Sunday, June 24, 2012

Living the Life of Brahmacharya

This is my dog Gunnar. He is all Black Laborador Retriever. He lives to retrieve. He knows nothing about the study of Yoga or at least he has not told me so, maybe he does and this is the question I am going to explore.

I am currently in Yoga teacher training. It is an eight week program and I am on week 4. I have decided to study the 8 Limbed Path of Yoga by practicing a Yama and then a Niyama each week. This week it is the practice of Brahmacharya or non-excess.

Traditionally this was about celibacy in young monks, preserving your semen and protecting that life force for deeper meditation and focus. Non-excess may be a more contemporary interpretation and is possibly more attainable for yoga students in 2012. Non-excess is also something I can contemplate with regards to Gunnar. Is he the picture of moderation or is he excessive personified?

I could argue that he doesn't want for much. He wants to be fed daily with dog food and water. Does he want other kinds of food other than the food he is given? Well, the longing glances and impenetrable stares while I am eating my breakfast, lunch and dinner could imply that he would eat my food...ALL OF IT...if I let him. And yes, he has "stolen" sticks of butter, pieces of bread and other left-overs that were placed within his tongues reach. So, I guess we could come to the conclusion that if left to his own will-power, he would have little control of his eating impulses.

What makes Gunnar different from humans is the power of the voice. We have a voice to complain if we don't have enough, don't like what we have or want MORE! Food is an area I could definately work on brahmacharya. I tend to buy more food then we need and as a result, throw away food that goes bad.  At times have I have eaten more or ordered more food than I could or should have. I have indulged and over-consumed and my brain is bigger than Gunnar's. I have no excuse.

Gunnar doesn't excessively buy clothes, furniture, long for the newest car or latest electronic gadget.  His life is simple, feed me, walk me...better yet, take me to the dog park, and most of all...PET ME!  He can never be pet enough.  When I scratch under his chin, he lifts his head high and back- a huge heart opener  for him, a bit like camel pose- ustrasana, he does this naturally.

Gunnar has not asked for a new bed...yet...he is content to sleep on the floor but tends to prefer soft pillows.  He restrains himself at times when told to stay (when he obviously would rather be under the table waiting for dropped food).  When taken to the dog park and the ball has been thrown enough, he takes a break and lies in the long grasses in the distance to tell me that he is moderating his movement.  Gunnar is the MOST gentle being that I know.  He allows children of all shapes and sizes to manipulate his body.  They snuggle next to him, they dance with him, they wrestle with him- they use him in a variety of ways for their pleasure and he doesn't complain.  Gunnar barks on occasion, but doesn't carry on or use his voice in excess.

Wallace Slater, in his book "Raja Yoga" states that brahmacharaya is self-control in all things.  "Be temperate in eating, in sexual relaions, in movement, in emotional expression, in thought.  Avoid excesses of all kinds. Be gentle in action and speech.  Such behaviour will prepare the aspirant for subsequent practice in advanced mediation, and he will, at the same time, be an influence for peace in his surroundings (Slater, pg. 26)."  So Gunnar, because he is a dog, does not have a big enough brain to think about moderation.  He does what feels good and if that means he can get someone to pet him ALL DAY LONG, that is what he would do.  He is not intentionally practicing moderation so that he can prepare himself for advanced meditation, again, because he is a dog.  Yet, the above would have me contemplate how I could be more like Gunnar and be content with what I have and practice a little more moderation in some areas of my life like being patient and more quiet and content with what I have.

I do wonder, what does he do all day long when we are at work? Maybe he IS meditating?

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Summer in the North Lands

In early July, I went to northern Minnesota off of the Gunflint Trail to a cabin for a week. Part of the week is spent in solitude and the rest is spent communing with some of the wonderful women in my life. This year was the second annual retreat.

It is interesting to me why many women tend to wait to do this type of thing (be alone) until we are almost 40 or ARE 40 something or older. I guess for most of us, prior to this we are busy raising young children and/or getting our careers up and going. Both were the case for me.

I can't tell you how rejuvenating it is to get away from the city. There is no cell or phone service and no internet/wireless. It does have electricity and running water but I don't consider these things that I necessarily have to get away from. It does FEEL good to get away from computers which take up much daily life. It also feels good to live a simple life for a week. Believe me, once you do it, you will want another week and ANOTHER!

Having never lived alone in all of my life, I do appreciate the simplicity of the solitary life. I can cook if I want but don't have to. I can clean when I want and only have to clean up after myself. Since I don't have any bills or things to repair or money I have to make in this life, I don't have to do much at all. What I do do is sleep, read, walk, swim, run and think (or not).

