Sunday, July 27, 2014

Tales from the Labyrinth—Beginnings

I’ve always wished for a Labyrinth in my town.  During cancer treatments, I printed one out on paper and would trace my finger along it’s path to remind me that even when moving through the valley of the shadows, I could occasionally glimpse that in the larger view, my suffering was but a small moment.  My Labyrinth tracing, during this time, brought me to the mantra that come what may in life, it's all really Just For Now.  I learned a bit more, to cherish the prosperous heart and keep cleaner-clearer perspectives within some of my greatest challenges.

Simply put a Labyrinth is a metaphor for The Path, the one we all must walk in life, full of twists and turns.  Just when we think we’ve got it down, it throws us a curve and we find ourself headed in an entirely different direction than we had originally planned, or so we think.

Labyrinths are found all over the world.  Many date back over 3500 years.  They offer a guided walk, that will bring up whatever you are holding at bay, helping your ego let go of the need to control everything.  As your feet gently pound left, then right, then left again, the path itself helps you release a sense of feeling entitled to, or immune from life’s blessings. You learn anew the power of Being, just for now on a course greater than your own will.  A great way to find your center, to walk the middle way, to learn to let go and to learn to appreciate greater allowing in life, on a new level.  

When I moved into a new home, closing on the date of February 10th, 2014 (dear Rex’s birthdate, coincidentally), I walked out into the snow of the back yard and traipsed out a circle of where my Labyrinth would be.  Come spring, I was pleasantly surprised to find a tuft of grass, that had grown right at it’s center. 

Come Summer, last full moon to be exact, I lit a fire in the back yard and sat bathed in the warmth of the flames and the cool light of July’s Super Full Moon.  Sitting there, I resolved to begin a very literal Labyrinth journey of my own.  My good friend and former Bishop from church, had recently come, at my request, and dedicated my home.  Over the next few weeks, I contemplated his words as we knelt in my living room and listened to him say that my home was “being set apart as a place of personal revelation”.
I believe it is no mistake  that a Labyrinth resembles a cross-section of a human brain; as using this walking meditation will open up new neural-pathways between your mind, body and spirit.  As it does this, you receive insights that have been just out of your reach.  

In preparation for laying out this path, I have been weeding out old tufts of grass from the soil.  As I turn the soil and pluck and pluck, I cannot help but notice, that they each look like mother nature's little neural synapses. I can feel the benefits mind and body, in the metaphor of plucking out old ways of thinking, inaccurate beliefs about myself, others, or my life approach itself and the gradual change a Labyrinth offers.  Changing inside the circle, as I (and many friends who are joining me), cultivate The Path and create in this, miracles of insight, large and small, for all who will walk it.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Amanda Taylor Her Gifts Acknowleged

Tonight, sleep is not coming so easy, but I believe it will, once I pen a small gesture of gratitude here.  
Amanda Taylor (a dear student of mine, who had just finished her 5-month personal immersion in Bodhi Yoga's 200-hour Teacher Training) was swept off her raft, while riding the Arkansas River in Colorado, this past Saturday.  At the Bodhi Yoga Center, we love and adore her bright spirit so dearly.  As her mentor, I want her tucked safely into bed, before I rest myself.  These are my desires and they would be near unbearable if I had not taken a moment to say thank you this past Tuesday.

You see, Amanda had to miss our last Yoga Teacher Training weekend, to ride another river a few weeks ago.  She called to say she had made each of the lovely women in our group a beaded bracelet.  

I had been so busy our last weekend, that I had not made it to the mailbox.  A few days following our training, I saw the package and opened up to discover, she had not strung several identical bracelets, but each had it's own beadwork, with the bracelet and name of each member of our group designated with a small white name-tag.

 I laid them out on my spice rack and wanted to text her the picture immediately to say thank you.  I could feel the love she put into them and as I ran my fingers over each one.  I could feel that Amanda also needed a well-deserved thank you, but I was immediately distracted by life.  

