doubt

The Unlikely Gurus

When I was twenty I got my first dog, a beautiful blue-eyed Huskie mix. As a naïve twenty year old I presumed it would be easy to “own” a dog and that I would have excellent dog “ownership” skills. Reflecting back on my perspective at that time in my life and my perception of “ownership” says much to me about the resulting relationship I had with Otis. It was a young and naïve relationship that lacked the integrity of steadiness, regular quality time spent together, the presence of patience, and most of all trust. The relationship of "ownership" ended in abandonment when a few short months into our journey together I decided to leave the country for half a year. Lucky for him and despite my poor parenting skills Otis was harbored for a few years in the loving home of my father, from where he went to live with and is deeply loved by my brother Josh. From time to time I have the pleasure of hanging out with him and going for walks. I am honored in his company by his forgiveness, which he offers with no restraint and his unconditional love, which is clearly present despite my truest betrayal and trespass against him. From Otis I have learned a form of forgiveness and freedom that is spacious and bright like the blue of his soulful eyes. In my mid twenties I thought perhaps I was ready to try again. My husband and I discussed getting a dog, we agreed that I was not a fit dog owner based on my passed experience however, he had had many growing up and was willing to be a teacher to me on the journey. The conversation was just that, a conversation, which never went past willingness to actually bringing a dog home. That was until a hot July afternoon when I received a phone call from my mother who had heard us discussing getting a dog, telling me her friend had found a puppy and I should come and check it out.

The puppy had been found in Ranchos very dehydrated, emaciated, and nearly dead. I took her out of her box and put her in my lap and I couldn't understand how this sweet little puppy, that couldn’t walk, with a big injury on its head, could have ever wound up in her position. I looked into her big black eyes and I fell deeply in love.

“I’ll take her.” I told my mom’s friend. However, she wasn’t ready to go anywhere other than to the vet, where she went for the next three days.

That night when my husband got home, I told him about our new puppy that my mom’s friend found, that was nearly dead and was at the vet and would soon be coming home to us. Despite our previous conversations, my husband was not eager about adding this particular dog, whom he feared may have brain damage to our family. I remember being very upset with him for not having compassion at that moment, yet as I look back on his position I understand his perspective. A brain damaged dog is a hard companion to live with.

“And are we paying for the vet too?” He asked me, disappointed and dismayed.

“Yes.” I said. “And we are going to take her in and bring her back to life, if she will make it.”

“Well,” he told me “if she turns out to be brain damaged I reserve the right to take her to the pound.”

Reluctantly, I acquiesced to his ultimatum.

Not only did we manage to bring that sick and dying puppy back to life, we found a way to include her in our lives with steadiness, quality time, and patience. It took me years to learn to communicate well with her, and to be able to understand when she was letting me know what she needed and wanted. It took even more time for me to learn to trust her and allow her to be the dog that she is rather than the dog I think she should be. Now, six years later the three of us are still in relationship, daily continuing to learn, grow, and mostly trust.

These days I call her His dog, as they just love each other so much and have so much fun. Every day when he leaves the house and can’t take her with him, she whines pathetically at the door. I on the other hand never get that kind of attention from her when I leave the house as she happily continues to lay in our bed not blinking an eye at the thought of me leaving, which I think means I’m just not as much fun. However, it is me she gravitates toward to have her most important needs met, like food, and care when she does not feel well. I like to think that’s because she remembers that day when she was nearly dead like I do, and how deeply I wanted to see her survive. As for me, I continue to delight in the newness of our relationship every day. Daily she invites me to play more, take more time to just enjoy the delight of the moment, relish the sweetness of love first thing and not forget to relish it again at the end of the day. Most importantly she continues to teach me to trust without hesitation. Experiencing witnessing her ability to ask for what she needs and wants, and trust that she will receive what she needs and wants, has taught me how to trust in spirit with more willingness and conviction in all that I need and desire. The way I understand the lesson is that you or I, like my dear sweet Onyx, only have to ask, and then allow ourselves to know and trust that spirit will provide.

Like the wonderful song in Pinocchio, “Anything your heart desires, will come to you.”

