April Fool’s

This has got to be the best April Fool’s prank I have ever seen. Watch it and see if you can keep a dry eye. I dare you.

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On Being Intimate on the Internet

Sherwin Nuland was a clinical professor of surgery at Yale University, where he also taught bioethics and medical history. His books include How We Die, Lost in America, Maimonides, and How We Live: The Wisdom of the Body.

Tim Berners-Lee, the person credited with outlining the principles of the World Wide Web, is widely reported to have said he didn’t expect so many pictures of cats. But reportedly, he also said he didn’t expect people to be so open about personal things on the internet.

I was referring a friend to the work of Sherwin Nuland, when I listened to the opening of his conversation with Krista Tippett of On Being, talking about the death of his grandmother and his celebrated book How We Die.

The more personal you are willing to be and the more intimate you are willing to be about the details of your own life, the more universal you are.

When you recognize that pain and response to pain is a universal thing, it helps explain so many things about others, just as it explains so much about yourself. It teaches you forbearance. It teaches you a moderation in your responses to other people’s behavior. It teaches you a sort of understanding. It essentially tells you what everybody needs. You know what everybody needs? You want to put it in a single word? Everybody needs to be understood. And out of that comes every form of love.

via Transcript: Sherwin Nuland — The Biology of the Spirit | On Being.

This may be counterintuitive, but I think it is true. Today, my church celebrated 20 years as a congregation which has welcomed LGBTQ people. Congregants told their stories, which I think teach us an openness to all lifestyles, ways and forms (with apologies to the Beastie Boys). It teaches about ourselves, the ways in which we need to move, and the forbearance we need to express to ourselves about not moving there quickly enough. Yoga is about change, but it also is about discovering the Truth that is already present.

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A school within a school

I have been following the work of the Karuna School, and had been disappointed that the economy had contributed to their “failure to launch.” But now new life has been breathed into their vision. This is one way in which we begin the transformation of our culture.

Cambridge School of Weston to partner with Karuna School for peace and equity studies (via boston.com)

Lucinda Burk A Karuna School class in motion. By Maggie Quick, Globe Correspondent When Lisa Prajna Hallstrom founded the Karuna School with her husband in 2008, she dreamed of raising funds to build a high school to house the school’s unique peace…


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3 Poses for Neck and Shoulder Pain | Yoga International

Richard Hudak:

I’ve posted this article by Doug Keller over at my teaching blog. I admire Doug Keller’s writing in Yoga Philosophy, which is certainly matched by his writing on yoga anatomy and therapeutics.

Originally posted on Wholehearted Yoga:

Purvottanāsana prep

As many of you know, I sustained a shoulder injury in a fall on campus where I teach. This revealed an earlier shoulder injury. I am an admirer of Doug Keller’s work on yoga anatomy and philosophy. I recommend this article to you for good shoulder health in your personal practice.

Neck and shoulder pain is epidemic in our Web-surfing society, and the typical yoga practice may not cure it. Here are three easy poses to keep you pain-free.

via 3 Poses for Neck and Shoulder Pain | Yoga International.

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Do-Goodyness vs. Doing Good (some thoughts on “white savior” issues in Africa)

Richard Hudak:

I heard the blogger deliver this as a sermon at church. I think it’s a caution to those of us in the yoga community who would do “seva” abroad abstracted from the context of the people we would seek to serve.

Originally posted on Just Another Tree Hugger:

Imagine you are a parent of school age children here in Andover. The state has a budget crisis and stops paying the teachers. Some stay in exchange for food, but the majority of them are gone. But don’t worry, they tell you, we are going to replace the teachers with 19 and 20 year old college students from Switzerland. Some of them are majoring in education, some of them aren’t, but hey, they’re really enthusiastic. These college students will come for 4-8 weeks at a time, and then leave to be replaced by new college students. Even though these eager volunteers have never been to the US before, know little to nothing about our culture, and have little to no teaching experience, we expect you to be thrilled about this and very grateful for their time. These new temporary teachers will take pictures of your children without your permission and…

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The 13th Annual Walk for a New Spring

This gallery contains 16 photos.

Originally posted on The New England Peace Pagoda:
[gallery columns="4" link="file" type="slideshow" ids="1881,1882,1883,1884,1885,1886,1887,1888,1889,1890,1891,1892,1893,1894,1895,1896"] Photos from the 2013 Walk for a New Spring, “Walk for the People, Walk for the Earth” 2014 Common Unity Peace Building & Demilitarization February 21, 2014…

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Metamorphosis and Sadness

I promise a more thorough accounting of my shoulder injury: what happened and what’s wrong. Suffice it to say that yesterday I received some very bad news, and that I appear to be in this for the long haul. I will not be popping handstands, arm balances, urdhva dhanurāsana, or any other poses requiring weight-bearing any time soon.

There are two things that I would share right now, a selection from Thomas Merton’s The Way of Chuang Tzu (New York: New Directions, 1965), and an excerpt from Rilke’s “Letters to a Young Poet.” The former popped into my head when I considered the extravagant mess that is my shoulder, and the latter popped up when I read today’s entry from Joanna Macy and Anita Barrows’s A Year with Rilke (New York: Harper Collins, 2009). Readers will forgive Merton’s somewhat freewheeling interpretation of Chuang Tzu, or Taoism through the lens of Catholic monasticism. It’s what I had available.


Four men got in a discussion. Each one said:
“Who knows how
To have the Void for his head
To have Life as his backbone
And Death for his tail?
He shall be my friend!”

At this they all looked at one another
Saw they agreed,
Burst out laughing
And became friends.