A day or so later, I got the bracelets down to the center, for each woman to pick up.  I wanted to text her then and let her know.  I wanted to call her and hear her voice and laugh together and catch-up on what she was doing and when we would connect up at Bodhi Yoga again, but then I noticed the time, and with a wisp of overwhelm (at my list of obligations) I went on with my day.

This past Tuesday, when taking a moment to check in on FaceBook, there was a post on my home-feed, from Amanda; a fortune cookie that said:

 "Quality Counts and You've Got It" and I got it, right then.  That fortune was absolutely right.  And I took a moment and commented my thank you to her.  

I took a picture of her lovely beadwork gracing my hand and enjoyed a thread of reconnection.  

She said she couldn't exactly remember the beads she used on mine, but knew they were for my Crown Chakra, Divine Connection.  It felt good to reconnect, to say thank you for such a lovely gift. 

This exchange more than others had pricked my consciousness.  It felt important at the time, I was aware of it and grateful for the opportunity.

No words, however for only a few days following, when I got a text from another student, letting me know about the rafting accident Saturday evening, and the search for her, still ongoing this very night.

When I heard, my concern was for her well-being and for that of her family.  I took a moment, closing my eyes and dropped into to a gently, meditative breath.  Once my mind quieted, I felt a deep and abiding gratitude, that I had taken a moment, that the space opened up, through a fortune cookie message, to say thank-you to her.

With in just a few moments, I felt a wash of gratitude along the left side of my face and heard the words in my head, very clearly from her:  "Everything is SO BEYOND okay." I felt a deep sense of both joy and peace, that surpass my limited understanding of the contexts of this experience and what it means.  I also reflected back to our time together at Bodh Yoga..
During our five months, we learned so much more that just how to do a pose.  We cover much more than simply teaching a class to future students.  We spend a large portion of our time there in sacred sanctuary, learning how to use our lives to walk the yogic path; a path called Bodhi, a Sanskrit word that means:  "The journey through which one experiences enlightenment", a journey through which we become comfortable living with the higher wisdom in things, of acting on what's best within us,  of widening our ability to awaken an awareness and recognition of the universal truth in things.

She was deciding, this past January, whether or not to enroll, but called me at the last minute to joyfully say:  "Syl, I am so excited. I am just going to go for it.  The timing just feels right.  I can't wait until it's more convenient, I know I have to do it now".  
We went deep together.  When it came to the cosmology of the soul, Amanda could not get enough.  When it came to the dynamo poses, she embraced past fears and accomplished yoga asanas, she had never done before.  We both have Rheumatoid Arthritis and I could relate to her personal limitations and what each success meant, body, mind and soul.  Tonight I feel immense comfort in the wisdom that, come what may, she is well-prepared in the practice of process and journey.
She was a pleasure to watch, during our time together there, she was generous and kind and made sure each one of us knew that individually.  She shared willingly the gift of Acknowledgement.   It brings to mind a few lines of one of my favorite poems by David Whyte called "My Daughter Alseep":

May She discover
before she grows
not to choose
so easily
between past
and present
may she find
one or the other
her gifts 

This morning the students attending classes were each generous enough to dedicate our practice to Amanda's well-being.  We each drew two cards from the Chakra Deck, each student held the intention of both cards for her.  Such love, such gratitude.  Each holding the space for a blessing on her Soul, each a blessing on her body.  I find myself holding her with me, in that space this evening:
So tonight, as I drift into a much needed rest, I send a thousand prayers, a thousand kisses on your cheek, and a thousand thank-yous, for each one of your gifts acknowledged, always.  

So tonight, I hold the space for you in the two cards I drew for me and for you this morning:

Asking for our continued prayers on her behalf and for her family.

P.S. Chose to wear my "wildest" yoga pants, in honor of your clear mind and wild heart, dear sister. Om Shanti, Shanti, Shanti