Meditation

Mudras for Strength and Balance

It’s Holiday season, stores are overflowing, people are in a hurry to get all the food items or gifts they want to give to their loved ones. Some simple hand mudras (hand gestures) can help us in stressful situations. During a recent visit to Germany, I attended Satsang (a gathering) with Dechen Thurman at Jivamukti Yoga Berlin. He shared with us some stories about Sir Francis of Assisi, particularly from his book The Little Flowers of St. Francis, and we spent some time sitting in meditation with these two hand gestures, or “Mudras”.IMG_5207

Pran Mudra (Life Mudra)

You can see me holding the stabilizing and calming Pran Mudra. In her book Mudras: Yoga in Your Hands, Gertrud Hirschi says: “The Pran Mudra generally increases vitality, reduces fatigue and nervousness, and improves vision. It is also used against eye diseases. On the mental emotional level, it increases our staying power and assertiveness, healthy self-confidence, gives us the courage to start something new, and the strength to see things through.”

Simply place the tips of thumb, ring finger and little finger together while keeping the other fingers extended. Hold for 5 to 30 Minutes as needed.

Kubera Mudra (Dedicated to Kubera, god of wealth)

Dechen is holding the Kubera Mudra, which will give inner repose, confidence and serenity. It is used to “put more force behind … plans for the future. It always involves goals that people want to reach, or wishes that they would like to have fulfilled.” It can be used when looking for a free parking space, the right gift, or necessary information.
This mudra also decongests the frontal sinuses, which can come in handy during winter time. The tip of your thumb, index and middle finger are placed together, while the other two fingers are bent.

If you are curious, I highly recommend Gertrud Hirschi’s Book Mudras: Yoga in Your Hands. Maybe it’s that Christmas gift, you were looking for…

Love, Uta

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Wednesday Night Meditation supports Childrens Home in Nepal

On Wednesday nights, The OM Home has been hosting a meditation, when travel schedules permit. It’s always free of charge for anyone to come and sit with us. Whoever feels inspired is encouraged to donate a few dollars. Over the last few sits we have been collecting donations for a Children’s home in Nepal. Our friend Yvonne visited the this home during her last visit to Nepal. Here is some information from their website about their cause:

Spark Children Home, established in the year 2008 has been running with the number of 13 children. Majority of the children are victims during civil war and the remaining are the children left by family due to limited household income. These children range from 5-16 years old. These children started living in Spark Children Home when they were around 5-11 years old. They were originally brought up by a person from village. The person was not able to take care of these kids. Hirakaji Maharjan, living in Lalitpur, Nepal took care of these Children by providing home and basic needs. However, in the long term he was financially unable to obtain such relief. Soon, a Nepali non-profit organization was founded and officially recognized the project as a children’s home by the government. Hence, the “Spark Children Home” was born. All children are in school and the oldest are in vocational orientation.

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The OM Home just donated $50 to the home. Join us on Wednesday nights at The OM Home to sit, to practice calming our minds and to do some good for people who are less fortunate than us. Our next donation will support refugees in Germany.

Thank you! Uta & Troy

Road Block (Part 1)

March 27, 2015

As I write this I am sitting at the JFK airport working on hour 36 of trying to catch a standby flight to Europe. The first few hours were smooth, but as time passes the difficulty of sitting and waiting grows. In situations like this the images and ideas of who am I and how I react to situations is challenged. Severely.

For someone who maintains a rigorous daily yoga practice and teaches several groups of students a week this should be easy, right? So much of what I teach my students and learn from my own practice is to cultivate a quiet gentleness in tight situations- “Don’t take it too seriously. It will pass in 5 breaths (300-100 in the Bheemashakti world).” So why is it so difficult to practice this when I’m away from the studio, sitting in a crowded airport?

The truth is that yoga is tough. Forget about binding Marichyasana D. What about keeping cool when all you want is to cash in a friend’s airline benefit and squeeze on an already crowded flight to meet up with your soul mate so you celebrate your 30th birthday in your favorite country (to date), but every single flight is oversold? How many breaths have passed in this last 36 hours? Guaranteed, some of them are going to be shallow, laborious, or even missing. And when my default reaction to life is to run away for a few hours and wiggle my way through some asana, there seems nowhere to run when I’m on the road. Sure I could roll out my mat and take a few Surya Namaskara, but I have a feeling that this isn’t the solution. Especially when I face a 7 hour flight packed in a tight middle row.

