Sunday, July 31, 2011

The Flavor of Fun!

"From joy springs all creation, by joy it is sustained, toward joy it proceeds, and to joy it returns." -Mundaka Upanishad

Fun comes in many flavors and last night fun tasted like the 80's!  We celebrated the magic of the 80's at the yoga studio with a special "I Love The 80's" yoga class.  It was an incredibly FUN and joyful evening of practicing together in a relaxed and lighthearted way.  It was, dare I say "Like, oh my God! Totally bitchin'!"

I spent the years between 1979-1987 in middle school and high school. I am also part of the "MTV" generation. As a kid, my life was ruled by new wave music, music videos and all things 80's, like Pop Rocks, outlandish fashions (which all came from the crazy music videos we were exposed to) and John Hughes movies. When I look back at those days, I get the warm and fuzzies. They were carefree, happy and playful times where the world was safe (as only it can be when you live at home with mom and dad), but also the future was wide open and  unknown, full of mystery and possibility.

Somewhere along the line though, as we get pushed through our school years and into college, and from college into the world where a career or family take precedence, we forget the importance of fun and why we need it in order to grow spiritually.

Ever wondered why time flies when you’re having fun? It’s because you become so absorbed and immersed in what you’re doing that you forget to look at your watch. You think only of the present without comparing it to the future or the past.  Fun is the purest form of mindfulness practice.  Pure, unadulterated JOY in motion!  That's what last night's class was... joyful!  A beautiful coming together of folks from the yoga community to celebrate, sing and have fun.  It was pure magic (cue the Cars song)!

Having been a student and teacher of yoga for several years now, I am often reminded of how we as practitioners can become so engrossed in perfecting the physical or spiritual aspects of the practice that we lose sight of what the essence of the practice is all about... living fully, joyfully, and lovingly in this moment. Sometimes we get so wrapped up in the reverence of our practice that we actually end up closing ourselves off to the feeling of joy.  We can become so engrossed in our asana or meditation practices or so enmeshed in presenting ourselves as "spiritual" beings to the world, that we miss the deeper purpose of the practice entirely. 

The larger purpose of yoga seeks to reveal the true nature of the self and to have us live as that true nature. The true nature of the self is not closed off, but rather open and connected to all things. The true nature of the self is not having one leg beautifully stretched behind the head, but rather opening the heart to embrace all of life as it unfolds. The ultimate aim of yoga is freedom and to experience one's innermost being or "soul" (in Sanskrit: the Purusa).

Enjoy life. This is not a dress rehearsal.

Last night's practice was a beautiful example of experiencing the joy of yoga.  Of being so completely absorbed in the fun of the moment that time stood still.

It was a wonderful reminder to incorporate fun into your daily life and to taste the sweet flavor of fun.

Until next time, wishing you the clarity to find joy right where you are...

80's Playlist:
"Don't Stop Believing" by Journey
"Jessie's Girl" by Rick Springfield
"Take On Me" by Aha
"Venus" by Bananarama
"Walk Like an Egyptian" by The Bangles
"The Safety Dance" by Men Without Hats
"Summer of '69" by Bryan Adams
"Working For The Weekend" by Loverboy
"We Got The Beat" by The Go-Go's
"Tainted Love" by Soft Cell
"Heat of The Moment" by Asia
"Is There Something I Should Know" by Duran Duran
"Whip" It by Devo
"Pour Some Sugar on Me" by Def Leppard
"Down Under" by Men At Work
"Electric Avenue" by Eddy Grant
"Everybody Wants To Rule The World" by Tears For Fears
"Don't You (Forget About Me)" by Simple Minds
"Keep On Loving You" by REO Speedwagon
"Time After Time" by Cyndi Lauper
"Life In A Northern Town" by Dream Academy
and for our special sing along chant...
"Every Rose Has Its Thorn" by Poison

Joy is not in things; it is in us” -Richard Wagner

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Expire and Inspire!

