We had a lively and loving group of yogis here to celebrate and experience our annual Yoga on the Beach Hatha Yoga Retreat 2014. One would expect blue skies and hot weather, the season being summer, but we had fog and mild pleasant temperatures in the low to mid 60s. This is typical coastal weather for Ocean Shores, Washington. We were able to enjoy a morning session of yoga on the beach both on Saturday and Sunday. Our fogged-in beach sessions were filled with the sound of terns seemingly mocking us, pelicans flying close by and diving for food, seals curiously watching us, and the sound and smell of the sea.
Before I post more the photos, I will also include some of the passages that the retreat participants read to the group during the Shared Reading on Saturday night. I often ask participants to bring along a meaningful passage or poem that speaks to their hearts. I only include a few as I don’t have them all yet. I may add some additional passage in another blog post.
Here is the passage from Heidi, written by Adyashanti
Every day is a chance to deepen this practice. I am learning to expand further by practicing discernment. Because living from an open heart leaves one vulnerable, it’s best to practice first with people who will protect this vulnerability. Choosing to open your heart all the way to those who have demonstrated their trustworthiness, who you know can hold your vulnerability, leaves you less likely to get hurt when your heart is open.
But I find myself pushing beyond even this lately. Yes, it feels better to reserve the practice of opening your heart for those who have earned a place in it. But what if we were willing to open our hearts even for those who have not earned such a place? What if we could learn to love even the untrustworthy? What if compassion was free-flowing and unearned? Wouldn’t it then be GRACE?
This is not an easy practice. As I try to live this way, my human self gets in the way. My feelings get hurt. I see where I’m tempted to protect my heart by closing someone out, even someone I love. But each time I notice this tendency, I bench press the feeling of vulnerability that accompanies leaving the heart open when it’s feeling hurt or disappointed or judging. The more I bench press this uncomfortable feeling, the stronger this muscle gets and the more I’m able to prevent the knee jerk response that closes the heart.
Keeping the heart open and practicing compassion does not equate to being a doormat. Boundaries can be erected with the heart open. In fact, boundaries must be erected in order to keep the heart open, because we’re human. But with practice, more and more people, even those who have hurt you, can find their way into the light the open heart radiates. The heart expands to encompass the whole world, even strangers and “enemies.”
This practice is not for the faint of heart. The ego hates it. But it is medicine for the soul, and as far as I’m concerned, the care and feeding of the soul are worth any sacrifice.
“Make no mistake about it- enlightenment is a destructive process. It has nothing to do with being happier or becoming better. Enlightenment is the crumbling away if the untruth. It’s seeing through the facade of pretense. It’s the complete eradication of everything we imagined to be true.”
Ann shared the following quotes:
Change is not only inevitable, but always happening. When you truly embrace this concept of change being constant, the only thing left to do is grow, detach, venture inwards, touch the spirit and find your source -the one responsible for keeping you grounded through the ever-changing seasons of life.”-Julie Welland
Don’t move the way fear makes you move. Move the way love makes you move. Move the way joy makes you move.” -Osho
“When you wake up in the morning, Pooh,” said Piglet at last, “what’s the first thing you say to yourself?”
“What’s for breakfast?” said Pooh. “What do you say, Piglet?”
“I say, I wonder what’s going to happen exciting today?” said Piglet.
Pooh nodded thoughtfully. “It’s the same thing,” he said.
And I just came across this poem called Allowing by Nancy Minges from the Poetry of Yoga Anthology, which speaks to doing yoga on the beach this morning:
This tender moment of now.
This breath is enough.
Giving rise to this increment of movement;
The owning and releasing
of each grain of sand.
Again and Again
of needing any of it to be different.
Slowing Down Some More
Allowing all of it to be held with breath
Resting in Deep Acceptance
in Deep Trust
in Deep Unknowing
Resting in the undercurrents
of being delightfully tickled
by the equanimity that supports us all.
As an intimacy with all things.