Friday, January 11, 2019

Open Heart, Open Mind - Awakening the Power of Essence Love


I picked up a few books to read over the Christmas holidays from our great public library.  I read the first few pages at the library and knew it would be a good and interesting read in a language that spoke to me.  This book is easy to read but full of insight, honesty and wisdom. 

The inside flap tells a bit about the authors.  Tsoknyi Rinpoche was born in Nepal in 1966.  He is married with 2 children and balances a busy teaching schedule around the world, as well as overseeing two nunneries in Nepal, also one of the largest nunneries in Tibet and many practice centres in Tibet. He is known as a being a compassionate and insightful teacher regarding human nature. 

Eric Swanson has co-written many books with Tibetan teachers. A few are "The Joy of Living", "Joyful Wisdom", "Karmapa, The Sacred Prophecy" and a memoir "What the Lotus Said"

In the forward written by Richard Gere, he writes about Tsoknyi Rinpoche, "He helps to break through self-imposed limitations and seriousness to find that lasting love, wisdom, bliss are possible."  He also writes how Rinpoche helps to reconnect us with our deepest nature, to be joyous, open and free of all conditions and conditioning.  That recognizing our nature allows the warmth of compassion and love to naturally express themselves in everything we do. 

"At the root we all vibrate with love" 
Even the forward spoke to me.  From all that I have been taught, it really always comes back to being up to me to practice, to study, to keep practicing so I can shine with the kind of selfless love and compassion that is our true identity.  It is people like this that help to build us up, give us the tools so we can be our best.  Not asking someone to do the work for us, but knowing they are there when we need them, when we feel fear, anxiety, etc. That we can just pick up where we were and keep practicing.
The last sentence of the forward is, "This book can help us find that initial spark that will grow into a roaring fire.  It is up to us."
Tsoknyi Rinpoche shares the story of his lineage, of how at the age of 8 he was recognized as the reincarnation of the first Tsoknyi Rinpoche who was born in the mid-nineteenth century and mastered all the teachings of the Drukpa Kagyu lineage.  He shares his story of growing up, what this discovery meant to him and how he proceeded to where his is now.  It is a very sincere story and shares how the wisdom and love from his family and teachers has helped him. 
This book is a blend of stories, not just his own but other real life stories so we can see how human nature is and that we are maybe not so different from others and then gives a few simple practices that can be done at anytime. 
It leaves the reader with a place to begin for themselves.  That we don't all have to be recognized Buddhist masters to be able to benefit from the teachings and put them into practice to become more joyful, compassionate and trusting.
Here is one practice on Tonglen from the book under the title Boundless Love.p.64
"Although reconnecting with essence love may be part of the process of Buddhist practice of recognizing the spark within us, it's only one step in a longer and ultimately more lasting and fulfilling journey out of fear, darkness, depression and other challenges. Everything I've learned from my teachers, my students and my own experience agrees that the motive behind the Buddha's teachings was to cultivate a deep and active caring for the fate of all living creatures.  So once we have tasted essence love - and many of the practices described in the following pages provide various means of doing so - so the next step is to move beyond essence love to boundless love. One of the simplest methods for doing so is a Tibetan Buddhist practice known as tonglen, which can be translated as "sending and taking" and which involves a combination of breathing and visualization to send out whatever positive energy you have and whatever pain others may be feeling.
p.66 Often overlooked in the instructions of tonglen is that the most fruitful time to practice it is when we're feeling bad about ourselves - when we're consumed by anger, despair, jealousy, or some other negative feeling.  We take these feelings, and our desire to get past them, as a starting point.
Begin by finding a restful position for your body.
Breath in; breathe out.
Let yourself feel the weight of whatever you're experiencing. Let yourself recognize that you're being unkind to yourself, that somehow you've blocked your innate sense of well-being.
Breath in and out again, but this time engage your imagination. Bring your attention to the person or persons who have brought about a painful situation. Breathe in all the darkness and pain that may have caused that person to act that way. Imagine it as a dark greasy cloud or oily smoke.  Breathe out brightness - the essence of your own spark - and imagine it filling that person with confidence, light, a connection to essence love.
Keep doing this until you feel quite sure the person toward whom you have some difficult thoughts and feelings will somehow, through his or her own path, reconnect with his or her own spark.
Tonglen is not a practice or forgiving or forgetting. Rather, it is a practice that provides us with the capability of rising beyond the personal pain that we have endured and restoring confidence in our ability to face challenges; that we can move beyond it and learn to live productive, fulfilling lives."
That is just a bit from one of the practices.
I hope if you pick up this book you will enjoy it also.
Let me know! 
Pamela Nelson
Certified Iyengar Yoga Teacher


Thursday, January 3, 2019

Finding Courage, Joy, Hope and Peace

2019 Winter Yoga Schedule

Finding Courage, Joy, Hope and Peace
Happiest of New Year's to You!
I hope this email finds you well and enjoying the first few days of January with this now warm weather.
That is life, sometimes unpredictable and seems to always be changing.

Yoga can help bring a sense of balance,
whether it be a sense of stability or the need for flexibility. 
Not just in body, but the breath and mind
I like to spend time reflecting on the past year and prepare for the year to come by setting an intention or more of a mantra or theme for the year ahead.  Last year for me it was Moving Right Along (you know the Muppet's :)).  I know seems that in yoga we shouldn't be looking ahead and are to be happy in the present, but in Moving Right Along that was what I hoped to do.  My challenge to myself was to shake off some fears, mindsets and restrictions I had put on myself and take steps to do new things and live it in the present moment whether it was in the planning and preparing or the actual event itself.  The first was committing to lead a retreat in Costa Rica and in a little over a month will be coming to fruition.  I also went to India for a month to study at the Iyengar Institute in Pune.  With family and financial commitments not an easy task but the time felt right and I am so glad I did as I was able to receive wonderful teachings from Geeta Iyengar once more before she passed away on December 16th.  This has hit me and the Iyengar community and I felt I needed some way this year to navigate what this will mean.  I was clearing my yoga space the other day and have  these rocks I bought years ago from Ten Thousand Villages.  They are what brought my theme or mantra for the coming year - Finding Courage, Joy, Hope and Peace.  This year the courage to know what I need to hang onto and what I need to let go of.  Hope a little hope can go a long way! Joy and Peace -  really focusing on defining this year what this means to me at this time. 

So,  I hope you will join me and share exploring this mantra this upcoming year! 
Om Shanti, shanti, shanti  - Om, peace, peace, peace

Below is my upcoming Winter schedule, plus a few workshops I will be teaching.

Please check it out and register early!

If you have any questions please email me also.