That’s My Brain Making Toast

August 6, 2009

So how is your meditation practice going?  If you have ever tried to meditate, then you know that your mind likes to stay busy with lots of thoughts.  I know that I might be trying to focus in on a single mantra, but my mind will wander.  Whether you are a beginner or an expert, that’s just part of the meditation – you focus on the one thing you are trying to stay focused on, then your mind drifts to something else, then you catch yourself, and then you bring yourself back to what you are focusing on.  That’s just part of meditation.

You may notice that you are thinking about an upcoming meeting at work, or a disagreement you are having with a friend, or a conversation about the dishes you wish you could have with your spouse, or that the lawn needs to be mowed, etc.  At first, you start out thinking there must be a million things that occupy your mind and you’ll never be able to meditate.  Over time, you can sit, even for just a few minutes at a time, but you may recognize that there are some categories of thoughts that seem to appear, or categories of emotions that seem to pop up.

Giving our attention to the actual content of each distraction – the actual thoughts and feelings we are thinking about –is really not important after awhile.  Just noticing that we are distracted is what is key.  These thoughts may seem important, but really, they are all just distractions.  For the purposes of meditating, there is our mantra, and there are thoughts about things that are not our mantra.  That’s it.
So lately, while noticing these thoughts and feelings that are all simply not my mantra, I am also seeing that my mind is constantly looking for a problem to solve.  In fact, all of the examples I just listed about the kinds of mental distractions we have are really all the same – they are problems that my mind wants to resolve.  That’s what my mind wants to be doing.  Either there is something that might be coming up in the future that I want to work out, or something that happened in the past that I want to resolve differently.   All of these distractions are the same – mental problems where I want something to be different than what actually is right now.

That’s my brain at work.  Just doing what it does, like a toaster makes toast.  And that got me curious…is this just my brain at work, or do other people have similar experiences?

When I have questions like this, I like to see see if any of my teachers or favorite spiritual leaders had anything to say on this.  As it turns out, Jiddu Krishamurti, an amazing philosopher in the 20th century, has an interesting perspective on this.  Here’s what Krishmurti observed…

…From childhood we are trained to have problems. When we are sent to school, we have to learn how to write, how to read, and all the rest of it. How to write becomes a problem to the child. Please follow this carefully. Mathematics becomes a problem, history becomes a problem, as does chemistry. So the child is educated, from childhood, to live with problems—the problem of God, problem of a dozen things. So our brains are conditioned, trained, educated to live with problems. From childhood we have done this. What happens when a brain is educated in problems? It can never solve problems; it can only create more problems. When a brain that is trained to have problems, and to live with problems, solves one problem, in the very solution of that problem, it creates more problems. From childhood we are trained, educated to live with problems and, therefore, being centred in problems, we can never solve any problem completely. It is only the free brain that is not conditioned to problems that can solve problems. It is one of our constant burdens to have problems all the time. Therefore our brains are never quiet, free to observe, to look. So we are asking: Is it possible not to have a single problem but to face problems? But to understand those problems, and to totally resolve them, the brain must be free.
That Benediction is Where You Are

Krishnamurti even had some advice for all of us for tackling these ‘problems’ so I wanted to share that as well…

…The answer is in the problem, not away from the problem. I go through the searching, analyzing, dissecting process, in order to escape from the problem. But, if I do not escape from the problem and try to look at the problem without any fear or anxiety, if I merely look at the problem—mathematical, political, religious, or any other—and  not look to an answer, then the problem will begin to tell me. Surely, this is what happens. We go through this process and eventually throw it aside because there is no way out of it. So, why can’t we start right from the beginning, that is, not seek an answer to a problem?—which is extremely arduous, isn’t it? Because, the more I understand the problem, the more significance there is in it. To understand, I must approach it quietly, not impose on the problem my ideas, my feelings of like and dislike. Then the problem will reveal its significance.    Why is it not possible to have tranquility of the mind right from the beginning?  The Collected Works Volume V

Kind of reminds me about something Einstein once said… “Problems cannot be solved by the same level of thinking that created them.”
So how about you?  What have you noticed about your distractions and thoughts that pop into your brain when you are meditating?


Franti Cancels His Wanderlust Appearance

July 26, 2009

wanderlustSo sad….Michael Franti, one of the headliners of the inaugural Wanderlust Festival in Lake Tahoe has had to cancel due to a ruptured appendix.


He announced this change in events in a note that was posted on the Wanderlust website. The rapper Common will replace him

Join me in wishing Michael a healthful and speedy recovery!


July 23, 2009

And right after my last post I stumbled on this:


You can find more here.

Too funny 🙂


July 23, 2009

Not one to miss out on a booming trend, it seems that Rollerblade has jumped on the yoga bandwagon and created…wait, wait try to guess…yes, rollerbladeMOBILE YOGA.

