If you believe yoga is a physical discipline, I’ll play mystic from the East and counter, yoga is not matter, its mind. If you were to say, “Yoga is a confusing philosophy,” I’ll rebut, its focus is the empirical (diet and bodily health). If one maintains yoga is found in the experience of asana, I’ll point to the crown chakra and our intimate participation with the cosmic Self. If someone says, “Yoga is spirituality,” I’ll ask, what do you mean? If a yogi tells me, “Yoga is a path to heightened consciousness,” I’ll say, okay, but to what end?… read more...
With the inhale, exhale, and hold, I’m moved to completeness. I learn that my place, my contentment, is anchored in the link that is welded into me by yoga. These simple moves are a stunning antidote for worry. They have become my spiritual DNA, lodging in my soul and energizing my spine.
I fasten to this deep core with breath and meditation pioneered by music and time. I embody asana and rejoice in a glimpse of the periphery turned central, a new identity refined by fusion of the particular and the universal. Moment by single moment, I inhabit a contentment and know we are all a beautiful crush of salt and pepper.… read more...
Sandpaper reshapes and refines wood by friction and pressure; and when rubbing sandpaper over wood, one sees fine particles fall away and the sandpaper gets hot to the touch. This is how asana and pranayama work together to kindle an inner fire by movement and pressure.… read more...
Thank you to Asana International Yoga Journal for publishing this 56th Yoga Inspirational.… read more...
MUSIC from an Internet radio station plays in the background. Tablas and harmonium weave a soft melody. Sometimes a flute or sitar joins the song, and it pours over me like waves from the Pacific. It’s compelling to my ear. I try to concentrate on my pose, but sometimes I wander and follow the music.
I follow the sound, slow my heartbeat and ground my awareness. I’m still in class, but I imagine diving below and swimming deep. I listen closely and believe I hear the octopus changing colors. I open my eyes and breathe sound of the room.
In the tapas of my practice and its link to my muscle and sinew, a moment turns into a hour and my tribute to those who have gone before. An epic prayer from ancestors is on my lips.
Music stills me and I stay in the room until I hear my teacher give her blessing.. Her soft voice heaps a lavish blessing upon the gathered yogis which we accept and hold, “May your practice bring strength to your bodies, clarity to your minds, kindness and compassion to your hearts.”
I take this and know that I have been brought around and past my edges. I will go into the world with slightly less border and boundary, inhabiting a conscience of wider circles and deeper draws of inclusion
I realize this reshaping is the nexus of my identity, the ring of fire connecting my courage and passion. I have been showered in wholeness and connected by the strength, clarity, kindness, and compassion of the words that take me to the heart center.… read more...
Recently, I rode my Harley-Davidson to an outdoor festival. For these events, the parking lot is often a large field with hidden land mines for bikes. Waiting in line to park, I watched people march toward the festival’s front gate from their cars after parking a long ways away. They walked slowly, heads hanging, shuffling their feet through Arizona dust and brown grass.
But when I turned my bike toward the parking lot, the festival’s parking security stopped me and said, “Why don’t you park over there next to the Hummer.” I took an immediate sharp left and found my place right next to the front gate. For bikers, this kind of thing happens a lot.
I parked my bike, walked over the security guard and said, Thanks brother. I appreciate it.
“No problem,” he said. “I’ve got you over there by my Hummer. I’ll keep an eye on it for ya. No need to park out there and get your bike all scratched up.”
Damn straight. Thanks again, I said, and walked across the street to the festivals entry gates.
Many of us have this experience. Hotel desk clerks will suggest we park our bikes up front under the lights so they can keep an eye on them. As riders, we like “Motorcycle Only” parking signs and they’re often in a good location. And while Harley-Davidson is in negotiation with the Milwaukee Brewers over an expired contract, the Milwaukee motorcycle manufacturer used to have a special Harley-Davidson seating section in Miller Park’s left field. The game ticket included a buffet, two-beers, and – of course – parking for bikes in the front row.… read more...
Published by Yogi Times, April 2017, as “9 Ways To Return Yoga’s Gift”
Yoga gives each of us more than we can repay. It’s the reason we continue our practice and make it a long-term life discipline. Yoga creates new space and provides the impetus for us to search for our true self. It has our backs and has fixed our spines.
Yoga balances our perceptions and teaches us to look to the horizon even when we resist and find it would be easier to look down and fall flat upon the mark of our diminished vision.
