Silent Sundays: What Will It Be?

The other day, a friend and I were discussing various aspects of the ongoing corona virus quarantine: those that seem to create frustration or feel otherwise negative; and those that perhaps portend changes that could and possibly should continue once the restrictions are lifted. Among the former is the lack of physical contact, and the freedom to go where one will; two of the positive shifts have been the reduced sense of rush, and the pointed attention on one’s responsibility for the welfare of others. As always—now, then, and forever—there will be darkness, there will be light, and the misty gray born thereof holds the Truth.

Inarguably, we have been afforded time and space for contemplation. Whether one elects to go within during this period is a personal choice, of course. I have found, however, that after a couple of weeks of deep thought with regard to the current situation, my mind began to travel toward the Future. Often, I am loathe toward prediction or outcome when it comes to Life Path: As one who believes that each incarnation bears a distinct destiny (which draws one continually closer to the Source), I plan with the caveat of Faith that if it is meant to be, so it shall be. 

Now, given the tremendous sea-change that the entire world is enduring, I find that I feel a greater sense of imagination and possibility with regard to my personal trajectory in this lifetime. Humanity has entered a time which few would have imagined, never mind predicted: Science-fiction writers and Doomsday criers may have envisioned and expressed a semblance of our current challenge, but most others would have deemed it preposterous. So, now that the nearly unimaginable has happened, and we are living it, what else could happen? And in one’s personal period of existence, is anything impossible?

Today’s practice is dedicated to freeing the mind from its parameters, and to liberating the earthbound Inner Agent from its overseeing role of rationality and restriction. This Silent Sunday encourages one to loosen the fervent hold on knowing and predicting, and instead open to the Abyss of Not Knowing. In and past that glorious Void lies the realm of all that can and will be.

To begin, we open and charge the magnetic field to clear the aura: In essence,  the moves disperse any energetic chains or limiting beliefs that may inhibit the expansion and flow of your imaginative powers. Standing, bring your arms to shoulder level or slightly below: Open and close the arms as far back as possible, and then cross them (one over the other, palms down) in front; each time you exhale and cross, switch which arm is on top. Continue to inhale as you swing the arms back, and exhale as they cross in front at heart level. Move this way for 1 minute.

Still standing, inhale the arms up overhead, and exhale to move forward and down into Standing Forward Bend. Immediately inhale up, arching the spine slightly; then exhale down. You may modify by keeping the hands on the low back in the up position, and bending the knees as you bend forward and down. Continue this movement for 3 minutes. Move slowly at first, using whatever precautions you need, and then begin to pick up the pace as the body warms up.

Remain standing. If you feel the need to sit, you may do so. Again bring the arms to shoulder level: Touch the thumb tips to the base (mounds) of their respective pinky fingers; the other fingers are straight and together. With the arms extended to the sides, mudra formed on each hand, turn the palms down. Begin to seesaw the arms up and down in the side space: Maintain the same angle between the arms throughout the move: As one arm rises to 60 or 70 degrees, the other lowers to 30 or 20. Move rapidly, inhaling as the left arm lifts, and the right lowers; exhaling as the left lowers, and the right comes up. Continue vigorously for 3 minutes.

Now, bring yourself to a seated position if you have not already done so. With the back of the hands resting on the knees in Gyan Mudra (thumb tip to index finger tip), begin to draw your attention inward. Allow the body to settle as the breath normalizes. Turn your closed eyes up to gaze at the Third Eye. Visualize that you are floating in a milky-white infinite space, yet your essential nature is intact. Breathe deeply into the Void, all the while feeling secure in your connection to the Universe.

You are ready to invoke that which lies beyond your earthly brain’s capacity to imagine. This meditation is called See the Unseen, a deeply affecting kundalini practice. With your closed eyes intent upon the Third Eye, extend the right arm straight forward from the shoulder; the palm is turned up and forms a soft cup. The left arm is bent into the waist, palm forward as if taking an oath. The left thumb tip touches the tip of the left ring finger: Surya Mudra. In this seated pose with mudra, silently chant, “Wahe Guru [wah-hey goo-roo].” This mantra exalts the Divine, Universal, and Eternal Power, and demonstrates one’s devotional bow to such. 

Although your arm may tire, and your attention may wander, commit yourself to this meditation and internal mantra for 11 minutes. Remember that the aim of today’s practice is to surpass that which you may never imagined possible. Use the allotted time to go beyond your personal sense of limitation; as you persevere with the physical expression of Possibility, your energetic field shifts to accommodate and welcome the unimagined, the Unseen.

