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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).

Mar 6, 2014

FAT Tuesday and Ash Wednesday

--> I had fun teaching class the other night on Mardi Gras - Fat Tuesday”.  
I told the class we were going to celebrate fat and try to redeem that word from the bottom of the dustbin of shame. I used  “FAT” language to cue the poses - things like “scoop down through your big fat butt”.
Since I have a low-grade guilt complex for living in America on the Fat of the Globe – it goes against the culturally preferred lean and chiseled grain for me to celebrate and give thanks for the pleasure and plenty that is represented by FAT.  To be Fat and Happy has become an oxymoron. Taking time to “Chew the Fat” (hang out and talk for a long and lazy time with friends) has been replaced with texting – unless you are in a retirement home or at a bar.

But you know – guilt is lean and mean and stingy. Regret has its place – but guilt dries up pleasure and encourages me to “un-friend” myself.   

Which brings me to Lent – the 40 days which lead up to Easter – and which could work out to be a sort of guilt-fest given a warped enough context.

But first - Here’s a few nice things to say about FAT:
·      Fat holds ojas – a bright constitutional reserve energy. When you burn through a bit of fat – say in a good Yoga class – you actually seem to glow.  Without fat there would be less ojas in the larder.  
·      Fat denotes the best or richest part: living off the fat of the land; abounding in desirable elements; fertile or productive
·      Having an A Fat larder is the result of an abundant summer and a hard-working harvest.

OK – back to Lent. Which began yesterday. Lent was – in my childhood – a time to give up candy.  We were encouraged to do this for Jesus who suffered and died for our sins. I never got the connection – but I actually liked Lent and the opportunity and encouragement to do something as an act of devotion….a gesture of how much a little girl loved Jesus. So that was good. And I am sure it was good to not eat candy. For me Lent was a positive time. My family was not big on guilt talk. I had it good.
As an adult I also like Lent. It makes sense to me and it still feels like an act of love and devotion.  I see it like this:
As a child, I came into the world, found my feet and my ground, and began to extend out into life in a wonderful exploratory and celebratory journey of my senses. My senses “ate” the world. I tasted, listened, felt, smelled, and touched. It was a celebration – like Mardi Gras – until I would I grow heavy with the world, thick, congealed and dense in my senses.
And then it would be time to go inward – to clarify, lighten, thin out.
I didn’t begin to gain skill at doing the inward turn as an adult until I deepened into Yoga practices which reliably turn the ship of my senses inward when its time and easefully extend my refreshed and lighted senses back outward to my world, when its time.
(But / And, to be honest, I do still sometimes resist the “turn” back inward – as if some part of me wants to keep reaching out and feasting on the world forever).

So that is one way I think of my life cycle – and also how I see the diurnal cycle, and daily cycle. Yearly and daily I extend out – grow fat with the love of life, and then I long to turn within and bow with love and devotion and surrender to the root and Source of light deep within me. I withdraw my senses, hibernate, and go to sleep at night just as I will release my last exhale at the end of life.

And then it’s time to inhale – to reach outward again, my senses clarified and refreshed by having rested deep within. The Light of my heart reaches outward again to the Light in the highest heavens. And its just Love - all the way in and all the way out.

1 comment:

  1. Ah! I so wish to have been in that class. Sounds FATastic! :)