The best part of this trip is knowing and seeing that beautiful, pristine and peaceful places exist in this world!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The Beese are here!

We've become bee keepers! We had always privately thought about bee keeping, the Professor and I. We did not even share this thought with each other for many years. Only recently, after seeing the documentary, "The Queen of the Sun", did we know that we HAD to keep bees- that we always knew we would.
(Please remember- you can click on the photos to enlarge.)

The Little Man and the Professor gaze in amazement at our box of Italian bees (via California).

Inside their traveling cage the intoxicated bees await their new home.

The Professor removes the feeder can and releases the first bee.

Emptying the traveling cage to their new home.

7,000 BEES!

The Queen in her cage.

Attaching the queen.

Taking flight.

Putting on the second Langstroth box.

The Little Man has made a friend for life.

Our furry friend.

Friday, February 25, 2011

If you seek all that is possible, then all that is possible will seek you.

Imagine you are a squirrel. You don't really know where the nut is that you buried last fall but you are pretty sure that you did a lot of work to get ready for the winter. The squirrel doesn't know how many nuts there are where she lives but she believes that there is an abundance and she goes about her business to find them. She finds many.

Now, imagine you are living in poverty in a land where there is little water or food. If you don't leave, you will surely die. You have heard of this place called "america". You have heard that in this land everyone has food, everyone has water, everyone has a place to live and there is this thing called "opportunity". You BELIEVE this to be true and decide to leave your native country and seek all that is possible in this place called America.

You cross the ocean by boat and they say you will know when you arrive when you see a lady. A proud, tall lady with a crown and a light, pointing the way towards all the possibilities. In the distance, you see her and you know now that it IS possible. ANYTHING that you need, want, desire is there, is here, with you, inside you. You just needed to seek it so that you could find each other.
photos by LupeLu

Saturday, February 19, 2011

On the Road to Shambala

I came late to the "LOST" series. I started watching it, not on network TV, because I don't HAVE hook-up to either cable or even the "regular" stations, but via the internet on Netflix. I LOVE watching shows this way, no commercials AND if I want to watch 10 episodes a day...I CAN! If I had watched the show as it played on TV, I don't think I could have waited a WHOLE week for the next would have killed me!

Anyway, this post isn't about my addiction to LOST, it's about the themes that LOST uses and the themes that have been reoccurring in my life.

Connections and faith are portrayed in this clip from LOST.
About connections: People, as the humans we are, desire to be connected to other people. This is why blogs exist, this is why Facebook is such a hit. We are not creatures who feed off of isolation, that is uncommon AND I would argue, not healthy. We join groups, we belong to churches, synagogues, mosques. We join run clubs, adventure groups, bands, gangs, anything to be connected even if it is a negative influence. We want to be accepted, for who we are, not who we could become or what people want us to be. When we don't get that acceptance, we can become bitter, self-indulgent, depressed. Children, if not given positive attention, will go for negative attention (e.g. when you say "no", I'll do it again, just because I can and you are giving me attention).

I've found that my connections to people have lead me either one way or the other- good vs. evil. I guess, if I think about it, it all depended on how I felt about myself at the time. Insecurity lead to evil. Self love to good. Either way, it was the connection that I was longing for.

On faith. I truly believe that if you will become reality.

At age 6, I never doubted this. I could BE and DO anything! I WAS an actress, I was a world traveller. I was an awesome mom. The possibilities were endless. Faith has been challenged since then. As I grew older, I was told and believed that I COULDN'T do things. I was told there were limitations. I now think that this is the worse thing we do to our children.

So, now I am trying to get back my faith. Trying to be Hurley, driving down the hill at 60mph headed straight for the rocks with eyes closed saying, "there is no curse, there is no curse". Just like Hurley, I'm hoping that the VW will start and I'll go driving in the promise land with Three Dog Night singing Shambala in the background.

Wish me luck!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Refreshing the blog in NYC

I have decided to refresh the blog once again. It is time for me to park myself in this cyberspace place, I will be transient no more.

The inspiration came to me in NYC. A friend asked me if I still was blogging. I had to say "no, not for quite some time now". Facebook has been consuming my computer time. Not that I am against Facebook but it doesn't allow the creative muse to be satiated.

So - this will be short- just an introduction, a refresh of the blog. As I am a just traveler of of this blue planet, I wish you a Romani "sastipe" from NYC. Enjoy the video below from one of my favorite "gypsy" bands, Devotchka.