You, Me, and Seeds
By Laura Mills
One of my favorite ways to begin a class is to have students sit with feet planted on the mat, arms hugging around knees. It’s sort of a seated fetal position; I’ve actually heard this referred to as Seed Pose. I love this pose, and I love the analogy of a seed, for to me few images speak more loudly to what we bring to our mats every time we approach them.
If a seed could emote and communicate in a way we understood, I believe it would tell us of its fears as it’s placed in dark, cold ground. Yet that seed, small and dormant as it is, contains tremendous potential for growth and change, service and grace. Given water, a little warmth, and time, that seed will germinate; the embryo will emerge (While perhaps still fearful, imagine how exhilarated it feels now!) and thus continue its journey.
All of us begin each yoga practice with a little bit of fear, I think…. What poses will we do today? My hamstring is killing me. Will I EVER nail that headstand? I’m never going to get that project done. She still hasn’t called. How am I going to pay for that? Yet in spite of our fears all of us, like seeds, contain potential for growth, change, service, and grace. And time on the mat is always a journey. As we tune in to our breath and then link breath with movement, we travel deeper into the place where our outer shell falls away and the inner “us” emerges. Like any journey, it can be both frightening and exhilarating. Like any journey, it requires effort, maybe even some sweat, and most definitely patience.
Seeds likely have no inkling of, and definitely no control over, what awaits them once they break the surface. Neither do we truly know or have control over what awaits us as we step off our mats each time. But with our roots grounded and our senses turned to the light, hope drives us onward. Someday, we may even realize our potential and become whatever we are destined to be.
ANCORA IMPARO I AM STILL LEARNING
Like a bee seeking nectar, seek teachings everywhere. Like a deer, seek a quiet place to digest all that you have gathered." -Dzogchen Tantra
February 5th, 2011. I am a student of life a dedicated love anthropologist. I wear on my wrist Ancora Imparo words spoken by Michelangelo at the age of 75 years old. Translated this means "I am still learning". And anyone who knows me knows I take my love of learning seriously. I am dutifully always trying to live in a way that acknowledges the significance of each precious moment and what it teaches me.
The Yoga is always our best teacher. It stretches our mind muscle and teaches us how to connect with ourselves and accept the sense things make or make sense of things as they are. Its like working a puzzle which requires concentration and persistence in our bodies and in our hearts. It is not achieved without interest in our own learning.
So today start with the answer YES to all questions by opening up to the teachings that flow in your path whether they be good, difficult, interesting, or funny. Try to learn from all of them my friends! Keep close to heart some final inspiration from Michelangelo "And I hope that I may always desire more than I can accomplish." With heartfelt hope for us all to be students of life in the world with the desire to keep learning! Love yourself, love your day, love your life! Silvia
PS Join me on retreat this year www.silviamordini.com Moab April 16-19, 2011 and Tuscany June 19-25, 2011 coming up!
“It is not easy to keep your heart open in the face of the trials of being human. Life can so often be difficult, disappointing; our dreams are so easily broken. How precious, then, those shafts of sunlight that sometimes break through our daily preoccupations, our anxieties, and reveal the beauty that was there all along.” - Roger Housden
The next step is not the last step…
“When we finally stop struggling with life, stop wanting it to be anything but what it is now – not giving up but giving it over – then our heart will indeed fall open, and we shall know beyond all doubt that, however dark the night, all is already well.” – Roger Housden
And the moment we let go of fear or the darkness of lost hope or peace of mind the sooner we find ourselves immersed in the journey of Faith once more. She will always take us back all we have to do is say “I choose life, I align myself with the potential inherent in life, I give myself over to that potential.” It means being present. That is what Sharon Salzberg in her book titled Faith speaks to when she writes, “With faith we can draw near to the truth of the present moment, which is dissolving into the unknown even as we meet it. We open up to what is happening right now in all its mutability and evanescence. A pain in our body, a heartache, and unjust treatment may seem inert, impermeable, unchanging. It may appear to be all that is, all that ever will be. But when we look closely, instead of solidity, we see porousness, fluidity, motion. We begin to see gaps between the moments of suffering. We see the small changes that are happening all the time in the texture, the intensity, the contours of our pain.”
