Friday, June 29, 2007
I've been tagged with a meme by Gillette for 7 Random things about meMeME.
1. I'm scared to write about personal sex stuff on this blog, and specifically in this moment, to mention a particular sexual fantasy I have that I definitely want act out for real.
2. My body is holding on to more weight right now that ever before in my life, even during my pregnancies and I'm not liking it much.
3. I have 11 piercings on my body.
4. I have no tattoos at this time but I want one, or more, and have some ideas in my mind about what and where.
5. I've never made love to a woman but I've been in love with one and wanted to.
6. I attract and hold on to too much clutter, lose important papers and function in a very disorganized way too much of the time, all the while yearning for open space, organization and everything in its place.
7. I'm ready to commit to another lover in my life.
I tag everyone who reads this blog if you're willing to play. Please respond in the comments or on your own blog if you have one.
Thanks to all of you for being in my life and reading this blog.
In Chapter 10 Susan says, "Involvement with Poets in the Schools transformed my life." I reflect on what one event in my life "transformed it" and what comes to me is the tenacious decision I made to live polyamorously. I was steeped in the monogamous fantasy of finding "my one true love and living happily ever" after just like the rest of us. I made a conscious choice to feel my fear and do it anyway. Susan quotes Joseph Campbell who says:
I have found that you have only to take that one step step toward the gods, and they will then take ten steps toward you. That step, the heroic first step of the journey, is out of , or over the edge of , your boundaries, and it often must be taken before you know that you will be supported.Polyamory has been a personal revolution, as well as evolution for me. It's transformed me spiritually and sexually. I think differently. I love differently. And although the effects are actually more internal than external, they are far reaching. The gods have taken many steps toward me and I feel their presence. I know I am supported.
This chapter is titled on asking and Susan says, "We want to make our asking as large and world-opening as possible." and shares what visionary activist Caroline Casey advises--"that we ask with the words I wonder."
I wonder what it would be like to have enough money to pay off my debts and travel around the world, visiting every yoga studio, dharma center, health spa and Enlightenment Intensive that I could find?When I read D.H. Lawrence's words in chapter 11...
I wonder what it would feel like to publish a book?
I wonder what having two or three or more committed polyamorous lovers would be like?
I wonder what it would feel like to know that I was really supporting each one of my children in the ways they most want to be supported?
I wonder what feelings will be triggered in me when my back porch and secret garden patio area are rearranged with love and attention?
I wonder who will be the next guest who will stay over in our extra bedroom and grace our home with their presence?
I wonder who will be the next lover who will share mine and Jerry's bed?
I wonder what I'm going to do on my 53rd birthday?
I wonder what it will feel like when my body finally allows me to drop this extra weight I've been carrying around?
Go deeper than love, for the soul has greater depths, love is like the grass, but the heart is deep wild rock molten, yet dense and permanent.I felt love as a powerful driving force, a wave I had caught a ride on and it was carrying me to the heart source of all, and then it gently spilled me over into the crystal waters that spiraled down, deep into the center of existence. I wonder if this is were Susan's poppa went when he died, returning to the heart source? Mahadeviyakka says:
...the infinite rests concealed in the heart.In Chapter 13 Susan muses over her poppa's gathering of beautiful things and thinks he would have "agreed with Einstein and Kepler that the rightness of an idea might not be seen first in its correctness, but in its beauty. " This reminds me a John Keats quote:
If something is not beautiful, it is probably not true.Susan encourages me to question my collections and to decipher their meaning and consider letting some things go in order to make room for the new. I feel trapped by my clutter. What is this need I have to hang on to so much? Once, in the midst of a life coaching session with my friend Ren, I found myself telling her I had so much junk in my life that all my precious treasures were so hidden inside the mess that I couldn't fine them. There is a feng shui practice that has you focus on each one of your possessions and if you find that you don't love it, (or if it doesn't provide a necessary function that adds to the quality of your life, such as a stove to cook your food on) to give it away. Susan suggests "capturing their essence" on film or in words that take up less space. I like this idea and I think I will pull my camera out and pack another box for goodwill.
Nikos Kazantzakis from chapter 14:
By believing passionately in something that still does not exist, we create it. The nonexistent is what we have not sufficiently desired.From this chapter I learn that a minyan is more than ten and although this is a word I'm familiar with, I wouldn't have known how to use it appropriately. I look it up in the dictionary and find that in Jewish tradition, it is the minimum number of persons who must be present to conduct a communal religious ritual. Sometimes tradition is so comforting. Susan's home fills with a minyan of gypsy queens, come to help her mourn her poppa's death with dance and prayers.
Rituals channel our life energy toward the light--Lao TzuIn chapter 15 I cry as I read Susan's daughter's words as she mourns...
When I think of Grandpa Julian...I think of the smell of wool and fresh air. I think of bushy eyebrows, warm hand, marbles, garage door openers, slightly rotten fruit, hummingbirds, corn shucking, my loose teeth, and shy good-nights from the doorway.I think of my own beloved grandfather, long gone, and wonder what my grandchildren will think of when they mourn my death.
Thursday, June 28, 2007
Empathy is a respectful understanding of what others are experiencing. Insteadof offering empathy, we often have a strong urge to give advice or reassuranceand to explain our own position or feeling. Empathy however, calls upon us toempty our mind and listen to others with our whole being.
Marshall B. Rosenberg
When...someone really hears you without passing judgment on you, without trying to take responsibility for you, without trying to mold you, it feels damn good. When...I have been listened to and when I have been heard, I am able to re-perceive my world in a new way and go on. It is astonishing how elements which seem insoluble become soluble when some listens.
