Cultivating Ambiversion


Richard Hudak:

From the archives, for this unseasonably warm late spring afternoon.

Originally posted on The Considered Kula:

Today I was tooling around on LinkedIn.com for reasons related to my teaching job. Its LinkedIn Today news service featured this typically vacation–inspired reflection from FastCompany on the value of being quiet.

Sometimes we forget that the most productive people in an organization aren’t the ones who make the most noise. In fact, it’s often the quiet ones who out-produce everyone else.

Here are some reasons I think this is so.

Being quiet strengthens focus. It’s hard to focus on the task at hand when you yourself are making so much noise. The other team, who participated in the clamming wars, never took their eye off the prize. Our team, on the other hand, did a happy dance in the sand every time we hit pay dirt. In retrospect, this was probably valuable time wasted.

Being quiet calms others. Quiet people have the ability to calm those around them. For…

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21-Day Spring Cleanse and Sugar Detox | Wild Open Heart Charlotte Clews


Richard Hudak:

For any of you stalwart readers of my longer musings here who don’t also follow my yoga teaching blog, here is the announcement for Charlotte Clews’s Spring Cleanse. This is the bomb diggity. Get on it. I’ll see you there.

Originally posted on Wholehearted Yoga:

21–Day Spring Cleanse and Sugar Detox with Charlotte Clews

Oh yes, this is the e-mail I’ve been waiting for. Sign me up!

This cleanse is dedicated to helping you head into the Winter feeling nourished and resilient. The goal is to eat whole-food meals with little or no snacks in between so as to balance your blood sugar, rest your digestion and reset your taste buds. Resting and cleansing your digestive system will help you clear allergies, constipation and skin issues and will help strengthen your immune system so you are less prone to summer allergies and rashes.

This is not a depletion cleanse, we will not be juice fasting or focusing on weight loss.However you can expect to loose some weight simply by clearing out winter’s digestive and cellular waste.

A Spring cleanse is like a good chimney sweep. It makes for a good clear draft and lessens your chance of a chimney fire.

Pre-Register by March 16 and save $25!

via 21-Day Spring Cleanse and…

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Gratitude for health


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Today I filled out some paperwork for my left rotator cuff repair surgery upcoming next week. Answering “no” to a long list of medical conditions and medications, I feel really grateful for clean living. This is the result of thirty years of eating well, nine years of yoga, and about five years of a renewed understanding of healthy eating and other daily practices. A mindful life that is truly thoroughgoing has its rewards.

I am not feeling superior, gloating, or patting myself on the back. It’s truly a “there but for Grace go I” moment. I feel lucky. What’s more, I often consider my efforts imperfect. Yet here is a clear difference. Even the smallest shifts, with which we may well struggle, have tremendous benefit. This is not a unique experience. Other yogis to whom I have spoken also report similar things.

How much more true could this be for the intangible benefits of practice, all of those subtle ways in which our behavior changes and we become different people? Are we more resilient as a result? I think the answer is yes, and that we need to look more deeply into this as well.

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Happy Birthday, Thomas Merton!


I can’t let yesterday, the 100th anniversary of the birth of Thomas Merton, pass unremarked. He was, after all, probably the first mystic whose words I had encountered, an many of his words still resonate.

This morning, the sunrise inspired me to reblog a post featuring the song “Praise Song for a New Day,” which appears on the album Zero Church by Maggy and Suzzy Roche. Read more about that project here.

But it also inspired me to turn to Thomas Merton: A Book of Hours (2007), compiled by Kathleen Deignan, whom I had met at Iona College while I was a student at Manhattan College. In his journals, Merton often mentions his breviary, a compilation of the Catholic liturgies, including the Liturgy of the Hours. Monks would pray this liturgy at appointed times of the day. What I find relevant, and revelatory today is the “Closing Prayer” for “Sunday–Dawn,” (it being Sunday morning, after all) which Deignan draws from Merton’s book Turning Toward the World. I love this notion, because in his own biography, Merton descended the mountain of transcendent spiritual experience toward the very gritty problems of the world, which up until his death had been very salient in his writings: racism, war, and other forms of injustice. For that is where we live, “in the world,” yet contemplation can infuse our approach to the world. That is what is so appealing to me about Tantra, a householder practice.

