07 Jun

We Are Stronger Together

IMG_0773

Here’s a thought I’d like to share…

The word “sangha” (Sanskrit for inseparable) refers to a community of people that come together to practice, study, and grow spiritually.  It is from our sangha that we draw support, wisdom and the enthusiasm that drives our foundational spiritual practices. Thich Nhat Hanh, a global spiritual leader, poet and peace activist, says that “without a sangha you lose your practice very soon.”  Quite simply, we are stronger because we practice together.  (And by “practice,” I mean anything we do that supports our spiritual growth.)

Our sangha can be our yoga class, our church, our book club, or our meditation group. It can even include online communities. When I send out these“Thoughts To Share,” I often get back replies that bolster my commitment and affirm my desire to share and serve. When I teach my yoga classes, I feel the energy of connection and the empowerment to do more and be the best me that I can be. I learn so much by being a part of the community of YOU.

For me, I know I am stronger and my practice is deeper because of the people with whom I practice. I am grateful for each of you!

 

Sangha  (by Danna Faulds)

Teach me what I cannot learn alone.

Let us share what we know, and what

we cannot fathom. Speak to me of

mysteries, and let us never lie

to one another.

 

May our fierce and tender longing

fuel the fire in our souls. When we

stand side by side, let us dare to focus

our desire on the truth. May we be

reminders, each for the other, that

the path of transformation passes

through the flames.

 

To take one step is courageous;

to stay on the path day after day,

choosing the unknown, and facing

yet another fear, this is nothing

short of grace.

 

Your “showing up” gives other people the courage and willingness to do the same. As we bear witness to each other staying on the path day after day, we are strengthened. As we practice side by side we offer each other the energy of camaraderie and connection.  This energy, this love, this courage, this union of spirits — this is nothing short of grace.

Please know that you are my sangha, and you make me a better person.
Without your commitment and dedication, I would not be able to do what I do. And from the bottom of my heart, I thank you.

Wishing you the gentle grace of a fierce and mighty sangha,

Namasté

Augusta

We’ve created a CALM page on Facebook where we’ll be posting quotes, inspirational teachings, updates on classes, trainings, workshops, and seminars, and lots of good information. Please “like” and “invite” your friends to like it too. Let’s grow this together!! Thanks!

Click here (CALM) to like and share.

 

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather
21 Feb

Delight In Life

Hello there my Morning Yogis!

I’m so excited to be HOME!!! I’m thrilled to get back to my work, my classes, and to Yoga Teacher Training!

Here’s a thought I’d like to share…

Believe in the goodness of your soul.
Acknowledge how well it has guided you.
And yet know that you will fall asleep along the way.
When you sleep,
Take no delight in blaming yourself.
Take delight in waking yourself up once more.
Self-blame is the deepest injury,
The deepest sleep of all.
Wake yourself up with gentle affection.

  

Delight in Waking Up, by Amrit Desai

I just love this. It makes me pause…and smile. It has such a loving, gentle energy; an urging for compassion that includes yourself and all beings. As Jack Kornfield says, “If your compassion does not include yourself, it is incomplete.”

I found this poem randomly (or synchronistically) stuck in some papers that I was going through this morning as I prepared for my Yoga Assisted Self-Discovery Group. This poem was the most recent way, after a curiously long list of ways, that the word “delight” has come up for me in the past several days. (Interesting how certain words or phrases or ideas do that sometimes – like they are being presented to us – or for us.) Check this out…

*Two days ago, I themed my asana class around the phrase “The greatest gift we can give another is to delight in their company.”

*In the book I was reading yesterday, Psalms 37:4 was quoted: “Delight thyself also in the Lord; and he shall give the desires of thine heart.”

*This morning, a dear friend sent me an email that contained this beautiful quote by Kelly Flanagan, “Grace is the presence that knows you’re a work in progress and is simply delighting in your becoming.”

*An essay titled, “The Freedom of Delight” came across my desk before my first client of the day.

*And then, as I mentioned, the crowing “delightful moment,” (when I realized that it would most definitely be “delight” that was the thought I’d share this week) was when I found the above poem stuck in my papers.

So, I guess I’m supposed to ponder “delight.” Or maybe I’m just supposed to BE delighted.

