Listening Fiercely/Liberating Light

We cannot live in a world that is interpreted for us by others. An interpreted world is not a hope. Part of the terror is to take back our own listening. To use our own voice. To see our own light–Hildegard Von Bingen

You are listening to yourself, then out of that listening there is clarity, there is sensitivity; out of that listening the mind becomes healthy, strong. Neither obeying nor resisting, it becomes alive, intense and it is only such a human being who can create a new generation, a new world–Krishnamurti

The theme you choose may change or simply elude you, but being your own story means you can always choose the tone. It also means that you can invent the language to say who you are and what you mean. But then, I am a teller of stories and therefore an optimist, a believer in the ethical bend of the human heart, a believer in the mind’s disgust with fraud and its appetite for truth, a believer in the ferocity of beauty–Toni Morrison

Hello Friends,

Consider this– even though we may have been born into different families,received a different education, lived in any number of places, speak other mother tongues, and represent a cornucopia of cultures and traditions from every possible geographical and historical root known to us on this planet–each time we meet, my heart lights up.

I need not know the specifics of your past experience, nor the details of your future aspirations, and still our meeting is inevitably one of great happiness;not because we always meet under happy circumstances, but because by being with you, I am given a singular opportunity to witness, to listen, to experience some fundamental truths about the person in front of me. You will reflect something back to me that I never knew. Each and every time we are face to face it is possible to capture –if only for a moment– that intangible light of yours, your innate value, your singular essence, the reason you are roaming about the face of this beautiful and troubled earth doing what ever it is your are asked to do. The Truth.

The key to catching this light, I suppose, is that of being in a receptive state of mind. This is a mind that excludes nothing, that is tolerant and open, relaxed and free of judgements. This is not an empty mind nor a mind dulled by intoxicants or distractions, nor is it a mind full of resisting and full of concepts or ideologies. It is simply, the trusting mind, available and not wanting of anything, it happens to feel like looking into the face of a good friend.

However, the minute this same mind becomes colored and in some cases saturated with fear, greed, anger, jealousy, envy, pride you will notice how difficult it is to receive the gift that every human being, every creature, every situation potentially presents. In fact, an unsettled mind will confuse and misread a situation, time and time again, assigning blame where praise is due, recoiling from help, or perpetuating harm in the name of benefit. A wild mind will run anywhere but it is not free, it cannot offer creative solutions to pressing problems, and sadly, it cannot experience the essential state of loving self and others. All an unhinged mind will do is declare its independence from any discipline that would truly liberate it from its suffering, all the while denying itself the possibility of living a life free of harm to self and others, depriving itself of the ability to enjoy all the gifts this life has to offer, moment to moment. The antidote is to cultivate an independent mind, one that has no need for declarations but one that simply IS accepting (which does not mean conforming nor does it mean ignoring thus denying or repressing)–simple, satisfied and free from the need to be right at any cost.

As we work to observe our habits of the body and mind in yoga and in our day to day relationship with others, slowing down and learning to act without reacting to whatever emotion presents itself at any given moment, we begin to experience a very different foundation for happiness, one that does not require outward pleasing perfection or controlling expectations.The generosity of life itself will keep giving and giving until we learn to experience this for ourselves, inside ourselves, in our bodies and through our breath. Starting again, day after day, a new beginning possible every time we decide to practice. This is the opportunity to get off the carousel of our preconditioned and conditioned beliefs if only moment by moment, by experiencing them directly through our self imposed limitations, our society’s false assumptions, and as difficult as it may seem, live everything directly, no filter, no translator and– most definitely– not apart from one another safely removed behind a screen. We simply come to live life LIVE.

May we continue to meet and great each other and ourselves with great joy, affection,patience, and care. This new world is already written in our hearts, now we must only breath it to life, witnessing its expression in all that we do, by listening to ourself, others and supporting others to do the same, again and again and again.

