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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).

Oct 15, 2009


I have been doing an experiment with my "to-do" list for the past few days. I make 3 columns.

On the right is my work life and my household "to-do's", for example:
• return e-mails ( permanent item)
• take care of bills, banking and accounts
• take the AC unit out at the studio - actually get Eli to do it)
• buy candles, Kleenex and Ricola throat lozenges for the studio
• call Verizon to get rid of that stupid "visual voicemail" function since they make it impossible to delete it via the website account.

This list is always the longest but many of the items only take a couple of minutes. I really like engaging with this list. It is the most seductive of the 3 lists partly because many of the items are “time sensitive.” I can spend all day on it and - if I don’t watch it - I often do spend all day it. (Yoga philosophy nerds, this list is my idea of what I understand to be Vyavaharika Vaishnavah)

On the left is my Practice life. These are items include my "eyes closed" practices like pranayama and meditation, and my "eyes open" practices like Asana, puja, journaling, studying the Yoga teachings, and so on. I love spending time on the items on this list. I can happily spend all day on it and occasionally I do, when the right hand list is not too demanding.
(Yoga philosophy nerds, this list is my idea of what I understand to be Antar Shaktah)

Now for the column in the middle. This is the list that has the fewest items. Each of these items require that I weave my inner life with my outer life - synthesize the right hand list with the left hand list by bringing the light and awareness that I gain in practice all the way out to the "real world" and make a difference in some way. This is really my Yoga-Work list. Stepping up to (or sitting down for) the items on this list means I have to abide at the middle - be a weaver - be in Yoga......yoking together right and left, sun and moon.
(Yoga philosophy nerds, I’m thinking Bahir Shaivah on this one)

There are only 3 items on this list at the moment:
• Write (I have 3 writing projects in progress)
• Study the books and materials in prep for the Advanced Immersion – get that reading list finalized.
• Prep for Teaching – Contemplate and journal on your theme and develop a smart sequence

I know an item belongs in the middle column if:
• it scares me a little or a lot
• I avoid it
• I unconsciously write it in passive form. For example – the above list was initially full of “ing” words like “writing” and “teaching prep”. Some sneaky-nervous part of me was trying to get a safe distance away from the hard work of Yoga. The minute I say "Write" instead of "Writing" my sneaky-nervous self knows the game is up.

When I do engage with the items in the middle column - and get some traction – the work engenders great joy and vitality within me and generates a tangible offering outward from me. I think that might very well be a perfectly accurate hallmark of what happens when Yoga happens.

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