What if we lived with delight? What if we delighted in waking up, in being awake, in breathing deeply, in living this life we’ve been given?

“Delight in life” – sounds delightful, doesn’t it. And if we open to it, we can choose delight as the state of being with which we meet each moment.

What beautiful wisdom it is to “Take delight in waking yourself up once more. Wake yourself up with gentle affection.”

Wishing you, and me, gentle affection and utter delight,

Namaste,

Augusta
signaturepic

 
    
 
 
    
 
 

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

10 Apr

Righteous Indignation

Dear Friends,

Here’s a thought I’d like to share
Pema Chodron writes,

We sometimes have the experience of seeing wrong being done and there is no confusion and no bewilderment and we just say, Stop it!  No buttons have been pushed.  It’s just wrong, unaccompanied by righteous indignation.

When I feel righteous indignation, I know that it has something to do with me.”   The other day, I was leaving the hospital Wellness Center after teaching a yoga class.  It was raining cats and dogs. Because it seems the kind thing to do, and in deference to other patrons, I always park at the far end of the parking lot.  This day, I had all my gear in my backpack. My yoga mat was slung under one arm.  I had a dry-erase board that I had used in class under the other arm.  I had a bottle of water in one hand and my keys AND an umbrella that was on its last leg in the other hand. Oh, and I had a card a friend had just given me clenched between my teeth. Balancing all these items with great aplomb, I gingerly began to jog across the almost empty parking lot.  As I near my car, a woman turns to park in the space right next to my car. (Did I mention the parking lot had very few cars in it?)  I politely speed up to get out of her way. She continues to pull forward, so I speed up more – with all my stuff – in the rain.  I notice, once again, with more adamancy than before, that there are MORE than plenty of empty parking spaces right next to where I am trying to get to my car. I get to my car, and try to juggle my paraphernalia so I can open my door without dropping anything.  She continues to pull forward.  I think, “Wait just a second, lady! Can’t you see I’m hurrying, it’s raining and I’m a bit loaded down?”  (This is the clean version!)  I shoot a quick steely glance her way as I start to open my car door.  Well, I drive a ’66 Mustang whose doors are long, heavy and swing very wide.  The lady keeps inching up and I have to catch my door from swinging into her path.  In this effort, my umbrella flies up, turning inside out, and my yoga mat – my GOOD yoga mat – drops onto the wet ground. I quickly grab the door, scoop up my mat and throw it in the car, as I squeeze myself between my door and the car while fighting with the dry-erase board, backpack and now defunct umbrella.  I finally manage to get my stuff and then myself into my car and close the door.  The lady finishes pulling into the parking spot, way over toward my car’s side of the space! – (and did I mention the parking lot was almost empty!!) I sit there, huffing and puffing – and drenched.  By this time, I am thoroughly indignant! “Oh my God! Can’t you park even one spot over!?”   My thoughts explode!  In a huffy, haughty, “done-to” way, I sit for a second feeling ready to bite someone.  I roughly put my keys in the engine, turn the key and, less than gently, put my car in gear.  My car, less than gently, conks out.  I’m not sure if it was the rain, the Universe or my marvelous old car, but, suddenly, I began to laugh.  Finally, it had all become ludicrous enough to be funny. It was as if I woke up from my “all-about-me” story.  My righteous indignation was instantly recognized for the “let’s make someone else wrong so you don’t have to look at your own frustrations” mask that it was.  My mad drained out and my indignation quickly washed away. I thanked my car. I thanked the rain. I thanked the Universe for the lesson.  I glanced over at the woman next to me.  She was oblivious to me.  Her mind wasn’t set on making my morning miserable. Her mind wasn’t on me at all. I even thanked her (silently, of course). So often, we get indignant when other people behave in ways we don’t want them to, or when situations aren’t as we wish them to be.  Okay – it happens.  But is it possible to learn something when righteous indignation rears its ugly head?  Can we be so brave as to look at our own aggression?  Can we use it as a sign post that we’re in the land of “it’s all about me?”  Pema Chodron says that “blaming others never heals anything, and that if you yourself are working with nonaggression and honesty, you can change the balance of aggression in the world.” How cool it that!? ~CHANGE THE BALANCE OF AGGRESSION IN THE WORLD!  Wow!!  That’s like changing the alkalinity of the ocean, or the purity of the air. Righteous indignation, once recognized for what it is, can serve to point us toward the lessons we need to learn.  Stand on it if you will, but it is a lonely and separate place.  Step down into a place of understanding and connection.  Again, by Pema Chodron, “

Nothing ever changes in this world through hating the enemy.

