October 27 2017
In one of my favorite Indian myths, the sage Bharadvaja finally meets with the Lord Shiva. Bharadvaja had longed to see Shiva for many lifetimes, hoping to be granted liberation from the cycle of birth and death. In that hope, he had spent his multiple lives in isolation, cultivating unshakable commitment to the study of the Vedas. At the end of one of his lifetimes, Shiva comes to his dying bed to see him sick and alone. He looks at him with empathy and points to the mountain outside his window. "Bharadvaja, what have you been doing? There can ALWAYS be more knowledge. What you need is to get out of your cave and share what you have learned with the world."
How beautiful! We can always gather more knowledge, whether through books, or inner work of self exploration and awareness. But will it turn into love? For knowledge to turn into love, it needs to be shared. It needs connections, reflections, intimacy...it needs a tribe.
So then the wise sage Bharadvaja spends his next life-time teaching, engaging and learning through connecting with people. He spreads kindness, light and love wherever he goes. On his dying bed this time around many people are always beside him, honoring him for all that he has given and done for them. Right then, he sees Shiva again, who seems pleased and grants him eternal liberation.
But Bharadvaja refuses. He has no desire to be liberated any more, he only wants to come back again and be with his sangha. This is my favorite part because the connections he made in life DID in fact liberate him. They liberated him from isolation and ideas that freedom is waiting for us on the other side. The richness and beauty of sharing, learning and just being TOGETHER is bringing us back INTO the cycle, day after day, practice after practice, life-time after life-time.
I can't wait for next week to be with my tribe in Athens, to unpack together mythology, Sutras, quotes and whatever else speaks to our heart. The philosophy of yoga is only as relevant as it is applicable in our lives. Teaching philosophy is only as valuable as it can be released from the moral and dogmatic narrative, right into the arms of deep and meaningful human connections.
October 23 2017
The cage may be of our own design, but it is difficult to break free from it on our own. We have to be seen by another to be able to see more of ourselves.
October 19 2017
#metoo Especially between 16 and 25 y.o. Assaults from strangers, a weird hug from a friend's father, lack of true connection (and boundaries) from boyfriends, indecent proposals, looks that made me want to puke and other.
My step-daughter now 14, already on the street occasionally gets disgusting comments from men 3 times her age.
And then there are those other men...the kind, the loving, the gentle, the respectful men who are willing to listen to our experiences, to acknowledge the huge proportions of gender inequality and abuse, and to refuse to perpetuate it with every chance they get, some making it into their profession, other into a life journey of healing and reconciliation. And this despite the way in which they themselves have been brought up! I love those men. I love MY man.
October 11 2017
I am blessed for having the world’s most sensitive, talented, intelligent, funny, and LOVING girls in my life all these years.
As we celebrate the International Day of a Girl, may we remember the underprivileged girls and women with the same abilities and potential as ours, who suffer continuous sexualized violence and gender-specific trauma, just because of the misfortune of having been born in a “wrong” place – a place of war, crisis and underdevelopment.
My donation-based yoga workshops next month will take place in Vienna in support of Medica Mondiale through Theresa Gigov's project: Yogis For Women’s Rights http://www.yogisforwomensrights.org, and through our AthensYogis project in Greece http://athensyoga.gr/?i=portal.en.athens-yogis
May our practice of turning within wake us up to our interconnectedness, and fuel our passion for women’s rights, giving us enough clarity, sensitivity and strength to place our efforts where they are so greatly needed.
October 9 2017
Virabhadrasana – when a lift of the upper body is saying yes, I am strong enough to live up to the highest visions of my heart!
Not because you are free from fear. But because you know fear all too well, and you are prepared and willing to integrate any possibility of future failure, discomfort, anger, shame, regret, misunderstanding, whatever unique type of boogieman is sitting in your closet. Lifting the heart reminds you that deep inside yourself you KNOW the way. So if you have a teenage child lately followed by a pink elephant, gather the strength of a warrior, and make the effort to connect. You have so much to learn from the most difficult conversations you’ll ever have had.