The Language of the Heart. I think both Gandhi and Joe Friday would have approved.
Tuesday, June 26, 2007
There are versions of this song that I like better but I love the lyrics. It's been a very powerful song that really speaks to me. I love it when the rebel in me, brings out the rebel in another and when the lover in another brings out the lover in me. So on and so forth...Jimmy Cliff is so incredible.
Too tired to post much tonight, and last night too. Long days...leaving the house before 7:30 a.m. to work with a special program at the community college, four days this week. Returned late in the afternoon yesterday to see a client, then my financial womens' group met for our monthly meeting and then straight to Juicy Women for more of Lena's sexual history. I didn't get home until after 10:00.
My workday was about the same today only tonight we were out with friends who had us over for a delicious greek dinner with dessert, wine, good company. I'm a tired puppy and I'll be back at it early tomorrow morn. I gotta go to sleep now. Sweet Dreams.
Monday, June 25, 2007
Surgery? Now? Could you refer us to someone for a second opinion? Nope. No time for that. A second opinion was deemed unnecessary. Well doctor, not necessary for you maybe but it is for me. This is my baby's head we're talking about and excuse me for causing a delay in your plans but I'm not ready for you to pull out your knife just yet. And just FYI, I may never be ready.
We were offered no referral, only admonished for our refusal to submit to the doctor's wishes. We were on our own. Thus started our intense research, the quest to inform ourselves about brain tumors, cancer, surgery, alternative/integrative techniques to deal with what we were up against. And what were we up against? We started out fairly clueless and I didn't trust doctors much to begin with. Most (not all) of the ones I had come into contact with seemed way too self-assured in their opinions. It wasn't that I didn't respect their immense training and sacrifice, it's just that so many of them seemed to deem anything that they hadn't been trained in, or ideas different than their own, as uneducated and unworthy of consideration. We had a huge job cut out for us. Bit by bit we acquired knowledge and connections. This was before the Internet mind you. The transmission of information back then was labor intensive. We persevered, step by little step and were fortunate to have the support of family, friends and a whole community of caring folks.
I was poor enough at the time that all of the appropriate agencies kicked in to cover the costs of most everything. There seemed to be an invisible network of helping services wanting to support us. Some of these agencies would contact us and offer their services, setting up home visits to get the paperwork filled out. It was awesome.
I learned firsthand what being "numb" felt like. I had always heard that expression but had never experienced it. It wasn't like when a leg "falls asleep" and is all achy and tingling, or like when a dentist gives you a shot of Novocaine and your lip feels all fat and too uncoordinated to eat and you can't talk quite right. No, I was very busy, fully engaged in all the activities one has to do in a situation like this but I was physically and emotionally numb. Not feeling anything. I suppose I was in a sort of shock.
We put our son on a macrobiotic diet and dosed him with all sorts of natural medicines (teas, tinctures, supplements). We did visualizations. He was really into the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and we would use them to attack the tumor, using the powerful healing color of their different hued face masks to shrink it. We prayed. Our whole community prayed. People sent us lots and lots of love.
We stayed with friends in Bolinas and visited the Institute for the Study of Health and Illness At Commonweal; checked into a cancer institute in Mexico; a doctor with an alternate treatment in New York; We had a notebook full of names, numbers, hospitals, doctors, institutes, therapies, books; we read a lot; and made a lot of phone calls.
We came across some information on some alternative therapies that were in the experimental stage at Stanford Medical Center in Palo Alto, California. We had friends with a friend who was a doctor at Stanford and with his connection we got appointments with doctors in neurology and oncology. We were hopeful having heard that Stanford was progressive. But as it turned out, the neurosurgeon was cold and arrogant, cut from the same cloth as the doctor we had first seen in Chico. The doctor in oncology was worse. We were admonished for being not only ridiculous but negligent. They insisted that our child needed both immediate surgery and post op chemotherapy, that there were absolutely no other options. They scoffed at our open mindedness to alternative therapies and told us that we were risking our child's life with our fanciful ideas of holistic health. We fended ourselves against their manipulative attempts to force their plan of action upon us and couldn't get out of there fast enough. I resisted the temptation to run to the car and speed away as quickly as possible. They treated us like we were such kooks that I imagined they had put an emergency call into Child Protective Services (CPS) and that the police were making hast to detain us.
I had a mini breakdown in the car. My numbness had worn off and I was overwhelmed. Too tired to drive home, we stayed at my sister's in San Francisco to recuperate. The next morning, after stopping for coffee, we headed to the freeway and I saw a sign for UCSF and the hunch came. I told my son's father to drive there. When we arrived I didn't have clue as to where I was going or what I was going to do when I got inside. I just jumped out of the car and told him if I wasn't back in half an hour to wait for me in the lobby with the MRIs (pictures of our baby's brain and tumor).
I searched the directory and found many departments with the name "Neuro...something or other" suggesting I might want to check them out. Then I saw Pediatric Neurosurgery on the seventh floor and headed to the elevator. When I found the office I walked up to the receptionist and told her "I'd like to speak to your very best pediatric neurosurgeon please." Truthfully, I don't recall my exact words but it was something very close to that. She was very friendly and accommodating, asking me a few questions and then offering me to take a seat. In a few minutes Joyce appeared, introducing herself. She was a pediatric neurosurgery nurse and was very kind, listening to my story. As I was talking, a doctor just out of surgery with those little blue paper slippers covering his shoes and the blue paper mask still hanging from his neck, walked by. Joyce said, "Oh Dr. Edwards, I'd like you to meet Adrienne." We shook hands and she gave him a brief run down of my situation. Dr. Edwards asked me if I had my son's MRIs with me and when I told him yes, he offered to meet me in his office in 30 minutes, he just needed a little time to freshen up.