"We too should make ourselves empty, that the great soul of the universe may fill us with its breath."  
~Laurence Binyon

I took Anne Miller's All Levels yoga class Thursday morning.  It was a beautiful practice in which she spoke about gratitude and how the elegant sound we give to our breath when we practice ujjayi pranayama is not only a gift we give to our fellow yogis in the room - the gift of our presence - but also a sweet reminder of the life we have been given.

Along with the gift of the sound of our breath, the breath itself is an amazing offering both to us and to the world around us. It is the act of inspiring and expiring, both the sparking of life within and a profound letting go, all in one cycle of breath.  

Much like leaves on a tree move with the wind, in yoga it is said that the mind moves with the breath. When the breath is controlled and calmed there is a soothing effect on the mind. Many people think of pranayama as just controlling the breath but it is much, much moreAs we deepen our pranayama practice we begin to use retention (kumbhaka) at both the top of our inhales and the bottom of our exhales to expand our awareness of the divine within us. 

B.K.S. Iyengar says that "when you hold your breath, you hold your soul.  By retaining the full in-breath, you hold the divine infinite within yourself."  He says that at the moment you retain your breath you have reached the full potential of your individuality, but "it is a divine individuality and not the small, selfish creature you normally take yourself for." The idea is that when you inhale you are inspiring the divine to expand and grow within and when you exhale you generously surrender your divine self to the world. 

To breathe in is an inspiration, a receiving that engulfs the whole body.  When we breathe in we allow the divine infinite to expand into the space that we're making.  To hold the breath in is to experience the fullness and richness of this divinity. The exhalation surrenders everything that we think we are to the source of life - the giver of life.  The body moves in towards the core of being, like a baby nestling against its mother, secure and trusting. What dies is the "I", "me", "mine" which clings so passionately to its own identity. When we hold the breath out after exhalation, we experience expiration - a small death or letting go. 

Today, simply practice following the length of each inhale as it leads up into the spaciousness of your divine, true self at the top of the breath. Rest in its abundance for a few moments before sliding down the length of the exhale into the still, quiet space that resides at the bottom of the breath. Rest in the emptiness without feeling the need to add anything or wanting anything to be different. Feel the in-breath inspire you to live fully and to appreciate the amazing gift of taking the divine into yourself.  Allow the out-breath to be an expiration, a small death or a releasing of the divine within us back out into the world.

Until next time...

"Inhale, and God approaches you.  Hold the inhalation, and God remains with you.  Exhale, and you approach God.  Hold the exhalation, and surrender to God."  ~Krishnamacharya

Posture Flow
by Danna Faulds

This is a sacrament,
a prayer of breath, a
symphony of soul
and motion. This is
yoga, emerging from
the inside, out-all
here in this singular
meditation of spirit.
Trust that the body
knows what it needs
if you dare to follow
where it leads.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Use The Force

"Prayer is you talking to God.  Intuition is God talking back."
Wayne Dyer

One of my favorite quotes from a movie comes from a conversation between Luke Skywalker and Yoda in "The Empire Strikes Back" (where Yoda is teaching Luke how to save his spaceship from sinking in a swamp). Yoda is trying to teach Luke to "use the force", to tap into his connection to all things, but Luke's heart and mind are clouded and he is steeped in confusion. Feeling defeated with his training he is on the verge of giving up when Jedi Master Yoda wisely says: " ally is the Force. And a powerful ally it is. Life creates it, makes it grow. Its energy surrounds us… and binds us. Luminous beings are we, not this… [nudging Luke's arm] crude matter! You must feel the Force around you. Here, between you, me, the tree, the rock… everywhere! Even between the land and the ship."   Luke regroups his efforts, closes his eyes and focuses on using the force around him to lift his spaceship out of the Dagobah swamp.  It's a powerful moment, one in which we see Luke connect to the power of 'the force'.  Watching, we can relate to our own struggles and ability to find clarity and connection to our own deep inner knowing.

When we clear the clutter of the mind, our ability to see, hear, feel, and know expands and it is then that we are more easily able to enter the space of our intuition and our connection to the matrix of life we call "being".