When I told Uta I was popping a Xanax yesterday she said, “what about some pranayama and meditation?” Ah yes, of course! But did it happen? No. I tried. Not that hard. But I could barely hear over all of the noisy, chattering thoughts in my head. At this point my adrenals are taxed from the rise and fall of anticipation every time the gate agents are ready to clear standby passengers.

Well last night I made it to New York from San Diego. I believe I am halfway to Germany. In lieu of fighting to wiggle on a flight to London and purchasing a $300 ticket to Frankfurt I decided to spend the night in a cheap New York city hotel and try again today. I certainly felt defeated at first but after some sleep and a nice day in the city I feel quite hopeful. In the time it took me to be beaten down by this whole experience and realize I AM NOT IN CONTROL, I have taken to reading “Loving Ganesh” (how I came across it is another story). In this text about all things related to the full figured elephant deity I felt it was time to abandon my own desires and put it all in His hands.

You see Ganesh resides in the Muladhara (root) chakra, home of all basic wants and desires. As I have learned from many yogic texts, podcasts, lectures, and my time at Vipassana, if we live in our desires, following the ebb and flow of craving and aversion we are taking a surefire route to suffering. After hour 18, suffering seems like a nice word. But is that where I am? Not being able to accept and sit in peace where I am at this very moment? So hey if there’s nothing else I can do but sit and wait, at least I can try to give Ganesh a call and see if He can pull any strings on my behalf.

As the remover of obstacles, Ganesh can also create obstacles to steer a devotee on the right path. So if jumping into a pool of sharks is what you want, Ganesh may crush your dreams and steer you toward a much safer option. And because we do not always understand the looming danger or karmic stirring on the other side of our desires, we can feel absolutely crushed when we are denied or restricted. I’m tired of feeling crushed and beaten. I just want to enjoy this trip so I’m leaving it up Him.

A benefit of spending the night in New York was that I was able to take a field trip to the Jivamukti Yoga School. I decided to take class, have some delicious food and wait until the next flight. After I paid and made may way into the classroom, behold!

Ganesh Ganesh

This could be coincidence but with all the contact I’ve tried to make with my new friend, I feel like I’ve been heard- loud and clear. More interesting was that the class itself was small- 3 students including myself. At first I thought, “wow this teacher must be new or not very good” but as the practice kicked in I realized this is exactly what I needed after being surrounded by cranky irritable people like myself- a refuge and a sanctuary away from all the craziness. And sequence of asana was exactly what I needed to decompress my spine, soften the shoulders and remember how to breathe.

At this point I still don’t know if I will make it onto this flight, but I’ve given Ganesh the keys and asked him to drive. Whatever happens I know that at least I am safe, have access to food, water, and a bathroom. And with a little faith and determination I look to the One-Tusked Wonder to pave a golden path to wherever it is that I am headed.

Steady Rhythm, Deep Roots

Along the path of yoga there comes a time for many of us when it seems like life’s patterning just doesn’t fit our practice. There are many excuses we can make about why we can’t sit in meditation, why we can’t fit in an hour of asana, how there just isn’t enough time in the day, especially through The Holidays and New Year. With so many distractions happening in daily life and so many desires we wish to fulfill, it is not a surprise that the yoga practice can suffer.

