Thursday, October 10, 2013 relaunch in 2 weeks!

So Shhhhh!    Just now we are taking a little nap, but we are busy getting to relaunch our site and our services on November 1, 2013!

Meanwhile meet cassandra - owner of nilambu - a personal yoga studio. 

cassandra’s been a yogini for almost 20 years and a teacher for over 10. She values stability, stories and space. And knows the healing power of yoga.  

Why does she teach yoga? Play the video and find out!

nilambu yoga from Izaca Productions LLC on Vimeo.

Earlier this month, we celebrated our 10th birthday!  Soon we will be refreshed and renewed to begin teaching again very soon.   

Please visit us again.   Email us your name at cass(at), and we will be sure to let you know when we are up and running again! 

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Why We Don't Quiet Our Minds in Meditation

David Nichtern was my first meditation teacher, and he is really special and awesome.

He is now writing for The Huffington Post and has some wonderfully helpful essays posted there.  

I especially love this one How to Meditate Through Strong Emotions.  He points out that the instruction to just sit there and quiet your mind is an oversimplification of what we do in meditation.  And then he sets forth what we are to do:

1. Place our awareness on our breath.
2. Recognize what arises in our minds -- without trying to manipulate, judge or suppress anything.
3. Simply see what arises in our mind as it comes up. Just notice it.
4. Then let go of the thoughts and return our awareness to the breath thereby coming back to the present moment.

He concludes,
Our emotions, rather than feeding stale and repetitive mental habits, can manifest as the very expressions of being alive and living fully in an authentic way. From that point of view we do not utilize our meditation practice to suppress our feelings and emotions but to liberate them, by becoming more familiar with how they arise, what they actually feel like beyond acting out or repressing them, and therefore working with them in a more constructive way.
Please go and check out this and his other essays.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Escaping the Cult of the Average

Another great TED Talk.  Descriptive and prescriptive.  Really funny too

Here are his five tips at the end on how to create lasting positive change:
  • 3 gratitudes - for 21 days, start to scan first for positive things in your world
  • journaling - about one positive in past 24 hours lets brain relive it
  • exercise - body learns that actions has consequences.  behavior matters. 
  • meditation - helps brain get over the cultural ADHD, allow brain to focus at a single task.  
  • Random Acts of Kindness - conscious acts of kindness, one positive email to someone in your social support network/circle

Want to start implementing these into your daily life?  Here is a free app, I Journal, to help you with that.

Here is an article Positive Intelligence he wrote featured in the Harvard Business Review earlier this year (January/February 2012 issues)  

Friday, April 13, 2012

3 Indoor Plants for Healthier Home

I came across this very interesting and helpful information at Elephant Journal who in turn found it at Green Upgrader.  

First watch this short 3 minute TED talk ---


 Then find out more here: Green Plants for Fresh Air.

Now I just have to find safe and cool indoor plant containers.  Any suggestions?

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

"Yoga Garden" at White House on Easter

Just love this including "Hot Power Potato Yoga," Spiderman, veterans. The merging of my loves - DC and yoga and Easter. Enjoy -

Friday, April 6, 2012

Marilyn Monroe, Yogini

I've seen these before but I never tire of them.  Marilyn Monroe doing yoga.   Monroe learned yoga from the famous Indra Devi

You can see the photos here.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Sangha Tomorrow Night

I got this email from the very knowledgable man, David Saul Raye, who taught me a Thai yoga massage workshop at the Yoga Journal conference in May last year.    His website is Ritam Healing Arts.

I am registered and looking forward to tomorrow night....

Join us from anywhere in the Universe on the auspicious night of 'Shivaratri' as we come together for our first Sangha gathering for 2012!  

A special night of auspicious wisdom, meditation, chanting and the healing, connecting power of Sangha. This satsangh falls on the eve of 'Maha Shivaratri' one of the most sacred dates on the Yoga calendar. Traditionally it is a night that Yogin's stay up late into the night doing sadhana (practice) to clear negativity and connect directly with Shiva- the intense, auspicous, causeless energy of existence or consciousness. This is also the last eve of the dark moon into the new moon and is powerful for healing meditation, chanting and prayer.

