The assumptions of my inherited culture: Euro-American, Lutheran-Christian, mental dualism, WASP, have shaped my perceptions and limit my ability to truly inhabit yoga’s culture. From this conditioning, I’m positioned like a hungry-man at a feast; I taste the food, but the flavor escapes me.
My play to be a yogi brings me to discernment where the contraries press me to awareness and lead me to examine the how and why of fate. How did I, a Midwestern male, end up lying on my stomach – top and bottom of my spine arching up at the direction of an ancient Indian mind/spirit/body science – impersonating an Egyptian tomb-protector? My inhale takes me to the mystery of purushamrigasana, a figure with the face of Pharaoh that we call sphinx.
Each yogi stretches and lifts at the direction of the teacher: man, woman, Asian, African, American, and each one contributes to the curriculum growing into a great melting pot of diversity and energy. This restless American pastiche is soothed by the flavor of an ancient culture, and in the yoga room, we become part of its recipe.
The seekers are everywhere and I praise them. They take off with tender wings to do asana as if they were nimble dancers or the stony sphinx. On the surface, we are childlike; but with each asana, with each breath, I witness a hope in reaching and lifting, learning and growing.
I see them, and note they are living embodiments to mystery and mythology; I see them as material and matter, and I see them doing yoga from the ground up.… read more...
We called him one ball Billy *
But it really wasn’t true **
There were two up there*
We just never knew**
The vet made a call*
and out came one ball**
When a second was snipped*
that must’ve hurt, I quipped**
But the vet wasn’t through*
Pulled teeth too**
Now Billy sore from end to end*
Wanders his pen**
Now teeth are many*
Balls, one or two**
But one ball Billy,*
Much like a filly**
Now has none.… read more...
Yoga inspirational number 36, published in YOGI TIMES, March, 2016. Update 3/27/18
It’s likely when observing the stylish symmetry of a Harley-Davidson, or a yoga pose in perfect aligment, to believe motorcycling is about the eye-catching chrome machine rumbling down the road and that yoga is about what we see on Instagram as yogis strike a perfectly aligned asana. That’s not to criticize this, for each pose represents the probability that thousands of practice hours went into the building these asanas. Nobody shrinks into inflexibility in mind or body overnight, and it may take years of practice to strike a pose where we bend like palm trees in the wind.
A yogi on the mat or a Harley-Davidson on the highway both perform their function at a high degree – garnering attention – but the brilliance of yoga is its regression from form to function and ultimately to emotion.
Like many newcomers when I started yoga I thought it was about what I saw. I noticed people bending into forms that were – at first –perplexing. To a lesser degree, I thought it was also about what I heard yoga could do, and that was to heal my injured back. I believed if yoga could heal my injuries I would be happy and that would be all I could expect. But there was more.
As a dedicated student, my yoga evolution was gradual; I practiced to feel better, then to learn good alignment.… read more...
Yoga Inspirationals number 52, first published in DOYOUYOGA.COM, July 5, 2016.
Coaching may seem a little controlling and something unnecessary when we’re talking about the behavior of independent adults, but in yoga space, coaching is not about independence; rather, it’s about cooperation.
Because cooperation is not a universal trait, many yoga studios resort to posting their rules and regulations in an obvious, public place. It’s not that people are trying to be nasty, but some simply are less aware of their behavior.
These rules are posted to help everyone sharing space cooperate with one another when there are a variety of simultaneous needs and norms. Rules and regulations help form a standard behavior that may not appeal to everyone, but aim to limit chaos and unbalanced inconvenience.
Listening to the way coaches talk, I’ve learned about the concept of “behavioral targets and performance targets.” I’m not interested in performance targets in relationship to yoga (because that seems a metric designed for competitive sports), but my curiosity about behavioral targets has led me to think about how I would coach newcomers to yoga.
Cooperation requires a different set of group skills than individualism, and the guidelines for studios will only work with cooperation.
Yoga and “Behavioral Targets”
In yoga, you might hear that nobody is there to judge you…and I think that’s true. But, people do evaluate you.
Your teachers evaluate you because they want to know where you are in your practice and figure out how best to help you. They evaluate me too, it’s just the way humans are.
” . . . a story is a grid, an archetypal narrative, a divine scaffolding that organizes experience into a complexity of meanings and forms. The life that may otherwise appear to be unbearably random or intolerably chaotic becomes whole when made known through the revelation of the intrinsic narrative.”
Imagine the stories . . .… read more...
Follow link to story in MEDIUM.
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...
The Hawaiian island of Molokai is 31 miles long and 10 miles wide. Driving through the main street of Kaunakakai (the only town) at 8:00 pm, one might think they’d taken a turn to the wrong decade or century and were transported into an American western town. It’s deserted, old-looking, and silent. But its natural surroundings are spectacular.
