Autobiography of an L.A. Yogini

The Body and Me

Injury. How it changes life. How the inner energy changes. How something that has always felt like the greatest Blessing God ever gave, turns into to something that brings a sense of pain and loss of something deeply treasured. I know all the Yogi pat responses. “Injuries are part of the practice.” “Modify.” “What can you learn from this?”

How can anyone object to the wisdom of any of these responses? Yet when you’re in it, none of them are a comfort. It’s just you and your body, and somehow the physical pain and the emotional loss of  ability,  the loss of hard earned freedom (which is a loss I choose to believe is temporary) just fucking hurts. Not just in my right knee. In my whole fucking heart.

I practiced in silence alone at the park. Grateful for the yoga I can still do. A heat pack on the knee gave greater ability, until it didn’t. I noticed I practiced with infinitely more care with this injury, watchful for any hint of strain, and I found a weak link, that I likely wouldn’t have discovered without injury prompting investigation. Warrior 1. Turning that back foot in just a bit more relieved a lot of knee tension.

Does that solve everything? Nope. Jump throughs and seated jump backs are thoroughly fucked . But I did find (from the seated position)  that if I roll on my right hip and  let my left (non injured)  knee push down on my right (thoroughly fucked) knee, it protected the injured meniscus area and kept it completely out of pain. It’s not a jump back. It’s just a way back.

Someone recommended getting a custom insole to protect the knee, so today I got measured for one. It was pricey. The Yogi who recommended it, said it saved him from surgery. It will be weeks before it arrives. The insole won’t help me in the actual practice  practice, as I don’t wear shoes in the practice,  but it may help correct an uneven distribution of weight on my feet and that may help the knee. In a mild practice, I don’t feel pain until I am walking/limping out of the park.

One more thing, imaginary readers, .  . . . Something in all of this was actually  Beautiful too, and it’s regrettable to only mention this now as  no one is ever going to read this much of my 1st world yoga sulking, but here’s the Beauty . . .

At the Park, the body and me really bonded with each other. We’re both working through something, trying to keep something alive and growing, something  we both love very very much.  The body talked to me as I tried different approaches. We bonded.  I became much more aware and much more grateful for abilities I had begun to take for granted. This body and me have worked hard, had fun and we LOVE THIS. Want to keep it, and we want to keep growing, all the days of our Long Well Lives. Our dream is to have a life of just yoga, and grow in the practice, every day,  until we are 111 years young. Namaste.

Tis The Season To Be Hijacked! :)

Nothing gets me out of my shell more than the chance to help someone.

I ran into my friend and neighbor on the street, Samuel.

He hijacked my whole day.

I’m glad.

I went into the market he hangs out in front of,

and I came out with the Powerade and Tuna Fish sandwich he likes,

and we sat on the steps and talked for a while as he ate.

We got the usual judging looks from people

who treat him like a criminal for being homeless.

Sometimes they glare at me too for being friends with him.

When we laugh about it, it doesn’t seem to bother him as much.

He said he was cold at night.

So we got in my car and went on a quest for a sleeping bag.

*

He said they have them at a 99 cent store in Hollywood.

The parking was full. We had to wait to get in.

After forever,  I finally got a parking place.

But Samuel was wrong.

They didn’t even carry sleeping bags;

but it wasn’t a bust:

*

I met a few more neighbors without homes in that parking lot,

like Harvey, who was singing like an undiscovered R&B great.   

He told me his stories, and it turns out he was a bull rider in the 1966 black rodeo

in Texas, which is where I’m from.

He also sang songs I knew from Texas radio as a kid.

He knew a lot of Loretta Lynn, and Merle Haggard too.

I sang with him on the parts I knew,

but fortunately he was loud enough to drown me out.

He told me I’m an alto.

I didn’t know there was a word for what came out my mouth.

.I’m supposed to go back there with a guitar sometime.

Harvey wants me to jam some blues so he can wail.

That sounds good to me.

I also met Levert who was selling some incense that he made.

You can get some at levert1948@yahoo.com or stopthebeggingproject@yahoo.com

And I met another man whose name I didn’t catch, but his smile stayed with me throughout the day.

So many of us who are blessed to have a home never smile such happiness.

*

Samuel and I ended up driving to Target for the sleeping bag;

plus a coat, gloves and a thermal shirt.

Walking with that shopping cart together in a department store made us both laugh.

He said, “They think we’re a married couple!”

I told him to take the compliment,

he told ME to take the compliment.

That went on for longer than it should’ve.

*

I dropped him off at the usual Hollywood back street

where the Food Truck comes and people are hanging out,

mostly laying on the sidewalk, tired and hungry.

Every time I’m there I feel I’ve got to do something.

I feel more real in having a conversation with a neighbor on the street,

than I do when I’m shopping in a store and no one is making eye contact.

Is consumerism really the mark of a human being’s value?

When I was standing in the parking lot with Levert, Harvey, Samuel, and “Smiley,”

singing laughing and talking,

I felt happy, and I couldn’t help but notice

it was only white faces that were scowling at us.

*

Sometimes I’m grateful I don’t fit in.

Sometimes I’m grateful I just don’t get it.

I’m happiest when my white face is loving people and having fun.

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Winter Fasting

(or, An Awakening In Vermont.)

*

i stepped alone into the Night

and breathed the bracing air,

i gazed upon a moonlit cloud

through Tree with branches bare

And slowly I began to sense a sense that could not be,

The tree whose branches I gazed through

was clearly watching me

From tip to toe not from the cold

My every chill bump raised

I could not would not break the spell

Though famished, weak and dazed

At last I said, “Tree, I must turn, I want to see more sky.”

