  Trying to explain the Yoga Sutras to a friend who doesn’t do Yoga regularly is hard, made even harder by the fact that I had to check the rice pasta and make sure it wasn’t overcooking into an inedible mush.  I thought for a moment about what Guruji would say.  I told her that the basic teaching of Yoga is “do good, be good” (but that sounded too grade school and not exactly what I wanted to say) and then I went on to explain that Yoga is the underlying essence of all religions. 

Maybe I should have quoted Swami Satchidanda’s be “easeful, peaceful, useful” in order to stay centered and happy amidst whatever the world brings you each moment.  Or maybe I should have said that the teachings of Yoga are do a little pranayama, asana, meditation and something good on the behalf of others each day. 

Well what I did say, as I dolloped the tasty pesto onto the pasta, was that I would like to reread Guruji Rev. Jaganath Carrera’s book, Inside the Yoga Sutras and if she’d like to read it at the same time, then we could talk about it as we read.  It would be helpful to have someone reading it at the same time.  I would be a bit more motivated and it would be fun to discuss it.  Would anyone else like to join us in our reading and discussing?  Let me know.   

Also I’m interested… what do you say when someone asks, “What is Yoga philosophy?”

This week I’m happy to announce the first Yoga Girl blog contest.  All those who post a comment by Sept. 1st are entered into a raffle and one lucky winner will receive a Swami Cat photograph signed and blessed by the wise feline himself.

Om Shanti!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Swami Cat Teaches Meditation

Here's my first Yoga Comedy Film.  If you like it
please share with friends.  Let's smile and laugh together.  Why not?  Laughter is great Yogic healing!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Getting older

I had gotten out of the habit of plucking the gray hairs, telling myself it was a natural part of getting older and I accepted this.  Mostly because there is nothing you can do about it and everyone goes through it.  So why hide getting older? 

Never thought I would care.  If the grays grew in a stripe like Lily Munster then that would have been cool. 

But looking old"er" for my wedding.  I don't know if I want that.  It's all about getting older in my family get-togethers lately.

Been watching my grandparents hit that stage in their life where they become like children again, and need my parents to help them.  My poor mother is losing sleep now wondering if grandma will hurt herself on the new oven that is in her almost assisted living facility.  (It's more of a hotel with two meals a day.)  Grandma might need more than that for she's having trouble finding the elevator and opening up her door.  This is hard, mom and dad had to do something and there's not enough room in their house for dad's mom and mom's dad.   (Both got sick at once and live in Florida.)  My parents are finding themselves in the situation of making decisions for their parents who previously were very independent people.

Watching my family struggle with the aging process makes me long for villages where the elders are taken care of by the tribe and looked to for advice and wisdom.  Therefore while sitting with her in the lobby of her new home away from home waiting for my parents to finish setting up her linens on the bed, and hang her clothes in the closet, I asked grandma a question that was on my mind.

"Gram, what should I do about my grays for the wedding?  I could dye them."

Grandma can not see too well anymore, so I'm sure she didn't notice them.
"Why can't you just pluck 'em?"

I had almost forgot about that option.  And so first thing this morning I took my grandma's advice.

Yogic?  Not Yogic?  I don't know.  What do you think?