Peace Mantra

Peace mantra

Peace Mantra

AUM saha navavatu, saha nau bhunaktu
Saha veeryam karvaavahai
Tejasvi naa vadhita mastu
maa vid vishaa va hai
AUM shaantih, shaantih, shaantih.

Meaning of the Sahanavavatu Mantra

Let us together (-saha) be protected (-na vavatu) and let us together be nourished (-bhunaktu) by God’s blessings. Let us together join our mental forces in strength (-veeryam) for the benefit of humanity (-karvaa vahai). Let our efforts at learning be luminous (-tejasvi) and filled with joy, and endowed with the force of purpose (-vadhita mastu). Let us never (-maa) be poisoned (-vishaa) with the seeds of hatred for anyone. Let there be peace and serenity (-shaantih) in all the three universes.

This mantra highlights the nature of the teacher-student relationship that produces ideal results for the student. The transference of mental, spiritual and intellectual energies from the teacher to the student can be achieved through a mutually nourishing relationship which is based on (mutual) respect, joy (of giving and receiving), and absence of malice or negative thoughts.

The “Sahanavavatu mantra” is one of the shaanti (peace) mantras which has its origins in the Taittiriya Upanisad. This mantra is often used as a “universal” prayer, to send the message of peace and prosperity. The mantra may also be used to invoke God’s blessings for harmony amongst teacher(s) and student(s).

Source: http://www.eaglespace.com/spirit/sahanavavatu_mantra.php

 

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Blues yoga playlist

davis gr

Yoga teachers or yoga studios always have an amazing playlist that you can easily do all your yoga moves to. However, when you are doing yoga at home, you end up wondering which music you should play in the background. Some people are okay with doing yoga in silence while others need a beat of the music to which they can sync their yoga movements. A Blues playlist is what you need when you are feeling a little stressed and you need to let it all out. The musical beats will resonate with your feelings and yoga moves.

Background Music for Yoga at Home

When you are doing yoga at home, you do not have to go with the same playlist every day. Sometimes, you are doing yoga as a part of your daily routine while at other times, you are doing it to relieve some stress. The playlist differs based on what purpose you are doing yoga for. An upbeat playlist is for times when you are in the mood and you just want to bust some nice moves to stretch your body and feel active. On the other hand, if you are slightly stressed and you want to relieve the tension, you should go for a more laid-back playlist.

A Blues Playlist for Yoga

The music genre, Blues, originated back in the 1870s. Having its roots in African-American traditions and musical culture, this genre has become popular in the whole world now. This genre does not only have instrumentation but there are also bass lines and lyrics. So, you get the best of everything with such a playlist. Back in the day, the first time of the song was repeated four times. Even though the pattern has changed since then, there is still a lot of repetition. This is really great for yoga since you need to do repeated movements and your body will be able to create a rhythm with the same music being played four to eight times.

This playlist has some amazing songs such as ‘Go with Love’ in which Taylor McFerrin is addressing a lover who does not believe in their love anymore. Then, there is Kojak asking a lover to tell what is on their mind even though it will break the singer’s heart. As you go down the playlist, Aretha Franklin sings for you to get on a train that you do not need a ticket for. It is a song for the Lord’s praise, a song about hope and faith. You will find something to love in every single song.

1. Wayfaring Stranger-Jamie Woon

2. Go With Love-Rah Feat. Taylor McFerrin

3. No Shoes-John Lee Hooker

4. Take My Hand-Ben Harper

5. The Thrill is Gone-BB King

6. Do You Feel Me?-Anthony Hamilton

7. The Truth-Kojak

8. Otherside of the Game-Erykah Badu

9. Satisfied Mind-Ben Harper

10. Where Could I Go?-Ben Harper

11. Just the Two of Us-Bill Withers

12. Nothing Even Matters-Lauryn Hill Feat D’Angelo

13. People Get Ready-Aretha Franklin

14. The Grey Funnel Line-Maddy Prior & June Tabor

 

PS.

Maha Mrityunjaya Mantra

Maha Mrityunjaya Mantra

This is one of my favourite chants of ALL time

 

Om tryambakam yajamahe 

sugandhim pusti vardhanam

Urvarukamiva bandhanan

mrtyor mukshiya mamritat

Translation:

Om. We worship and adore you, O three-eyed one, O Shiva. You are sweet gladness, the fragrance of life, who nourishes us, restores our health, and causes us to thrive. As, in due time, the stem of the cucumber weakens, and the gourd is freed from the vine, so free us from attachment and death, and do not withhold immortality.