I hurry down to find my son, his father and the MRIs waiting for me in the lobby. We head back to Dr. Edwards office and he greets us in a friendly manner and then sits down on the floor and plays dinosaurs with our son. This is the first doctor that ever even seemed to notice our child was a real person. I kid you not. After the initial meeting with the first neurologist, all the doctors seemed to care about was looking at his MRIs and trying to convince/force me and his father to do things their way. My son always buried his face in my chest for the duration of our various meetings with doctors. Not this time.
After dinosaurs, we shared with Dr. Edwards some of our story, how we were investigating various options, describing some of the different modalities we were interested in and what we were currently doing. We expressed our interest in his professional opinion. He spoke frankly, telling us that he recommended surgery. He admitted that he knew very little about the alternative therapies that we were investigating, surgery was his forte. He told us that nothing we were currently doing to help our child sounded unreasonable or dangerous to him and he encouraged us to keep up with the ninja turtle visualizations. He affirmed what we already knew, that as parents, it was our duty to inform ourselves in order to make the appropriate decision for our child's health care. He said there was no immediate rush for us to make our decision, but suggested the sooner the better and gave us a reasonable time line to work with. He then offered to be our son's surgeon if surgery was the route we chose.
Finally a doctor who gave us what we asked for--his professional opinion. Then he backed off, acknowledging our right as parents to decide what route to take. I had finally found a doctor I could trust.
When we returned home there was a phone message from Dr. Bernie Siegel. I had written him a letter about our situation and he had basically responded in the same manner as Dr. Edwards, saying something to the effect that he was a surgeon so surgery would probably be what he would recommend. He acknowledged our powerful role as parents and told us to trust ourselves, that we knew what was best for our child and we would make the right decision. The compassion of his message gave me the inspiration to trust my inner wisdom.
After this, everything started falling into place. We talked with the alternative therapy doctor in New York, who thought our son needed surgery and recommended we refuse chemotherapy and do his therapy post op. He gave us a referral to a doctor in Chicago who was "the best laser surgeon in the world." We contacted this doctor who after looking over our son's MRIs, told us that the expense of traveling to Chicago would be unreasonable for us. He said that our son didn't need laser surgery and that he was going to give us the name of the best pediatric neurosurgeon he knew of and fortunately for us he was right in northern California. His name? Dr. Michael Edwards, at UCSF.
I knew Dr. Edwards was our saving angel the moment I met him but we needed time to tie up all the loose ends of being responsible parents and checking out all the reasonable options before making our decision of what to do and who to do it with. We crossed our T.'s and dotted our I.'s and followed our hearts all the way into the operating room, with this man who we were trusting to cut open our baby's head and dig into his brain. That's a big fucking deal.
Dr. Edward's removed 85 to 90% of the egg sized tumor that had grown in our child's brain. The part that he left had traveling down through the Cerebral Cortex into the Corpus Callosum which was an area too delicate to mess with without causing irreparable damage. We were sent to oncology who recommended post surgical chemotherapy. After weighing the cost/benefit ratio we decided there were too many risks and declined. Our decision was accepted with respect. If the respect was feigned, it was done with grace.
With the exception of one overbearing, control freak, nurse, the staff at UCSF was compassionate and accommodating of our special needs and requests to facilitate our style of nursing our child back to health. The nurses in the pediatric wing carried babies in backpacks and frontpacks while wheeling toddlers around in Radio Flyer wagons in the midst of doing their rounds. The nurse's station was beset with children. I think most of them were happy to shut the door to our child's room, leaving him in the care of two available and competent parents. They were available when we needed them, checked his vitals, delivered his meds and otherwise pretty much left us alone. I shared his hospital bed with him while his father slept on a built-in cot in the room. Not only that, we were given (free of charge) accommodations across the street at Family House where we would occasionally, one at a time, take retreat to shower, wash clothes, cook, make phone calls to update family and friends, etc.
Upon returning home we continued our son on his strict macrobiotic diet and alternative medicines for a time. I don't recall exactly how long. We relaxed his diet long before stopping his medicines. The remaining 10-to 15% of the tumor that was left during surgery, fairly quickly disappeared. That was 17 years ago and our son is a physically beautiful, intelligent, incredibly talented and healthy young man. I think he's a happy person these days too.
Thank you Dr. Michael Edwards. You are a great doctor and a very loving and decent man. We give thanks that you came into our lives and your kindness will not be forgotten.
(Ha, Dr. Edwards is at Stanford now.)
Sunday, June 24, 2007
Deepak Chopra has a new DVD out, The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success, featuring Olivia Newton-John and directed by Bill Duke. It’s based on his book of the same name.
I was pleasantly surprised to find that I actually enjoyed watching this film. I have the book on my bookshelf and I've read it several times, appreciating each read, so it wasn't the suspected content that had me hesitant. I've been a fan of metaphysics and "new age thought" for almost thirty years and I’ve read hundreds of books that I’ve found informative, insightful and pleasurable to read. But nearly every one the new-age, spiritual movies I've watched, quite frankly are awful. I really wanted to support Spiritual Cinema as they seem to be a group of lovely folks and I appreciate their vision, but rather than being inspired by their offerings, I couldn't bare to watch another of their poorly acted, incredibly boring films.
The one film with a “new thought” message that I did enjoy was The Peaceful Warrior with Nick Nolte, which actually played locally at a UA theatre. It was well written, interesting and well acted. Besides that, I love Nick Nolte and it's hard to go wrong with him.