My intuition has been a beautiful guide and friend to me for my whole life and I trust it more than anything. I have always had a deep, abiding faith in 'the force', though there have been times, like Luke Skywalker, that I have been clouded and unable to see, hear, or feel it clearly.  Regardless of our being able to see, hear or feel it, it is always there - like Yoda said: "its energy surrounds us and binds us."

The system of yoga asserts that this force can be most readily accessed through our sixth chakra, or "ajna", also known as the "third eye".  Ajna is the Sanskrit word that means "beyond wisdom".  It is located between, and just above the eyes (in the area of the pituitary gland). It is said to be the seat of our intuition or inner knowing, our direct connection to "the force". says: "This chakra resonates with clear thinking, native intelligence, and intuition. It is from here that we develop our psychic ability, our memories of the past and visualizations for the future, and can stand unafraid to see the truth about what’s happening in our lives."

We can strengthen our mental clarity (sixth chakra energy), by taking the time to calm our scattered thoughts and focus on what is happening in the moment (sort of like Luke Skywalker trying to lift his spaceship out of the swamp!).  We cultivate the power of our intuition when we accept that there are many ways of thinking and living in the world, and we open ourselves to understanding - without pride or negative judgement - that we don't always need to conform to those ways.

When we are fully grounded and centered, we are better able to determine whether our intuition is coming from a place of deep inner guidance or if it is stemming from a fear-based idea.  When we practice being inwardly still, we stop being afraid to know the truth.

Yogi Bhajan of the Kundalini Yoga tradition sums it up beautifully:

"Silence is core to all spiritual practices. The Buddhists are masters of silence. Or at least they recognize its value and practice the discipline. One must be silent to 'hear' the Divine. Silence is an art that we cultivate. Your experiences will be more profound and your practice more effective if you incorporate silence into your spiritual practice and into your daily life.

The purpose of silence is to turn our attention inward. As we tune into our inner space we are able to identify and stop relating to what is called "excess personality" or "externalized ego". We begin relating to our Essential Self or Soul. It is our Essential Self that accesses our intuition and finds the Infinite within. Cultivate the art of silence and listening.  To be silent requires being able to listen. There is a silent channel in our mind.  First we have to access it.  Second we have to listen to the silence and be with it.  The silence is always there.  Our challenge is to train ourselves to pay attention to it." 

Just as Luke Skywalker needed to connect with this ever-present silence within in order to "feel the force" (his connection to all things), we too need to practice exercising our third eye.  Sometimes the only way to know is through experience.  But whether the question is that there's something we need to do or something to avoid, when the gift of intuition presents itself and kindly offers to guide us, our practice is to be awake enough to hear and respect its voice.

Try it now: close your eyes.  Draw  your attention to the area of your third eye and allow yourself to expand into the boundary-less space behind your forehead.  Ask yourself: "What do I need?", "What no longer serves me, even if it once did?", "What is God/the universe trying to tell me?". Then silently remain open to the answers without trying to analyze, formulate or visualize a response.  Sit in the silence of this space for a while then slowly open your eyes and feel yourself being moved by something greater than your little 'ol ego.

Until next time...
Intuition is a spiritual faculty and does not explain, but simply points the way.  ~Florence Scovel Shinn

One With Truth
by Dana Faulds

When I recognize that
I am one with truth and
the whole searing, seamless
universe, I don't need proof.
I stop seeking reassurance.

This knowing is too strong
to second-guess or oush
away-it's what I am.
It seeps in, leaks out,
changes everything and
leaves me much the same.

It isn't a realization, really-
more of an experience of what
has always been, and will be.
There are no separate pieces
in this creation-not one of
us exists outside the whole.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Sowing The Seeds of Love

"All human beings have in common the desire to avoid suffering and to achieve happiness." 
-The 14th Dalai Lama

As practitioners of yoga and meditation we ofter hear the word "lovingkindness". But what does it mean? It seems so easy in theory but how do we actually do it?

Several months ago I planted carrot seeds. In preparation, I created space in my little garden patch. I worked the ground with my shovel, removing obstacles such as stones and roots, and I prepared the dirt by mixing in organic compost. When the earth was ready, I opened the seed packet and spread the seeds over the soft soil, patting them gently into the nutrient-rich loam.

