Monday, February 28, 2011

If you can't throw feces at 'em, join em.

The mind does not like like change or new things - especially when it comes to technology.

Having to update machines or devices tends to make the mind feel intimidated, manipulated, humiliated and ripped off.

Compact discs were the primary recorded music format for a full decade before I finally broke down and bought a CD player.

After much complaining and research, I finally, grudgingly, purchased an MP3 player last year.

I moaned and complained about and resisted smart phones for at least three years before finally biting the bullet and purchasing one last month. I was quite sure I was going to bring it back before the 30-day return policy ended... until I got used to it (and finally realized that it's a lot like the mind; you can either control it, or let it control you. In other words, waking up and checking Joan Rivers' latest Tweets is not conducive to being steeped in pure sattva).

The was a barrage of arguments with Dreyfus and a full-on sit-down tutorial with Bo before I finally put a Paypal button on the website last week. (Now, you can bypass mailing a check to a P.O. box, and sign up for my March retreat right here on the Internet!).

Two friends - Ursula and Ralph from DeKalb - have been encouraging me to join Facebook for eons.

For years, I resisted; I don't want to waste even more time having pointless conversations and staring at a screen.

The movie didn't make me like it much, either.

"I'll never do it," I said.

Famous last words.

Ralph somehow got me to reconsider after Saturday's workshop.

Check out my brand-new public page here.

(And if you know how to get it to say "yoga instructor" rather than "monarch" and put my info up top a la John Campbell, and/or how to sync it up with the blog, please let me know! I'm still a luddite after all).

Now, it seems anything is possible........

including canceling all of this!


*Luddites are characterized by a profound fear and distrust of technology.
Scared to death of change, the Luddite reacts violently to the automation of any process.

Pic from this website.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Winter Thaw: Upcoming Yoga-Related Events in March!

Wednesday, March 2, Maha Shivaratri (Night of Lord Shiva)

Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Center, 1246 W. Bryn Mawr.
9:30pm to approximately 5am (You may arrive and leave as you wish)
No charge; donations of flowers or "prasad" are welcome.

We will be celebrating the night of Sivaratri in the traditional way with several pujas (a form of ritual worship) and kirtan (chanting), which will continue through the night, finishing early on Thursday morning. Please feel free to attend any part of the night's celebrations; it is not required to participate for the whole night (we usually end at around 5am), though attendance for the whole night is considered to be most auspicious!

This is a very auspicious puja for all yogis, and you don't have to stay all night to benefit! Click here for more info.

Please feel free to call (773) 878-7771 with any questions.

Thursday, March 3 Maha Shivaratri (Night of Lord Shiva)
with Matthew Wiley

YogaNow Chicago, 742 N. LaSalle.
9:30-11:30pm kirtan and puja, followed by all-night chanting til sunrise, with chai! $5 love offering.

Join us to celebrate Lord Shiva's Holy Night- Maha Shivaratri.

Once a year on this Sacred night, Ceremonies are happening all over the World. By our chants, songs, drumming, Puja (ritual) we can tap into the collective energies of All "Circles" and to Shiva himself. As 2012 approaches, we are at a Powerful juncture in time and the energy we put into this Sacred night can set us up to catch a wave, if you will. Transforming and healing ourselves for the years to come.

I understand this is a school night and many of us have busy schedules. What we give this night we will get back 1000 fold. I hope many will stay till Sun up, as it is traditionally done. If you must leave earlier, give all you can during the Puja. The reality is, you will get out of it what you put into it.

Fasting of some sort is recommended for the whole day. We will break bread after the rising of the Sun and have chai tea throughout the night.

Together we will practice: Bhuta Shuddhi- This is an ancient Tantric technique of activating, clearing and awakening the chakra system. Bhuta Shuddhi balances the elements in our body and empowers the aura so that we may obtain our highest potentials and dreams.

Some of the forms of Shiva we will invoke include: Arunachaleshwaraya- Shiva as a brilliant Divine column of Fire. Nhilakanta- the blue-throated one, which represents the transmutation of lead into gold- turning our life's problems into helping Powers and energies. Nataraja- the cosmic dancing Shiva and many many more.

Together and with the Power of Shiva, may we heal and transform our lives and reach deep into Love- that which resides beyond the dualities of self.

Please bring flowers and food to share in the morning.


