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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).

Jun 11, 2008

Diving in!

Finally! I am diving in and beginning this e-journal. I can’t pause to think of editing or getting it perfect or I will never get my e-journal-legs under me. Leonard Cohen’s lyrics are helpful here:
"Ring the Bell that still can ring, forget your perfect offering, there is a crack, a crack in everything.
That's how the light gets in." --

This journal is intended to support students by giving follow-up to what we have been working on together, including the poetry that I’ve used in class. That’s where I’ll begin. Over time, I know that things like this do sometimes take on lives of their own and evolve into “something else”....we’ll see.


During this entire Spring session I’ve been teaching an overview / review of the alignment principles. It has been really good and as usual, I’ve had insight after insight as I’ve looked again into the “same old principles.” Some teacher – maybe it was John Friend – recently said that we never hear the same thing twice because we are never the same person twice (hopefully). We grow in our understanding and when the the “same thing” comes around again it is brand new. I’ve been enjoying all the brand newness and I’ve been seeing lots of lights go on and lots of comments like, ”Oh! I finally understand what you're talking about!”

For the past 2 or 3 weeks my themes have been all about the Ocean. La Mer – the Mother. I know I was inspired to ‘teach Ocean” because Eli (18 and just graduated) traveled with his friends for a week on the Oregon Coast. He had a profound experience there and said that when he saw the ocean he felt like he was seeing the Mother. I think I may have been unconsciously channeling Eli!

Here are some of the poems that rose up to support the theme work in class:

Open to Grace evoked two very different sources of inspiration. One was Rumi and his ecstatic, wide-open-bliss vision. And the other was a very grounded piece by a fellow with a very grounded name, Donald Babcock. Personally, I prefer Donald Babcock and his Duck, partly because I love it that a guy named Donald Babcock is writing about a duck, but mostly because he and his duck invite me to open to Grace by sitting down in my own life, as it is.
I know that the invitation to ecstasy is also important. In fact the first principle has built right into it a pulsation (spanda) between ecstasy and groundedness.....Open to grace and set a good foundation.

Are you jealous of the Ocean’s generosity?
Why would you refuse to give this joy to anyone?
Fish don’t hold the sacred liquid in cups
They swim the huge, fluid, freedom.
~~~Rumi

The Duck
Now we're ready to look at something pretty special. It's a duck, riding the ocean a hundred feet beyond the surf ...... 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 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.
~~~Donald Babcock


The steadfastness of Muscular Energy and abhyasa (steady practice, over a long period of time, with devotion) drew out Frost:
The Heart can think of no devotion
Greater than being shore to the ocean
Holding the curve of one position
Counting an endless repetition
~~~Robert Frost

The spiraling pulsation of Inner to Outer Spiral and back again, reminded me of swimming and of the spiraling swim of dolphins and so to an excerpt from Mary Oliver’s poem, One-Hundred White-sided Dolphins on a Summer Day

Fat,
black, slick,
galloping in the pitch
of the waves, in the pearly
fields of the sea,
they leap towards us,
they rise, sparkling, and vanish, and rise sparkling,
they breathe little clouds of mist, they lift perpetual smiles,
they slap their tails on the waves, grandmothers and grandfathers
enjoying the old jokes,
they circle around us,
they swim with us—

a hundred white-sided dolphins
on a summer day,
each one, as God himself
could not appear more acceptable
a hundred times,
in a body blue and black threading through
the sea foam,
and lifting himself up from the opened
tents of the waves on his fishtail,
to look
with the moon of his eye
into my heart,


I have been really delighted at how my contemplation of the ocean Is very much like my growing understanding of the Siva Sutras (I'm probably at a 2 year old level but still.....!)
The first sutra is caitanyam atma - All is Consciousness. To me, this is so much like saying All is Ocean. The Ocean of Consciousness unfolded and enfolded itself into capsules of seawater called sentient beings. And we sentient beings began the long inland trek in search of knowledge and understanding. Each of us is both shore and ocean, all in one brilliant, light powered package. How amazing is that!? Of course, the downside is that we forget usually forget that we are ocean and get completely identified with being shoreline, skins and egos. But we all remember in the end, sooner or later. And meanwhile, every time we are oh-so-human as to weep or sweat or bleed, there is the proof right there for us, as the salty taste of the ocean inside of us come to the surface.

I’ll end this entry with one excerpt from a poem by Mary Oliver, “The Sea”

Stroke by stroke my body remembers .......[and] the very bones! How
They long to give up the long trek inland, the brittle understanding, and dive, and simply become again a flaming body of blind feeling sleeking along in the luminous roughage of the sea’s body, vanished like victory inside that insucking genesis, that roaring flamboyance, that perfect beginning and conclusion of our own.

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