 

Here’s a word by word translation of the Mahamrityunjay Mantra:

tri-ambaka-m “the three-eyed-one”
yaja-mahe “we praise”
sugandhi-m “the fragrant”
pusti-vardhana-m “the prosperity-increaser”
urvaruka-m “disease, attachment, obstacles in life, and resulting depression”
iva “-like”
bandhanat “from attachment Stem (of the gourd); but more generally, unhealthy attachment”
mrtyor “from death”
mukshiya “may you liberate”
ma “not”
amritat realization of immortality

There are very few mantras that stand on par with Maha Mrityunjaya Mantra (also known as Mahamrityunjay Mantra, Rudra Mantra, Tryambakam Mantra or Maha Sanjivini Mantra). This mantra is said to have the power to remove all sufferings, ward off all evils, remove diseases and bestow the aspirant with health and energy. And it is said that when this mantra is it chanted with great devotion and serious contemplation it is said that the knowledge of this birth and death cycle is revealed to the aspirant. And thus it helps in overcoming the fear of death.

The literal translation of this name means Great Death-conquering Mantra. This mantra is from the Vedas. It is written in the Yajur Veda (3-60). This mantra worships a three-eyed deity commonly identified with Lord Shiva. It is also called Tryambakam Mantra or Mrita-Sanjivini mantra or Rudra Mantra. The reason for it being named Tryambakam Mantra is self explanatory because it worships a three-eyed deity. Similary, since the mantra observes Shiva in His fiery aspect of Rudra, it is also called Rudra Mantra.

The name Mrita-Sanjivini mantra has a story behind it. It is said that Sage Sukracharya accepted a challenge of Lord Indra and took up a rigorous penance of hanging upside down from a tree with his face being fanned with fumes of a fire direcly beneath his hanging body. And after Sukracharya did this for Vimsottari dasa period (twenty years), Lord Shiva appeared before him and give him this Maha Mrityunjaya Mantra to restore his physical condition. Hence the name Maha Sanjivini Mantra.

The Maha Mrityunjaya Mantra can be chanted by anybody. It is important one understands the meaning of this mantra word for word before chanting it. That’s because by knowing the meaning, the aspirant can easily contemplate on the aspect of birth and death cycle.

Source: 9Dozen’s Blog

 

PS.

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A few things, as a new teacher, to chew on…

Yoga Teacher Training

Advice for New Yoga Teachers

During my vinyasa trainings, people have asked me for advice. I thought I would share it with you too 🙂

A few things to chew on as a new vinyasa yoga teacher….

1) Keep it simple.
Keep everything you do while you teach as simple as possible, your sequence, your language, your music. You are learning a new language, learn the nouns, verbs and such before you jump into conversational yoga. You will appear more confident with your students and they are more likely to trust you.

1a) Speak Slowly.
Speak even slower than you think you should. New teachers are excited about sharing what they’ve learned and that excitement tends to make them nervous and that nervousness tends to speed up the cuing, the breathing and soon enough people are moving so quickly there’s no way they can be breathing with integration. Breathe with your students, speak painfully slow—usually that makes you speak normally, versus very quickly. Schylar Grant offered using a metronome at home to practice speaking slowly. Carolyn Budgell recommends recording your voice and listening to it. I recommend taping your foot quietly or using the beats in the song to give you a sense of timing. The important thing is, be conscious of your speaking speed, it is a large part of what creates the Bhavana (mood) of the class.

2) Have patience and compassion towards yourself.
The first few years are hard. You are going to make mistakes and people are going to give you attitude. Try not to be hard on yourself or your students. Learn from your mistakes and trust in the process and know that it gets easier.

3) Get off your mat as soon as possible.
As a new teacher, it’s fine to practice the sequence with your students but ween yourself off the mat as soon as possible. You are more useful to your students if you’re watching them. This is why I encourage new teachers to have simple sequences, so that they don’t need to be doing it with the class in order to remember it. Elaborate sequences may seem cool but does it ultimately serve the students if their teachers are paying more attention to remembering the sequence than watching them?

