Monday, April 27, 2009

basketball stadium. Everywhere you looked, there were scarves tied loosely, draped over shoulders, wrapped and looped and folded. Pink, purple, black, white, brown, blue, green, patterned and plain. I was doing my part to represent by wearing three scarves: different shades of purple and pink, layered.

From the perspective of Ayurveda, scarves are a great way to calm vata, the elements of air and ether or empty space. When we are exposed to the cold, the wind, the air, the air within us blows even more. One of the ways to keep the winds that stir up too much calmed down and in a pattern is to warm, contain, soothe and nurture. Wrapping a scarf around ourselves contains what could be a potential hurricane when the winds pick up.

Packing a scarf is one of the most important things I do as I get ready to go on a trip. On an airplane, in a car, riding a boat or pedaling a bicycle, a scarf is one of the most important items of clothing I can wear. It keeps me from feeling cold in shifting temperatures and climates, breathing the canned air of a plane or cutting through the windy air on a bike. It keeps my core temperature warmer; it even makes me feel more grounded. For a group of people coming from the high windy steppes of Tibet, what better gift is there than a scarf?

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Waking up and going to sleep are the in-between times, the times when our malleable consciousness has the opportunity to shift and change and adjust. What we think and repeat and process and do in these moments can set up the tone of our day, or even reprogram our mind and our state of being.

I love the early morning hours before dawn, before sunrise, when quiet envelopes the earth, when quiet is like a soothing blanket. This is the time when there is the promise of renewal, new beginnings. These are the hours of vata in the Ayurvedic system, of emptiness and movement, of potentiality and possibility. If we can take the opportunity to set the tone of the day in these moments, we can build a momentum that sees us through the day. We can fill ourselves with the joy, the love, the peace, the birdsong, the vibration of the universe and the intention and that is what we can wake up with, that is what we can walk with when we set our feet on the earth.

As I write this, the sky is slowly becoming brighter. I hear the harmony of chirping that is a sound more profound and more delightful than any alarm clock. To accompany this, lately I’ve been chanting, either out loud, or in my mind each morning when I wake up. It is a great gift, this life, and how we begin each day every day prepares us for our ability to give our greatest gifts and receive our greatest love.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

I find myself craving silence. Not just a moment of silence or the thought of silence or some time when I’m not talking, but the kind of silence that I can wrap myself in like a blanket. It’s the kind of silence that doesn’t involve going to a yoga class in a studio where a teacher provides instruction or there’s music or there’s people wanting to say hello before or after class. I’m looking for the kind of silence uninterrupted by music, even instrumental, or the television. Silence. I do, though, welcome the sounds of the birds outside my open window. And the birds remind me a bit of the whispers of my breath, the wind through the trees, the far off sounds of cars that are inescapable in my current habitat but blend in. The far-off foghorn, that’s okay too.

It’s not that I’m antisocial. Far from it, in fact. My morning started today with cutting and pasting and editing class descriptions and teacher profiles for the New Living Expo, this month in San Francisco and then moved on to my regular class at the Montecito YMCA complete with goofiness, made-up words (think unstiffify yourself) and admonitions to get juicy in the joints. Next up, board of directors’ conference call, the California Association of Ayurvedic Medicine (CAAM). It reminds me a bit of episodes of Pinky and the Brain my ex-boyfriend loved to watch, and I got hooked on by proxy: “Brain, what are we going to do today?” “Take over the world.” So CAAM’s purpose in life is to take over the world and spread the message of the healing power of Ayurveda. Nearly an hour and a half of concoctions before I’m off to see Sri Karunamayi chant and sing to remove our obstacles and honor our divine nature and then talk about the need for laughter (and we laughed), turning the tide of negativity, finding that part of ourselves that is divine and then blessings and lunch with friends old and new. Hours and hours of social time.

Now, all I want is silence. It’s rejuvenating, regenerating, restorative. Our words have power, so when we take a moment to hold them in, the charge builds. Silence allows us to digest. And digestion, according to Ayurveda, is the essence, the root of our health and well-being. All day long we absorb and take in sensory impressions, through our mouth, our eyes, our ears, our skin. It nearly never ends. Everything we take in, in every moment, becomes part of us, part and parcel of our cellular makeup, our mind and our body and our very being. Without taking the time to pause, we get indigestion. It’s just like if we ate constantly, never stopping the motion of tasting, chewing and swallowing. When would we process?

So those moments, minutes, hours of silence when awake are precious, to be treasured, enjoyed, savored. It’s part of what makes us healthy. It’s the yin to the yang of activity and socializing.

Now, back to the birds and the breath.