Wishing you fewer things to carry when it rains

Namaste,

Augusta
signaturepic

 
    
 
 
    
 
 

Originally Published April 10, 2011

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather
24 Mar

Peace

Dear Friends,

Here’s another thought I’d like to share

Turning inward to the source of peace, I take refuge in the easy sigh of breath released./p>

Danna Faulds<

When life is busy, time is pushed and we’re juggling faster than we thought we could, it’s easy to want to throw up our hands and scream, “Oh, just give me some peace!”  We want to demand that the world just stop for a second so we can breathe!  “Is that too much to ask? I mean, REALLY! Goodness! I’m peddling as fast as I can!”  We get swept away by our own sense of indignation that life is pushing us with unfair urgency.           Uh oh…  I think we forgot some stuff.  Breathe in…. Breathe out… Life isn’t pushing us; our thoughts about our lives are pushing us.  Peace isn’t something we demand from life, it’s something we open to and allow.  Peace isn’t conditional; it is, rather, our ability to experience that peace that seems so conditional.  Time isn’t going any faster; we just aren’t slowing down enough to enjoy the ride.  We’re not in over our heads; we just forgot how to float!           Oh yeah…oops. Breathe in… Breathe out…           Forgetting happens.  It’s okay.  There’s always an opportunity to remember again.  Smile at yourself and kindly chuckle at your fierce growl at life.  It is in that moment of remembering that you begin again.  You breathe in and then release the breath as you release your demands, your expectations and your exclamations.  Slowly, more skillfully now, you come back to center.  You turn inward to the source of peace.  You re-visit that peace that was there all along ~riding your breath back home.

Wishing you peace,

Namaste,

Augusta
signaturepic

 
    
 
 
    
 
 

Originally Published Thursday, March 24, 2011

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather
17 Mar

Forgiveness

Dear Friends,

Here’s another thought I’d like to share

With forgiveness, your victim identity dissolves, and your true power emerges – the power of Presence.

Eckhart Tollelt

When I think about forgiveness, I think about holding someone hostage with my negative energy.  However, in truth, it is my negative energy that holds me hostage.  As long as I am unwilling to forgive, I am inextricably bound to the object of that unforgiveness.  In forgiving, I release myself from that bondage.  I am no longer tied to that person or situation, and the energy I was expending is freed up to be used more wisely.           As long as I am unwilling to forgive, I have to continuously, or at least sporadically, feed the fire of “victim.”  The fuel looks something like this… “I’ve been wronged.”  “That person or situation is unfair.”  “How dare them!”  “That no-good, sorry, low-down scoundrel!”  “How could they!?”  ~What part of these statements sound like <b>I want validation that I’ve been wronged</b>?  Basically, I am a victim!  Well, victims are, by definition, helpless.  And helpless means having no choice.  Forgiveness is the choice that serves as the key to the jail cell of victimhood.          Deborah Adele writes, <i>“A bird cannot hold its perch and fly. Neither can we grasp anything and be free.”</i>  Holding on to unforgiveness prevents us from having the freedom to fly.  You gotta let go!          Might you ask yourself, “What am I holding on to that keeps me from flying?”  “What victim identity do I cling to?”  If your heart was free and you could reclaim your power, would you?  Release you.  Let go.  Fly and be free.

Wishing you a loosened grip and strong wings.

Namaste,

Augusta
signaturepic

 
    
 
 
    
 
 

Originally Published March 17, 2011

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather
12 Mar

The Mirror of Commitment

Dear Friends,

Here’s another thought I’d like to share

We have to commit to something for it to be a mirror in our lives.