Yoga levels our judgments to a place of calm detachment; but also fills us with courage to say and do the right thing (on and off the mat) as often as we can. Yoga moves us to meet, greet, and bow to worlds upon worlds, and that is why those of us practicing yearn to find our limits, breathe deep to fully inherit the spiritual science of health, and release everything into the realm of OHM.
What do you give to yoga?
Every yogi answers in their own way, but here’s one yogis answer:
I give my pain.
Perhaps it’s a surprising answer, and this is open to misinterpretation. But yes, I give yoga pain. I know the pain I need to release, and I know from experience that yoga will keep teaching me how to release it. It’s a pain I hold in my being, in my body, and it’s the pain I hold for the world.
I give my love for family and friends.… read more...
TURN CORNERS, that’s what motorcyclist’s do. And they do it with style.
In our rider training and teaching, we learn the importance of cornering with skill. It takes more than simply turning the handlebar or figuring how much to lean or not lean into the curve. Cornering well as a cyclist is a potential life saving skill, and life saving skills happen with both technique and practice.
The uninitiated might think, for example, that slowing down to take a corner is important, but when a rider needs to get the most out of their tire traction it’s good if they are accelerating through the turn. Accelerating through the turn forces the full weight of the motorcycle down onto the tires which in turn make better contact with the pavement.
It’s a simple insight really, an important training tip. Sometimes on the road I see riders tend to forget the basics, approaching a turn too fast and then – suddenly realizing they carry too much speed into the curve – have to brake while turning rather than accelerate through the turn. Usually, it’s not a big deal, but it could be.
A rider’s correction only requires a little foresight, but it could be a life saver. As a cyclist, it’s good to remind ourselves that we’re on two wheels which requires twice the thinking, planning, skill and awareness of those on four wheels.
Port Yonder Press / Eastern Iowa University will be publishing its third volume of lyric essays this summer. Work by two writers is now online, including my essay, “Midwest Intimations.” The other essay online, link included is, “You Will Have a Son,” by Cindy Lamothe, an expat living in Antigua. Thank you Port Yonder Press.
|Eastern Iowa Review|
Let me pry loose old walls.
Let me lift and loosen old foundations.
Beat me and hammer me into a steel spike.
Drive me into the girders that hold a skyscraper together.
Take red-hot rivets and fasten me into the central girders.
Let me be the great nail holding a skyscraper through the blue nights
into white stars.
–Carl Sandburg, 1918
The American Midwest is a great nail in my body. Its rusty gestalt formed me, and my heart pumps iron history through my arteries and veins. The Midwest broke me and made me strong. It formed my hard-edged will and chastised me with ice.
I’ve lived in Hawaii, Ohio, Michigan, Minnesota, and Washington. I’ve traveled to 43 of the Continental United States and motored through Spain, Korea, India, Argentina, Haiti, Germany, England, and Mexico. I’ve rubbed elbows with people in the sovereign nations. Their names drip from my tongue: Navajo, Potawatomi, Lakota, Menominee, and Ojibwa.
I’ve embraced Midwest geography; most of it is not beautiful, however, some sites rival the rugged, purple Andes of Northwest Argentina, the coast of Barcelona, and the tumbling waterfalls hidden deep in Molokai’s rainforests.
The friendliest people don’t live in the Midwest, except once in a while we are the friendliest.… read more...
Thank you to Asana Journal for publishing my 50th Yoga Inspirational, “Enter the Master, Enter the Child.”
Comment if you’d like. I always appreciate hearing feedback from you.
Greg, author at gregoryormson.com, @GAOrmson
Profiles: Tumblr StumblOn, Pinterest, Reddit, Discuss, Diigo, Xing, Asana Journal, DoYouYoga.com, elephant journal, Yogi Times, Yoga International, HelloYoga.com, The Health Orange, Tribegrow.com (April 2016),TheYogaBlog, Medium.com… read more...
From Greg Ormson, now living in Apache Junction, Arizona. Excerpt from my nonfiction piece, “Drums: Voice of Wooing”
When Colt 4 broke up, I joined a second band. We were disorganized and talentless, but our singer had access to his grandmother’s remote cabin in the woods. After high school basketball games, our classmates trudged through the woods with plans to party.
They grabbed drinks from the snow and stepped inside. The freezing cabin warmed, and as ice melted from boots, some classmates danced in stocking hats and sweaters. Pounding drums, I heated up and removed layers down to my T-shirt. Steam rose from my sweaty back, and I kept an eye on my Buckhorn Beer, watching golden liquid thaw and bubble up from the brown bottle then dripping down the sides onto the wood-burning stove. The loud hiiiisssssss of steaming beer meant the party was on.
