Tuesday, March 24, 2009

clearing ...

"Feel the beautiful breath filling the lungs ...
lift the heart, open it up ...

ommmmm shree gurupyo namaha ..."

This was a particularly beautiful yoga class with a particularly love-filled teacher. Every person at my yoga studio is beautiful, light-filled and positive. But I have a special affinity for one teacher and am always joyful if she happens to sub for one of my classes. Every word and action is filled with such pure love from her heart that I feel transformed afterward.

Throughout class, she lovingly guides us through each asana, her voice rhythmically reminding us to feel our beautiful breath warming us ... to extend the spine fully and feeling it yield more space ... to extend the arms out in each direction in Warrior, hugging the muscles close to the bones. Her voice is the sound of my own heart beating, reminding me of the beautiful and perfect life force that is my essence and being.

We work through the opening warm-ups, eyes closed ... reaching, extending, breathing. We stand for Sun Salutations, the body becoming more heated through each set ... folding, lunging, holding the body strong in Plank, pulling the hips back and up for Downward Dog ... linking breath to movement, the rhythms becoming automatic, the mind chatter ceasing and now easing into the beauty of simply breathing as the body sweats and moves through the poses like a dance.

My eyes are closed through most of my practice. My mind becomes quieter, calmer. I listen to my breath ... deep inhale like the sound of the ocean withdrawing from shore ... deep exhale, the sighing of the waves reaching forward once again.

We practice Savasana, Corpse Pose, at the end, lying fully relaxed on our backs, every muscle released - top to bottom - the face and eyebrows and eyes relaxed. "Nothing to do, nothing to undo" Peter, a former teacher, used to say.

As I lie there, I notice the thoughts that come up in my mind ... but I don't attach to them. I simply note them and let them go. I am not hear to think about them. I am calming and quieting the mind, so I can more clearly think of these things later. In my mind, I climb into my little place where I sit and let go, disappearing within.

Afterward, the most beautiful closing chant I've ever experienced in a class.

"... hari hi .. ommmmmm ..."

Beauty and goodness fill the teacher's chant,
every syllable slow and deliberate, deeply imbued with love ...
pouring forth every beautiful thing: love, goodness, kindness, caring

I feel grounded, with a deep abiding knowledge of exactly who I am
my authentic self, with a mind bright and clear and shining

pure and unaltered

no self-doubt, no hesitation

only a surety of self, a groundedness ...

filled with beauty and light

I feel completely and fully filled with joy in every molecule of my being in that moment.

Uninterrupted peace and bliss.

My teacher is such a beautiful gift.

May you breathe in peace and beauty today. Namaste.

Monday, March 16, 2009

a moment's sunlight ...

We are but a moment's sunlight
Fading in the grass ...
- Get Together, The Youngbloods

We are so busily engaged in the daily acts of just living each day, that we sometimes forget to acknowledge and honor the fact that we have an expiration date. You, me, the next guy ... we don't remain in an earthly vessel forever.

We've all seen those e-mail chain letters about living life "between the dashes" (dates of birth and death); we've all seen Randy Pausch's Last Lecture video and maybe read the book. We know that each day and each moment is a gift, a fleeting thing, here and then gone. Babies grow, friendships change, love matures ... and then - for one reason or another - we are done with our living here.

People usually aren't comfortable talking about death. Some people believe in the finality of death; that's it, kaput, fini, done, and perhaps that scares some of them, while others are quite comfortable with that concept. The End.

Others believe we are souls temporarily journeying in a body. John Edward once likened it to a person who gets in a car, drives to a destination and then gets out of the car. In the analogy, the person is the soul and the car is the body. We arrive at our destination, leave the car/body and move on.

At my cousin's funeral last week, it was inspiring to see so many family members, friends and friends’ families come out to honor, to share, to remember this life together. Keeping my cousin's spirit with them even though his earthly vessel has served out its useful purpose. The little chapel was overflowing, with about 20 of us standing along the side aisles. After mass, we all proceeded to the gravesite, with a light drizzle of rain coming from the gray skies overhead. We all stood solemnly and in honor as the ceremony was conducted and then everyone still lingered afterward, despite the wet weather, reluctant to leave the cemetery to go to the reception.

My cousin had a very close-knit group of friends, many of whom he'd known for many, many years. They shared so much together in their lives, and i
t was beautiful to see how much he'd meant to them. He was obviously much loved by his friends as well as his family. His life, his personality, his friendship had made an impact on every person gathered in that chapel.

