Tibetan yogas, Singing bowl, Armpits

I’ve been reading Tibetan Yogas of Dream and Sleep, by Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche, which is a fascinating book. I’ve been interested in dreaming for a long time, spent a number of years keeping dream journals and dabbling with lucid dreams. That particular interest, of course, took a nose dive when My Gift was born. I guess I stopped sleeping soundly as soon as she was around. 😉

The practice of dream yoga has a distinct purpose. The idea is that if you can practice awareness while conscious (via meditation), then you can practice awareness in sleep (via dream yoga). And if you can become accustomed to being aware while sleeping, you will be able to remain aware at the point of death, when you enter the bardo.

Since I practice zen, people tend to expect that I am well-versed in all Buddhist belief systems, but no, I’m not. I am particularly uneducated in Tibetan beliefs and practices. I have spent some terrific time with a local lama, and I’ve done some casual reading, but I don’t really know much at all about Tibetan Buddhism. Try to tell my Mom that, though — she loves the Dalai Lama for some reason (I guess he seems more approachable than the Pope), and assumes his Buddhism is my Buddhism. Which, I guess, at the core it is. But I don’t know much at all about the trappings of Tibetan Buddhism.

Nevertheless, I am the proud owner of a Tibetan singing bowl that my sister gave me for Christmas. It is way cool and makes a really big sound. Much to the discomfort of the humans around me. The dog and the cat seem kind of curious about it. It has symbols on the side, one of which is the Tibetan letter A, which the yoga book suggests is a good symbol to visualize during meditation. Not sure why, yet — but it is a very appealing symbol, aesthetically. Here’s a picture: it’s the last consonant listed.


Yeah, so the sound of the bowl can freak out humans (in other words, The Cop). I imagine he would argue he only takes exception to the volume and length of my concerts.

I find that I also have something that freaks out animals: a new Sonic Care toothbrush. Both the cat and the dog are very curious about it, but when I put it near them, they 1) crouch down as if to attack (dog), or 2) run the hell away (cat). Interesting. I have no idea what it sounds like to them, but they both acted like it sounded like something they’d never heard before.

And last but not least, practice notes. Good practice this morning. Quiet and focused. Chakrasana getting much smoother, though still doing it off the crash pad. Three regular urdhva dhanurasanas, two of the walking-the-hands-in version (for an Annie Pace acceptable total of 5). And afterwards, I did four of the elbows against the wall upside down armpit opening thingies.

Why do I want to open my arm pits? It’s an interesting question. Why do I want to put my foot behind my head or meditate while sleeping? I guess it’s my karma.


Back to the front & Thoughts on thoughts

Still trying to get the armpits to open…


Thought is like a snowball. The longer you live, the more it melts.

– Rod Steiger

Wittgenstein, who had received extensive training in music, would not listen to any composer later than Brahms, [and] was indifferent to, if not openly hostile toward, his poetic contemporaries… In an impulsive act of legendary generosity, he bequeathed, in 1914, one hundred thousand kronen (roughly the equivalent of one hundred thousand dollars today) to Ludwig von Ficker, the editor of the literary magazine Der Brenner, instructing Ficker to distribute the money ‘among Austrian artists who are without means.’ But of the three main beneficiaries — Rilke, Trakl, and Carl Dallago — Rilke was the only poet with whose work Wittgenstein was at all familiar… When Ficker sent him a posthumously published edition of Trakl’s works, Wittgenstein’s only comment was that they were ‘probably very good’ but that, just now, he had ‘no desire to assimilate foreign thoughts.’

Wittgenstein’s Ladder, by Marjorie Perloff

There is nothing which can be said or made evident. There is just the omnipresent voidness of the real self-existent Nature of everything, and no more. Therefore, saying that there is no Dharma to be explained in words is called preaching the Dharma.

– Huang Po


Here are some pictures. First off, a lovely closeup:


So pretty. Look at the colors — the drier strands look more like the kind of pasta you buy in a box. It starts off doughy and opaque, but quickly dries to a more translucent golden color. Making pasta is very much like making sculpture: messy, three-dimensional, a little detail-oriented. It was a pleasure.

I was a little unnerved at first — the machine makes a LOT of noise as it extrudes the dough. I’d read a few horror stories of people burning out machines, but those seemed to revolve around the use of too much semolina in the dough, which makes it very dense. I decided to stick with all-purpose flour for the first attempt, so I could learn how the machine sounds with normal use. Then I can start adding semolina to the mix, and hopefully be able to hear if it gets too stressful for the mixer.