And when the cabin started rocking on its pine log foundations, I worried that we’d tip it over and slide downhill like a wayward toboggan into the river. I imagined a headline on Saturday’s front page of The Eau Claire Leader Telegram, “20 Menomonie High School Seniors drown in the Red Cedar River.”
I’d apologize to my bandmates today, and I would tell them it wasn’t their fault I was a boiling volcano. I lived to smash cymbal and snare. Their loud retorts distracted me from self-recrimination. Secretly, I prepped to burn-down my house or any house. I didn’t have a match. I did have a conscience, and it kept me from turning everything into lava.… read more...
YogaInspirational number 48. Asana Journal, Nov. 2016
Article at: www.asanajournal.com/?s=Finding+your+depth/
HOW TO CONNECT WHEN TEACHING YOGA OR ANYTHING ELSE
I love yoga, but I’m not a yoga teacher. Because of my published writing though, some people have asked me for advice, or if they should start yoga for a physical problem. I’m not qualified to give specific advice, but I tell them, Hell yes, start yoga, and I willingly share what yoga has done for me.
But I’ve learned a few things from a teaching career in higher education that spanned 26-years and four states: Wisconsin, Michigan, Hawaii, and Ohio. I’ve taught speech, writing, employment skills, English, film study, best sellers, sociology, philosophy, theology, motorcycle rider certification, and I coached youth soccer.
But this is not about me, it’s about you. This is the single best idea I’ve learned from all my teaching, presenting, giving instructions, listening to speeches, and leadership of a classrooms, meetings, or a faculty union; it’s not about me . . . ever. The working title for my speech book, currently in the hands of my agent, comes out of this learning and is the core out of which I operate. It’s called, It’s Not About You.
This is one of the hardest lessons for teachers, because while teachers are usually responsible adults, they can take upon themselves more responsibility than required. Yes, teachers are responsible for presenting content, but they are not responsible for learning, and neither are they central in the learning contract.
This is a hard lesson for teachers to hear because it requires putting the ego aside. Teachers, it’s not about you.… read more...
My daughters are nasty women. And I’m proud of them.
Nasty, as an attribute, is not the same as mean behavior. They’re not mean, but if you cross them, they will kick your ass and remove your name from their house of goodwill.
They’d prefer you not be a jackass or a gossiping pile of dung. These women, in their 20’s, are not weak. They’ll “tell-off” rude taxi drivers and they’re good with pepper spray. Nastiness does not preclude occasional vulnerability or weakness, but that’s not their normal state.
For the record, here’s what I know about nasty women: they’re intelligent and acute critics of life and society; they’re people of strength and tenderness, capable of simultaneously holding antitheses strongly marked. Both of them can run for miles, lift weights or sew the most delicate stitch into pattern or time. They easily identify bear scat in the woods and can haul and stack wood for hours. When they put their minds to a goal, they will work to the bone to achieve it
They’re kind and grounded, capable of measured judgment and unending forgiveness. These women are nasty – I guess.
Go for it if you want to label them.
I’m their pop and I admire and love them. I’m impressed as they stand on their own and exert their strong will day after day in the struggle. I praise their rejection of over-responsibility, saying no to taking care of more than necessary. They do not coddle or cotton to the patriarchal curse of holding their tongue, and though it’s hard, they refuse to let the economic meat grinder chew them up.… read more...
THE STORY OF HOW YOGA BROUGHT MY SOUL BACK
After a day moving to Hawaii and into a new apartment, I was on a hard wooden floor in pain. This led me to yoga in an attempt to fix my back. It was out of desperation, yet a few weeks later I found myself in a hot yogaroom. With no formal background — and very little knowledge of yoga — I went to a class searching for something to make me strong in my broken places. I hoped I wouldn’t collapse, but was also confident about the challenge before me. With no preparation or personal experience, I jumped in.
My plan was to try yoga for thirty days. Then, I would evaluate how my back felt and decide if I should continue. I made it through twenty-four classes that month and found my will galvanized. My conclusion was clear: Yoga is the way to go for healing back pain. “It’s so simple,” I wrote, “why don’t more people do it?” Yoga worked, but the transformation goes deeper.
Writing and Yoga
I decided to keep attending and keep writing about it because I thought my practice in a heated room would benefit me in other ways too, and I was eager to discover them. But notes about yoga were not my only subject. I started writing on everything that came to me during that beautiful hour: I numbered the sessions, made notes about the teachers, chronicled my thoughts about the class and penned other insights.
