Studying With The Masters

I had the “karma” to spend the last week studying with a Buddhist Lama, my friend and teacher Geshe Tenzing Tamding. We met 5 years ago.  We became friends, he became my teacher.

 

For 8 days,  several hours a day, I studied with my teacher. These hours, were spent sitting on the floor, with legs crossed, in easy pose (sukhasana), reading sacred texts, meditating, practicing pranayama (breathwork), learning mudras, receiving blessings, listening to Buddhist wisdom, and reciting sacred mantra. Sitting in “Easy Pose” for many hours, is not easy.

My teacher shared many stories of “Yogis” but he was not referring to handstands, or arm balances, or celebrity yoga teachers. He was speaking of awakened masters, mystics, soul shamans. He was speaking of followers of the Dharma.

People started practicing asana (the physical poses), to get the body and mind prepared for long periods of seated meditation. I practice yoga everyday, but there I was studying with my teacher, sitting with a small pillow under me, legs falling asleep, needing to stretch, body and mind exhausted. Even with my yoga practice, my body is not well trained to sit for long periods of time.  And my mind is not well trained to study for long periods of time. Breath by breath..

In the Western world we tend to think of yoga as a physical practice, but in reality, yoga is far more.  There are four main paths of yoga, Bhakti, Karma, Raja, and Jnana. During those 8 days with my teacher, I was challenged to practice Jnana yoga.The Yoga of Wisdom. The most difficult path of Yoga. Intellectual study. Trying to use the mind to transcend the mind. 

I have been a yoga student and teacher for many years now, (practicing mainly Raja Yoga), but the study and practice of yoga is so immense, that I am truly a beginner.

I am grateful and humbled by the teachings and wisdom.

Namaste.

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Dancing With My Shadow

“Compassion is not a relationship between the healer and the wounded. It is a relationship between equals. Only when we know our own darkness well can we be present with the darkness of others.Compassion becomes real when we recognize our shared humanity.” ~Pema Chodron

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Balance between light and darkness. When the shadow self comes to visit, don’t fight it, invite it, learn, dance..

Balanced~Tiff

 

Filled With Blessings

I guess our Christmas morning began like Christmas morning for so many others. My sweetheart and I woke early, to wrap gifts (our wrapping paper was reused paper bags from Trader Joes). We drank Yerba Mate lattes and quietly put gifts under the tree, as the sun came up.

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I am not a big fan of the consumerism that comes with our society’s version of what Christmas should be. (Part of that is because I hate shopping.) We bought the kids sketch pads, paint and markers, and that is it.  The tree was largely filled with gifts from friends and family.

My son gifted us with a painting. He painted our family portrait. So beautiful and special.

Anyways, after the gifts were opened and bellies full from breakfast, we walked across the large yard, to the Buddhist temple, to take part in filling Buddhist Statues.

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In Tibetan Buddhism, traditional Buddha statues are hollow inside. To come alive, the statues are filled with mantras, incense, herbs, and other treasures. There is a very strict process of cutting and rolling the Mantras, it is an art and a spiritual practice.  And it takes a very long time. The brother of my spiritual guide, himself a Tibetan Buddhist, from Tibet, is gifted, knowledgeable, and skilled in this spiritual practice. He flew to Florida on Christmas Eve to show us how this practice is done. 

After the statues are filled and sealed, a Buddhist Lama, performs a blessing ceremony. The ceremony is what brings these statues to life, with Divine energy. There is a belief that whether one is Buddhist or not, looking at these blessed statues, will bring blessings.

It was really special to be a part of this process. Especially on the day that represents the birth of one of the most enlightened beings ever, Jesus.

In the afternoon, we went bird watching at a place called Wakodahatchee Wetlands. It is a well kept boardwalk in Delray Beach that was full of people and birds. We saw alligators, turtles, iguanas, and of course so many birds.

 

It was a beautiful, relaxing, restorative day. Life can be difficult. But it also is filled with so many blessings.

Smile. -Tiff

 

 

The Beauty in The Sunrise and Sunset

A few weeks ago, I taught a beach yoga class that I will never forget. A beautiful strong class.We went into a very deep meditation.  We were all blanketed in this magical feeling, and for many minutes after class officially ended, we sat silently, softly smiling, everyone feeling that ‘Yoga high’.

