My photo
Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, United States
Karen is a yogini, writer, student, teacher and meditator. She founded Garden Street School of Yoga in 2000. Karen lives with her husband Chris. They have two amazing sons, Eli and Leo (both of them young men).

Oct 21, 2019


Creating a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, 
from the Inside Out
We don’t see the world as it is but as we are and as we see the world, we create the world.  
(A basic teaching of tantra and physics)
“Everything flowers from within, of self-blessing.” Galway Kinnell (full poem below)

One of my neighbors has a problem with every other neighbor in our neighborhood. He does not like my cats wandering into his yard. The other neighbor’s kids make too much noise playing in their yard. A third neighbor has too many relatives coming and going, clogging up the parking space. And on it goes. He has created a neighborhood that is a different world than the neighborhood I live in, though anybody would say we live in the same neighborhood. We each see the neighborhood not as it is but as we are, and as we see the neighborhood, we create it.
When I open my eyes in the morning the world reappears, is recreated by my brain. It will appear dark or light, a beautiful day in the neighborhood or problematic neighbors on every side.  Everything opens from within. 
I don’t always wake up inside the beautiful neighborhood part of my brain. It is oftentimes – daily in fact –necessary for me to light a candle within and place it at the altar of my heart. This simple gesture is how I self-bless, retelling myself it’s OK, I am not an accident on the earth, amidst other accidents; retelling myself I am lovely, until the candle at the altar of my heart catches the flame and the glow opens outward, from within, of self-blessing. Not waiting for the outer world to affirm me, to bless me. This is an inside lighting job.
I am lucky to have practices that reliably reteach me my goodness, that light a candle within, creating a brighter vision from the inside out
Practices to help light a candle at the altar of your heart
To create light, you need friction – complementary complements – like the positive and negative poles of electricity or like the friction of striking a match. This is the basis of Yoga – yoking opposites together to generate a Light from within.
In Yoga asana practice I yoke mind to body, inhale to exhale, flexion to extension, muscular energy to organic energy, front body to back body, earth and feet to fingertips and sky. The flame begins to kindle.
In meditation practice I also yoke mind to body, outward moving mind to inwardly vibrating energy, outward going distraction to inward moving remembrance.
The flame becomes steady. The light brightens.
Off the mat and into the world, I can bless the mess I sometimes find myself in – the mess of feeling isolated or “not part of the neighborhood,” by connecting with others, heart forward. In Yoga classes at Garden Street this is easy to do and happens naturally as we move and breathe, sing and meditate together. But other times it takes a stronger effort as, for example, walking across the street to chat with the difficult neighbor even though he is not friendly and will not meet my eye. Stay with the friction. This is yoga. Slowly the candle of our neighborhood connection catches. He meets my eye and smiles, a bit tightly, but still a smile.
Phew!
This technology – Yoga – works.  Reliably. But not everybody has access to it. Due to life circumstances, broken brains, and challenging neurochemistry, so many remain locked in their downstairs brains surrounded by bad neighborhoods. Anybody that does, by grace of god(dess), know how to self-bless, to set a light within, to create the world anew from the light within, of self-blessing, has a great responsibility to do so.
I have a responsibility to set a light, to the best of my ability, to use the tools and practices of Yoga, at the altar of my heart, of self-blessing, so that gradually but inevitably the light extends outward – as an outward moving blessing, probably without my awareness. Its not about me. Blessing Force just works that way.

Here is some poetry that inspires my contemplation and practice of Self-Blessing

Saint Francis and the Sow by Galway Kinnell
The bud stands for all things, even for those things that don't flower, for everything flowers, from within, of self-blessing; though sometimes it is necessary to reteach a thing its loveliness, to put a hand on the brow of the flower and retell it in words and in touch it is lovely until it flowers again from within, of self-blessing; as Saint Francis put his hand on the creased forehead of the sow, and told her in words and in touch blessings of earth on the sow, and the sow began remembering all down her thick length, from the earthen snout all the way through the fodder and slops to the spiritual curl of the tail, from the hard spininess spiked out from the spine down through the great broken heart to the sheer blue milken dreaminess spurting and shuddering from the fourteen teats into the fourteen mouths sucking and blowing beneath them: the long, perfect loveliness of sow.

Sweet Darkness by David Whyte
When your eyes are tired the world is tired also.
When your vision has gone no part of the world can find you.
Time to go into the dark where the night has eyes to recognize its own.
There you can be sure you are not beyond love.
The dark will be your womb tonight.
The night will give you a horizon further than you can see.
You must learn one thing.
The world was made to be free in
Give up all the other worlds
except the one to which you belong.
Sometimes it takes darkness and the sweet
confinement of your aloneness to learn
anything or anyone that does not bring you alive
is too small for you.