Twenty-three years after starting a Men’s Group in Marquette, Michigan with John MacDevitt and Jeff Gibbs, I found them still meeting. Here’s the story, published Aug. 29, 2016 in The Good Men Project.
Follow link below to story.
Thank you TGMP… read more...
Decompression in a short video. https://goo.gl/photos/pdBb7KKt2JtGT268A
It’s been called The Old Style Place for 42-years, four months. I like to call it Oz. But at this Oz, there is no wizard behind the curtain. Not one is capable of changing the weather or bringing dreams to fruition.
Here, it is still. It is quiet. One is left alone in the heavy gravity of time and its discontents.I keep coming back to Oz for those rare moments when the jagged edges of my psyche melt into the infinite now. A breath in and a breath out in gratitude is the best that I am.
I live for this one breath, and revel in the harmony of one biosphere and one ecosphere, where each waving branch is a small sun and its wild music is mine.
My Purpose? That’s simple.
This fluid journey called yoga – four years in the making – continues its remaking over me.
My practice takes place in the heated mist of a hot yoga room. It’s a practice of eustress and relaxation which morphs into a luminous cloud, salty and damp.
I am connected to you through drops of sweat.
Your asana is my asana, your bending and shaping is my bending and shaping.
To return again and be in that dusty – but it’s not really dust – cloud becomes the road-map for traveling outward as breath moves to sweet release.
My longing is your longing, my travel is your travel.
I’m dragonfly, now rabbit, then camel, now fish – now myself.
Then I evolve once again, going back and yet forward at the same time to child in his innocent repose.
Your evolving is my evolving: we go back to child.
“The way in is the way out,” my guru said
Her wisdom, “the way in is the way out” comes to me from her bloodline far to the east, from a practice that bent and molded her matter-mind, from evidence etched into the soles of her feet. Tucked in like a child, she steps back and forth over the soles of my feet and east meets west.
Moved to low places like water, propelled by gravity, heating, bending, and shaping, I’m an ongoing story of learning. My teachers are ancient yoga reformers.
My reformation is your reformation, my learning is your learning.… read more...
I looked around the yoga room and saw heroes. Heroes were bent and folded into all shapes and sizes and represented all nations. Each of them took on a unique shape just as yoga does in its expressions around the world. And while yoga has been around for a long time, it’s still new to many.
Both the formation of heroes and answers to questions about yoga are in the early stages, and this ongoing face-lift is confusing to many. The bookstore I visit, with approximately 50-thousand books, demonstrated this by recently moving their yoga collection. Yoga books had been shelved in the section on metaphysics and spirituality; now they lean against books about anatomy, exercise, and weightlifting.
For everyone – even librarians – it’s convenient to have a system of categorization. Librarians excel at categorizing, but I think yoga’s place on the shelves might be unclear to them. I have a vision of librarians questioning where to put the yoga books. I imagine them debating its classification: is yoga an esoteric and aesthetic spiritual discipline, an exercise science, a blended religion, or something else?
To continue reading follow link to Asana Journal. http://www.asanajournal.com/making-heroes/… read more...
Thanks Asana Journal 5/31/16
I’m sympathetic to the plight of immigrants. They’ve been in the news a lot lately, and many of us have watched their difficult journeys on television. Like others, I’ve noticed their sunken eyes, their thin frames, the wrinkles on their brow. They’re tired and don’t have energy to smile for the camera. Many of them are suffering post traumatic stress and face an immediate future without a home or homeland.
None of the immigrants had asked to be displaced, and I doubt if anyone looks forward to dangerous journeys over stormy seas or hostile lands. Yet in the midst of their shock and loss, I’ve observed the immigrants express thanks for the basics of food and water. Their dreams for more freedom and better social standing are beyond their immediate concerns, and some only hope to simply survive another day.
READ MORE: www.asanajournal.com/the-immigrant-asana/… read more...
Click on link below to read full article in Asana Journal.
#YogaInspirationals no. 35
“My only duty was to describe reality as it came to me – and to give the mundane its beautiful due.”… read more...
From Mourid Baghouti, I Saw Rammalah, p. 132
STORAGE WARS AND YOGA’S EMOTIONAL RESCUE
A reality TV show on the Arts and Entertainment channel is called, “Storage Wars.” In it, a group of bidders look for five minutes at the contents of abandoned and locked storage units, but they can’t go into them. After competitive bidding, the winner is declared the owner of everything in that locker. They rush in with great hope and begin looking through boxes, drawers, and accumulated piles of mishmash.