With my hair almost on end and the eyes of the soul wide open I am present
without knowing it all, in this unspeakable Paradise,
and I behold this secret,
this wide open secret which is there for everyone, free,
and no one pays any attention.

O paradise of simplicity, self–awareness—
and self–forgetfulness—liberty, peace.

“Closing Prayer, Sunday—Dawn,” Kathleen Deignan (Notre Dame, IN: Sorin Books, 2007) Thomas Merton: A Book of Hours

Other posts on Thomas Merton.

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Wholehearted Devotion


Richard Hudak:

From the archives: this song entered my head this morning, and I thought I had written about it somewhere online. Here it is.

Originally posted on The Considered Kula:

If man [sic] cannot pray he is gagged; if he cannot kneel he is in irons.
G.K. Chesterton, The Everlasting Man via GK Chesterton Society of Ireland: On Kneeling.

Among the many gifts of this practice has been Dina Charya, alignment with the Ayurvedic ideas about the “daily rhythm,” including rising early, and as indicated for my constitution, physical activity, which for me has been the morning walk. I’m reminded of this gift upon rising. As I consider this crisis in Anusara yoga, I am reminded of the fifth niyama of Patanaji’s Yoga Sutras, Isvara Pranidhana, translated tantrically as “wholehearted devotion to the divine” (many thanks to my teacher, Sara Davidson Flanders

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Special to YJ: Yoga Alliance’s Position on Government-Regulated Yoga


This is an interesting development. I know there are some teachers for whom the idea of a professional association for yoga is anathema. But if they are seeking public advocacy in the interests of teachers, then that’s one reason it is worthwhile to support, and attempt to direct a professional association. Maybe Yoga Alliance is maturing.

In recent months, Yoga Alliance has learned that state agencies regulating occupational education programs in Arkansas and Colorado are attempting to impose burdensome and costly new requirements on yoga teacher training (YTT) programs operating in those states. As the largest nonprofit trade association representing the yoga community in the U.S., we have mobilized to combat these unnecessary and onerous regulations.

via Special to YJ: Yoga Alliance’s Position on Government-Regulated Yoga.

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The War That No Yoga Teacher Can Run From — A Fightingly Happy New Year To All


So I said a thing. Or two. Matthew Remski wrote this wonderful piece for Yoga Dork on yoga’s response to the destruction of the planet, or as Bill McKibben wrote, The End of Nature. In responding, I unintentionally released some pent up ideas that I have long wanted to develop, refine and substantiate. Consider this the prospectus, or at least “brain–dump.” I’ll work with this some more.

Thank you for this insightful and provocative contribution.

“Success goes to the unruly,” as William Gamson wrote in “The Strategy of Social Protest” (1990; 1975). Empirically we know, then, that social movements succeed which disturb the good order of exploitative systems. Let’s call this disruption “contentious politics,” following the usage of Charles Tilly and others. Peace movements, incidentally, have this dilemma of being contentious for peace. Yogis, therefore, are not alone in facing this dilemma. It’s no wonder that Mandela had an intimate knowledge of the Gita and was reported to have carried a copy.

The second dilemma pertains to the relationship between personal and social change. In my doctoral dissertation I argued, albeit somewhat obliquely, that the growth of movements for personal change could be, as Gusfield argued, attended by the “demobilization” of movements for social change. In particular by redefining problems caused by oppressive systems as somehow related to a disease, I argued Twelve Step movements could make individuals “biographically unavailable” to support or participate in movements for social change. But if this were true, then it was important to consider the dynamics of movements for personal change alongside of, rather than apart from those of “challenging groups.” At the time I was writing there was a distinct trend away from this inclusive approach, mainly because earlier social movement theorizing argued for the “irrationality” of protestors. Theorists of the 1970s and 1980s sought to emphasize the rationality of protestors, for they themselves had been participants in civil rights, student, anti–war, and feminist movements.

Further, that personal and social change could be inextricably linked through a “radical unity” was advanced by the liberation theologian Gustavo Guttierez. While we might not harmonize with his soteriology, I think it’s worth exploring that basic premise.