4) Own the space.
Be loving yet hold your ground. This is your classroom, be confident in the choices you make with lighting, temperature, music. This one was especially hard for me to learn. I started teaching very young. Older women liked to give me hard time by complaining about the music, the temperature and talking in class. They were some of my greatest teachers. They taught me how to stand my ground, believe in my choices as a teacher or change them if need be. Which leads me to…

5) Your students can be your greatest teachers.
Observe who triggers you in class. They are usually either echoing something about yourself that you don’t like or are not proud of. For me, those women where echoing my own feelings of self worth. Who was I to teach people? What did I have to offer? Observe what arises with those students and silently thank them for the lesson. Try and stay compassionate towards them and yourself while in the room. Then work with the triggers by meditating or talking to a therapist/friend about it.

6) Develop a consistent home practice.
This is going to feed you, especially during times of stagnation in your teaching. Your home practice is not a time when you’re developing your class sequences, I like to think of it as my upkeep. I do the poses and pranayama that my body really needs for the day. It doesn’t look like a vinyasa practice, it’s more therapeutic. It changes daily depending upon what I need and how I’m doing.

7) If you do nothing else in your own time, MEDITATE.
This was a game changer for me. I was initiated into a few years back into Neelakantha Meditation practice and had to  pledge to sit 20 min every day for a year and it hooked me. This will feed you as a human and a teacher on many levels. You will be able to access compassion, strength and remain grounded in most situations. Please start today! Start by sitting for just 10 min daily and begin to increase it when you feel ready.

8) Practice the sequence in your own body prior to teaching it.
You should know how the sequence feels before you share it. If you make it up on the spot, you are more likely to forget it. I tell new teachers to teach the same sequence for a week or two so that they can focus on watching their students instead of remembering the sequence.

9) Practice different styles of Yoga
There is so much to be learned from different lineages of Yoga. It’s important to experience other ways of moving and to remember what it’s like being new at something. I find it helps me understand my students more. Two of my most influential teachers, Shiva Rea and Constantine Darling, incorporate different lineages into their teaching, giving me as the practitioner, a richer experience.

10) Create a Teacher’s Practice.
This was another game changer for me. When I moved to Vancouver eight years ago, I was invited to a teacher’s practice. I had never seen that before. We sat around in a circle and co-taught (round robin style). We picked a peak pose and created the flow together. It was an informal space where we asked each other questions, gave each other feedback on our asanas and execution. I grew as a teacher like I never had prior. It also builds a stronger kula/community amongst teachers which fed our student kula exponentially. Invite any and all teachers, no matter what style or what studio they’re from, there is always something to learn.

11) Don’t stop being a student.
Take other people’s classes. Attend teacher trainings. Continue to learn. We are students first and foremost. I look at teaching as a way of sharing things that excite me. Continue to feed yourself so you can continue to share.

and my last one for today….

12) Don’t take yourself too seriously.
As my father says so beautifully, We are all bozos on this bus. I try to think of myself as a facilitator. I am here to facilitate my students journey into themselves. I try and create a space that is safe for them to explore their inner landscapes. Teaching is not about me, it’s about them. It’s an important one to remember. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how cool your sequence is, whether a ton of people told you how great you are or if your playlist worked. Instead ask yourself, did people leave feeling more connected to themselves, more quiet, more introspective? To me that’s the sign of a good class. And if it didn’t happen, so be it. I’ll try again next time.

 

Learn more about my  Yoga teacher training, My 200 hour yoga teacher training or my 300 hour yoga teacher training and contact me if you have any questions

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Guru

guru

Guru,
Beacon of light,
That which brings light into the darkness.
 
There are so many ways light is shed in our lives, through people, circumstances, reading, connections with nature, intention.
Most of the time, we don’t seek it within. We somehow forgot, or never knew it was within us. Perhaps since childhood, when we sought everything from our parents, it taught us that all we seek is in the external world.

But it’s not.

I just finished watching Kumare, the documentary about the fake guru. What arose from me,is that we become great teachers when we have great students, who are our gurus. It is through interactions with something outside ourselves that we remember our own greatness. Because we are all great. For we are a reflection of Divinity/God/Goddess/Aum/Allah.
This whole entire ‘practice’, for me, is about that. Remembering our true nature and moving through the world, as best we can, from that place. What my father and the Buddhists call our ‘Buddha nature’. Kirshnamancharya said it so beautifully ‘yoga is a practice that teaches us patience and compassion. First with our own bodies and beings and then with those around us’.
Most of us have chosen to be householders, meaning we do not dedicate our lives to spiritual enlightenment. Instead we use the sadhana to fuel the rest of our life. So that we may be inspired and inspire others to connect to their own divinity.

