Your Honeymoon

I always had real fun, when you two were together. The white impala ran soooo fast, with me in the middle – screaming down the roadway, wind blowing in the windows. We, the solid threesome, did everything together.

It didn’t last. This special day arrived, when you wore white; and I lit candles, standing on a box. And then, time came to go – time for you to leave – the first time I didn’t have a part.

That was when your honeymoon began. That was when mine ended.

by michael david b.

Some thoughts on the journey of meditation, from my journal –


My habit, in my meditation practice, is to journal about each session once completed. Here are a few highlights from February:

Feb. 4, 2015, 10:14 am : Twenty minute meditation without music – just silence accept for the background noise of life, happening around me. I purposed to focus on my breath by counting breaths, until the 20 minutes was up. I reached 30 before my mind shifted off counting breaths, to breathing into chakras – first, sahasrara, then ajna, then vishuddah, then manipura – and I either slipped into a shallow trance or a shallow sleep – which, I couldn’t discern – but in my soul – in my minds eye – I felt a slight poke in manipura, my solar plexus and ‘saw/perceived’ a woman move from in front of me, around to my left, and asked me if I wanted to talk to her. I snapped out of that state – and couldn’t get back there, though I did seem to slip in and out of semi consciousness. Relaxed now.

Feb. 6, 2015, 5: 44 pm: Focus meditation before a big meeting tonight. Help me remain mindful as we discuss future direction for a satellite campus

Con’t, 11:39 pm: After tonights meeting I ended the evening meditating to quiet my mind before sleep. My mind was amazingly calm (unusual for me after a meeting like the one I just came from). Now, sleep awaits.

Feb. 9, 2015, 09:31 pm: Twenty minutes of meditation in anticipation of visiting friends at hospital, whose extremely premature baby daughter might not survive the night. The focus of mind is preparatory for being with them, sitting with them in their emotions. May grace and peace prevail on them. (Update: the little girl was born weighing 14 oz. She didn’t make it, and died a few days later).

Feb. 14, 2015, 6:15 pm: A 20 minute meditation, listening to the birds chirp outside my open windows as I breathed. I could hear a robin, very close outside, as well as smaller birds singing back and forth much further away – as an occasional car passed on the street. A bit into the meditation, the birds fell silent. My stomach was hurting – feeling bloated from too much food – a reminder to eat less. I dozed but only for a few seconds – kept to my breath – the 2 minute bell sounded, then three bells, ending my time. As I opened my eyes, the birds began to sing once again.

Feb. 16, 2015, 1:49 pm: Active mind today during meditation – thinking about how powerful sex can be, seeing myself, in my minds eye lying naked in a woman’s embrace – laughing about how sleeping, eating and sex are the three pillars of an Ayurvedic life style – thinking about ISIS and barbarism – an active mind! I tried to scan my body – but instead, thoughts moved to watering plants, water rationing, and then on to how, so often in my life, I have wanted to write something profound or do some great thing – all this came up, today in meditation.

Feb. 18, 2015, 08:59 am: While meditating with my window open I was impressed with how natures sounds are abundant – usually the sound of birds singing and wind rustling, in the city – but how human activity and sounds quickly drown natures sounds out – cars accelerating down the street as some one is in a rush, the refuse truck loads garbage, water flowing from a faucet into the sink as someone washes veges, someone calling my name. Humanity in community creates combined noise, which drowns out nature and stifles peace – all the more reason to maintain spiritual practice.

I’ve had at least one session for 33 consecutive days. I’ve set my intention to meditate for 365 consecutive days, as I go deeper in this practice.

I’m Celebrating A Few First’s in my Yoga Practice


Yoga 1Last week I had a few firsts in my yoga practice. I had set an intention to practice at the yoga studio I frequent at least six times per week, Monday through Saturday, with rest on Sunday. Last week, I made all six days for the very first time, and rested yesterday.

Another first was to start my day moving through Surya Namaskara A and B at home. So, I did it, moving through Surya Namaskara A five times and B four times, followed by some added poses, and ending with a nice savasana. It was grand!!