It's a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, by Fred Rogers

It's a beautiful day in this neighborhood,
A beautiful day for a neighbor,
Would you be mine?
Could you be mine?

It's a neighborly day in this beautywood,
A neighborly day for a beauty,
Would you be mine?
Could you be mine?

I have always wanted to have a neighbor just like you,
I've always wanted to live in a neighborhood with you.

So let's make the most of this beautiful day,
Since we're together, we might as well say,
Would you be mine?
Could you be mine?
Won't you be my neighbor?

Won't you please,
Won't you please,
Please won't you be my neighbor?

Living and Dying with Grace: Counsels of Hadrat Ali (a sufi Master) Translated by Thomas Cleary
"There are servants of God whom God favors with blessings for the service of others and whom God keeps supplied as long as they are generous with what they have. For if they refuse or withhold, God takes those favors away from them and transfers them to others.”

What to Remember When Waking by David Whyte
In that first hardly noticed moment in which you wake,
coming back to this life from the other
more secret, moveable and frighteningly honest world
where everything began,
there is a small opening into the new day
which closes the moment you begin your plans.
What you can plan is too small for you to live.
What you can live wholeheartedly will make plans enough
for the vitality hidden in your sleep.
To be human is to become visible
while carrying what is hidden as a gift to others.
To remember the other world in this world
is to live in your true inheritance.
You are not a troubled guest on this earth,
you are not an accident amidst other accidents
you were invited from another and greater night
than the one from which you have just emerged.
Now, looking through the slanting light of the morning window
toward the mountain presence of everything that can be
what urgency calls you to your one love?
What shape waits in the seed of you
to grow and spread its branches
against a future sky?
Is it waiting in the fertile sea?
In the trees beyond the house?
In the life you can imagine for yourself?
In the open and lovely white page on the writing desk?





May 11, 2019

Incarnation


Honor of the Feminine, the Mother principle: She who holds life close to her breast without recoil from incarnation.

Incarnation: literally means embodied in flesh or taking on flesh. It refers to the conception and birth of a sentient being whose original nature is immaterial.
prefix in- means “in” and carne means “flesh,” so incarnate means “in the flesh.” 

This Mother’s Day at Garden Street I hosted a one day meditation retreat. Several lovely Yoga friends graciously allowed me to compete with all the other things they could have chosen to do on a Sunday in May, not to mention Mother’s Day Sunday. 
We spent the day together in a generous pocket of silence, breathing, doing Yoga, meditating, resting, rejuvenating and honoring "the Mother". 
I like looking into celebrations like Mother’s Day and bringing them alive for myself and hopefully for others as well, finding inspiration below the sometimes-plastic surface of holidays. Mother’s Day has become, for me, a day of honoring the Mother principle - the Sacred Feminine - in men and women alike.  On Mother's day (and all year long, truth be told) my interest and teaching work is aimed towards practicing and living in ways that honor incarnation, binding me to the work and complexity of life on planet earth. Earth school is a hard school! Life will most certainly break your heart if you stay alive long enough. It is not so easy or casual to stay present and open-hearted to all that life incarnate sends my way. And as I get older, it is becoming stronger work to keep loving, wholeheartedly, when I am also in the gradual but inevitable process of letting go of life and loved ones and my own incarnation too. And yet, I DO want to love more fully and love with arms wide open. In this way, I can honor and draw nearer to the blessing force called "the Mother": She who holds life close to her breast without recoil from incarnation.

Fear of, or recoil from, incarnation leaves one hovering above the messiness and inevitable heartbreak involved in being human. This hovering creates a kind of unease, dis-ease; a feeling of lostness and disconnection. The medicine for this ailment of lostness is to dial up more courage, dive into incarnation more deeply and bind myself more fully to life: "Down and in" to life as it is, as I am, nothing added. "Just this" in all its glorious mess. To do this, I must bring my head-brain down and in to my flesh and bone, body incarnate. Until the idea of honoring earth and the feminine is in the body, in the meat of life, it remains just an idea.