As we wrap up 2013,
May we celebrate
our own beacons,
Our own compass.
May we connect and move from that power and inspire others to do the same.

Awaken your inner divinity.

Awaken your inner divinity

In life, we all come across times and situations where we are at a battle with ourselves. This is when we are introduced to our inner selves. In today’s society, everyone is so busy fixing the exterior that they forget to take a look at the interior when it is actually the interior which is more important.

Understanding Inner Divinity

The concept of inner divinity might sound vague to some while others might feel the need to learn more about how it affects physical aspects of one’s life. Inner divinity is not the same for everyone. it a personal or individual trait which differs from person to person depending on the life experiences and upbringing they have gone through. God is a deity that is above all but as humans, we might face some difficulty connecting with him because we are not guided on how to do this properly.

It is not that hard to connect with your inner divinity. God is close to you than your jugular vein. He is within you. You just have to look within yourself. You are not just your physical appearance, your mind or emotions but you are so much more than that. It is very easy to ignore or even forget, in some cases, the existence of this inner self but you cannot attain the highest levels of self-awareness without touching on your inner divinity. Different cultures, religions and nations have their own methods of getting to this place. As an individual, you can also find what works in the best way for you.

Awakening your Inner Divinity

There is no specific rule to awaken your inner divinity or a path that you must follow. According to Alchemy, you have to look into the deepest layers of the Earth. When you reach them, you have to perfect them. That is when you will find the Philosopher’s Stone. On the other hand, some psychologists say that you have to look inside yourself.

There are parts of you that only you know about. Most of the times, these parts are wounded so you do not put them on display. You do not want the world to look at them because they are not perfect. Your job is to find these parts and perfect them. When you succeed in perfecting these parts of yourself, you will be able to attain inner divinity. There is no need to follow the instructions that have already been written by those before you. You can set your own guidelines and follow them to a point where you feel fully satisfied with your inner self.

The alchemists said the magic formula for enlightenment was ‘Vista Inferiora Terrae Rectificando Invenies Occultum Lapidem’, or ‘Seek out the lower reaches of the earth, perfect them, and you will find the hidden stone’ (the treasured Philosopher’s Stone). Jungian psychologists might describe the process this way: Find the ignorant, wounded parts of your psyche, perfect them, and you will awaken your inner divinity.

 

–Rob Breszney, Pronoia

 

The Power of the Witness

the power of the witness

The power of the witness is so important in the practice/sadhana. True change comes from awareness. Here’s a great take on the witness from good ole Ram Das.  I find he always has such an eloquent way of expressing himself. I came upon this in Paths to God, by Ram Das.

“There are practices that focus the mind, like meditation or mantra. And there are practices that let us take a step back from the mind, like witnessing. I think that the practice of witnessing can be a key spiritual exercise for us, because it lets us move outside the dramas of our lives. It shows us that there exists another plane from which to view our experiences. The danger of confusion in this practice is mistaking the judging voice inside our own minds for the spiritual witness. When we first begin to get some grasp of what the dance is all about, and we start to stand back a bit from own trips, we frequently adopt a type of witnessing that is very judgmental. It’s got a standard–you’ve got the Buddha as your standard, or Christ/Krishna/Maharajji as your standard–and next to that standard you’ve got your own behavior and your own thoughts and your own feelings. You set those two things side by side, and then judge your own behavior against the standard. That’s an extension of what is known as the superego, and it’s a heavy emotional trip that only tends to lock you more tightly into your predicament. It certainly doesn’t do much to free you.

The witness that’s useful in our spiritual work has a totally different quality. It isn’t judging–good, bad, it’s all the same. This witness isn’t trying to change anything–it’s just seeing it all. It is completely uncommitted; its not committed to your enlightenment, it’s not trying to get you ahead, it’s simply witnessing, nothing else.

As we move into that perspective, however, we discover that in developing the witness, we sacrifice being the experiencer. That is, we sacrifice the thrill of the experience into the witness. Anytime we want to, we can become part of ourselves that is the witness, which is noticing it all, very calmly, very equanimously. It just takes a flick of our perspective–in fact, just the intention to be coming from that other place. That’s all. But to do that, we have to be ready to let go of the experiencer. 

