You are Sacred Land

As sacred land has been violated in North Dakota, I wonder how often we violate the sacred land that is our bodies.  Just like Mother Earth desperately needs to be honored, I feel a call to honor our bodies as well.  May we remember how sacred the land of our bodies is, how precious and sacred intimacy is, and make sure the people we let in respect our sacred land.

Remember: Your body is a temple. You are a sacred site. Honor yourself. Be with those that honor you.

As we demand respect for Mother Earth, remember you are inseparable from Her.  Do you honor your body as sacred land? Do the people close to you do the same?

Your healing is dependent on the people you surround yourself with. Your healing is in your hands.  Act.  Be with those that hold you in the highest light.  Hold yourself in light.

The Upanisads, one of the oldest known yoga scriptures, states, “If you think the Deity is one and you another, you do not know. You are that.”  You are the God, the Goddess, the Mother, the Earth.  You are precious and divine.  Every moment you share with another is a gift. You are worthy of praise, honor and of being treated as sacred wonder.

“Honey, you are sacred land.  Choose your travelers wisely.” – Della Hicks-Wilson

Namaste,

Reema

 

Flag Day

FullSizeRender-14

Published by Yoga International, August 2016

https://yogainternational.com/article/view/a-yogic-perspective

Spirit does not recognize color, gender, class, or nationality. Spirit sees only the heart and the energy that each individual radiates to the Whole—which includes the individual self, along with all else of life (plants, animals, other people, and the rest of nature).

A couple of months ago, I was in India and asked my grandfather, a 95-year-old yogi, the following question: If he had to give one piece of advice to the next generation, what would it be? My grandfather replied, “Forget these labels of Indian, Pakistani, American, and relate to each other as human.”

“Yes,” my soul responded, with relief, hope, and knowing.

Last week, my four-year-old daughter celebrated flag day at her American small town pre-school. As I watched her march with her Indian flag, my emotions were mixed. I love India, and I am happy to be of Indian descent. It is nice to connect with a community or a country and feel a sense of belonging—but not at the expense of separating myself from those of different ethnicities.

That night, I came home and “randomly” chose words from the Indian philosopher, Krishnamurti. This is what I read:

“When you call yourself an Indian or a Muslim or a Christian or a European or anything else, you are being violent. Do you see why it is violent? Because you are separating yourself from the rest of mankind. When you separate yourself by belief, by nationality, by tradition, it breeds violence.

A man who is seeking to understand violence does not belong to any country, to any religion, to any political party or partial system; he is concerned with the total understanding of mankind.”

Of course, reading these words was likely not random. There’s a good chance the universe was answering my inquiry. Spirit is constantly with us, responding to our every thought, but we need to be receptive, present, and available for the communication. A daily practice of steady, rhythmic movement, coupled with meditation, cultivates qualities of relaxation in body and mind that allow spirit to commune with Spirit.

The practice of yoga is not, of course, owned by India and Tibet. Indigenous cultures around the world have cultivated practices of meditative movement, special diet, and open communication to heal the individual so that he/she can live in harmony with the Whole.

Seek to relax all the ways in which you label and identify yourself. This will help you to strengthen your own unique and personal connection with the invisible world. You will likely see that Spirit is and always has been answering your every call.

 

 

Yoga and Immortality

DSC_0457A few weeks ago, I was visiting my ninety-five year old Grandfather in the tribal village, Khaknar, in Central India.  One day, I went to a school that he had built to do a session of yoga with the children.  There are three hundred kids who attend the school, from ages 7 to 16.

While doing yoga with about forty of them, I had the fortune to see their bright, beaming faces and I could see that each of their faces carries the spirit of my Grandfather.  This brought relief and joy to my heart.

No matter how many more years my Grandfather lives, I realize that the spirit indeed is deathless, as the yogis have always said.  It is our choice how much we give in this life to shine even after the body passes.

Today is the birthday of my Grandmother, Usha, who passed in 2003.  While my Grandfather was deeply involved in his work, bringing educational radio and t.v. to India, traveling to South Africa as a teacher of the Vedas, working for the United Nations in the Middle East, my Grandmother brought up their four daughters on her own in New Delhi.

Like many women, she is an unsung hero and to me the greatest of all yogis.  Growing up spending time with her, the peace that she carried amidst all types of adversity has had a lasting impression on me.  I remember her going in for major surgery and smiling, totally relaxed, a deep sense of surrender and trust, allowing life to happen as it does.  She was always like that, no matter the situation.

My Grandmother inspired me to start the Usha Yoga Foundation in 2005.  Through this foundation, we have brought yoga to survivors of human trafficking in India, women who are healing from trauma in Rwanda, Korean-American women who have survived violence in Chicago, students who are overcoming anxiety and depression in England, amongst many others.  My Grandmother’s spirit lives on in each of these people as well as her daughters, grand-children and the many people she touched while living.