Once the planting was complete, there was nothing I could do to make the carrots grow.  All I am able to do is provide the conditions for them to grow and then sit back and watch them push up towards the light. I can't reach my hands into the dark soil and squeeze them into being through my wish for them to grow.  All I can do is provide the garden patch, warmth, water, care, and then be patient.

The same is true when we start out on the path to cultivate lovingkindness or "Metta Bhavana". For the seeds of love to grow we need soil and water. The soil in this case is our awareness. We lovingly remove the obstacles in our soil much in the way that we remove negative emotions or judgments, and we provide care through the process of observing with attention. We tend the garden of the soul and over time what we begin to see is that negative emotions begin to fade and that positive, more loving emotions begin to blossom.

"Compassion is the heart's response to sorrow.  We share in the beauty of life and in the ocean of tears.  The sorrow of life is part of each of our hearts and part of what connects us to one another.  It brings with it tenderness, mercy and an all-enbracing kindness that can touch every being." -Jack Kornfield

We use the time on our yoga mats or meditation cushions to practice being kind and compassionate with ourselves. When we feel tenderness and compassion towards our own joys and sorrows, we find that we can begin to feel tenderness towards the joys and sorrows of our loved ones, towards those with whom we have difficulties, and outward extending our love to all living beings.

So it all starts with a seed.  Prepare your soil today to sow the seeds of love everyday!

Until next time...

Try this loving kindness meditation by Sharon Salzberg:

You can begin by sitting down in a comfortable position, closing your eyes. Sit with your back erect, without being strained or overarched.

Take a few deep breaths, relax your body. Feel your energy settle into your body and into the moment.

See if certain phrases emerge from your heart that express what you wish most deeply for yourself, not just for today, but in an enduring way. Phrases that are big enough and general enough that you can ultimately wish them for all of life, for all beings everywhere.

Classical phrases are things like, "May I live in safety. May I be happy. May I be healthy. May I live with ease."

You can gently repeat these phrases over and over again, have your mind rest in the phrases, and whenever you find your attention has wandered, don't worry about it. When you recognize you've lost touch with the moment, see if you can gently let go and begin again.

"May I live in safety, be happy, be healthy, live with ease."

Call to mind somebody that you care about -- a good friend, or someone who's helped you in your life, someone who inspires you. You can visualize them and say their name to yourself. Get a feeling for their presence, and then direct the phrases of lovingkindness to them. May you live in safety, be happy, be healthy, live with ease.

Call to mind someone you know who's having a difficult time right now. They've experienced a loss, painful feeling, a difficult situation. If somebody like that comes to mind, bring them here. Imagine them sitting in front of you. Say their name. Get a feeling for their presence and offer the phrases of lovingkindness to them.

"May you live in safety. Be happy. Be healthy, live with ease."

Think of someone who plays some role in your life, some function that you don't know very well, that you don't have a particular feeling for, or against. Maybe the checkout person at the supermarket where you shop, the gas-station attendant, somebody that you see periodically. If someone like that comes to mind, imagine them sitting in front of you, and offer these same phrases of lovingkindness to them.

"May you live in safety. Be happy. Be healthy, live with ease."

We connect into these phrases, aiming the heart in this way, we're opening ourselves to the possibility of including, rather than excluding, of connecting, rather than overlooking, of caring, rather than being indifferent. And ultimately, we open in this way to all beings everywhere, without distinction, without separation.

"May all beings live in safety, be happy, be healthy, live with ease."

All people, all animals, all creatures, all those in existence, near and far, known to us and unknown to us. All beings on the earth, in the air, in the water. Those being born, those dying.

"May all beings everywhere live in safety, be happy, be healthy, live with ease."

You feel the energy of this aspiration extending infinitely in front of you, to either side, behind you, above and below. As the heart extends in a boundless way, leaving no one out, may all beings live in safety, be happy, be healthy, live with ease.

And when you feel ready, you can open your eyes and see if you can bring this energy with you throughout the day.