Sometimes they find valuable coins or artwork, antique toys, or newspapers; however, their newly-bought pile could be old tee-shirts, magazines, or dirty linens and parking tickets, vestiges of life in transit. More often than finding gold, the winning bidder digs up a clutter of left over’s from a human pack-rat.
Storage Wars is popular because it’s a modern day version of the mother-lode gold strike. And in rare cases, the winning bidders of Storage Wars make hundreds of thousands in profit. One discovered Spanish gold coins dating back to the 16th Century valued at half a million dollars, another winner found a model grand piano, and a third uncovered classic toys worth nearly $13 thousand.
CONTINUED IN ASANA JOURNAL. http://www.asanajournal.com/storage-wars-and-yogas-emotional-rescue/
Five days ago, I went to a drum circle attended by about 50 people. It brought me back to my essay in progress.
Drumming takes place through the night until a last tired thumper wanders away in the fog of exhaustion. Their fully-charged reptilian brain shifts to the goal of finding their tent. Some can’t walk away, so they fall asleep on the ground near the fire as the sun rises, lighting up the dawn as shadows drop down from the tree tops.
Taking a path through the woods and away from the drum fire is not new, but our caves are. Tents of orange, green and blue cover the grounds. In the dark, glowing candles from within make them look like Japanese prayer lanterns lit in remembrance of ancestors.
These drummers demonstrate what the new physics teaches: We are all connected. In the drum circle, there is something mystical and unintelligible to senses, but the drummers understand and speak the language of time. They know this language. They’ve learned it by listening.
Listening, according to some experts, is the “most often used but least often practiced communication skill.” But something happens when listening to drums that is more than the sum total of communication. In his fine novel of India, Return to the Source, Lanza Del Vasto once wrote:
“The finest and most complete instrument they have is the drum. It is the voice of all speech, the Aum of all hymns, the foundation of all music. The drum is the bond between the musician’s voice and his body, between his body and the music to which it gives the earthly consistency of the steps it raises.”… read more...
Ever wonder what really happens in drinking communities. Here’s my take in a full article published 2/24/16 by The Good Men Project
Thank you to The Good Men Project.… read more...
DAY 17. Everything Changes: A Yoga Parable
The people were fueled by energy drinks, but ripe with anxiety and unexamined ambition. The land was drunk on money and the illusion of freedom fired their imaginations. The eight limbs twisted in the wind of post-modernism and creative chaos.
In time, yoga prospered and many realized the teachers brought good medicine. It seemed to help prisoners, alcoholics, those suffering pain, and even angry youth. But some feared its power – especially its counsel to sit alone in silence.
In the counsel of quiet, someone passed a message about movement’s medicine and whispered that diversity is a source for creativity and road to enlightenment. A vision came forth of illusions in misdirected ambition, in Theodrama, and in the construction of culture and its false prophecies of comfort through technology and convenience.
* * *
Then someone at the ashram read a passage from Shelly, and a guru wept:
Life, like a dome of many-colored glass
Stains the white radiance of eternity.
The gurus didn’t understand what had happened, and while nobody claimed credit, people awoke to radiance within. Westlanders didn’t want gurus. They didn’t read books. But they went to their mats and a world opened like the many petals of the lotus in a soft rain, and a light from the crown of their heads went out to eternity.
Every happening great and small
Is a parable whereby God speaks to us
And the art of life is to get the message.
–Malcolm Muggeridge… read more...
Asana Back to the Innocent Age
On an overcast February day, my move toward balasana (child’s pose) began easily enough; “breathe into your truth, breathe into your center,” my teacher said.
The words moved me like someone taking my hands and gently walking me backward into a calm refreshing lake. I would have welcomed this after a slow and voggy day; I mean a day full of vog – volcanic gas cloud residue – suffocating everyone within miles of my writing desk. Things just weren’t happening. I blamed the vog.
Like anyone, I’m involved in making a living and positioning myself for security. I hope for happiness and peace for myself and my extended family. And like others, I want to register my mark in the world and hope my contributions help move the human family in a compassionate direction. I’ve had a good education and learned my civics lessons, so I also embrace my role in helping to alleviate suffering of those less fortunate than myself.
In my best efforts to make a mark in the short time I have to walk the Earth, I’m required to sift through ever-increasing complex data and stimuli that comes to me through my senses. Like all yogi’s living in a material world, I’m obliged to select what I’ll take-in or reject based on my priorities and values.
