The Yoga Path • Omaha, NE

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{ Practicing Physical, Mental & Spiritual Health }

Missing Happiness

Often in our lives we tend to miss the more splendid moments of life. Often because we feel so good, be don’t know we feel good, that we are happy. In our bodies as well, we miss the many thousands of seconds when we feel, only noticing when we are pain or discomfort that there were so many moments when we didn’t feel like this. I’ve always wondered about this phenomenon. So again it turn to my favorite poet to help articulate this:

So Much Happiness
by Naomi Shihab Nye, from Words under the Words

It is difficult to know what to do with so much happiness.
With sadness there is something to rub against,
a wound to tend with lotion and cloth.
When the world falls in around you, you have pieces to pick up,
something to hold in your hands, like ticket stubs or change.

But happiness floats.
It doesn’t need you to hold it down.
It doesn’t need anything.
Happiness lands on the roof of the next house, singing,
and disappears when it wants to.
You are happy either way.
Even the fact that you once lived in a peaceful tree house
and now live over a quarry of noise and dust
cannot make you unhappy.
Everything has a life of its own,
it too could wake up filled with possibilities
of coffee cake and ripe peaches
,
and love even the floor which needs to be swept,
the soiled linens and scratched records…..

Since there is no place large enough
to contain so much happiness,
you shrug, you raise your hands, and it flows out of you
into everything you touch. You are not responsible.
You take no credit, as the night sky takes no credit
for the moon, but continues to hold it, and share it,
and in that way, be known.

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Filed under: Words of Wisdom

The Song by Naomi Shihab Nye

Here is a poem shared in classes recently. It is by Naomi Shihab Nye an American-born poet of Palestinian descent. It was first shared with me by Mary Paffard, a wonderful yoga teacher, who also share it with us in a yoga class.

The Song

By Naomi Shihab Nye

From somewhere
a calm musical note arrives.
You balance it on your tongue,
a single ripe grape,
till your whole body glistens.
In the space between breaths
you apply it to any wound
and the wound heals.

Soon the nights will lengthen,
you will lean into the year
humming like a saw.
You will fill the lamps with kerosene,
knowing somewhere a line breaks,
a city goes black,
people dig for candles in the bottom drawer.
You will be ready. You will use the song like a match.
It will fill your rooms
opening rooms of its own
so you sing, I did not know
my house was this large.

Filed under: Words of Wisdom

Poem during Savasana

Last week in class I’ve shared a poem as students settled into savasana (corpse pose).  To me the sentiment of the poem captures what keeps us from being at home in our own bodies. How we tend to believe that things somehow ought to be different then they are right now.

The poem it called “Being Human” by Naima of Climbing poeTree. More information about the author can be found at

Climbing poeTree

Being Human by Naima

I wonder if the sun debates the dawn
some mornings
not wanting to rise
out of bed
from under the down-feather horizon

If the sky grows tired
of being everywhere at once
adapting to the mood swings of the weather

If the clouds drift off
trying to hold themselves together
make deals with gravity
to loiter a little longer

I wonder if the rain is scared
of falling
if it has trouble letting go

If snow flakes get sick
of being perfect all the time
each one trying to be one-of-a-kind

I wonder if the stars wish
upon themselves before they die
if they need to teach their young to shine

I wonder if shadows long
to once feel the sun
if they get lost in the shuffle
not knowing where they’re from

I wonder if sunrise and sunset
respect each other
even though they’ve never met

If volcanoes get stressed
If storms have regrets
If compost believes in life after death

I wonder if breath ever thinks
about suicide
I wonder if the wind just wants to sit
still sometimes
and watch the world pass by

If smoke was born knowing how to rise
If rainbows get shy back stage
not sure if their colors match right

I wonder if lightning sets an alarm clock
to know when to crack
I rivers ever stop
and think of turning back

If streams meet the wrong sea
and their whole lives run off-track
I wonder if the snow wants to be black

If the soil thinks she’s too dark
If butterflies want cover their marks
If rocks are self-conscious of their weight
If mountains are insecure of their strength

I wonder if waves get discouraged
crawling up the sand
only to be pulled back again
to where they began

I wonder if land feels stepped upon
If sand feels insignificant
If trees need to question their lovers
to know where they stand

If branches waver in the crossroads
unsure of which way to grow
If the leaves understand they’re replaceable
and still dance when the wind blows

I wonder where the moon goes
when she is hiding
I want to find her there
and watch the ocean
spin from a distance
Listen to her
stir in her sleep

effort give way to existence

Filed under: Words of Wisdom

Practicing in Your Space

KEEPING QUIET  by Pablo Neruda

Now we will count to 12/and we will all keep still For once on the face of the earth,/lets not speak in any language,/lets step for one second,/and not move our arms so much

It would be an exotic moment/,without rush, without engines,/we would all be together/in a sudden strangeness.