The Seven spiritual Laws Of Success, was done in a sort of documentary/film style with Deepak Chopra and Olivia Newton-John conversing, along with actors portraying some of the stories the featured personalities share about their life-journeys and spiritual awakenings. The cinematography was nice and the Olivia Newton-John’s all-new original music was pleasant.
Deepak Chopra narrates, taking us on a magical journey through the Seven Spiritual Laws, explaining how the creative mind of the universe functions through these laws to manifest in the physical plane. Success is defined as the expansion of happiness, forward progression in your life to the unfolding of your own vision.
Here are the basic tenets of the seven laws:
First Law: The Law of Pure Potentiality.I loved the cinematography when Olivia Newton-John’s garden labyrinth (an ancient symbol of wholeness, a purposeful path to a hidden goal) rises from the ground to create a huge earthen labyrinth that leads to an inner sacred chamber.
This is the source of all creation, where the dreamer manifests the dream.
We must be grounded in the wisdom of uncertainty. Uncertainty means that we are willing to step into the unknown in every moment. The unknown opens us to a whole range of possibilities.
We must begin at the source, the point of silent unmoving awareness from which anything is possible.
Second Law: The Law of Giving and Receiving.
We have to keep money and the free flow of ideas circulating in the world.
Live your life in the giving mode. What you give, you get back.
Hospitality is connected to the law of giving and receiving.
Gratitude allows us to participate in this law. What comes to us isn’t something we’ve earned, it’s a gift from the universe.
Third Law: The Law of Karma.
Action. What we sow is what we reap. The outcome of our actions is determined one move at a time (think of playing a game of chess).
The choices we make have consequences that are either evolutionary or destructive.
Everything that is currently happening is due to choices we have made in the past.
We have many different options to how we react to the consequences of our actions. We can choice to consciously repay a karmic debt. We can understand that what is most negative at this time, can be the best thing down the road.
Step back and witness the choices you are making. You make not think they are choices, but are they?
How do you know what the right choice is? Ask, what is the consequence of my choice? At the moment you make a choice, pay attention to how you feel. If you feel uncomfortable it is probably not karmically appropriate.
Forth Law: The Law of Least Effort.
Nature takes the course of least action and no resistance.
Learn to satisfy life’s demands with less stress and strain. Don’t assume that chaos is natural. Even if you fulfill your intention in this condition, it won’t bring happiness.
There is an art of accepting things as they are, not how you wish they were.
Let go and surrender to the moment. Don’t struggle against the moment as you will be struggling against the entire universe.
Accept people and events as they occur.
Every tormentor becomes our teacher. Let go, disengage the ego
Fifth Law: The Law of Intention and Desire
Intention is the fertile ground of pure potentially. Inherent in every desire is the way to its fulfillment.
We don’t know where our desires and intention come from. They come from a deeper domain. This is why we must be unattached.
Meditation helps us to be more conscious, to surrender.
Follow the quiet voice inside.
When you have an intention from the level of your soul/spirit, it has all the power of the universe behind it.
The Sixth Law: The Law of Detachment.
The universes responds best when we detach from our desires, when we are not desperate and obsessed.
Attention is on the moment; intention is for the future.
Individual attention expands its field to take in the cosmic attention. See through the eyes of the soul.
If you really want something, let go of it.
Swim in uncertainty.
Allow yourself to be embraced in the moment and an insight will come.
The Seventh Law: The Law of Dharma.
This is our purpose in life. The root of the word dharma means to uphold. The universe will uphold us.
This is the law that brings the preceding laws into fruition.
Have a life that is about connecting with people.
Release attachment to outcome.
Self-exploration: We are a never-ending project of the universe.
Be a channel, a vessel for manifestation to occur.
Creativity is part of who we are.
God is frequently called “The Creator”. When we create, we are co-creating with God who is calling out from the depths of our own awareness.
Open your eyes and see through illusion and past conditioning.
This film is well worth the watch.
“I am an impulse of the universe at this moment in time, part of a collective wave of consciousness. After I am gone I’ll have done what I came here to do. And that’s enough."
Friday, June 22, 2007
Now that I realize I've still been carrying on with jealously, this in no way affects my relationship with compersion. I've written about managing jealousy and learning to transform it into compersion in the past so you'd think I would have understood this better but I didn't really. Maybe I just had an intellectual understanding of it and now it's immersed itself in my body. My mind and heart have merged. Jealousy and compersion have become one. Compersion is like jealousy with a face lift, new and improved. Jealously that feels and looks so good you can't help but want more of it.
Somehow, even though I have been speaking the words about transforming jealousy into compersion I was interpreting that to mean that one would more or less, leave their jealousy behind, lay it down and walk away and replace it with the mantle of compersion. Oh, I knew that as humans we would most likely to go back and revisit jealousy now and again but the experience of compersion would obviously win out, how could it not, compersion feels so good, jealousy so bad, and humans are seekers of pleasure. Slam dunk.
But now I understand that there is no mantle to lie down. Jealousy and compersion are one and the same. No difference. It's just our interpretation of the emotional energy. Everyday each one of us goes about our life with a basic worldview and preconceptions concerning what life is about. Due to our past life experiences we have established this worldview and filled it with preconceptions. New events happen and we either ignore them or deem them significant enough to notice. Once we notice an event, we continue calling upon our world view and preconceptions to invent stories and meanings surrounding it, which in turn calls forth emotional energy. Once the emotional energy arises, we make more meaning and label it as either good (compersion) or bad (jealously) or obviously any other of the numerous emotions we humans experience. Once this emotional energy is called forth, it's very significant because it's a powerful creative force that brings forth more life events and physical manifestations into our lives. But more on this in another post, I want to stay on track with this emotional energy as it pertains to jealousy/compersion.
