Like Words Together Reflections from the deep end of Practice.


Too Tired

Today was long. I was up early, had a busy day at the office downtown, my bus was late, arrived home late to discover we were turning around to head out to eat, and then the dinner friends came back to the house for more conversation. Between co-workers and friends it seemed like the day was filled with talking, talking, talking!

I'm enjoying chatting with CK now; reading about the rest of her day, writing, blog sites, and how much unix rocks. AM is watching something on the History channel. I'm just so tired out it is hard to think of writing anything much in depth tonight. Doesn't matter how many interesting things I talked about with both CK and AM today, my brain is just too worn out to put the words together much more than this.


Two Restaurants Today

Today was long. Woke up at 6:15 went into the office, had lunch at Chaat House with CK. This is one of my favorite places to get Indian food in all of Portland. Quite often the two of us order the daily "Big, big, big lunch special" which is rice, dal tarka (most often), a veg curry, and another dish (like aloo saag, aloo channa, etc.) served with naan. It is easily lunch for two and always delicious. Their aloo gobi is wonderful. The channa bhatura is fantastic but I only indulge in that particular fried bread goodness once in a while. I used to say their samosa chaat was second best in town, but since Kumar doesn't make it commercially anymore at India-4-U it the one at Chaat House has taken over this spot.

After lunch I did some coaching, talked with co-workers off an on, then went to catch the bus home. Bus was 20 minutes late and when I got to the house AM let me know that we were going out to dinner with friends to Aladdin's Cafe.

We've not seen these friends in a long while and they also needed some input on an outing they are planning. Since the friends were running a bit late AM and I met them over at the restaurant.

First things first -- there's a post up on Yelp that notes that the fresh pita has dairy in it. I was pretty disappointed when I read this and immediately inquired about it. I was assured, twice that the pita is dairy-free and vegan. That done, I enjoyed dinner very much. Ordered the megadara and have a nice bit of it leftover for lunch tomorrow. Everyone then headed back to the house to talk until nearly 10PM.

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Writing and Thinking About Yoga

I've spent some time tonight writing for my yoga teacher training class. It also aligns with some things CK and I've talked about over the weekend, writing content for a real web presence. I kept things very short for the moment, just summarizing things at a high level to share with two of my fellow students. After we've collaborated on what to present to our whole class on Saturday I'll expand into more detail about Ahimsa and Asteya. I'll eventually write short bits about each of the Yamas and Niyamas.

I didn't make it as far as I would have liked today figuring out a login page. Started building some things, but not 100% it is the best solution. I think I'm going to do some work tomorrow on the older, Perl based tool that needs updating. Will be nice to feel like I'm making some real progress! At times working on this rewrite stuff is fun, at other times it makes me want to find a way to not do development anymore! I ended the day feeling like I should have really worked on the presentation or the metrics report!

After dinner this evening CK worked on a flyer for the yoga class going on for the next few weeks at the Dharma center. MB had sent out an email with many details, the 3 classes will study the six paramitas. Paramitas are considered methods by which we perfect our practice and MB is offering yoga classes around them. I helped by coming up with a few words for the flyer and in doing so came up with an idea I suggested to MB.

I grouped the six paramitas in twos, thinking that's how a class would go. It put shakti and vriya together -- acceptance and effort, peace and courage. I immediately thought of some of the balance, deep and strength poses we use. The way we have to approach those poses with both shakti and vriya in order to not merely endure, but thrive in our practices. MB had asked if I might have some interest in co-teaching some of this short series with her, so I shared my thoughts.

It was nice just hanging out tonight. Watching things with AM in the background, writing things for my teacher training, and helping CK was just a nice way to spend the evening and I enjoyed it very much. For feeling like I didn't get much done at work today, it feels like a good day regardless.

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Football, Sandwiches & Preserves

CK came over this evening and AM made bánh mì sandwiches, which are a real favorite. To make fully veganized ones we use Veganaise (AM likes to add a little Maggi in it to give that tangy bite that fish sauce creates in the non-veg variations). Add slices of tofu seared with mushroom sauce, mung bean sprouts, avocado slices, and pickled veggies (jalapeno & banana peppers, daikon, and carrot). Top the whole thing off with some fresh coriander (cilantro), Thai basil and a squeeze of fresh lime. Hold on with both hands, because if you try to put it down it will explode, and enjoy with friends (because they won't laugh, much, at the mess on your face).

I picked a pocket full of jalapenos from the garden, the one plant that has really produced a lot, and we made Dave's recipe for poppers. We all gathered downstairs to enjoy our delicious, messy sandwiches while watching the football game on DVR. The game wasn't very exciting, except for all the injuries, and the commentators were annoying (as usual).

