Monthly Archives: August 2011

Crystal of the Day: Fishtail Selenite

Fishtail Selenite

Today’s Crystal of the Day is Fishtail Selenite. Selenite is a soft mineral, usually translucent white with striations. Selenite works on the subtle energy bodies, connecting light energy to the physical body. Selenite is a spiritual stone, attuned to refined, higher vibrations. It is a very useful stone for meditation and for contacting spirit guides. Selenite aids in telepathy and astral projection. A piece of selenite held over the third eye point (6th chakra) can help project thought forms. A large piece of Selenite in the room will soak up negative vibrations and create a peaceful, calm vibration. Selenite can be used to set a grid around a bed or room to keep negativity out and positive, healing, loving vibes in. Selenite is a very soft mineral and is water soluble. Selenite is created by landlocked salt water, so even in solid form, it still relates very much to water and salt. A large piece of Selenite will give off negative ions, cleansing the atmosphere.

Fishtail Selenite is so named for the shape of the crystal, that looks like a “V” or fish tail. It is also sometimes called Angel Wing Selenite because of its shape, and is used to connect to the angelic realms and spirit guides. Fishtail Selenite is also good for the nerves (for grounding/calming nervous energy).

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The Spiritual Gifts of Unrequited Love

I came across this article by Michele Knight in my Twitter feed, and as soon as I saw the title, a feeling went off inside me: oh yah, I know alllll about the spiritual gifts of unrequited love. When you are in the midst of an unrequited love infection, you can’t eat, you can’t sleep, the world revolves around the Beloved and what they are or aren’t doing, what they said or didn’t say, how close or far you perceive them to be to you, and your mood lurches around as jarringly as an old wood roller coaster.

There are three typical routes this situation can take. The first one is: oblivion. You and your unrequited love never manifest into a real relationship. You keep holding on, despite every evidence to the contrary, as your heart and soul leak vitality and wholeness with every passing moment. The Beloved holds such power over you, but instead of seeing this situation as your choice and a learning experience you must pass through, you externalize the lesson and make it about him or her. This seldom creates growth. Instead, it sets up a tendency towards self-mutilation, as you examine your personality and being with a fine-tooth comb, seeing only what can be changed, excised, or gained to make yourself desirable to the Beloved. “If only I…” and the thought invariably ends “…then s/he would love me.”

The second route is transmutation: all that stored up energy is released. The Beloved and you come to some sort of agreement. Either you agree to move on or give it a shot or whatever you come up with, but there is a transmutation that both participate in. You both have grown. The lover has learned patience, has followed his intuition, has gone deep into the well of love, has stayed on course with an open mind and heart. The Beloved learns from, and is softened, by the loyalty and constancy of the lover. The Beloved opens and the lover’s ability to trust is healed, and something alchemical happens in the process. I’m not sure if these relationships stay together. Maybe all that resistance was building up to a huge transmutation of energy, and both partners needed one another to release it. The relationship stays together only so long as both need to gather what’s necessary for the next stage of development, but there is always a fond memory ands special acknowledgement of the growth you brought to each other’s lives.

The third way is the way of time and reality. Time, compassion, and open-heartedness are needed to move through this phase or style of connection. In this dynamic, the Beloved never acknowledges your love, and the lover is never quite able to let go of the feelings. Perhaps it is a karmic connection and there is soul material from the past that needs to be worked through. Perhaps this is a Twin Flame vibration and one partner does not recognize the other as a Twin. Whatever the case, the feelings can persist for years and decades, but this is the scenario that holds immense fodder for spiritual and emotional growth.

To recognize it is possible to love someone without needing them to love you back is a huge spiritual lesson. Not an easy lesson, and one that requires constant practice, but to be able to love and not be loved back in the way you desire puts you, as Pema Chodoron says, in the state of soft heart. Soft heart, when our heart is broken and bruised, when tears are just below the surface almost all of the time, when the physical ache of our heart corresponds exactly to the emotional pain we feel at not being able to merge with the Beloved, is a place of great tenderness and openness. Pema says having your heart broken is a gift. She says it awakens boddhichitta.