Happy Sunday… 

Silent Sundays: It Never Fails…

In these oh-so-strange times of the corona virus pandemic, one thing is certain: Somebody, somewhere could use a helping hand or sturdy shoulder. For some, the distancing and shut-downs make little difference to their quiet or homebound lives; for others, the change is a welcome respite from have-to or should-be; and still for others, the restrictions and isolation lead to fear or existential angst. If you should come across—or intuit—the latter, you are probably meant to be there… to extend help.

And it never fails: When we help another, we uplift ourselves. When someone has the courage to allow the input or assistance of another, and that other does so with the utmost grace and kindness, the result is exceptional: The alchemy of combined helped-and-helper energy seeps into the healing vibrations around us all. Today’s practice offers a means to clear and open proactive, empathetic energies, so that the ability to reach out to another rises to the fore. Further, if you sense an unidentifiable need within yourself, the practice will help you to hone in on and shed unsettling thoughts or emotions.

The warm-up for this routine directly relates to the practice’s aim to loosen and release blocked energy. Standing, begin to shake the left ankle; when the joint rattles-and-rolls, bring the shaking up the leg. Continue to involve the entire limb from ankle to hip, shaking vigorously for about 30 seconds. Then, repeat on the right side for another 30 seconds.

Immediately begin to shake the left wrist, then working the entire arm from shoulder to wrist into the movement. After about 30 seconds of energetic shaking, repeat on the right arm for another 30 seconds.

Finally, shake the entire body powerfully and rapidly. Bounce, bend, weight-shift: Move with intention and commitment, knowing that you are expelling any detrimental energy. Continue the full-body shake for 1 minute.

Now, bring yourself into your favorite seated pose. The two primary movements of this practice are small, yet exceptionally fast and vigorous. The first stimulates the Heart Center, which enables one to see the Truth of a situation: It will open one to an awareness of the needs of others; simultaneously, it will guide you to a feeling of gentleness with yourself.

To activate this vibration, touch the thumb and pinky fingertips together on each hand; the other three fingers are straight and together. Hold the hands in front of the Heart Center, with one hand closer to the Heart than the other: The palms face the Heart. Rapidly, begin to circle the hands closely around each other, stirring the energy of the Heart. The outward circling should be so vigorous that you feel a slight breeze on your chin. Continue to circle, eyes closed and gazing at the Third Eye, for 3 minutes.

Next, take a moment to stretch or massage the hands and arms. The next part of today’s kriya for active empathy draws the previously aroused Heart energy into the chakras of expression and insight (the Throat and Third Eye chakras). As you awaken and charge these qualities, your ability to help another or yourself is heightened: You will perceive the true need and be able to respond in accordance with the wisdom of the Universe.

To create this energy, bring the hands into fists with the index finger extended. Bend the arms, elbows near waist and hands next to the shoulders; the index fingers point straight up. Here, begin circling again, this time feeling that the index fingers are generating the stir. The circles are small and outward, i.e., the right side moves counter-clockwise, and the left moves clockwise. Move with such rapidity and conviction that your entire body vibrates in response. Continue for 3 minutes.

As you complete the circling, inhale deeply, extending the arms straight up alongside the ears; stretch the palms open and the fingers wide. Suspend the breath for as long as possible. When you need to exhale, lower the arms to the sides at shoulder level, palms up, fingers spread. Inhale here, and suspend the breath again for as long as you can. Upon the exhale, draw the hands into Prayer Pose in front of the Heart Center, the edges of the thumbs resting against the sternum. 

Here, take some time to steady the breath; gradually begin to deepen each inhale and exhale. With your closed eyes keenly focused upward to the Third Eye, allow the specific energies that you have created to permeate your mind and heart; connect to your empowered compassion. Then, if you like, settle into Svasana for another few minutes.

Happy Sunday…

Silent Sundays: The “U” in You

The past couple of days reawakened a personal tendency of thought and behavior that I diligently have worked to alter throughout the years. Certain interactions and events preceded my “relapse”: Basically, I found myself in what felt like a “Me vs. Them” situation. Such a dynamic typically arises when one feels vulnerable or insecure; it takes great insight and determination to oust oneself free of the feeling.

While the adage, “If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em,” may seem like a worthy option, I find that it can feel untrue to Self, and worse, allow bitterness to taint any real sense of resolution. Thus, for me, what helps most in conflict or tension with others is to find the truth in the very simple statement: “It is not about you.”

Rather, it is about seeking and eliciting the “U” in You: Universality. As I wrestled yesterday with why I was feeling so strongly about a rather inconsequential turn of events, I had to push through those emotions: What was required was an Ego check, and then a deep pursuit of what the others involved may be thinking and feeling. Ultimately, I could see that their desire for a specific outcome was not purposely a slight of me and my opposite desire. Fundamentally, their objective and feelings under the circumstances were different, but not antagonistic toward mine.