And I’ve also fallen into a rhythm with sitting meditation, with at least one session each day and sometimes two.

Those are my ‘firsts’. And after only one week, I see already the benefits to my mind, to my body, to my spirit. Now, for week two….

Yoga goes to the Dentist

Yesterday I had a dentists appointment. I had a tooth that was cracked – actually split – right down the middle – and it was paining me. I needed a crown, he said – meaning, a procedure requiring local anesthesia – which I don’t like very much, not to mention all the drilling and such. Well, during yesterdays appointment, while in the chair, some of the benefits of meditation and yoga helped me.

Ordinarily, I’m just tense – waiting for that unexpected shot of electricity to slam through my jaw, when a part of a nerve that was supposed to be deadened, wasn’t. Yesterday, though, I set my focus to survey my body, and purposely breathe slowly and relax consciously when I noticed tension. There were several points in the procedure where, catching my muscles tightening up, I consciously relaxed them, as I deepened my breath. The result? Overall, a much better experience at the dentist, which ended with me free from neck and muscle pain.

Meditation and yoga is teaching me to do that – to survey my body, to breathe deep into uncomfortableness, to consciously relax. It helps much – as long as I stay tuned.

On Yoga, Transparency, Openness

My yoga teacher apologized to our class yesterday before the session began. She was scheduled to teach this class last week, but didn’t make it back to the city in time to teach, due to travel complications. She was concerned for those who came to class, only to be stood up by  her – the teacher who didn’t show. Her apology wasn’t one of those defensive, ‘it wasn’t my fault’ apologies, though it could have been. Instead it was straight, clear and open. If I had to summarize it, I would say it was ‘tender and vulnerable’. It set the tone for the rest of the session.

This was my second time back to my yoga studio in a couple of weeks. My work schedule was such that I couldn’t make it there for a while, but I made it to Thursday’s evening Ashtanga class and Friday’s Yin session. Though I practice at home – sometimes – I find regular participation at the studio a better fit. There’s something empowering when we practice yoga in community. There’s a collective energy that flows that solitary practice lacks. There’s accountability too, in the sense of collective support. If it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a community to help develop and shape one’s yoga practice.

Yoga is the only practice I’ve experienced that alleviates stress, calms my soul and spirit, opens my emotions, and strengthens my body, at the same time. Yoga causes deep, inner tension to arise in the form of negative thought, allowing me to observe and let them go. I can begin an Ashtanga or Yin session running lots of stress and negative emotion, only to rise from corpse pose at the end calm and at peace with myself and the world around me. And the same is true with the positive. I’ve walked away from many a session filled with appreciation or thanks for some person, place of thing in my life.

As a child, I experienced a lot of abuse in many forms, much of which had been suppressed and hidden away in a tight little compartment that only I had the key to. After I began yoga practice, I noticed how during some sessions I would suddenly have unexpected surges of emotion rise that I was unprepared for. I soon realized that through yoga I was alchemizing my abuses – facing them so as to release the trauma around them. I’ve now arrived at a place where I’m able to talk openly about my abuses for the first time, without fear.

I attribute this opening to yoga. It would never have happened without it. Yoga was once a practice I thought I would never attempt. Now, it’s a practice I will never abandon. It’s an essential part of my life. The yogic journey continues.

My meditative journey for Feb and March


This post has a few meditation journal highlights from my own practice from February and March. I hope readers have a meditation practice. I find it helps set intention for my days.

 February 11, 2014: This was my first 20 minute meditation. Fifteen minutes is my usual time. I    began, focusing on my breath. A few minutes in, I entered a dream state. I was gazing as it were, out and watching cars merge into traffic and one in particular – a silver sports car – wove in and out very fast. I came back to focusing on my breath. I was aware of many outside noises. Thoughts arose then drifted away. Perhaps I slept, but I was conscious of my breath and then suddenly, the interval bell sounded – one minute left – and I returned to focus breathing for the final 60 seconds of meditation. The end bell sounded. The 20 minutes had passed as nothing. I’m very relaxed and tranquil.