During the course of our practice on the mat we flow and breath to remind us that faith in change is right there all the time inside our breath. One inhale leads us to the exhale and on into the next breath. Faith in our own breath reconnects us to trust in our lives.
“No matter what is happening, whenever we see the inevitability of change, the ordinary, or even oppressive, facts of our lives can become alive with prospect. We see that a self-image we’ve been holding doesn’t need to define us forever, the next step is not the last step, what life was is not what it is now, and certainly not what it might yet be. Without faith in change we would be compelled to repeat patterns of suffering at least reassured by being able to predict mortification and pain. Without a sense of possibility, we would be stuck—isolated, hopeless, and unspeakably sad. No matter what is happening, whenever we see the inevitability of change, the ordinary, or even oppressive, facts of our lives can become alive with prospect. We see that a self-image we’ve been holding doesn’t need to define us forever, the next step is not the last step, what life was is not what it is now, and certainly not what it might yet be. Without faith in change we would be compelled to repeat patterns of suffering at least reassured by being able to predict mortification and pain. Without a sense of possibility, we would be stuck—isolated, hopeless, and unspeakably sad.”
So I hope this inspires you all to step into the flow of grace. Believe that grace is always there the current gentle to swoop us up in our most challenging moments or as Rumi writes, Be helpless, dumbfounded, unable to say yes or no. Then a stretcher will come from grace and gather us up.
Hope you can join me at 9:15am this morning for a sweet quiet practice of Faith. Love, Light, Peace and Hope, Silvia
THE UNIVERSALITY OF LOVE: WHAT I LEARNED ABOUT LOVE IN ITALY 2009
JUNE 17, 2009: I consider myself a LOVE ANTHROPOLOGIST. I have been studying love all my life. While I was in
Instead it was all open armed embracing. You can sense folks love themselves. So right now bring your right hand to your belly and your left hand to your higher heart. We all have within us two hearts, the beating heart and the intuitive heart. So feel right now the energy of these two hearts with your hands. Through that connection and self embrace feel the flow of love first for yourself and all the beautiful things you love about yourself, then expand that love for others until everyone is hugged in.
Swami Satchidananda says, “Real love is possible only when you see everything as yourself.”
This is supported in the yoga sutras Chapter 1 verse 23, “Boundless love and devotion unite us with consciousness.” Yoga unifies, it brings us into embrace with all the world. Love begets more love. Or as Neem Karoli Baba says, “love everyone, serve everyone.” This has been my mission. But in
Two key learnings I gained from
So as we ride the waves or windstorms of life if we face it from the heart of compassion we will see others as ourselves or as the Dalai Lama suggests, “Through compassion you find that all human beings are just like you” When I had my heart broken once I remember my friend David saying to me, just know that there are people all over the world same as you having this exact experience of heart break. They too are in what he calls “the pain chamber”. Just being reminded that I was not alone in my human experience made my time in the pain chamber less hard to bear.
Join me in living with more compassion to face the windstorms:
“To love means never to be afraid of the windstorms of life;
Should you shield the canyons from the windstorms you would
Never see the beauty of the carvings.” Elisabeth Kubler Ross
Please above all else wake up to the love that surrounds you everywhere! Listen with your heart to Rumi’s suggested self-observation:
What happens when your soul
Begins to awaken
And your heart
And the cells of your body
To the great Journey of Love?
What happens indeed? I love myself, I love you all, I serve with my whole heart. Silvia
HUGGING AND KISSING: CONNECTING INTO ONE WORLD
JUNE 16, 2009: One of the key observations I had while in
We as Americans spend so much time in our “heads” that we could benefit greatly from more touch, more massage, more time being in the body. That’s why yoga is so healing. It does that for us. We walk in fragmented, disconnected, awkward and by the end of class our humpty dumpty self is put back together again. Then whether we want to or not we glide out of the practice room inspired to connect more with other people as we now ourselves feel more connected to our own spirits.