"The wisdom of the heart can be found in any circumstance, on any planet round or square.  It arises not through knowledge or images of perfection, or by comparison and judgement, but by seeing with the eyes of wisdom and the heart of loving attention, by touching with compassion all that exists in the world.' -Jack Kornfield

Sunday, July 24, 2011


"It is only in still water that we can see"
-Taoist Proverb

In Friday's classes, we talked about silence and the importance of slowing down enough to quiet the din of daily life. When we slow down, we open ourselves up to quieting the mind (which is called meditation or 'dhyana' on sanskrit). Meditation is the stilling of the movements of the mind. It is bringing the turbulent sea of the mind to a state of flat calm. This calm is not lifeless, motionless or static.  It is a deep tranquility full of all the potential of creation. 

Although the two can be practiced separately, it is often said that yoga is meditation and meditation is yoga.  Yoga releases us from the world of material possessions, events, and noise - which can ruffle the ocean of the mind - and brings us back to the point of stillness and placidity before the ocean was ruffled. Meditation is not laziness or lifelessness (tamas-inertia), it is luminous and aware (sattvic).

When we arrive on our yoga mat or meditation cushion and practice with intention and mindfulness, our movements become meditation. 
"Meditation is acceptance. It is the acceptance of life within us, without us and all around us. Acceptance of life is the beginning of human satisfaction. Transformation of life is the culmination of divine satisfaction." (
Sri Chinmoy)

In meditation we stop fighting with and against ourselves.  We stop struggling with and against the world.  We simply accept each breath, each sensation, each moment as it is without needing to add anything else.

Swami Chetanananda said it best when he said: "Your work really begins when you release struggle. To let go of struggle initiates a change of vibration within you. This change puts you in touch with the flow of life itself, which is essentially what you are. To cultivate your awareness of this flow is your real work.

When you're in touch with the flow of life and feel your heart and mind open, you'll note that a certain presence starts to assert itself.  This presence changes your physical chemistry, your feelings, and your mind.  It is  the spirit itself, starting to inform you about yourself, about it, about life, and about God.  It's simple work."
Meditation can be practiced anywhere any time.  Simply releasing struggle and opening to acceptance will help still the waters of the mind and allow the divine to be reflected in the clear, calm waters of the spirit.

Until next time...

To meditate does not mean to fight with a problem.
To meditate means to observe.
Your smile proves it.
It proves that you are being gentle with yourself, 
that the sun of awareness is shining in you, 
that you have control of your situation.
You are yourself,
and you have acquired some peace.
- Thich Nhat Hahn

Saturday, July 23, 2011

The Sound of Silence

“There are times when silence has the loudest voice” 
Leroy Brownlow

Sometimes silence is a note we can sing...

The past few days have been a whirlwind of activity!  Traveling and long eventful days have made this week very busy.

I arrived home late Thursday night after a long car ride and a busy day teaching some wonderfully gifted yogis in Carrboro, NC (near Chapel Hill).  As I snuggled into bed I felt a wave of relief.  I was so thankful to be back home, but I was also appreciative to have had the opportunity to do what I love.

It wasn't until I finally put my head on the pillow and started to relax that I noticed how "loud" the past few days had been.  And by loud I don't mean "decibel loud", but perhaps just loud in the sense that the week had been abuzz with activity, energy and movement.  In the stillness of my bed the "noise" caught up with me and I could sense how tired it made me feel.

This is often the case for most of us in this day and age. The momentum of our lives carries us forward like a noisy wave.  Sometimes we can't sense how "loud" our world has become until we finally stop and attend to the part of ourselves that is already quiet and easeful. 

Still feeling a bit "noisy" when I woke up Friday morning, I stepped on my yoga mat to do my asana and meditation practice.  I began sama vritti pranayama (equal breathing).  Sama vritti is a calming and balancing breath that can be used to create a sense of being grounded, stable and at ease in the body, mind and emotions.  Blending this breath with awareness and postures brought me a profound sense of inner quiet.  I was able to tune into the sound of silence - which is by no means void of sound - but rather is rich and full of the sounds of the "self", the sounds of life.

