Posts Tagged ‘Chidvilasananda’

Wow, these are BIG topics, aren’t they? But in my experience, with these two spiritual tools in your back pocket, and the confidence to USE them, life is much much easier. Case in point: when conflict arises, if one can discern (another word for discrimination) what is the “correct” choice, the “next right thing to do,” even if that means…really…doing nothing! well, this is a real life asset. And of course, when we get to the place where we are able to discern what it is, what course of action, what choice to make that will make our lives more full, happier, and more pleasureable, the next thing is….to let go! but how? what to do, what to do, when people, places, things, politics, weather, or life … bothers us. Something is always gonna bug us, unless of course (ahem!) one is a saint. unlikely, my friends, unlikely. more like this….

lost in the canyons of life's dilemmas

lost in the canyons of life's dilemmas

in yogic philosphy we call discrimination “viveka” and it is a very essential part of growing along the path that leads to enlightenment. without viveka, we tend to get stuck. So! How do we practice viveka? Well, for me I have learned how by working with what I consider is the greatest spiritual master alive today. Of course each of us has our own preference, as to which path, and what teachings we adhere to. After many years of searching I finally found my teacher, Gurumayi Chidvilasananda (more info at http://www.siddhayoga.org) who is a meditation teacher, and an adherent of the traditional methods of spiritual attainment as described in the world’s oldest scriptures, the Vedas. Gurumayi, as she’s affectionately called, has taught me that I must “go within” and listen, in order to discern what is right from what is wrong. This practice of going within, meditation, is the best way I know of about how to “determine” whether an action should or shouldn’t be taken, a person is “right” or “wrong” and any other of life’s decisions. Without meditation, on a regular basis, I’d be in real trouble.

going within

going within

Simply put, meditation is the stilling of the outward senses. It’s much easier than most people think. Well, because when you meditate—you don’t think! You pick something to focus on, besides a thought. It could be the sound of the ocean. Or a word (a mantra), or a short phrase (a longer mantra) or a beautifully inspiring mandala, a painting, or a candle. Whatever you choose, just give yourself a peaceful, clean, quiet environment in which to do this meditation.

When we had kids in the house I actually would go into a closet and sit on the floor and place my hands over my head so that my thumbs would conveniently stick into my ears, plugging them up. This is a real meditation position, believe it or not! And quite effective when there is noise around. Of course it’s nice if you live in a serene place. But if not, don’t let that stop you from meditating! Even the sound of sirens and a leaky faucet can disappear when one has learned to concentrate on the “meditation tool” rather than letting outside distractions keep one from “listening to God”…which is what meditation is.

go to your Higher Self

go to your Higher Self

Relax. let your worries go. Empty your mind. Empty your “cup” and let it be filled with the wonders of the Universe!

And then….after some time in quiet meditation, just come back to your daily life, and whatever was bothering you before—let it go! pretend it’s a leaf and you’ve tossed it to the wind, and watch it as it swirls and dives and dips, and….whoosh!….disappears!

This may take some practice. So please don’t be impatient. Just sit quietly for meditation every day, even if it’s only for a few minutes. You’ll notice the positive effect on your life immediately, i promise.

you will see that the canyons of life’s challenges, that before used to get you down and depressed, can become avenues of growth and opportunity! it’s all in the way you look at things.

Go within. Listen to Great Spirit whisper in your ear.

in the Light, with much love, lordflea

so here i am still discussing “change.” Besides what I’ve said previously about the constancy of change being the only thing one can rely on in our lives, and the reliance upon a Higher Power, for those of us lucky enough to hold this comforting Truth of the sanctity of life close to our hearts and minds—the other thing about change that never sways is the inevitability of Life one day ending in Death. 

the three aspects of mySelf

the three aspects of mySelf

This is a painting i did to portray what i’m talking about here. It’s a self-portrait, done on my 32nd birthday (not too long ago). The three different representations of my own Self are simply this, as lordflea sees IT:

the blue face, somewhat hidden, is how i perceive myself from an everyday, living-the-life-i-have point of view; how i can “see” the ever-beckoning choices before me and how I have the Inner Power to choose how my life decisions go: what i make of my life’s potential, what i came into life with, how i use my gifts, and how i see mySelf contributing to the uplifting evolution of humankind (instead of the opposite, contributing to our downfall).

the green side of my Being-ness: this is my ancestral Self: what i’ve inherited from the DNA within my body, the temple of my soul; what i’ve learned from the culture i was born into, and the many generations of cultural imprint upon my soul—even before i arrived in this life i have here and now, today.

the “flesh colored” figure: ahhhh, here is the REAL me. The naked Truth. This is my spiritual body, my glistening aura, my True Self. It is always within me, as all three aspects of mySelf are as well. But this part of mySelf is the most important to me. That’s why it is the most predominant, and fully formed.

