Wednesday, June 24, 2009


I would like to share with you a creative meditation practice that is a staple in Buddhist practice. It is called Metta Meditation. In Sanskrit the word is Maitri.
Metta means love or kindness. Maybe even compassion or friendliness. I like the translation of "an active interest in others." (It is often difficult to translate Pali into English because of the differences in the language and culture, so sometimes it is nice to have many translations so that you can get more of a feeling for the word.)
Metta Meditation is a practice where you make up phrases that wish well towards yourself and others. It develops good feeling towards others. It helps you understand that we are all similar. It helps you deal with sticky relationships. It helps you dig yourself out of the sludge and muck of self centered existence... which could be disguised as depressive tendency.
I had done a little metta in the past, but when I started practicing it more regularly with my meditation teacher Lisa, I didn't feel much at all. It was quite disconcerting for me. I wasn't sure if it was an inability to concentrate or an inability to wish well for others. I got really interested in it because of the knot it gave me mentally. I felt like something wasn't flowing. I started practicing it exclusively for some time. I am still a raw beginner at this practice, but I was amazed at how quickly I started to feel changes. Shortly after I started practicing it consistently I attended my brother's wedding. The amount of pure love for my family that I had when I was there was so strong. I was amazed that I went a few days without thinking of myself. I actually remember the first thought I had about myself that weekend, because it was so obvious.
I attributed the way I felt to my metta practice.
I am not sure how many of you feel disconnected to people at times, or have had dry spells of feeling towards the important people in your life. This is a practice that may help you. It really seemed silly to me at first. Even annoying. But over time it may flower into something that is very energizing.
You start with saying these phrases towards yourself. Then you can pick a friend whom you really like to repeat them for. Then you can choose a person that you have neutral feelings for and repeat the phrases. You can finish repeating the phrases with someone you don't like (which is a very interesting practice!).
You can also start with yourself and proceed spatially. So the second grouping could be the people in the room, third the people in your town, fourth the people in your territory, country, whole world, and lastly, the universe.
The phrases are done internally, not out loud. The whole practice may take as little as 10 minutes to upwards of 1 hour.
These are some phrases that my teacher Lisa uses. One of them is Micheal Stone's.

May I be free from harm.
May I be healthy and strong.
May my mind be peaceful and happy.
May I be free from any form of lack.
May I live with ease and joy in this life.
May I awaken.

After this you can substitute "I" for the next subject.
Example: May Sarah be free from harm. etc.

Persistence and patience are key in this practice.
All the best to you.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Long Summer Days and The Yoga of Food

This time of year is incredible in the northern hemisphere.
Life and energy are everywhere,
inspired by the green forests and the unwaivered strength of the sun's rays - it is rare that i find myself in front of this screen.

Having said that, I feel like i have lots to share;
ideas brewing
bodily sensations unfolding
steeped in this journey from the tips of my toes to the depths of my heart

but, where oh where to begin??

The little yellow room that is The Yoga Studio here in Squamish is continuing to amaze me. We had over 20 people come to join us for an Intro to Meditation and Buddhism course on Monday night and i was drenched in a deep smile for the community that is taking shape as time passes.

The more that time passes, the more i am grounded in the idea that we are not trying to build a business of yoga here in Squamish. I really believe in the idea of building community and allowing the people and energies that share in the community to be a guiding force behind the directions the community chooses to go. And, on many levels this is foundationally different then the modern western model of building a business. I think??

In this vein, I am equally amazed by the small classes I teach.

Where there are a few intrigued souls who come in with an open mind and dense curiosity.
In these moments I really truly realize the inability to plan for what to teach,
Rather, I have to look people in the eyes and allow the learnings i am experiencing, in my own mind and body, connect with where people are at in a given moment in time.
And the result is that I feel like i am really getting to know the people who come and go from the yellow room, real connections are made - and this is the foundation of any lasting community.

A month ago I posted a link to a CBC talk on the industry of yoga. Another interesting link is just below. It is an interview with Richard Freeman on The Future of Yoga, worth a listen if you have the time.

Richard Freeman Interview

I've also been exploring and playing lots in the garden lately.
What an amazing way to connect with the food you eat...grow it yourself!!

The more i learn, the more intrigued I get. Scott and I have eaten big salads from our garden on many occasions recently and we are also spending time helping at a local organic farm in the Squamish Valley - Good Times Farming. I feel compelled to share about the dedication and passion that Stephan and Nick (the brothers that opened the farm) put into each and every day on the farm.
When we go out there and share in this energy it is incredible to feel the dirt wiggle its' way between my toes,
it is meditative to plant rows of seeds that are growing so close to my home
and I am scratching the surface of understanding the complicated nature of food production...

Where does your food come from?? Are there local farms you could support or just visit to learn from?? Do you know what chemicals the food you buy at the grocery store comes into contact?? How much gasoline is used to bring your food to your table??
Supporting local food production in Canada is hard when we have grown up with mangoes, banana's and avocados all year round...Yoga is grounded in practices of morals and ethics and i think food is one of the many things we can take the time to stop and think about and maybe let go of habits, attachments, aversions...or maybe not??

Are you not willing to have some parts of you be sponged out, erased, canceled, nothing? If not, you will never really change.
D.H. Lawrence

The Summer Solstice is this Sunday - if you are in Squamish, come join us for the 108 Sun Salutations to Celebrate the longest day of the year!! All proceeds go to charity!