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June 15, 2017

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Om Mani Padme Hum: Getting to the Other Side of Darkness

April 17, 2015
What does “Om Mani Padme Hum” mean and why is it so special to me?
I first remember hearing the saying In a song. I can hear it now as I write this. So peaceful and soothing. Jason had just graduated from Integral Yoga institute and had that special excitement new teachers get when it comes to exploring the many limbs/focal points of yoga. He had been exploring some great music for teaching yoga class and played me this song. To hear such a nice song and then to learn the meaning behind the words was so nice. The meaning: May the jewel of the lotus rise up from the muck.
We all feel the muck sometimes so it’s good to know we can all relate to each other as human beings as we all go through the different stages and phases of life. Flash forward several years. My husband and I have been teaching for some time now and have added many trainings to our skill set. Jason experienced a Thai Yoga Massage workshop and said to me “You have to do this! It’s so awesome,” it’s like a combination of hands on release combined with yoga stretches and Tai Chi movements. It was amazing. And I did go on the do the training part one in New York’s Integral Yoga and part two at Integral Yoga in Vancouver. I had the pleasure and privilege to study with Kam Thye Chow the creator of the Lotus Palm style of Thai Yoga Massage. I think of Kam Thye as well in relation the Om Mani Padme Hum because it is what I remember as one of the foundations that he taught. I stayed at the IYI in Vancouver while I was there. The studio was recently renovated due to a fire and there were no other occupants at the time so I had the place to myself. Odd feeling. It was almost like I had stayed in the bookstore too long and now had to stay overnight, although staying there was the plan. There was a sleeping area, so it wasn’t just me and the books and the hard floor. A day or two into the week long training I got very sick. It was Kam Thye who brought me food. I remember being so grateful. Also, when feeling a bit better he encouraged me to go to the jazz festival that was going on at the time. I did go upon his advice, and although I didn’t feel 100%, going to the festival did lift my spirits. Unfortunately since I was staying at the training site and had gotten so sick, I noticed my colleagues slowly, one by one catching what I had. Nothing really serious, just about the worst uncomfortable cold I can remember. So we all got it, and by the end of the training rose out of the muck of our bad colds with the jewel of our many new skills as Thai Yoga Massage practitioners.
Flash forward about ten years. Jason and I are now married with a 4 and 7 year old, and have entered the world of parenthood. We went on a very rare night out to what can be thought of as a yogis rock concert complete with tee shirts and souvenirs and books to buy. It was at the Beacon theater. We got to see Thich Nhat Hanh speak. The theme was “No Mud, no. Lotus” I loved the talk he gave that night and was so excited about it I couldn’t stop talking about it. I wanted to share some of what I learned with our kids. I was astounded at the comment from Mikaela my then 4 year old as she reckoned with the concepts we shared. I explained to her that without the mud, there could be no beautiful lotus flower. She took it one step further as she said in her little sweet baby girl voice (I can hear it now) ” It’s okay if there is no mud. It’s okay if there is no lotus” it still makes me smile to think of it. As parents we have had many mud/lotus moments and with a now “tween” are embarking on what will be, I am sure, a wondrous although challenging adventure we wouldn’t trade for the world.
With all of the trials and tribulations that life has to bring, it helps me in those dark moments to remember that without the dark there could be no light. Life inevitably comes with it’s up and downs. It could be useful to know what specific things could help you in a life crisis, is it your faith, your community and family support structure or your mantra? While you are in a clear clam space, think about what could inspire you in a moment of real life challenge it just may help bring you to the other side.

Re-molding the Clay

January 7, 2015

green_swirl_on_clear

I have a memory of playing with play dough as a kid. That exciting moment when you get a new batch of brand new colors, all vibrant and new. then you make your amazing creation, maybe it is a race car or a forest of evergreens. you get swept up in the creation of it all and it feels great. Than comes time to clean up and you realize that the colors cannot be separated. there is a moment of sadness that you cannot put put things pack as they were, but then you realize you have now created a whole new one of a kind mix that is very special in its own right.

Time does this. It changes things. You might not realize it as it is happening, but sometimes we end up with something that is more amazing and creative and surprising than we could have ever planned. It can be helpful from time to time to re-evaluate what is happening in our life and check in to see if there is anything we would want to do differently. Recently I had the opportunity to join a blogging community and one of the tasks was to write or re-write our bio. This seemed like a great time to check in and see. Here is the bio I had posted a few years ago on my wordpress site:

Frances Taylor-Brown is a Movement Professional/Educator and Mother of two amazing wonderful children. She is co-owner of Zenyasa Yoga and Wellness Studio, where she and her husband Jason Brown continue to explore the wonders of the human body through Yoga, Anatomy workshops and classes.

Interestingly enough, I am pretty happy with my description and would like to continue on the path that is laid out for me. Yes, I might add a few things, Pilates, a Wisdom series for kids based on my own experience working with children, but for the most part, I am very content with my description. Although the day to day dealings of my life can be very chaotic and mixed up at times, I am grateful for those experiences and wouldn’t change a thing, as they shape my character day by day into a unique mix of all the things that make me who I am today.

The New Year is a great time to re-evaluate what is happening in your life. You may realize you would really like a change or you may find that you are liking the course you are on.

Now is the time to take another look at what we are doing, who we are, and what we want for our life. Ready? Set. Go!


