Moon Water

Kaveri River, considered sacred as the Ganges by South Indians

Take me to the river, drop me in the water
Dip in to the river, push me in the water 
Hold me, squeeze me, love me, tease me 
'Till I can, 'till I can, I can't tell 
Come on and take me to the river, drop me in the water 
Dip in to the river, push me in the water

-- Al Green

Yesterday was Shivaratri, a time when Shiva devotees fast and go to the temple all night to pray and chant.

Take me to the river!

My devotion was a to make a farewell offering to the cats and dogs at the People for Animals shelter/hospital. In the cat enclosure I found a dying cat, paralyzed from the waist down. (Cannot write more about it...) The healthy dogs and cats looked good, and as I sat with Ginger kitty I fantasized about fostering her and others less fortunate on our next visit.

Drop me in the water

It is a New Moon Day when the sun and the moon are aligned and their pull on the earth's oceans and us (90% water) is at its greatest. And so I rest. 

Hold me, squeeze me, love me, tease me

By the way, there is no crying in baseball, cricket, or Urdhva Dhanurasana — "only an excess of water."  This patched aphorism is part "A League of Their Own"  and part Sharath Jois who (loves cricket and) often shouts "No crying!" during  Mysore and led class back bending.

In class, Sharath does not talk much to students, but he repeated one word three times as he assisted me in Urdhva Dhanurasana recently. This mundane word spoken by the right person at the right time - a moment of openness, had an instantaneous effect. Magical.

Push me in the water

Oddly, I feel most connected to two people here with whom I have never exchanged more than a few words, if that. It is remarkable what can be shared and felt without speech.

Come on and take me to the river 

I cherish all the people I've met here in silence and otherwise, each one a teacher. I will miss the early morning group crunch as we all move toward the Shala door and the steamy shared energy of daily practice. 

But I will not miss bucket baths!

Push me in the water!



*Anicca (in Pali)

Saturdays and Moon Days (full and new) are days of rest for Ashtangis and a great time to allow body and spirit some quiet time. The moon has waned to half today, so this Friday it will be new again.

A few nights later, in the gently waxing moonlight, I will begin the series of trips leading to another continent, another world, and yet I may still be in the same place. Although, the "same place" is ever different, as stable as quicksand....

Here, the changing feel of mornings and evenings is without its cool edge, and some of us are grateful to have a canopy of clouds between us and the sun at midday when we are walking to a painting class, haggling with an auto rickshaw driver, and/or rushing to an Ayurvedic cooking class.

I've always been amazed by the ancient Indians' predilection to categorize all things. It certainly is apparent in Ayurvedic medicine. The positive of all that naming is that it can assist us in looking at the world from a neutral, non-judgemental point of view. An example is the three energetic categories of sattvic, rajasic, and tomasic - peaceful, active, and slow. We need them all to function. (Though sattvic/peaceful for most people usually takes on a more desirable aspect than the other two.)

I am feeling sattvic and tomassic at the moment, a good time to meditate, do a drawing, and rest before tomorrow's 3:15 AM rising for 4:30 AM led class.

I read that if you struggle against quicksand, it gets worse.


3 healthy pals from People for Animals shelter and hospital, Mysore India


A Difficult Post

Clear mind is like the full moon in the sky. Sometimes clouds come and cover it, but the moon is always behind them. Clouds go away, then the moon shines brightly. So don't worry about clear mind: it is always there. When thinking comes, behind it is clear mind. When thinking goes, there is only clear mind. Thinking comes and goes, comes and goes. You must not be attached to the coming or the going. - Seung Sahn

India can be so intense, like being on the mat: you can't run away from what's inside OR outside of you. This week I sucked it up, bit the bullet, and did not run away from a heartbreaking place.

I went to an animal "shelter" in Mysore with a small group of yogi volunteers.

It may be natural to avoid what pains us. I know there is suffering in the world, but because it makes my heart ache, and because I feel helpless to affect change, I have always turned away from such things, certain that my heart and emotions would break. Sure, I sign internet petitions and even march for what (I believe) is right, but rarely have I looked at suffering directly.

When we entered the enclosure of People for Animals, we were greeted with great excitement and enthusiasm by a horde of  happy dogs, eager for attention - to play and be petted.  These dogs, about 50 of them, were normal in every way except most of them had only 3 legs. No one told them they were handicapped!

Then I moved on to the cats which is where the heartache began.

I had planned here to write descriptions of the horrendous and painful afflictions some of the less fortunate cats, dogs, and birds are enduring. But I can't.

Well, one dog jolted me to the core.

I walked back to where the cats and some of the sick, chained and/or isolated (by necessity) animals were. During the time I spent in the cat enclosure, there was a caged, wailing dog nearby. Walking past him without really looking, I returned to my 3 legged friends and then circled back to the cats. Still the dog wailed. This time I noted a horrific, gaping wound on his underbelly. He was in great pain. I was told that the vet would operate on his cancer the next day.

By Western standards the conditions are not good, but the vet and the organization do the best they can, and animals do get adopted. This week I will bring treats for dogs and cats, paper to wad up into balls for the cats (who are able) to play, and some fabric to make chew or throw toys for the dogs.

This visit was something I never thought I could do. Yes, I wept a few times and yes, I survived. And I like to think that if I did not turn away from this, I will not turn away from scary, unpleasant, difficult energies - physical or otherwise - present in myself and others. Can I remain steady when facing anger, hate, ugliness, pain and suffering in myself and others? 

Can I accept truth (without the lens, prism, prison?of my ego) -- in whatever form it may take?


The initial work of yoga, therefore is to carefully observe your mind as you begin to stretch out the breath...as the whole spectrum of a mind-created heaven and hell unfold in actual meditation practice. By learning to stay attentive and focused within these aspects of yoga, you discover the true work is fervent passionate inquiry into the present moment, into what is actually arising, as it arises. 
 - Richard Freeman, The Mirror of Yoga



When nothing is sure, everything is possible.
- Margaret Drabble

Days grow warmer as life here moves into the brilliance of midday and the certainty of all things - classes, meditation, meals, connecting with others, reading, washing clothes, bucket baths, and all the mundane activities that provide structure to the day.

At the same time, whether it's the " magic " of  India or shedding the buffers of one's comfortably controlled life at home - my ordinary routes of escape and retreat have been removed, and I am left open and vulnerable to what does Margaret Drabble say? --- to EVERYTHING. 

Do I gotta love it?
No end to the possibilities!

From moments of suffering (Dukkha) to peace/surrender (Sukkha), it's all being observed. The cockroach and butterfly syndrome (see below) exists within the background hum of it ALL.

And so not knowing sets me free to find out what happens if I eat this, go there, ask for that, rise for yoga in the middle of the night, or try another back bend? 

Ah, beloved/dreaded Backbend, are all my stories about you true? Do I really resist you as much as I say I want you? Is my intense focus on you causing me to futilely grasp? Am I doomed to frustration? And uh-oh, might I be too old?

 And can I substitute a noun for anything I want in place of  "backbend" and ask the same questions?

Maintaining my practice and living with curiosity seem to be the only way to find out. There is a saying that what is true on the mat is true off the mat. 

I want to know Truth.