When we attend funerals for our loved ones, or go through a period of mourning, or sit shiva, or wear black armbands – we proclaim our witness of the person's life. We honor and acknowledge the person's journey, with memories of smiles and laughter, of barbeques and parties, of calls and cards, of illness and of death. Some don't like to attend funerals. I've been to many funerals (large family) and find it very comforting and life-affirming to share with others, to celebrate the person who has moved on, to show respect for the soul that joined us for a time while on their journey here.

As we go through life, we all leave footprints behind. We matter to those who love us.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

rollercoaster ...

It's been kind of a rollercoaster week.

Tuesday was the anniversary of my mom's passing. Most times when I think of her (nearly every day), I feel love and light; I see her smile, hear her laughter, feel her amazing energy and remember how she drew people to her with her humor, openness and generosity. But on Feb. 24 - even after all these years - I feel a disturbance in my spirit, even before I realize what day it is. When I scan my feelings to see what's causing this, I remember, and the memories of that day come flooding back. The prayers - bargains with God - as I rushed to the hospital, then the completely falling-apart sense of utter and devastating loss as I was told she was gone. Touching her face, sending her love, my entire being flooded with tears.

Tuesday was also the day that my manager told me that I was being rolled off the account that I'd been on since I started there. We've had some layoffs and I knew we still had to cut back more, so it wasn't completely unexpected. I was told to transition my work to another Project Manager and that the company was looking for another account that could use me. In the meantime, I knew I wasn't going to be billable, and in an agency, it's all about being billable. You don't bring in any money sitting on the bench; people need to perform billable work. I was hopeful they'd find an account that could use my skills, hopefully something meaty and engaging that I could really contribute to.

On Thursday, my cousin passed away. May he rest in peace, free from pain and discomfort, once again a light-filled spirit. This made it an even tougher week emotionally. (His services are on Wednesday; if you read this before then, please say a prayer for the family.)

Mom, work, my cousin - by Thursday afternoon, I was turning inward more, like a wounded animal that goes to the cave to heal alone. I consider it a privilege and an honor to have an opportunity to help a friend; as a little girl, I remember praying in church that God would provide me with ways in which I could show my love for Him by sharing His love with others. He has graced my life by answering that little-girl prayer. But I have a really tough time asking for personal support from others. I'm independent; I do for myself. I don't want to burden others with my troubles; everyone has their own to worry about.

On Friday, my last day on the account, we were going out for a girls-only happy hour. I'd been "in my head" most of the week, and I was looking forward to going out with everyone; I could use a little diversion. They are an amazingly wonderful group of women; all very intelligent, very professional, high achievers - just really quality people in every way. And sooooo funny! We have a great big, happy, joy-filled friendship among us, a strong team who share and genuinely care about one another. We support one another whenever someone needs a hand on a project; we lend an ear and a shoulder when someone needs it; we celebrate happy occasions.

As we left the office for happy hour, everyone went over to C's SUV and they told me to come over, too. They were trying to get a beach cruiser bike out of the back of her SUV. It was gorgeous: lime green, white basket, shiny and new. Wow - I've been wanting a cruiser for the last 10 years. I kept oohing and aahing, assuming that C had picked it up for one of the girls and they were going to put it in her car, lucky girl.

They pulled it out, set it on the ground, smiled and told me "Get on it."

What? ...

After a heartbeat's pause, I looked at them, stunned. And then the waterworks started. These beautiful, wonderful friends had pitched in and bought me the most awesome beach cruiser in the world for my last day on the team. (Just got a little teary again ...) My stomach is still doing flip-flops, completely and utterly amazed at the hugeness of their generosity and thoughtfulness.

Words are inadequate to express how I feel about this. I am enormously humbled. I would have been grateful for a goodbye card signed by them all. Oh - they gave me that, too, with the most beautiful personal messages from each of them.

I dreamed about my bike that night. I loved my old beach cruiser. My daughter and I used to ride all the time - down the beach, to her school - the ocean breeze blowing our hair, watching the sun set on the ocean. Riding a bike is such simple, pure fun! And my new bike is absolutely the best cruiser I've ever had. 1000 times better than any I've ever had. There's even a cute white basket. And a silk rose attached to the handlebars. And my wonderful friends gave me a rose-designed bell for the handlebars and rose stickers, too.

It's been a rollercoaster week, starting off on a downhill slide. But beautiful friends did a beautiful thing, sharing their hearts to do something extraordinarily generous and nice. I feel so blessed that we are present in one another's lives right now. We all click. I don't believe I've ever had such a tight bond with friends at work like this. It's kind of magical and amazing. It all feels so right and perfect.

Now to think of a name of my bike.