Tag Archives: meditation

Starting again…

If you take a Vipassana retreat from the Goenka school, you will sit for hours and hours listening to the same sessions (taped) that have brought so many to meditation.  I’ve done 3 of the 10 day retreats, and each one was simply wonderful.

Wonderful once they are over, that is.  During those ten days of silence and solitude, wonderful can only be used to describe the experience on days 9 and 10.  Days 1 – 8 are just rough.  Some times during the long sits, after the instructions have ended, the mind tends to wander and then suddenly, you hear the voice “Start again.  Start again with a calm and quiet mind…”

Start again.  Any Vipassana mediator will chuckle if you use that term.  We have all been brought back by those words.  And, as usual, Goenka-ji is right.  It is what we need to do, when we fall off, when we wander, when we stop doing something we want to be doing, like meditating.  Like blogging.

So, I’m starting again.  I can thank Vicky Hallett I suppose, she wrote two yoga articles today in the DC press and quoted me in both.  (One about changes in the DC studio scene and another about Yoga District, where I teach).  So like Goenka’s words surprising me as my mind wandered, Vicky’s thundering pen has reminded me that I opinions and I like to share them!  Thanks Vicky.

Stay tuned…


Do you know your six Ayurvedic Seasons? A guest blog by Augusta Hemann

As an East Coast New England girl I’ve always loved the changing seasons, enjoying each one as it came for different reasons, and always being a seasonal eater, enjoyed the different types of food that became available each season.  As an analytical project manager I’ve always enjoyed breaking things down into manageable iterations, things like New Year’s resolutions never really worked for me, I’ve always needed much smaller time periods to focus on change in my life.  As a naturalist and someone who loved to run around naked outdoors as a child (this is easy to do when you don’t really have neighbors), being in tune with my natural surroundings and the rhythm of life has always been a part of who I am.  All of these things made it easy for me to adapt the Ayurvedic seasons and use it as a framework to pay attention to particular areas of my life that make sense and align to the natural rhythm of nature.

The Ayurvedic seasons are broken down in two month increments which allows even the most Vata types a small enough time period to focus on particular areas of your life.  Each season has an associated energy and focus.

Late Winter: 15 January-15 March
Energy=Reprieve, Focus=Rest and Reflect 
A good time of year to start a meditation practice if you haven’t done so, or look at your current meditation practice and different techniques you want to apply.

Spring: 15 March – 15 May
Energy=Rebirth, Focus=Regenerate and Transform
A good time to clean your mind, body and even your surroundings, your deep thoughts and introspection from Late Winter now begin to transform into action.

Summer: 15 May – 15 July
Energy=Play, Focus=Celebrate and Rejoice
A good time for catching up with friends, planning and having events with friends (wedding), looking to see if we have become obsessive in our habits, it is a time to experiment with breaking the mold, stepping outside the norm, being creative and getting outdoors.  We are all kids at heart.

Early Fall: 15 July – 15 September
Energy=Celebration, Focus=Reorganize and Revitalize
A good time to get away, explore, go on vacation and see something new.

Autumn: 15 September – 15 November
Energy=Surrender, Focus=Harvest and Simplify
A good time to look at new projects, focus on accomplishing goals and using the new found energy from creative play and vacation from the previous season to get a lot of things accomplished.  You are planting seeds and you are steady and determined.

Early Winter: 15 November – 15 January
Energy=Gathering, Focus=Gather and Contain
A good time to go back to your roots, a good time to spend with family and take appreciation for the good fortune you have.

Since we are in Late Winter, I’ll elaborate a little more on this season.  Take your cue from the sun and use this two month period as an opportunity to rest.  I try to schedule one day a week where I go to bed early…much earlier than usual.  It is best to do this during the week as opposed to the weekend for the most benefit.  It’s a time to slow down and evaluate your life  Are you doing too many things? Are you worrying too much?  What is really important?  Where can you find space, slow down?  These are the things to look at during this time period and find ways where you can add relaxation into your life.