Saul will lead the call sharing teachings, including the significance of 'Shivaratri' as well as chanting mantra's, meditation, prayer and inner reflection all connected to the powerful energy of Shiva. There will also be time for questions and sharing from participants. Please have a stable phone connection, a quiet space and if available; a candle or lamp to light, some flowers and/or rice to offer and a Mala (prayer beads).

We received such positive feedback for the Sangha calls from 2011, that we are continuing them into 2012. So many of you shared that it was a valuable tool for your practice and gave you a deep sense of connection to community and the Big Heart ! This year we will offer them on a donation basis to allow more people to join us. 
UPDATE:  A friend with me asked: "Did you know that on Shivratri devout hindu women go around, standing in long serpentine lines in order to pour milk over stone penises (lingam)? But, no worries, you can do it while I read my Steve Jobs autobiography or hit a local bar." 

Okay, then, that adds some perspective on the festivities!   I will report back.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Just Because It's Beautiful

Absolutely stunning and mesmerizing. I've never seen any thing like it. Well, maybe the smoke monster on Lost. But it's only a mild resemblance. The reaction of the girls was mine, jaw dropping and smiling.


Murmuration from Islands & Rivers on Vimeo.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Colbert to Broad: You've Buried the Lead

I completely agree!

Colbert asks Broad "why write about yoga when he usually writes about infectious disease, nuclear jihad, the Challenger disaster?   What?  Slow news year?" 

Colbert remarks and asks: "I see contortions looks like an exercise for people in coach on an airplane."   "What is a yoga butt?  Is that true?"What's good?  

Broad answers: lifts mood, zips up your sex life, and great for health.

And then the interview takes off......
"Why didn't you name it 2 to 3 hour orgasm?  Let's move some paper, sir!"
Yes, instead of moving paper and selling the book based on fear, just saying.  

They also talk of Bikram and why physicians are not fans.

These are facts and subjects I wish had been highlighted about of his book.

Thank you Colbert!  

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

On Being a Yoga Teacher

This photo is making the rounds on Facebook (I saw one on being a lesbian too, which was also very funny).   

I am still laughing at this.  Especially the New York Times one.   

i carry your heart

A friend reminded me of another lovely poem about love Valentine's Day.  (I posted an earlier one here)

i carry your heart by E.E. Cummings

i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear;and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)
                                                      i fear
no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true

You can read the rest of it here at the Poetry Foundation (which is a terrific website by the way, which makes it very easy to find poems.  )  

Happy Birthday Insight Meditation Center!

Today is also the birthday of The Insight Meditation Center in Barre, MA.

That is Sharon Salzberg's base and she and others founded it today 36th years ago.

I am not absolutely sure about this but I think that's where one of my favorite political writers Robert Wright did a meditation retreat, which he hilariously wrote up for the New York Times in 2009 (it's really funny), and which I highlighted here.  He recently landed a blog at The Atlantic.  He hasn't written about meditation there.  Yet.

Happy Valentine's Day!

(thanks Christina!)

Monday, February 13, 2012

Relaunch of nilambu notes

With this reboot, I am introducing some new features.  My goal is to make it easy for you to discover yoga things that will enliven and enrich your life.  

My aim is to offer a helpful curated site for all things yoga as well as to offer compelling original content.  I hope to build an fun and cool online arena where yogis can encounter an inspiring quote,   an enticing event, an intriguing article, a meaty podcast or even another resourceful web site.  I also cover controversies in the yoga community whether it's an advertisement for Equinox gym, or the founder of Lululemon's resignation or if Yoga Can Wreck Your Body

So please, if you see anything neat or intriguing about yoga or meditation, please shoot me an email, so I can highlight it.  And send along any questions you might like addressed about the wide and wild (and growing) world of yoga.    

I aspire to send these emails out once a month, approximately in the middle of the month.  

If you like to go looking for your yoga news, you can always check out the nilambu notes blog.  There I highlight cool and intriguing articles, essays, podcasts, events on yoga and meditation that might stretch your mind and should.  I write posts several times a week, so the content is rich.  