Yesterday was the first full moon after the Summer Solstice and marked the celebration of Guru Purnima, a Hindu festival honoring ones greatest, most noble and valued teachers. The word Guru is a derivative of two words, Gu and Ru and has similar etymological roots to the Latin word Gravitas. Gu denotes darkness or ignorance while Ru signifies the bringing of the light, the remover of the darkness, the moving of ignorance into knowing. The Guru therefore, is that which brings us from the weight or the gravity of our ignorance into the lightness of our being and the expansiveness of our knowing, mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually as well. A Guru can be a person who’s company we enjoy with ease and whose teachings we willingly sit with to learn, as well as a person whom it is not easy to be with and through the friction or the gravitas of our relationship we come to know our own spaciousness more deeply. Gurus are not only people as nature too can be a teacher, as can art and music, as can our dreams or our pets.

Contemplating, honoring, and celebrating the many Gurus of my life yesterday filled my heart. As my husband and I returned home from dinner under the bright shining light of the full super moon I offered extra thanks for a most unlikely Guru in my life, the little black one who ran to the door with eyes full of deep and spacious love, so happy we had come home again to her. I now know I don’t “own” her at all.

With humble gratitude to all of my teachers, the furry four legged kind, the ones I choose, and the ones who propelled me through the cheese grater of life into the wide open planes of unconditional love, I bow and I welcome the next.

With Love, All Ways, For Giving, In Joy, Genevieve

IMG_0081

Unconditioning the heart, begins in the mind.

Surrender.  Let go.  Release.  Easier said than done. Unless, you are on a long car journey and you really have to go...then when it is time, oh that sensation...it is one of my favorite releases of all. And like a full bladder that must be relieved, all things must be surrendered in time.

In time, this wild ride of a life has absolutely one thing in store for us, that it will end.  In the face of the truth of our someday demise, is another truth; It is probable and practically inevitable that we, each and everyone of us, will have attachments that we will never want to say good-bye too. These attachments may be people, things, money, thoughts and most likely the beliefs that we have built our lives on.  It is in this loving, coveting, knowing, holding onto, that we become limited and bound to the experience of what is, and feel challenged or even afraid to move into that which may become or will be.  I often find myself in a state of wonder as I ponder the fact that nothing remains forever the same, that all things will change, all humans will die, and in the face of this truth I question how it is we as a collective have not found a way to be more at peace in the process of surrender, in the face of loss, in the transitions of change.  Perhaps there is a fear in the collective conscious that if we (the entire human race) found this way, surrendering always with ease, we would become quite bored?  Perhaps we would find that everything from going to sleep, waking up, using the toilet, loosing a job, loosing a finger or even more, a leg, and loosing the ones we love to be all too easy?  I do not know.  What I do know is that energy is eternal, love is existent in everything, and it is a limited belief of the mind that says "just because something is no longer in form it no longer exits".  I have also come to understand through the passing days of my own life that the facing of that which we do not know, mostly in the question of what lies beyond living, is the foundation upon which most practices of spirituality and religion or non-religion are based.

To know the unconditional boundaries of love, time, energy, and the universe we must first uncondition our minds of the belief that the boundaries exist.  It is the ultimate surrender, the ultimate letting go.

What would happen if we could perceive love in all things without condition?

What would happen if we could perceive the divine in all things without condition?

I propose we would know a state of peace John Lennon invited us to Imagine.  Or even more tangible, we may hug each other more often, and say I love you more often with deep tenderness and conviction, rather than suspicion or fear.

The fundamental tenant of the spiritual practice of yoga is Ahimsa, the practice of Non-Violence, or as I like to see it, the action/s of Loving Kindness. If we wish to truly honor the beauty of Ahimsa, surrendering our preconceived notions of good/bad, right/wrong, this/that, black/white, and letting in the all encompassing power of love without condition, by feeling, or even more profound, thinking with the heart, is where we must begin.  This does not mean that the value of active intelligence has no place in love, rather it means the heart guides the active intelligence to choices of thinking that encompass unconditional love.

One can actively give more power to the practice of loving unconditionally and letting go of belief structures that do not serve, with a practice with mantra and meditation.  I find in my own practice the following mantra to be a powerful vehicle into the spaciousness of my heart through the softening of my mind.

Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu

Lokah:  The location of all universes existing at this moment Samastah: All beings living in this location Sukhino: In happiness, joy and free from all suffering Bhav: The divine mood or state of union Antu: May it be so -

The practice of praying for the liberation from suffering for all things existent at this moment, as well as the prayer for happiness and peace, most importantly, includes yourself, as you are, right now, today, faults or no, good or bad, black or white, animal eating or vegan.  If you truly wish to know peace and unconditional love, you must endeavor to liberate yourself from the binds of suffering chained to the limiting, nonsupporting, hurtful, painful beliefs of your mind.  By offering yourself the same love and compassion you would offer another, you come to know the depth and value of your ability to love without condition and be a conduit of love without condition.