The tree gazed up into our night, and said, “Yes, so do I.”

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Shining Now

One Day

I will talk to the one before me,

be they neighbor, lover,

friend, family, or other,

I will talk to the one before me,

for the last time.

*

Seeing an end

makes me appreciate

This.

Now.

One day those eyes will not shine into mine,

but they are shining today.

They are shining now.

And I am awake and present

to receive all of this.

FaceToFace

The Possible Goals

I am sharing words that are not my own.

These words helped me

get back on the horse 

in this Year Of The Horse

May they help you 

if you need help.

“Usually we all set impossible goals and try to achieve them. 

Then when we fail we decide it really is impossible.

And once we confirm it is impossible,

we stop putting forth even the little effort

that we were putting into it.

After that all we do is blame the world,

blame God and everyone.

Our whole life ends in blaming others. 

So first fix a practical goal.

Realize what is possible

When you know something is possible, start 

working toward it.

Even small victories that you achieve can bring great encouragement.

This will give you tremendous courage and confidence.

You will then start moving steadily toward deeper Truths.

You will start to achieve and live what I call, “Living Enlightenment.”

—Swami Nithyananda 

(Living Enlightenment) 

Nithyananda

The Courage To Dream Again

(adapted from a letter to a friend)

Return, Fear, and The Nature of True Dreams.

* * * * *

1. RETURN: Return to whatever dream, if it happened, would fill you up, and make you happy. But really imagine it happening. Is it the work that makes you happy in and of itself, or is it the recognition, the pay-off? What work makes you happy, all by itself? What feels good? If we don’t know what that is, that’s ok. At least we’re opening the door of wonder, to find out.

2. FEAR: We’re afraid to try again because we’re looking at it wrong. Let’s say you starred in your own film, won an Oscar, and I won a Pulitzer for my stuff. Now what? Pressure’s on. Are you a one hit wonder? Am I? There are expectations now. Let’s say we get a few successes, get used to that, but what then? Will it be a lifelong success, or will we fall out of fashion? Become has-beens? Is that less terrifying than being a never-was?

You and I are wrong to think our dreams are broken because our last efforts didn’t turn out the way we’d hoped. There is no finish line, no Destination except this moment; no ending point, except our last breath. Every time we try and hope for something, its always going to be the same risk. Doesn’t matter if the last thing failed or succeeded. The next thing will be just as risky. The same is true for everyone who tries for a dream, at any time at any age.

3. THE NATURE OF TRUE DREAMS: If our dreams are age restrictive, they’re not true dreams. You wanted to be an A-list actor before you were 30, and I wanted my novel to be a best-seller by that time. The reason these dreams weren’t real, is they had a finishline, a delusion disguised as hope that said, “When I hit THIS I’ve made it!

But like the #2 Fear paragraph says, there is no “made it!” No finishline that makes everything great, forever. Success can even increase pressure and fear. So if we still want those same things, if those really are our dreams, we need to change them up in our minds to be True Dreams. A true actor’s dream might be: I’m going to give my all to be the best actor I can be; I will devote the rest of my life to improving my craft to give all that I can.

Who can take that dream away? Who can stop us from doing that at any age? That is a dream independent of circumstance and industry, reliant only upon our Devotion. That is a lifelong mission statement. With that lifelong mission statement, whether failure or success comes, it won’t derail us.

Both success and failure are great at derailing dreamers. Look how many die at the top. Even if success lasted the rest of your life or mine, the fulfillment it brought would leave, unless the work is fulfilling, in and of itself, which takes us back to paragraph #1 RETURN.

That’s why we need to define that True dream, the work that is fulfilling all by itself, and that lifelong mission statement, that is independent of success and failure.

Success and Failure are ripples on a pond. But the True Dream, the Lifelong Mission Statement, is the Pond. We need the pond, not the ripples that come and go.

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The Unseen Disadvantage

THE RACE 

The first runner is 100 feet ahead of almost everyone 

but the second runner is very close behind him

The third runner is 50 feet behind the first two

The last runner is a shocking 100 feet the behind the first two. 

*

Now a loudspeaker comes on revealing 

there is one last runner who has not even appeared on the horizon yet. 

An aerial view is offered of the running course, 

We now see each of the runners had a different starting point. 

*

And now we see the runner who has not yet appeared on the horizon.

The distance he has had to cross is incomparably longer

than any other runner in the race.

*

Though he is not yet in sight on the horizon, 

this view reveals 

the last runner to be miraculous. 

The greater distance he has traveled is now witnessed.

His endurance, perseverance, and relentless striving 

to conquer the disadvantage 

has revealed the true victor.  

The crowd cheers, reveling in his achievement. 

But he can’t hear them or see them. 

The distance is too great. 

He is looking ahead for the runners he can’t catch up to. 

He feels his race is lost, and begins to despair. 

*  *  *  *  * 

We can’t know another’s journey by watching the finish line. 

If we can’t see the whole picture, 

we can’t know who is in the lead, and who is falling behind

“The 10,000 things rise and fall without cease.” Lao Tzu. 

*

When we see our neighbor who lives on the street

We can consider his unseen disadvantage 

that has led to the disadvantage we can see.

Compassion may replace short-sighted judgment.

*

When we see someone doing so well 

that our own life suddenly seems insignificant

We can consider the distance 

that we have traveled

both within and externally.

*

And if after consideration

we find no justification

for the lack of tantamount achievement in our own life,  

let’s not allow comparison to the well-doer to become self annihilation. 

Let’s allow the comparison to inspire the fire to Strive; 

that it may be received with empowering Gratitude 

and never the obstacle of resentment. 

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