When I sit on the mat I feel that embrace of the universal love that exists when we breath the universal breath. To me truly there is nothing more beautiful than people coming together in a compassionate, gentle way. So thank you to classes last night for opening your hearts and practicing kissing each other with the double kiss, and breathing as partners and accepting massage when I offer it to you. This I can promise you, my teaching experience will only include more and more massage and therapeutic healing touch. Grow with me and let’s build a community that thrives on more hugging more love! Jai! Silvia
WITH JOY AND GRATITUDE, MAY I SEE THE BEAUTY OF MYSELF AND OF OTHERS, AS WE REFLECT AND ARE REFLECTED, IN THE RADIANCE OF EACH OTHER - ONE WORLD TOGETHER.
NEW MOON, OPEN TO GRACE
MAY 9, 2009: Today is the New Moon. Energetically it is a day of contemplation, inward focus and meditation. This is the perfect experience of renewal and hope. Giving time to thinking about the bad habits we want to let go of, the qualities that are not part of the person we want to be.
And we begin with a sense of NEWNESS to make positive changes in our lives. So join me today for a series of shoulder openers and forward folds to give time and make space to let out the old and welcome the good! Love your day and the next chapter of your life! Silvia
HOPE: HOW YOGA PREPARES US FOR CRISIS
APRIL 10TH, 2009: There has been a lot written about how yoga can help modulate the stress response. A great article in Harvard Mental Health April 2009 edition goes into wonderful detail about this. Key points made from this article include "yoga practices can reduce the impact of exaggerated stress responses and may be helpful for both anxiety and depression. By reducing perceived stress and anxiety, yoga appers to modulate stress response. This in turn decreases physiological arousal - for example reduicng the heart rate, lowering blood pressure, and easing respiration. For many dealing with stress yoga may be a very appealing way to better manage symptoms. Indeed, the scientifc study of yoga demonstrates that mental and physical health are not just closely allied, but are essentially equivalent."
So what this says, which yogis have known, is that we practice yoga today to help us manage the crisis we might face tomorrow. It might seem weird to think of ourselves preparing for challenges but it makes sense that the best time to prepare for a crisis is BEFORE it happens. In class we try out various poses to create sometimes stressful situations (for instance a new pose, a pose with lots of sensation, transitions from pose to pose) and we observe how we respond. We practice responding to the crisis in other words. So then we can diagnose ourselves in our own crisis management. How would you do?
Do you lose hope when faced with something new? Do you respond to trying and failing with self criticism, do you give up? Do you get mad at the pose, at the teacher, at God? It is easy to give up hope. But the sobering reality is that if we give up, we are mentally and physically impacted.
Einstein says, "Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow." The worst thing we can do is lose hope, stop risking living our lives fully become fearful or worse yet apathetic. Apathy is the enemy of love. And yet in these sometimes trying times so many of us have lost hope. So consider this "To lvoe is to risk not being loved in return. To hope is to risk pain. To try is to risk failure, but risk must be taken because the greatest hazard in life is to risk nothing."
I understand, I used to have the false belief that if I "did life right" everything would be smooth sailing and I'd be protected from anything bad or unpleasant. Then my Dad died suddenly trhough hospital negligence, then other family members became sick, my corporate job was in jeapordy. And I realized everything we are learning today is preparing us for tomorrow's crisis. Yoga won't stop stress. It will help us manage stuff that happens to us. There lies the difference. And it asks that we have the quiet courage to remain hopeful above all else.
An unknown author writes, "May you have enough happiness to make you sweet, enough trails to make you strong, enough sorrow to keep you human, enough HOPE to make you happy." So dudes, breathe HOPE because you know without a doubt that your YOGA practice will prepare you for any difficulty you face! With humble love and enormous gratitude, Silvia
FEAR OF BEING HAPPY
MARCH 31, 2009: I have often asked myself the simple but powerful question, "Am I more afraid of being happy or more afraid of Fear itself?" How would you respond?