Registration open for 2017-2018 Yoga Retreats!
Join David, me, and our community of yoga friends for extended practices in some of our favorite places. All levels welcome. Twice daily offerings of asana, pranayama, and meditation. Deepen your exploration and connection to yourself and others in beautiful natural settings. Delicious meals are included and are prepared using local,organic, sustainably sourced ingredients. All retreat locations are family owned and run with a commitment to preserving the cultural and environmental heritage of their communities.As always we limit participation to 18 students and assign accommodations on a first come first served basis after receiving full payment. Let me know if you have any questions!

December 11-December 18, 2017
8 days, 7 Nights
Makawao, Maui
Banyan Bed +Breakfast
Airport : Kahului (OGG) –Direct flights from SFO on Hawaiian Air, United, Virgin
$1800/per person double occupancy if paid in full by 9/30/2017, $2000/person after.
$200 deposit due 9/1/2017

June 25-July 8, 2018
14 days, 13 nights
Ubud (4 days) + Balian (10 days)
Alam Shanti & Gajah Mina
Airport: Denpasar(DPS)–Flights from SFO via Hong Kong/Taipei/Australia on China Air, Singapore Air,
$2000/per person double occupancy if paid in full by 2/15/2018, $2250/person after.
$2500/per person private room if paid in full by 2/15/2018, $2750/person after.
$250 deposit due 1/15/2018






A Life of Love

The individual seeks not his own good, but the good of his neighbor. Agape does not begin by discriminating between worthy and unworthy people, or any qualities people possess.It begins by loving others for their sakes…(It) discovers the neighbor in every man it meets….Agape makes no distinction between friends and enemy; it is directed to both–Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Satisfaction in individual love cannot be attained without the capacity to love one’s neighbor, without true humility, courage, faith and discipline. In a culture in which these qualities are rare, the attainment of the capacity to love must remain a rare achievement.–Erich Fromm

The heart that breaks open can contain the whole universe–Joanna Macy
2017 it is.Year of the Rooster awaits and its a fiery one at that.There is talk of transition– political roulette is being played on many levels, in government halls, on the streets, where the money is made and where it is never to be found, in zones of war as well as in the houses of peace. But does all this reflect what is most important, most valued, most dear, to us as individuals, as a people, as citizens of a time when it is easy to spot enemies but be blind to friends?
The public carnival on display may (or may not) bring clarity, meaning, or hope to our lives, the lives of our children, and the generations beyond them. But if we can consider shifting the spotlight again and again to a more intimate stage–our own hearts– perhaps we will begin to develop an ability to see–to feel more accurately– what is truly needed at all times, in any place, no matter who is president, what you believe in, or who you find yourself to be. It is here where we have the potential to discover our most potent, sincere, transformative, and hopeful wishes– and learn to experience and share what is truly possible as human beings.
In this realm that is the heart –our own hearts– we can encounter the practice of loving all aspects of ourselves and learn to recognize and welcome the distinctions and differences that present themselves, not as contradictions between right and wrong, not as evidence that something is threatening because it does not fit the mold or storyline self-invented long long ago. You will notice how from the day we are born, the diversity within each of us will be shaped and molded by a mind and a society that rewards or encourages some qualities but stifles those unknown to it, especially those things that are not easily placed into a box bejeweled with conditions, expectations,projections,and rewards.
The world has its rules which we are told bend only for reasons of will, power, and control. But please do not let this happen in your heart of hearts. Love all that arises–unconditionally–as you would your neighbor. Especially love, the difficult feelings, the ones that you do not know, understand, or even like, learn to become friendly with them. Greet them, share a moment with them, trust them, and let them into your heart. The suffering we feel, the discomfort, and need to shut ourselves away from ourselves and other, out of fear, disgust, anger, judgement, hatred, greed are signs to put out a new welcome mat, not because we are bleeding fools who enjoy wearing compassion as the latest fashion statement. But because by watching the feelings that arise in response to the the neighbor who triggers them, we can come to accept our own inadequacies and still come to love the heart that holds them.The heart that has room for us all.
This I would offer is our true nature as humans.Our precious unspoken gift, the call of being human, even though history past and future tries to suggest otherwise. Our own mental and emotional reactions try to suggest otherwise. Our institutions, associations, organizations,clubs, and clans also try to suggest otherwise. They will always say, love only me! honor only me! serve only me! Exclusivity,partisanship, membership,isolation are jealous walls we need not build for they protect us least from the harm we cause ourselves.
So for this reason, I say: love all, honor all, serve all that appears in your heart and when you have a sense of how this works go out and do it again and again and again, with others, for others.There is no end to this work of making love visible, of making all of us whole.There is no greater joy in this life than to live the light of this all encompassing web of compassion and care.