Matthew Wiley has been teaching Traditional Tantra, Yoga, Western Occultism, and comparative religion for more than 13 years. He holds a Yoga Shiromani and is an Initiate in Kaula and Western Esoterica. His spiritual quest has led him throughout Asia and Europe. Along with his studies in Kaula Tantra and Shamanism, he has done extensive ceremonial work with Santo Daime, Ayahuasca and the Native American Church. As a neophyte ethnobotanist, his current focus is on indigenous cultures, the ritual use of psychoactive plants, and their importance in the world today. Please feel free to email any questions:

Friday, March 4, Dharma Mittra Maha Sadhana Workshop
with Cara Jepsen.

YogaNow Chicago, 742 N. LaSalle (312-280-9642).

Maha Sadhana means “The Great Practice”, and this asana-based intensive will deepen your yoga practice. It will include chanting, pranayama (breathing exercises), and meditation as well as direction toward the true goal of yoga.

Dharma Mittra Yoga is a classical, flowing hatha style originated by New York City-based yogi Dharma Mittra, creator of the Master Yoga Chart of 908 Poses. Dharma’s energizing Shiva Namaskar sequence focuses on opening the hips, shoulders and upper back and includes variations for every level of student. Poses are repeated so that students may go deeper into them each time. Many options are given, so that all levels will feel challenged/​comfortable. The emphasis is on practicing in a playful, relaxed manner.

Cara Jepsen (Yogi Kali Om), ERYT-500, began teaching yoga in 1998 and has completed two teacher trainings with her guru, Sri Dharma Mittra - whom she assisted at a recent retreat. She also studied five times in India with ashtanga master Sri K. Pattabhi Jois and completed teacher trainings with Manju Pattabhi Jois and Suddha Weixler. Her articles about these experiences are archived at the Yoga Chicago website, which is also where her restaurant reviews and cartoon,"On the Mat," can be found.

Saturday, March 12, Kirtan with Amy and the Ananda Bliss Tribe

YogaNow Chicago, 742 N. LaSalle (312-280-9642).
Suggested Donation: $10

Come hear YogaNow founder and director Amy Beth Treciokas with Brent Roman, Paula Battaglio, Marie Weigle and Cobra Thomas in a sound healing event of call-and-response chanting.

Kirtan is the calling out to God deep within our soul. Feel that the Divine is seated in your heart, that every name sung is ringing with divine potencies, and that all the habitual limiting thoughts and patterns are burnt by the power of Kirtan. The mind is filled with purity, and the veil of ignorance is torn down.

"All divine potencies, powers and divine qualities are hidden in God's name". The deepest secret of Kirtan is that the 'Name Of God' IS God. For the Bhakta Yogi (one who follows the path of devotion), God and the Name of God are one and the same. Chanting the name of God sows the seeds of spiritual transformation deep within our consciousness, and begins to grow and blossom.

"The word Kirtan comes form the Sanskrit root "kirt" which means "to name, to communicate, to celebrate, to praise, to glorify." Bhajan, another form of spiritual music in the yogic tradition, usually refers to singing prayers or hymns rather than the repetition of God's name. Its root, "bhaj" means "to worship, to revere, to love." Kirtan can be seen as a bridge between our outer and inner selves and an expression of our desire to know and love God within."

—Swami Bhajanananda Saraswati

Friday, March 18, Kirtan with Bhagavan Das
YogaNow Chicago, 742 N. LaSalle (312-280-9642).

Bhagavan Das is the spiritual seeker and first westerner to discover Neem Karoli Baba in India (an later led Ram Dass to him). He is a true, authentic kritan wallah - no wallowing into syrupy sentimentality here! - and his amazing kirtan is almost sold out. Highly, highly recommended.

He's also doing a weekend Nada Yoga (Yoga of Sound) workshop:

The Nada Yoga Temple of Sound Workshop Chakras 1, 2 and 3
Sat 3/19/2011
From 11:00 AM - 6:00 PM
Saturday Times: 11:00 - 1:00 then 3:00 - 6:00PM
The Nada Yoga Temple of Sound Workshop Chakras 4, 5 and Guru
Sun 3/20/2011
From 11:00 AM - 6:00 PM
Sunday Times : 11:00 - 1:00 then 3:00 - 6:00 PM
$250 both days; $150 for one day

Here's the official description:

Teacher, performer, counter-cultural icon, lover of God: Bhagavan Das is as rich and manifold as Existence itself.

