14 Jul 2012

Instant Karma?

A couple of weeks ago on the Summer Solstice we held a Charity Yoga class up the mountain.  It was my favourite kind of morning, a beautiful cloudy sky with greys, blues and purples, interspersed with openings of blue sky here and there.  It was beautiful.  The air was fresh, the birds singing, we practiced some pranayama, asana, and finished with a short meditation session.  Lovely.

It was a blustery day, which is pretty rare here, as we are surrounded by mountains.  As I drove along the expressway I could feel the crosswind.  I saw a large hawk hunched down low by the barricades.  Then a little sparrow flew down low in front of my car.  I hit the breaks thinking I might just make it, or the bird may fly up, or out of harms ways, but the flurry of feathers confirmed my fear.  At least it was fast I thought.  A bolt from the blue.  I started to worry that the bird was rushing back to a hungry clutch of chicks in a nest.  Wracked with guilt, chanted a little mantra for the birds soul, told myself feeling guilty wouldn't help anything. What's done is done it was our karma to meet in this way.  Then I thought about all the creatures that are killed on roads each day, walking is much less harmful.  Our fast paced lives just lead to destruction on many levels.  Vowed to ride my bike and walk more. But for this job, drive I must and I must work.

Later that night, while cycling home from the bookshop, close to my house with no lights.  I took a short cut down some back alley.  All of a sudden it was like a hand from the sky came down and stuck me, I flew through the air and landed on my stomach involved the deepest and most violent backbend I have ever experienced.  My first thought was, I hope I haven't broken my back or neck.  Feeling no pain, and being able to move all body parts I felt around for my glasses and looked around to see what the hell had happened.  Seems I had cycled straight into a barricade in the road so that cars couldn't pass.  Oh the stupidity of it.  Seriously.

But that moment of being stuck totally unexpectedly, like a bolt from the blue brought back how that little bird spent it's last split second.

The next few days my whole body ached.  Especially my abdomen.  Then came the next and back pain.  Almost all better now, almost.  But it seems that I have whiplash in my lower back.  I've been practicing my yoga asana constantly.  At first only stretching postures that felt good.  Slowly adding in the strengthening ones.  Then a few cautious upward facing dogs. The only time I feel pain is in back-bending and headstand.  This is getting less and less.  Slow, patient, practice.  I'm sure it's thanks to my yoga practice that I escaped with minimal injury and again thanks that the recovery is in progress.

I'm actually enjoying my hybrid practice of primary and intermediate.  Back bends are out for now, and upward-facing-dogs I've cut to a minimum, don't want to aggravate anything.  So, it's a primary, interspersed with the middle part of intermediate.  Very nice balance.  Am enjoying.

Pranayama, finally have a routine.  Just a little before I practice every day now.  Rolf's words on this matter have stayed with me.  He said pranayama is like watering a garden.  Too much water you kill the plants, better water little little every day, a few times if possible.

13 Jul 2012


I went to see this film a couple of weeks ago with a friend.  It was great, it expressed my beliefs, I found affirmation of the way I think in it. Wonderful.  Please watch, you can buy the DVD here- Economics of Happiness DVD or on Amazon it seems.

Afterwards there was a talk by a local miso maker.  He was saying how he was going out of business due to people choosing the cheaper varieties of miso available now in Supermarkets.  These cheaper versions however are full of additives and are not fermented in the traditional way.  It is the traditional style of making miso, pure, free from additives, that gives it it's amazing health benefits.  So as ever, buy cheap, get cheap, bad for us, bad for the environment.  The message is clear, why is it not reaching people.  OK so we are all a little short on money.  But people's priorities are all mixed up.

Anyways, I went to watch this with a good friend from Yoga.  Afterwards I wanted to pass on the information to the people in my class, but for me to write in Japanese is still a chore, takes me a long time, and, well I'm still not what one could call eloquent.  This friend however is a good writer, and wrote a wonderful review of the film linking it in with our lives and yoga.

Thanks to this it has been quite a topic of conversation in my yoga classes. We are talking, they are interested, change is in the air.  This is a topic I feel, and since I was about 14, have felt very strongly about.  I remember my first trip to India, being impressed by the way people lived in, by my western standards, states of poverty.  Yet had a happiness and lightness of being I had never seen before.  Especially the Tibetan communities I encountered.  A richness of spirit, I thought, makes us far happier than the richness of material that we are led to believe is the path to all happiness.  What is good for us is good for the planet.

Everything is connected. The more we realise this the better.

For a  while after the earthquake here in Japan, I wanted to become a celebrity, no, not because I wanted the fame per se, or the money, but because I felt so frustrated and wanted a voice, a voice that would be heard.  The T.V. celebrities in Japan are generally vapid.  No opinion expressed on anything, if they do contracts will be withdrawn, all I hear is utter vapidness on T.V.  One celebrity has made a stand, and joined anti-nuclear demonstrations and I want to applaud him.  He has indeed lost a lot of work. The media here is controlled by the old boys, in with the government, in with the big money makers, in with the nuclear industry. Yet they cannot control the internet. Yet.

We need to change this world.  It's on a destructive course.  I do believe we can make the change.  As Gandhi famously said, be the change that you want to see.  So let's change. We as individuals have more power than we think, combined this power is mighty.  A small portion of Japanese society is realising this and weekly anti-nuclear demonstrations are being held, local governments are being pressured, people are thinking, acting, changing. It is good. It is a start.  But still when I go to work in High School and listen to the students voices, ultimately that of their parents, I realise there is still a long long way to go.

I am working on changing myself, and hopefully influencing those around me, who in turn will spread to others.  Like a virus.  It could happen worldwide.  Indeed I do believe it is. The fact that so many people around the world are being drawn to yoga and other traditions is hopeful. We are waking up. Yoga philosophy is a tool for profound change.  A tool  know yourself.  To know what is true and what is not true. A tool to change consciousness.

To raise us up out of the T.V. comfort coma the modern world has slipped into.  We need to proceed with awareness.  To use technology and our amazing knowledge and skills wisely.  Not like infants.

Yogis knew.

Zen Masters knew.

So I have new fuel for my fire, my tapas is strong.  I'm doing my best in my little corner of the world to bring a little more light.

Om Shanti

1 Jul 2012

A note of thanks

To whomever it may concern.  Because I am thankful that the earth is remaining still, the seas calm, the sun shines and the rain falls.

I pray -insert -  hope, wish, dream - as you please - that the nuclear reactors remain contained, that the government will act responsibly.

I am thankful for where I am and what I'm doing.

I am able to practice yoga daily, I am able to earn enough to live.  I have beautiful spirits who come join me in yoga, friends who come up the mountain in the morning to enjoy the sounds of birds and rain, breath in the sweet fresh morning air.   Breakfast with a friend outside with a beautiful view and the peace that only a morning on a mountain brings.

I am thankful to live in a beautiful place surrounded by green mountains, a peaceful city with a very relaxed vibe, where I am able to collect delicious cool pure spring water for the week.  Grateful to have work to keep me busy.  To have health to allow me to be busy.

I am able to bath in natural hot springs whenever I have the time or inclination, I am able to eat delicious brown rice grown by a relative, vegetables and fruit grown by my husband.

These are the thoughts that came after practice today.  I counted my blessings, relished them, and you know what the worries, fears, and problems didn't seem that bad.  No I shall not be listing those too.