HARD CHOICES IN AN INTERCONNECTED WORLD
A yogi’s awareness of the world’s interconnectedness leaves him/her with sometimes agonizing choices over what course of action is least-harmful. One approach to this post-modern dilemma is to adopt the ethical creed of non-malificence, or do no harm, a part of the Hippocratic Oath.… read more...
On Feb. 3, 2014 my first yoga article was published in TheYogaBlog. Now, nearly two years to the day, the 30th is published in Asana Journal. Thanks for reading folks, and please pass these on.
You may not do yoga, but perhaps someone you know does or maybe someone you know is thinking about it. Right now my literary agent, Elizabeth Kracht, has my full yoga book and will be shopping it soon to publishers.
New Years’ Resolutions shot to hell? Pfffuf… so what.
Yoga time means a reductive mathematic, a Gandhian core and a shamanistic strategy.
That may mean taking a moment to swing through the trees.
From Yoga International #YogaInspirationals
In my twenties, I was the leader of an eight-member music group that toured through India for four months. Landing in Bombay, we took the rail south to Trivandrum, where the Indian Ocean, Bay of Bengal, and Arabian Sea merge. Going north through Andhra, Madhya, and Uttar states, we passed through Agra and ended the tour in New Delhi. It was my first international trip and I felt challenged by new customs, food, language, and climate. To a student fresh out of college, India was a new and vibrant world I did not understand.
Walking out of church one Easter Sunday, I saw an elderly man sitting on the church lawn near a busy sidewalk. He was practicing garurasana, eagle pose. Most people filed right past him as if he were invisible. I stared, and I thought he looked uncomfortable. That experience was 35 years before I began practicing yoga, and I had no idea what he was doing.
After leaving Delhi, my transition back to the U.S. was rapid, and I felt strangely affected by my travels. I seemed to be seeing things differently. When I went into stores, I found myself looking for things to which I’d grown accustomed in India, such as the blue-faced representation of Krishna adorning wall calendars.
The silence, typical of small town country living, was odd after I’d grown used to the shrieking sound of bus horns. In my music room, I replicated that dissonant and jarring pitch by simultaneously plucking my guitar’s E string on the eighth fret and the G string on the eleventh fret.… read more...
Allen Keith Ormson
Uncle Al (Allen) graduated from Barron High School in 1957, and then went to college at The University of Wisconsin, River Falls, where he earned a bachelor’s degree graduating in 1963.
Like many boys growing up with brothers, my father Dean, and his brothers Al and Duane engaged in sibling rivalry. At family gatherings, I heard stories about the time Uncle Al climbed up into the garage rafters, and by the use of secret sauce or brotherly incantation, lured my pops into the garage.
As my father walked underneath, Al dropped darts onto his head. Dad’s revenge was to put nasty stuff in Al’s chocolate milk. These are Wisconsin small-town stories that cement family bonds and create mythologies on whose reverberations family-members ride into the future. My pop and Al became close in later years, something that often happens when siblings grasp the depth of blood and jettison youthful rivalries.
In later years, inflated memories of Canadian fish stories and fantastic recitals of success in conquering Wisconsin buck fever took on Gaudian forms; and while uncle and pop were men of flesh, their noses grew longer at each telling.
Uncle began his career as a teacher, eventually earning his master’s degree from Winona State University and serving as superintendent of schools for 27 years in Rusk and Polk counties. But Al is memorable to me for his great success as a basketball coach. He took the small school Durand Panthers to the Wisconsin State (WIAA) basketball tournament finals twice during his coaching career, before the days when schools competed in separate divisions based on enrollment.… read more...
From Michael Wiegers, editor in chief of Copper Canyon Press in Nov/Dec 2015 issue of Poets and Writers.
“On one hand, I don’t directly subscribe to a poetry that “does” something – but at the same time I believe in its power to do something. I don’t think that art or poetry needs to set out to change the world but I think that it can change the world and make us more compassionate, more just, more aware.”
WRITE. Revise, annotate, put it down, parenthesize (it). Change the script, compose a new song, jot a saga, create a path, follow the crumbs, depict a vision.
TRACE the arc, endorse the light, follow energy, create curiosity, register my stamp, Trust the way . . .
Chart a course, chronicle a title, engrave my name, be true.
AUTOGRAPH my correspondence, draw up, reveal and dream. Deliver my rap, savage the critic, curse the blow-hard, kill the perfectionist, punch – u – ate the negative.
