Tired of Speaking Sweetly

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Seems appropriate for 4th of July.  Happy “independence day.”
heart-shaped-tornadoes
Tired of Speaking Sweetly
by: Hafiz

Love wants to reach out and manhandle us,
Break all our teacup talk of God.
If you had the courage and
Could give the Beloved His choice, some nights,
He would just drag you around the room
By your hair,
Ripping from your grip all those toys in the world
That bring you no joy.
Love sometimes gets tired of speaking sweetly
And wants to rip to shreds
All your erroneous notions of truth
That make you fight within yourself, dear one,
And with others,
Causing the world to weep
On too many fine days.
God wants to manhandle us,
Lock us inside of a tiny room with Himself
And practice His dropkick.
The Beloved sometimes wants
To do us a great favor:
Hold us upside down
And shake all the nonsense out.
But when we hear
He is in such a “playful drunken mood”
Most everyone I know
Quickly packs their bags and hightails it
Out of town.
From: ‘The Gift’
Translated by Daniel Ladinsky

Maybe together we can shake some of the nonsense out:
http://artemisiashine.com/healing-arts
707.234.5411

Cycling with the moon

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hubble05

Oh life – you got my heart so deeply today. I get to ride the waves of my woman-heart: sensitive, feeling, tender, receptive and deep. Remembering those I love that have passed, loved ones that are distant, the years, youth and memories that are behind me now… Waining moon, as you become new, you so consistently seduce all that lays beneath the surface into the soft glow of my own inner attention. This afternoon my heart cracked open and I shed a few quiet tears for the achingly sweet experience of just being alive.

Thank you moon cycle within that mirrors the drawing in and reflecting out cycle of luna in the sky. Each month you bring me back to myself so intimately. You softly rock me into remembrance and caress all that “I” am in your loving embrace. I am just like you – a micro-collective of cosmic matter hanging on to the edge of a planet that hurls through space as it orbits a sun that dances in one of untold billions of galaxies swirling around in the infinitely expanding universe. In one word, I am love.

Constant renewal: this is the sacred gift of being woman.

I hold you all in my heart. Blessings and love from my depths.

love love love

~ artemisia shine

I want to come from love.

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What I am focused on is how I want to show up for whatever lessons life provides me.

How do I want to show up in the Universe?

I want to be in love. I want to come from love. I want to be receptive and open to whatever life throws my way. I want to come from compassion and forgiveness. I trust that whatever life delivers me is both for my growth and pruning. I don’t seek to out-picture how I DO want to learn lessons because I choose not to use my mind to tell the dancing, singing, ever-expanding, pulsing force of living love how to bring me back home to me. So many of life’s richest lessons have come in a vehicle I would never have chosen (like being one of two women sharing a pregnancy with the father of my child at the same time) but have brought me so fully into the strength, tenderness and evolution of my own heart. (Lelainya– I am so glad you’re my soul sister!)

For me, to do so would be dropping into that place of egocentric thinking that layers judgment onto what is with the assessment of good, bad, better, worse, best. My aim is to open wide and soften into whatever life offers me. What is most paramount is trust and just showing up with presence for whatever hapens
as.
it.
arrives.

When I stated “I don’t need to learn these lessons like this in the future (listen up universe! I’m receptive already! I’m receptive! hehe!) but thank you for this opportunity now.” I am really affirming, ”Ok – I surrender. I get it. Thank you. I trust you. I love you. I surrender.“ It is more about aligning my will with the will of the entire sacred cosmos of which I am a part. I see the perfection and beauty in the dynamic interactions that accompany relationship and lived experience. I didn’t come here to realize myself sitting alone in mediation. (But boy, does meditation help!) I came here to see, touch, taste, smell – experience fully in the sacred vessel of my body.

From that place of absolute spaciousness and limitless freedom that is ever present from within – I say “yes!” and “thank you.” I will remain open and receptive.

~ artemisia shine

Called to the Dance Floor

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photo

This made me laugh. The uninsured motorist who slammed into my car and gave me two forms of fake insurance is now filing an injury and vehicle damage claim against me thru my insurance company. Hahahahahaha! I really feel for him. On some level I feel angered by this and have a desire for more integrity and accountability. In a larger sense, I am grateful that I am in relationship with the universe in a way that inspires me to make different choices. I sent him a sweet picture of my painted car with a Hafitz poem last week. I still stand by it.