October 5 2017
In the midst of uncertainty, turbulence, total chaos of your ordinary living, there is a thread, a constant to take comfort in – you are always a feeling being!
October 2 2017
When I hear that children should be involved in more "constructive" activities, I think of acting silly, playing, testing, making "mistakes", and doing nothing as just that!
October 1 2017
The child heard her say - Here I am.
Moments went by.
The child spoke - I had forgotten that I'm a loner at heart.
She extended her branches around, beyond, and within, and whispered with a radiant smile - Here you are. Welcome back.
The child cried and cried for never having left her arms.
Reconnecting with nature
September 28 2017
Let all the other stuff wait, and MELT in your morning cuddles. You may be setting the tone for a day of smiles.
September 14 2017
Whenever possible, pause and make space! Between tasks, between sentences, between trains of thought. Most of all, pause between news feeds on FCB! If you’ve just read about your friend in mourning, don’t scroll down to the next sponsored ad, or a birthday celebration picture. Pause, and really think about this person and how they are feeling. Offer them your wishes, your support, your heart. Honoring and processing an emotion is not the same thing with clicking an emoticon on your computer.
September 4 2017
If we happen to see violence against women and children in public, WE HAVE TO stand up against it! I witnessed it twice in my life. Once on the street when I was 13 years old. My gut clenched up in knots, and I froze at the scene from the shock. I couldn’t shake off the fear for months. The second time happened just a week ago. I had the same gut reaction, but this time as a grown-up, I instantly intervened, yelled my guts out on the guy like a crazy person, and alarmed others to help too. Safety is a fundamental human right and it is our duty to protect the physically weaker as much as we can!
August 17 2017
It is easy to notice that we come to our meditation practice with a preconceived notion of what the “right” meditation experience should feel like. On the other hand, there is a reality of the momentary experience itself. Strengthening our capacity to be aware of this dichotomy, and to even willfully hold the tension between the opposites of expectation and experience, can expand us in a way, dare I say, even greater than ignoring either of the two can.
August 15 2017
If a yoga teacher showing a posture in front of her class realizes that in that particular moment her body is not ready/willing to go into a full pose, the very act of backing off, using props and modifying will be the most valuable lesson to his/her students. Students ALWAYS pick up our level of awareness and how much we are truly listening to our body or just preaching it. Like with children, students learn from the way we ARE, not from what we say they should do.
August 9 2017
Get on the floor and remember these primary movements. It feels awesome. If you have small children, they will join in and make it a lot of fun too.
August 5 2017
Vastness of space settled inside me before going back to the narrowed horizons of the city, accompanied by an unexpected heatwave, clearly resulting from the global warming. I suppose that too much serenity, at this point of extreme human disconnectedness from the natural world, can be dangerously counter-productive. The Earth needs us calm and sober, but more than ever, it needs our Action. Let's make it a priority to look for ways to help sustain humanity ON it. I want to hope that not ALL the damage that we've done is already irreversible. For all of you lovers of seas and oceans, here is a film that will speak to your heart: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eH1s9GCqPKo
July 18 2017
I take a look at the horizon. I feel a light breeze on my skin and I take a deep breath. The voices of my children in the background make me think of Michael's children now being left without a dad. A thought as unbearable to me as it gets.
I begin to feel the Earth underneath my feet. As I let the air move through me, the tears roll down. I realise that my sadness is about so much more than Michael’s departure. It’s about the fragility and impermanence of every little thing that I am attached to, knowingly or not. It’s about the separations and the goodbyes that I will never get to say to the people I love, and who will inevitably begin to depart, as I too am growing older. It is about me taking my time to wake up, postponing, being lazy, contrasted by the urgency that events like this force upon us.
I look at the clouds and somehow in my heart I do know it will be all right. Despite the incomprehensible, and the darkness it brings. In a weird way, allowing the pain to be, brings about expansion.