I can tell you that for many years of my life I have been more afraid of being truly happy. Why? Becaues really being happy day in and day out requires COURAGE, PERSEVERANCE, HOPE, INNER STRENGTH and most of all SELF-LOVE. The messages of "I'm not really worthy" or "I don't have time" or "I'm afraid of being hurt again" can show up at any time even in the most spiritually mature person. It's easier to give in to the conditioned response of Fear than face ourselves and change our mental habits.
Yoga offers us a safe place to get strong, mentally and physically. It can help us view our habits and make the change from within so that we choose happiness over fear. And then it is a continuous practice. If you really want to be happy it requires your committment from this day forward. In a way it is like deciding that we want to "Marry ourselves". And part of the vow we take is to promise to at least try to be happy each and every day.
Believe me, its not always easy but lasting happiness is only found a day at a time anyway. So I know you can do it. Face your fears and let LOVE make you strong! Wishing you your own best strength and courage, Silvia
JANUARY 8, 2009: I dedicate this day, this practice to one of my dear girlfriends, you know who you are! I am deeply honored you consider me your friend and I hope this year brings the fulfillment of your most authentic self. Namaste from my heart to yours: "the beauty in me recognizes and revels in the beauty of you and we are one!"
Yoga helps us to appreciate endings and beginnings with equal enthusiasm. Really every ending signifies a new beginning and even inside the breath there exists a beginning, middle and end. For most of us we are better at initiating new stuff or completing tasks, there aren’t many of us that without trying are equally balanced in doing both. So that’s where the yoga comes in handy. If you have a million new ideas and new projects for the year but you look around you at home and have the million things from last year started but never finished then focus a little bit more on the compliment or completion phase this year. Or for those of us that are afraid of making new starts, trying new things then this is the year to boldly set our course for uncharted waters.
Start where you are and commit to the new beginning you wish to experience in your life. I want to thank our Thursday night Level 1 friends for honestly sharing what they would like to begin this year: fly fishing, rock climbing, making breakfast for a partner, hip hop dancing, guitar lessons, snow shoeing, making new friends, working less, stripping class (and more!) That’s awesome!
Whatever you decide you need more of in your life I implore you not to just stand at the shore looking out onto the ocean but dive into the water, surf water, sail the water but get involved with your life. As Jon Kabat Zinn says, “when you cease working at life it ceases working for you.” Aspire to live life more FULLY! Big Love to each of you! Silvia
Rumi says, "Very little grows on jagged rock, be ground, be crumbled, so wild flowers will come up where you are. You've been stony for too many years. Try something different."
STEP UP, STEP BACK
SEPTEMBER 16TH, 2008: So this weekend from Netflix I was watching the movie Step Up 2 (The Streets). Good stuff! Amazing dancing and not a single curse word. I loved it! The kids in the movie really had to make the commitment to achieve their goal of participating fully in a dance competition. They had to figure out where the time was going to be spent and then maintain the discipline to show up and do it everyday.
Yoga asks that we Step Up when we come to the mat. That we be there fully. All we have to do is turn to our breath and feel how alive we are. It is no accident that we are breathing, we’ve been chosen because we are vitally important to the universe. Breathing is a celebration a way of saying YES, I WILL STEP UP to my greatest potential! Now for the kids in this movie it wasn’t all easy. I feel that. I consider myself an underdog and have had to step up time and again in the face of adversity, discrimination, illness and a myriad of other challenges. That’s the hard part to keep stepping up and believing in our own innate goodness and the good within our world even when things are not okay.
After we heat and move the body to release agitation, confusion or distress we can have greater clarity on that feeling that we are going to be okay, even when things are not okay. Equally as important to stepping up is our ability to STEP BACK and let the pose support us. Surround yourself in friendships that are life affirming. Beware those folks that want to gossip, speak in ugly ways about others for they will destroy your energy. There is a give and take here but trust yourself to step back in safety. It's written God helps those who help themselves, yup we step up and love life and in return life loves us back even more. Allow yourself time to step back and feel that sense of grounding that comes from being supported by the goodness in the universe!