Ultimately, this is a big gift. I get to actively choose to respond from a place of rigorous honesty, compassion, forgiveness and love. This senario is absolutely calling me to be in integrity and look at the places within myself where I am not. I humbly state that I don’t need to learn these lessons like this in the future (listen up universe! I’m receptive already! I’m receptive! hehe!) but thank you for this opportunity now.  I get to actively unravel my own karmic samskara bit by bit.

Even as a look at my broken car, feel my (temporarily) injured body and experience small wisps of fear cross my mind about what else this man may be capable of, I get to CHOOSE to TRUST.  It’s like this whole experience is the universe tenderly calling me onto the dance floor. I get to be led by the most skillful dance partner! I get to surrender into the warmest strongest embrace I’ve ever known and discover what it is to be truly held. I am so open to and already receiving support in limitless ways I have yet to imagine.

I forgive this man. I wish him well. I hope whatever place in his heart that inspires such unconscious action is filled with sweet tender warmth. Really. This is frustrating me still but I won’t judge myself as the waves of frustration move through me. The love is bigger and carries more weight. 

~ artemisia shine

Courage to Marry Forgiveness

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Before and after. Ahhh, feels so much sweeter.
PicMonkey Collage

My inner response to the driver who was uninsured and provided two forms of false insurance after plowing into my car: I am calling in the support I need to fix this. My insurance does not cover my car but I am holding hands with the universe and she has me in the most tender embrace. I forgive you. May you be cared for, live with peace in your heart and have all that you need.

love,
~ artemisia shine

The moon starts singing
When everyone is asleep
And the planets throw a bright robe
Around their shoulders and whirl up
Close to her side.

Once I asked the moon,
Why do you and your sweet friends
Not perform so romantically like that
To a larger crowd?

And the whole sky chorus resounded,

“The admission price to hear
The lofty minstrels
Speak of love

Is affordable only to those
Who have not exhausted themselves
Dividing God all day
And thus need rest.

The thrilled Tavern fiddlers
Who are perched on the roof

Do not want their notes to intrude
Upon the ears
Where an accountant lives
With a sharp pencil
Keeping score of words
Another
In their great sorrow or sad anger
May have once said
To you.”

Hafiz knows:
The sun will stand as your best man
And whistle
When you have found the courage
To marry forgiveness

When you have found the courage
to marry
Love.

~ Hafiz

I sent this to the driver as an offering along with an invitation to choose to act with accountability and provide financial support to help us acquire a vehicle.

However he responds (or not) is perfect. In the face of so much community feedback to hire a lawer, this feels so much more in alignment with me.

Most importantly: It was SO FUN to do!

~ artemisia shine

Prelude

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preludetodance

Prelude

by Oriah Mountain Dreamer

What if it truly doesn’t matter what you do but how you do whatever you do?

How would this change what you choose to do with your life?

What if you could be more present and openhearted with each person you met if you were working as a cashier in a corner store, or as a parking lot attendant, than you could if you were doing a job you think is more important?

How would this change how you spend your precious time on this earth?

What if your contribution to the world and the fulfillment of your own happiness is not dependent upon discovering a better method of prayer or technique of meditation, not dependent upon reading the right book or attending the right seminar, but upon really seeing and deeply appreciating yourself and the world as they are right now?

How would this affect your search for spiritual development?

What if there is no need to change, no need to try to transform yourself into someone who is more compassionate, more present, more loving or wise?

How would this affect all the places in your life where you are endlessly trying to be better?

What if the task is simply to unfold, to become who you already are in your essential nature — gentle, compassionate, and capable of living fully and passionately present?

How would this affect how you feel when you wake up in the morning?

What if who you essentially are right now is all that you are ever going to be?

How would this affect how you feel about your future?

What if the essence of who you are and always have been is enough?

How would this affect how you see and feel about your past?

What if the question is not why am I so infrequently the person I really want to be, but why do I so infrequently want to be the person I really am?

How would this change what you think you have to learn?

What if becoming who and what we truly are happens not through striving and trying but by recognizing and receiving the people and places and practices that offer us the warmth of encouragement we need to unfold?

