I love teaching at Samadhi ~ The space and energy is amazing ~
Join me on
Mondays 4:15 -5:15 is Gentle Yoga ~ Great for a nice peaceful flowing class
Mondays 5:30-6:45 Power/Jivamukti Yoga ~
Sweat, Open your Heart ~Breathe, be Inspired and dive deep into your practice!
My first real spiritual teacher was an alchemist. By “real spiritual teacher” I mean that he consciously gave me teachings and practices to help me understand the spiritual principles underlying all of existence. By “alchemy” I mean the ancient practice of transforming the ordinary into the extraordinary. My teacher was a photographer by profession and his knowledge of chemistry was not only practical but metaphysical as well. I initially came to him because I wanted to know the cause of physical matter: what makes form form? Under his tutelage I studied the basic building blocks that constitute matter-the twelve cell salts. These salts, being crystalline in form, actually provide a mathematical or geometrical grid that attracts subtle vibrations and organize them into what eventually becomes manifest form. I also learned how to grow crystals in test tubes in a laboratory setting and assisted him in classical alchemical long-term projects that dealt with elemental properties of minerals, especially mercury and gold. He taught me the value of meditation and how to look deeply into ordinary things to discover essence, which included the investigation of words and their root etymological meanings. He infused our lessons with practical science, providing what he promised was an experiential connection to truth.
During this time I was also drawn to The Theosophical Library, an occult library where I spent a lot of hours reading books about yoga, saints, Eastern religions and enlightenment. Several books stand out in my memory-all biographies: The Autobiography of a Yogi, by Paramahamsa Yogananda, and two books by W. Y. Evans-Wentz, Tibet’s Great Yogi: Milarepa and Padma-Sambhava’s biography. After I read these, I professed to my teacher that above all else I wanted to become enlightened and asked if he could help me. He raised his already very arched eyebrows and slowly with a kind smile said, “first you must master these three things, which are by the way, basic to alchemy: 1. Cooking-You have to learn how to become a good cook; 2. Cleaning-You have to learn how to keep the place where you live clean and organized; and 3. Gardening-You have to know how to grow, nurture and care for plants.”
I was incredulous at his response; it disappointed me, and at the time I wasn’t able to embrace his advice seriously as it didn’t seem “spiritual enough” for me. Cooking? I was an impatient skinny girl who found disdain in eating and was trying to reduce my food to a minimum and eventually live on air: how did he think that I could get into cooking, what possibly could be the point? Cleaning? Oh come on, that’s for housewives? I was a liberated woman! Gardening? How old fashioned-in the modern world we all live in cities; farmers grow crops, and landscapers deal with flowers and such; I’m too intellectual and spiritual for these types of pursuits. Besides, I didn’t want to waste my life in such ordinary activities; I wanted God/Self realization right then.
My teacher taught by example and could often be seen in the kitchen mindfully preparing a vegetarian meal, focusing on each moment of preparation-scrubbing carrots, slicing cucumbers or measuring out rice as if he were in deep meditation. His living space was immaculate, sparse, Zen-like, with every item carefully placed and cared for. His altar was simple but beautiful. He often reminded me how important it was not to allow clutter or dust to settle on one’s altar, as it was the mirror for one’s mind. On most windowsills in his place you could find vibrant potted plants, and in the summer he grew organic tomatoes, cucumbers and herbs in window boxes.
It took me many years to realize the wisdom of my teacher’s advice. Without mastering the seemingly ordinary basics of living, no spiritual maturity, much less real spiritual evolution, is possible. One has to first grasp the magic in the ordinary before the extraordinary dawns, and once it does the everyday is the same as it was before-only sweeter.
by David Romanelli
Infobesity: the feeling of busting at the seams with tweets, status updates, texts, emails…too much information!
The average adult spends 6-8 hours each day online. With each passing moment, there’s a more portable gadget that makes consuming information easier… just as there’s another unhealthy junk food or ‘energy drink.’ Is this really any different than the obesity crisis?
Whether from distracted driving, or erosion of quality time with our children, or lacking a spare moment in the day to just relax…infobesity is equally as dangerous to our bodies and even more so to our spirits.
How can you avoid the dangers of infobesity and get Info-Skinny in 2011?
1. Apple is the New Marlboro
I’m half-joking. I love Apple. I have an iPhone. I want an iPad. I’d gawk upon seeing Steve Jobs. But here’s the problem. As the gadgets become more portable, is there any time or place in our lives where we’re actually not connected? I’m sure Apple and Google and Microsoft will keep releasing smaller and faster machines that make our lives more convenient. Just as the tobacco companies have shown reckless disregard for our health, don’t technology companies show a similar disregard for the sacred quality of life? We use the cell phone as much if not more than some of our body parts.
So here’s something to consider…before buying a new gadget, ask yourself it if might invade upon your quality time with other human beings. There has to be a point where we push back a little against technology.
2. Phone in the Dash
I struggle with infobesity as much as anyone. I’ll admit, when driving, I’ll sometimes sneak a peak at who just texted me causing more than one almost-collision. We’ve all heard the bad news about distracted driving but in 2011, I’m gonna commit to putting my phone in the glove compartment when driving. Or if not possible, as soon as available for the iPhone, I’m going to download DriveReply which is ‘anti-distraction technology’**. Hmmmmm.
3. Coach…Call Timeout!
It’s really helpful to have someone in your life who can hold you accountable for being present in the moment. Whether a friend, mentor, or actual coach, I believe we’re at a point where things are getting so ridiculous, it needs to be OK to tell someone to put away their phone in a meeting or family dinner ( here’s a brief video sharing how to do so tactfully, regarding the recent Thanksgiving holiday).