Bhagavan Das is one of the last living cultural icon of the 60's. As Ram Das's mentor (author of Be Here Now) he ushered in the New Age Spiritual Movement, and was the first Kirtan Artist in America. His groundbreaking album "Ah" (1971), produced by Jimi Hendrix's manager Michael Jeffreys, was the first World Music album from Electric Ladyland. Bhagavan Das has also toured with Allen Ginsberg, opened for the Grateful Dead, and sang with Bob Dylan.

Living as a sadhu in India for six years Bhagavan Das studied the ancient science of Nada Yoga under the guidance and direction of his Guru Neem Karoli Baba. Nada Yoga is the path of devotion to the inner sound current as a means to God Realization. Alan Watts himself said in a Rolling Stone review of the Album "Ah" that "Bhagavan Das is truly a Master of Nada Yoga."

To experience Bhagavan Das in concert is to receive Darshan of the Guru himself, to touch and be touched by the immortal essence of his Guru Neem Karoli Baba - as the Light of the Guru is delivered through the mystical and potent voice of Bhagavan Das. His devotion to his Guru as that living inner sound is what he shares and transmits to all that wish to receive this blessing.

Bhagavan Das's rare and sacred offering to this world is like a singing open heart heralding the Guru's Grace through the vehicle of Sound.

Learn more about Baba here.

Portiuncula Center for Prayer in Frankfort, IL
Click here to see photos of our last retreat!

Deepen your yoga practice and heal your body, mind and spirit at the peaceful Portiuncula Center for Prayer in Frankfort, 36 miles southwest of Chicago. Enjoy gourmet vegetarian meals and walk a sacred labyrinth in the magical, meditative setting of St. Francis Woods. The 50-acre campus of the Franciscan Sisters of the Sacred Heart includes peaceful sitting areas, grassy knolls, fountains, a creek, and hiking trails.

This retreat will focus on the eight limbs of yoga, including the ethical roots, scriptural study, pranayama (breathing), concentration, and direction towards the true goal of yoga - which is settle the mind into silence so that we can discover our true, peaceful nature. We will also chant and do plenty of postures! Saturday evening’s session will end with Yoga Nidra, or deep relaxation – which Sri Dharma Mittra calls the greatest antidote to impurities. We will also do Psychic Development to put power behind your thoughts. On Sunday we will do a special Maha Sadhana yoga practice, followed by lunch.

Suitable for all levels, this retreat starts Saturday at 9AM and ends Sunday at 1PM.

Cost for the one-night retreat (including lodging, vegetarian meals and instruction) is $226 for a private, single room with a shared bath. Please add an additional $50 if you wish to stay over on Friday night (Friday meal not included).

A few spaces remain; To reserve a spot, mail a check or money order payable to Cara Jepsen, along with your name, address, e-mail and phone number to Cara Jepsen, P.O. Box 60401, Chicago, IL 60660. Or click here and use the Paypal button.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011


Yesterday Rosie O'Donnell had comedian / Sirius talk radio host Pete Dominick on the show, and they spoke for a good half or or so about the lack of media coverage of the unrest in Wisconsin.

(In case you missed it, Wisco's governor and other tea-partiers are invoking a budget crisis in order to eliminate the people's right to collective bargaining. So the people have marched on the Capitol. In order to postpone a vote, a score of Democrats are in hiding out of state (so they lack a quorum).

Rosie went off on how the media is giving top billing to the unrest in Libya and Bahrain - while the real unrest, and the real test of democracy, is happening right here under our noses.

Yes, what is happening in the Middle East will affect gas prices. But what is happening here in the Midwest is far more relevant to people's little-r reality, since it could signal the demise of the middle class. And it's not just Wisconsin. Indiana's Democrats also went into hiding this week, for the same reason, and hundreds of protesters in Ohio are trying to get on the agenda to testify on a similar bill. Even Michigan is getting in on the act (but not Illinois of course; we're too tamasic - although we are playing host to the AWOL Wisco democrats) Read more here and here.

(You can bet that if this were happening in California or New York - and not just the Midwest - there'd be slightly better media coverage).