By the way—when i painted this painting i hadn’t had ANY of this figured out. I just painted. It’s only in hindsight, after many journeys, many lessons, many teachers, that I’ve been able to decipher the totally WEIRD art that i create.

So why am I talking about this particular topic, life and death, and who we REALLY are, today? Well, a good friend of mine, Isabel, lost her mother yesterday. Isabel Senior died at home. A few of us gathered with our friend and sat with Isabel and her ritualistically cleansed, annoited, and nicely dressed and laid out dead mother’s body, and …. no, it wasn’t morbid! … it was quite beautiful. After the initial hotness of tears (because this lady who passed over into the Light, who would have been 90 on Sunday, was a dear heart i had known for years, and I was feeling a wave of sadness only because i couldn’t visit her anymore, even though we were all glad she’d finally been released from her too-long later-life journey of a major stroke, almost total immobility, and loss of so much of life’s great gifts)—it was a joy to celebrate Isabel Sr’s life, which had been lived well.

Unlike the contrasting and senseless loss of my friend, Michelle, three weeks ago. She was only 44 and died as a result of her own actions: drinking and drugging herself to death.

Choices. We can choose to live well, take good care of our temples and enjoy the benefits of health—even though we’ll always have SOME challenge to figure out (toe fungus? bad back? overweight? tennis elbow? diabetes?). Our bodies–our temples—are the greatest gift we’re given in this life, but it is not WHO or WHAT we actually are. People too often forget this. And for this reason, I am a yogi because in the scriptures of yoga that is clearly taught: we are the eternal Self…all of us, a part of the ONE.

Ooooooommmmmm

Oooooooommmmmmm

Life and Death. What else is there worth living for? It’s pretty intense stuff, when you’re right next to it. Either the birth of a gorgeous new soul entering our world, or the leaving of one after a life lived—-well, according to whatever choices were made.

Isabel Senior was a grand lady. Filled with love for her family and others. And in turn, she was always surrounded by adoring people. She was kind, open-hearted, yet sophisticated, stylish, and interested in all of life’s many offerings. If Isabel Sr. had demons she dealt with them quietly, and got on with her life at hand. On the other side of the coin Michelle struggled very loudly, very ego-centrically with her demons. And even though she too was blessed with intelligence, beauty, and a loving family—she made the bad choice of indulging in self pity, over and over. She never let go of the demons. That was her choice. And now she is dead, waaaaay too prematurely. Isabel Sr. is dead too, but everyone is celebrating her life, and her release from her old age harassment. Because her passing-over seems like a reward—whereas Michelle’s death is a horribly tragic end to a life filled with endlessly bad choices. Michelle’s little four-year-old Nicole, left behind in stunned confusion, will have to bear the stigma of what her mother’s choices meant to her life. Michelle’s other daughter, Carri, aged 24, is shocked into a stunned spiral of what can only be life-defining understanding—or not. Carri is the one who found her mother, dead from an overdose. What can one think of life, when faced with such trauma?

take time and breathe....look within your own Self

take time and breathe .... look within your own Self

 our choices direct our life’s experiences.

We can make our lives a prayer. This is why I do mantra repetition. CONSTANTLY. Om Namah Shivaya (I honor my Inner Self) is ONE with my breath, my mind, my life.

We can experience heaven on earth, right here, right now—even in the midst of life’s tragedies, violence of war and oppression, and personal adversity, if we choose to see life as an experience our spiritual Self is having—and realize this “life” we have is only a temporary stop on our REAL journey. To where? I know not. But I do know there is much more than meets the eye, in this existence called Life.

Or—the other choice—we can make our lives sheer hell, if our viewpoint is that of wanting to control everything about life, know every little thing about it. Some things are just plain un-knowable. Life is a mystery.

The choice is ours.

set your sails and let your breathe lead you to the Source

set your sails and let your breathe lead you to the Source

in the Light, lordflea

everyday i do a little bit of what some call yoga, but i prefer to describe what i do as how i’ve learned to pray with my body. it all started with PAIN. excruciating, nerve-clamping PAIN. in childhood i developed scoliosis in the sacrum area. pain became my “invisible friend” like other kids had angels, little elfs, or fairies (no no no to satsquatch!). i was in college when i taught myself how to do simple poses. there were no teachers back then (oh did you guess i’m no generation x-er?). first i did simple things…then…gradually…i relaxed …. 