All of this takes a courage and a fierceness that is a part of the energy of Mother. It is sometimes terrifying to do as the poet Rilke urges: Let everything happen to you...Beauty and Terror.....just keep going...No feeling is final. Or, as Mary Oliver wrote: Hold on to life.  To live in this world, you must be able to do three things: to love what is mortal; to hold it against your bones knowing your own life depends on it; and, when the time comes to let it go, to let it go.  ~~Mary Oliver

The day of practice on Mother’s Day was a day of physical practice (Yoga asana) as well as meditation: 5 mandalas or circles of practice, each of which consists of breath-work (pranayama), asana, meditation, savasana, a short break and then we begin again.  By practicing together, the potency of the practices is amplified. We honored the essence that is the Mother, the sacred Feminine, in ourselves and in the world, by tethering the seated, eyes-closed practice of meditation stays to the flesh-and-bone eyes-open practice of the ordinary, daily magic of incarnation.

Below is poetry and inspiration to celebrate the Feminine and the Mother. Enjoy. Thanks for reading!

Lost

Stand still. The trees ahead and bushes beside you
Are not lost. Wherever you are is called Here,
And you must treat it as a powerful stranger,
Must ask permission to know it and be known.
The forest breathes. Listen. It answers,
I have made this place around you.
If you leave it, you may come back again, saying Here.
No two trees are the same to Raven.
No two branches are the same to Wren.
If what a tree or a bush does is lost on you,
You are surely lost. Stand still. The forest knows
Where you are. You must let it find you.  -- David Wagoner

BUGS IN A BOWL    by David Budbill
Han Shan, that great and crazy, wonder-filled Chinese poet of a thousand years ago, said:
We're just like bugs in a bowl. All day going around never leaving their bowl.
I say, That's right! Every day climbing up
the steep sides, sliding back.
Over and over again. Around and around.
Up and back down.
Sit in the bottom of the bowl, head in your hands,
cry, moan, feel sorry for yourself.
Or. Look around. See your fellow bugs.
Walk around.
Say, Hey, how you doin'?
Say, Nice Bowl!

Excerpts from The Duck by Donald Babcock
………. a duck is riding the ocean a hundred feet beyond the surf.
There is a big heaving in the Atlantic, and she is a part of it.
She can rest while the Atlantic heaves, because she rests in the Atlantic.
Probably she doesn't know how large the ocean is.
[But] what does he do? She sits down in it! She reposes in the immediate as if it were infinity - which it is. She has made herself a part of the boundless by easing herself into just where it touches her.

The Quiet Power by Tara Mohr
I walked backwards, against time
and that's where I caught the moon,
singing at me.
I steeped downwards, into my seat
and that's where I caught freedom,
waiting for me, like a lilac.
I ended thought, and I ended story.
I stopped designing, and arguing, and
sculpting a happy life.
I didn't die. I didn't turn to dust.
Instead I chopped vegetables,
and made a calm lake in me
where the water was clear and sourced and still.
And when the ones I loved came to it,
I had something to give them, and
it offered them a soft road out of pain.
I became beloved.
And I came to know that this was it.
The quiet power.
I could give something mighty, lasting,
that stopped the wheel of chaos,

by tending to the river inside,
keeping the water rich and deep,
keeping a bench for you to visit.

Message from the Council of 13 Indigenous Grandmothers
As you move through these changing times ... be easy on yourself and be easy on one another. You are at the beginning of something new. You are learning a new way of being. You will find that you are working less in the yang modes that you are used to.
You will stop working so hard at getting from point A to point B the way you have in the past, but instead, will spend more time experiencing yourself in the whole, and your place in it.
Instead of traveling to a goal out there, you will voyage deeper into yourself. Your mother's grandmother knew how to do this. Your ancestors from long ago knew how to do this. They knew the power of the feminine principle ... and because you carry their DNA in your body, this wisdom and this way of being is within you.
Call on it. Call it up. Invite your ancestors in. As the yang-based habits and the decaying institutions on our planet begin to crumble, look up. A breeze is stirring. Feel the sun on your wings.

May 12th, 2019 - the GLOBAL STANDING WOMEN event!
DECLARATION OF STANDING
We are standing for the world's children and grandchildren,
and for the seven generations to come.
We dream of a world where all of our children have safe drinking water,
clean air to breathe, and enough food to eat.
A world where they have access to a basic education to develop their minds
and healthcare to nurture their growing bodies.
A world where they have a warm, safe and loving place to call home.
A world where they don't live in fear of violence - in their homes,
in their neighborhoods, in their schools, or in their world.
This is the world of which we dream.
This is the cause for which we stand.



Mar 1, 2019

Coming Home from India



This journey home is 36 hours, 3 flights, innumerable security checks and a pending "jet-lag-from-hell".
I like it.
I like the dream-like feeling of being outside of time. I mean, what time is it anyway when I get up in one country, layover in the next and land eventually at home? It’s “no time”, so I let go of time and time let’s go of me, not something I experience at home except when I’m sound asleep.
And I like the feeling of being outside of any particular country or culture. The airport is an in-between place, a crossing over place, (a tirtha*). It is neither one country nor another. It is a stopping over place for people from every country (especially at an airport like Heathrow where I enjoyed quite a bit of coffee and a 7-hour layover).
And I like feeling – for a short time - that I am “nothing to no one”. 
As I am typing this, we are flying above the polar cap and I am really outside of country and time zone, flying through space.
It’s so weird and magical.
As I arrive back into my life and its daily-ness, I know from experience that it will be both sweet and challenging. Challenging because I tend to hover above it, resisting for a bit the list of what must be done; clinging for a bit to being nothing to no one.
And then, slowly (I know from experience) I will settle down into my life. And all will be well, and not; good and not good; easy and hard; happy and sad. I will sit down in the middle of all those binaries because that is where my life is happening. A tirtha gives me perspective, an ability to step back and see more clearly. But the messy of life in the middle is where I live and love. 
I’m reminded of one of my favorite poems as I prepare to sit down into my life.
Enjoy! And thanks for reading.

The Duck by Donald Babcock
Now we're ready to look at something pretty special. It's a duck, riding the ocean a hundred feet beyond the surf. No it isn't a gull. A gull always has a raucous touch about him. This is some sort of duck, and he cuddles in the swells.
He isn't cold, and he is thinking things over. There is a big heaving in the Atlantic, and he is a part of it.
He looks a bit like a mandarin, or the Lord Buddha meditating under the Bo tree.
But he has hardly enough above the eyes to be a philosopher. He has poise, however, which is what philosophers must have.
He can rest while the Atlantic heaves, because he rests in the Atlantic.
Probably he doesn't know how large the ocean is. And neither do you. But he realizes it.
And what does he do, I ask you? He sits down in it! He reposes in the immediate as if it were infinity — which it is. He has made himself a part of the boundless by easing himself into just where it touches him.
I like the duck. He doesn't know much, but he's got religion.

*Tirtha is a Sanskrit word which means “crossing over place” and is said to have a particular potency or magic because it is an opening to another dimension. Hospitals, airports and graveyards are all examples of “tirthas”.




Feb 26, 2019

Forms and Flows of Love - Dunked in Devotion

Yesterday we went into Old Delhi with our driver Mr. Singh, a handsome, elegantly dressed Indian man who drives Uber in a beat up economy car through the heavily polluted streets of Delhi. Like almost everyone else here, he works so hard! All day, every day he is out trolling for fares. Most days he drives for 12 to 15 hours a day. I asked him if he liked driving Uber and he was happily matter-of-fact in his answer. "Some days are good and some customers are good. Others not so much".
On his dash board is a small picture of Hanuman who is his patron saint (his Ishta Devata). Like other Hindus, he believes that God is One but has many forms and faces. Hanuman is one of those forms or faces of God. Hanuman is a kind of super-hero who is able to leap great distances and fly across difficulties due to his great love of God. Most Hindus say that Hanuman and Jesus are the same....2 avatars but the same.
Each morning Mr. Singh spends 2 hours, starting at 5 am, doing a simple devotional puja to Hanuman followed by pranayama (breath-work), Yoga, prayer and meditation. He says this keeps him happy and healthy and grateful for his life. If you have driven in the traffic in India you know that it is really something - a super hero kind of thing - to drive 12 to 15 hours a day and still be happy, healthy and feel grateful for your life.
Getting to know him and hear about his devotional practices a little, as we navigated the insane streets of Delhi, dovetailed with my contemplation about Puja and other externalized rituals of devotion and worship.
There are "forms" or formal practices of devotion such as Pujas and church services. And probably everybody knows how you can do these just "going through the motions". Yoga Asana, for example, is a form or ritual, and it can be practiced as just a good workout or it can be a form of devotion. It just depends on the attitude or focus I bring to it.
But even when I go through the motions of the "forms" of practice like puja and yoga asana, the form itself can - and often does - open a flow of happiness or devotion. Not all the time. But much of the time. If I only waited for myself to "feel" like practicing the forms (puja, asana, meditation, etc.) I wouldn't practice much.
My root teacher, Lee Lozowick, said if you only do one practice, do Puja. I did not understand that teaching for a long time. But being in India, last time and this time, as well as remembering back to the innocence and sweetness of my childhood experiences of ritualized devotion, I have grown to love my practices of bowing to and expressing gratitude to the Sacred. Lee's teaching that if you are only doing one practice make it the practice of Puja, has turned out to be quite expansive since I now see that so much of what I love to do in terms of practice really can be a form of Puja. Simple things like lighting a candle and incense, placing a flower, moving through the beautiful forms and flow of yoga asana. Once my heart and mind open to the understanding of puja, I can see that so much of my day can be an offering.
I am inspired by the transmission of devotion I've received by being here in India.....things like hearing about Mr. Singh's early morning practices of devotion, seeing endless simple shrines on the roadsides and even at the roots of trees, watching the women wash the sidewalk at the entrance to their homes each morning and then make a rice powder yantra (sacred design) to welcome the Sacred into their home and their day.
I am being dunked in devotion. India transmits it to me in a way that I can predict with my logical, rational mind. It’s more like I learn it – or remember it – in my flesh and bones, in my cells.  And I am so grateful.
OK....Got to go. Thanks for reading.

Feb 24, 2019

Honoring All Forms and Vehicles of the Divine

India is an over-the-top, out-of-the-closet country of God lovers. At home, in my experience, it is predominantly not cool to be overly religious or overly devotional. But here? There's no apology or buffering. At home, when I am teaching, I might say something like "Open to grace" or "Open to something greater than yourself".  I don't use the word "God" so much in order to honor everybody's different beliefs and to avoid activating what I humorously refer to as people's PTRSD (post traumatic religious stress disorder). So many people have had a bad time growing up in coercive fundamental religious sects and in my classes I like to respect diversity and make my classes welcoming to everybody including agnostics. I imagine I will continue in this way - in order to practice welcoming and hospitality - but I wonder if something is lost, by being so careful to not offend. 
Here, there is no sense of overt devotion being offensive. Our driver, on the first day we met him (not after several a days when he was sure we would not be offended) told us he had prayed to God for good weather and good conditions. "OF COURSE! Why not?!" he said ..."Of course! Without God NOTHING works". Can you imagine an Uber driver telling your that when he picks you up?
A prevalent aspect of this widespread devotion is the practice of Puja, a devotional worship to one or more deities, or to host and honor a guest, or to spiritually celebrate an event. It might honor or celebrate the presence of special guest(s), or their memories after they die. The word puja means reverence, honor, homage, adoration, and worship and includes the loving offering of light, flowers, and water or food to the divine. For the worshiper, the divine is visible in the image, and the image sees the worshiper. The interaction between human and deity, between human and divine is called darshan
I grew up in a very devotional Roman Catholic family and my wonderful dad was particularly devotional. We definitely practiced or observed a form of puja in the ritual of the mass (what sometimes I refer to as the "bells and the smells"; the bread and the wine; etc.) And there were always many images at church and at home, of the sacred. We had a kind of darshan practice involving images of Jesus, Mary, and innumerable saints). So India is a kind of devotional homecoming feeling to me. 

Puja rituals are done on a variety of occasions and may include daily puja done in the home, to occasional temple ceremonies and annual festivals. Puja is not mandatory. In some temples pujas may be performed daily at various times of the day; in other temples pujas are occasional. And many people, from rickshaw drivers to Ashram residents, have emphasized to us that the main temple is one's heart where God dwells in us and as us. And that the most important puja is one that is done inwardly, a darshan of the heart.

🙏 

Feb 21, 2019

Traffic like a River

I will try to describe the traffic here. 
The best image I can come up with is to compare it to the flow of a river. As with a river, there are no stop signs or traffic lights. Seriously! I'm not making this up. 
This river of traffic, unlike a river of water, flows both ways at the same time. Within its currents are everything from goats, dogs and cows to walkers, bicycles, motorcycles and rickshaws to cars, huge trucks and the occasional gigantic tour bus. In addition, along the riverbank-sides of the road are vendors and their stalls, beggars and frequently a large congregation of people playing music and dancing to celebrate things like weddings and funerals and I don't know what else. There are also a multitude of small temples and shrines. In the US we have a Starbucks every block and here they have a temple or a shrine every block....tells you a lot about who is worshiping what. 
Add to the above the fact that almost all the roads are the size of one lane of our roads. Really.....I am not making this up.....the 2 way flow of the river of traffic happens inside the width of one lane of our roads....and sometimes a smaller width than that. 
 I have been mostly walking. It feels a bit like a dance of sorts. I have to keep moving and be fluid in my movement (not staccato, rigid or linear) so I can weave right or left at a moment's notice, to flow past a cow, rickshaw or motorcycle and thereby keep moving with the current. To stop and stand still is dangerous. To get into a linear state of mind or movement is dangerous. 
It's kind of mind-boggling when my western mind stops to consider it. I can't believe it all works and that everybody, more or less, makes it home alive. 
Getting into the flow and out of it, when I'm walking, is like getting into and out of a game of double jump-rope.  Sorry if you never played that game as a child. Wish I had a visual image or a mini-video to show you. To get into a game of jump rope or the flow of traffic in India, you have to stand and wait and stay open and receptive and ready and then Go! Jump in.....and keep moving. 
We've also been in cars, on the road, with a hired driver (not driving ourselves, thank God) when we need to go longer distances to temples etc. It's similar to what I described in walking, the fluidity and contingency. You really don't ever just drive in your own lane. For example, sometimes a car will squeeze between two trucks if there's room. And often the car will be driving on the opposite side from where it is supposed to be if that is the best way to keep the current of traffic moving. I really think traffic lights an stop signs would be disastrous.  There are too many different kinds of moving objects moving at too many different speeds (as I mentioned above: goats, dogs, monkeys, cows, walkers, bicycles, motorcycles, rickshaws, cars, trucks and tour buses). Drivers rely heavily on horns to let other drivers know they're there. In fact, most of the big trucks have a sign on the back saying "horn please" because they don't have functional rear-view mirrors. 


If I was at home and somehow found myself in this kind of traffic, whether walking or driving, I would be terrified. But here I am quite relaxed.  And amazed. For some reason, here in India, where there is so much devotion, it's easier for me to let myself be part of, and carried along by, the flow and know that it's all in Gods hands.

Feb 20, 2019

The Chittorgargh War Fort and the Princess Mirabai

Yesterday we visited the Chittorgarh Fort complex, a massive 700 acres of fort and 2 main temples. The fort was active in the 1200's and forward to the 1500's or so. It went back and forth - conquered and conquered again - mainly an ongoing, never-ending war between the Hindus and the Muslims.  I was reminded of a sobering passage by Wendell Berry - reflecting on the horrors of WW II. He wrote that war is all one war.  It's always and ever only been one ongoing war with different players and through different epochs. 

 Being at the Chittor fort was especially sobering to me because of parts of its history. Every time the "one side" -the Muslims - conquered the fort, Hindu women (more than 10,000 each time) who lived inside the fort would commit mass self-immolation (called Jauhar). You can see the large pit (ghat) into which they threw themselves rather than be taken captive.
Inside the fort complex is a Kali temple which was an appropriate segue for me to visit after wandering around the fort and contemplating its bloody history.
But the highlight for me was the Mirabai Temple.
Mirabai was a 16th century Indian princess known for her songs of devotion to Krishna and for forsaking traditional women's roles to devote her life to Krishna-worship.  She lived from about 1498 to about 1545.  Her name has also been translated as Mira Bai, Meerabai, Meera Bai, Meera, or Mīrābāī, and she is sometimes given the honorific of Mirabai Devi.


Her mother died when she was 4. At age 13 Mirabai was married to a Ranjputi prince who died a few years later. Her family was shocked that she did not commit sati, burning herself alive on her husband's funeral pyre, as was considered proper for a Rajputi princess. Then they were further shocked when she refused to remain secluded as a widow. Instead of following these traditional norms she took up enthusiastic worship of Krishna as part of the Bhakti movement. She ignored gender, class, caste and religious boundaries, and spent time caring for the poor.

All of this horrified her in-laws. The legends tell of multiple attempts on her life by Mirabai's late husband's family. In all of these attempts, she miraculously survived: a poisonous snake, a poisoned drink, and drowning. 

Mirabai's willingness to sacrifice family respect and traditional gender, family, and caste restrictions, and to devote herself completely and enthusiastically to Krishna, made her an important role model and saint in the Bhakti movement that stressed ecstatic devotion and rejected traditional divisions based on sex, class, caste, and creed.

Here are a few of her Quotes but if you are intrigued, google her amazing ecstatic devotional poetry. 

“I came for the sake of love-devotion; seeing the world, I wept.”

“The Great Dancer is my husband, rain washes off all the other colors.” 

"I have felt the swaying of the elephant's shoulders; / and now you want me to climb / on a jackass? Try to be serious."