A book on this subject which affected me deeply is Open To Desire by Mark Epstein. In this book, Epstein uses the Buddha’s lesson of relinquishing attachment as the device to help people see the difference between attachment and desire. Desire often stimulates attachment, and can definitely encourage attachment: humans are creatures of habit and sensually oriented and love things that make them feel better. Such feelings, when externalized onto an object, are temporary. Even within, they can be temporary if not tended to through meditation, introspection, and constant mental training to distinguish the difference between craving and attachment.

Check out Michele Knight’s article, which beautifully expresses the transformative gifts of unrequited love. Remember, everything is a mirror, a reflection. What you see out there is somewhere within you, and it’s especially valuable to check out the stuff reflected back that we don’t like so much.

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Self-Healing Through Breathwork and Asana – a workshop

Please join me on Thursday, August 25th for a two-hour workshop at Reflections Yoga.

During this workshop, you’ll learn techniques you can utilize in your practice going forward, ideas like emotional body scanning, deep Ujjayi breathing, and long-held poses to draw up and break down old, accumulated energy. The end result of work like this is a feeling of deep emotional and cellular release, increased strength and flexibility, profound relaxation, and increased well being.

Healing begins when we release energetic blockages, which most people have due to incomplete digestion of life experiences. Trauma, disappointment, sadness, fear, and injury can lodge in the body tissue and create constriction, both physically and energetically. Deep Ujjayi breathing helps break down this energetic gunk, and the long-held poses help digest it, literally sweating out old, stuck energy. Emotional body scanning is a technique for understanding your body from an energetic perspective, and using injuries, tight spots, and sore spots as markers to track life experiences that may have left energetic deposits throughout the body.

Sometimes instead of an actual physical area of the body, what needs release and opening is a particular attitude or belief. Whatever the blockage or thing that needs to be healed, this workshop can help you go deep into your physical, emotional, and energetic body. Using your own breath, body, and awareness to explore your energetic landscape, you will find the healing potential we all have, just have lost touch with due to neglect.

Many of the techniques I’ll use in the workshop I learned during a Forrest Yoga Continuing Education workshop. Forrest Yoga is an intense practice developed by Ana Forrest specifically designed to heal not just individuals, but “the Hoop of the People,” that is, all people, communities, and groups and the interconnections between them.

WORKSHOP

Self-Healing Through Breathwork & Asana
Thursday, Aug. 25th, 2011
6:30-8:30pm/cost $25
Reflections Yoga, 250 W. 49th St. (betw. 8th Ave. & B’way), 2nd floor

Download the flyer for my workshop here

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Hot Yoga: Is Yoga in the Heat a Good Idea, or Not?

The line drawn between yoga in a heated room vs. yoga at room temperature may be one of the most entrenched in the yoga community. Proponents of yoga in a hot room say it helps open the body to deeper expression of poses, helps detoxify the body, and increases flexibility. Those who are skeptical of yoga in heated rooms look to everything from the Sutras to science to validate their anti-heating stance.

The truth, as with all things that create polarity, is probably a blend of the two poles.

Having practiced Bikram Yoga for over two years at Bikram Yoga Brooklyn Heights and having taken classes at other hot studios, like Power Prana Yoga and the insanely-packed, insanely humid heated classes at Yoga To The People, I have some experience with yoga in heated rooms, and will give you my personal, totally unscientific take on it: sometimes I like practicing in a hot room, but I am not obsessed with it (at all). Sometimes it feels really good (like in winter), and sometimes it is oppressive and feels really, really bad (like in the dog days of summer when humidity is high). My practice does not include yoga in a heated room regularly, so I would consider myself a “room-temperature” yogini.

My experience with hot yoga falls into the following general, totally subjective, framework:

1. Vinyasa flow in a very hot room is not for me. Power Prana Yoga is this class. After these classes, I felt like I’d had a workout and burned a ton of calories, but I didn’t feel my practice was particularly different or even more open. In fact, the sweat made arm balances or anything where a limb could slip off another sweaty limb very frustrating. Not saying that frustration isn’t good to tango with anytime it shows up in practice, but the vibe I got from these classes was that the heat was to increase the intensity of the class, punto.