Creating the Conditions

April 25, 2012

By Frances Taylor Brown

    
a small boy, a good dog and a scooter
a small boy, a good dog and a scoote

Walking home to the train the other day I saw something so cute, I had to double back to see it again. A mom with two boys, each on their scooters, the eldest right near mom, and the youngest being pulled by his good old dog Charlie. What a sight! I was mesmerized to see exactly how this worked. The dog happened to be pretty old and a VERY good listener. For every few steps, the boy was pulled in a gleeful swoosh of movement, the leash came out of the boys hand and good old Charlie would wait patiently for the boy to pick up the leash again. The mom would give directions… ” Wait Charlie … good dog … okay go … Wait Charlie … goooood dog … okay go now.”. This happened several times, and every time good old Charlie would wait patiently for his chariot driver to again pick up the reins. I can only imagine if things were a little different how this scenario could look. I’ve seen a few adults walking pretty big excited dogs and really struggling to avoid lurching forward even on foot. And somehow a spry excited chihuahua puppy trying to pull a six foot four businessman on a skateboard wouldn’t have been so sweet and perfect as this.  Ahhh amazing what the perfect combination of a small boy, a good dog and a scooter can allow. This is a situation that had to have those exact conditions all in line in order for it to work. And let’s not forget a lot of patience to allow for it to happen on the mom’s part. Sometimes things just fall into line and work out amazingly like this. Other times we can create the conditions for things to happen and then patiently wait to see the results. If we never try, then it shouldn’t be a surprise to see no results. If there is something you are longing for in your heart of hearts, learning another language, or how to play the guitar, or  or getting your desktop organized so you can think straight, notice if you are taking action to make it happen. Imagine longing to be on the other side of a river and choosing to stand on one side praying for the other shore to come to you. This won’t get you to the other side! You have to get in a boat and row! As Georg Fuerstein says, “There is a difference between thinking about rowing a boat and actually rowing it.” Create the conditions for what you want in your life and patiently wait to see what unfolds.


I Know Why the Audience is In The Dark

March 9, 2012

By Frances Taylor Brown

    
On the 10 o'clock train home from the Ashley Davis concert
On the 10 o’clock train home from the Ashley Davis concert

Walking in to Joe’s Pub late for the show after a long train ride and some searching for the number of the unfamiliar building … 460, 417, ahh…425,  I follow the waitress to a small table just to the right of the stage.  The show is in progress. I smile apologetically to the woman singing on stage … sorry I am late, but so grateful to be there for the event. She smiles back.
What a wonderful gift, the etherial sound of her voice. Ashley Davis is debuting her new album (I am dating myself, but I still think of CD’s as albums) “Songs of the Celtic Winter”. Her mother has been one of my regular students for a long time and introduced me to her daughters music as it was similar to some music I had played regularly in class by a wonderful Yogi/Musician named Michael Hewitt. “I know why the audience is in the dark” I think to myself as she plays a beautiful song and tears run down my face. I don’t wipe them thinking it will be less obvious to those around me. I wonder how many other people in the audience are crying too. I imagine it could be many. That’s what we’re here for, isn’t it? Along side generally being entertained, we’re here to be moved … to feel our emotions. Once in a while singing the blues just makes us feel better. Knowing that someone else out there and has sung the same song in their heart gives us comfort. Music has a wonderful way of allowing us to process our feelings and letting us know we are not alone in the process.  I heard a quote yesterday in yoga class by Maya Angelou that said, “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” I want to share this with my kids. The picture above was taken at about 10 o’clock on my way home. I was surprised to see a mom and her boy at that hour on the train apparently doing homework. I thought about how the academic focus for our kids misses so much of what they need to know in life that will serve them in their process. How to process their own feelings, and how they treat people and how to hold their own if others don’t treat them with dignity and respect that all humans deserve, how to stand up to them, and when life throws you a curve ball,  how to grieve and then move past the sadness to the other side.  Most of all I want for my kids to know that they are not alone as they go through it all, that they have a community that has been through it before them, and they have the support of not having it all by themselves . Thank you, thank you, musicians of the world for helping us to connect to our feelings , and allowing the space and time to feel and move through them. And especially for letting us know that in times of trouble, we are not the only ones singing the blues.


Atomicus Revisited

February 13, 2012

By Frances Taylor Brown

    
Philippe Halsman Atomicus
Phiippe Halsman Atomicus

I was lucky enough to have in my class just the other day, a very special student with a very special story. Irene is Philippe Halsman’s daughter. We got into a conversation after class, and she happened to have some postcards of his photographs on hand. I have been intrigued by his images for years, and never knew much about his story. It was great to hear it first hand and also to get some of the intricate details about some of the goings on in the photographs. Philippe Halsman and Salvador Dali were great friends and you can see many pictures with Dali as one of the subjects. This photograph was inspired by one of Dali’s Paintings shown suspended on the right behind two of the cats in mid air. It was shot live before the time of digital and computer techno-tricks. The process of getting this REAL PHOTOGRAPH is said to have taken 28 attempts and over five hours. Halsman would count, & on “four”, Salvador Dali would leap in the air, three assistants would throw cats. one other assistant would chuck the bucket of water, and Halsman’s wife would hold the chair as Halsman took the picture. I love the illusion he has created here in “Atomicus” and admire the vision and “stick-to-it-ness” that it took to create such an amazing image. I’ll leave you with a quote from Salvador Dali, “One day it will have to be officially admitted that what we have christened reailty is an even greater illusion than the world of dreams.”

 


WHAT DOES YOUR SIGN SAY?

January 18, 2012

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