Meditation: If you don’t meditate, this is a good time to start incorporating meditation into your practice.  If you do meditate, this may be a good time to increase the amount of time spent on mediating or looking at new techniques to add to your practice.  This is the time for lots of introspection, time to spend a lot of time with yourself and a good time to learn to enjoy being alone.  Journalling is also very powerful at this time, the thoughts and ideas you write down will become actions later on in the year.  The stack of books you have been meaning to read are a great way to spend the evening; that Tolstoy novel you have been meaning to read would be great on a windy night with a cup of ginger tea.

Diet: Diets are very individualized, so I will share some of what I do, the specifics may not apply to you but the general concepts are good to follow.  This is a good time to rebuild muscle, tissues and strength in the body, so diets with lots of protein, omegas and amino acids are very good.  For me foods that cut down on inflammation (such as Walnuts) are ideal.  This is a good time of year to focus on breakfast and having a hearty, healthy breakfast to start your morning.  For me, this time of year I like to make eggs with freshly ground black pepper, Nori Krinkles or Arame (seaweed) and freshly grated turmeric root (I LOVE fresh turmeric, there is nothing like it, it’s really hard for me to go back to ground turmeric).    I also really love Sea Buckthorn as it is full of Vitamin C and Omegas.  Genesis Today does a 100% pure Sea Buckthorn which I really like.  Whole Farro is really good, I cook it in Mushroom broth and a little wine and eat it with tempeh cooked in coconut oil and nutritional yeast.  I add Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinegar to the Farro and sometime capers as well. A good vegetable dish to try, is take a bunch of Brussels sprouts, cut in half, roast in coconut oil and then toss with pesto and pomegranate seeds.  This is very filling and a hearty vegetable for this time of year.

I hope you find the time this season to rest and reflect.  Stay warm and enjoy being with yourself!
About Augusta:
Having lost her father and sister when she was young, Augusta has always had a focus on health from a holistic view.  She continually looks at the many aspects of her life and how they contribute to her well being.  She is also a yoga enthusiast and teacher who believes you are the yoga you do and the food you eat.

Augmenting the light. A guest blog by Andres Meneses

I want to start out by thanking Mike for the invitation to guest blog on his site. Mike and I share a connection to two great teachers that serve as guides on our paths. In the tradition of Yoga we have Dharma Mittra and in the Vipassana (Mindfulness) tradition, Tara Brach.

Socrates, once said: “Obscurity is dispelled by augmenting the light of discernment, not by attacking the darkness.” Coincidentally, this is a similar message taught in the Eastern traditions of Yoga and Vipassana. Tara describes this dispelling of darkness as waking up from the trance of life, the “trance of more to do” by connecting to the light at the center of our being.

We’ve all been in that mental state in which it’s hard to stop. When we’re feeling stress rushing through our veins, the last thing that comes to mind is to pause. On the contrary, the tendency of the untrained mind is to go even faster, do more, and achieve more.

I remember in the beginning, before Tara and Dharma came into my life, I used to approach my Yoga asana practice in this manner. I’d force my way through, thinking I needed to do more, struggle more, sweat more, the harder/faster the better. At some point though, one has got to stop and realize that there is another way to relate to oneself. If you don’t do so consciously, you’ll end up doing it unconsciously. In my case, the latter occurred. This lack of awareness manifested in the form of yoga injuries and a tighter body-mind than when I had started.

In a recent entry on her blog titled Space Between the Logs, Tara beautifully says:

This trance of more to do prevents us from finding the breathing space; it keeps us from the blessings of sacred presence. When we see this, something deep within us longs to stop. This wisdom guides us to pause and touch the moment; to listen to the wind, to feel the one who is hugging us, to see the light in a dear one’s eyes. This wisdom brings us to the simplicity of the inflow and outflow of the breath. It calls to us lovingly: Stop and come home. Find, in the space between the logs, the light that is your source.

I am grateful to be able to bask in the light of wisdom that my two teachers generously share with the world.  As their teachings seep in, it’s clearer that there is a path of less struggling and more allowing available. It comes from pausing, noticing what’s going on in the moment, placing our attention on the inflow and outflow of our breath, as we reconnect with our loving presence. Or as Dharma likes to put it: “being receptive to the light within.”

If you’d like to know more about Tara Brach check out her blog at: http://blog.tarabrach.com/

For more information on Dharma Mittra and Dharma Yoga classes in the DC area go to: http://www.dharmamittrayogadc.com/teachers.html


Andres Meneses