So what is the story I've been telling myself when I notice that either my partner is attracted to someone or that someone is attracted to my partner? If he is attracted to someone I get very curious about his turn on, what catches his attention, inspires him. I see that sparkle in his eyes, the way he holds his body, his smile. I notice that he gets really beautiful. It's like he's emitting strong pheromones and I can barely resist him.
If someone is attracted to him I immediately zone in on the them. I'm interested in this person who obviously has good taste--they like something I like. It's similar to someone saying what a cute baby you have, or that they really like the blouse you're wearing, or they stop and admire the color of your house or your yard. You feel friendly towards them, inviting. A person attracted to my husband draws my friendly attention. I immediately know there is something definitely "right" about this person.
Then my attention moves on to my husband. I start seeing him through new eyes. I sort of revert back to shoshin or "beginners mind" and experience him with the same refreshing quality as when we first met, fell in love and were all entangled in new relationship energy (NRE). NRE seems to spring forth from shoshin.
It dawns on me how important compersion can be to a long term committed relationship. It serves to keep us appreciative of our partner, eager to be in their company, interested to learn something new about them just like when we first met them. For me, if I've unconsciously allowed myself to be lulled into complacency, taking my partner for granted, or failing to actively appreciate his uniqueness and now fortunate I am to have this incredible man in my life, all it takes is a good shot of compersion to wake me right up.
So, that's my story. I realize his attraction to another, or another's attraction to him has very little (or nothing most likely) to do with me. It has a major effect on me but its not about me. I've been around long enough to know that this is natural, no matter how much you may love a person or how committed you are to them, we get attracted to others besides them. You and I will interpret the meaning of that attraction in different ways, depending on our worldview and the stories we make up. For me, the meaning I make of attraction to another, whether it's a one-way or two-way flow of energy, is that this is a "good" thing. That's because connecting with other human beings is very important to me. I like it. I want it. One of my purposes in this life is to create relationship and this, most often, is based on attraction. And it doesn't matter in the least if this person notices me or not (at least not initially). I'm part of the connection because I notice them and their attraction. I relish meaningful interaction with others (big or small). Even just noticing it between strangers effects me and when it involves my husband the effect is way stronger because I'm so connected to him. This connection and energy wakes me up, I feel the juice and I immediately feel appreciation.
Now, if I were to make the meaning that my partner's attraction to another puts my relationship with him in jeopardy, that he may grow to love them more than he loves me, that there isn't enough of him to go around, that they might be more intelligent, creative, prettier, have a more attractive body etc., and if I focus on these comparisons, and believe that he might decide to leave me to be with them exclusively because that is the way that our love relationship is set up to work, then I'm more likely to experience the emotional energy that rises up as jealously and I'm probably going to want to do whatever that's in my power to make it go away. Usually that will entail, making the other person go away. But, fortunately, that's not the meaning I make.
I've surmised that jealousy and compersion are the exact same energy, it's how we interpret this energy that makes the difference. I find this energy to have a strong sexual component to it also. Thus, when I experience compersion I usually get very horny.
Ah jealousy, it's just a sheep in wolf's clothing.
Thursday, June 21, 2007
I am a hollow bamboo, open up my heart and let my light shine through. Shine through, a hollow bamboo, open up my heart and let my light shine through.And...
I am a hollow bamboo, open up my heart and let my love shine through. Shine through, a hollow bamboo, open up my heart and let my love shine through.
Earth my body, water my blood, air my breath and fire my spirit.Or as my son, Nimai, liked to sing it when he was little...
Earth my body, water my blood, air my breath and fire my love.Blessings.
Wednesday, June 20, 2007
My friend Deanna, who travels back and forth from Brazil to the States is both an Afro-Brazilian dance and yoga instructor. While in Brazil, she lives on a little island in Bahia, called Boipeba and runs a restaurant and a Pousada. She is staying with us tonight, after teaching her dance class and she and another girlfriend, SueBee and I shared dinner and beers. Anyway, she brought this book with her and I'm flipping through it while she's in the shower.
Yogini, is a very lovely book that celebrates the power of women in yoga. It features these women yoga instructors/practitioners:
Donna Farhi*Sharon Gannon*Shiva Rea* Patricia Sullivan*Indra Devi*Sarah Powers*Nishchala Joy Devi* Vanda Scaravelli*Angela Farmer*Swami Sivananda Radha*Lilias Folan*Sally Kempton*Rama Jyoti Vernon*Gurmukh Kaur Khalsa*Sonia Nelson* Judith Hanson Lasater* Swamini MayatitanandaHere is what the inside jacket cover says:
For thousands of years, yoga has been practiced throughout the Eastern world, and while ancient art and writings give us tantalizing glimpses of a female participation in days gone by, for the most par, yoga practice was limited to men. Not until 1937 did the first Western female teacher, Indra Devi, merge. Even today, as millions of women are practicing yoga, the vast majority of teachers are still male.I've been a student of hatha yoga since 1976 when I was pregnant with my second child, Govinda. I purchased Jeanne Parvati's Book, Prenatal Yoga and Natural Childbirth, which contained some good yoga postures for pregnant women. A couple of years later my mom loaned me her book, Richard Hittleman's Yoga 28 day exercise plan which I used for quite awhile. Over the years since, I've practiced more and less. I even taught three beginning yoga classes for a couple of semesters at the community college. Each class met for three hours, once a week. I appreciated that opportunity a lot as my personal practice really improved. I also taught yoga to women who were recovering substance abusers when I was working as a Drug and Alcohol Counseling Assistant. I used my friend, Annalisa Cunningham's book, Stretch and Surrender A Guide to Yoga, Health and Relaxation for People in Recovery. In this book, she offers 32 yoga poses with accompanying affirmations. My favorite was the Warrior pose with its affirmation:
Yet, yoga is an astonishing tool for female empowerment--for shaping not just the body, but the spirit and indeed, one's entire life. That first step onto a yoga mat can be a step to complete personal transformation.