Rosie was impassioned about the mass demonstrations and unrest, and blamed the lopsided media coverage on Ronald Reagan's deregulation of media (I think she may have meant the TelCom Act of 1996 - which happened on Clinton's watch and put control of the media into the hands of a handful of corporations. Reagan was responsible for throwing out the Fairness Doctrine, which required both sides of an issue to be covered by the media. Its elimination paved the way for Rush Limbaugh, Fox "News" and their ilk).

She is correct in saying that the media is controlled by a handful of megacorporations that determine what winds up on the news (it's actually six; click here for a chart).

Rosie and her guest said that somehow the political right (and Fox "News," et al) has convinced a large chunk of the middle class that access to health care, and the opportunity to join unions who look out for their interests, bargain with governments and corporations on their behalf, etc., are somehow bad for them - even though unions basically keep the middle class afloat (and are the working class's sole lobbying advocate in Washington).

Instead, Pete Dominick pointed out, the right holds up an anecdote about a teacher somewhere who has a large pension, and says "This has to stop," and "this is the cause of all our problems," and everyone gets on board (even Dreyfus brought up one of these anecdotes yesterday). Instead, the right invokes a budget crisis and says that it can be cured by taking money away from working people. Meanwhile, corporate welfare - where the real piles of money are siphoned off - continues unwatched and unfettered.

They also pointed out that the political right gets people to vote based on volatile peripheral issues, like gun control, abortion or gay marriage - and they end up voting against their own economic self-interest.

Dominick said that if the unions lose the power of collective bargaining, it will signal the slow demise of the middle class; unions are the only lobbying group looking out for the working-people's interests and representing them in Washington. All the other major lobbyists represent big business. He pointed out that unions don't just protect their own; good working conditions for union members mean better working conditions (and pay!) for everyone.
(BTW, if the unions are routed, the democratic party will also die).

Rosie was amazing. She yelled and screamed with righteous indignation, and it fired up her listeners. She really has her heart in the right place (I think she is a yogi, because she has a platform and she uses it for good). You can read more about her views here.

She said we should all be talking about this, and trying to do something about it.

Instead, we're worried about gas prices and wondering what Colonel Quadaffe (who used to be in America's crosshairs, back in the 80s) is going to do next.

I suppose that just as Chicago gets the mayor it deserves....

America gets the news coverage - and governors - it deserves.

FULL DISCLOSURE: I am a member of the Authors Guild (a union! that advocates for me!) and have been covering the media since 1993. (And if there were a yoga teacher's union with teeth, I'd join it, too).

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The power of suggestion

Over the past two weeks, I've said to a few students while they were in backbend, "Now, stand up."

The ones I said it to had open upper backs, and their hands were fairly close to their feet.

This was said in a few different classes, at different times.

When I said to stand up, FIVE of them did.

Most did it for the first time ever.

A couple of them hadn't done it since they were children.

Once they were up, they looked around, astonished. Some were even more surprised than I (who took EONS to stand up from backbend due to latent stiffness/fear/mind-stuff).

These magical standing-up-from-backbends happened at the end of half primary series or Dharma Mittra classes at health clubs.

It was wonderful to see what can happen when the students have no mental or physical obstacles or preconceived notions.

Very wonderful indeed.

And I feel grateful to have witnessed it.

I suspect that the young gent who posted the video above knew not that this here blog has been using the "No Sleep Til Mysore" moniker since 2003 - and that my Yoga Chicago-published Mysore Diaries have used the title since 2002 - when I practiced in Mysore next to Beastie Boy Mike D, and used to laugh and correct Three Sisters' Harini when she'd tell him to "mind your head" when he came through the low doorway to her restaurant. "No, Harini - it's CHECK your head!" No one noticed or laughed of course. Thud!

Monday, February 21, 2011

A Perfectly Cold Dark Day...

.....For what would have been my mother's 81st birthday.

- Posted using BlogPress via mobile device.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Was it rain that kept the students away today?

On the way to class in the rain today, I was reminded of the three Pedros I dated when I was a student in Madrid.

Spain has been on the mind quite a bit lately, as I make my way through a six-part Spanish miniseries about St. Teresa of Avila. (I'm cannot get enough of the Catholic mystics these days).

The miniseries was made by TV arm of where I did my internship.

Pedro el Primero worked there, too. He was a charming blue-eyed rubio (blonde) from Andalucia. I remember dancing with him and watching Los Gritos del Silencio (The Killing Fields) with him.