How would this shape the choices you make about how to spend today?

What if you knew that the impulse to move in a way that creates beauty in the world will arise from deep within and guide you every time you simply pay attention and wait?

How would this shape your stillness, your movement, your willingness to follow this impulse, to just let go and dance?

by Oriah Mountain Dreamer
from her book, The Dance
Copyright © 2001 Oriah Mountain Dreamer.

Soulstice

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soulstice
~ by drew dellinger

every ounce of matter is frozen light
roses, clouds, bones, tears
all slowly moving light

everything is shining in glory
everything
singing a story

every second in the universe a supernova is
exploding
every second a star is shattering

and flames leaping off the moon
last night

like binary stars we
circle
each other

and the more I
see of you
the more I love the view

let me be a fierce clear mirror
in a cosmos made of passions….

If love is a language
then I am still
learning to spell
while there’s a story
that the stars
have been
burning to tell.

Radiance Sutras – Sutra 26

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aorta There is a place in the heart where everything meets. Go there if you want to find me. Mind, senses, soul, eternity, all are there. Are you there?Enter the bowl of vastness that is the heart. Give yourself to it with total abandon, listen to the song that is always resonating there.Quiet ecstasy is there — and a steady, regal sense of resting in a perfect spot.Once you know the way the nature of attention will call you to return, again and again, and be saturated with knowing, “I belong here, I am at home here.”From sutra 26 of The Radiance Sutras translated by Lorin Roche hṛdyākāśe nilīnākṣaḥ padmasampuṭamadhyagaḥ | ananyacetāḥ subhage paraṃ saubhāgyam āpnuyāt || 49 || hridaya akaashe nileen aakshah padma samputa madhyagah ananya chetaah subhage param saubhaag-yam aapnu-yaat (for Stephen.)

Yoga, Sex, and the Teacher-Student Relationship

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Yoga, Sex, and the Teacher-Student Relationship

Source: 90 Monkeys • Carol Horton, Ph.D. • September 24, 2013

Yoga Instructor with Students

Since I started tracking the steady stream of news, controversies, and online debates in today’s yoga world, I’ve had to struggle repeatedly with the challenge of confronting beliefs that are profoundly different from my own – both with regard to yoga, and many other issues as well.

On the whole, this has been a positive experience. Most of the time, when confronted with radically different sensibilities, I’ve been able to push the envelope of my own perspectives and find common ground. It’s been enlarging, and at times enlightening to discover ways of connecting with people who hold very different views on issues ranging from the advisability of “yoga for weight loss” to the foundational nature of the universe.

When I read Cameron Shayne’s recent post defending the righteousness of male yoga teachers who choose to pursue “hot, casual sex” with as many female students as they fancy, I knew that I’d hit a point where I didn’t want to bridge the divide separating our views. In this case, I believe that setting a clear boundary that says “NO” is more honest, clarifying, and potentially valuable than trying to find common ground.

The fact that Shayne’s post received a lot of enthusiastic support (including from the lead editor of Rebelle Society, which published it) suggests that a cultural rift has developed in the yoga community over the issue of whether teachers should enjoy open sexual access to their students, or respect long-standing norms requiring sexual restraint.

Considered in conjunction with the recent wave of high-profile yoga scandals, it’s clear that the issue of sex and the teacher-student relationship demands our attention – as well as an appropriate response.

Addressing the Conflict

To be clear, I’m not advocating some sort of war between the forces of sexual freedom and restraint. Nor am I in favor of issuing wholesale condemnation of any particular individuals or groups. The last thing we need is for the yoga community to replicate the same sort of hateful, vicious, polarized dynamic that infects so much of our culture and politics.

At the same time, I believe that the ethical standards and teaching protocols advocated in Shayne’s article should be unambiguously rejected.

How, then, to deal with the fact that Shayne and his supporters will undoubtedly think that it’s my views that are wrong, and not theirs? Is it possible to assert strong differences on the highly-charged issue of sex and the teacher-student relationship without falling into damaging negativity and conflict?