Yeah, so the mixer makes this kind of squealing sound as it works. I waited until it was about time for The Cop to get up before I began making pasta. In the meantime, though, I made a loaf of bread and some pizza dough which I froze for use later on in the week. Yay, me!

Also made a list of all the things my slacker kitchen is missing: measuring spoons, measuring cups, cannisters for flour. Oh, and a pasta drying rack. For the time being, Saran Wrap over a broomstick will do. My grandmother had a full-size wooden door that lay over two sawhorses in the cellar. That’s where the pasta dried. She rolled the dough out on the door, too — using a broomstick. And then cut all the pieces by hand. I admire the effort, in retrospect. Didn’t think about it when I was a kid — just ate the pasta. I wonder now, though, if I would like to spend that kind of time making pasta. Instead of the current day job… It’s kind of interesting to consider. I whine about my job sometimes, wish I’d win the lottery. But what if the alternative was making pasta for the family all day? It’d seem idyllic for the first day, I’m sure. After that, though, I suspect I’d miss the office…

Anyhow, here’s the pasta drying over a broomstick slung between the microwave and the coffeemaker (two things my grandmother definitely did not have).


And here’s The Cop, recently awakened and immediately messing with the pasta. Is it my imagination, or is he clowning around exactly the same way a 6 year old boy would?


Blogging blessing, yoga team to Crestone, pasta & bees

Yogamum tagged me with a… well, it’s supposed to be a “bloggin’ blessin'” — but I can’t call it that, and even need to put it in quotes. We will call it a blogging blessing.

Here’s the deal:

… it’s a game of tag with a difference, rather than looking inwardly, we look outside ourselves and bless, praise and pray for three blog friends. By participating in this endeavour we not only make the recipient of the blessing feel valued and appreciated, but we are having some fun too. We’re going to see how far the bloggin’ blessings can travel around the world and how many people can be blessed! Recipients of a bloggin’ blessing may upload the above image to their sidebar if they choose to. If you receive a bloggin’ blessin’ please leave a comment on this site (text link on the right column menu) so that we can rejoice in just how many blessings have been sent around the world!

I think of Yogamum in return (though I won’t tag her back, because then I just seem like I can’t understand the premise of the game…) and also of (0v0) and Tova. And hey! In my gratitude for their presence and friendship, it also occurs to me that I’ve put together a little triumvirate of yoga gals who would be fun to invite on a pilgrimage to visit Annie P in Crestone. Perhaps next September or so? Just a thought, chickies. How fun would that be? I know I’m planning waaaaaay ahead!

Speaking of Tova, yesterday this blog’s keyword search list included: “Tova” & “earth.” Wow, Tova. Your status as Earth Mother is, apparently, legendary. Nice work.

And speaking of earth motherliness: my KitchenAid stand mixer and pasta attachment arrived yesterday. I know, it’s hard to believe, right? That a non-cook like myself would want such a thing? Well, here’s just how limited I am: I want it because I like pasta and I’m too lazy to mix the dough by hand and roll it with a rolling pin and cut it with a knife. If there was a drying attachment, I’d have purchased one of those, as well.

So I have no desire to mix cakes or cookies or anything like that, but I’m gonna be a pasta-making fool. And perhaps some bread and pizza dough.

Before I start mixing up the pasta, though, I am scheduled to go to the Honda dealer to deal with some maintenance on My Gift’s car. The driver side mirror was broken under mysterious circumstances when her roommate borrowed the car. Interestingly, once the mirror fell out, a small wasp’s nest was revealed inside the casing on the car door. I’ve never seen such a thing. We did have a huge bee’s nest inside the wall of an apartment we lived in once. It was here in AZ, and I always had half a dozen to a dozen bees at a time, struggling to get out through the sliding glass door. I couldn’t figure out how they were getting in.

Cut to one day when I was dusting by the corner where the TV stood. I heard a buzzing noise that I thought was a weird electrical noise from the TV. Uh, no — upon further inspection, it was clear that the noise was coming from inside the wall. Sure enough, a day later, there was an enormous swarm of bees out on the patio (thank goodness, not in the house). Exterminators were (reluctantly) called. They put something in the nest and for weeks afterwards the patio was covered with a huge pool of very thick honey. I had to boil pots of water to remove the puddle a few times a day, otherwise lizards got stuck in it. Even a poor bird got stuck one night. So it was lizard and bird rescue for a while there. That’s what I’m accustomed to using my kitchen for: washing honey off lizards and birds.