I've also developed some lists for specific interests. So if you're keen on free podcasts or want to know about events and workshops or are especially interested in meditation, you can indicate that by clicking on the "Join Our Mailing List" bottom in the upper right hand column. That will take you to a page where you can sign up for speciality notes. 

I also hope to start teaching again soon, so if you want to be kept in the loop on that, you can also indicate your interest there as well. 

If you find your news on Twitter, you can now follow nilambuyoga on Twitter (which I confess now is primarily retweets of good stuff). 

If your newsfeed on Facebook is your primary source for news, you can "like" the nilambu yoga page there. 

And here you are at the nilambu notes blog where I feature cool and intriguing articles, essays, podcasts, events on yoga and meditation that might stretch your mind and soul.  I write posts several times a week so the content is rich. 

You can check out the full range of topics by checking out the labels in the right hand column and see what fun material is here.   Please feel free to comment.   

For Your Yoga Playlist

If I were still teaching this song, My Valentine, would be on my playlist.  I love it!

I can easily see the choreographed vinyasa - moving into ardha chandrasana - with a feeling of certainty we can fly!

I just love that new ballads like this are being written, and yes that it's Paul McCartney.

I love even more that Diana Krall is on the piano, and she is barely mentioned.  Her albums are great too!   (And she is married to Elvis Costello).

Their performance at the Grammy's last night was awesome.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

What is the Heart Chakra? What Does Anahata Mean?

What is the heart chakra?  Back up - what are chakras?  And what does Anahata (the Sanskrit name for this chakra) mean?  Who cares?  Why should we care?  Just because it's Valentine's Day?  

The heart chakra, also know as Anahata, is located over the heart and is in the middle of the seven common chakras, which gives this light well a special significance.  In the middle, this chakra integrates opposites  - male and female, self and community, mind and body, lust and reason, earth and divine.   A healthy, balanced heart chakra enables us to offer compassion, love deeply and bestows a sense of ease and centeredness.  

In Sanskrit, chakra means "wheel."  Some think of the chakras as energy centers or filtration systems or "wheels that heal."   

Anodea Judith offered that last definition.  She also describes the chakra system as the architectural of the soul. She is most knowledgable and accessible writer about the chakras I have encountered.  Her book Eastern Body Western Mind is, as John Friend puts it in his blurb, an "Absolutely brilliant synthesis of the chakra system and the heart of Western psychology." 

In the Hindu tradition, seven main chakras exist - 
  1. Root Muladhara, which means root
  2. Sacral Svadhisthana, which means sweetness
  3. Solar Plexus, Manipura, which means lustrous gem
  4. Heart, Anahata, which means unstuck
  5. Throat, Vissudha, which means purification
  6. Third Eye or Brow, Ajna, which means to perceive
  7. Crown, Sahasrara, which means thousandfold
The three below focus on the physical and emotional realms and the three above the heart chakra focus on the spiritual.  The heart is the connector between the two realms along this system.  And it's the place of human love and feeling.   

According to Dr. Brenda Davies, there are 27 minor ones and many lesser chakras.  I read a book last summer by Alberto Villoldo who there noted that in the Native American Indian tradition, there are 9 chakras.  Unsurprisingly, he elaborated that other living beings have chakras, even trees.  I found his teachings very interesting because of the similarities and dissimilarities between these two distinct and apart cultures.  Though separated by the Atlantic Ocean, each culture came to recognize these energy locales in the human body and soul.   In the Inka tradition, chakras are called ojos de liz, or eyes of light.  His Inka mentor called them pukios, light wells.  Isn't that lovely?

Chakras can be imbalanced if there is too much energy or too little.   With the heart chakra too much energy there is characterized by possessiveness, jealousy and poor boundaries.  Too little is associated with isolation, loneliness, bitterness, critical, shyness and lack of empathy.   Imbalances in this light well are deeply connected to our own self-acceptance.    

Associated with the the element of air, Anodea Judith writes of the Anahata

Air is formless, largely invisible, absolutely necessary, and the least dense of our first four elements. Air is expansive as it will expand to fit any space it is put into, yet it is soft and gentle.  
So, too, is love. Love is the expansion of the heart, the transcendence of boundaries, the interconnectedness of spirit. Love is balance, ease, softness, forgiveness. And love at the heart chakra is felt as a state of being, existing independently of any object or person.
Rather than reinvent the wheel (pardon the pun), for a brief overview of the heart chakra, I refer you to this terrific brief essay Anodea Judith wrote on Anahata - The Heart Chakra for the Llewellyn Encyclopedia.   There she notes that the Sanskrit name Anahata means "sound that is made without any two things striking."  She elaborates the meaning clearly and beautifully and also refers to the Celestial Wishing Tree, which is related to the heart chakra.    

I also took a very rewarding online course Chakra Activation with her at Sounds True last fall.  You can check out her other offerings here.    

Also for your information, Villoldo runs the Four Winds Society in Park City, Utah.  They had an exhibit booth at the Yoga Journal Conference in May, and I find the work they are doing very intriguing and personally meaningful.

Another really good book on this subject is The 7 Healing Chakras by Brenda Davies, MD.  Her book is short and is really a workbook - offering guided meditations, exercises, questions to ponder.    Indeed, turns out she also has a workbook based on her book!  Check it out here.     

Saturday, February 11, 2012

NPR Dives Into NYT's Yoga Wreckage

So two NPR shows interviewed William Broad, the author of that fiery New York Times Magazine piece last month on Yoga (and how it can "wreck" your body).

The first is with Terry Gross of Fresh Air.  I have not listened to this podcast yet.

The second is from Talk of the Nation's Science Friday show.  (You can listen there or read the transcript) John Dankosky interviews Mr. Broad.  I've listened to this one, and while I may have been predisposed not to like him, I did not like Mr. Broad.  He talks of the "yoga industrial complex which has economic incentive."  

I honestly don't know what yoga planet Broad is on - yoga industrial complex?  Seriously?   After all, look what happens to greedy, Ayn Rand capitalists who try to sell selfishness to yogis and yoginis.  
Listen to it for yourself and let me know what you think in the comments.

Both are available on iTunes, too, for free download.  

"The Buddha Walks into a Bar...."

I just find this effort and book terrific.  The Daily Beast headlines Meditation Teacher Lodro Rinzler Rebrands Buddhism to Deal with Drinking and Sex.  I'm not sure how much rebranding is going on here, but it's interesting nonetheless.  I read Rinzler column occasionally over at the because the title alone is funny - What Would Sid Do

The take on how to mindfully drink alcohol is worth the click over alone.  Well, alright, I will highlight it here, 
Rinzler gave me a crash-course in “right drinking” over a pot of Chrysanthemum tea. The first step is to know your intention: Is the drinking celebratory or to eliminate sorrow? Next, he says, taste the thing. You’ll drink better, he says, shirking the inferior sauce. As in silent meditation, he recommends observing your mind while consuming the beverage and labeling ideas or feelings that come up. And lastly, he advises knowing your limits, qualifying that he drinks less than he used to. “I try not to get to that point where I would say things that cause harm.”
but click over anyway for some more enlightenment or buy the book - The Buddha Walks into a Bar...

Ethan Nichtern is mentioned in the piece and he is the founder of the Interdependence Project, which is also worth the click.  I've never met Ethan, but I know his father David (whose Tuesday night Facebook Dharma Talks have been fantastic) and a dear friend of mine, Kim Stetz, teaches yoga there.    And here is a podcast where Lodro and Ethan talk about Lodro's book.  It's on my list to read now.

Plans For Valentine's Day?

Have no plans for Valentine's Day?   Here are some good suggestions from a family therapist Joe Elliott, via Elephant Journal - 10 Things to do for Yourself on Valentines Day. Excellent ideas, all.

Elliott concludes:
Don’t forget that the most complex and important relationship that we have is with ourselves and that we must remain true to ourselves in order to feel whole and complete about our lives.
I am also thinking of Whitney Houston this morning, with deep sadness.  One of her most popular songs Greatest Love of All is really a ballad about self love ---- 

I believe the children are our future 
Teach them well and let them lead the way 
Show them all the beauty they possess inside 
Give them a sense of pride to make it easier 
Let the children's laughter remind us how we used to be 
Everybody searching for a hero 
People need someone to look up to  
I never found anyone to fulfill my needs 
A lonely place to be 
So I learned to depend on me 
And if by chance, that special place 
That you've been dreaming of  
Leads you to a lonely place 
Find your strength in love.