To develop that kind of witness, you have to have a little elbow room. That’s why one of my first instructions for sadhana would be to ‘Give yourself space’. Don’t always be filling up your time and your mind of content; create a spacious environment for yourself, one that makes it easier to step back and notice your trip.

Then just do that. Notice it. Don’t judge it, don’t try to change it, don’t do anything at all except to notice it. You will find that a lot of your stuff has only been able to survive unnoticed; the minute you begin to bring it into the light of the ‘I’ that is just looking at it all, it starts to change–without you ever having done a thing! All you did was to start identifying with a different part of your being, a part you could use to watch all the rest of it.”

The Intentional Creativity Movement

Creativity Movement

I feel that we are all creative creatures. Some of us explore that aspect of ourselves more than others. Here’s a beautiful article about how we can change our stories/experiences through drawing. I found it here.

What is the Intentional Creativity Movement? 

We are a tribe of creative beings causing our own movement in art and image created with intention. I have worked in this creative technology for close to twenty years and thousands of women have participated in this work through making their own images and stories. A gathering is happening….the image of the feminine is changing in our own hands. A movement can happen when a quantum mass of people begin to gather and create around a specific theme or intention. Here is a little about about the story of Intentional Creativity as taught in the Color of Woman Method through Cosmic Cowgirls University. We call this style of painting – Contemporary Symbolism.

It all begins with a story, just like everything does.

I believe that story lives in image inside of our memory banks. So when we experience trauma or beauty, it ‘lives’ there and can be replayed by us by choice, and also not by choice. The ways memories rise for us is often out of control and we form negative thought patterns around these loops, which over time get even more ingrained in us. Like a groove that we keep falling into even though at some subconscious level, we know the groove is there. Because trauma can get stored not only in the spirit memory but also in the body memory, it becomes patterned into us in ways that we have very little control over.

For the stories to change how they live in us, we have to change how they live inside of us, how they are stored and how we relate to them. Talking about them through therapeutic tools is powerful and healing and has given a voice to the unspeakable stories. However, many of the stories, although related to differently than before because they were honored by the one who experienced them, witnessing and sharing them out loud – still many of the stories don’t change their domination over us. A lot of the grooves of how our old stories work are connected with how our brains work, which we are still discovering how to consciously communicate with through choice instead of random access. What if more than ‘talking’ and processing about it needed to happen in order to heal the trauma – to ‘change’ how the story lives inside of us.

How do we change our story?

We need to change our relationship to the story physically, spiritually and through ‘form’. The memory was created through witnessing and experiencing a form based incident – it was physical. So to change how it ended up ‘storing’ itself inside of us, we need to  have access to all three levels. Physical body- meaning our own form and where the story is lodged, Spirit Memory – meaning the way the story lives inside of the spirit of that human, and through the creation of a new story in the physical world – meaning the actual space and time continuum where the incident occurred,  where the story ‘happened’ which is what the brain and body use as their mechanism to form their patterns. Again, we have very little ‘choice’ as to where and how the experience lives in us. So how to get the story changed in the physical world becomes our missing piece in healing story by story trauma which over time creates an overall wholeness experience. The individual gets access to the stories that have shaped them, and their beliefs and they begins to be able to ‘narrate’ in the future, how story lives in them from now on, how an incident is stored up and handled by the body-mind-spirit connection. But also, they get to go back and deal with each of the primary stories of hurt and breakthrough so that they can more intimately work with the wounds, which often become tools.

Image is the way to change the story. But not just image that you see, that is a part of it. If a woman experiences a physical assault, images of women victims will trigger her own wound – this we know. If she sees an image of a woman of power, she can gather strength from that image to rise from her own story. This only takes her so far.

How this began in a therapist’s office

In the beginning of my career as an artist I worked with a woman therapist who worked in the mental health department asked me to photo copy images of my drawings so that she could share them with her clients who had experienced sexual trauma. She said there were no image references for them to use to ‘heal’ their images of themselves as wounded. I transferred the images onto stones, and she would lend out the stones to the women clients and have them apply the stone to their body in the place where they hurt. This was just the beginning of a movement that has now spanned close to twenty years.