In this book, yoga teacher and scholar Janice Gates profiles 17 noted female yoga teachers and practitioners, highlighting how the art and practice of yoga has suffused their lives with joy, power, and light in ways they never imagined...including sculptors, diplomats, mothers, pioneers, and visionaries. And all of them, teachers of unusual insight and wisdom. This is a book about yoga, but much more than that. It a book about women, and womens' journeys to claim the power that they have always held.
I am a Warrior of the heart.Annalisa has actually written four other books also: Healing Addiction with Yoga; Gentle Yoga for Healing; Spa Vacations; Yoga Vacations; and you can check them all out here.
My personal favorite yoga instructor of all time, I have to admit, is a man, Tom Hess. I really haven't practiced with that many instructors really but nevertheless he is very good. He teaches at Chico Sports Club, Iyengar, style. I really noticed big shifts in my body when I was studying with Tom. He's a nice guy, funny, a little sacrilegious and not too earnest.
Here are the yoga books sitting on my bookshelf right now:
The Complete Illustrated Book of Yoga by Swami Vishnudevananda with over 140 full page photographs. This is not a book I've really ever used but I brought it because it's so old fashioned, traditional. The copy I have was published in 1959. A very masculine book, the second chapter is titled: Man, His three Bodies, and Their Functions.
Another very sweet book is, The Art of Sensual Yoga, A Step-by-Step Guide for Couples by Connie and Robert Dunne Kirby with Geraldine Ross. There are some beautiful pictures of couples stretching, bonding and loving together. Jerry and I have don't some of the poses in this book. Chapter one is called, Starting Over, and here's what it says:
On a psychological level our deepest need as men and women is to overcome our separateness; to leave the prison of our aloneness. This desire for interpersonal fusion is our most powerful struggle. It is our most fundamental passion. It is the force that keeps the human race together!Next is Yoga, The Path to Holistic Health by B.K.S. Iyengar. I've always thought that I favored Iyengar style yoga because it is so technical and you hold the poses for long periods of time. I like laying or sitting there in a pose for a good length of time and either hearing or going over the specific instructions in my head. It's a wonderful meditation that I can really get into, entering into my body through the words and traveling to the area I'm stretching, finding a way to open and create more space. It's always worked well for me. That's one of the reasons I liked Tom's classes so much.
To love somebody is not just a strong feeling--it is a decision, it is a judgment, it is a promise.
I've long since given this book to my grandkids but I had Be a Frog, A Bird, or a Tree, Creative Yoga Exercises For Children, by Rachel E. Carr when my kids were little.
The last book I'll mention is, Yoga, The Poetry of the Body, by Rodney Yee. My best friend, Ren, gave me this book and she's a dog person and I found a poem in the book, from the chapter titled, Observing Your Breath, to dedicate to her. It was written by Jane Kenyon.
Besides being a dog person, Ren is a yoga person too, who allows her practice to wax and wane. I'm recalling her friend who was a yoga instructor and he offered "Elvis Yoga Classes". They would go to class and practice to Elvis music. Whatever rocks one's boat I say. How about the Naked Yoga that is so popular now?In and Out
The dog searches until he finds me upstairs, lies down with a clatter of elbows, puts his head on my foot.
Sometimes the sound of his breathing saves my life--in and out, in and out; a pause, a long sigh...
Jerry is a much more dedicated yoga practitioner than I am. He takes the time for his yoga routine everyday. He's been doing it for something like 38 years now. His friend Paul, from New Jersey taught him this routine when they first came out to California. He's more of a Sivananda style yogi. I used to tease Jerry and tell people that he did "Annoying Yoga", that he studied with Swami Annoyananda. People didn't really get my joke until I explained that Jerry's yoga annoyed me. As I've mentioned before, I tend to like Iyengar style yoga which is very focused on alignment. When Jerry and I first started practicing yoga, our bodies in close proximity to one another, we'd be going into an asana, I would notice his body in some misalignment. This would agitate my mind I would want to fix him. I would be annoyed. Finally I told him he couldn't practice where I could see him because he was such a distraction for me. My teasing was as much a spoof on myself as on him of course.
I have a box full of Yoga Journals.
It's interesting to notice that when I was younger, the only real meditation I found that I could engage in was hatha yoga and other physical movement like dance. I was way too agitated in my body and mind to just sit and meditate. As I've gotten older I appreciate sitting meditation much more. Not that I can sit for long periods of time now but half an hour sessions are very sweet and necessary for me.
I've really let my yoga practice go lately and my body and mind miss it. Maybe all this will inspire me to dedicate myself more to the flow of yoga in my life.
Tuesday, June 19, 2007
Rosemary spoke about one of her lovers and her on-going struggle with attachment vs non-attachment in the arena of love.
Randi is still celibate and watching herself make shifts with her sexuality. She feels likes she's "acted out" in the past and she's choosing to be more conscious with whom she chooses to partner with at this juncture in her life. She recently ended a NSA long distance, long term, relationship.
Ana just returned from another business trip in the city. She made lots of good contacts and felt very validated by people's reception of her. She was also propositioned by a woman she knows, to become her husband's lover. She is considering it as an option.