 February 26: Fifteen minute meditation in my home sanctuary with windows open and light rain outside was refreshing. I focused on counting my breaths, 15 in and out, then backward count to zero, then repeat. As my meditation progressed I could hear outside noises such as cars passing on the street but underneath was the sound of many birds – doves cooing, sparrows chirping, a robins call. While meditation their oices and presence are abundantly clear but when not, these little ones go almost unnoticed. Twice during meditation I became so relaxed I nearly slipped into sleep, but was able to maintain my focus on breathing, until the meditation ended.

March 6: In my 15 minute meditation I meditated to music with my window open. Focusing on my breath (and coming back to it if I was distracted) I could hear my breathing, music, cars passing on the street outside, a jet flying over, tiny birds chirping. I noticed my breath – the inhale and exhale of it – sounding like the ocean as it’s waves lapse on to the shore. Though the tide ebbs and flows, yet it always keeps connected to earth. So is my breath to me  –  always connected to me  – as outside sounds pass by.

March 10: Today I practiced three breathing exercises, five minutes each, followed by a short interim silence, before moving into a 15 minute meditation. During the interim I heard children’s voices outside my window bidding someone good bye, saying, “We love you mommy’. It was beautiful to my ears. Many thoughts arose as I meditated, most of which were allowed to rise and pass. And then, it was over and the week began.

March 16: A 15 minute meditation today. Mind was a bit over active and random thoughts, connected to activities and events of the past week kept coming up. I became an observer of these thoughts while always coming back to the two fold sound of my breath, inhale and exhale, and the clock I could hear ticking in the back ground.

Breathing, Asana’s and the Emotional Self

On Saturday (3/8/2014) I drove to Downtown Yoga Shala for Pranayama instruction, to be followed by what I thought would be Gentle Ashtanga. Arriving early, I settled in and was pleasantly pleased at the Pranayama class. We learned three methods of breathing and practiced each of them, and from that I was feeling invigorated. When time came for the Gentle Ashtanga class, however, I learned that class would be combined with a level 2/3 class, because the instructor for that class didn’t arrive to teach. When I learned this I was a bit concerned. I knew regular ashtanga to be challenging, strenuous and fast moving. I set my mind, however, to push beyond what I was comfortable with and at least try to keep up.

Our instructor began the session by encouraging us to set our intention, to focus on locking our core and to observe and keep up with our breath, moving at our own pace. And then, over the next hour and 25 minutes he took us through the whole of the Ashtanga Primary series (minus a few of the more strenuous poses) at a comfortable and fluid pace. And to my amazement, I was able to keep up with the flow. And in doing so, I observed some things about myself and about yoga too.

As we moved through the various sequences, I was able to clearly see how my own mindset had the power to limit what I could do or free me to do more than I thought I could do. I saw how I made it all the way through the series because I chose to press boundaries and focus on the possibilities instead of the limitations. I also realized how my own fear – fear of injuring my neck – held me back from the head stand. Looking back, I know I could have done it, if I had approached it with the right mindset. Next time, I hope to nail it, even if I have to ask the instructor to aid me by giving support to my legs until I’m vertical.

As we moved through the various asanas I was able to see how the ability to control my breath held a key to effective practice and how my breath was stronger now than it was even last week. I’m sure the Pranayama class earlier in the morning also helped a lot. But, lung strength and mindful focusing increases with practice. Today, I saw the benefit in that I didn’t loose focus on my breath, nor become breathless, through the whole of the practice. In the past, a strenuous sequence like this would have left me gasping multiple times, But today, I didn’t experience this. Rather, my breathing became smooth and even each time we returned to downward facing dog.