After much urging from her, I created my first Coloring Book, Color of Woman and the therapists went wild, I could not keep the copies in stock. I had painted and signed each cover so it was personal from me and off they went to do their work. At the time I didn’t know that ‘coloring’ could break a psychotic loop, the books are now used in lock down facilities for women in the psyche ward, it helps them stop the pattern they get into that they cannot get out of themselves.  In addition to increase the ability to memorize. I began to wonder if they colored in a breast or a hip with ‘love’ for themselves. were they memorizing a new relationship to that part of them?

How making our own image is healing

Further on down the road I began to be ‘asked’ by moms to teach their daughter and children. I began to see the results of working with a feminine image that they created themselves, regardless if it was perfect or pretty – they identified with it as being ‘them’ and their self image began to shift.  Over time and thousands of books and students later I studied the trends and patterns that I witnessed in my students both on line and in person and discovered what I consider to be breakthroughs in the arena of how are can be a tool for healing. We have known this for a very long time and still in some ways we are at the forefront of just how powerful this could be in the recovery process. When we are hurt, our image of ourselves is altered and it is a long road, as anyone in the self help or healing worlds knows, from: I don’t feel good enough or I am ashamed to – I feel like myself. Long long road that becomes not a destination, but the path of life itself for all of us who are committed to healing and becoming awake in our lives.

So if making our ‘own images’ could help us change the internal image of how we view ourselves within, might that change how we relate to negative external images and how we let those images inform our view of ourselves and what we purchase and what relationships we have and how we treat our body – how we walk in the room and take up space is based on images we have seen and experience visually and physically. As beings of ‘sight’ our perception of who we are is informed greatly by what ‘see’ out there, which shapes how we ‘see’ internally and then how we see ourselves, but we have largely been just a bystander of how this seeing works. Having very little clue, no matter how smart or enlightened to work with how we structure this human design to recive informational stimulus from outside of us and how we let that inform our internal experience of ourselves – which informs all of our choices. Our story of ourselves, who we experience ourselves AS is what creates our life – if we don’t believe we deserve love we allow ourselves to suffer with less love. If we believe we deserve to be loved, we will continue to look until that feeling in us matches an experience of that.

Many of the images of the feminine are representative of women that we do not identify with, and yet since those are the icons of ‘what to be’ our chance of knowing how to shift that is rather intellectual – and most of us do not succeed in not comparing ourselves to other women. In addition the images of the feminine that existed for the past 50,000 years have often been hidden from our view and for many years we didn’t even know that there were images of the Goddess previous to the past 5,000 or so years. The movement of the ‘divine feminine’ has gone a long way in helping us to see ourselves as included in the creation. Even though we give birth we still needed to SEE the images of the Goddess to see that has life-giving enough to identify with it as powerful part of who we are.

There are several things that happen when a woman begins to create her own images. First remember, that almost all of us created when we were little children, crayon and paper was not just given to those who showed a propensity for creativity, they were given to all children so at some core level there is an understanding deep in the culture of our people that little people should experience drawing, which we do long before written language, it is our first language beyond sight and sound, that we make ourselves that is not really in response to anything external, as we are not drawing, a house out there, we are making scribbles on a paper, however incomprehensible in the beginning, that are our own language. I have worked with children and asked their parents to let me do their first drawing class when it was time for them to move beyond the marks on paper stage – I take their little hand and draw a circle over and over and then they do it, over and over and their experience of having control from within, begins with that connection point. This occurs differently than having them draw something outside of themselves to which they can notice it is not really ‘like that’. Teaching internal referencing can be profoundly powerful for the development of the individual teaching them how to lead with the right brain instead of the left as the origin of a particular action.

Is this just spiritual stuff or is it more than that?

We all know that the right brain and left brain function at different levels and capacities. Most of us are left brain dominant with some right brain sprinkled in. To change that and include more of the flow and image and color and light and insight of the right brain we have to choose consciously. The left brain thinks nothing of using the right brain in service to the desire of the left to make shape into form that makes sense and fits the boxes it needs to in order to sustain structure. While the right brain doesn’t always know it needs to connect to the left brain to make it’s thoughts and dreams manifest – hence why it is so hard to change our patterns even though we so desire it and how hard it is to create a life that reflects who we are. The right needs to learn how to include the gifts of the left, but to employ that we have to consciously choose how to use the right brain – to ask it to employ the left brain gifts in service to it’s dreams instead of the other way around. It is helpful to think of the voice inside of us when thinking about right and left and to imagine that the critic lives in the lift hemisphere and the muse dwells in the right. When the Muse is given the power to employ the left  the choices and results are different and often more balanced with the soul desire, and sustainability of that human.
There is a lot of neuroscientific backing to these thoughts, connected with how the brain works and functions so that we can study it and talk about it. Most of all, that we have the capacity to learn how it functions just enough to participate in how we seen and think and therefore act upon our lives. Through giving image and language of our own story we begin to understand what role we might have in the work of authoring our own future instead of just being at the effect of a life happening “to us.”

