How do you “hug into” the center of things so that you can then open your heart? As Bridget Lyons reminded many of us last week when she visited Nourish Yoga to teach, these are two concepts that are fundamental to yoga and life. We “hug in” to our mid-line — on a physical plane, we hug our body into the center to create stability and balance. In our lives, we “hug in” around those core beliefs, values, a sense of self that we know to be true or right for us. With this firm center, this central axis, we are able to “melt our heart,” to soften in the center. Again, in yoga, this allows for a freedom and flexibility that allows us to do some new things, explore new asanas that may not have been accessible to us before. On a life level, “melting our heart” opens us to new ways of thinking and being that may be what we need in our lives at this moment. Sometimes, these two actions of “hugging in” and “melting” seem at odds with one another, but they actually complement and support each other — they are somewhat like dance partners in this life journey we take. This little Buddah image is from my friend Suzanne at Living in the Garden. It strikes me as a moment of hugging in around that which is beautiful and precious, so that we can offer our hearts to that which matters. Here’s to seeking out those moments!
Ever have one of those days (or weeks, or months . . . ) those times when it all seems a bit broken beyond repair, or at least breaking up? I was in full tilt of that feeling, when I walked out our door and found this askew angel, wings broken off, after a mighty wind (we have them a lot around here). Later, I was reading the insightful blog of Bridget Lyons, an Anusara yoga teacher in Driggs Idaho, who spoke of the Hindu goddess, Akhilandeshwairi. Her name, translated from the Sanskrit, literally means “the goddess who is never not broken.” Turns out that she rides around on a crocodile, a creature who kills its prey, not by merely clamping down with its mighty jaw, but by thrashing it around until it becomes dizzy to the point of senselessness (and then pulling into the water to drown). Apparently, Akhilandeshwairi is a gal who knows how to ride the tides and storms of life. Her place is one of reminding us that, many times, in some part of our lives or world, that’s the way it is, and the only way through it is . . . well, through it. As Bridget writes: “Akhilandeshwari’s reality is one of fragmentation. She is like a prism, taking in white light and breaking it up into the beautiful color spectrum. In doing so, she creates more beauty – out of the brokenness. We are like Akhilandeshwari, and the ways in which we fragment are unique to each one of us. Our fissures make us who we are.” Sometimes, we need to look a little deeper, to find the beauty that bursts out of those broken places.
So here’s the deal (this just in via CNN). Russian scientists have recently cultivated this beautiful plant from seeds that were deposited in a squirrel burrow over 30,000 years ago [imagine the squirrel from Ice Age here]. Thanks to the permafrost that encased the soil, they were preserved, and scientists were able to extract them. They took “placenta tissue” from the immature seeds, grew that tissue into “mature seeds,” and then planted those seeds in rich soil. The result? These gorgeous, pre-historic flowers.
In both Buddhist and yogic tradition, there is much conversation about “bija,” or seeds. “Bija” are described as those habits, actions, and thought patterns that become habitual. They are said to leave impressions that guide our behavior, not necessarily in helpful ways.
All this makes this curious, spiritually-inclined yogini wonder: What type of bija am I cultivating in my lifestyle, habits, and actions right now? If someone dug up my DNA 300 centuries in the future and grew its essence, what would it look like? Can I live this moment, this life, in a manner that cultivates an inner beauty and awareness that will blossom and bear fruit? Can I find the balance of repose and action that leaves a trace of justice, a hint of something more, long after I’m dust? Knowing that our bija leaves a trace, in ways we cannot possibly foresee, far into the future, how do I mindfully journey through this day?
What have I planted, so far, on this day?
Have I sown the seeds of compassion and kindness for which I long?
Have I been too tired and preoccupied to care?
Have I stopped long enough to listen, so that something of you may be planted within me?
Do I care enough about myself to press loving hands to fertile soil, to knead the clods and open the rich secrets of the earth, so that new life can grow?
Have I loved as I would be loved?
What have I planted, so far, on this day?
And why shouldn’t we be, since it’s learning to love well is what it’s all about, isn’t it? This video is a beauty — a “loving competition” in which we see love lighting up the competitors’ MRI scans. What a great combo of neuroscience and something we can all cultivate! When you need a lift from all of the junk going on in the world, take a moment (okay, 15 of them) and watch this!
P.S. I recommend that, afterwards, you spend a few minutes thinking about love — light things up!
This is a beautiful tribute to a life lived in balance. Maia Helles is 95 years old, a former Russian ballet dancer who lives a yogini life in many ways. Take some time to find balance by watching this 4 1/2 minute video . . . You can spare the time, and it’s beauty for the spirit!