Posts Tagged ‘meditation’

Into the underworld of chills and fever

October 17, 2013

October 16, 2013 

buddy542212_685309024830274_335351423_nEarly this morning, for the first time in about ten days I felt strong enough to rise from my sick bed and follow the wind just past the gate near my house—a place where I can lean against my favorite boulder, high above the dry river bed, sip my hot potion of lemon and raw honey, and take in the panoramic view of the mountains.

I was just thinking how great it felt to be steady on my feet again when a large wolf-like coyote appeared in the not-too-far distance. At that same moment I noticed that little Chico, who was supposed to be home safe in his basket, had followed me and the larger dogs. Chico—so innocent and oblivious– looked pleased that he had found us on his own. I wanted to linger and study the coyote, but I quickly shouted to the dogs and headed back toward the gate. This flurry of activity caused the coyote and his invisible pack to start yipping. My own pack and I bolted through the gate, and I locked my dogs safe inside the house.

I couldn’t resist having one more look, from the safety of a point just a few feet past the gate. Sure enough, there were now three of them, looking almost blond in the early morning light and trotting down the same path that my dogs and I walk almost every day. One stopped to pee—just like a dog. What did I expect? They were moving in my direction at a good pace so I slipped quickly back behind the gate and waited for them to walk by, but they took a different direction home.

About ten days ago Mother Nature had her way with me, snatching me out of my busy life and dragging me into the underworld of chills and fever. She slammed me into my bed and told me in no uncertain terms, “I gave you plenty of warnings, but you ignored me. Now I’m gonna show you who’s the boss!”

I can perfectly understand why primitive people believed disease was caused by evil spirits, because it felt like two conflicting devils were in a raging battle inside of me. But truth is, our modern-day superstitions that blame hokus pokus flu bugs are not much better. I can’t in good conscience blame germs for my sorry state; I brought it upon myself. And now I had no choice but to surrender.

I had dutifully pushed myself out of bed to teach an early-morning yoga class. The room felt cold, although normally I have good circulation and an unheated room doesn’t faze me. About halfway into the 90-minute class, it was like someone had suddenly pulled the plug. You don’t realize how much effort and energy everything takes until your energy system collapses!

In the middle of that last class, I suddenly became aware of the daunting effort of merely walking across the room. Still not fully realizing what had hit me, I sat on the floor and instructed the students to go into various restorative poses. The students seemed far away –almost as if they were in another dimension. I had a strong instinct that I needed to get out of the building while I still could. So I ended the class a few minutes early, left it up to the students to put away the props, and headed straight for my car, which seemed a long way off.

I remember thinking I might just drive to a nearby residential street to lie down on the front seat and take a little nap. But, as I drove down the street, I reasoned, “I’ll just drive a little further, to my parents’ house, and lie on their lawn, in the nice warm sun, till I get my strength back.”

Then, as I passed my parents’ house, I reasoned that I was almost home. I coasted down into the river bottom, past the pigs, parked the car, left my stuff in it, and collapsed on my bed.

Even then I was in denial, thinking I’d be fine in a few hours.

But Mother Nature had a different agenda . . .

Continued Part Two:  Deep Rest is the Cure

Walking the river bottom at dusk

October 9, 2013

October 7, 2013

Walking the river bottom at dusk, my first real walk in three days, my reverie was broken when Nubio appeared out of the brush down below, near what once was a running creek, with something large in his mouth. It looked to be the size of a rabbit, but I knew right away it wasn’t a rabbit. “Drop it!” I shouted, on the slim chance it was still alive. And, whatever it was, he needed to get it out of his mouth. Honey ran up to him, ready to scoop it up if he dropped it, so I yelled at her to get away, too.

As I got closer, Chico straining on the leash, eager to get in on the action, I could smell that unmistakable stench of a decomposing body. When Nubio finally reluctantly dropped it, I saw that it was the perfect head of a deer, its big, soft brown eyes open like it had been decapitated, like the heads some hunters mount on their walls.

Darkness was falling fast or I would have examined the head more closely and gone looking for the body. Did it die of thirst, or did a cougar kill it? I wondered.

I had to get the three undaunted dogs away from the head, so I left it where Nubio had dropped it, out in the dusty, bone-dry open space, and hoofed it back to the house. Tomorrow, early, I’ll go back without the dogs and see if it’s still there, or if another wild animal carried the head away in the night. I’ll check to see if the rest of the body is nearby. I know there are bears, coyotes, bobcats, and possibly cougars (mountain lions) back there, but in all the years I’ve walked the river bottom, I’ve never come across a dead deer.

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I feel the life force returning

September 21, 2013

With the cooler foggy mornings, my vows to leave hot Ojai evaporate. Still riding on the full moon energy, I follow a trail of coyote droppings and rabbit pellets into the riverbed. While Honey and Nubio snarl and charge at each other, and then run wild, I find a perfect spot for a long, deep Uttanasana, yoga’s restful Standing Forward Bend that brings the head below the level of the heart.