I don't recall if Pedro el Segundo worked. He was a Madrileño rocker who lived with his family and was a dead ringer for a young Elvis / Krishna. He had a massive poster of Nina Hagen on his wall, and explained that Madonna had stolen all of her (early) schtick from her. "¡Ella tiene mucha cara [cheek], Cara!"

Pedro el Tercero was a Basque architecture student who liked to hacer yogging (go jogging) and had impeccable taste in music. I fell hard for him, and whenever I do the paradise meditation I inevitably envision his beautiful hometown of San Sebastian.

But it was Pedro II who hated the rain.

One day he stood me up for our date, on a Sunday near el Rastro.

"Por que?" I asked.

"¡Cara!" he said, with a hint of exasperation in his voice. "¡Está lloviendo!"

Perhaps that's why only two people came to class today: ¡Está lloviendo! (it's raining).

Of course there is the distinct possibility that I suck as a teacher. After all, it's a prime-time slot. You'd think people would come even if a trained monkey were teaching.

The two students who did come received Dharma calendars, which mysteriously arrived in the mail this week.

Afterwords, the lower mind couldn't help but do the math:

Two students minus $3 parking equals $7 for teaching a 90-minute class.

The lower mind couldn't help but recall CK earning more per hour as a hung-over teenage busgirl at Raymond's back in 1978 - even after paying cabfare.

And the higher mind couldn't help but think, "Thank God it's not about the money!"

Thank. God.

Yet rent is still due March 1.....

rain or shine.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

To be a yogi, or a famous yoga teacher?

Terri Gross interviewed singer-songwriter Rodney Crowell on Fresh Air last week.

I was half listening until I heard him talk about some advice fellow songwriter Guy Clark gave him back in 1972. Suddenly, the hairs on the back of my neck stood up:

"He said, 'Now, look, you can be a star or you can be an artist. You can be an artist and then become a star, but I don't think it works the other way around. But they're both okay. Pick one and get good at it,' " Crowell says. "Well, I knew he was an artist, so I said, 'I want to be an artist.'

And I want to be a yogi.

I fail often.

But I keep trying.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Hearts Are Trump!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

And we've got plenty of it


Pic was snapped Friday morning. Only about 1/6 of the shoveled spaces on my street are "reserved" with chairs and whatnot; in my old neighborhood - where parking is at a premium year round - it's a good (bad) 1/3. As for the photo: One can't help but wonder.....Did someone snap the leg off the poor chair? And what happened to its mate? I feel rather sorry for it; a sad metaphor for the havoc winter wreaks on everyone.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

How to Cope During the Eating-Sleeping-Crying Season

I'll be giving my Winter Blues Workshop this Saturday from 12-3 at Namaskar Yoga, 3950 North Southport. Many people have already signed up, so call ahead and reserve a spot if you plan to go. I'll also do the workshop Saturday 2/19 at North Shore Yoga in Northfield and Saturday 2/26 at Creative Therapeutics in DeKalb.

My related Winter Blues article is now online. Here's an excerpt:

I started getting my depression under control in 1997, about a month after my mother died of cancer. That's when I walked into my first yoga session at the Lincoln-Belmont YMCA. The class provided a vacation from the ever-present pain, and the sense of well-being lasted for a few hours afterwards. I was hooked from the start. Within a few months I was taking classes every day (sometimes twice a day) at the Chicago Yoga Center ; a year later, I was sharing what I'd learned with others.

Since then, I've devoted my life to the study and practice of yoga, studying with a long list of senior instructors, making five trips to India , completing four teacher trainings, and continuing to study regularly with my guru, Sri Dharma Mittra. I was able to fine-tune my practice to the point where I could throw out my antidepressants.

I still struggle with depression. But now, I have a yoga arsenal at my disposal. Now, I can alter my mood using postures, breathing, mudras, diet, chanting, and meditation.

Here are a few things that may help you.


Backbends and twists are great for combating lethargy, because they affect the spine and activate the nervous system, releasing energy. Supported backbends are a wonderful option if you're feeling depleted; it can be as simple as lying down with a bolster supporting your middle back, and placing a rolled blanket under the shoulders. But I've found that simply moving the body will make the energy start to flow. If you haven't yet developed a home yoga practice, get yourself to class! (If you find classes too expensive, find out if your local studio has a free community class, or check the offerings at the local park district). Or simply go outside and take a brisk walk around the block. Just make sure you do it when the sun is out, so you can soak up its energizing rays.


