Friday, August 13, 2010

Pt 6 - The Yoga Class and Farewell to my Satsang.

note: the following blog post was split into 6 installments, of which this is the final post, and each was posted in roughly 2 day intervals beginning August 1st 2010. your comments are welcome below. As always, click the pictures to expand them if you like.

see the first installment here
see the second installment here
see the third installment here
see the fourth installment here
see the fifth installment here

“Life is suffering.” Hindu Prince Gautama Siddharta, the founder of Buddhism, 563-483 B.C.

"Honesty and transparency make you vulnerable." - "Be honest and transparent anyway." Mother Teresa 1910-1997

....I never did have that connected, heart to heart discussion that was in my fantasies, with Ram Dass. When I spoke to him, I was always trying to contrive what my words would be - think of what I was going to say - instead of speaking from the heart. Maybe he would have been the one to tell me that my "mind was broken, not my heart", if only I could have revealed that heart.

It's OK though, I'm blessed to have the teacher come forth in Saraswati. Boy, do I remember her from another lifetime…when it seemed any teaching done would have come from me.

Near the end, Alecia told me her story of connecting with Ram Dass. To paraphrase, she said that she told him that wasn't that familiar with his work, she hadn't read any of his books, but that she did find that the community of people that he had put together spoke to her strongly about his character. When I heard this, I knew that it was a connection made skillfully, and I told her so.

She then said that at the end, after she was getting ready to turn away from the conversation with Ram Dass, he said "I want to hug you," and they hugged.

Bravo Alecia.

I'm trying to get through the emotional roadblocks that hold me back from making those connections. The guitar performance not played, the connection not made, it's all part of the same challenge, and that is to come directly from the heart in all things.

I fear it, it seems.

When I mentioned my squandered opportunity with Ram Dass to Saraswati, she commented:
"Life is very unsatisfying....

I guess you will have to go back and see him again!

and by the way, who says you're in charge of everything anyway? It's not like you can make connective moments manifest.

Everything is just right as it is.
Thats what I think.
Doesn't mean it always feels good."

Thanks for the lesson, teach.

…on the last day that Alecia and Rosemary were there -- Saraswati's "everything-is-just-right-as-it-is" notwithstanding -- I'll admit I was suffering a little bit. I tried to hide it as best I could.

For me, that day began with carefree joy. We went again to Yoga. This time there were five of us. Alecia, Saraswati, Rosemary, Cindy (who is herself a yoga instructor) and me. Well, there's a part in the end of class where you go into a pose called the wheel:

In un-advanced classes, you use a partner to do it. Your partner stands over you and helps you get into the posture. You lie on your back, put your hands on your partner's ankles, and then they adjust your arm position. You then arch your back and push up from your hands until your body is in the shape of a wheel. To accomplish this your partner supports under your shoulder blades. It's an amazing feeling to do it, even though - or maybe because - you're getting assisted.

The day before I had been assisted by a friendly man named Wolfgang - very friendly. He's in great shape, quite helpful and I had a textbook - almost perfect - move. After my posture he did his unassisted. Impressive. Nice enough guy, but when we were done it felt like we'd picking out furniture together next time.

No thanks Wolfie.

Perhaps I'm flattering myself.

This day, I was standing next to a guy who was maybe 200 pounds - well suited to assist a person of my size. Alecia and I decided to be partners, but a second later she was reconsidering, and said "maybe you should go with him", pointing to the man. "No", I said, "it's you". I was firm. Unconvinced, she reluctantly agrees.

A: "Who goes first?"
Me: "You go first."

It's easy to do her, because she's more advanced than me. Right away she tells me what she needs: "more shoulder blades!" she says as she's in the pose, and I adjust her and help her do it twice. Then it's my turn…

They all gather around me. It would seem I'm a real project. Alecia is coaching me. "Move your elbows in!." Cindy runs over: "Your feet should be more THAT way", moving them in towards my glutes. Cindy stands on them once they're in place to give me support. Saraswati is standing over the proceedings beaming, as she often does. Later I'm told that, but right now I can feel it in the air.

Then it happens, I'm up! Everybody's giving me encouragement, supporting me physically and emotionally. Finally, from across the room the teacher says "That's enough Reed, come on down". It seems I'm the last to finish.

