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Showing posts from April, 2015

Rooting Out the Bad Eggs: A Lesson from the Cowbird

Many people say that having children gives you a shot at a second childhood. This seems mostly true: being an active participant and observer in my kids' lives lets me play and learn like a kid again. Just last week my husband and I went along on a Cub Scout outing to a local arboretum to learn about birding. Since I am trying to learn more about local plants and wildlife, I paid close attention.

One of my favorite ways to study spirituality is through the lens of nature, looking at the natural world as a reflection of spiritual truths. This is a belief held by Native American, Hindu and African spiritual traditions, among others.

Something we learned on our birding outing last week gave me an epiphany of sorts, one that I may not have experienced as a child. We sighted a Cowbird, a species native to the United States and often feared and disliked. Cowbirds are brood parasites, laying their eggs in the nests of other species. The females seek out female birds of other species who…

Feel It To Heal It: Practicing Interoception

Based on our own intuition and experience, many of us know that meditation, conscious breathing and mindful bodily movement have the effect of calming an overactive and anxious mind. When we are flustered or upset and stop to take to a deep breath, close our eyes for a moment or stand up and stretch, we feel instantly better.

Are you curious to know why this is? Why do certain behaviors serve to soothe us? You may have guessed the answer relates to our brain and nervous system. Different parts of the brain and nervous system are responsible for performing different functions related to our thoughts, feelings and actions.

Fortunately for us, we are not puppets exclusively controlled by the automatic strings of our brain and spinal chord. We often think of our brain as the executive organ in charge of most all we do; while this is true, there are ways we can consciously pull the strings to turn on specific parts of our brains and nervous systems and disengage from others.

For example, …

A Blessing Meditation

As a human being, we each have such great power,
so much more than we realize, to create, to heal and to bless
ourselves, our loved ones, our community at large,
and all of the world around us.

Pulsating within each of us,
a strong heart,
an electric energy,
a spark of the heat and fire
at the heart of the Universe.

Take a moment,
and look at your hands.
Touch them together,
and bring them apart,
and then slowly back together,
and apart again.
Bring your hands in closer and closer to one another,
and feel the energy moving from one hand to the other.
Feel the power, heat and energy in your hands.

Find a place to sit or lie down comfortably,
with your eyes closed.
Rub your hands together until they are hot,
then place them over your eyes,
gently pressing the heels of your hands into your eyes,
with your fingertips on your forehead,
blessing your eyes, blessing your brain,
connecting to your own power to bless.

Know that you can bless yourself with your thoughts,
and bless others throu…

Row Me Home

Closing my eyes, this is what I see, On this pond, in this row boat, With you rowing me. 
Fresh in my mind's eye, the green and the pink, vibrantly stirring my thoughts, and I think.
And then I don't think, my thoughts are thinking me.  And you are rowing me.
I don't see you,  but I feel you, I remember you, yes. 
Familiar, so familiar...
I'm knowing you, and even more, you're knowing me. 
I'm resting, and rocking, the little oars are knocking, I can hear and feel and taste  the water, my body in the sun, my heart in my chest.
A passage in my mind is opening, you're taking me there, I'm bringing you with me,
And you row me home. 

Steadiness Requires Readiness: Yoga and Preparation

"Study to show yourself approved," is a biblical quote I'll always remember my father saying throughout my childhood before tests or performances. When I looked it up I learned it comes from the book of 2 Timothy in the New Testament. Verse 15 of the King James version reads, "Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth." At the time the King James version was written, "study" carried the meaning of striving or working diligently. I can understand why my parents used that verse to encourage me and it helped me set a pattern of preparing well for exams.

These days, as a yoga practitioner and teacher, I sometimes think of that verse in relation to yoga. The "study" aspect, taken literally, makes me think about the self-study and scriptural study aspects of yoga, from the yoga concept of Ishvara pranidhana. More recently, though, I've been thinking about how it relates t…