The students and the studio all seemed very Type A, and I frequently had to rest in child’s pose (which, with my low blood pressure, often wasn’t restful in that much heat). The room was humid and not even very bright, there was little to no air circulation, and I don’t think I received a single adjustment in the several times I attend the studio. I never hurt myself, but I never received any really memorable instruction either.

I encountered the same type of energy at the Yoga To The People hot classes I took: lots of movement, incredibly high humidity, tons of sweat, no adjustments, little in the way of actual instruction.

I am certain that conscious, well-led yoga in heated rooms exists. I’ve heard Earth Yoga is very good at this, or some of the classes at Pure Yoga that are held in a warm room. The Moksha Yoga line of studios is supposed to offer hot yoga with a difference. I’ve never practiced hot yoga at any of these locations, but the vinyasa style classes in hot rooms I have attended left me feeling physically exerted, and often downright dehydrated. I did not feel either of these studios or practices were for me in terms of offering a grounding in the Sutras, in anatomy, or in the energetic applications of yoga.

2. Longer-held poses in a heated room are ok. This is more the Bikram Yoga style, or even Forrest Yoga, which in some studios is conducted in a room heated into the mid-80s. Bikram is held in a hot room (90-110 degrees is the common range, with most studios I’ve practiced in being around 105), so you’re going to sweat.

Somehow the long holds felt better to my body than did the movement of vinyasa flow in the heat. Cardiovascularly, either class will bring your heart rate up, but Bikram did so more gently and gradually. The studio where I attended classes was run by two very competent teachers, one of whom claimed that he saved his knee from aggressive surgery doing Bikram. It takes awareness to build a healing or therapeutic practice whatever style you’re doing, so I think the safety and groundedness to the Bikram as taught at Bikram Yoga Brooklyn Heights was a facet of the studio and its owners. I have heard horror stories about Bikram studios that kick students out of class for taking a water break at an unapproved time, but I have never personally experienced this.

I also have taken Bikram Yoga in New Haven, CT and Miami, FL and in both locations, also felt the pace of the class was designed to keep even a beginner in the “capable” zone, even if Bikram is rarely comfortable. One of the verses of the Sutras defines yoga as a balance between ease and effort. In this regard, the heated rooms of Bikram can offer an ideal environment in which to experience that balance daily, but then, so can any other style of yoga.

3. The Verdict: I am not pro-hot yoga, and I am not anti-hot yoga. I am pro-whatever works for you. But that “whatever works for you” has an implicit caveat. To know what works for you, you need to pay attention, and paying attention is one of the (gazillion) things that yoga teaches us. If doing yoga in a hot room is just a workout to burn tons of calories in, then I’m anti. But if doing yoga in a hot room is done with clear awareness by the yogi and is used to reach greater levels of spiritual insight, then I’m pro. I realize it’s all very subjective.

Elephant Journal posted a very thorough article on the subject that posits the danger in doing yoga in heated rooms comes from a combination of heat and humidity, that it’s high humidity that prevents evaporative sweating that pushes heated practices into the danger zone. The comments are also great, with a lot of different viewpoints, both for and against heating practice rooms.

If I could leave you with one thought, it would be that yoga leads us to a place where all we need for personal growth and transformation is found within. Our own spiritual and emotional fodder provides all the resistance we need for a transformational practice. If you distill that even furthur, you could say that all our emotional and spiritual wounds or blockages are located in our body or energetic field somewhere. “Openness” isn’t a factor of heat, but of our internal readiness to be open. To push beyond the level of openness we are ready for, emotionally, energetically, and physically, is to be out of balance and to create possible injury (physical or otherwise).

This is why the “whatever works” credo comes with the caveat: to know what works, you’ve got to pay attention. And if we’re paying attention, we shouldn’t need any particular temperature to bring that about, or enhance that, or somehow make us pay more attention, if such a thing can even be said. Effort and ease in balance. Find your edge, then play there. Hot or not, tapas arises anytime we brush against our energetic, emotional, and spiritual knots. Practice illuminates our true nature, and thankfully, we don’t need a specific temperature to experience that.

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