CHERISH my cloud, enroll my allies, extract all good, bless my colleagues, publish my creed.
REMEMBER, advocate, strip away adiophora, exalt all heroes and discern.
CHOOSE to do, walk in sure steps, choose to be, hold my own. Honor each word, aim for truths, love creation, write the project, accept what appears. Wait.
Perhaps you’ve watched the A&E Network’s show, Storage Wars. In it, a group of people look for five minutes at the contents of a storage unit from its periphery, but cannot enter the unit. Then they bid to own the unexamined contents inside. The winner is the highest bidder, and his/her reward is ownership of everything in that unit.
The highest bidder might find valuable coins or artwork, antique toys or newspapers. In rare cases, they find instruments. However their newly-bought storage unit could be filled with dirty tee-shirts accompanied by soiled linens and parking tickets, vestiges of life in transit. More often than finding gold, the winning bidder finds the clutter of unresolved issues and remnant droppings of a human pack-rat.
The show is popular because it’s a modern day version of a mother-lode gold strike. In a few cases, bidders have made hundreds of thousands in profit. One bidder discovered Spanish gold coins, some dating back to the 16th Century, valued at half a million dollars. Another winner found a model grand piano and a third stumbled into classic toys worth nearly $13 thousand.
In our yoga bodywork, it’s not long before we are like most of those treasure seekers who run smack dab into unwanted leftovers and are faced with cleanup. It’s widely understood in our yoga communities that our bodies are storage units of past traumas. This includes mental and psychological trauma along with physical injuries.
Dr. David Berceli describes his work treating “deep chronic tension created in the body during a traumatic experience or that has accumulated from prolonged stress.” His therapy to clean up the human body’s storage unit is called TRE, Tension and Trauma Releasing Exercises. … read more...
It’s odd to think of yoga and freediving as complementary activities, for it’s accurate to identify yoga as bodily movement led by breathing and freediving as bodily movement while breath-holding. Yet yoga practice can help improve freediving by expanding lung capacity and improving tissue flexibility; and lessons learned beneath while moving under pressure can improve yoga practice.
Living in Hawaii provides me with the opportunity to practice both yoga and freediving as often as I like. These activities are intimately related and both connect to the same core principle: breath work.
But the subject is important to anyone taking 20 to 30 thousand breaths a day, and that’s a big group, including everyone living.
But since practicing yoga, I’ve noticed a big improvement in my ability to hold my breath while diving. In yoga, I do breath-work to make yoga practice satisfying and my dives into the Pacific extraordinary.
It’s not so much the depth to which I can go in either the asana or the dive, but the satisfaction of getting the most from my potential as a diver, a yogi, and a breathing and grateful sentient being.
Growing up in the Midwest, I never dreamed that someday I’d be freediving in the ocean and swimming next to sharks, dolphins or rays. But it’s happened. Neither would I have thought that one day I’d be bending like the palm trees outside the yoga studio, experiencing the depths to which yoga would take me. But that happened too.
BREATH, YOGA’S FOCUS
Anyone stepping into a yoga class learns immediately that the first action focuses on breathing.… read more...
Think of standing on your mat in class holding Mountain Pose, and that your mat is the entire focus of your attention. In your mind, shift your awareness to the place where the soles of your feet make contact with your mat and pretend as if that place is all that exists. Your entire world is made up of the space that forms two outlines on the bottom of your feet. This is what Gestalt calls the “figure,” and everything else – except that one patch where your two feet make contact – is the background/landscape of perception and awareness.
My yoga class sometimes reminds me of lectures in Gestalt psychology when my professor spoke about making contact; and with that heightened contact, the impact of fully digesting food and digesting experience. His inference was that one can digest both life and food when one takes time for focus on the figure of awareness.
Recently, while absent-mindedly walking barefoot on a wood floor, I reached for something and felt a little off balance. Immediately, I was aware of a strong corrective to my imbalance, but it wasn’t coming from my brain, it was coming from the soles of my feet.
I was surprised, for I had never before felt a corrective to in my balance coming from my feet. I asked myself, Are my feet becoming smarter, or am I just becoming more aware of their contact and catching up to that reality? This small example is the wider truth of yoga practice. It increases bodily intelligence and directly related mental intelligence.… read more...
THEY were fueled by energy drinks, but gross with anxiety and unexamined ambition. The land was drunk on money and the illusion of freedom fired the people’s imaginations. The ‘eight limbs’ twisted in the wind of post-modernism and creative chaos. And in that land, people learned diversity was a source for creativity and road to enlightenment.
