Yesterday started out with a great class from Janet Stone - we focused on creating a sacred fire in the altar of our own being, so that we could do "Svaha" - what I would call 'propitiation by fire'. Burning up, offering into the flames, all of that within us. That which works and serves, in honor and glory; that which limits and binds, in respect and reverence.
Really a great practice - but to be honest, I'm so glad to have left my ego at the door years ago, because I practiced that Warrior Four throughout the practice. Let's be clear; I'm not in the world where I can do three, 90-minute vigourous flow classes a day anymore - especially when I'm more than a mile high. And, then add to that, lots of action during the day, and great music at night. The dancing alone is often it's own 'asana practice' and it gets right into all the same muscles and joints.
It feels great, it also leaves me beat!! So, after a great Svaha experience, we just chilled for some lunch, and then I treated myself to a too-expensive birthday massage. That was great and worth it; excellent therapist, and just some straight-up deep tissue work. I was surprised to be complimented on being a pleasure to massage - my breath and energy and acceptance of her work was noteworthy according to her. She confided in me I was the third yogi she'd massaged this week and she basically just wanted to shift her focus to our community because she said we 'get it'! That was nice.
Then, I headed out to a '101' class - about all I could take... Like I said, Janet Stone is my new yoga crush, and Jody, her primary assistant is a really solid, deeply caring and lovely human as well. When I get that vibe, I dive in. Thus, when I figured out that Janet would be leading Chanting 101, I was in. She's a great and ecstatic chanter who really wants to share that experience. And, to be frank, it's an area of interest to me that I've hesitated to explore. Ironically, or purposefully, the "Bhagat Singh" of my spiritual name means something akin to 'the lion who sings love songs/devotional songs of praise', so it would appear I'm supposed to chant.
Janet is able to discuss the mythology, the Pantheon and the intracacies of myth in a way that really works - it's fun and authentic and able to be assimilated, and theres' qualities of hip-hop and Beastie Boys references, so it works for me! Then, there is deep, devotional, face-cracking-into-a-blissed-out smiling ecstasy. Really well done.
My favorite part was where she got us all into a nice call and response, and then once we were in it, she threw in the 'duck, duck, goose' element, where Jody came around and would wait for the call, then on the response, touch your head and you did the next call - solo!!
Sure, terrifying, exhilarating, challenging and beautiful. Now, I've got a big personality, and when I chant along, I boom! And, I'd been playing and funning and enjoying connecting with Janet and Jody, so i knew my head was gonna get that tap.
It was a really great experience, to just process it, but stay in the moment... to not NOT show up, but to also not perform. It was such a grace and a boon to hear so many of my brothers and sisters find their own voice and to have a community of 'callers' who were then supportive 'responders' as that wheel spun and spun. In the words of the Kundalini tradition - Wahe Guru! You can think of that as "I praise the teacher and teachings" or just go with "WOW - Groovy!" Both work!
Then, a little mendhi - the henna tattooing. I got a lovely hand mandala done, while enjoying a conversation with a lovely Aussie - oh, a little sidebar on meeting folks... I love playing in languages, and I'm at that dangerous point where I can play a little in a few. Thus far, I've used my 4 sentences of Mandarin; the massage therapist, Vladmira and I did all of our niceties in Ruski, I did almost a mini lunch exchange with Yolande, en Francais.
Best of all, after coming out of the grocery the other night, I found 3 Israelis eating something that the one guy kept saying was "Ta'ami" or 'It's tasty to me!". So, I walked right up, dropped the Hebrew, asked them what's up and what they're eating. After they picked their jaws up, we had a lovely conversation and they gave me half of one of those brownies and, it was tasty to me! Love Canada for the real melting pot/tossed salad culture, where the diversity is present, so it doesn't need to be artificially celebrated.
After my mendhi, I watched Kumare, which if you are in our community, I believe is a deeply 'must see' film. Vik Ghandi, the filmmaker and Kumare himself, was there for a Q&A, and I was delighted by how 'gentle-spirited' this guy was. Check out the film when you can, but know, it's not mean-spiritied or mocking like Borat or Bill Maher, it's a really exploration on a pertinent topic. And, well done.
Dinner, and again, let me love Canada. Even the big ole bartenders in the tourist places here a nice guys; genuine, they learn your name and give you theirs, they play and joke and are total professionals. If you've been to Canada, you might have noticed. I'll put it this way: most 'service' in the US is based on learning an adopted attitude and taking on a persona "how may I help you today?" when you would never hear them talk to a friend or family member that way. Here, they are genuine and helpful and engaged, and it's a real pleasure. Granted, my sample is small, but it's been universal. Completely refreshing.
A little Spearhead, then the fantastic stylings and experience of Quixotic, and the Thievery Corporation awoke from their nap and delivered!
About 1am, you realize you've been up and flowing and chanting and enjoying folks and dancing like a deadhead for about 20 hours, so I packed it in.
First day of my 47th went well; nice kick-off to the year. Going back to get "Stoned to my Soul" - my term I've adopted, with Janet and friends this morning; also need my last dose of DJ Drez - thanks and praise my brother and I have discovered one-another - and then we head down off the mountain.
Happy Happy, Joy Joy - it's right there, so wake up and grab it. Be well, breathe deeply, flow in your own way, and make connections. Make joyful noises, or pray silently - just commune!
Give thanks and praise!