Well, that high ended with an accident, a horrible accident, that shocked us all, and left me confused, frazzled, and ultimately feeling very guilty. 

The ocean was wild that day and the lifeguards had put up a red flag. It was warm out, blue skies, but very rough water.

One of my students (who is also a friend, healer, and a teacher),he walked to the shoreline, and decided to dive into the water. He unknowingly dove into very shallow water and his shoulder hit the sand very hard. He came up with his arm hanging several inches lower than it should have been, and his collar bone sticking out, it was grossly out of place. It felt like this weird nightmare, caught in between these two worlds,  and I  really didn’t know what to do.

The lifeguard came over and kind of knocked us back into reality. He was grounded in the situation, and he gave us firm instructions. He also said to my student, in his macho but caring lifeguard voice ” Dude, I know you are in a lot of pain, but we saw that dive and we all thought you broke your neck. You are very lucky.” I am sure he didn’t feel very lucky. And as reality sat in, so did my guilt.

My student was rushed to the hospital, and had to have surgery. And I  kept thinking, “if he hadn’t come to my yoga class, none of this would have happened.” 

I have tried to remind myself that I didn’t instruct him to dive into that shallow water, but the guilt is still there. The concern is there. The pain is there. The memory of this beautiful man, soaking wet with a horrible injury, is still is fresh in my mind. And I have to process and work through that feeling that somehow it was my fault..

I have tried to remind myself that although this has changed his life, it likely has put his life on a track that could only open up because of this accident.   It was the tragedy of my sons seriously broken arm, that forced me to homeschool him, and ultimately allowed us to take a trip to the Azores, a trip that changed our lives, and led to the birth of my daughter. A beautiful path opened out of a very painful situation.  There is a way to look at this situation (any situation) and someday understand the reason. Because there is a reason behind everything. But just because my student will get through this doesn’t mean it isn’t insanely painful. I know it is.

Recently, I have had two very close friends experience intense tragedies, both involving death, in nightmarish ways. My heart goes out to them.

 

We all experience misfortune. And right now, in this moment, my heart goes out to anyone and everyone experiencing grief, loss, sadness, guilt, pain, or fear. Experience it. Surrender to it. Pray. Love. Forgive.

Life and death are mysterious…We can be jolted out of our bliss at any moment. In an accident or even death. Samsara.  This life is impermanent. We only have so many breaths. Everything is in a constant state of transformation. Death included.

I have been doing a meditation about death, and it is surprisingly healing. When we realize our life is impermanent,  we try to make each moment count.We live each breath.  We see the beauty in the sunrise and the sunset. 

Namaste, Tiff12248193_10204499516517914_5042567486272250404_o

 

As The Path Is Revealed

Yesterday I had lunch in a tiny village named Anjos.  It is the village where my ancestors are from. Yesterday, while enjoying the beauty of the day, the waves, the village, I noticed a small rusty  piece of metal in the ground near our picnic spot. Always drawn to old things, treasures, history,  I tried to pick it up.. The rusted  piece of metal was bigger than I thought. I started digging. I kept digging. What I thought was a tiny piece of metal, ended up being a very old and large 16th century cannon. There are two other old cannons nearby, rusting away. Pirates massacred the village hundreds of years ago… And just a little under the surface of the earth, a piece of history was revealed. 

Uncovering History..
Uncovering History..

As The Path Reveals Itself Often our lives play out in very unexpected ways. Lately, I have been feeling growing concern for my son’s future. He is so smart, that I fear an island this small, lacks opportunities for his growth, development, education. HIS FUTURE. Sometimes one persons paradise is another persons prison. My son has had alot of fun here, no doubt. He fluently speaks Portuguese.  But he is starting to think about college, jobs, a drivers license, etc.. and these things are much more difficult on an island of 5000.

In helping me get some clarity, I asked my Buddhist teacher for advice. He did a divination, a type of astrocartography. Astrocartography, in a simple explanation,  can show us the places on Earth that resonate well with our personal energy and path, and the places on Earth where life will be difficult. Based on Astrocartography, this is a very  difficult place for me to live. I have the energy of Saturn running right through this small island. And I feel it. The island is beautiful, no doubt. I have gotten to share and spread the magic of yoga. I have met amazing people here. Friends, family, TREES. Adventures.

