Join me in a new class series at the Birmingham Shambhala Meditation Center in Forest Park. .
Starts August 12th and runs through September 23. Wednesday evenings – 5:30-6:30.
This class series is designed to to explore the body as ground of contemplative practice. In addition to traditional yoga poses (asana) practice, we will work with breath and meditation practice. This class is designed for accessibility to students from all traditions and at all levels of practice.
Settle into your body and consider what you need for your own care. Consider your own well being. Listen for it rather than making it up. Attend. Work with the breath as a stabilizer so that when the mind wanders away, you gently bring it back to an awareness of the body breathing.
You are a human being on a planet spinning in outer space. You are not alone and yet you are yourself, a self that is changing always. You have the possibility of flexibility, of learning to be supple rather than brittle. You can explore the world and yourself in it. You can explore your breath, its nooks and crannies. Every breath you take for the entirety of your life is a unique experience. No two breaths are the same. Each moment holds the seed of newness, of a uniqueness that is precious and free. Practice is all that is required. Saying yes to possibility is the path. The inner journey is present in this breath, and in this one. The richness of the world and of your own self is present. Say yes.
as we learn to explore the unfolding moments of our life, whether good moments or bad moments, happy moments when everything is going our way or those moments when only terrible, awful, not-at-all-good things, people, messages and events keep coming our way one after another, as we practice moving inward we may well discover a joy without cause, that is beyond the buffeting of external events. If we place our intention upon listening to ourselves as we are, as we unfold and change in each moment, we may find the safe place that will not desert us. And in that safe place we discover the space that contains us all, each separate, unique, breathing, here together.
Join our community of gentle practice as we explore basic traditional yoga techniques and poses. This class is aimed at helping students to access yoga practice in a supportive and inclusive environment. If yoga has ever seemed unapproachable, try this class! Don’t let age, mobility and/or body issues prevent you from tasting what the ancient practice has to offer in this 6 week series.
from the glove collection of Belle Wallace, Gowanda, New York.
I unfold garuda wings and shriek across the valleys of our pelvic bowls. Bells and bowls shake and murmur in open skies, on archipelagos of swirling plastic bags, sliding clear cut slopes, newly dug canals and stinking lakes of pig shit. An unblemished wind arises and strokes the choke of rush and hate. To hate for love’s sake can never be. Love cannot emerge from a puckered heart. Us and Them is always a misunderstanding. We are stardust all, risen and rising from space in a billion luminous hearts, unfolded season after season in a single cherry blossom that is purpose to witness a single time. Is there a reason that we appear and set to sounding “Mama, Mama, Mama.” We stir when pricked and swell at the sight of breasts and babies. Night falls and we are surrounded by stars as we spin, splintered and blind to your heart as mine, twirling in space, suckled by the rounds of the moon.
Almost 20 years after George and I divorced, I still missed the singing. He played his grandfather’s guitar and I’d sing harmony with him. We wrote songs of our own and we sang from the canon of American folk music. Our singing together was such a precious communication, an intimacy founded on harmonious vibration.
Robert Huffman sings at our Thanksgiving gathering at Camp McDowell.
Two years ago, I noticed that my son left his acoustic Seagull guitar when he moved to Brooklyn for law school. I asked my old friend Robert Huffman of the High Fidelics and folk singer extraordinaire if he’d teach me to play. Thus I embarked on a re-assembling of heart, powered by my own body and breath. This morning I practiced “The Water is Wide” on that same Seagull guitar, playing with the phrasing and pitch. And Tuesday night my parents Walter and Nancy Bailey sat by the fire in my living room after dining on scrumptious French onion soup that Robert Heithaus made for us, and I played some old favorites, including “Danny Boy.” Good, good. Good. Fine. Essential.
Our breath is made for our singing. Please sing. Work with your mental hangup of not being a good enough singer, or not being able to sing. “I can’t sing,” is something I hear over and over. It is not true. Take a deep breath and let it ride out in sound. Do it again. This is your voice. This is the root of your song. Yes, it is a metaphor and it is a fact. Singing is fun. This is a gerund. Singing and laughing are close, are lovers, ride the exhale out into the world, linger and fall away into silence, to rise again. This song, our song fills the space around us. Our singing is good enough for song.
Last night in bed my mind moved into a closed loop of negativity. This loop is an old friend of sorts I suppose. The track is about comparison, and I am on the losing end. The loop plays like this: I have not achieved as much. I’ve not made as much money. I don’t have the same status. All this presses down upon who and what I am. Voluminous clouds of gloom murmur (once again) that I am not good enough, shake their heavy and judging heads that I’ve not lived up to my potential. What a shame. How sad. Anne could have been something. She could have achieved more.
And then, my mind opened and light filled the space. I saw an adobe village on a mesa, soaking in the rich color of the sun. Many people were gathered there and the scene expanded to include human beings all across the mind screen, lifting their chests, lifting their hearts in joy. Not pressed down but rising in gladness, absorbing the wealth of their inheritance as human beings simply by being here in this moment.
Our birthright is joy, always available to us. My experience is that turning away from the negative mind requires continued and repeated practice. One of the miracles and I do mean miracle in the most splendid and fantastic sense of the word – is that our minds will turn to rejoicing late in the dark night when surrounded with despair.