It makes it more natural to be embracing, crying, meditating, dancing out the pain and love, all in one dance. The dance of no holding back, the dance of full freedom.
Farewell Michael. We will keep learning from you.
July 15 2017
This human body walking, swimming, hurting, so resilient and yet so fragile, whom does it belong to? Offering Michael Stone and his family our presence, hopes and love.
July 5 2017
My main decision-making criteria these days: "Is it helping me be/feel more REAL or not?"
July 3 2017
This body knows of no past. It holds all my past experiences in the present, in the memory of every single cell that constitutes my physical existence. The full story of my life is continuously being communicated to me through my body. But it is not a narration. It is a call for conversation that helps shape the present, thereby influencing the impact of the past. And thereby shapes the future. A conversation which in itself is also alive and ever changing.
Effort to manipulate, force something upon, or even transcend my physical body, is sometimes an obstacle to this conversation….shutting it’s voice down in the same way that once upon a time other factors did.
My practice is changing. More and more I am exploring movement that creates an interior of mindfulness and sensitivity, where the body will be allowed to move beyond the usual lines, and to dance out its story more fully. The story of pleasure, fear, shame, joy, trauma, anger, excitement, need, LOVE…. Stuff repressed and stuff expressed vibrate in my cells, engaging me in the story of my life – the ONLY real story I will ever be entitled to telling. Thank you, body!
June 12 2017
If I am silent while watching you cry, it is not because I don't know what to do, but because I know what not to do.
June 4 2017
When inquiring into Truth, notice if you are analyzing "the truth about". Then continue the inquiry without "the about" part, and let the truth be only intuited, not constructed, doubted, defended or personalized.
May 22 2017
If there must be a "more" to strive for, I wish it to be "more subtlety".
May 11 2017
If for every single disturbance that calls for our attention we start figuring out what we will do about it, we run the risk of never truly getting to know it.
April 24 2017
Observing my kids 6 and 3 y.o play with dolls, I just realised that the feeling of sadness does not exist separately from the act of crying. I hope it stays that way!
April 15 2017
If you pay attention to the one who is observing, the object of observation is free to be out of control. It can fluctuate freely from the serenity of a beautiful sunset to the distress of a noisy mind, and back, all in a matter of seconds, completely free, and powerless at the same time.
April 14 2017
Self indulgence for the sake of self realisation is a good intention gone astray :-)
April 14 2017
Truth seeking in conversations means never arriving at a conclusion. Or at least being aware of its changing nature.
April 4 2017
You are meditating and soon enough there comes a feeling that you cannot go on. You are too impatient, your mind is all over the place, you just want to get up. Keep sitting for another five minutes. A little later another moment comes and you feel that now it's better. You got it. The goal has been achieved, you feel good, and don't need to continue. Keep sitting for another five.
March 20 2017
One of the silliest (designed to be motivating) statements a school teacher can give to a child is: “Do this particular thing because it will make your mom happy”. If anyone tries to coax my child into an activity in this way, he or she will receive a reply: “My mom told me that she is already happy, and doesn’t need ME to do anything about it”.
March 10 2017
It is so easy to project our personal anxieties and expectations onto our children, and this often puts them at risk of developing eating disorders. Here's what Janet Lansbury (my parenting guru) says about children and eating: "Make eating solely about the relationship between the child and her tummy. Don’t get excited when she eats well, disappointed when she doesn’t, coax or encourage her. For now and the future, be careful not to give her the impression that the amount she eats pleases or even affects mom, dad or anyone. Instead, encourage her to focus on her physical needs — her appetite and sense of fullness — by staying neutral. This requires tempering feelings, curbing both enthusiasm and worry. Since our toddlers are very, very, very smart and can read between the lines, we can’t even give them the gentle reminder that they like eggs without them sensing our agenda. "
March 5 2017
Mother IS who mother FEELS.