Teaching Yoga in Anjos in the Field Where I Found The Cannon
Teaching Yoga in Anjos in the Field Where I Found The Cannon

But I have also been tested. I have had to learn to put up big boundaries. My boyfriends family, tried to cross my boundaries many times.  But it is a different culture with different family dynamics, different expectations, different and very specific gender roles. If a man here is seen unshaven,too thin, or looking a little scruffy, it is believed to be the fault of his wife or girlfrend. She is to blame. SERIOUSLY!  Living in a different country, especially a country with very old-fashioned ideas, behavior, and rules really forces us to tap into our inner strength. ( The younger generation is slowly creating change-thank goodness).  Living in a different country, especially a poor country, is also a huge eye-opening lesson. A lesson in privilege, a lesson in history, a lesson in economics, and a lesson in life.

I have been praying for clarity and doing lots of energy work. And although, the path has not entirely revealed itself, it is very likely, that we will be moving back to the United States at the end of summer. At least until my son,who is nearly 16,finishes high school. He qualifies to dual enroll in college starting this fall. College Application submitted.

On a very exciting note, over the weekend there was a Science Contest here, a big contest with teams from all of the islands in the Azores. My son was the presenter for his team!! His team made it to Nationals!!They will be heading to the mainland of Portugal next week! YEAH!

And on a funny but slightly traumatic note: NEVER let your boyfriend (who has never cut hair) experiment on yours.. AHHHHHH!!!! 😉 It will grow. This I know. The lessons we learn. Peace and patience as the path is revealed. -Tiff

I have so many stories. I am starting to write a book about my experience here, The Good, the bad, the ugly. It is certain to be a page turner!  I would love advice, funding, encouragement, publisher connections.. Ha!,)

Therapy For The Crown Chakra

The Crown Chakra- The Sahasrara

Half Lotus with Gyan Mudra, Helps Stimulate  The Crown Chakra
Half Lotus with Gyan Mudra, Helps Stimulate The Crown Chakra

Crown Chakra Energy: This Chakra is associated with Spiritualism and enlightenment. The link between individual consciousness and Universal consciousness.

Color:White or Violet

Element: Inner Light,Divine Energy, Spirit

Location: The Crown Chakra is located right above the top of the head.

Bija Seed Sound: Om

Yoga Asanas For Crown Chakra: Meditative poses, such as; Ardha Padmasana or Padmasana-Lotus or Half Lotus, Easy Pose-Sukhasana.  Also Crown to Earth poses,such as; Headstand-Sirsasana and Prasarita Padottanasana-Wide Legged Forward Fold, and more…

Gyan Mudra:  In this mudra, the index finger, which represents the individual soul, connects with the thumb, which represents the Supreme or the Collective Soul. The individual dissolves or merges into the collective.

Prasarita Padottanasana-Crown Touching Earth-Honor Our Connection
Prasarita Padottanasana-Crown Touching Earth-Honor Our Connection

 

 

Foods That support Crown Chakra: Sattvic foods. Fruits, Vegetables, and seeds. Foods in their pure, natural state. This Chakra does not get “fed” the way the other chakras do. However, health and balance in the entire energetic system is essential for an open and balanced Crown Chakra.

Crown Chakra Affirmation: “I am open and divinely guided to enlightenment.”

Visualization:Begin in a seated position, close your eyes, and visualize white light at the Crown Chakra. Visualize and feel that energy entering the body and purifying every cell. Breathe deeply. And when you feel properly purified, visualize golden light at the crown. This light is recharging you with positive energy. The light is blessing the body, speech, and consciousness. My spiritual guide and teacher, Lama Geshela Tenzing Tamding,  taught me this simple but powerful exercise many years ago. 

 

My first experience with the crown chakra, that I remember, was nearly 13 years ago. I was living in Hawaii, getting my Reiki I attunements from a powerful Hawaiian Reiki Master. I was seated, and she was giving me the attunements, and I felt and heard cracking at the top of my head. It was strange and intense. That sensation gave way to a sweet, heavy, honey like energy, and I suddenly was in a state of pure bliss.

Wishing us all healing, guidance, and balance from Root to Crown.

Tapping into Cosmic Consciousness-Tiff