The breath is considered the life force in yoga. It follows that if you breathe deeply, you'll bring more life force into the body and feel less lethargic. When I'm feeling depleted, I do a positive breathing exercise I learned from Sri Dharma Mittra. I combat anxiety with calming breathing. These practices--and most pranayamas--should be learned directly from a qualified teacher (both positive and calming breathing will be covered in my upcoming workshops). A type of breathing that requires no special training is smooth, even diaphragmatic breathing through the nose. You may do this breathing anywhere, at any time. Initially, try it on your back, while in savasana, placing your hands on the belly and chest and noticing the movement of the breath. Make sure the inhale is as long as the exhale and that the belly is moving. Adding ujjayi , or victorious, breath by making a gentle snoring or hissing sound in the back of the throat draws the mind's attention to the breath and automatically has a calming effect. As the Chandogya Upanishad says, “He who has control of his breath also has control over his mind.”

Click here to read the article in its entirety.


Photo snapped in September 2008 at the Balaji Temple in A.P., India. It's hard to depressed in such a sacred place.
Not exactly conducive to a live diet

Temperature outside this morning: -16 (-7 without windchill)

Temperature inside this morning: 60

Hearing the hiss of the radiators at 4:30am: Priceless


Photo snapped yesterday in the alley near Devon and Washtenaw

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Now it's your turn

This song has been in the head for the past two weeks.

The only cure (as it were) is to put a mantra in its place.

That said, it holds up and is still a great, great song!

How well I remember picking up "Boys Don't Cry" on my first trip to Chicago's famous Wax Trax record store back in 1982. A handful of us newbie college radio folks went on a vinyl-buying expedition, and my friend Bubble guided my choices. At his behest I also picked up Siouxsie & the Banshees' "Once Upon a Time / The Singles." As soon as I got back to the dorm, I put the vinyl on the turntable, lay on the bed, and examined the liner notes. The mind was totally and completely blown by the music; each song was better than the last, and they were the best two records I'd ever heard up to that point. No wonder I was a DJ for the next 15 years. No wonder it hurt so much to give away my record collection in a fit of yoga-fueled renunciation back in 2009.

But it had to be done.

And as the Bhagavad-Gita defines sattva (peace/purity/harmony):

"What is poison in the beginning becomes nectar in the end."

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Yet no one's talking about how one of them wants to create a new effing tax on services, including yoga. Can you guess who it is?

One of my neighbors tried to reserve their parking spot with these stylish chairs - which screamed "skinny hipster from a small hamlet up north" and were not taken seriously by the owner of the mini-van thingy who took her spot. (Something tells me the neighbor did not come home, whip out their knife, and slash their tires in retaliation).

No one dared move this "dibs" barrier in my old unhip immigrant neighborhood. You know they're not playing when they resort to cardboard and sticks.

I chose to kick it old school and used my car to reserve my spot on Friday - nothing screams "dibs" louder than an actual car - and rode my bike up to Devon on Friday. (As you can see, parking still kind of sucked).

Saturday, February 05, 2011

The CTA Goes Above and Beyond the Call....

Taking the CTA gives you time to think (when you're not distracted by your iPhone, that is).

And yesterday the mind realized that the CTA provides a wonderful way to explore the yogic ideas of ego (the small-s, personal self) and the Doer (the One without whom nothing would move).

When you drive a car, you think that you are the doer.
You can go wherever you want, whenever you want, enclosed in your little bubble. This inflates the ego, which thinks that it is in charge. When things don't go its way (someone pulls out in front of the car, there's a delay, etc), the mind become angry with road rage - a clear sign that the ego is out of hand.

When you take the CTA, you realize that you are not the doer.

Those who take the CTA must surrender to its schedule, its routes, and its delays. Those who take the CTA are at its mercy and the mercy of the elements. Riders must also interact with other people, with whom they have much in common (the CTA and the elements). The ego is diminished when riding the CTA.

And then the lower mind says, "Now that I've learned this, can I go back to driving my car?"

Photo snapped by CK Friday at 5:30am

Friday, February 04, 2011

The Snow Provides an Opportunity to Explore the Kleshas, the Koshas and the Yamas

The car is so nicely shoveled out, yet I haven't been able to bring myself to move it.