Then one of them fell ill
And another went to see him.
“Great is the Maker,” said the sick one,
“Who has made me as I am!

“I am so doubled up
My guts are over my head;
Upon my navel
I rest my cheek;
My shoulders stand out
Beyond my neck;
My crown is an ulcer
Surveying the sky;
My body is chaos
But my mind is in order.”
He dragged himself to the well,
Saw his reflection, and declared,
“What a mess
He has made of me!”

His friend asked:
“Are you discouraged?”

“Not at all! Why should I be?
If He takes me apart
And makes a rooster
Of my left shoulder
I shall announce the dawn.
If He makes a crossbow
Of my right shoulder
I shall procure roast duck.
If my buttocks turn into wheels
And if my spirit is a horse
I will hitch myself up and ride around
In my own wagon!

“There is a time for putting together
And another time for taking apart.
He who understands
This course of events
Takes each new state
In its proper time
With neither sorrow nor joy.
The ancients said: ‘The hanged man
Cannot cut himself down.’
But in due time Nature is stronger
Than all is ropes and bonds.
It was always so.
Where is there a reason
To be discouraged?”
[vi. 9.] (62-64)

I will confess that I am taking this new state with sorrow, however, though finding pockets of joy in the support of friends and teachers. Seeking solace in Rilke, I was quite surprised to find something more, and entirely appropriate:


To Trust Our Sadness

Consider whether great changes have not happened deep inside your being in times when you were sad. The only sadnesses that are unhealthy and dangerous are those we carry around in public in order to drown them out. Like illnesses that are treated superficially, they only recede for a while and then break out more severely. Untreated they gather strength inside us and become the rejected, lost, and unlived life that we may die of. If only we could see a little farther than our knowledge reaches and a little beyond the borders of our intuition, we might perhaps bear our sorrows more trustingly than we do our joys.

For they are the moments when something new enters us, something unknown. Our feelings grow mute in shy embarrassment, they take a step back, a stillness arises, and the new thing, which no one knows, stands in the midst of it all and says nothing.

Borgeby gärd, Sweden, August 12, 1904
Letters to a Young Poet”

Excerpt From: Joanna Macy and Anita Barrows. “A Year with Rilke.” iBooks. https://itun.es/us/azUFv.l

At the center of each passage, however, is the ineffable, the Great Mystery. For that is what I find at the center of my experience thus far. May I keep this at the center of my experience, to learn from, and thus to teach it. For now, I’m off to procure roast duck.

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All differences in this world are a mirage because oneness is the secret of everything

Richard Hudak:

This view is characteristic of Advaita Vedanta, and it is an interesting and appealing view. The view of non-dual Tantra, however, is that ultimate reality is both One and Many. In this view, the great diversity of the Many is also quite real, and key to the One’s understanding of Itself. In other words, I find it true to argue our fundamental unity, and beautiful to apprehend our great diversity.

Originally posted on Spiritbath:

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O is for Othering

Richard Hudak:

Reading “6 Reasons You Should Stop Obsessing Over Alignment in Yoga Class,” makes me think I should write “6 Reasons You Should Stop Othering in Yoga Writing.” My training is in an alignment-based yoga practice, and I was taught to value and learn from a multiplicity of styles. I do not understand this rush to identify one’s own as “the real yoga.” There are many different views within yoga, and I do not understand how any of them are served by tearing down “the other(s).”

Originally posted on An A-Z of ELT:

‘Othering’ is the way members of one social group distance themselves from, or assert themselves over, another by construing the latter as being fundamentally different (the ‘Other’).  It is a term that is associated with discourses of colonialism, and, in particular, with the work of Edward Said. In his influential book Orientalism , (1995: 332) Said wrote:

‘The development and maintenance of every culture requires the existence of another different and competing alter ego.  The construction of identity… whether Orient or Occident, France or Britain… involves establishing opposites and otherness whose actuality is always subject to the continuous interpretation and reinterpretation of their differences from us‘.

Patterns of written discourse (after Kaplan 1966) Click to enlarge

A discussion of otherness arose last week in my MA TESOL discourse analysis class. One of the students had posted this diagram from Kaplan’s (1966) seminal study of different, culturally-determined, styles of expository writing. According to Kaplan, text production is influenced by…

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Inner Wisdom

Jardin visité
Last Monday, February 3, I sustained a shoulder injury that restricts my range of motion, certainly in my yoga practice, but also in my everyday life. I have more to say about how that happened, and what I am learning from it. But suffice it to say that one receives a lot of advice when something like this happens. Some advice may be sought, while other advice may be unsolicited. Some of it may be helpful, and some may be annoying. I am experiencing the full range. Apart from any stable fields of reference, such as the disciplines of science/medicine or the yogic arts, how are we truly to evaluate such advice? I found this little gem in A Year with Rilke that may provide a clue.


In the Asylum Garden

The abandoned cloister still encloses the courtyard
as if it were holy.
It remains a retreat from the world
For those who live there now.

Whatever could happen has already happened.
Now they are glad to walk the trusted paths
that draw them apart and bring them back together,
so simple and willing.

Some, on their knees beside the planted beds,
are absorbed by what they are tending.
When no one can see, there is
a secret little gesture they make.
To touch the tender early grass,
shyly to caress it.
The green is friendly and needs protection
from the rose whose red can be too fierce

and can overpower once again
what they know in their hearts to be true.
Still the inner knowledge is always there:
how good the grass is and how soft.

New Poems

Excerpt From: Joanna Macy and Anita Barrows. “A Year with Rilke.” iBooks. https://itun.es/us/azUFv.l

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