In time, the practice prospered and many realized the travelers brought good medicine. It seemed to help prisoners, alcoholics, those suffering pain and even angry youth. But some feared its power – especially its counsel to sit alone in silence.
There, in the counsel of the quiet, the student found reasons for the false prophecy of money, misdirected ambition, the severance of limbs, the medicine of movement. He heard surrender and its yield: balm for the captive and great music composed by stones.… read more...
Sharing a few paragraphs from Garrett Hongo’s Volcano. Example of a smart and insightful writer working to capture the depth of his story.
Sections from Hongo’s book.
“IN the kitchen, my aunt made some tea, put pink and green rice cakes on a plate and poured some shining bronze crackers in a bowl, motioned me out to the living room, and we took seats there opposite each other. With no other preface than that, she began a long monologue that was a generation’s worth of family story. . . I was to quiet myself. My silence let her find a rhythm to her own telling, find the right tone of voice, the delicate colors of emotion and recollection. She was giving me a dimension to things which had been both veiled and excised from consciousness and curiosity almost since my own birth. She told me who I was.
. . There are dimensions to this story that I cannot imagine. There are reasons for flight, for theft, for abandonment that will transform their tellings into quests for freedom and sagas of pure survival.”
…The villagers here in Volcano know that you must water hapu’u from the top of its trunk, not at its base. Its roots are adventitious, bundled into a communal shape like a stovepipe in air rather than groping through the ash and loam and crumbling lava like an underground bole. The hapu’u grows, then, like a gigantic mushroom in the rain forest, its attachment to earth a fine and fragile thing, the step of an angel.”… read more...
Paragraph from an essay in progress, “Oz: Emerging Truth.”
OZ sits me down where we’re accompanied by the parting grip of Old Man Winter. His dying is not pretty, he’s peeping around the corner in prurient self-interest, wanting to mess with Easter. But he can’t, so Old Man Winter becomes a disgruntled wizard, holding on to his wish for relevance. The curtain is pulled back and he’s busted as a fake. He’s not the all-powerful controller. I try to ignore the cold bearded man behind the curtain as I sit with him, the snow, and the wood stove. Outside, I hear him weep at his parting.
My teacher speaks in clusters of daring “The way in is the way out.” It’s her graceful word rising from years looking at the blank slate over the Pacific, her lungs breathing deeply of this rolling mist. Her wisdom “the way in is the way out,” comes to me from her bloodline far to the east, from a practice that bent and molded her matter-mind, from evidence etched into the soles of her feet.… read more...
It’s easy to imagine how yoga works when living near a boiling volcano. It flows like lava: heating, bending, and shaping. It reforms everyone, twisting them into their unique physiography. They collapse and then rise. Their gaze, a pyramid of discovery, moves from ground to horizon to sky. An ascent takes place. Energy is exchanged. The yogi rests and is transformed.… read more...
“Because breath is life, the art of judicious, thoughtful
ungreedy breathing is a prayer of gratitude we offer to life itself.” B.K.S. Iyengar, Light on Life.
My arm was sore, but over and over I pulled the rope. The Evinrude sputtered and coughed. After a few minutes, it kicked into idle and spewed out blue clouds of exhaust near the water. The old boat motor had an ornery sound, like the voice of someone when their car doesn’t start in winter.
Finally, I rested and caught my breath while the engine warmed. I carefully cut back the motor’s choke, hoping it wouldn’t stall. After a minute, I reached down and pulled forward and into gear a small lever sticking out from the upper left portion of the propeller stem. I motored around the the 3.2 miles of shoreline on Big Casey Lake turning the rubber handle clockwise with my left hand on the steering lever, then cut the engine near the lily pads on the south shore not far from the Bald Eagles nesting in a tall jack pine.
I’m starting an old motor and riding around the lake in a metal boat in order to engage with the concrete and physical, to balance my life of academic work: teaching, grading, writing and going to meetings. That’s why a manual-start motor is the perfect remedy. It starts not with a button, but only by work of arm and hand, shoulder and elbow, and it reminds me of a time when life had more physical work and less mental clutter.
I go to the Old Style Place for exactly that… less clutter. In the cabin’s main room, there are three chairs, one kitchen table, one small metal stand for a toaster, one wooden seating bench, a few magazines and a radio — radio with a cassette player — and a small box near the wood stove filled with kindling.… read more...