Only time will tell. But I’d suggest trying to accomplish this by:

  • Acknowledging that the divide on this issue is too big and too important to ignore
  • Working to depersonalize the conflict by debating ideas rather than attacking individuals
  • Strengthening the role of a regulatory body (e.g., Yoga Alliance) capable of distinguishing teachers who support norms governing sexual restraint from those who reject them as outmoded “dogma.”

Analyzing the Argument

Shayne believes that yoga teachers should not be subject to ethical or regulatory restraints that limit free sexual access to their students. (Presumably, this means adults capable of giving formal consent, although these criteria aren’t stressed.) To my reading, his argument (which is echoed in many of the comments) reflects a mixture of two larger streams of thought that are quite influential in U.S. culture: hyper-individualist radical libertarianism, on the one hand, and irrational New Age spirituality, on the other.

This, in my view, is a toxic mix: capable of legitimating all sorts of power abuses, while at the same time advancing a twisted logic that “blames the victim” when they occur.

Here’s how I’d break it down most simply:

1)    Hyper-individualism refuses to recognize the fact that systemic power differences really do exist. The idea that there are no power issues in play in the teacher-student relationship because we’re all free and equal individuals replicates the larger cultural logic which holds that it’s wrong to limit individual contributions to political campaigns because a billionaire and a homeless person have an equal right to “free speech.” (Yeah, right.) Any sort of more realistic understanding of how individuals are necessarily affected by the larger social context of which they’re a part is rejected out of hand in favor of a dogmatic adherence to the hyper-individualist view.

2)    Hyper-individualism easily slides into self-serving “blame the victim”-style reasoning. For example, Shayne asserts that the “issue of vulnerable idealistic adult students being taken advantage of by egomaniacal male teachers for me is like the war on drugs: another completely corrupted strategy designed to deal with the symptom rather than the disease”:

The guru/students manipulation — like cocaine — is the symptom of a larger problem; the student’s lack of self worth, identify and voice. Clearly the corrupted guru is a problem, but the student, like the user, is the real disease.

By extension, it is solely up to the individual student to cure her personal “disease” of vulnerability to the predations of others, not least including the yoga teacher whom she may have turned to for guidance and support.

3)    Radical libertarianism represents the logical extension of hyper-individualism into the social realm. If you believe that the only proper way to see people is as individuals divorced from any consideration of social context, then it makes sense to see all norms or regulations established for the collective good as illegitimate and oppressive.

Again, you see this sort of reasoning in American society frequently: for example, the belief that any sort of gun control laws – even limiting convicted felons from acquiring machine guns! – is an intolerable infringement of individual liberty.

4)    Combine hyper-individualist radical libertarianism with New Age magical thinking, and unrestricted teacher-student sex is easy to justify. Anyone who’s spent any time in the yoga world is probably familiar with New Age spiritual platitudes such as “everything is exactly as it’s meant to be,” “everything happens for a reason,” and so on. In general, this pairs nicely with hyper-individualist radical libertarianism, as it provides a “spiritual” explanation of why we should never concern ourselves with pesky issues of abuse of power and exploitation – after all, everything’s perfect just as it is!

Hence, Shayne assures us that “you cannot have sex with the wrong person — only a person that provides you with another intrinsic part of the whole that becomes your story”:

As with all action, its meaning is assigned by us, created by us, experienced by us and remembered by us . . . the very idea that you can project onto sex a special quality that may exist for you, but not for another, is arrogant, assuming and stepped in antiquated dogmatic ideology.

5)    Logically, then, if a student ends up feeling sexually exploited by a yoga teacher, that is simply because she is “choosing” this negative perception. Notably, there are also many “Tantric” variations on this sort of irrational New Age thinking, which I won’t go into there as they weren’t featured in Shayne’s post. They do, however, come up in some related comments – and, I’m sure, are quite familiar to those who remember the recent Anusara debacle.

The Teacher’s Responsibility: Zero

Illogically, Shayne’s argument that exploited students “chose” their negative perceptions is presented in conjunction with an explanation that the reason that yoga teachers “sexually misbehave” today is “because they finally can”:

The majority of all yoga sex scandals involve one or more desperate devotes and a teacher who figures out, maybe for the first time in his or her hopelessly hip-less life, that they can get laid . . . They are doing what any male or female given sudden persuasive license would do when bombarded with adoring energy — engage it. Only the naive and emotionally underdeveloped would fall prey to it.