All the while I worked on my experiment with apple preserves, based on the recipe I read in the NYTimes. Will make some notes on that in the cooking blog after I've tried it and decided what I think. I'm enjoying playing with making my own preserves, that's for sure!

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Yoga Workshops!

The alarm went off at 10 minutes before seven this morning. I'd been anxiety dreams, something about being expected to present in front of a large crowd. When the alarm rang I nearly sat upright with nervous energy before my brain registered that CK running around to turn them off meant it was, indeed Sunday. I had quite a lot of time to snooze before needing to get up.

Eventually, past 9AM I got out of bed and had a shower, some toast with almond butter, and tea. Chatted with CK, who was feeling especially fatigued and decided to stay home instead of going to Sunday yoga. We decided we'd go do something in the afternoon around town, take photographs and hang out. I suggested that while I taught CK decide where we would go. Then I rode on over to the community center and enjoyed teaching the 6 students who arrived.

On the way to my classroom PB, who is one of the teachers and facilitators in the Ecstatic Dance community in Portland, stopped me to talk. She has recently taken over some space over in the Hollywood neighborhood and asked me if I would be interested teaching yoga there! We talked about my schedule being very full at this time, but in the spring might be possible. She also was very interested in hearing me talk about doing workshops for women recovering from trauma as well as classes for the trans and gender queer communities.

I was really touched, moved, and absolutely giddy with the excitement over it. I ended up getting my class going a little late, although people were happy to hear that I might be teaching elsewhere around town. More of that kind of "ah-ha" feeling -- the feeling excited and complimented over this, it is appropriate to take pride in this. It was amazing to have recently been talking about what I want to do and, poof, there it is.



When I got back to the flat after teaching my Sunday yoga class CK had decided we were going to Sauvie Island to explore, maybe pick some berries, and take pictures. The day was warm, sunny and beautiful out. We snacked on the leftover tempeh and I threw together some of the barley, some balasamic vinaigrette CK had made, and fresh veggies so we had a salad. We packed a couple of apples as well as the salad into a bag so we could have a snack lunch later.

Time for a Snack!

We drove around, just enjoying the beauty of the day, and finally decided we'd drive across one end of the island and go to Columbia River beach side. We parked and walked around a pasture for a while, looking at the cows, a couple of snakes, a woolly caterpillar, and lots of birds. It was a lot of fun just to walk along talking. We discussed ideas about working with online writing, which is this wonderful meeting of our technology and creative interests. I really enjoy that CK wants to share this with me too.

Headed back to the little red truck and headed back around the loop we'd selected. We made our way to Columbia Farms where we decided to have our lunch/snack and got an empty half-flat along with directions to the rows of raspberries. After we finished our snack we got to picking berries for about 40 minutes.

I was surprised CK had never done this before. Mom and I would often go to u-pick places and farm stands for produce. She enjoyed that connection back to her childhood in the country as well as the inexpensive aspect. The bees, busy with the flowers and berries still thick on the canes, were a little unnerving to CK, but she gamely picked berries. Each of us stopping to eat a few as we went. Oh, raspberries just picked, still warm from the sun, and the half flat for under $5!

And we're done!

From there we went on to the Pumpkin Patch where we purchased half a dozen different winter squash. We also bought a bag of still warm kettle corn and sat on a bench watching all the birds in the sun flowers, munching and planning a future visit, closer to Halloween. Eventually, half a bag eaten, we made ourselves close up the kettle corn and headed back to Portland.


Teacher Training Break Day!

Today was a break from yoga study since it is JW's birthday. I slept in until 8:30 and stayed in bed until past 9AM, just moving slow. I wasn't as stiff as I feared I'd be after last night's asana practice. I found some of the poses so challenging to my hips, just burning at my sit bones and aching, that I felt my face burning with suppressed tears.

That anxious fear that resides in my first chakra clamors at the times when my back and hips struggle to stay with a particular asana. It is made even more painful because I feel that struggle, the vulnerability of it, the tears springing to my eyes, and I'm surrounded by people so I don't feel safe to sink into the feelings. It was less awful during the hip opening workshop because CK was there when I was crying, so I felt the protective energy of her presence.

I spent the afternoon writing about the concept of Ahimsa for my teacher training. I also did laundry and answered messages. It was a fairly quiet afternoon, which was a nice break and I enjoyed not having to rush around. Went over to CK's flat around 6:15 and made the dinner I'd put together in my head while shopping at the Farmers' Market earlier in the day.

Creating Dinner at the Farmer’s Market

AM and I finally both got up, got dressed and went over to the Hollywood District this morning. I was on a mission to buy produce for us and CK. She was attending WordCampPDX so I had her list of produce to pick up. High on the list were more apples from Kiyokawa Orchards, Romanesco broccoli, greens, beets, broccoli, carrots, and anything else that appealed to me!