~Rolf Gates

When we truly commit to something, we can then clearly see what we do in the face of that commitment.  For those of us with a punitive or condemning inner voice, facing that reflection can feel scary and/or painful.  No wonder we don’t like to commit to certain actions – losing weight, meditation, eating right, complete truthfulness, etc…  When we do, unless we are “perfect” (and who’s perfect) the mirror of our commitment reflects back to us what we didn’t do, didn’t do well enough, didn’t do often enough, did do and shouldn’t have, could’ve done and didn’t, and on and on.   We get uncomfortable with what we see and, before we even know it, we are condemning ourselves and beating ourselves up.  Now, what was at first just uncomfortable, has now become hurtful.  We get angry for our reactions and the spiral intensifies. Out of a need to protect ourselves from our own harshness, we throw away the mirror!   But there’s another option…  We can commit to something and then use what we see reflected back to us as information from which to learn about ourselves. If we can be truly curious about our actions, or lack thereof, we can learn about our patterns, our hindrances and our motivations.  If we can be compassionate with ourselves, we will remain open to learning, thus we will grow and change.    Might we “learn to learn” rather than continue to condemn?  If we allow ourselves to commit to something and commit to truthfully and compassionately seeing ourselves reflected back in our responses to that commitment, might we soften enough to see old patterns and make new choices?  Just perhaps. What would you commit to for the next week?  Something small, like 3 mindful breaths each morning.  What would it require of you?  Why (and I ask you to ask yourself this question with the utmost compassion) might you not want to commit? Could you commit without the fear of your own tyranny? There are so many things to be learned if we free ourselves from the threat of the sledge hammer of condemnation.

A dear friend of mine told me of an old joke…Why do we keep hitting ourselves over the head with a hammer?  Answer…Because it feels so good when we stop.  
Might we stop?

Wishing you a clear mirror and a compassionate heart.

Namaste,

Augusta
signaturepic

 
    
 
 
    
 
 

Originally Published March 12, 2011

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather
11 Feb

Question Your Answers

Dear Friends,

Here’s another thought I’d like to share

It is often more important to question our answers than to answer our questions.

~Ganga White

Earlier this week, a client came in an hour late for his scheduled appointment.  He quickly blamed my secretary and accused her of having written 9am, not 8am, on his appointment card.  He was caustic and refused her offer to reschedule the appointment.  He was rude to her as he huffed out of the office (as if any of this was going to somehow change the reality of him not being able to be seen right then). About two hours later, he called the office and very sheepishly apologized saying that he had found his card and that she had, indeed, written 8am.  Now he wanted to reschedule. Because this person did not question his own “answer” or correctness, he created more angst in his own life and spread that angst around as well. Whereas this can be seen as a simple example of pride or arrogance, I’m sure that underneath that tough exterior was a sense of fear, embarrassment, sadness or disappointment.  However, as long as he stood firmly in his “answer,” he eliminated the possibility of learning from his questions. This is the same dynamic that operates in assumptions, stereotyping and habitual, patterned responses.  When we approach situations with answers already in place, we close down our ability to take in new information.  We ultimately become prisoners of our past, operating in a closed system. (The metaphor of breathing only re-circulated air on an overseas flight comes to mind.)  Old information is important, but not complete.  Messages from our past (be they from family, society or self) are meant to inform our present, not determine our future. How might we keep fresh information and new learning flowing in our lives?  What would it be like to consciously decide to honestly and compassionately question some of our old answers?  What if, for today, wherever you go, you ask yourself, “Am I open to learning here or am I operating on auto-pilot?”  Just ask.  Let the question be your door to new answers.

Wishing you questions and curiosity,

Namaste,

Augusta
signaturepic

 
    
 
 
    
 
 

Originally Published February 11, 2011

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather
03 Feb

Tides of Change

Dear Friends,

Here’s another thought I’d like to share

When the tide of change rolls in we can resist or be at peace, struggle or release.