Molokai is a place where transitions from modern to old ways happen instantaneously. Stepping off the plane, I saw wild goats grazing 100-yards away at the runway’s end. The airport consists of one building with two gates.
Count the stoplights if you’d like, the number is zero, and much of the island is an electronic dead zone but a vital natural-living zone. If anyone listens carefully walking through the rain forest, they could hear large groups of honey bees cooling their wings in a soft hum, or wild boars grinding their tusks. Forget about shopping mauls and your café latte. They do not exist. In Molokai, you’d grow old waiting for change.
Molokai is one of the rare Hawaiian Islands that has not been modernized or Californicated; but since 1996 -and maybe earlier – the National Parks have been exerting pressure to take away land and turn some historic sites into tourist traps. Sound familiar?
Top speed in Molokai is 45 MPH, and then for only a short stretch on its southern route 450 to the east end. I went in April, the slow time. During a 40 minute drive from my VRBO condo to the lush eastern valley where the road ends, I met 6 cars.… read more...
“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/
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...
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...
Yoga improves brain and bodily intelligence though its attentive repetition. It’s the discipline of one asana at a time. In the midst of each asana, our brains search to interpret the intelligence of our bodies and picks up the yogi’s growing ability to learn from the soles of their feet, from the twists of their spines, from the mindful placement of their palms and fingers.
Focus on the contact figure opens the mind and allows for it to receive the body’s intelligence, and in doing so, the soles of our feet become like a microchip feeding information to the mother board. It’s stunning to think that this is a two-way communication and that our brains are enriched by feedback from the soles of our feet. Breathe deep the gathering wisdom and learn what your bodily contact is teaching
Think of standing on your mat in class holding tadasana, 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 back ground/landscape of perception and awareness.
Now imagine standing in mountain pose, lifting one foot from your mat. With one foot lifted, only a small patch of earth/foot contact is directing your life and that one patch is the outline of your right foot.… read more...
Many years ago when studying for the ministry, one of my professors said something that has stayed with me. “The prayers in worship are where the people of God fight,” he said. Some will pray for rain, some will pray for sunny skies. To which group of devotees should God grant the prayers’ fulfillment?
Today, I refuse to identify any single gathering as “the people of God.” Nobody owns that title; neither do I care about other people’s prayer subjects or what they fight about in church. But I thought long and hard about what my professor meant.
When I deconstruct Facebook postings to their most basic level (mine included), I see postings about self and opinion postings as prayer wrapped in a secular (and public) delivery system. My take on self-posting is that nobody is as happy as they want to appear and I apprehend most opinion as misdirected wishing, aimed at hope for a God that will grant my prayers and thereby make the world into what I want.
Take any issue today that sparks a deep reaction, something “prayer-worthy” if you will. When the Confederate Flag issue was hot, Facebook posts were filled with opinions about it. Most of my friends thought the Confederate flag should come down, but some disagreed.
Guns are again a popular subject on Facebook and there, the people fight .… read more...
Tourist guides say there is not much to see and to call Waiohinu a “town” is being generous. But there are incredible vistas from which to view the ocean when driving the hilly roads above this once thriving sugar cane community.
Its claim to fame is that Mark Twain once planted a Monkeypod tree there. Some people say a second or third generation offshoot of that tree remains standing; maybe so, but his dispatches written to the Sacramento Daily Union during his travels on the Big Island in 1866 are singing literature and reportage. Twain wrote:
“In this rainy spot trees and flowers flourish luxuriantly, and three of those trees- two mangoes and an orange- will live in my memory as the greenest, freshest and most beautiful I ever saw – and withal, the stateliest and most graceful. One of those mangoes stood in the middle of a large grassy yard, lord of the domain and incorruptible sentinel against the sunshine. When one passed within the compass of its broad arms and its impenetrable foliage he was safe from the pitiless glare of the sun – the protecting shade fell everywhere like a somber darkness.”
Twain was here, and maybe that’s why the Waiohinu bookstore lives on. I’ve posted a few photos of the bookstore. Its only open from 10 – 3 on Wednesdays, so there’s a short window to explore this relic. I think the photos speak of what this bookstore is not and what might be . . .… read more...