Molly recently returned from a rendezvous with an old girlfriend who has always served as a validation and inspiration for her. This time her friend gave her lots of encouragement surrounding a book she has written and she was inspired to dig into it and complete some powerful changes. She is still struggling with some of her fears around money while realizing that she is currently able to do everything she wants to do.
Pema just returned from visiting one of her children and also from a business meeting with her partner. They just drew up the papers to turn her business into a corporation. She says she has let go of the financial dream she has been holding onto with her lover although she is still willing to experience it. She loves her man and doesn't want to "dump" him but has thoughts that she could leave when his money deals come through. She says that the more she releases attachment, the more he focuses on her. She realized that she has been waiting for her money to come through so she can pursue her dream life of "service to others" when all the while, this is the work she is already currently engaged in, caring for her youngest daughter and lover.
Lena started the sharing of her sexual history tonight recalling that her sexual exploration started at a young age. When she was maybe three or four she remembers being outside with the family dog and it licking her genitals. She liked the feeling but was admonished by her mother who was watching from kitchen window, and shook a finger at her. Years later, as a young girl on her period, she was changing a tampon in the bathroom and while allowing the family dog to lick her genitals, it actually bit her. She was injured and bleeding and had to go to her mother for help. She changed the story a bit, protecting herself from her mother and the doctor's judgment by telling them that the dog lunged at her, biting her labia when she pulled out her tampon. They bought her story which was more feasible due to the smell of her blood. Well, the dog did fucking bite her! Unappreciative beast.
Lena loved the sensuous feelings in her body and found that she could facilitate bringing herself to orgasm in a number of ways. She described holding her body in a certain position while exercising and touching her toes. She also stood on her hands in the shower so the water would hit her clitoris in the perfect spot. This woman has ingenuity in her ability to self-pleasure!
Lena remembers being the sex educator for all of her friends. She dragged them all off to Planned Parenthood to them get on birth control and to protect themselves from STDs. She planned the the loss of her virginity, picking a very nice boyfriend and discussing the matter with him beforehand. She described how they would conspire to find the time and place to have sex. He sounded like a near perfect first love for a young girl.
When they graduated high school, all of her friends got together and exchanged gifts. Lena received red satin sheets which made her feel ashamed. Her friends didn't give her the sheets in a mean spirited way but it still hurt her feelings. She was considered a wild and sexually adventurous woman and she had only one steady boyfriend! Now, she said, she would considerate receiving those sheets a compliment but back then this label felt as if she was being harshly judged.
Lena did love sex and had several other lovers in college. She talked about how when she lived in the college dorms there was a curfew. Once out past curfew there was no coming home so she figured she might as well live it up, and she did. Lena wanted to be a good girl but liked sex too much for that. I feel a knot in the pit of my stomach when I think of this. Way too many of us once believed that being a girl good and having sex were mutually exclusive. Good girl = no sex. Bad girl = sex. What did you choose?
She talked about the shame she experienced from having sex with her girlfriend's fiance and other events that placed her into the sexually deviant category. I just want to scream when I think of this box that so many young woman are placed into. A box that many of them willingly place themselves into, accepting their just punishment for liking sex too much.
There was a revealing moment in Lena's narrative when she realized that she had always had a story that her first husband was her second lover. This is after she had already described at least three or four other lovers and then she came to the part where she was meeting him. She was bemused. Lena didn't contemplate this to any depth during our group so I have no idea where she will end up going with this little discrepancy she discovered. But I do think it is not an uncommon phenomena when a person has some unprocessed work to be done on an emotionally charged issue. It's not my place to tell her story but there she was, this juicy, vibrant, horny, young thing who is right in the midst of finding exquisite pleasure and delight in her blossoming sexuality...and lets just say that she is unsupported in her precious exploration. I'll stop here because I'm only imagining.
Life went on and Lena married, had children, and divorced. Later she met a man who she really liked and they started up a sexual relationship. He ended up feeling guilty because they were being sinful (having sex outside of marriage) so he broke it off with her. She continued exploring her sexually and purchased sex toys to pleasure herself. She had various sexual partners, her old boyfriend from high school, a younger man from work who wasn't very kind to her, and others.
I'm anxious to hear more, juicy woman.
Monday, June 18, 2007
Anyway, I'm fine. And I was wonderfully intact when I wrote that last post too. I was just going through my stuff and experiencing some intense, emotions/realizations. I was in little pain but I wasn't suffering from it. My heart was very open welcoming the insight. So thank you Susan, for Foolsgold. It's really working for me. Here's some more from chapters three through nine.
In chapter three, moving the dishes, Susan offers this quote by Lao Tzu:
When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.That basically describes the bulk of my spiritual practice lately. Dis-identifying. Coming more and more to terms of what I am not. It's like emptying the trash. I've been so full of stuff I've been thinking is me, some quite lovely stuff by the way, some frightfully shameful, that it's been quite the spring cleaning rampage which has extended into the summer, fall, winter...Lets just say this identity decluttering is an ongoing process. And I keep picking up more new identities to hoard on my way to the dump. Oy vey! I need to empty enough of what I'm not to be able recognize the truth of what I am.
Susan talks about her thirty year marriage ending and her craving of open space that coincided with this period of powerful transition. She wanted her house empty "to match my heart, bare, with no room for anything but white, cool light coming in." She craved barrenness but the empty space yearned to be filled. Her son came and helped her move her dishes. During their transport to her new home she wondered, "if the soul of a house hides in the dishes. Dishes hold all that food, decades of meals, spoon to mouth, salads and fruits and stews and cakes and pies and eggs and toast on plates in a circle for years on an old round table." Her words touch my heart and fill an empty space inside.