In the course of our lives we never experience total physical silence.  From the moment we are conceived we are immersed in the whooshing sounds of our mothers heartbeat and blood flow while in the womb.  We are then born into a tumultuous world.  Even if we find ourselves in a silent room or space,  we can still hear the buzz and vibration of the blood in our ears, the sound of our breath, the beating of our heart.  

We can't know true silence until we seek it spiritually. The tradition of yoga asserts that this silence and peace are already within us. When we consciously make the choice to slow down, and to step out of the momentum and into stillness, we begin to experience the quieting of the commotion of life around us.  We shift into an organic experience of deep inner peacefulness and quietude.  It's already there, we just have to tune in to it. 

"There is no need to go to India or anywhere else to find peace. You will find that deep place of silence right in your room, your garden or even your bathtub."
-Elizabeth Kubler-Ross

Practice slowing down to the pace of your own breath.  Practice sama vritti pranayama to help you find your own divine silence.  It's simple!  Here's how:

1. Sit in a comfortable, cross-legged position, placing a folded blanket under your sitting bones if necessary.
2. Close your eyes and begin to notice your natural breath, not changing anything at first.
3. Begin a slow count to four as you inhale. Then also count to four as you exhale. The exercise is to match the length of your inhale and exhale.
4. You may experiment with changing the number you count to, just make sure your inhale and exhale stay the same length.
5. Continue breathing this way for several minutes.

Until next time...


by Billy Collins

There is the sudden silence of the crowd 
above a player not moving on the field,
and the silence of the orchid.

The silence of the falling vase
before it strikes the floor,
the silence of the belt when it is not striking the child.

The stillness of the cup and the water in it,
the silence of the moon
and the quiet of the day far from the roar of the sun.

The silence when I hold you to my chest,
the silence of the window above us,
and the silence when you rise and turn away.

And there is the silence of this morning
which I have broken with my pen,
a silence that had piled up all night

like snow falling in the darkness of the house—
the silence before I wrote a word
and the poorer silence now.

by Hafiz

A day of Silence
Can be a pilgrimage in itself.

A day of Silence
Can help you listen
To the Soul play
Its marvellous lute and drum.

Is not most talking
A crazed defence of a crumbling fort?

I thought we came here
To surrender in Silence,

To yield to Light and Happiness,

To Dance within
In celebration of Love’s Victory! (Hafiz)

by Sri Chinmoy
Silence, silence, silence. 
Silence awakens the sleeping seeker in me. 
Silence enlightens the aspiring seeker in me. 
Silence fulfils the self-giving seeker in me. Silence, silence, silence.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011


"When you do things from your soul, you feel a river moving in you, a joy." 
— Rumi

When thinking of yoga, many people envision either a wise looking person sitting serenely in lotus pose (padmasana) or perhaps a lithe, ballerina-like woman twisted into a posture that looks downright impossible if not unnatural.  In reality, yoga is neither of these things, but rather a whole science and a system that integrates the body, breath and the mind with the spirit. When we practice yoga we are ultimately working from the outside in. The idea is that as human beings, we work with what is most readily available to and tangible to us: the body.  Makes sense, right? It's something that is here, right now in the present moment. We can see it and feel it, we can make it do things. It's what is familiar to us.  But yoga teaches us that there's more to it than that.  Yoga believes that our innermost part - what the yogis call our "true self" - is doing its best to get our attention in asking us to realize its presence. In yoga, the belief is that the body is a container for our consciousness and so the idea is that when we align our body with our breath, the true self opens up and takes over, thus allowing the body and brain to get out of the way. We use the body and breath to discipline the mind and to reach the soul.

This doesn't mean that yoga is all about the body.  The body and the breath are just doorways in and when we animate each posture and breath with intention, we begin to turn the key in the lock and open the door to freedom.

When we practice this way, we open the door so that we can move through the world in the same way - from the heart and soul.  We no longer reside in just the body or move through life stuck in the haziness of our whirling thoughts.  We begin to approach everything we do from the light of our soul.  This is how we find harmony.

Next time you practice, try getting out of your own way and connect to your joy!

Until next time...

