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Showing posts from December, 2013

Year-End Review: A Guided Meditation

Year-End Review: three words that can make your heart race a little! In corporate culture this means a sit-down with your manager and some feedback on your work, sometimes framed as "constructive criticism," though euphemisms have come to replace anything that could seem too "critical," unless you are a law firm associate or finance professional. Just kidding. Sort of. Well, I'm really glad I teach yoga these days... but even I had a Year-End Review! "Here's what's working, here's what's not." I asked for it! Old habits die hard. Reviews are helpful!

This is a rich, festive and fruitful week for those of us on the Good Ole Gregorian Calendar. Year-End is a beautiful, sacred time when we can look back and reflect on all we have accomplished, ways we have grown, new relationships we entered and events that shook things up in our lives. Facebook has a Year-In-Review feature that lets you see your notable status updates and photographs. Y…

In Everything, A Gift: The Wisdom of Madhu Vidya

This moment is a gift--that is why it is called the "present." Yoga teachers often tell you to focus your attention on the present moment, anchoring to the here and now, coming back to the immediacy of the breath and body. Increasing numbers of psychotherapists will give you similar advice, using techniques such as Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction, or Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBSR and MBCT).

We live in an exciting era where we are seeing ancient teachings from Eastern wisdom traditions validated by Western science and utilized in various therapeutic settings. Mindfulness teachings (or practices analogous to mindfulness teachings) exist in Buddhism, Taoism, Hinduism and Yoga.

In the history of Yoga, the spiritual tradition of Tantra (a Sanskrit word roughly translatable as "expansion leading to liberation") had its greatest influence during the post-classical period, in the time following Patanjali's Yoga Sutras. Some scholars claim that Tantric…

Namaste: Celebrate the Light

The Winter Solstice occurs on December 21st, this year and every year. It is the shortest day and longest night of the year. It has been marked and celebrated around the world and throughout the ages to usher in the return of the sun’s light. Our planet and our species rely on the sun’s light and heat for survival. This is a fact that has not changed, even though our beliefs and practices for celebrating the Solstice have evolved.
In ancient Pagan traditions, the return of the sun’s light at this time of the year was celebrated through long festivals dedicated to various deities representing the sun. Modern Pagans still celebrate what is called Yule, the name for one such ancient festival. In our Western society, we have both religious and secular traditions around the holiday of Christmas. Christmas was made to coincide with the celebration of Yule. The season leading up to Christmas, Advent, is a season to prepare Christians for the arrival of a great light, the light of God come to…

Unconditional Friendliness

Last week I was away on a one-week Thanksgiving vacation with immediate and extended family members. We stayed at an all-inclusive resort. Our every need was attended to by a large staff of cheerful servants: waiters, babysitters, bartenders, cooks, housekeeping staff and even entertainment specialists. I was struck by the consistently warm, joyful and friendly attitude of these workers. The resort welcomes guests from all over the world, from different cultures and with differing preferences and needs. I was impressed by how unfailingly accommodating the staff was to the various types of people they served.
Lounging by the pool, I read part of a book by Pema Chodron. When I read her explanation of the Sanskrit word, maitri, I looked up from my book at the waiters strolling around the pool area. I then re-read this bit, “The word for loving-kindness in Sanskrit is maitri. Maitri is also translated as unconditional friendliness.” I thought to myself, “the staff at this resort excels in…