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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 5, 2012

Heart Attracted

In the last few days there has been a new surge of conversation and organizational effort regarding Anusara Yoga and "what next".  Kula Evolution is leading one of the efforts and is headed up by people I know and respect. They are aiming to preserve what has been good about Anusara and move into the next phase of community, practice and learning. Their stated mission is to maintain the highest standards of professional integrity, communication, curriculum development and teaching practices. I totally believe in their integrity and good intentions.
There's another effort coming from a group of teachers I don't know as well but for whom I also have respect.  They are promoting what they call the Anusara School of Hatha Yoga and their stated mission is to uphold and promote the philosophy and methodology of Anusara yoga, maintain the integrity of the method, and to include voices from communities at regional and local levels in creating a globally sustainable school of Anusara yoga. I believe in their integrity and good intentions.
Both of these efforts sound good. Myself and anybody else who is, or was, a certified or inspired Anusara teacher has a “ticket” to get on either or both of these trains.

That's the context and here is what I am thinking about it all
There is within myself – and within every human heart -  a contraction or "heart knot" (called the anava mala in the yoga-philosophy world.  Lee calls it the "cramp").  This "heart knot" can show up in various ways in me but one of its favorite expressions is to make a convincing argument that I am going to be "left behind" and miss the train. This is so old in me – grounded in infancy in fact - that I doubt it will ever go away.  But I have learned to watch it– and have become less and less likely to let it be the platform from which I act.
Probably because I know this particular form of cramp very well, I look around and it seems widespread. It seems to me that many people are energetically uprooted. 

Without a sturdy root, it is compelling to attach to anything that looks like safety and survival, to jump on to whatever train is currently leaving the station.  Or to board the train that the majority vote, or the bulk of friends and influential people seem to be pointing to. Or, if I can manage it, to drive a train out of the station myself since it feels safer to be in charge – even if I have not gotten clear about what I want to be in charge of, or why. It's ironic really, that rather than hold still, nourish my root and grow strong, my unexamined response would be to uproot (again and again). But so it goes. We become our imbalance: if we are uprooted, we uproot more easily than we root. Rather than stay and tend our home fires, we hop trains (whether or not we even know if we want to be on that train; just knowing that we do not want to be left behind). 
I have had great teachers and teachings over the years – and thanks to them I have cultivated some ability - gradually but inevitably - to hold steady even when I want to fling my uprooted self onto the next train. One of these teachings comes from Chinese Medicine, which has a recommendation that can be applied to whatever ails you. It is the following sequence and it IS a sequence. Do not skip #1. Once you engage #1, you may not need to go on to #2. But if you do go on - continue to employ #1.
    • Meditate – “first do nothing” – “the highest first” - Open to Grace
    • Movement (mindful movement like Yoga and T’ai Chi)
    • Food and Constitutional Herbs
    • Feng Shui (vastu) & astrology (jyotish)
    • Medicinal Herbs
    • Bodywork
    • Acupuncture
    • Allopathic Medicine

OK – so back to the Anusara conversation: A yoga friend from a different method asked me “Why don't you just sign up for both (hop both trains) and not worry about it - just cover your options?" The reason I don't do that is that I know too well that everything I sign up for owns a part of my prana.  In other words, my life energy is owned by every affiliation I have. Some is unavoidable or minor. For example, my insurance company has a feeder line into my prana. Some affiliations are fracturing and credit card debt. Some affiliations are sources of mutual nourishment – like my connection to students and to community of practice at Garden Street.
Paul Muller Ortega teaches that the heart and mind will always move towards that which is more intelligent and more lovely, more beautiful, graceful and "heart attractive". In a pithier way (as usual) Lee said, “Seek beauty. Avoid suffering.”  Taking this counsel to heart, I will “do nothing” and keep doing nothing until I am sure that my choices are based on "heart attraction" rather than upon an ambitious anxiety about missing the train and being left behind.  I will sit still as long as it takes to see what is the anava mala talking and what is the voice of heart attraction. And by this I don't mean a shallow "blessings of light", mood-making nonsense. I mean heart and gut attractive. Until I am sure of that, I will wait. When I am sure of that, I will wholeheartedly invest my prana and be in clear and steady remembrance that in fact I can never be left behind....can never be outside the the current of Grace that has enfolded me all my life. All the rest is mostly policitics and business. Which is fine - necessary - just not what's driving my train.


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. Waiting, also. Thank you for writing this; now I have a better understanding of why -- wasn't sure before, but the heart wasn't in it to jump just yet.

  3. Hi Leslie - smiling as I think of you. And happy to know that you are "out there".

    Note: I removed the prior comment - but only because it was a spam.

  4. I'm with you, ladies! It's wonderful to read your words, Karen.

  5. Thank you for your reminder to start with the highest first. I still need some waiting time.

  6. Dear Karen,

    Angela hooked me up to your website/blog and I love your perspective. I really resonate with how you articulated the train analogy, and the way choices are made, and how choices are made from the fear of being left behind. And, I highly respect your stance on waiting and your reasons for waiting, and would like to offer my deep appreciation for your integrity and wisdom.



  7. Thanks Karen and Angela (and a new Karen!) The thing is - connections like we have - don't have that hard-driven threat of "left behind" to them. I like to keep remembering that - what's Real and present and "warm hand to warm hand" in my life. Then - also but separately - attempt to continue to make smart business decisions.