Today, my experience went far deeper than moving through the poses, sweating and focusing on my breath. During  Ardha Baddha Padma Paschimattaanasana (one leg extended, heel of other leg under sit bones, with a forward fold over extended leg) I felt my emotions begin to rise, and I began to cry – and I felt the waves of emotion roll through my stomach and chest and up into my eyes. I never cried not uncontrollably. But, something was opening inside me, and the emotional waves were gently rolling. I  had experienced emotions like these once or twice before. I wasn’t expecting them to arise today, though. And yet, up they came, highlighting the fact that breathing and asana practice is vitally linked to the emotional self.

Savasana eventually came much sooner than I expected and practice was over. As I rolled up my mat, gathered my things and walked to my truck, I knew my body had been worked really hard. But as I was driving, I noticed something else. I noticed a deep, abiding calmness – restfulness I had not noticed for quite a while. And coupled with this is a deeper desire to go deeper on this yogic journey. Truly, I desire to master the poses – all the poses of my yoga practice,  pushing myself deeper into yoga. But I also desire to submarine deeper into my emotions to learn the connection between breath, motion and the emotional self – to discover what, emotionally, was touched today and on a few other occasions, by an intense Asana sequence – until I realize more and  more what Patanjali calls, the unification of mind and body – which is one of the goals of yoga.

Observing breath – which is like the sea


After showering, eating a light breakfast, and answering a couple of emails, I went into my study, opened the windows a bit, put some meditative tunes on, set my timer and settled in for a 15 minute meditation. As I began, I purposed, as I usually do, to focus on my breath – on inhales and exhales – to settle the mind. In the back ground were many outside sounds – the rhythm of the music, a jet passing over head, the sound of a car driving past on the street in front of my house, and so forth. But these sounds and these events were outside, like white noise around me, while my breathing went on from inhale, to exhale, to inhale, to exhale through the whole meditation.

As I observed this I was suddenly aware of of how in my breath I could hear the sea and how breath and sea are alike. The sea, as it’s waves crash on shore and then withdraw back again – continues in it’s cyclic rhythm despite the white noise surrounding it – cars passing, jet’s flying over head, music playing, people shouting and laughing – and as all these things swirl around, yet the sea ebb’s and flows, in and out, rhythmically. Likewise, the sea is fluid, always on the move – and yet, is always in contact with stability, with earth, solid and stationary.

Breathing’s like the sea – and sounds like water striking shore, declining back again. Despite white noise- music, passing cars, jet planes – it isn’t hindered in it’s cyclic rhythm. Like the sea in it’s fluidity so is breath – always moving, yet always touching ‘earth’ – body – and through it, grounding. To have breath is to have life and to have life is, well, to have everything. As I considered this, I asked myself why peripheral events of life affect me so, so much. Oh, to be more like the sea, touching earth yet fluid and unaffected.

And then, my timers bell tone sounded, my meditation coming to an end.

How Yoga reflects the Tao

bambooReading in the Tao te Ching today I came across this verse:

Men are born soft and supple; dead they are stiff and hard. Plants are born tender and pliant; dead they are brittle and dry. Thus, whoever is stiff and inflexible is a disciple of death, Whoever is soft and yielding is a disciple of life.

The hard and stiff will be broken. The soft and supple will prevail.

This verse resonated. It landed in the middle of my experience. Looking back over my life, I can recall times in conversations about controversial topics where my attitude was to win an argument. During this times, my stance was one of rigidity and refusal to bend (as was that of my opponent). Usually, those conversations ended with my walking away with lots of destructive stress built up inside me – which is death to inner peace and sexual power. Sometimes the result could even spell the end of a friendship, the death of relationship. How much better it would have been had I been soft and supple instead of stiff and hard – for soft and supple is life, while stiff and hard is death.

From this, one may say yoga, practiced regularly, makes one soft and supple, or helps one remain tender and pliant. From this angle yoga is life giving, life maintaining, a reflection of the Tao. And because it is, I’m compelled by it to practice regularly, if for no other reason than to maintain vigor – to maintain life in my body, my mind, my spirit. It is here where yoga and the Tao meet, and one benefits from both simultaneously.