Sunday, November 30, 2008

Terror in Mumbai - do I fear death!

It was the evening before thanksgiving and as I drove up North with my munchkins toward Seattle, I received a text message from one of my employees "Did you hear about Mumbai"? I replied "No" and she replied "Terrorist attacks"! I was numb, but this was not an unusual news, its happened many times before - I could only reply "Ok"!

Once I arrived at the hotel and flicked the TV on to Larry King Live, I realized the gravity of the terror. Two major hotels that are major South Mumbai landmarks are bombed and attacked and many innocent lives lost. I was stunned and shocked. I could only watch it for a bit - my kids were ready for the night at the water park, I couldn't help but detach.

I remained detached for most of the weekend. I would go on the net and read through the sites on what the status was. It was incredible to see a group of 10 take on hundreds of police and commandos. It was war live on TV. I could only imagine the sinister planning that went into this. The Taj Mahal Heritage Hotel is a maze, most wonderful maze of rooms and floors with amazing antique furniture and wooden finishes. Just two years ago I spent and afternoon there with my family, lunch at the pool side restaurant. I just visualized it being gone. I was also at the Oberoi a few years back visiting a family member who stays there on every trip. His suite becomes a congregation of many family members who come visit. This was all to spooky and frightening and hit home, but I remained numb. I started questioning my own trip next week, where I fly into Mumbai, though only for a few hours, and then drive to Pune. What if the airport is next?

This whole 3 day ordeal affected me, but not until I went onto the times of India obituary section and then it became all to real and unbearable. It was unbelievable to see pictures of folks, couples, fathers, mothers who died in this ordeal. They all seem to have the date of 11/28/08 as their date of demise. Somehow 11/26 and 11/27 was skipped. I guess it was the day they were turned to their families. This whole incident has become overwhelming for me and I started questioning if I should travel to India at all.

I feel fearful, but then I recall the Sutra discussion from the week prior where the Sutras teach you be fearless, especially fear of death. So, I have decided to dispel my fears and move forward with my trip to India next week. How can I fear death? How can I fear destiny and how can I let the terrorists hold me back?

I will be flying to Mumbai next week and then will be in Pune for work and also attend Guruji's 90th birthday celebrations. The class on Sutras last week have given me much strength and a pathway to continue move inwards and find strength in dealing with trials and tribulations of life. Being in the present gives me the ability to stay calm and focused on whats most important in life - to shine your light and let your love and compassion lead you on while you leave your anger and ego behind.


The Yogi

Saturday, November 22, 2008

A Sutra Class with Chris Saudek

I had the pleasure of taking a two hour Yoga Sutra class with Chris Saudek, a well know Iyengar yoga teacher, who was conducting a work shop at the Julie Lawrence Yoga Center this weekend.

I walked into to find many of my fellow students from Sunset, along with Nina in the class. Everyone except for me had the Sutra book and a note book - I guess there was a required reading of certain Sutra's but somehow I missed that part. It wasn't really intimidating though - I was there to learn about the Sutras, even though I have made invaluable attempts to read through the Light on Sutra's book by Guruji, most of my learning has been through listening many of the teacher's especially Nina refer to the sutras in class and the one that I have been most impacted by is the sutra that tells us to be "indifferent, tranquil and detached".

It was a very interactive class, as Chris went through some selected Sutras and there were some interesting discussions and thoughts presented. Though I don't claim to be an authority on the sutras, but here are some of my interpretations of some of the essence of some of the Sutras that have had an important impact on me and my life and have changed my view of the world in the last three years:

1. The purpose of Asanas: Chris asked the class about their interpretation of the asanas, why asanas were important as one of the eight limbs of yoga. I didn't get a chance to put my two cents in, as I had already in some way challenged the notion of long, interrupted practice of asanas as a way to develop detachment. Asanas are invaluable in helping you go from "the outer to inner self", slowly and thoughtfully, but in a highly physical manner. It is the physical mechanism to activate your body to allow you to deep into your inner mind. Understanding of your inner self allows gives you a pathway to achieving detachment and neutrality.

2. Detachment : Detachment is really about being neutral and balanced. I feel we cannot be completely detached, complete compassionate, or dis compassionate, desired or undesired. Anything in extreme is unbalancing for our mind, body and spirit. Detachment allows to simply step away from situations and events and allows to experience and observe events that are distractions to our mind, disruptive to our lives, in a neutral manner. Detachment allows us to express the love and compassion that is seeded in our soul. Detachment gives us the ability to balance all the virtues and vices that are also seeded in us. It allows us to deal with our fears and insecurity.

3. The inner mind: Chris asked everyone to describe a picture of our mind. I answered "circle". She said a circle implies your mind is bound and restrained. I thought about some more and I think our minds are circular, but with a twist, they are really spirals, as a spiral is an evolutionary symbol. I think yesterday I was looking at spiral from the outside in, from the top view of a spiral. Mind evolves and circles like a spiral. To get to your inner mind is an evolution and the essence of the mind is really connected to your soul, what ties all of us together to form the collective soul, the higher being that we are all part of.

There were many other aspects of Sutras that captured my attention in the class, but the essence of what I took back was that we are on a journey, I am on a journey and yoga has helped me make this journey a lot more thoughtful and introspective, allowing me to experience life with a lot more calmness and detachment despite the constant storms and tribulations I face every day. I don't know the outcome of all this, I quite honestly no longer focus on the outcome.

I simply try my best to live in the moment and experience and observe every moment of life as it comes to me with as little malice, judgement, ego and remorse I can. I try not to look back or forward. I just try to remain in the moment. It doesn't mean I don't have visions, desires or purpose - but I make my best efforts to have the balance in order to remain in that moment. That is the essence of detachment and neutrality. That is what I have learnt from the little I have learnt about the Sutras in my journey in the last three years.


The Yogi

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Change and the world will change around us!

Lately, I have not been able to post on here as regularly as I have been in the past. I have really been quite busy with out of town travel and conventions and they can be most taxing in terms of time and energy. I have procrastinated on my yoga practice, but it is slowly coming back as Nuvana has returned from her one month in India and my one-one practice with her commences this week. I have been able to squeeze in my personal training sessions with Nick, and these are really unique as they combine strength training with yoga poses in mind. He has a back ground in body mechanics and yesterday we worked on a number of core strength work outs with weights that hopefully will assist me in a variety of standing poses.

The last few weeks have been taxing on everyone, with the economic meltdown and folks cutting back everywhere. I attribute this meltdown to greed, fear and insecurity. Many of us didn't buy risky mortgages and have regular jobs that didn't need to be impacted by such greed. Greed leads to fear and fear leads to insecurity and that leads to rash decisions, the very opposite of what we are taught in yoga. If we all just took a deep breath and remained calm through all this chaos, the world would not have been any different than what it was 3 months ago. Its amazing how a change in people's thinking about the world and the economy can leash such a calamity that in a matter of a few weeks, the entire world is in the middle of an economic meltdown.

So its time to change our thinking and our stand and being. Its to walk away from the darkness and the goom and doom, and time to walk outside to be under the bright sunny day. Its time to be more compassionate and giving and be less greedy. Its time to be more centered and detached from the chaos and fear, and think more positively about the future. Its time extend our hand out to others and see how we can help them, vs how we can take from them.

Its that simple of a change. And if we can bring that change in ourselves, I am sure the world will change around us! That is an essence of what I have learned in the last 3 years by practicing yoga. Last night I saw a small glimmer of that..... and I continue on this path of change one asana and one breath at a time. I wish the same for you.


The Yogi