And that is when the universal human condition becomes clear. Always, we each have our own minds and hearts to consider and protect and open and change; yet, also always, we have to remember that that state of being is the same for all. Not always will minds and hearts behave synchronously or harmoniously; yet the underlying connection of humanness—of mortality, of emotion, of struggle, of elevation—lives on nonetheless. 

Universality, like the Divine, exists whether or not we see it, feel it, or “believe” in it.

Today’s practice is a classic, straightforward, yet immensely powerful kundalini kriya called Ego Eradicator. The pranayama and associated mudra posture forces one out of the part of Self that inhibits Universality. While this may feel at first like “losing” yourself, the opposite is the result: The more one  sheds selfish sorrow, bias, arrogance, resentment—all born of an overactive Ego—the more space one creates for the True Self. As this essential You expands within, it—You—are more able to abide Universality, and thus to connect with the Universe.

To begin, seat yourself in the most comfortable, upright posture you can establish (with or without props). You may want to prepare with a few neck and shoulder rolls, shoulder shrugs, and/or spinal flexes. Then raise the arms straight up alongside the ears; from there, open them to the sides, about 30 degrees away from your head. Reach strongly through the elbows, opening the armpits, but keeping the shoulders relaxed and down.

Bend at the wrists, so that the pinky sided of each hand is parallel to the floor, palms facing forward. Then, curl all the fingertips into the pads at their bases; the thumb, however, remains straight and points directly upward. Hold this expansive, yet specifically angled mudra strongly; begin Breath of Fire through the nose. (Remember that you can begin by panting through the open mouth like a dog, in equal, rapid inhales and exhales. Once that breath is consistent, close the mouth and continue Breath of Fire through the nose.)

With eyes closed, gazing steadfastly up to the Third Eye, inhabit the powerful mudra and breath for 3 minutes. Then, as you take a deep, long breath in, bring the thumb tips to touch each other overhead; suspend the breath as you guide the energy up through the spine and crown. Then, when you must, exhale fully as you relax the hands and slowly sweep the arms down through the side space.

Sit quietly, eyes remaining closed, as you feel the charge of prana and the presence of peace within. If you like, move into a few minutes of Svasana to further integrate the effects of your practice.

Happy Sunday…

Silent Sundays: Break Free

The other day, three weeks into the COVID-19 protocol of social and physical distancing, my neighbor half-jokingly admitted that she does not do well “in captivity.” Certainly, the recommendations to keep to ourselves and to stay home during this time can wear thin: While we each find ways to pass time and communicate, feelings of entrapment, impatience, and boredom can nonetheless arise. Today’s Silent Sunday uses posture, movement, and mantra to open the body in all directions, and infuse the mind with the promise of freedom and expansion.

The practice begins in Baby Pose: buttocks on heels, torso resting on thighs, forehead to floor, and arms stretched forward on the ground. As you inhale, lift the hips, torso, and head to stretch forward into Cobra (on the hands) or Sphinx (on the forearms); exhale to return to baby Pose. Continue to inhale as you elongate forward, opening the chest and front body, and exhale to curl back, releasing tension in the neck and back: Find a moderate, steady pace; as the muscles warm and the spine awakens, begin to move a bit more quickly and fluidly. 

Add a mantra to the movement: As you move into Cobra, chant, “Ong;” as you push back into Baby Pose, chant, “Sohung.” The Heart (Fourth) Chakra responds deeply to the vibration of the mantra; an open, energized heart allows us to feel connected to Universal Consciousness. As we move and chant, any sense of confinement gives way to the liberating energy of the Heart Center. Continue to chant and move for 3 minutes.

Next, come into a crossed-leg position. Be sure that the spine is long, and the hips and shoulders are relaxed; if you like, perch on the edge of a pillow or rolled blanket to ensure your ease and alignment. Sitting tall, inhale; exhale, and side bend to the right. Allow the spine to curve and the head to hang; place the hand or forearm on the floor for support, depending on the depth of your bend. Because you will be in this pose for 3 minutes, you may find that you start with the hand on the floor, but with time, can move more deeply, resting onto the forearm.

After 3 minutes, slowly rise out of the bend. Inhale deeply in the upright position, and exhale to bend to the left. Make sure that you curve directly sideways, and not to the front or back. Remain here, breathing fully, for another 3 minutes. These deep, yin-style side bends stimulate the liver and gall bladder, lending a detoxifying effect to the physical stretch.