So what you do is you rollerblade AND “perform” yoga poses at the same time! Talk about taking “mind body exercise” to the next level!

Yes I’m being a bit snarky. And I haven’t even tried it. Maybe I’m becoming a yoga snob, I don’t know. But when I hear about things like “Mobile Yoga,” “Yoga Jeans,” and OMG the “Yoga Toilet,” I cringe.

I understand.

Yoga is “in” and everyone wants to latch on to stump their own products. I get it. But it comes at the expense of dragging down the essence of what yoga truly is all about. So on one hand I’d like to see some kind of respect/reverence/honor/acknowledgment/remembering (I don’t know) of the true meaning of yoga, yet on the other hand I love that yoga is a “living science” that can change and bend with the times.

What do you think? Has the use of “yoga” gotten out of hand?
Or do you like seeing yoga become “21st century?”

Yoga Teacher Casting Call!

July 22, 2009

The USA television show “Character Fantasy” is looking for a yoga teacher in the LA area!

The TV show “makes your dreams come true” by bringing the fantasies of ordinary people to life. On July 27 they’ll be helping someone begin her dream of becoming a yoga teacher and studio owner! To do this, they need the help of a yoga teacher who can help this person with her yoga practice and teaching skills. They are looking for yoga teachers who:

  • area available on July 27
  • will be near or in LA on that date
  • are familiar with Bikram (not required but a plus)

You can read more about this here. The actual casting company is Magical Elves. I wasn’t able to find any info about Character Fantasy on their site so if you are truly interested you might want to contact them directly. Me? I’ll look forward to seeing the show!

Lithe Teachers in Spandex and Older Ones in Religious Garb

July 12, 2009

Businessman relaxingA few days ago the New York Times ran an article about New York’s state attempt to license yoga teacher training programs (aka “money grab.) It’s great that the effort is getting some attention, but did the author really need to describe the proponents as “lithe young teachers in spandex” and “older ones in religious garb” that were “sitting barefoot and crossed legged on the wood floor?”

Whatever. We’ll take what we can get. I just find it interesting that the press seems to have a need to describe yogis as if they are edgy weirdos. I mean, if we were a group of bankers they wouldn’t describe the meeting as “a group of primarily older white men wearing suits and ties and sitting in chairs.”

I’m just sayin’.

Celebrate Independence!

July 4, 2009

IYEA TranspLogo_000Happy Independence Day! In addition to our country’s anniversary of independence, today we are celebrating the launch of the Independent Yoga Educators of America!

I encourage ALL yoga teachers, practitioners, and supporters to visit the IYEA website. Launched by Leslie Kaminoff, the IYEA advocates these principles:

  • I am an independent yoga educator.
  • I teach about the value of personal freedom on all levels of human experience.
  • I embrace my own standards for my education, and the training of my students, and am willing to be held accountable for living up to those standards.
  • I value my freedom to conduct my relationships without coercive interference by third parties.
  • I will resist to the best of my ability any entity that assumes the authority to license or regulate me as a yoga educator or to enforce its standards upon me.

I highly encourage all yoga teachers, practitioners, and supporters to visit the IYEA website and blog and consider donating a minimum of $10 to support writing, networking, organizing and legal fees to protect our freedom to teach yoga.

This is an exciting time in yoga’s evolution – I hope you’ll be a part of it.

Sarah Palin Does Yoga

July 1, 2009

Check it out…Sarah Palin does yoga too!

sarah palin

pssstt…Sarah…please don’t put your foot ON your knee!

Put Your Money Where Your Mat Is

June 26, 2009

Jeans You Can Yoga In

June 25, 2009

I’m not sure I really get this. Now they have come out with “yoga jeans.” These jeans are intended to be worn in yoga class AND out on the town with thatyoga jeans “hot top you bought to wear on Saturday night.” The jeans boast 92 percent “shape memory” built right in – that’s about 50% more than your regular ole Levi’s! HOORAY! The 92% shape memory prevents sagging in the butt and in the knees (the knees?). I say, come out with a pair of jeans that fit in the WAIST!

Really though I’m wondering if the makers of “yoga jeans” have ever taken a vinyasa yoga class? My sweaty yoga clothes go right into the washer after class, not out dancing! And when I’m wearing my regular jeans I typically do not have any reason to bust out into a downward facing dog. And, as a teacher who spends most of her life in yoga clothes, I LOVE to wear non-yoga clothes!

So I don’t know. It sort of looks to me like another way to use the word “yoga” to sell a product. Like Yoga Bars and Yoga Bread (yes these actually exist!). At $110 a pair, I don’t know too many yoga teachers who can afford these “jeans” – especially since we’ve already spent all of our income on Lululemon pants!