If it is inevitable that we will have attachments throughout the duration of our lives, may we attach ourselves to the ever expanding unconditional love of our hearts and spaciousness of our spirits.  May we be disciplined in our practices of self liberation and walking with honor and integrity in relationship to all life.  May we know when to let go, and surrender like the grace of a lowering tide, an exhale of full breath and a caterpillar going into its cocoon.

It is always truly my wish that all beings may be happy, healthy, free from suffering and know peace.  May we share that love and freedom with courage and joy.  May we all reap the rewards of peace from the surrender of the boundaries of our fearful minds together.

I'm doing my best, and admittedly still learning.  However, in the face of surrendering all that I have known to be true before, and making room for all that exists now, I do feel more peace...most especially when I let the energy move, as I do my bladder empty, when it is full...

With love always, in all ways, for giving,

Genevieve

10 Reasons to Walk Softly

  1. Build a strong foundation. (Ahimsa) Cultivate beginners mind, go somewhere new, study with new teachers and new classmates, practice nonviolence with your self.
  2. Open your heart to our shared potential. (Satya)  The truth is, that truth is always changing. Honor your truth, take time for your self, know what is important to you, serve the highest.
  3. Be generous with your Self and others.  (Asteya) Learn ways to integrate your yoga practice with the world around you. Cultivate more skillfulness and mindfulness in the balanced use and renewal of energy.
  4. Reinforce your Integrity. (Brahmacharya) Nature does not know right or wrong, nature only knows balance and imbalance.  Explore and relish in the nature of all aspects of yourself, and over the course of the retreat, integrate your being into a more cohesive whole.
  5. Giving it all away. (Aparigraha) Cultivate a well of generosity from which your motivations arise.  Allow yourself freedom from an attachment to the results of your work.  Learn to do, and do well, for the joy of doing.
  6. Clear pathways. (Saucha)  Detox physically with Asana, and mentally with meditation, to provide for yourself purity of mind, body and spirit.
  7. Be With What Is.  (Santosa) Relax and de-stress during the day, and enjoy peaceful tranquility and ease at night while sleeping on the sacred grounds of the Mabel Dodge Lujan house, tucked sweetly beneath Taos Mountain.
  8. Know your capacity to be more, do more, get out, collaborate and create!  (Tapas) Deepen your yoga practice, and replace old habits.  Through intentionally placing yourself in the position to learn, you will adopt new ways of being: on the mat, in relationship, and in the world.
  9. Self-study leads to self-love. (Svadyaya)  Return home feeling capable and self empowered to meet life willingly, openly, as yourself, no matter how it appears in front of you.
  10. Freedom from the stress.  (Ishvara Pranidhana) Show up, experience the delight of embodiment, the spaciousness of spirit, the acrobatic skillfulness of the mind…leave renewed, refreshed, and reinforced using a system that has worked for thousands of years.

Join experienced and registered yoga teachers Suki Dalury and Genevieve Oswald for a beautiful journey into the Yamas (precepts for being with community) and the Niyamas (precepts for being with self.  Apply the ancient secrets of yoga and invite the future with internal power and open arms.  Lecture, creative workshoping with visual art and written word combine with the sacred practices of asana, pranayama, and meditation to align with your most alive and vibrant self. Awaken awareness and lay the groundwork for a lifetime of well-being in your body, and in the world.  Yoga Alliance CEU’s available.

Walk Softly: Yoga and Our Future Yoga Retreat at Mabel Dodge Lujan House in Taos New Mexico Nov. 14-19, 2013.  Check out www.shreeyogataos.com for more details, and http://mabeldodgeluhan.com for information regarding the beautiful grounds and accommodations.  The Mabel Dodge Luhan House is one of the most quintessential Taos places. Rooms must be booked on or before October 7, 2013.  Board includes breakfast and lunch. Single and Double room occupancy available.  $1425.00-$1725.00  For those wishing to attend the retreat and not lodge at the Mabel Dodge Luhan House, the cost is $800.00.

Please call or email Shree Yoga Taos to register.

shreeyogataos@gmail.com

575-758-8014