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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).

Nov 24, 2008

No Excuses

Opening to Grace is an opening to Aspiration. To aspire is to wake up and turn your attention to what you are here to be and to do. Aspiring to deeper & steadier practice (abhyasa), aspiring to true creative expression, aspiring to a life of greater service – these are examples of Opening to Grace.

When you open to Aspiration you are opening to that which dwells in the realm of the mind and thought. This metaphoric Sky and can easily become “Pie in the Sky” if it’s not drawn down and in to the metaphoric Earth of hard work.

Hard work is not metaphoric. Aspiration must be drawn down into your belly, your guts, your muscle and your bone as this is where the work and sweat of your actions can manifest your aspiration, ripen it and grow it to fruition.

In our system of Yoga, we root the Sky into the good-round-grace of the earth (our bodies) using Organic Energy. I want to write a bit about how this looks “off the mat”.

To manifest your aspiration, you have to be “Workin’ Class” in your approach. You have to have a strong work ethic – be able to show up for work, rain or shine, whether you feel like it or not. The Sanskrit is abhyasa (steady work over a long period of time, with devotion) and vairagyabhyam (an ability to see the “big picture” – to do your work and then step back; to know that aspiration is critical BUT / AND “It will be what it will be.”)

The balance of abhyasa and vairagyabhyam will grow a root and shoots for your aspiration. And believe me, once the root is strong, you won’t be able to NOT show up – you’ll find that there are no vacations and you’ll feel OK about that. But the root takes time to set. And it is easily destroyed by the habit of hesitating and making excuses.

Hesitating? Making excuses?

My new venture into the Year-Long study with Paul Muller Ortega has given me a jolt in terms of my hesitation and excuses. He told us – point blank – “you know exactly which of your habits are degenerative and de-evolutionary. Stop them. You can not do this work and expect any progress if your life is supplying 2 steps back to the one step forward that happens when you study, contemplate and meditate.”

I can’t believe the nerve of him – saying all that right before the holidays!
OK – but seriously - I am so grateful. It is exactly the same thing that Lee and every “True Teacher” says – “Wake up! You really don’t have all the time in the world.”

I am grateful to all my teachers and to the presence of those who are willing to hold the seat of the teacher with (sometimes) fierceness.


  1. Karen,
    Thank you for hosting Sundari in November - what a great workshop! Thank you, also, for being a 'faithful gardener', resulting in a wonderful kula - so faithful, welcoming and kind. I read your blog faithfully. Monday's (11/24) entry brought me to tears -- we do know where we haven't 'stepped up to the plate' (baseball analogy?). I certainly do, and your timely reminder shook my world for a few moments; NOT a bad thing to have happen occasionally.

    Happy Thanksgiving -- we're going south to San Diego (grandchildren) instead of Spokane this year. Not sure if I'll be back up there before you leave for India -- if not, I'll be anxious to see you in the early Spring.


  2. Okay, I get it. :)

    I also read your journal daily and am so thankful that you are sharing more in this format...what a treat to see a new entry!

    I cannot *wait* for your entries from your travels.