We are immortal.  The spirit is deathless. We are the ones with one thousand arms, like the images of heroes in many world mythologies.  The arms of the people my Grandparents touch are no separate from their arms.  We each are capable no matter what our circumstance.   How will your spirit live on?

Namaste,

Reema

To read more about the Usha Yoga Foundation, click on the foundation’s link on http://www.reemayoga.com

The picture above is my Mom, Grandfather and me after a gentle evening yoga session in Khaknar, India.

From Darkness to Light

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

This past year was the most challenging one so far for me.  Slowly, over the past few weeks, I have come to the other side of painful times.  From darkness, truly comes light. When the heart is grateful, perhaps for nothing but to be alive – which is a lot – that foundation of gratitude keeps all in perspective.

I bow down to the darkness I have felt this year.  I bow down to the pain and the thoughts laced with anger, sadness, anxiety and fear – for I may label them as “negative,” but what they are is a gift…if I let them be.  If I can look them all straight in the eye, embrace them fully and say “thank you, I hear you, I see you, I will feel you and let the life cycle of your arising, abiding and dissolving happen,” then I can experience what is next.  For me, what is next – what is here – is freedom from expecting anything from the outside and a focus on living true to my potential.

Just a week ago, when I thought about 2015, the word that came to mind was “grief.”  There was the loss of my family unit, the death of a family friend, and the grief that I imagine we all share regarding the violence in our world.  Life indeed is precious and rare.  Is your life an expression of the treasures that lie within as this is the best way to honor the living and the dead.

Neuroscience indicates that we remember the last event of a series more than what came before (for example, the bad times at the end of a relationship rather than years of good times before).  Anger, fear and sadness may arise more commonly when we think of the past rather than enjoyment.  Our minds are so powerful we can change our experience of the past simply by attending to it in a different way.  For example, I can remember the beautiful moments spent when my family was together.  I can open myself to new experiences rather than dwell on what was not meant to be.  I can rejoice in the amazing memories of those passed.  I can find purpose and inspiration and awaken a reservoir of energy within to work harder for peace.  Instead of letting the pain bring me down, I rise.

The mind is an instrument that as we get to know, we can work with.  2016, I invite joy. May we handle our minds with such skill that we rewrite our past in the most constructive ways, live our present with deep understanding, and create a future where the definition of Self expands to include more and more beings. May we come closer to the truth of our union. May we together find the energy and vision to create peace and lasting happiness.

My contribution to the above goals:

  1. See everyone, every event, every emotion as a gift, as wisdom itself.  Meet all with compassion and keep moving forward.
  2. Drop expectation of others and focus on living true to my potential.
  3. Judge no one while being concerned with my own actions, thoughts and expressions.
  4. Be present to be radiantly alive, lucidly awake, and most useful to the world.
  5. Allow moments of quiet every day to directly experience my breath and the treasures and truths this leads me to.
  6. Express myself more.
  7. Return to a daily personal yoga/meditation practice.
  8. Play with my family more.
  9. Be more kind and compassionate in my thoughts.
  10. Make time to organize teachings that most benefit others.
  11. See myself in everyone and in this way deepen my compassion for others and my experience of the universal truth that we are one.
  12. Remember that everyone is a messenger of God, an angel, bringing me exactly what I need whether it is in a form of discomfort or ease.  We are already angels.  We are already God.  We are here for each other.  Practice gratitude at least once a day.

Thank you all for being in my life. Happy New Year.  Om. Amen. Aho.

Bedtime magic

A conversation that took place a few weeks before Mila’s fourth birthday: 

Mama: Where were you before you came into mommy’s tummy?

Mila: I don’t know.

Mama: But, how did you get into mommy’s tummy?

Mila: I found you. I picked you.  Then I came in and I ate and I grew.

Mama: ohhh…(heart melting…)  and, what about daddy?

Mila: I picked him too. that daddy.

Mama:  Why did you pick us?

Mila: Because I liked you guys.  I just liked you.

Mama:  ……wow, I’m so lucky….(hugs…………….)

A few mornings later…

Mama: How did you find mommy and daddy?

Mila: I followed your footsteps.

Mama: Where were our footsteps?

Mila: In the sand.

Mama: Oh.

Mila: You and Daddy were having a picnic.  You were eating sandwiches.

Mama: Oh.

Mila: Then I came into your tummy and told you to go to Portland.

Mila was conceived on Kauai where her dad and I had picnics in the sand.  When I was five months pregnant, I kept getting this feeling to move to Portland, OR, a place I had only spent two days in my entire life.

Who Are You Now?

When I was sixteen years old, I won a music competition where I played two pieces of classical Western music on the piano.  The piano had been my passion for four years.  Beethoven and Chopin were my best friends.  When I won that competition it was like the universe saying, ‘yes, you are good.”  It made me happy from the core of my being.