Okay. Today’s the weekly day off. Gotta get a move on…

Hartranft, Iyengar, Discipline & Freedom

Cody just reminded me of the Chip Hartranft version of the Yoga Sutras, which is available for free online.

The causes of suffering are not seeing things as they are, the sense of “I,” attachment, aversion, and clinging to life.


In the meantime, last night I picked up Light on Life to re-read. I always like something inspirational around the new year. It’s a little tradition. Worthwhile, too, since the first reading was fast — I was so delighted with the book that I just kept gulping it down in huge chunks.

What most people want is the same. Most people simply want physical and mental health, understanding and wisdom, and peace and freedom. Often our means of pursuing these basic human needs come apart at the seams, as we are pulled by the different and often competing demands of human life. Yoga, as it was understood by its sages, is designed to satisy all these human needs in a comprehensive, seamless whole. Its goal is nothing less than to attain the integrity of oneness — oneness with ourselves and as a consequence oneness with all that lies beyond ourselves. We become the harmonious microcosm in the universal macrocosm. Oneness, what I often call integration, is the foundation for wholeness, inner peace, and ultimate freedom.

Oooh, ultimate freedom. Made me think of one of my favorite yoga titles: Yoga: Discipline of Freedom. It’s another translation of the sutras, and a good one. But I have always been most attracted to its title.

I love thinking about the idea of freedom as a discipline, and thinking about discipline as a kind of freedom. Certainly I recognize that the zen “just do it” attitude is a kind of freedom in discipline. If you don’t spend your energy debating about whether to do the dishes, and just do the dishes, there is a delicious freedom. And yes, it is often read as a discipline. Kind of like when people say, “You practice every day?! You are SO disciplined!” Yeah, it looks like discipline from the outside, but from the inside, it is a secret doorway to freedom.

The only way to muck it up is to clutter the scene with likes and dislikes.

To a yogi, freedom imples not being battered by the dualities of life, its ups and downs, its pleasures and its suffering. It implies equanimity and ultimately that there is an inner serene core of one’s being that is never out of touch with the unchanging, eternal infinite.


Nice practice this morning. I dragged my mat as far away from the heavily curtained windows as possible, because damn, it is COLD outside. Turned on the heater and blocked in some of the heat with the shoji screen.

Afterwards, 10 minutes lying over the edge of the bed to further stretch what I will be calling, from here on out, the serrati. There is a world of discovery to be done in the front body — my backbends are sketchy, I think, in large part because I think of strength as coming from my back and legs. Now I have to discover the strength (and flexibility) in ribs and sternum, serrati and intercostals. A new wilderness.

Dansko = truth & beauty

Yeah, yeah, it’s slow at work this week. No one’s here. It’s quite nice. I am actually getting stuff done. Enough so that I can even reply to threads on the discussion board we have set up about the future of work (Shifting workforce demographics! The needs of the Gen Yers! Retaining workers! Woohoo!). I also have time to look at blog stats.

Okay, everyone, knock it off with the “Dansko ugly” and “horrible Dansko” keyword searches! It gives me a bit of a complex, particularly since I have worn NOTHING but my Danskos since I purchased the first pair back at the beginning of August. Actually, now that I think of it, I did wear a pair of high heels for the Board presentation, but that is just one day since August. So it’s been 5 months of footie bliss.

And more to come. I recently increased my collection (black Sonjas, brown Ingrids) with a new pair of black Pitas. Oh, they are lovely. Wintery and wonderful. I wish they were spelled “Pitta,” though, so I would know that they were intended to be worn on angry days. As it stands, I am perplexed by the idea that they are somehow related to flat bread.

Anyhow, gaze upon them and quit keywording “Dansko” and “ugly” together.

Serratus Anterior

Serratus anterior. I think that’s what’s aching today. And I’m happy about it. The pain was brought on by some extra help in urdhva dhanurasana for the past couple of days. The Cop has been adjusting. He sits between my feet and uses his foot to puuuuuush my upper body toward the wall.

So this morning, as I raised my arms in the first surya, I felt what I am figuring are my serratus anterior muscles. Owie. My biceps feel tight, too, when I lift my hands over my head, so maybe it’s all loosening up. It’s actually kind of funny: I bemoan the tightness in my shoulders/upper back, but when I think back I remember my first few yoga classes. And how I couldn’t lift my arms over my head even a little bit gracefully. Seriously. Damn weightlifting.

I still feel uncomfortable in utkatasana and virabhadrasana A, which makes me feel silly — shouldn’t lifting your arms straight over your head be pretty much the simplest thing in the world? Ah well.