Lastly, I want to suggest that the current trend in the literature is toward “the emotional turn” in social movement theorizing. Here emotions are cast as “collective,” evocative of John Lofland’s earlier writing on “crowd joys.” More importantly, emotions are thought to connect the inner and outer worlds. For that is here where the true disconnect lies, between the very finely cultivated inner worlds against and relying upon a backdrop of civilization in collapse. Particularly as modern postural yoga derives from the Tantrikas, who incidentally, have given us some conceptualizing around working with emotions, I think it is perfectly reasonable to portend the development of “liberation yogis.” To the challenge of overcoming Western materialism, I would most emphatically add overcoming American individualism.

via The War That No Yoga Teacher Can Run From — A Fightingly Happy New Year To All.

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Is depression a kind of allergic reaction? | Life and style | The Guardian


The good news is that the few clinical trials done so far have found that adding anti-inflammatory medicines to antidepressants not only improves symptoms, it also increases the proportion of people who respond to treatment, although more trials will be needed to confirm this. There is also some evidence that omega 3 and curcumin, an extract of the spice turmeric, might have similar effects. Both are available over the counter and might be worth a try, although as an add-on to any prescribed treatment – there’s definitely not enough evidence to use them as a replacement.

via Is depression a kind of allergic reaction? | Life and style | The Guardian.

People in my life have struggled with depression. Let me put that out there. But that’s not really my story. I’m respecting their stories more than minimizing them to move on to my own experience. In retrospect, there have been times in my life, for example, of career change, even welcome change, when I have been laid up on the couch being inexplicably weepy. I even had a bout with traumatic stress after a car accident. Again, inexplicably weepy, and almost to fisticuffs with a fellow sporting a Bluetooth headset who cut me off in a line at Whole Foods. That’s not at all me.

I’ve written a little bit, and not enough yet, about my experience last year of my shoulder injury and rotator cuff repair. One of the things I did to prepare for that was six weeks of an anti–inflammatory diet, under the direction of Charlotte Clews, an Ayurvedic practitioner with whom I have done the past few seasonal cleanses. I also have experienced the healing properties of turmeric root, which is a household cure–all in India.

Therefore it completely invigorates my imagination to have heard about this while working and listening to Carolyn Morell on 92.5 the River this afternoon. (I not only like the songs she played, but I attended to the news items as well.)

Diet and exercise are important. Add some consciousness to both, and I think you have a potent mix. Rather than continue the knee–jerk response to prescribe and take powerful and costly drugs that have undesirable side effects, is there any harm in counseling lifestyle changes?

I’m a science guy. August Comte, who coined the term “sociology,” thought it should be the “queen of the sciences.” But allopathic medicine is only one way of being science, as is psychopharmacology. David Karp’s book Is It Me Or My Meds? suggests that this approach is at least “complex.” Let’s commit to add some simplicity.

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International Day of Yoga


Originally posted on Wholehearted Yoga:

Mark your calendars!

UN Approves an International Day of Yoga
UNITED NATIONS — Dec 11, 2014, 12:56 PM ET

The world now has an International Day of Yoga.

The U.N. General Assembly on Thursday approved a resolution proclaiming June 21 as that day.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi called for a day dedicated to yoga during his speech to the world body’s annual assembly of world leaders in September.

Modi has said that yoga can help tackle world problems including climate change.

The U.N. already has 118 awareness-raising days of observance.

via UN Approves an International Day of Yoga – ABC News.

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Broadway unites to protest police violence and honor Eric Garner


Richard Hudak:

Welcome to the civil rights movement, continued.

Originally posted on theGrio:

Broadway stars, directors, producers, musicians, choreographers, designers and technicians from some of the most prominent productions gathered in front of the police station in Times Square on Tuesday. They wanted to send a message about police violence and the killing of Eric Garner.

In the YouTube video 100 people wearing black T-shirts harmonized in a solemn hum while poet Daniel J. Watts recited a fiery poem entitled I Can’t Breathe — a reference to Garner’s fateful encounter with police.

On July 17th, Garner, a 43-year-old Staten Island man was confronted by police for allegedly selling untaxed cigarettes. The police tried to handcuff Garner but when he refused they placed him in a chokehold. The incident was captured by an onlooker’s cell phone camera. The father of six can be heard telling police repeatedly that he could not breathe. However, the police officers ignored his plea. Garner died on the scene.

The incident has…

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