It was overcast and chilly out although the forecast called for warmer weather. By 10AM the sun was trying to burn through some of the clouds as I made my way through the people at the market and live polka music filled the air. I quickly stepped into the bustle of the market, exchanged an ATM card swipe for some wooden tokens to shop with, and got out my list.
Dinner for later came together as I purchased beets. The cylindrical type of beet is a little easier to work with for raw slices for salads, or so my bias thinks, so I was attracted to Persephone Farm's stall and the bunches of them, complete with greens. I also selected some beautiful broccoli being set out and two small heads of the Romanesco broccoli. As I stood in line to pay they were setting out lovely Lacinato, or "dinosaur" style kale. Long, sweeping leaves of it and I asked for a bunch. One dinner item down -- kale and beet greens braised in balsamic vinegar.
I selected carrots from a stalls somewhere midway to Kiyokawa's spot. Finally at the apples I got over a dozen Pink Pearls, about 8 Honey Crisp, as well as some Ginger Golds, Tsuguro, and McKintosh varieties. While in line I happily sampled slices other varieties they put out. By the time I weighed everything, for both homes, there were $30 in apples! I was utterly unsurprised and willingly handed over my money. We all wanted lots and I had intentionally bought extra apples to make a recipe for apple preserves I read in the NYTimes.
Picked up the last of the things on CK's list at her favorite vendor. I wish I'd waited to get Romanesco there -- they had enormous, amazing ones. I've never seen any get that large before. I also picked up a Delicata squash there, which finalized dinner for me.
CK and I both love squash so I planned to roast the small Delicata I'd just purchased. That served along with the beet greens & kale and some barley sounded just lovely. I figured I'd ask if she were more interested in vegan sausage or some tempeh and we'd be set.

I love putting together dinner around what looks most appealing at the market.


The Small Mind

Chozen noted toward the end of her talk last night at the Dharma center that the small mind is like a very young child. When it sinks down to those feelings that bring suffering it needs to be picked up and moved to something like metta meditation. She said that the Buddha had taught that the mind either moves towards thoughts that cause us further suffering or those that move us towards happiness. When we pick up the mind as it spirals into fear or anger, turning it instead to something like metta, we are moving the mind purposefully towards happiness.

When we are able to do this we begin to reside in the space of the Big Mind. That place of boundlessness, within the heart of wisdom. Without judgment and able to contain everything. As Patantaji would say, the Essential Self.

There are nights I can't seem to shake the fear, the shame. Times that it is so close and I'll toss and turn, startling awake until dawn. Or rising up when I am struggling, aching in my back & hips in asana practice, and feeling tears springing to my eyes. Very certainly it is my small mind sliding down into an abyss. My skills at recognizing, stopping, and moving my mind are not strong enough. Yet.

I was editing some older posts in this blog and noted the times I've mentioned doing something like metta when I'm feeling anxious. When I've done this, it has worked and pretty well at that. I perhaps didn't drop off into blissful dreams on those nights, but I was able to more peacefully rest. I actually sleep. So, clearly it works.

Like everything else, this is practice. It is the same practice my therapist reminds me of, watching for the overwhelming shame, panic and fear. When I do recognize those things coming up, stopping myself so I can see that the emotions are too much, misplaced. If I add Chozen's direction it is at this point I should strive to do metta. For anyone at all, myself if I can keep focused on it. Just pick up my small mind, with deep compassion, and turn it an activity of the Big Mind, generating loving-kindness.


The Only Truth is the Only Refuge

During the Dharma talk tonight after zazen CB told us that in Zen we take refuge in the very thing that scares us, the truth of impermanence. The very nature of the unsteady ground upon which we stand, which is the very thing our small protective mind is fearful of, is the only truth we have so it is our only refuge.

I found myself smiling when CB said this to us. I've been discussing what the Truth is with someone and just last Thursday. I had said them that I still think the Truth is caught up in the uncertainty thing. Our only constant is change.

This had come t to mind last week as I was preparing to chant the Great Heart of Perfect Wisdom Sutra, reciting some of the chant aloud in the car. My mind and body really feeling the words, "Form itself is emptiness. Emptiness itself form".

Change is in the whole of that. It is because of the constancy of change that form is empty. Everything is in constant change, each moment, at some level therefore, that which we think of as form is empty.

Hearing CB say that this is where we take refuge was like coming around on this same treasure again, in full circle. Especially since change is truly so constant for me right now. The stillness of a home and mostly-certain career, the support of my beloveds, creates the container for the unsteady shifting in my soul. The memories and thoughts that come up, the constant agitation of them. They're able to be there, I'm able to be present (mostly) for them now. The stillness I've found helps me feel more capable.

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