Now, come onto your belly for Gentle Bow. With the chin or forehead on the floor, bend the knees; reach back with the hands to hold the ankles or tops of the feet. There is no need to pull or lift in this version of Bow. Simply draw the feet toward to the buttocks, and breathe deeply. Remain in the position for 2 minutes.

From the belly, roll onto the right side. With the right arm on the floor, stretched long, align the legs with the torso, so that you are in one long, straight line. Reach the left arm alongside the left ear, so that it stretches long, parallel to the right arm. Inhale to lift the left leg a couple of inches, extending straight out from the hip; lift the left arm to the same level as the leg. Reach the left hand and foot strongly away from each other, powerfully opening the left side body. Exhale to release the stretch and lower the arm and leg. Repeat two more times.

Then, help yourself onto the left side. Recreate the long line of your body, legs, and arms. Again, inhale to slightly lift and stretch the right arm and leg in opposite directions; exhale to lower. Repeat the stretch two more times.

Shift back into Baby Pose for a brief rest, breathing deeply for a few breaths. Then, come onto all fours, and move into Downward Dog. Establish your foundation, so that you can move from Down Dog into Upward Dog as smoothly as possible. This movement reflects the opening move, yet requires more strength and flexibility; begin gradually, finding the right positioning for your body’s structure, and then flow with the back and forth move. Inhale into Upward Dog, exhale into Down Dog. As with the original movement, chant, “Ong,” as you move into Up Dog; chant, “Sohung,” as you shift back into Down Dog. Continue for 3 minutes.

When you are ready, ease down onto the floor for several minutes of Svasana.

Happy Sunday…

Power Up: 30-Day Practice to Blast Through the Month

Here in New York State, the corona virus restrictions are in place through the end of this month. While this could make April seem endless, why not turn the next 30 days into a fierce invigoration of mental and physical will? The following routine will shore up your mood, stamina, and immune system, while also ensuring healthy digestion. Because you will do the same routine every day for a month, feel free to start moderately: By mid-month, increase your times; by the end of the month, aim to do all exercises for the longest amount of time suggested.

Every day, begin with your favorite version of spinal flexes: For example, lie on the floor for pelvic tilts and lifts; sit for flexes forward, back, and circling; or stand for torso circles, side bends, and moving twists.

My favorite warm-up for this practice is the circling Cat/Cow; this variation deeply awakens the breath and also stimulates the organs of digestion and elimination. On all fours, introduce your spine to the traditional Cat/Cow move: inhale as you lift the chest and tail, creating a deep spinal arch; exhale to hang the head, tuck the tail, and round the back. After a few rounds of this classic move, add a circling movement with the whole body: inhale as you arch and roll forward and to the right; exhale to round the spine, as you circle the body back and around to the left. After about 30 seconds, reverse the direction of the circle on all fours for another 30 seconds.

Now you are ready to start the set. Come into your favorite seated pose for 1-3 minutes of powerful pranayama designed to boost immunity. As you do Breath of Fire through the right nostril only, you rev up the Sun energy in your system; this prana burns away mental and physical invaders, i.e., negativity and toxins.With your left thumb, block off the left nostril; the other fingers are straight and together, with the palm facing toward the right. 

Bend the right arm in by your side, palm forward, as if taking an oath. Make a fist of the right hand, but leave the index finger out and pointing straight up. With eyes closed, gazing at the Third Eye, begin Breath of Fire. Remember that you may begin with the mouth open, panting strongly like a dog—equal, rapid inhales and exhales—then close the mouth and continue the powerful, fiery breath through the nose for 1-3 minutes.

Next, lie on your back. Interlace the fingers behind the neck, and draw the elbows to the floor (or as close as your shoulder flexibility will allow). Raise both legs to 60 degrees; they should be straight, knit tightly together, with feet pointed. If you need to elevate the hips to protect your low back, use a pillow or block. If your legs can not straighten, do your best: Over the course of the next 30 days, you will notice progress. In this position, do Breath of Fire for 1-3 minutes.

Then, tuck the knees in toward the belly, With the arms extended to the sides, inhale; drop both knees to one side as you exhale and turn the head to the opposite side. Inhale to lift them back center; exhale to the other side, turning the head accordingly. Continue this back and forth twist with breathing pattern for 1-3 minutes.

The first twist helps to relieve tension in the lower spine, which also aids digestion. For the mid-upper spine, and to help open and strengthen the lungs, draw your knees as close to your chest as possible. Repeat the same side-to-side twist as you inhale center, and exhale to either side, for 1- 3 minutes.

Now, roll to one side to help yourself up, so that you can sit on your heels in Rock Pose. As always, you may slip a pillow or folded blanket between your heels and bottom for support. By simply sitting in this position for 1-3 minutes, digestive fires are stoked.

