Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Siddharameshwar's Mahasamadhi


Yesterday we also visited the mahasamadhi of nondualist teacher Siddharameshwar Maharaj, the guru of Nisargdatta Maharaj, next to a cremation ground (Nisargatta wrote the well-known Advaita Vedanta book, I am That).

From Siddharameshwar: "Consider yourself lucky if your mind is fed up with wordly objects."

Nisargdatta said, "My Guru ordered me to attend to the sense 'I am'  and to give attention to nothing else. I just obeyed. I did not follow any particular course of breathing, or meditation, or study of scriptures. Whatever happened, I would turn away my attention from it and remain with the sense 'I am'. It may look too simple, even crude. My only reason for doing it was that my Guru told me so. Yet it worked!"


'My Guru told me: "...Go back to that state of pure being, where the ‘I am’ is still in its purity before it got contaminated with ‘I am this’ or ‘I am that.’ Your burden is of false self-identifications—abandon them all." My guru told me, "Trust me, I tell you: you are Divine. Take it as the absolute truth. Your joy is divine, your suffering is divine too. All comes from God. Remember it always. You are God, your will alone is done." I did believe him and soon realized how wonderfully true and accurate were his words. I did not condition my mind by thinking, "I am God, I am wonderful, I am beyond." I simply followed his instruction, which was to focus the mind on pure being, "I am," and stay in it. I used to sit for hours together, with nothing but the "I am" in my mind and soon the peace and joy and deep all-embracing love became my normal state. In it all disappeared—myself, my guru, the life I lived, the world around me. Only peace remained, and unfathomable silence. (I Am That, Dialogue 51, April 16, 1971)."''

Jai Guru❣️

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Banganga Tank

In the Ramayana, Lord Ram became thirsty on the way to Lanka to rescue Sita. There was no water, so he shot an arrow into the ground, and the Ganga River sprang up from it.  Mumbai's Banganga Tank means "Arrow Tank," and that is its source.  (You can see it in the bottom left corner).


The tank is surrounded by temples, including a Shiva Temple.  It is at the site where Lord Ram wished to pray to Lord Shiva before heading to Lanka.  A linga wasn't available, so Lord Ram made one out of sand.



There is also a Kali Temple, partway up a steep hill.



Jai Ma!

Monday, March 20, 2017

Here Itself

This is my first trip to India in  nine years,  and my first visit the north. The last was to Mysore in 2008, to visit Sri K. Pattabhi Jois one final  time (he passed the following year). 

As I was leaving the plane i  was immediately struck by the warm, welcoming humid-smoke scent I associate with India, and began to tear up; why had I been away from home so long?

I was able to sleep in today until about 9:30, and was thrilled to awaken in India. The palms, the birds, the scent, the feeling of being in the arms of the mother (no joke since we are staying with the OM's own Mum).  The feeling of being home.

After a leisurely breakfast watching (well, one of us was watching)  the final day of the  India-Australia cricket match, we took darshan of the sea, 


had an excellent capuccino at a delightful AC cafe, and then headed to ISKCON for a sumptuous vegetarian buffet meal at Govinda's. Jai Shri Krishna!


Later we had a walk along the sea on the first day of spring (vasanti). Many others were out, taking the air.


Sunday, March 19, 2017


 Left the house @ 11 AM Saturday, and arrived in the beautiful new Mumbai airport Sunday night after 10 PM. The OM was there with a mango lassi in hand. Jai Guru! 

Photos: Newark (top) & O'Hare.  Will plan to snap some of Mumbai airport - which really *is* photogenic - on the return trip.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Departure Day

Had a wonderful chat with Miss Y yesterday (she was my primary "India coach" for my first trip to the Motherland, back in 2002). She'd literally just returned from 2.5 weeks at the Govardhan Eco Village north of Mumbai. It had also been her first trip back since 2008, and she kept marveling at how much easier things are now.

We shall see.

Miss Y is also the one who gave me my first India advice, which my first yoga teacher, Suddha Weixler, had given to her:

"Expect the unexpected.”

And now, back to packing....

Miss Y and Miss Om with Geetha's Mum (top) in Mysore in 2004, with Bindifry (middle) halfway up Chamundi Hill in 2004, and at the predecessor to Yoga Now (Yogawerks) near Cabrini Green in 2002.

Friday, March 17, 2017



Of course you are never ready or not ready to go to India, as Dena Kingsberg told me back in 1999....."You just go."

Last night I finally went through the things in my "India box," from 2008, below. Some of them still fit. 


And some do not. 

Earlier in the day I went to the lake after teaching, and saw this:

It's 93 in Mumbai.


Tuesday, March 14, 2017


1. Snow!

2. Punchline

3. Coda

Friday, March 10, 2017


Yam overwhelmed at the moment with awe and gratitude towards everything that yoga and its gurus have given me over the past two decades.* The people, the practices, the purpose, the meaning - everything.

Jai Guru!

* * *

*I was a little lost when my mother passed in April of 1997. Then an idea crept into my head from the back of my mind; why not try that yoga? It was on my list of things to try (which also included playing bass in a band and learning to surf) and a fellow waitress friend (another Amy) encouraged me to give it a shot, giving me my first sticky mat (in those days they came in a single color - royal blue). I ignored my first experience with yoga -- watching a friend do sun salutations in Central Park in 1990 *really* turned me off to the whole thing -- and signed up for my first, life-changing session at the Lincoln-Belmont YMCA. During the first class I forgot all of my problems - clearing out my mother's house and serving as executor of her estate, fighting with my sibling, losing my best friend and cheerleader [my mother], watching my two closest remaining friends go AWOL, and dealing with all of the accompanying emotions -- and felt peaceful for the first time in my life. I was in - hook, line and sinker. There was no question that I had found what I was looking for. I was home.

Saturday, March 04, 2017

Writing again....?

I recently bought a plane ticket to India; the plan is to leave March 18 and return April 6.

It's been nine years since I visited the Motherland; in the interim, Sri K. Pattabhi Jois passed, I received guru mantra, completed many more teacher trainings, legally changed my name, made it through menopause, gave up my journalism career, bought a new computer, led many, many retreats, and nearly stopped writing (except for my Yoga Chicago columns and spiritual diary).

I have the sense that that is all beginning to change, as I read this, written by a longtime Chicago ashtangi and dear friend, and re-consider where my gifts are and how they may best be used to serve others.

* * *

*the photo above shows me wearing the shorts Miss Amy KR gave to me the day before, shortly after she'd gone into hospice. She asked me to send her a picture of me wearing them, and this is what I sent.

She had originally loaned those same shorts to me in the early 2000's, at Sri K. Pattabhi Jois's workshop at the Puck Building in NYC. I'd shown up bleary-eyed in jeans, and without yoga pants; within a few minutes Amy - whom I barely knew - offered me her extra shorts. Long story short, over the years (although I was ostensibly the one in the role of "teacher"), she taught be a whole lot about love, selflessness, inclusiveness, joy and generosity. Jai Ma!