She writes of emptiness, a concept that has always frightened me until the last couple of years when I've experienced some of the vast, open, freeing, potential of empty space. Up to this point in my life, the word "empty" has always implied lack, want, craving, the ache of loneliness. She says, "The creative, it seems is spawned from emptiness. Giving over to silence, waiting, allowing, listening...In the emptiness we might get an inkling...of how we'll begin to form and open to who we're becoming, who we most truly are. We need to leave space both for what we'll discover and what will emerge to discover us." She encourages us to "notice what's overfull in your world right now" and to empty it, making room for something new. Yes. I know this, it's my continual process, something I'm always doing and always getting around to doing.
In chapter four Susan tells a story about how after giving birth to her second child, a daughter, with a two year old son, it seemed impossible for her to lovingly mother both of them at once. "Help was closer than I could have dreamed" she says. All I'm going to add to this is the name of the chapter, big toe: within arm's reach, and her explanation. "My heart, with its own imagination, sympathetic to our plight, scanned the scene and found something not only nearby, but an ever-present part of my body, to save the day." Susan's son, is now a grown man, but still today she finds what she needs in life as close as her big toe. This is a precious, heartwarming story.
From chapter five, Hafiz:
Tired of speaking sweetly,I crave being manhandled by love.
Love wants to reach out and manhandle us,
Break all our teacup talk of God.
The ocean admonishes Susan to to pay attention and tells her,"Don't take too much credit for your cleverness or writing..." If she pays attentions she is filled with inspiration. And here's the rub. Paying attention so I'm aware when God arrives, simply allowing this creative force to channel itself through me. Yet I often catch myself in narcissistic glee, my ego taking personal credit for some little thing I like that has come through me, and I feel proud. I'm clear I'm a mere tool for divine source expressing itself, but I do forget sometimes.
Susan encourages us to feel our consciousness sink down to our hearts and to pay attention to the world from this place and we will be informed of everything we need to stay safe and connected to our creativity.
In chapter six, her lessons come in the form of a great blue heron she calls Hank. He teaches her to be still,watch, listen... She wonders if time alone, engaging our senses in the natural world, is not the place from which art and love emerge. She implores us to fully touch down, taking in whatever the natural world has to offer. She says, "Get to the heart of place". This reminds me of a Rumi poem I love which is part of my daily awareness practice:
Wherever you stand, be the soul of that place.And she offers a quote from Eckart Tolle, author of the books, The Power of Now, and A New Earth. I've learned a lot from his teachings. He says:
Watch any plant or animal and let it teach you acceptance of what is, surrender to the Now. Let it teach you being...how to live and how to die.Chapter seven is intense and Susan offers this quote by Friedrich Willhelm Nietzsche to entice us:
Where is the lightning to lick you with its tongue/ Where is the madness with which you should be cleansed?It is at this point in Susan's life that she experienced a deep depression that shifted into a psychotic break. She was twenty one years old. Her parents, concerned about her behavior, took her to a psychiatrist who told them she had to be immediately committed. She was transported to a hospital where she was held down, shot full of drugs, and forced to drink liquid Thorazine and Stelazine. Her delusional behavior continued for awhile until she eventually learned to copy "normal" behavior and was allowed to go home where the paranoia and dread lifted and she felt freer than ever before in her life. She says "I needed to learn that I can't always trust my mind, and that thinking can lead me in tight circles farther and farther from my heart." Wow, that is so powerful and it is certainly a match with what I've been discovering over the years about my own thinking mind.
Susan says that whatever took her to this place still tinges some of her mornings with dread. Dread. The moment I hear that word I feel it in my body. I know dread too intimately. I'm suspicious of certain life experiences that originally took me to that deep, dark, foreboding place of dread, where I spent fifteen years of my life, from the ages of approximately twenty to thirty-five, waking up every single morning filled with the overpowering experience of dread. It took me lots of inner work and self forgiveness to release the hold it had on me and when I remember those shackles that I am now free of, I give thanks.
And from Gospel of Saint Thomas:
If you express what is inside you, what is inside you will save you. If you don't express what is inside you, what is inside you can kill you.In chapter nine Susan quotes Hildegard Von Bingen:
We cannot live in a world that is interpreted for us by others. An interpreted world is not a hope. Part of the terror is to take back our own listening. To use our own voice. To see our own light.Susan says "maybe some of us need to dive into the depths of self, no matter how dangerous it seems, to uncover more meaning, passion, expression of soul, and, indeed, more light. We might feel most alive in the presence of what seems most dark within us." She says it helps to "shift perspectives and turn ourselves inside out and upside down." This reminds me of the Hanged Man in tarot and it's also a good descriptor of what I've done in my relationship with Jerry in making the choice to walk the path of polyamory and truth telling. Here's a tarot story (I found it here)about the Hanged Man:
The Fool settles beneath a tree, intent on finding his spiritual self. There he stays for nine days, without eating, barely moving. People pass by him, animals, clouds, the wind, the rain, the stars, sun and moon. On the ninth day, with no conscious thought of why, he climbs a branch and dangles upside down like a child, giving up for a moment, all that he is, wants, knows or cares about. Coins fall from his pockets and as he gazes down on them - seeing them not as money but only as round bits of metal - everything suddenly changes perspective. It is as if he's hanging between the mundane world and the spiritual world, able to see both. It is a dazzling moment, dreamlike yet crystal clear. Connections he never understood before are made, mysteries are revealed.And from Natale Goldberg:
Creativity exists in the present moment. You can't find it anywhere else.