~Danna Faulds

Whether or not things change is not our choice – how we respond to that change is!  When we resist change, we resist life.  We build a dam with our resistance but fail to realize the energy we use holding that dam up does nothing to stop the water from pushing again   st that dam.  That used up energy costs us dearly.  When we use our energy to “wish” something was or wasn’t as it is (i.e. resist change), we no longer have the energy to make appropriate choices for our lives. We cease to “see” what is, because we’re so busy holding up our dams.  We get invested in our dams.  We deem them important and useful.  We imbue them with power.  Life (like the water behind the dam) pays us no mind.  Life doesn’t stop flowing – we just can’t enjoy the flow.  Life goes on and we are separated from it by dams of our own making.  Recognizing our resistance makes it possible to choose differently.  Compassionately understanding that our resistance was a protective gesture, not a stupid one, introduces the option of acceptance.  When we accept where we are (i.e. accept life as it is) we have the power to make new choices – powerful choices – choices that free up the energy we were spending for naught. Might it be a worthy endeavor to ask ourselves what dams we have built and whether or not they are worthy of our continued energy expenditure.

Wishing you all a peaceful flow.

Namaste,

Augusta
signaturepic

 
    
 
 
    
 
 

Originally Published February 3, 2011

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather
21 Jan

Breathe In. Breathe Out

Dear Friends,

Here’s a thought I’d like to share

Things I have to do today…</b> <b>Breathe in. Breathe out.

This week has been packed with decisions that needed to be made, conceptualizing that had to be done, tasks that had to be accomplished and events that had to be attended.  And then there was also all the “usual stuff” in my life – work, family, laundry, dogs, etc. ”Okay, fine!” ”I can do that.” And as I go about “doing,” I start forgetting that I don’t get to control the unfolding of the Universe.  I start directing outcomes.  I set my jaw and attack each thing so as to “get it done and finished!”  I do amazingly complex mental gymnastics around figuring it all out.  I’m keeping all the plates spinning and juggling all the balls all at the same time.  The world is now squarely on my shoulders!  “I’ll carry it. I can do it. Don’t worry, I’ve got it.  You can thank me later, right now I just have to make sure the world doesn’t fall.  It’s a big responsibility, but somebody has to do it.” Needless to say, the Universe has a very different take on this situation.  And, as it always does, it offers me an opportunity to learn for myself – again – that I, Augusta Kantra, do not get to or have to control the unfolding of the Universe.  I wake up this morning with a crick in my neck <i>(probably from that heavy world I’ve been carrying!)</i> and I’m just tired.  I’m done!  I sit back and throw my hands in the air – which, given the stiff neck, makes me wince.  I decide to just step back, take a deep breath and look at things with new eyes.   It’s at this point that my vision begins to clear. I smile as I recognize how much I was trying to control what <i>is</i> rather than trying to see it, work with it and use the energy of its unfolding.  Nothing really needed my “fixing.”  Nothing was really broken.  In the stepping back, I could let go.  In the letting go, I could breathe and realign myself with the flow that is “life.”  The dam I had built and was using all my strength to hold up, didn’t need to be there at all.  Ahhhhh…. Thank you crick!  Thank you Universe. I still have lots to do.  Who doesn’t?  But my most important tasks – Breathe in. Breathe out.

Wishing you gentle reminders to breathe fully.

Namaste,

Augusta
signaturepic

 
    
 
 
    
 
 

Originally Published January 21, 2011

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather
08 Jan

Artistic Mingling

Dear Friends,

Here’s another thought I’d like to share

The art of living lies in a fine mingling of letting go and holding on.

  

  Henry Ellis

In everything we do, it is all about finding that beautiful (albeit sometimes elusive) balance between holding on and letting go.  When we’re in conflict with someone, we often get mired in our own way of seeing things.  We can get defensive and indignant, or small and pitiful, or perhaps we vacillate between the two searching for a toe hold. How can we let go of our egoic need to be “right” and hold on to the intentions of our heart?  Truth is, all conflict resolution lies in finding this balance.  If we can step out of our defended “what about me” place and open our hearts with love and compassion, we can hold true to our highest intentions without feeling threatened.  Of course, this is easier said than done and requires a constant, mindful practice. And as the quote says, it is the artistry of the fine mingling!  In yoga, during asana practice, each pose is a compilation of holding on in some places and letting go in others.  It is the action of one that allows the action of other.  Nothing is all one or the other.  No black or white – only black AND white.  In yoga as in life. Pretty cool.

Wishing you artistic mingling!

Namaste,

Augusta
signaturepic

 
    
 
 
    
 
 

Originally Published January 8, 2011

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather