Aimless Love

a-boat-on-the-lakeshore

AIMLESS LOVE

This morning as I walked along the lakeshore,
I fell in love with a wren
and later in the day with a mouse
the cat had dropped under the dining room table.

In the shadows of an autumn evening,
I fell for a seamstress
still at her machine in the tailor’s window,
and later for a bowl of broth,
steam rising like smoke from a naval battle.

This is the best kind of love, I thought,
without recompense, without gifts,
or unkind words, without suspicion,
or silence on the telephone.

The love of the chestnut,
the jazz cap and one hand on the wheel.

No lust, no slam of the door –
the love of the miniature orange tree,
the clean white shirt, the hot evening shower,
the highway that cuts across Florida.

No waiting, no huffiness, or rancor –
just a twinge every now and then

for the wren who had built her nest
on a low branch overhanging the water
and for the dead mouse,
still dressed in its light brown suit.

But my heart is always propped up
in a field on its tripod,
ready for the next arrow.

After I carried the mouse by the tail
to a pile of leaves in the woods,
I found myself standing at the bathroom sink
gazing down affectionately at the soap,

so patient and soluble,
so at home in its pale green soap dish.
I could feel myself falling again
as I felt its turning in my wet hands
and caught the scent of lavender and stone.

~ Billy Collins ~

(Nine Horses)

2016-10-15T01:45:12+00:00 July 30th, 2015|Tags: , |Comments Off on Aimless Love

How to develop your own spiritual path

11.indiasmiling-e1438029895596
Namaste and greetings of peace.

The San Francisco Integral Yoga Institute (IYI) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to practicing and sharing the classical teachings of Yoga as taught by Sri Swami Satchidananda. We strive to live in peace and to promote harmony among all people.

The teachings of Yoga inspire us to cultivate a healthy life-style and habits that lead to spiritual growth. This effort is easier and more enjoyable when done in a community of like-minded people and we invite you to join our family of Institute residents, teachers and students.

Each person’s path will be unique; we encourage you to explore our varied offerings, which range from the physical practices of Hatha yoga, to meditation, karma yoga (selfless service), and the study of sacred texts. Experienced teachers and guides are available for all facets of yogic practice.

Here are some suggestions and programs we offer to help students progress in their yoga practice, incorporate Yoga into their daily lives and develop their personal spiritual path.
<ul>
<li>Attend class at least twice a week. Our classes combine yogic asana, pranayama, relaxation, and meditation. Work exchange and discounts are available, and one-on-one instruction is available on a sliding scale.</li>
<li>Develop a regular home practice, even 10 minutes a day of asana, pranayama and meditation.</li>
<li>Read from spiritual books to inspire and reinforce your practice.</li>
<li>Meet with a senior teacher for guidance and to address challenges. Ask at the reception desk to make arrangements.</li>
<li>Attend a meditation workshop to begin or refine your practice, and/or attend free daily group meditation sessions at the Institute. Refer to our monthly calendar for details.</li>
<li>Attend Satsang (by donation), on the first and third Saturdays of each month, to gather with others and discuss the Yoga teachings.</li>
<li>Explore devotional practices such as Kirtan (chanting with music) and Pujas (devotional services).</li>
<li>Join our work exchange program to offer service in exchange for free classes. Help is always welcome.</li>
<li>Join our community for lunch on Mondays and Thursdays at 12:45pm to get to know fellow yogis and enjoy nutritious meals ($8).</li>
<li>Attend one of our monthly workshops that focus on specific Yoga practices and teachings.</li>
<li>Enroll in our Teacher Training program beginning each Spring and Fall for a deep study and thorough immersion in the full spectrum of Yoga teaching and practice,.</li>
<li>Teachers have the option to explore many trainings offered throughout each year to support their growth over time.</li>
</ul>
Please ask for any further information at the reception desk or refer to our website integralyogasf.org.

We are here to serve and share; please let us know if there are any other ways we can support you in your Yoga practice.
Om Shanti. Om Peace.

2016-10-15T01:45:12+00:00 July 27th, 2015|Tags: , |Comments Off on How to develop your own spiritual path

What matters most (Part 3)

black-girls-laughing

We might feel that the full experience of enlightenment – a kind of infinite bliss — is far away from us, but we experience a taste of it when we serve, love and give. It is our nature to give in response to all we receive. Sri Swamiji articulates this beautifully in his book, <em>The Golden Present</em>:

“If you think in terms of how much benefit we get just by being here on the surface of the earth, how much we get from nature, how much we get from people, how much we get from association, we receive constantly. Even the smile from a baby is a gift.

You don’t have to give it back at the same place…..if you get a smile from a baby, do something to help a poor person somewhere on the road, or a sick person. Somebody who needs a little help. That will balance it out.”

When we sincerely reflect on all that we have been given, we cannot help but feel abundance. We can reflect further on how the United States and other western countries have taken advantage of less powerful countries, and how this dominance has contributed to the imbalance of wealth and justice in the world. In a magazine article I read, the Buddhist teacher Thich Nhat Hahn wrote, “The pain of one part of humankind is the pain of the whole of humankind. We have to see that and wake up.”

Those of us who live with material security and abundance easily take those things for granted. I feel we have an obligation to serve those less fortunate in any way that we can. That is why we have started a new initiative here at the Institute, inviting all our students, teachers and staff to participate in selected community service projects. We see service in our community as an important aspect of our spiritual practice, and we want to model for our members the need for us to enact that understanding.

We may not be able to negotiate peace settlements or end world hunger, but we can each take concrete steps to volunteer our time right where we are. We can offer free Yoga classes, serve in a soup kitchen, tutor disadvantaged children or reach out in myriad ways to those in need.

Serving in these ways is a natural expression of gratitude and arises from the recognition of our interdependence with all of life. Actions preformed with genuine care for others are healing for our hearts, and we find joy in giving rather than looking for a reward or outcome. This is how we really bring our Yoga practice to life.

ramsign2-2-e1385786811733

2016-10-15T01:45:12+00:00 July 23rd, 2015|Tags: , , |Comments Off on What matters most (Part 3)

Honoring Ramadan

Honoring-Ramadan_FB

A few of us attended an event at Grace Cathedral, which celebrated the end of Ramadan, the Islamic holy days of fasting and prayer. Attended by long time practitioners of Islam as well as newcomers like us, the program beautifully spelled out the true meaning and purpose of this annual practice, which can be applicable and inspiring to us all.

Those observing the tradition refrain from all food and drink, including water, from sunrise to sundown for 30 days. The intention is to remember the true purpose of human life—to experience the Divine Presence within and around us, and to fully appreciate all the gifts we are constantly receiving.

We learned how fasting this way helps realize the fragility of human life, and how dependent we are on the Divine intelligence behind all of creation. By refraining from physical nourishment, we have the opportunity to reflect with gratitude, turn our attention towards the Divine, and reestablish and/or strengthen our connection with that Presence.

Fasting reminds us of how fortunate we are to have an abundance of food and shelter, and helps us cultivate empathy and compassion for those less fortunate. By sacrificing the comforts we may rely on for superficial happiness, fasting strengthens our commitment to spiritual values and inspires us to devote our lives to a greater purpose.

We left the program with new respect for the practice of Ramadan and the Islamic faith. Today, July 16h, I am fasting myself, like I do on the New Moon every month. I see now that I do this for the same reasons it’s done during Ramadan—to purify the body and mind, reflect on my relationship to food and rely on the Spirit within as the source of my peace.

ramsign2-2-e1385786811733

2016-10-15T01:45:12+00:00 July 20th, 2015|Tags: , |Comments Off on Honoring Ramadan