Imperfect Offering

There is a crack, a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in-Leonard Cohen

There is no existence for the unreal.There is no non-existance for the real.The truth of both of these is seen by the seers of Reality-Baghavad Gita, Ch.2. Verse 16

I am grateful for the artist, the ones among us struggling to share truths through their image,word, deeds. Sometimes supported, other times scorned, but always lifetimes ahead of the rest of society in understanding and sensing the reality afoot, at hand and, most importantly, what truly lies in our collective hearts. This week we may have awoken to witness a rebirth of a nation with shifting appearances and allegiances but it is still a place that has always contained great heart, sorrows and now reflecting on those who have passed on, a place for artists to continue to perform our most eternal songs.

Godspeed to you, Leonard Cohen, and thank you for sharing your birthday and art with me and anyone who couldn’t help but listen, reflect, and assimilate your music. You showed us how by collecting, sifting, and sharing the pieces of this world– a dark place at times, but also one of imagined glories and giddy heights–reminding us always: that the beauty of Peace behind the Veil of Illusion is always within our reach. We need only know the freedoms that already exist within our hearts and serve them steadfastly to really see the light in everything. We will remember you well.

Friends, also please make a note of some changes to my teaching schedule beginning next week (November 14th):

New evening classes added at Bija Yoga, 1348 9th Avenue, San Francisco
Tuesdays and Thursdays from 6:30pm-8pm

Tuesday mornings at Irving Street is on hold for the next few months

Friday Free Community Yoga Class is moving to Bija and changing time!
As of November 18th we will meet at Bija Yoga from 1:30pm-2:30pm. It will still be a donation class with a portion of the donations going to the studio for use of the space and the rest to benefit the SF Women’s Community Clinic.

You are not a drop in the ocean, but the entire ocean in one drop~Rumi

We’re back in San Francisco!

3 months, 3 oceans, 3 families, some practice intensives, a couple of retreats, and at each stop along the way we were simply blessed by those around us.We shared great love, were wonderfully fed, given time to reflect and contemplate the beauty and power of the natural world, and perhaps most significantly, live our days in service to that truth that is expressed within each one of us in its own special way. Nothing forced or strained, a welcome salve to times and places of great intellectualization, stratification, latent aggression and “lust for rush”. I rediscovered that simplicity and authentic strength can be experienced in receiving what is freely given by self and others, in a natural, organic, and unique manner. Then it is easy to respond appropriately without agenda or calculation, and more importantly, without strain. The effect is a gentle yet profound clarity of being and acting at no cost to anyone at all.

Upon further reflection, it appears that the prevailing zero-sum mentality of the times is based on a some kind of error, the one that yoga reminds us is the basis of human suffering. If we do not know our true nature and fail to experience it fully, then it is no wonder that we have difficulty recognizing and accepting the gifts that others have to share with us. It is then precisely during times of great churning that we should do our best to work at establishing and dancing with our own rhythms, living and sharing our special gifts, the ones that keep giving and giving like the ocean itself. Then perhaps we can come to appreciate the blessings that rain upon us daily in the form of all those around us.