To enhance this action, and to build stamina and patience, we can add a pranayama technique. Bring the arms straight up by the ears, reaching strongly toward the ceiling. Interlace the fingers, squeezing the palms together: Inhale fully, and with the breath in, pump the belly vigorously. When you need to exhale, breathe out completely; on this empty breath, pump again until you need to breathe in. Continue this suspended-breath-and-pump pattern for 1-3 minutes.

The final moves are done standing. With the feet comfortably apart, inhale the arms overhead; exhale to bend forward, bringing the hands to the ground. Continue this simple inhale-up/exhale-down movement for 1-3 minutes. Simple modifications would be: bend the knees as you come into the forward bend; keep the hands on the low back or by your sides; and/or move as slowly and deliberately as you need to. Again, after several days of practice, you will notice that you are able to move more fluidly. 

Next, stand tall. Bring the arms behind you, interlocking the fingers and extending the arms straight. Then, arch your spine, as if to move into a backbend; tilt your head back as much as your neck comfort will allow. With the eyes open, focus on a spot above you. In this heart-opening, demanding posture, begin Breath of Fire. Continue for 1-3 minutes. When you are done, slowly realign yourself to stand strong, yet relaxed. With eyes closed, breathe deeply for a few breaths. Then, help yourself to the floor for a few minutes of svasana. 

Happy April…


Silent Sundays: A Second Wind

During this upended corona virus period, each of us will feel our mood and energy ebb and flow. This undulating wave of energy is natural throughout life; however, when in the midst of a seemingly endless—and somewhat scary—challenge, the fluctuations may seem more pronounced and unsettling. It is likely that at least one day or one hour will mark your personal downswing: The restrictions and the ever-changing statistics and news bulletins diminish energy reserves and the determination to stay positive.

When the stark reality of the situation hits hard—i.e., no one knows how long this will continue, or when we will feel free and safe again—immerse yourself in the following practice. The moves and pranayama reach deeply into the lungs, helping you to breathe more fully. As the breath deepens, the eliminatory function of the Lungs increases; the result is renewed energy and mental clarity. With these qualities reinstated, we can persevere with a balanced perspective. 

The yang partner to the Lung organ system is the Large Intestine. These two meridians are located on the inner and outer arm, with the thumb marking one end of the Lung meridian; the index finger lies at one end of the Large Intestine meridian. Thus, today’s practice will focus on strong arm movements with the thumb and index fingers playing a significant role.

Begin with some warm-ups to release tension in the spine, shoulders, and neck, and to find your breath. On all fours, move into Cat/Cow spinal flexes for 1 minute. Then, immediately shift into Downward Dog. Stay here, eyes closed, breathing deeply for another minute. 

From Down Dog, bring the knees back down, and sit back onto the heels for Baby Pose with a few deep breaths. (The forehead rests on the floor and the arms extend back on the ground toward the feet.) Then, lift the arms and the head; the torso rests on the thighs with the head in line with the spine. The arms reach back next to the legs, with the hands at hip level; turn the palms to face each other. Begin Breath of Fire; continue for 1 minute.

Next, roll up to sit on your heels; you may place a pillow between your heels and bottom. Tilt your torso forward, so that you can place your palms on the floor in front of the knees. Inhale through the nose, and deeply arch the spine forward as the head tilts up and slightly back. To exhale, round the spine backward; the head comes down, bringing the chin in toward the throat. Exhale by sticking your tongue down toward the chin, and push the air from the throat with a raspy “hah,” as if to clear your throat. Continue the flexes with breath at a steady, but rapid pace for 1 minute.

Now, sit in whatever position is most comfortable for you. Bring the hands behind the neck in Venus Lock (fingers interlaced). Keeping the elbows up and parallel to the ground, inhale to twist the upper body to the left; exhale to twist to the left. Continue for 1 minute.

Keep the hands in Venus Lock behind the neck, but switch the interlace of the fingers; it will be the “unnatural” way for you. Inhale to straighten the arms up, lengthening through the elbows; the palms turn to face up as you extend the arms. Exhale to bring the hands back down behind the neck. Continue briskly—inhale up, exhale down—for 1 minute. 

Now, bring the hands in front of the chest. Once again, interlace the fingers; this time, create Venus Lock in the way that is natural, or most comfortable for you. Turn the palms to face out: Inhale as you push the arms straight forward; exhale to bring them back in, stopping a few inches away from the chest. This internal rotation of the shoulders with the palms facing forward may be challenging at first; with the vigorous movement and powerful breath, any discomfort should resolve. Continue for 1 minute.

Then, stretch the arms straight up, hugging the ears. Make fists of each hand, leaving the index finger out. With the arms overhead, turn the fists, so that the palms face forward; the extended index fingers point straight up, and touch each other side-to-side. With the eyes closed and gazing at the Third Eye, inhale through pursed lips to create a whistle; exhale, also in a whistle. Continue for 1 minute.

Now, bring the arms down to place the hands on the knees. Begin Sufi Grinds, rolling the torso clockwise; incorporate spinal flexions as you roll, so that the movement massages the organs of elimination. Roll and grind to the right for 1 minute, inhaling as the circle comes forward, exhale as you round the spine to circle back. Then reverse the direction, moving counter-clockwise, for 1 more minute.

Next, bring the elbows in toward the waist, upper arms resting against the rib cage. Angle the forearms out slightly, leaving 2-3 inches between them and the upper arms. Use the thumbs to hold their respective index fingers into the palms; the other fingers are straight and together. Bend at the wrist, so that the palms face up as much as possible, fingers pointing out to the sides.

With eyes closed and gazing up to the Third Eye, inhale through the nose in this starting position. Exhale slowly and deeply through a rounded mouth as you extend the arms to the sides at shoulder level; by the end of the extension, the palms should face down. Continue the movement at a steady, modest pace, inhaling through the nose, exhaling through the mouth, for 2 minutes.

Release the arms down, and place one palm, then the other on the low belly. Breathe naturally for a few breaths here as you allow the energy to settle and stabilize your center. 

For the final meditation, you will hold a different mudra on each hand. For the left hand, bring the thumb tip to touch to base of the pinky finger on the palm. Place the now-prominent base knuckle of the thumb on the Third Eye; the other fingers are together, pointing straight up. The left palm faces to the right.

The right hand holds Gyan Mudra: thumb tip connected to the tip of the index finger, other fingers relaxed. Rest the right hand on the right knee, palm down. With eyes closed, gazing at the Third Eye, begin long, deep breathing, in and out through the nose. These mudras support the eliminative and fortifying energies that you have stoked with your practice. The result is the ability to reconnect with Universal Consciousness, internally and externally, above and below.

Happy Sunday…

Life As We Knew It

As the corona virus pandemic restrictions continue throughout the world, life as we knew it here in America has shifted dramatically. For some, perhaps, the stay-at-home admonishment does little to change the daily routine: Many elderly, remote workers, stay-home moms and dads, and seasonal or contract workers typically spend much of their time at home. 

The difference, however, lies in the loss of freedom to choose to emerge; the inability to patronize gyms, libraries, personal care businesses (bodywork, hair salons, etc.), restaurants, and many shops; and the encroaching feeling of vulnerability and nervousness. In retrospect to the time only two weeks ago when we were still able to move about freely—with confidence and contentment—life as we knew it seems a distant memory. 

I feel a sharp pang of missing, of remorse, of shame: The twinge belies the ways in which most of us took for granted the infrastructure and external appearance of how we conducted ourselves mere weeks ago. I know that I gave thanks for those things that many do not have: friends, family, work, general health, and a deep spiritual abiding. Yet gratefulness often did not sway me from partaking in activities that perhaps were unproductive or self-defeating. Awareness did not necessarily cause me to change some of those ways.

Now, as the outside world stills considerably, and the fierce ambition to acquire that drives so many has been stunted by a directive of limitation, we all are faced with… ourselves. 

Each and every day that drones on during this time, I wake up and am able to sustain my morning ritual. Prayers and mantras while still half asleep; stretches beneath the sheets; puttering my way to turn on the stove, laptop, and lights. While the kettle boils, I wash and then unfurl my yoga blanket.

I hear the whistle of my turquoise teapot and begin a brew. As the tea steeps, I check my email. Then, I shift to my soft support on the floor: roll the joints, tilt the hips, move the spine, and breathe deeply. Ten to 15 minutes of moving into the day, and my tea is ready.

I relish the warm, creamy, sweet drink that I create every morning, As I sip, I peruse the news, be it hard-core or celebrity-tinged.

“Tea-ed” up, my full yoga and meditation practice ensues: I waken fully, and am ready, come what may.

This is the beginning of all of my days. 

Now, however, I wonder what my mind and body will do with the rest of the day.

Should I go out on a grocery “expedition?” Will it be a day of phone calls and email contact? And without a pool to swim in, do I walk or dance, stretch or strengthen?

Will my company be a book, a movie, or a trip down musical-memory lane? Will I seek out neighbors for a chat (albeit at a “safe” distance)? Or will I choose solitude and contemplation? And if that is the choice, where will my thoughts lead?

Today, tomorrow, and for probably many more days to come, the pattern will be one of uncertainty, prayer, hope, movement, meditation, despondence, renewed strength, encore despair, and a silent, but fierce will to keep going.

It will be a roller coaster.

But when has it ever been otherwise? 

Every day of Life—even before this altered existence—we all have felt the ebbs and flow: some more brutal and life-defining than others. The difference now is that we have been afforded the stark realization that the ups and downs actually mean something. They DEMAND RECOGNITION.

My vow to myself is to change every single thing and every single thought that I have been doing or having, that does me no good. For if I engage in “no good,” that is an energy that percolates within; and that energy in turn is one that I conduct and emanate. Clearly, this world, in this time, can do without an added vibe of “no good.”

May each and every one of us hold ourselves accountable to ourselves, so that we may make this day—this Life—easier, softer, and more hospitable for all.

Silent Sundays: Now is the Time

If ever there were a time to enter silence, now is IT.


Because you can…

With closings, travel and social restrictions, and physical distancing, we all are granted the opportunity to delve within.

And when one investigates the emotions and thoughts that may sometimes seem too daunting to contemplate, one can begin to clear away that which spurs suffering and inhibits growth.

Whether you are home alone, with family, or surrounded by flatmates, decide to commit to One Full Day of Silence. As you move through 24 hours of no chatter and no discussion, turn on your awareness: Does the lack of verbal interaction make you uneasy? Is your inner environment welcoming, or does it rail against cloistering? 

With each bit of physical or mental discomfort that may arise during the day, regard it as objectively as possible: Observe and record, if you like, the what-why-when circumstances of any emotional surge or negativity. Note, too, how your energy shifts as you become accustomed to not needing to respond, interject, or opine.

This is the Silent Sunday of all Silent Sundays: Let it take you to a mental and spiritual place that you may never have imagined. Go within, and discover the riches that lie buried beneath the distracting din.

And if such an undertaking feels silly, or demanding, or sparks anxiety, lie down. Close your eyes, and turn them upward to focus on the Third Eye. Breathe deeply and slowly through your nose. Move your mind away from the fray, by dint of your breath:

In for 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8; out for 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8. 

Body calm, thoughts stilled: You are silent.

Happy Sunday…

A Chance to Change

In the midst of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic that currently affects the whole of humanity, it is far too easy to be swept away by fear, anxiety, and even anger. Personally, today marked my first true sense of dismay: Granted, I quickly checked and changed my outlook, but the brief appearance of helplessness was enough to make me consider ways that each of us can greet this immensely challenging time with strength and perspective. Perhaps, when we have come through this crisis—which we will—we can look back with reverence at this period that affords us a profound opportunity for personal and societal growth.

My own dose of “corona blues” came with the announcement that the pool where I swim would be closed indefinitely. Swimming, a longtime and integral part of my health regimen, has become more to me than a fitness activity: Now with severe arthritis in both hips, I regard my time in the water as the salve that permits me to persevere despite near-constant discomfort. Gliding through the water provides my body and mind with an ease and grace that is otherwise lacking as I plod and clunk my way through each day.

But when one realizes that there is no way around an undesirable situation—“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change”—the recourse is to adapt. While I may not be able to replace the deep sense of peace and power that swimming brings, I can shore up my ability to accept, shift, and remain positive. For me, with regard to the closed pool, that means doubling up on lengthening and strengthening modalities (Pilates, hatha yoga); it also means more and longer daily practice of kundalini kriya and meditation.

For everyone, find whatever it is that yields a sense of self-advocacy, self-empowerment, and open-heartedness. As we are encouraged to keep physical space from others, work to increase your aura and magnetic field: In this way, connective energy can bridge the gap of distance.

As we are urged to restrict moving about in the world, aim to expand your Third Eye and to elevate your pranic body. 

And if cabin fever sets in, or the doldrums begin to loom, turn on your heel and refuse their entry into your system: Read, watch, or listen to something or someone uplifting, or go outside to breathe some air. (Be mindful of your surroundings, but it is not all infected with The Virus.) 

Sublimate your feelings through creative expression: Draw, dance, write, cook, sing, or delve into a new hobby that you have been meaning to try.

And when you are out and about (for there are certain things that all humans need to do: food shop, for example), a smile will go an extra-long way these days. If you determine to present a positive attitude and outlook, the energy will be felt, regardless of physical distance. 

Move through these days and through the shuttered world with calm and kindness. Eventually, this, too, shall pass: Wouldn’t it be wonderful to look back and be grateful for lessons learned and changes made during this time? 

Silent Sundays: Coronaville

May the title of today’s piece allude to a foggy memory in the very near future. 