From "Light On Life" by B.K.S. Iyengar:

"It must not be just your mind or even your body that is doing the asana. You must be in it. You must do the asana with your soul. How can you do an asana with your soul? We can only do it with the organ of the body that is closest to the soul – the heart. So a virtuous asana is done from the heart and not from the head. Then you are not just doing it, but you must instead feel your way into it through love and devotion. 

In this way, you will work from your heart, not your brain, to create harmony. The serenity in the body is the sign of the spiritual tranquility. As long as you do not feel the serenity in the body, in each and every joint, there is no chance for emancipation. You are in bondage. So while you are sweating and aching, let your heart be light and let it fill your body with gladness. You are not only becoming free, but you are also being free. What is not to be glad about? The pain is temporary. The freedom is permanent."

It's not just about showing up and sweating your way through your practice.  It's about moving from your soul, breathing from the very bottom of your heart and allowing your true self to shine!

"What you seek is seeking you." 
— Rumi

Monday, July 18, 2011


"Wisdom is calm, not fearful. Wisdom is chosen, not forced. The wise choice leads to feelings of liberation." 

~ Martha Beck

This morning as I was getting ready to dry my hair, I looked in the mirror and noticed - for the first time - the presence of three or four grey hairs. Although they were mixed in with my blonde hair and they weren't as obvious as you might expect, the fact that they were there was unmistakable.

I had always assumed that I would be freaked out at such a blatant sign of aging and mortality, but my reaction took me by pleasant surprise. Instead, I felt a sweet tenderness in my heart.  It was as if I was greeting dear old friends. To me, these grey hairs are a friendly reminder of everything that I've experienced so far in my life. They represent wisdom that can only come by truly participating in this human existence.

I spent the weekend talking about gratitude with my classes, and wisdom seems like such a lovely tie-in to that. 
Wisdom is ultimately a deep understanding.  A genuine comprehension of what is true and right.  I've never believed that wisdom was something that one got through hours of pouring over textbooks or from an Ivy League education.  These are things that may get you a heaping helping of knowledge or 'book smarts', but not true wisdom.  True wisdom comes from taking part in life. Getting out there and feeling your way through no matter what.

Sri Chinmoy sums wisdom up beautifully:

"What do we mean by the word 'wisdom'? Usually we mean something superior to knowledge, something deeper. In the spiritual world, the word 'wisdom' is not used in that way. Here wisdom means light, illumining light, transforming light. That which illumines our unlit consciousness is wisdom. That which transforms the finite consciousness into the infinite consciousness is called wisdom."

Each grey hair we find, each wrinkle or scar we wear, is a sure sign that we have lived and experienced the sweetness, bitterness, joys and sorrows of life.  They offer evidence that we have grown and changed and have developed a deeper understanding about the world and feel more at peace with everything that arrives.  

Finding myself firmly ensconced in my forties, I have grown to feel a great tenderness and deep appreciation for the wisdom I've acquired. The wisdom of standing solidly in the world and feeling at home in it is a wonderful gift. Practicing mindfulness, yoga and meditation helps me to live in and be grateful for the moments as they unfold (grey hair and all).  My practice helps me to stand in the present moment and look forward with excitement at what is to come - even if that means more grey hair!

Close your eyes and think of the obstacles and challenges you've lived and how they have contributed to your deep understanding of what life is about.

Until next time...

by Sara Teasdale
When I have ceased to break my wings 
Against the faultiness of things, 
And learned that compromises wait 
Behind each hardly opened gate, 
When I have looked life in the eyes, 
Grown calm and very coldly wise, 
Life will have given me the Truth, 
And taken in exchange--my youth. 

Cherish things while you still have them, before they’re gone,
and you realize how precious they really are.
Life can only be understood backwards,
but it must be lived forwards.
Everything in life is temporary.
So if things are going good,
enjoy it because it won’t last forever.
And if things are going bad,
don’t worry because it won’t last forever either.
Destiny is not a matter of chance,
it is a matter of choice;
it is not a thing to be waited for,
it is a thing to be achieved.
A journey of a thousand miles
begins with a single step.
Never cross a bridge
without knowing how to swim the tides.
If you could not add years to your life
Add life to your years.

(Author Unknown)