Working with art to transform our stories involved a process not dissimilar to transference. It is helpful in this case to think about a talisman – the creator of the talisman is literally ‘transferring’ their energy INTO the physical object. When something is transferred, there is an open space in the psyche.

When we create with intention we are making: Talismans

Talisman is from the root word in Greek teleo which means “To Consecrate”. The meaning of it has to do with the person who makes it, charging it with powers, blessings, healings through choice. They are charging it up, in essence, with prayer, hope, and dreams. Legend has it that the more specific one is with what they put into the creation of the ‘thing’, the form, the more direct the response is from the Divine. So often it is used in manifestation, calling in or awakening that which we choose to bring to our attention. The process can create an opening in us. Then we have access to information that we did not have before. Just as significant as that is – is the concept of transference. That we could MOVE a mind-body-spirit based story ONTO a physical surface (canvas) with the intention of changing how that story image lives in us. Finally, there is some psychic space around the gripping patterned synapses that have been living within us for so long.

The making of Talisman/Taliswoman is different than making an idol of something, as we are not worshipping what we made or confusing the thing with the divine. The act of making it itself, is what makes the opening happen in the universe for the information, the in-form-action to come through and is what brings our awareness into alignment and harmony with what it is we are choosing to focus on. It is not uncommon in the act of creation, whether that be a song or a dance or a painting or a sculpture or a soup or a garden or a necklace, for us to receive information, be in-formed by the process because we are focusing and paying attention with our deep listening. In anticipation we seek to be informed.

Bringing our intention to the canvas

This kind of working is called intentional creativity and asks that you bring your story to the canvas and into the canvas. We always begin a painting with an overarching intention. Then each step is a revelation in both consciousness and in design that creates the breakthrough, they just begin to happen there in the subconscious without efforting. The effort becomes the act of creating and is driven from another place within us that all of us have, the desire to express ourselves, to be seen and heard and loved, to belong to ourselves and to each other. When we create we are often creating from this place whether we know it or not. The choices to create with intention sets our brain into the track to access and employ memory and longing but we don’t then have to dominate the breakthrough  – it happens organically being carried by the original intention coupled with the creative actions that are based ultimately in movement, since we are moving when we add paint to a canvas. Connecting your intention, is like finding a clear signal on a radio that is tuned to a specific frequency that opens channels to the subconscious and unconscious that we are ready to deal with. The layers of consciousness then yield up into the creative process that which needs to be worked with next. Layer by layer new space is created. Once the story is transferred to canvas it lives inside of us differently – the way it used to operate is now dis-lodged and we can consciously choose what to do to work with the space we have now cleared up inside of our internal story pattern.

What is fascinating is that creating art is always good for us – but whether or not it is truly healing, because our brain and body choose to engage in that healing process, is through one specific thing. Our choice to engage ourselves in a conscious act of creating, instead of just creating. Many artists don’t experience their art as healing, although many would call it cathartic or life saving. Still, their capacity to use it as a tool to know oneself is dependent on one’s intention to do so – that is why we call it intentional creativity.

My own origin of intentional creativity began with a day in the studio of the Master Artist, Sue Hoya Sellars. I was wedging clay and complaining about how hard it was, how many bubbles, how many stones and how my hands were hurting. She is a chop wood and carry water teacher an so we had spent a long time digging that clay and mixing it to make our own. I just wanted to throw a put not make clay out of the mountain. As I complained, without looking up from stirring her tea she replied – you have to put your intention into what you are doing. She asked me, what is it that you truly care about. I said, I care about ending violence against women and children. She said, PUT that desire into the clay as you wedge. My whole life changed in that moment. I was set upon my path at the age of 23 catalyzed from that moment after a lifetime of my mother teaching me how to choose how I view the world and what my experience of it would be. And so I was trained and ready to have that thought about putting my intention into my work transforming not only how I worked but how it felt to work, and not only that changed the outcome of what was created, and the purpose that thing held and what its vibration was.