March 4 2017
To all of you seeing the ad pop up on social media promoting the so-called documentary "Truth about cancer", I hope you don't buy into it. I am a huge fan of a healthy life style. A firm believer in the power of alternative and natural methods of prevention and even treatment of so many physical and psychosomatic problems. But THIS "documentary" about the alleged "truth" about cancer and the relevant medical conspiracy theory is a nothing but a HOAX.
Only, it is not funny, because there are real people with real cancers out there who will buy into it and die from curable forms of cancer, while these jokers are profiting on their naivety and desperation in times of their worse hardships.
If you already saw the first (free of charge) episode, you may want to read this
March 1 2017
My focus in today’s classes in Amazing Yoga Vienna: "Who am I beyond all these roles and labels?"
Whether gender, racial, sexual, or political, identity is a mental construct. If one cannot see beyond it, it will enhance the feeling of enslavement, frustration and separation. Something will always be missing. Someone will always be to blame.
The spiritual work of exploring the Self beyond the mentally constructed identities, is helping us find the existence and richness of the inner life. It is allowing the voice that is coming from our depths – the voice of our soul - to rise to surface and lead us into a less divided reality.
February 27 2017
Two beings in a relationship, living and growing a breath distance apart. Yet each one being rooted and established in its own independent self, is what allows the light to shine forth. It is more than giving each other "space". It is feeling of profound understanding of each other's learning curves, arising out of patient, non- gripping, non-clinging kind of love. It is an infinite trust in THAT which brought them together and sustains and nurtures them at a breath distance apart.
February 17 2017
The experience of the continuity of consciousness. A shift in the perception of time from past-present-future, to an unbroken flow of present-present-present....
February 14 2017
Our manifest existence is a product of a relationship. From the moment of our conception, until our very last breath, we are never not being in a relationship.
In partner yoga practices, the wordless exchange of energy, the presence, the touch, the support, the eye contact, all help us to remember that on this journey of growth, we are not alone. If it is in human relationships that we get wounded, it is also in human relationships that we can heal.
February 13 2017
As new information comes from the outer environment and tries to hurry me into a decision, and as insights and creative drives try to quickly herald a new project, I prefer to ask myself - have I allowed this to sit in me long enough? Usually I find that it hasn't yet had it's final say. A sign of growing old(er), I guess….
February 7 2017
The moment I truly started to enjoy meditation is the moment I realised this: My mind has to become an object in order to perceive an object. To perceive the curtain on the window in front of me, some part of my mind has to BECOME that curtain. With thousands of different objects or phenomena pulling my attention moment by moment, this process takes up a lot of energy, I realised. Withdrawing the mind from the objects of perception, or even just observing that strong pull of objects, but without actually engaging in them, replenishes my energy and relaxes me almost instantly. Meditation became a time I started looking forward to, the same way I look forward to coming to my loving home.
January 16 2017
The source of children's happiness is neither in the expensive toys nor in visiting fabulous places, but in the quality of attention and interaction they receive on daily basis, in the very ordinary, simple and familiar environments.
January 14 2017
How does every little thing that I hope to receive relate to something that I intend to offer? That is one of my favorite contemplations these days.
January 4 2017
While growing up, my friends always loved staying over at my place, because my parents were “so cool”. Punishment in my house was an exception, not a norm. Communicating and reaching out to one another was a more desirable way of addressing family problems. Quite revolutionary for the 1980s.
I remember when the teachers would complain to my mom about some “unacceptable” behavior of mine. They would stay with their mouth open when she would take my side and instead of scolding me as they had expected, talk about the children’s rights and children’s needs instead! I recall feeling safe and protected, and proud that my mom knew me and allowed me to be who I was. It made me grow trust in myself and in the genuine human goodness, something that never left me, even in the darkest of my life’s phases.
Today a lot of my dedication to be guided by qualities like respect, empathy, creativity, patience and awareness, when raising my own children, arises from this strong foundation that I received as a child. It helps me stay committed to prioritizing their mental, emotional and spiritual health over any possible norm or expectation, including social, institutional, or even my own.