 So I wish for you this Valentine's Day lots of love, of all kinds.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

How Love Triumphs

Just because Valentine's Day is coming up, and because really good love poetry can transcend cliche, enjoy this poem ---- 

Love is a night bent down to be anointed,  
A sky turned meadow, and the stars to fireflies. 
Love triumphs. 
The white and green of love beside a lake, 
And the proud majesty of love in tower or balcony; 
Love in a garden or in desert untrodden, 
Love is our lord and master 
We shall pass into the twilight: 
Perchance to wake to the dawn of another world. 
But love shall stay, 
And his finger-marks shall not be erased.   
-Kahil Gibran
What is your favorite love poem?   Just because....

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Michael Bernard Beckwith Coming to DC

This weekend event in Washington looks like it could be good -  A Weekend Workshop with Michael Bernard Beckwith, Author of Life Visioning andSpiritual Liberation

It's Friday night and all day Saturday, March 23-24th and being held at Unity Church on the 12th block of R Street, NW. 

From the description ---
Here is a chance to join this dynamic teacher as he shares breakthrough insights for navigating every stage of your evolutionary journey—and fulfilling your highest calling as only you can. 
Beckwith has seen time and again what happens when people engage in the practice of Life Visioning. “When your thoughts and actions begin to align with the imperatives of your soul,” he explains, “you enroll the full support of the universe.” 
Michael Bernard Beckwith’s gift is to reveal how we can answer these questions and live in sync with our inner calling through his Life Visioning Process— a method of deep inquiry and spiritual practice to enable our growth, development, and soul-level unfoldment.
This event is produced and sponsored by SoundsTrue.  To me, that fact alone is an endorsement.  

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Feng Shui Tips for Love

Carol Olmstead is the author of Feng Shui for Real Life.   So if you can't afford to move the door to the entrance of your house, she offers some real life tips that you can implement.

If you are single, if you are divorced, if your love has gone stale - she has some doable suggestions for you.   Check out her Feng Shui tips for Attracting Love.

My favorite is:
Add red accessories to your bedroom in shades of scarlet, crimson, and burgundy to activate the Fire Element and ignite your love life. 
 Well, I have an orange wall.  Activation!   

Love Potion, I Mean Love Oil

I visited Pratima Spa in Soho last June.  Was quite a treat as I have been a fan of Dr. Pratima Raichur book Absolute Beauty since 2003.

In honor of the upcoming holiday, I want to tell you about their Love Oil, which I used and love.  Smells and feels just wonderful.   Scent of cinnamon, clove and cardamon as well as rose, lavender and vanilla.   You can use in the bath or as a massage oil.  Her products have no preservatives so use it!

You can buy here.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Kama Sutra? Yoga Sutra? What's the Difference?

In a word - much!

They were both written in India in Sanskrit about the same time and have the same word in the title.  So genre, time, place, language are common to both texts, but as you would learn from listening to the recommended BBC interview on the Kāma Sutras - many other topics were written about in that time and place and language on a variety of subjects in sutras.   

Sutra means thread or line that holds or threads ideas together.   The Kāma Sutra's were written about 2000 years ago and is about sensual pleasures (among other lifestyle tips).  Vatsyayana is thought to be the author.   The Yoga Sutra is estimated to be written between 1900 and 2400 years ago and written or compiled from an oral tradition by Patanjali.

I briefly wrote about the Yoga Sutra a few months ago here.  The Yoga Sutras offers four chapters, while the Kāma Sutras is seven chapters, so the Kāma Sutra is much longer.  And sex comprises only the second of seven chapters.   So there is much else there to explore and learn.

There is a new translation of the Kāma Sutra just published, and The New York Times printed a laugh out loud hilarious and favorable review on Sunday.   When to Quote Poetry or Moan like a Moorhen: The Kama Sutra, Newly Translated by A.N.D. Haksar.  Reviewed by Dwight Garner.