Just as this person looks doing the tree pose:

this is how it looks...

this is how it looks...

 but THIS …. this is how it feels … inside!!! … to do that same pose ….

how it feels... power-full, out-of-this-world connected to ALL, throbbing energy, Oneness with Breath, with the Pulse of Being

how it feels... power-full, out-of-this-world connected to ALL, throbbing energy, Oneness with Breath, with the Pulse of Being

and so, my friend, this is why lord flea adores not only singing the calypso song of the day, but, as often as i can, to merge with my physical, visit the temple of my body, and allow my Self to become something i can’t in ordinary ways: by going into these (both simple and complex) strange poses, stilling my breath, concentrating on the energy pulsing through my consciousness, my sinewy muscles, my elasticizing tendons, my strong bones…and … holding IT!

in this way, my body has gradually become my greatest teacher. just as i’ve learned that our humanity is the greatest praise of the Divine. does that sound corny? sorry. that is exactly how i feel, after years of “doing” yoga.

oh, and i should mention here that i’ve taught hatha yoga for years to incarcerated juveniles. the very “baddest” of the bad in our so-called civilized society, that are in teenage lock-ups everywhere. i take yoga to them, and guess what? they LOVE it! those who have the guts to appear in yoga class, to the hoots and disses of their bros and sistahs of the hood, that is. but…that’s another subject for another day. they love it because with their own bodies, these kids learn how to tap into the Power Within, and … instantly … they are FREE. Truly. Remarkably. Utterly…FREE. Even while they’re there, in prison.

the pose i’m working on mostly in my practice these days is the handstand. i’m still chicken about getting away from the wall. courage is still not one of my fortes. so i’ve created my own vision to inspire me, help me relax, give me strength to connect both to the earth (with my invisible roots) and to be lifted by the ineffable Source, by holding me up up up to the Ideal–that ideal of successful connection!

getting help with handstand

getting help with handstand

i really wanted to talk about relationships today. i had something entirely different in mind, like love-relationships, parent-child relationships, person to Planet-relationships, too, when i started writing. but i guess all relationships start with that particularly intimate one each of us either has, or doesn’t, or is in the process of cultivating–that relationship with our own bodies. to be at peace with our mind; our physical self; and our Inner Self, the Spirit–that’s the basis of how we relate to the world around us.

lord flea by the red sea, rightside up

lord flea by the red sea, rightside up

this is why i do yoga. of all the methods of getting-in-touch-with-Truth i’ve experimented with (and believe me! i’ve tried a lot of ’em, not all, but hey–enough to know when a good thing’s a good thing, when you finally hit the jackpot), hatha yoga, the concentrated physical movement of coordinated breathe and muscular poses done with mindfulness, is where i find the most benefit, the best place to worship, and…get relief from any pain–mental, physical, or spiritual–in the meanwhile.

yoga, by the way, translates from its sanskrit as “discipline,” or, more precisely, “that to which one yokes oneself to.”

who, you ask, do i regard as good teachers?

well, above and beyond all my teachers is my beloved meditation master, the living saint, Swami Chidvilasananda, to whom i dedicate this blog. if you’d like to know about the ancient traditions of yogic wisdom that i study, under the tutelage of Gurumayi (Chidvilasananda’s nickname), please check out the traditional yogic philosophy, of which Gurumayi is the current teacher in the lineage of Siddha Yoga. www.siddhayoga.org

but the physical hatha yoga (hatha  translates as simply “physical”) that i do is very diverse. here’s a list of some of my favorite hatha yoga teachers.

john friend www.anusara.com

ana forrest www.forrestyoga.com  

shiva rea www.shivarea.com

rodney yee www.rodneyyee.com

baron baptiste www.baronbaptiste.com

all the great teachers they bring to kripalu www.kripalu.org

and in my own community, St. Augustine, FL www.discoveryyoga.com and Didier Razon and Ann Kiyonaga-Razon:  www.didieryoga.com

most importantly, for those of you interested in exploring the yogic way of living, is to be in touch with your breath. don’t forget to breathe! and try to be aware of your breath whenever you can. right now, in fact.

carter in warrior, and he's breathing!

carter in warrior, and he's breathing strong!

a wondrous moment, a glorious day to you.

much love, lord flea