Fisherman in the cold sea/would not harm whales/and the man gathering salt/would look at his hurt hands

Those who prepare green wars, /wars with gas, wars with fires,/victories with no survivors,/would put on clean clothes & walk about with their brothers,/In the shade, doing nothing.

What I want should not be confused/ with total inactivity Life is what it is about;/I want no truck with death.

If we werent so single-minded//about keeping our lives moving/and for once could do nothing/perhaps a huge silence/might interrupt this sadness/of never understanding ourselves/and of threatening ourselves with death/perhaps the earth can teach us as when everything seems dead/and later proves to be alive

Filed under: Words of Wisdom

Playful Posture

There is a spark of hope, a playful humor about the posture we take in meditation, which lies in the secret understanding that we all have the buddha nature. So when you assume this posture, you are playfully imitating the buddha, acknowledging and giving real encouragement to the emergence of your own buddha nature. You begin to respect yourself as a potential buddha.

 At the same time, you still recognize your relative condition. But because you have let yourself be inspired by a joyful trust in your own true buddha nature, you can accept you own negative aspects more easily and deal with them more generously and with more humor.

When you meditate, invite yourself to feel the self-esteem, the dignity, and the strong humility of the buddha that you are. If you simply let yourself be inspired by this joyful trust, it is enough. Out of this understanding and confidence, meditation will naturally arise.
                                    Sogyal Rimpoche\Glimpse After Glimpse\September 30th

Filed under: Words of Wisdom

Right View

Recently in classes we’ve been studying the Noble Eightfold Path. For years I’ve been teaching the Eight Limbs of Yoga which periodically I assign to my students to memorize, and for some reason they never seem to do it. It never seems to stick. These eight limbs have been so ingrained into my brain that I can’t figure out why people practicing yoga can’t seem to just grasp the very holistic quality of yoga philosophy.

Then recently I thought, rather than bring clarity to classic Yoga metaphysics, let’s just muck up comprehension and introduce Buddhist concepts in parallel. The two systems share many similarities, they’re both bundled in 8, and after all Buddha was a yogi. The experiment has been ongoing as you read this, but we started with the Right View.

At the base of our views are our perceptions and in many cases perception is illusory. So right away, of course, there was confusion. This lead to  a great deal of discussion about if there is right view, then there must be wrong view and if you have wrong view how can you ever know if you have right view? It was starting to sound like one of those circular argument that you would have in college that could go on all night or until the wine ran out.

So I was looking for an example of how we can be mislead by our perceptions but didn’t have one readily available. Then fortuitously someone sent this link. When you listen to it, notice how you view at the beginning as opposed to the end. Notice how you react and feel; not what you think. Notice the shift of your view.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=42E2fAWM6rA

Filed under: Education, Words of Wisdom

Wake Up, Wake Up

There has been a poem of Rumi’s that I’ve had around for quite awhile. In fact it’s taped on the bathroom mirror to be reflected on every groggy morning. The scotch tape holding just above eye level has grown yellow and cracked with age, but still I read some part of it every morning while trying to mindfully brushing my teeth. Don’t even know where it came from or who did the translation, but it has haunted my personal philosophy since it’s discovery. Whenever anyone asks me “… what’s Yoga” this quote is what I want to give them , but never do because I’m afraid they’ll think me a jester and not Yoga teacher. Nevertheless I hear these lines as something of an anathema to our sleepy lives. If we could just embrace these words, I think people would know why they should want to practice Yoga:

wake up, wake up
this night is gone
wake up

abandon abandon
even your dear self
abandon

there is an idiot
in our market place
selling a precious soul

if you doubt my word
get up this moment
and head to the market now

don’t listen to trickery
don’t listen to the witches
don’t wash blood with blood

first turn yourself upside down
empty yourself like a cup of wine
then fill to the brim with the essence

a voice descending
from the heavens
a healer is coming

if you desire healing
let yourself fall ill
let yourself fall ill

Filed under: Education, Words of Wisdom

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