Roger Waters said, “Will the technologies of communication and culture — and especially popular music, which is a vast and beloved enterprise — help us to understand one another better, or will they deceive us?” A great question…and a great resolution to consider…as we round the corner into the new year. Are you dealing with infobesity? And more importantly, are you ready to reclaim your quality of life anytime soon?
Love this article and so true… to find balance in our lives.. we need to know when to put down the technology.. it can be an addiction just like anything else…
Last Christmas (2009), Casey’s daughter Grace (who was 4 years old) said I “was fat” and this was part of my wake-up call. At 285 pounds starting in 2010, I “was fat”! Casey and I had a consult the last week of December and she gave me great advice that has resulted in huge success for me.
Casey: helped me analyze the factors, conditions and stresses that were contributing to my weight loss
- provided excellent advice on the right approach to gradually losing weight
- utilized weekly telephone calls to monitor and coach me through the process
- gave me several spreadsheets that were key in providing the right structure to lose weight properly and keep it off
- provided the right philosophy and attitude to enable me to “change my lifestyle”, not “just go on a diet”
I would highly recommend Casey as a coach in assisting in weight loss.
I lost 85 pounds by the end of May, 2010 and have successfully kept these 85 pounds off for the four months since May, 2010.
I feel much healthier, have more energy, a better self-image, and a better attitude.
It’s now Dec 2010 and he has kept it off. I am so proud of him. It’s been a yo yo ride for 20 years and I am happy he is healthy and fit and can be present for his 5 (soon to be 6) wonder grandchildren!
By Ruth Lauer Manenti, from the Introduction to Sweeping the Dust
pattram pushpam phalam toyam / yo me bhaktya prayacchati tad aham bhakti-upahrtam / ashnami prayata-atmanah
Whatever is offered to Me with a pure loving heart, no matter if it is as small as a leaf, a flower, a piece of fruit, or a sip of water, I will accept it. -Bhagavad Gita IX.26
When I first went to India, I was eager to look at Indian miniature paintings from the sixteenth century. I had seen many of them in museums in the West, and I assumed that in India I would find the best collections. But the museums in India are poorly lit, so I couldn’t see anything. What I did find, though, was incredible artistic beauty in a hand-painted spoon, the tapestried seat of a chair, a clay cup, an embroidered shawl, a hand-woven man’s skull cap and carpets made from rags called rag-rugs. So I gave up looking for art in a museum and instead found it in daily life. Worshipping is like this also. We may look for God in the museum, church or temple, but God is not limited to such places: He is everywhere. But how do we find God everywhere? By treating everyone as God. And how would God like to be treated? In this verse, the Lord says bring me a leaf, a flower, a fruit or some water, with devotion. He wants something unpretentious that expresses affection. If we can do this with everyone, we will know the meaning of this verse. One stick of incense, a single good word, food for one dog, memorizing one text, bowing down one time or one warm cup of tea-all are acceptable to the Lord. In 2009, my guru Sri K. Pattabhi Jois passed away. Shortly afterward, I asked his daughter Saraswati for something that had belonged to him. She presented me with an old and worn-out shawl. It was folded in her hands, and she extended it toward me saying, “It was Guruji’s favorite. It is very simple. You will like it. He didn’t like the fancy ones.” This shawl, torn in several places, was a perfect offering. It greatly pleased me; in this way, Saraswati had pleased the Lord. Pleasing the Lord releases us of tensions. Making me happy made her happy, even in the midst of such a sad time.
There is a man I know in India who doesn’t have any legs; he is cut off from the hips down. He has a piece of wood he has tied himself to, and he pulls himself around with his arms. He sits in a spot I pass and asks for money, yelling, “Amma, Amma.” He is calling me mother. He wants me to offer him kindness; he wants me to see God in those who suffer. Guruji once told me that that man was God, “disguised.” The word asana means a seat, something to lean on, a support. Offering someone support can take shape in a myriad of ways. These ways can be the threads that tie everything together. Offerings join the giver and the receiver spiritually. Sadly, leaves, flowers, fruit and water are disappearing as we destroy the earth. The best offering we can make in these times is to become vegetarian, a gentle diet that causes the least harm to plants, animals, the climate and human beings. If we continue to clear away the forests, trees, shrubs, prairies, meadows, marshes, grasslands, plants, roots, flowers, creeper and weeds, in order to grow one kind of crop to feed to animals who will be slaughtered, there won’t be any more leaves, flowers, fruit or water in our landscapes. Scriptures are prophetic with obvious and not-so-obvious meanings. Perhaps the Lord is telling us in this verse that leaves, flowers, fruit and water are offerings from the Lord for us to protect and offer back.
My husband Robert and I live in a cabin in the woods. Often bees, wasps, flying ants, even an occasional snake come into our home. My husband knows how to handle these animals appropriately. Without upsetting them, he puts a container over them, slides a piece of paper underneath and carries them back outside. “Sweeping the dust” is a way of saying that taking care of the ground has value. Traditionally, the yogi has always sat on the ground. Only an elder or a greatly esteemed master would be given a chair. Everything rests on the ground. The ground is the support. It’s where we can sit together and tell our stories. “Sweeping the dust” is a metaphor. In that spirit, I offer this book, like a tiny piece of Guruji’s torn shawl. -
Ruth Lauer Manenti, from the Introduction to Sweeping the Dust