There is a horribly circular logic at work here: the exploited student is the “real disease” because she is “naïve and emotionally underdeveloped” – yet, when she is exploited by a power-hungry teacher, she is faulted for “assigning” a negative meaning to the encounter, rather than embracing it as an independent choice that she made to support her own self-development and spiritual growth!

Meanwhile, the teacher is conveniently off the ethical hook and gets a pass – and, no matter what his abuses of power, should presumably remain so to prevent oppression by dogmatic social norms.

Ethics, Community, and Tradition

Personally, I find Shayne’s argument so shallow that it would be laughable were it not for the fact that many yoga practitioners apparently embrace it quite fiercely.

Initially, I was shocked to see how much support his post was generating. Quickly, however, I realized that given its resonance with influential currents in the larger culture, its popularity is not so surprising.

Yoga, like any other tradition, necessarily evolves in interaction with the larger society of which it’s a part. If it didn’t, it would quickly lose its relevance and meaning to most people. Therefore, we can expect that variations of the cultural divides that we experience in the larger society will continue to replicate themselves within the yoga community.

As noted above, however, one dynamic that I’d really like to avoid is the establishment of mutually hostile camps that are constantly hurling hate at one another. Right now, I think we are pretty far from that point. But things can change quickly. And there’s no question that the tone in the yoga blogosphere has become frequently meaner in the past few years.

I’ve tried to avoid gratuitous meanness in this post by critiquing what I see as the central ideas in Shayne’s post, rather than attacking him as an individual. For all I know, he could be a great guy in other ways. On the issue of teacher-student sex, however, I believe that the views he’s advocating are dead wrong and need to be forcefully countered.

The contemporary yoga community needs to honor the historic yoga tradition by adapting it to speak to today’s needs and concerns. The Yama of Brahmacharya has informed the yoga tradition for thousands of years. Given the materialism, hedonism, and sexual confusion that trouble our society today, this is a particularly bad time to simply throw it out as antiquated “dogma.”

Instead, we need to reflect on how best to interpret and adapt this restraint to support the meaningful transmission of yoga in our time. Considering the profusion of recent scandals involving teacher-student sex in the yoga community and the incalculable suffering they have caused, the need to do so is urgent. Shayne’s provocative post is helpful to the extent that it spurs those of us who believe we must uphold sexual norms that protect vulnerable students in the yoga classroom – and, by extension, support and elevate the practice for everyone – to reflect on what we can do, and take action.

 

* * *

CH photo   Carol Horton, Ph.D., is the author of Yoga Ph.D.: Integrating the Life of the Mind and the Wisdom of the Body, and co-editor of 21st Century Yoga: Culture, Politics, and Practice. She holds a doctorate in Political Science from the University of Chicago, served on the faculty at Macalester College, and has extensive experience as a research consultant specializing in issues affecting low-income children and families. A Certified Forrest Yoga teacher, Carol teaches yoga to women in the Cook County Jail with Yoga for Recovery, and at Chaturanga Holistic Fitness in Chicago. For more information visit her website.

Kelly McGonigal: How to make stress your friend

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Kelly McGonigal: How to make stress your friend

Source: TED: Ideas Worth Spreading • Kelly McGonigal • September 2013

Pearls of wisdom gleaned from Kelly McGonigal’s talk:

  • Oxytocin is a stress hormone.
  • When oxytocin is released in the stress response, it is motivating you to seek support.
  • When life is difficult, your stress response wants you to be surrounded by people who care about you.
  • When you change your mind about stress, you change your bodies response to stress.
  • When you reach out to others under stress either to seek support or to help someone else, you release more of this hormone, your stress response becomes healthier and your recover faster from stress.
  • Your stress response has a built-in mechanism for stress resilience and that mechanism is human connection.
  • How you think and how you act can transform your experience of stress. When you choose to view your stress response as helpful, you create the biology of courage.
  • When you choose to connect with others you can create resilience.
  • When you choose to view stress this way…you are saying you can trust yourself to handle life’s challenges and you’re remembering that you don’t have to face them alone.
  • Chasing meaning is better for  your health than trying to avoid discomfort … Go after what it is that creates meaning in your life and trust yourself to handle the stress that follows.