As of this moment, though, the corona virus (COVID-19) currently affects the entire world. For many, this period has triggered the primal survival instinct and upended a sense of basic security. Granted, each person is, to some degree, at risk for the virus: However, common sense and today’s practice can help assuage pervasive anxiety and its many manifestations during this precarious time.

One aspect of this “national emergency” that can be tempered immediately is the way in which we receive language that perhaps subliminally heightens nervousness. When one is ill, the most fundamental step to take is to stay home. The phrases “self-isolate” and “self-quarantine” have been coined for this rudimentary practice; in my opinion, the words perpetuate anxiety and disconnectedness.

Additionally, the body-language lexicon of greeting gestures is changing. Hugs and handshakes now invoke near-recoiling; fist and elbow bumps are meant to serve as the new salutations. The term for this shift, “social distancing” (which also includes general limiting of sharing space with others), is another linguistic snake, surreptitiously winding its way into the psyches of humans with its poison of paranoia.

While there is a need to heed basic preventive practices and to be mindful of the health of self and of others, it is crucial to monitor the way in which one responds to overarching social precautions. Should you find yourself losing sleep, frightened to leave your home, or agonizing over “what may happen,” take yourself through today’s routine for a dose of deep calm, insight, and renewed positivity.

To begin, lie on your back with legs long and arms by your sides. This first exercise will harmonize the left and right sides of the brain, which will garner rational, objective thinking. On the inhale, draw the left knee in toward the body as the right arm rises up and over the head to the floor: Exhale to return the leg and arm to the original position. Inhale the right knee in as the left arm floats up and over to the floor; exhale back to neutral. Continue alternating sides, breathing fully and deeply, for 3 minutes.

Next, roll over onto the belly. Perch the chin on the ground with the arms by the sides, palms against the floor. Inhale as you lift the hips up; the belly and upper thighs should also lift away from the ground. Exhale to lower down. Continue to inhale and lift the mid-body, and exhale to lower. Move as quickly as you can: This move will rouse and balance the First Chakra, which is responsible for feelings of safety and security. Continue for 2 minutes.

Briefly press back into Baby Pose for a few deep, restful breaths. Then, roll up to sit on the heels, or in a crossed-leg position. Extend the arms to the sides at shoulder level, palms up: Rapidly open and close the fingers into the palms; inhale to curl the fingers, and exhale to extend them straight. The breath will become close to a Breath of Fire as the breath matches the quick pace of the moving fingers. Continue for 1 minute.

Now, turn the palms down to face the floor. Continue the same breath and finger movement for another minute. To complete this kriya for nerve reorganization, bring the arms up to a 60-degree angle in your side space; it will be as if your head and shoulders are the base of a V shape formed with the arms. With palms facing each other, repeat the rapid breath and finger movement for one more minute.

Next, extend the legs straight out in front of you. Using your hands, flat or in fists on the floor next to the hips, lift the buttocks and legs off of the floor: Immediately drop the body back down to the ground. Inhale to lift; exhale to drop. Attempt to lift the hips and both legs, including the feet, up; engage the lower abdominal  and quadricep muscles to aid this move. If you can not include the feet, simply lift and drop the hips and thighs. Continue for 3 minutes. This move shakes free tension and fear that can roost in the First Chakra, thereby eliminating the sense of threat and vulnerability.

Finally, come into your favorite seated posture for a meditation with visualization. Rest the back of the hands on the knees, palms open, fingers relaxed. Close the eyes, and begin to breathe in and out through the nose, deepening the breath into the throat with a hollow, whooshing sound. Consciously lengthen and slow each breath in and out.

As you breathe, begin to silently chant the following mantra: “Brain and body, health and peace.”  If you feel drawn to different wording, or have a particular mantra that evokes protection and calm for you, feel free to use it. Regardless of the words you choose, inhale as you gaze (through closed lids) up to the Third Eye; exhale as you visualize healthy, comforting breath flowing down through the spinal corridor. 

Then, inhale into the Heart Center; exhale to see and send healing energy down through the arms into the palms and fingers. Next, inhale into the Dan Tien (three finger widths below the navel); exhale to send the breath down through both legs into soles of the feet and toes.

Using the suggested mantra, inhale as you silently chant, “Brain and body;” exhale on the words “health and peace.” Continue the pattern of inhale/exhale first with Third Eye/ spine; then with Heart Center/arms; and finally with low belly and legs. Repeat the cycle, infusing your physiology and psyche with clear, calm, and healthy energy, for 11 minutes.

To close the practice, settle into the deep rest of Svasana for as long as you like.

Happy Sunday…