At first I practice with my feet embedded in gravel. After Uttanasana comes Vrkasana, Tree Pose. Outdoors in Nature is the best place for balance poses, where your eyes can sweep the landscape and then focus on a tree. Then I balance on a smooth, flat rock. Now the standing foot is more anchored and steadiness comes.

462701_10150741764309703_1020063683_oThe shapes and surfaces of Nature make the best props. I find a flat stone that has the perfect slope for placing the feet so heels are slightly up, raising the pelvis higher, and a boulder in front of me to help lengthen the spine. I begin to notice more and more coyote droppings on the stones and boulders all around, as if they had a full moon gathering here. Chico wisely sticks close to my heels.

Honey and Nubio settle down beside me. I feel the life force returning. Last night I felt a little lonely and lost so I caved in and turned to YouTube. I felt like I’d reached a new low–opening a can of organic chile beans like the proverbial bachelor who can’t cook for himself. I doctored it up with vegan olive oil spread and Gomasio sesame seed salt . . . and then turned to the screen for comfort.

I stumbled onto a Dateline episode entitled “Married to Mother.” I half expected a segment on being married to a mama’s boy . . . or a domineering mother-in-law. But as I watched the chilling true story of the greedy narcissistic nurse who gave her handsome, altruistic doctor husband a lethal injection and then set their house on fire, it soon became evident that “mother” was a typo. The real title was, “Married to Murder.”

I confess I watched three true-life episodes of unbelievable greed and cold-blooded murder where one of the spouses murdered the other. By the time it was over my life looked so sweet, I stayed up another hour gratefully washing the dishes and mopping the floor. I fell asleep on my old hippie mattress, looking through the window up at the bright full moon . . .

All this I quickly scribbled in my journal, sitting on a rock, enjoying the quiet, cool fog . . . writing yoga . . .

420152_10150741781489703_1319035889_nIt’s a new day –so far, so good!

Tonight, as the soft summer dusk fell

August 10, 2013

Tonight, as the soft summer dusk fell, I walked the dry brown landscape, surrounded by black mountains sharply outlined against the sky. I was struck once again by how the streams of light and darkness in this world flow simultaneously, seemingly without rhyme, reason, or mercy.

What is it that gives life to that stream of unceasing atrocities and horror that flows through every segment of society? After so many centuries, so many lifetimes, so much suffering, why has this stream of cruelty not dried up?

Tonight, with Venus and the crescent moon shining high above and crickets singing away, buoyed by the boundless love of my dogs and the magic of an Ojai orange margarita made by my daughter—out there in the boonies, out in the open, out in nature—I cast all my worries to the wind, stepped into the stream of light, and quietly watched as day turned into night.

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A light unto oneself

June 20, 2013

It’s a wild, whirling, windy, summer solstice night! There are pockets here in the river bottom where the wind blows from the direction of Matilija Canyon with such fury that I feel like I’m walking into a powerful storm—a wonderful, cleansing, ecstatic cosmic storm. I don’t resist the power of the wind—just reach for my earlobes to make sure my earrings don’t blow away.

I turn my face toward the sky so I can feel the wind on my skin like a thousand kisses . . . I stretch my arms wide in all directions, breathe deep, spread my rib cage (the wings of the body), and open my chest to the full force of the wind.

When I turn around, I feel the force of the wind on my back and she pushes me home. Then I look up, and there is the feminine face of the Moon Goddess, the Mother of the Universe, smiling down on me. We might be tiny little human beings in a vast infinite universe, but women, through all the stages of life, are forever connected to the cycles of the moon.

And we might even say, since we’re aiming to balance the male and female (sun and moon) aspects of ourselves, that men, too, are attuned to the cycles of the moon.

All the while that I’m teaching my yoga classes, usually laughing as I encourage students to face the layers of hidden pain and stiffness buried in the body, I also try to convey that Hatha Yoga is not just physical Yoga. The Sanskrit word “ha” stands for the sun, and “tha” stands for the moon. . . The moon being the reflected light of the sun, consciousness (tha) is the reflected light of the soul. Knowing and realizing this for oneself is Hatha Yoga.

On this cosmic, windy night, that to me is the meaning of being a light unto oneself.

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A summer night in Ojai

August 13, 2012

Honey

Last night I found a pocket of coolness around the basin near Pratt Trail. Suddenly, out of the unrelenting muggy heat, a cold wind started blowing. So strong that my skirt flew around and the bottle of Tazo Tea I was drinking made a humming sound. Honey and Chico ran ahead and we made our way to our meditation spot with the powerful view of darkening mountains, ever changing mystical cloud formations, and dry wildness below. The landscape was stone still. We sat down on the warm ground and sank into silence. My rambunctious Aussie instantly switches into guard dog mode, quiet as a wolf, totally alert, surveying the landscape for any intruders so I can relax. Chico is secure on my lap. Together we sit and take a deep slow journey into silence.


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