And so this is how this movement moves, one woman at a time. Through putting the tools of creation in her very hands.

Shiloh Sophia

 

 

PS.

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Autumn Equinox

fall equinox

The autumn equinox,

this year September 22nd, is my favorite time. We begin to move out of high energy output (summer) into a more introspective period. We begin our descent into our spiritual cave/basement and reflect on what we’ve seen, heard, and shared with the world. This is when we can internalize our experiences and make them our own. In the coming months, as nature goes back underground, we do the same. We spend more time indoors and under the blankets. 

I love setting intentions to help harness and focus my energy in a given direction. So I put it out to you, What do you want to explore and delve deeper into in the coming months? What part of your internal landscape do you want to discover? Uncover?

Write them down and put them on your altar. On the winter solstice, read them again and see where your intentions have taken you.

The image that comes to mind during this time of year is someone in a cloak with a lantern descending into a cave.  I imagine myself sitting in a cramped basement surrounded by shelves and shelves of mason jars with mysterious contents within them. I’m choosing which jars to open and which to mix together. This is the time to tinker with what we believe, what we feel and how we want to contribute. This is the time to ask the big questions. It also the time to be patient. We plant the questions in our hearts and wait for them to germinate.

One of my favorite quotes of all time:

“Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.”

Rainer Maria Rilke

The point is, ask the questions, continue to explore the internal landscape and see what sprouts in spring.

 

 

PS.

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A beautiful take on Mindfulness

Mindfulness

Mindfulness


I love coming across beautiful and simple ways to describe…well…just about anything. I found this in Donna Farhi’s awesome book “The Breathing Book” and wanted to share.

I think it’s really important NOT to repress or ignore those emotions and thoughts we aren’t proud of. It is vital to get to know them intimately as only then will our relationship to them truly change. We are whole…a whole lotta things and if we don’t get intimate with ALL aspects of ourselves, how do we expect to change/find peace/be better people? 

 

Cultivating Mindfulness.

“To mind the breath is to make a decision. It may be the most radical decision you have ever made in your life. The second you choose to mind your breath you have decided that this present moment, this very moment, is worthy of your full attention. The instant you do this you have begun to extricate yourself from the hold of the past and the pull of the future. You are living your life as today rather than yesterday or tomorrow.
This awareness we are attempting to cultivate, by necessity, must be choiceless. It means that we stop deflecting, correcting, and manipulating, our perception to suit out conceptual ideas about how we think we should be ad how we think other people should be. It also means we open ourselves to the way our life is rather than how we imagine it should be. Of course this is not the predilection of human beings. We;re sure life should be a certain way and when it inevitable doesn’t turn out as we had carefully planned we feel righteous anger or justifiable disappointment. Choicelessness is an extremely important principle to understand because mindfulness is not about reaching an idealized state of mind. The ultimate goal of mindfulness practice is not to attain a fairy-tale composure of sweetness where negative thoughts cease to exist. If you were to sit for just five minutes and watch the parade of jumbled and negative thoughts that dance on the screen of your mind (judgement, anger, and jealously being likely contenders), you would realize…that such a goal is rather unrealistic. Neither should choicelessness be confused with blind or passive acquiescence to unacceptable or unhealthy situations or behaviors. It does mean that we see things as they are instead of embracing or dismissing our perceptions, holding onto things we like, or rejecting the things we dislike.
The other reason I emphasize the importance of entering mindfulness practcie which choiceless awareness is that the very moement you stive for an ideal ego state which you call “good” you have simultaneously rejected another part of yourself which you call “bad”. This rejected part of you doesn’t just disappear; if unattended it may exist autonomously, unconsciously driving your behavior so that you make the same mistakes over and over gain. It is thus best to place the shadow squarely before you where you can attend to it while doing your mindfulness practice rather than attempting to outrun it as it lurks behind you. You need not attempt to stop your thoughts; you need only to change your relationship to your thoughts, feelings and sensations. In the very act of looking clearly and unflinchingly at your feelings, however unsavory they may seem to you, you can begin to understand their root. If you relinquish embracing or dismissing, you allow life to do what it has always done–to change.”