I’m sharing this piece written by David Rosenberg. I met Dave, one of the original founders and President of the Kauai Writers Conference, at the Kauai Writers Conference in May. I highly recommend this writers event for your opportunity to attend sessions by authors, agents and other writers. In 2016, the conference will offer workshops from Oct 31 – Nov. 3, and a three-day Writer’s Festival on Nov. 4, 5, & 6. Full event information is here: http://www.kauaiwritersconference.com/
I received Dave’s story because I’m on the conference mailing list. It made me think of my brother and all the small mom and pop stores around the country that are suffering the effects of “big box dominance.” Yes, we can save a dollar at Wal Mart, but without a supported middle-class, made up in part by small town merchants, stores like the one David writes about will soon be gone.
Of Leaky Pipes and Writing
by Dave Rosenberg
This is the story of what leaky pipes made me realize about writing. It started when the water line to my refrigerator developed a pinhole leak. I cut the pipe, removed the piece with the pinhole and was left with the task of figuring out how to rejoin the two pieces of pipe without leakage.
First I spent some time online trying to see what products Home Depot had to help me out. But not having a clear sense of what was required, I was quickly confused. So I called Home Depot for advice and, after being on hold for 20 minutes, I was transferred to the plumbing department where my call was promptly dropped.… 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...
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...
Kauai writers conference in May. Featuring agents, authors and Hawaii.… read more...
Empty Mirror @EmptyMirror · March 6, 2015
New today! Gregory Ormson’s “With Crooked Legs of Hackberry” http://www.emptymirrorbooks.com/features/with-crooked-legs-of-hackberry.html …
Yea! thanks Empty Mirror… read more...
“O Rings”… notes from Greg in Hawaii: Guns R U.S. who is the boy inside the man holding …: http://goodmenproject.com/featured-content/guns-r-u-s-wcz/… read more...
LONG WAY FROM, LONG TIME SINCE: Letter to an Admirer of Whitman
it down, parenthesize it. Change the script, compose a new story, create a
path, follow the crumbs, depict a new vision.
light, follow energy, create curiosity, register my stamp. Trust the way, chart
a new course, chronicle another title, engrave my name upon it.
correspondence, dream and draw-up revelation. Deliver my rap, savage the
critic, curse the blow-hard, kill the perfectionist.
colleagues, enroll my allies, edit all lists, extract all good.
and advocate, strip away adiaphora. Sing a new song, exalt all heroes.
steps, chose to be, hold my own. Honor each word, speak my truth, love
creation, write my project, and accept what appears.
Russell Thorburn. (Rocky Shore Books, 2012) 90 pp. $16.00 (paper) ISBN
Thorburn’s five poetry works, I explore the poetic credo arising from his well-structured
presentation of human tempest. In my
review of Thorburn’s first work, Approximate
Desire, I saluted him for bringing both gravity and grace to us with words
that moved readers between blissful young memories and heavy adult responsibilities.
Some of the characters he chose to enliven those memories were Ty Cobb, Albert
and Mileva Einstein, Apollinaire, Rilke.
use the sport show cliché. There, he portaled his ancestral stories through
music, risk, eros, generational angst and triumph. The poems celebrated many
deaths, while along the way highlighted the erotic and its inner physics.
psychology of the generation gap as the first spade-full of dirt excavating
family story, I understood erotic quivering as the petite mort moving the world, I followed his sport and music angles
as a former college baseball player and a guitarist, and my theological
training helped me to take seriously any writing that exposes that gap (the generational one) as the
first letter in the alphabet of the human condition.
Hearts, I’m reading of Thorburn and sons chewing the same chipped bone.… read more...
Father, Tell Me I Have Not Aged by Russell Thorburn. (Marick Press, 2006) 99 pp. $14.95 (paper)You can imagine the poetry in Russ Thorburn’s, Father, Tell Me I Have Not Aged, if you can fathom poems set to attack or expose the myriad complications of the generation gap. “The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge.” While that’s from the Old Testament Chapter 31 in the book of Jeremiah, the sentiment is expressive of these poems from Thorburn.
I can’t help but think back to my study of theology, listening to one of my instructors discuss the correlation between sin and the generation gap. Those words must have stuck, because here, much later, I’m thinking back to the correlation of sin and generational tension when reading these poems.
These poems feed you with a large dose of yearning for innocence mixed with a liberal dash of courage. Note well Thorburn’s hefty presentations of cultured intellect, mixed with existential honesty. A heaping spoonful of this doesn’t make any sugar sweeter, but equally as poignant they beg you to peel the onion one layer at a time.
Thorburn wants readers to travel back to a time when all things were innocent and good; but the reality is that they never were. Our memories trick us. But those tricks can serve us too, for they are the necessary deceptions that help us stay with the journey in the midst of disappointments.
By the third poem in this collection, innocence is notably shattered when in “Renoir’s Nude and The Gentle Thief,” Thorburn and a friend are robbed of a Renoir print they bought at the downtown Detroit art museum.… read more...