There is this:
You might not think the Kama Sutra and “Downton Abbey,” the warm PBS soap opera about intrigues on a large rural estate in England, would have a great deal of thematic overlap. You would be wrong. Both are to some degree investigations into the kind of life a gentleman (or gentlewoman) should aspire to lead.
And then this:

your partner might find this sleek new Penguin Classics edition an intellectual aphrodisiac, though it contains no erotic illustrations, except several sublime ones on its cover. (For a certain audience, all Penguin Classics are trance-inducing objects of lust.)
And then this:
There is an impressively esoteric list, for example, of varieties of moaning during sex. These include: “the whimper, the groan, the babble, the wail, the sigh, the shriek, the sob and words with meaning, such as ‘Mother!’ ‘Stop!’ ‘Let go!’ or ‘Enough!’ Cries like those of doves, cuckoos, green pigeons, parrots, bees, moorhens, geese, ducks and quails are important options for use in moaning.” America’s porn actors have clearly not made anywhere near a proper study of this sonic landscape.
See?  Funny!  I've had a tiger but not a green pigeon (?!) or a geese, quail or duck!  

If you don't have time to read the book but are still curious about the origin and context of Kāma Sutra, I can very highly recommend this BBC4 Radio broadcast from the show In Our Time with Melvyn Bragg.  There I learned that the arts and culture of India was at a height.  And how the Kama Sutra is part of a popular genre of the time.  Not only the yoga and kāma sutras were recorded then but also on a wide range of topics including logic, astronomy, politics, aesthetics, medicine and social ethics.   

The discussion about 42 minutes long, free and you can download from iTunes here.  He interviews:
  • Julius Lipner, Professor of Hinduism and the Comparative Study of Religion at the University of Cambridge
  • Jessica Frazier, Lecturer in Religious Studies at the University of Kent and Research Fellow at the Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies
  • David Smith, Reader in South Asian Religions at the University of Lancaster.
Check it out.  Or if you don't have 43 minutes, you can also download this eight minute free podcast from SoundsTrue on Taoist Sexual Secrets.  At eight minutes, it's only a teaser but the entire series is about how to transform lovemaking into a spiritual practice informed by ancient and somewhat arcane material.  

Thursday, February 2, 2012

True Love is....

Robert Thurman (yes, Uma's father) is a prominent Buddhist scholar.  I've heard him in person.  He is a lovely and funny man.

Here he, briefly, distills the essence of true love, what true love is.   I love it.


Wednesday, February 1, 2012

David Simon Has Died

Oh this news makes me so sad.

David Simon, co-founder of The Chopra Center, died.

I've done some of their courses, and I will miss his voice - both the soothing and reassuring sound of his voice and the wise content.

Here is a video remembering him ---

Remembering David Simon from Chopra Center on Vimeo.

What People Talk About When They Die?

I finally saw The Descendants - a movie about families and love and forgiveness and death.  I found the story thoughtful and real and funny.  And religious - in the sense that it's about unity.  As I note in my essay Is Yoga a Religion?the term “religion” enjoys a similar etymology as yoga.  Derived from the Latin word, “religare,” religion means “to bind back” or to reunify.  

And here is how I defined yoga at
B.K.S. Iyengar notes the etymology: “The term yoga is derived from the Sanskrit root yuj meaning to bind, join, attach and yoke, to direct and concentrate one’s attention on, to use and apply.” Iyengar also conveys that in the Bhagavad Gita, Sri Krishna defines yoga as, “a deliverance from contact with pain and sorrow.” Donna Farhi notes, “Yoga is a technology for removing the illusory veil that stands between us and the animating force of life.”
How to we bind back?  Join?  Attach?  Through love and forgiveness.   That practice can deliver us from pain and sorrow.   It is a practice, none of us are perfect lover and forgivers.   For me, that practice inherent on the yogic path and my spiritual practice.  And those moments when death enters our lives crystalize the importance of this - how we love and forgive.  And helpful to remember why we love and forgive.

Here is the trailer:

And then I saw this article, which is about love, really, and how we define meaning in our lives at the end and how and if God figures into it.