A grand war is going on, and there's no telling who will win.

The lower mind (Manamaya Kosha) wants to hold on to the hard-won parking space, due to attachment - the third Klesha.

The body (Amnamaya Kosha) does not want to go through the back-breaking shoveling ordeal again, due to aversion - the fourth Klesha.

The lower mind wants to employ Chciago's famous "dibs" system, and mark "its" spot with a chair or crate and go back to driving.

But the higher mind (Vijnanamaya Kosha) has deep reservations about "dibs," and believes that putting a chair in the spot would be a form of asteya (stealing) or aparigraha (greed). After all, the streets belong to everyone (the ones that weren't leased to LAZ Parking, that is).

But it sure is tempting....

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Small "r" Reality Yields Wonders

Once I saw that it's going down to -8 tonight, I realized it was time to venture forth and do what had to be done.

The situation appeared to be rather dire.

That is, until the neighbor began helping me. There's nothing like a weather disaster to bring people together. The work was exhausting - no wonder people die from this - and it re-activated some recently-healed lower back and wrist issues.

Yet afterwords I paid it forward, and helped the neighbor-across-the-way dig out her Ford Focus. Then we watched in awe as a small bulldozer came and dug out the fireplug in front of her car.

On the way back in, I loaned my shovel to another neighbor - who was planning to dig out her car with a dustpan.

Time spent shoveling snow: 1.5 hours
Meeting and talking to neighbors and working towards a common goal: priceless
As seen on The Weather Channel


for some, anyway*

It's still snowing this morning, with whiteout conditions. Lake Shore Drive is closed - people were stranded on it all night, and cars are still blocking traffic, plus there are waves crashing over it and massive snow drifts (which were forming as early as 12:30 yesterday, when I drove on LSD). Part of Wrigley Field blew off onto Clark Street last night (BTW, did you know that there's a free public ice skating rink in front of Wrigley this year?). Many are without power. Here are a couple of views from my relatively shanti dining room.

Luckily, the brunt of the storm (from the west) hit the side of the apartment that has new(er) windows. It made a quite a racket all night, but the place stayed warm and I didn't notice anyway - since in addition to PJs I was wearing earplugs, socks, legwarmers, hoodie and a couple of extra blankets.

Here's the living room view. You can't see it (because of the snow) but there's a Mini Cooper out front, buried in a massive snow drift.

This is the view lookin' out my back door. There's something eerily horror movie-ish about snow being able to wend its way up a semi-enclosed stairwell and push through a screen door.

Kirby preferred not to explore there.

*Many prayers were said, are being said, for the people and animals and birds on the streets as well as for those who have no home or heat or food / are stranded / must go into work or lose their jobs.
Getting to a Teaching Gig During a Blizzard

The long walk to the El was against the ridiculously strong wind coming off Lake Michigan.

I figured it was better to take the El than to die on the way to class.

Many people were on the El. Many of them admired the ancient ski goggles I was wearing.

Somehow I got to the club 45 minutes early, and spent the time talking to the boss and catching up on e-mail. There were four students for class (astangis love bad weather). One of them told me how to access the CTA's new Train Tracker. So on the way home, I timed it so that I left the club three minutes before the El was scheduled to arrive. Despite the wind and snow drifts I made it in time; the train appeared 20 seconds after I walked onto the platform.

This time, the train was nearly empty. This time, many of the people on it were drunk. Yet they still admired the goggles. "That's smart!"

The long walk home was not as fun, what with the 60mph wind and large drifts that activated an old running injury. I trudged past the Sivananda Vedanta Center - which was open. Further up, there was a whole block without power on Clark Street - which was like a ghost town except for McDonald's - which was also open.

The wind at the intersections was so strong it nearly blew me over. It was eerily quiet during the whole walk - except for that wind (the thunder-snowstorms hadn't started yet) and the sirens. After a few blocks I was the only person on the streets. Good thing, since I looked pretty scary!

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Yet the show must go on

This will be my mantra while I attempt to get to the club to teach tonight:

Be happy and content with whatever you have, with whatever you are passing through, and with wherever the Lord places you. This material realm is nothing more than a dream—a projection of light and shadow. Turn away from the illusion and get a glimpse of eternity.

~ Chandra Om
So far, not much is happening....

It's like everyone's breath is on hold.