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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).

Jan 31, 2017

The Great Gesture - Maha Mudra

The Great Gesture
Maha Mudra

One of my main meditation teachers, Paul Muller Ortega, likes to say: “Earth school is a hard school”. I agree! But what an honor to be granted admission to such a good school. This tells me I am not here because I flunked or failed, or because I am a problem to be solved but because I graduated into a very good school. I like thinking like this – whether it is “true” or not.  A similar way of thinking that I like to remember and have often heard voiced by others - especially post-election - is that “we are born for these times”.

Whether we are in an Ivy League Earth School – or are “born for these times” – or both - we are wonderfully well made for the work at hand. Our bodies are perfectly designed to make the “great gesture” – to keep saying “Yes,” to embrace whatever life brings us, with our awesome Yoga superpowers, the greatest of which is love.
Part of the price of admission to earth school is to be willing to remember and awaken to Source (or call it by your own name) which is ever-present, never-absent and is pouring into this world through each body, heart and mind.

Source energy moves in and through the sacred vessel of my body, whether I am awake to it or not.

An awake body is wise with the cyclic nature of existence, miraculously ebbing and flowing in lunar adoration. Bending and flexing and twisting. To do well in this earth School, I know I must continue to practice in such a way that I am awake in my body and in the present moment. In fact, I think everyone in a body is invited, urged even, to fulfill a sacred vow, to be an awake “body” for the Sacred to move and breathe in.

I think of this vow as a Great Gesture – a Maha Mudra. (maha mudra means about a billion different things in the Yoga and Buddhist tradition…I am using it here very simply as its translation – “a great gesture / vow / prayer”)
The following is a kind of sequence – or the dance steps - to this great gesture:
  1. Relax and Open to Gravity and Grace
  2. Pull yourself together. Stand (or sit) tall. Engage a kind of muscular or integrating energy to recover your perhaps scattered attention and place that attention in your body - (heart /solar plexus/hara) 
  3. Keeping attention rooted in body, expand organically into relationship with the world (sense breath, sense whole body, expand into “horizontal” relationship with others and with “life as it is” - 360 degrees around – willing to lean and flex and bend and twist and occasionally turn upside down.
  4. Relax and Open to Gravity and Grace in order that source energy can continue to pour into this world through your body, mind and heart.   
This is how Magic happens. Or more exactly - this is how I become aware of, and available to participate with, the magic that is always happening.

The 4 steps form a circle. That is good. Mind understands lines but Body understands circles. Magic happens inside of circles. Lines divide.

Circles unite!

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