Kerry Egan, a hospice chaplain, and she wrote this thoughtful essay, My Faith: What People Talk about Before They Die for the CNN religion blog.   I was interested too because a dear friend and fellow OM teacher trainee recently shared with me that she is exploring working
What do people who are sick and dying talk about with the chaplain? ...Mostly, they talk about their families: about their mothers and fathers, their sons and daughters.  They talk about the love they felt, and the love they gave.  Often they talk about love they did not receive, or the love they did not know how to offer, the love they withheld, or maybe felt for the ones they should have loved unconditionally.   
They talk about how they learned what love is, and what it is not...people talk to the chaplain about their families because that is who we talk about God.  that is how we talk about the meaning of our lives.  That is how we talk about the big spiritual questions of human existence. 
We don't live in our heads, in theology and theories.  We live our lives in our families: the families we are born into, the families we create, the families we make through the people we choose as friends.
And concludes towards the end -
If God is love, and we believe that to be true, that we learn about God when we learn about Love.  The first, and usually the last, classroom of love is the family.  Sometimes that love is not only imperfect, it seems to be missing entirely.   
Monstrous things can happen in families...Even in these cases, I am amazed at the strength of the human soul.  People who did not know love in their families know that they should have been loved.  They somehow know what was missing, and what they deserved as children and adults. 
When love is imperfect, or a family destructive, something else can be learned: forgiveness.  The spiritual work of being human is learning how to love and how to forgive.  
I agree with that.

If you're looking for a book on forgiveness and Buddhism, check out Jack Kornfield's The Art of Forgiveness.  If you're looking for a book on death and Buddhism, check out the Lotus in the Fire by Jim Bedard.   I've read the latter.

UPDATE:  Marianne Williamson tweeted on Thursday February 9: "Think of who you haven't forgiven, then close your eyes and see yourself washing their feet. Hold 2 minutes; you'll be 1,000 times lighter."  Love that.  We all have someone to forgive in our lives, sometimes ourselves.  

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Tips for Heading Off a Cold

Here's a great short article on how to head off a cold during this chilly season.   How to Stop a Cold in it's Tracks.    It also includes some Ayurvedic herb recommendations.

Losing Your New Year Resolve?

Do you feel like you are losing your new year resolve?  Are you wondering about your "overriding purpose for being here?"

This article - Inspired Intention -  by Kelly McGonigal is the best I have ever read that shows how yoga philosophy and ideas can inform our choices and our resolve.   She teaches yoga, meditation and psychology at Stanford University and I've long appreciated her for her book Yoga for Pain Relief.   She is making constructive contributions to the field of yoga and pain and the body/mind connection, and I very much hope one day to meet her.

She starts the article with a definition (a mind after my own heart!) ----
A sankalpa is a statement that does this for us. Stryker explains that kalpa means vow, or “the rule to be followed above all other rules.” San, he says, refers to a connection with the highest truth. Sankalpa, then, is a vow and commitment we make to support our highest truth. “By definition, a sankalpa should honor the deeper meaning of our life. A sankalpa speaks to the larger arc of our lives, our dharma—our overriding purpose for being here.” The sankalpa becomes a statement you can call upon to remind you of your true nature and guide your choices.
She goes on to explain how sankalpa or resolve can take two forms - a goal/intention or a heartfelt desire.  (that adjective is important).  Then she describes how you uncover your heartfelt desire and goals, how best to state them, how to plant and nourish the seed and finally concludes with quoting Rod Stryker -
According to Rod Stryker, this apparent contradiction is the essence of both sankalpa practice and nondual teachings. “It all goes back to this idea that each of us is both being and becoming. There’s the part of us, para atman, that is transcendent, inherently one, and doesn’t need anything. We also have a jiva atman, that part of us that comes into life with a purpose and a destiny and is always becoming.” Stryker explains that to fulfill your dharma, you must find a way to integrate these two seemingly opposite aspects of being. “It’s vital for happiness that you walk both paths simultaneously. Direct your energy with intention, but be mindful that your nature is unchanged whether you achieve your goals or not. Live as contentedly as possible in between the goal and realizing the goal.”
The essay is long and full of content, but trust me, it's worth the click over.   Or you can listen to or download an hour long public radio interview with her here on the subject.