And - for me - it's a moment of epiphany.

This entire week - and everybody in it - has led up to this instant.

Is epiphany always followed by change? I don't know. There is a lot to unlearn:

It's not about perfection. The perfect pose, the perfect performance, the perfect conversation, none of that got me to this moment today....

...I wonder what did?

I've either lived my whole life chasing the perfect moment, trying to be perfect, or leaving moments unlived because they wouldn't be perfect. The non-attainment of perfection becomes suffering, and it's a cycle.

But this feels like the metaphorical equivalent - a fleeting glimpse - of what life could be. Held, supported, loved -- in my community -- by my closest people -- just because. It feels like I've got a lot of work to do with that. There are walls to break down. Big tall walls. And how do I live my life on a daily basis without this wonderful feminine energy? - without these people?

And soon they'll be gone, scattered to the four corners of the globe. Sadly, nothing is forever...

...except a moment lived. My heart, will remember this moment forever….

and after all…isn't it really what's in your heart that counts?


….and so my once-hardened heart is broken, and refilled, this week on Maui.

Later we walk, the last seven of us, into the rainforest in a spot where waterfalls are, under a steady soaking rain.

It seems fitting to be under the rain today.

I am staying about 50 feet ahead or behind of the group to get some solitude, thinking about what we had experienced over that week. Lots of joy and laughter and sweetness. I need space to hide - I feel too vulnerable.

I guess old habits die hard.

You see, as the day wasted away I was becoming sad - quite sad - to see this little adventure end.

But this is where the rubber meets the road:

The title of Ram Dass' book says it all: Be here NOW. Translation: the present moment is all we have.

In his house Ram Dass has a clock. There is no 1 or 2 or 3 or 4. Every hour on the clock says "now".

They say worry about the past is about regret, and worry about the future is about fear. The present moment is what matters.

After we said heartfelt goodbyes at the airport, I returned to my room and listened to the silence, and the only sound is rain pouring outside the window. A nice spot to be sure, but It didn't matter without the Satsang, especially Alecia and Saraswati. I didn't care to be there any more. Still, it held a profoundness in the moment which I worked to stay present to, maybe learn from.

Funny that when I booked the trip, I planned the last night - spent alone - to be for relief.

The next morning, I thought about a yoga class, but when I looked at the schedule it didn't say 'all levels' like the other days. Without my crew to advise me, I just couldn't do it, so instead, I went to the restaurant. I'm guessing the waitress thought I was crazy (or perhaps didn't notice) as I sat alone in our same booth - for four - with a single tear running down my cheek. We made small talk about coffee refills.

I notice they have the radio on pretty loud. I never noticed music in this place before....that's great, it feels like comfort food for the soul to me right now.

A song comes on from when I was a kid. It has a potently nostalgic quality for me today, and I'm listening with a musician's ear…'look at how long it takes to get to the first chorus', I think - 'That would be unallowable in today's market'. 'I love the sense of excursion between the 2nd and 3rd chord changes', I muse. Then I become focused on the lyrics as the first chorus plays:

"Ride, captain ride upon your mystery ship
Be amazed at the friends you have here on your trip
Ride captain ride upon your mystery ship
On your way to a world that others might have missed"

The teachings say that our suffering is like the clouds on a rainy day -- the sun is always up above. Best to be in the suffering, and then it passes. The sun is always shining - even if you can't see it. Even if your heart is broken.... here on Maui:



Anonymous said...


Saraswati said...

Wow- you are really something Reed. I Love You.
Thank You for sharing yourself, your journey, and your teachings. Those teachings are intended for all of us.

Anonymous said...

Nice capture of the trip and your heart Reed.

Thx, Sevgi

Anonymous said...


This was really great. I thoroughly enjoyed it. You really should consider some way of getting it out there in front of more eyes. I think you express what all of us feel at one point in time or another.

Imagine what kind of world it would be if babies worried about what they looked like when they first learn to walk... we would all be crawling.. its just a silly, ridiculously unsteady thing...

My Mantra: You cant be great until you look completely stupid.

Thanks for the Donkeys.