Fortunately, this not a modern dilemma. The ancient sages knew that the Yoga Road was rocky and mapped it out for us. Patanjali’s yoga sutras outlines nine distinct distractions that become obstacles as one journeys further down the path of yoga:

1.30 Nine kinds of distractions come that are obstacles naturally encountered on the path, and are physical illness, tendency of the mind to not work efficiently, doubt or indecision, lack of attention to pursuing the means of samadhi, laziness in mind and body, failure to regulate the desire for worldly objects, incorrect assumptions or thinking, failing to attain stages of the practice, and instability in maintaining a level of practice once attained. (Swami J)
(vyadhi styana samshaya pramada alasya avirati bhranti-darshana alabdha-bhumikatva anavasthitatva chitta vikshepa te antarayah)”

Fortunately there is a solution that has been prescribed by Patanjali to overcome these obstacles and it, in essence, is quite simple:

1.32 To prevent or deal with these nine obstacles and their four consequences, the recommendation is to make the mind one-pointed, training it how to focus on a single principle or object. (Swami J.)
(tat pratisedha artham eka tattva abhyasah)”

Although the solution to overcoming these obstacles is simple, that doesn’t necessarily make it easy. As we know, the mind is quite strong in its resistance to becoming still but the path of yoga is equipped with many tools that enable us to work through this even if just for a few breaths. In fact many spiritual and religious practices work in just this way- japa mala, rosary prayer, sigils, meditation, vision boards, etc- The key to all of this being the repeated attention to a single point. This is perhaps why so many of these traditions have renunciates (monks, nuns, sadhus, and so forth), spiritual aspirants who give up the motions of the mundane world to pursue their spiritual awakening.

So how can I practice this repeated single pointed attention to firmly establish a strong yoga practice as a house holder, someone who is fully immersed in the throes of the modern world? One option is Renunciation in the form of a retreat.

By taking an extended period of time away from home, beyond the scope of daily ritual we have an opportunity to replace our habits and excuses with disciplined practice. Think about it, with 24 hours in a day, away from the distractions of work, home responsibilities, socializing, there turns out to be plenty of time to dedicate to practice. And under the correct guidance, the retreat can be a great opportunity to feel the effects of a rooted yoga practice develop. That doesn’t necessarily mean that by the end of the week we will have developed great universal knowledge. But if for just a moment you feel what it is to step into a rhythm of Sadhana, the roots of sustained practice begin to grow.

Bheemashakti Yoga Kauai 2015 retreat.

Bheemashakti Yoga Kauai 2015 retreat.

At the Bheemashakti Yoga 2015 Kauai Retreat we will take 8 days and 7 nights to focus on twice daily practice as taught by my teacher Jonathan Patriarca. The morning will be marked by one hour of Ashtanga Pranayama and meditation followed by two hours of Dimensional Practice. After a plant based macrobiotic breakfast there will be time for contemplation, relaxation and exploration. The afternoon will begin our second session of Pranayama and Meditation accented by Asana Practice. Another plant based dinner will conclude the activities for the day. This sequence of practice has been designed to prepare the student to develop a deeper understanding of their yoga practice through repetition. As Jonathan would say “you can have an experience,” which he believed to be the strongest form of wisdom.

Through this spring time ritual you can plant seeds of inspired consistency to firmly ground your practice. Develop a deep rooted ceremony for yourself and grow strong in your pursuits of Self discovery.

Check out the details here: www.bheemashakti.org

See you there, Troy

Uta 5.0 released

 

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California Vipassana Center North Fork

Some bugs are fixed, processor upgraded, memory improved. I have just come out with an upgrade. Over the last ten days I spent most of my waking hours in a dark cell just about the size of a yoga mat, practicing meditation. Some of my friends call me crazy and wonder why I do it. This was my fifth course over the last two years and I have observed a big change in my life since I started practicing Vipassana. Although I have always been of a calm nature, I feel even calmer, less reactive, more at peace. Every day. After each course, I feel like I have shed tons of baggage that I didn’t even know I was carrying. Everything becomes clearer. The mind is more focused and works at 200 percent.

The fact that there is no communication with anyone, no contact to the outside world, no reading, no phones, meditation from 4:30 am to 9 pm and no meals after noon make most people believe, they could not do it. But these rules are set up to aid the concentration and are actually easy to follow, compared to the internal work one does. Our mind is a beast and it takes tremendous effort to tame it. In a way, the courses are like bootcamp for the mind. An effort, to tame the beast. Want to know more, where to do it, how to prepare? Send me an email to info@theomhome.com or comment below.

North Fork Pagoda

Pagoda with meditation cells

Love, Uta