When I was in college I wanted to major in music and my parents wanted me to become a doctor.  I ended up taking pre-med classes for two years while being in awe of my friends walking to and from the music building and talking in the dorm rooms about rhythm and harmony.  My heart was torn apart in college.  Though my parents wanted me to have a lucrative career and stable life, I wanted to play the piano.

I didn’t end up majoring in music and I don’t blame my parents.  I can see now that I didn’t have the courage to insist that I honor my feelings.   It is hard to live your truth.  In the Gita, a warrior is described as someone who is daring and resolute with a strong will power and fierce determination.  I did not know then how to fight the battle in my mind in order to honor my soul.  I did not know how to make my outer world a reflection of my inner.  It is one thing to know your truth and another to be able to express and live it.

When I was ten years old, I saw for the first time a friend’s hands move across the piano.   When I saw that I knew right then that my hands had to do that.  There was no question.  There was no thinking that, “hmmm, maybe someday I will learn how to play the piano.”  There was only an absolute certainty, necessity that my fingers would move across a piano and make beautiful music.  That is just what happened.

When I was twenty-three years old, I stepped into a yoga studio for the first time in my life.  I had practiced yoga with my mom at home, but, I had never seen a group vinyasa class.  The moment I saw about thirty bodies glistening with sweat and beaming with strength and absolute beauty, moving in harmony like the most graceful, sacred dance I had ever witnessed, I knew at that moment that my body had to do that.  There was no question.  I began to practice everyday and built my body up to do just that.

My passion now is to lead people through meditative movement while choosing music that is beautiful to move to.  When I go to a class of an inspiring teacher, I know that this is what I am meant for.  When I am that inspiring teacher, there is nothing that gives me more satisfaction.

Life is one constant self-discovery.  Everything is changing constantly including our very selves.  When I practice yoga or do anything really, I am intrigued with what within me will come forth.  What treasure about myself will I discover now?   I like to see myself as water or fire or wind or space rather than something that is always solid like earth.  If I see myself as water, for example, flowing and formless, I am more receptive to get to know my changing self.  If I see myself as solid and fixed, I miss out on who I am becoming.  “Relate to the world in ever new ways and grow into freedom,” says Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita.

After having a child, I kept wondering when I would go back to feeling like my “normal” self again…the Reema that I was before having a baby.  I waited and wondered.  I felt nostalgic and frustrated.  Then one day I realized that that Reema is gone, like fire, like wind.  And, the Reema that is here is different, changed.

My work is not to try and retrieve who I was before having a baby but to be receptive to who I am now.  Instead of this being depressing, it is exciting!  Instead of holding on to what no longer exists, I feel like a child discovering who I am.

“When you bring forth what is within you, what you bring forth will save you.” – Jesus

“When you bring forth what is within you, what you bring forth will save the world.” – Krishna

May we have the courage to bring forth what is within.  May we experience the peace of knowing ourselves and the pure joy of being ourselves.

Who are you now?

Namaste.

I bow to the light within you that is free of form and therefore free to form into anything.

blackandwhitepic 2

Do Time and Space exist?

Mamas, if you are like me, you don’t easily believe people when they say it is ok to leave your kids for a while (if they are in good hands, of course).  Well, I did it.

I went to Europe for a three week teaching tour while Mila stayed with her Grandparents on the east coast.  She had tons of playtime with her five cousins and many more family and friends.  It was great for me and for her.

As we live in Oregon, Mila does not get a lot of opportunity to spend time with our family on the east coast.  Since we don’t have family in Oregon, I get very little time to myself in my day to day life.

While in Europe, I had the chance to remember parts of myself that I had lost touch with: my love for adventure, my passion for teaching yoga in foreign lands and to people of different cultures, the joy of making new friends.  I especially enjoyed connecting with other mama yoginis on this trip, allowing conversation to move to those very real places of how to merge the paths of motherhood and yoga.

I facetimed or skyped with Mila every day.  My parents sent me pictures.  She was having a ball.  At three and a half years old, Mila is confident, secure and a very happy child.  I still came close to canceling the tour before I left, feeling unsure about leaving her for so long.

Even after all the Skype sessions, I had no idea how Mila would react to me when I returned.  I was nervous.  Maybe she will be upset with me.  Maybe that incredible closeness that we share will have been lost.  Maybe I will regret the whole trip.

The moment I saw Mila at the airport, she ran to me with such excitement and joy. “Mama, mama,” she burst out with pure delight and love.  We embraced, we hugged, inseparable, like before.

Since I’ve been back from my trip, it feels like we were never apart.  The lesson I learned: When the bond is deep, you feel the truth: Time and Space do not exist.

closer up

Airport Reunion, Washington, D.C. June 23, 2015