Who is this book written for? What made you want to create it?
This book is written for the average person who is curious about what yoga is but is afraid to attend a public class. It is for the person who would like to learn more about yoga than how to look good in yoga photos. It is for the person who perhaps has never really cared well for their body but whose health care provider has told them they should start yoga to help with XYZ.

This book is for anyone who would like to begin the lifelong journey of yoga in the privacy and comfort of their own home, who leads a busy life and doesn’t have and hour or more each day to spend on their own self care, who knows that there has got to be more to life than the hustle and grind of modern life, who is seeking a more fulfilling existence by turning inward.

I wanted to create this book as an act of service, to share with the world the deeply profound mental, physical and spiritual healing that can be found through even the most basic and simple yoga practice. My hope is for this book to ignite the fire of yoga within a person, who then has unlimited choices on how to continue stoking the fire, from hundreds of lineages, schools, thousands of teachers and programs, and infinite online resources. This is simply the doorway, wide open and welcoming to everyone.

What first led you on the yoga path?
I started on my spiritual path at the age of 15, after my first experience with psychedelics that can only be described as a shamanic death. Kinda super intense for an unsuspecting teen. I began putting myself back together by finding the books and resources available to me on eastern mysticism, meditation, new age spirituality, native traditions, and western psychology.

In college, I was earning a degree in psychology, while working nights as a waitress. A coworker, Sherry Philips, who was a mentor and dear friend, one day mentioned yoga, and I responded how I hadn’t yet been able to figure out exactly what yoga was, but I was really interested in learning. She said when she was my age, in the 70s, she found yoga through a book called ‘Richard Hittleman’s 28 Day Exercise Plan’ and that I should check it out. The next day I found a used copy (published in 1969) online and had it sent my way. I came to yoga not from the ‘fitness-I-want-to-look-good’ angle, but from my own expanding curiosity into the workings of mind and spirit. The body was something I had given little thought to in my life.

Fortunately for me, Sherry was right. Hittleman’s book was just what I needed to come to an experiential understanding of what yoga is. The home practice was simple and accessible, otherwise there would have been no way I would have been able to stick to it.  Over the 28 days not only did I touch my toes for the first time in my life, but I also witnessed how much calmer and clearer my thoughts had become, how I was much more thoughtful than reactive, how bad habits like social smoking and late night tacos had fallen away without effort, and how much more at home I felt in my body.

Soon I began attending free weekly evening classes at the university I was attending. My teachers, Eric and Isabelle, were students at the college who had attended a YTT at the Sivananda Center in the Bahamas. Once I graduated with my BA in Psychology I knew that the degree hadn’t yet set me up to enter the workforce, and that I wanted to earn a graduate degree in Transpersonal Psychology, which I later did through Sophia University (then ITP), but first I wanted to become a yoga teacher, as I knew yoga was the perfect avenue to access whole self-healing of body, mind, and spirit. 6 months after graduation I attended the Nosara Yoga Institute’s 200 HR yoga teacher training in Nosara, Costa Rica. 15 years later I am a Nosara Yoga 1000 HR Master Yoga Educator, I have an MA in Transpersonal Psychology, a Life Coaching certification, lead my own 200 and 300 HR yoga school, run a full service yoga studio, teach at festivals and retreats all over the world, have published my first book on yoga, and live a balanced and fulfilling life. Much of this success I attribute to the gift of finding yoga through Hittleman’s wonderful book.

Were there any other books that helped you along your yoga journey, if so, which ones?
• Autobiography of a Yogi
• The Complete Illustrated Book of Yoga
• The Four Agreements
• Self Awakening Yoga: The Expansion of Consciousness Through the Body’s Own Wisdom
• Yoga Beyond Belief
• The Way of the Peaceful Warrior
• The Mayan Factor
• Return of the Bird Tribes

There are so many styles of yoga, what is a good place to start for a beginner? 
With all of the resources out there now for yoga – YouTube and online videos, podcasts, classes at the YMCA and gyms, so many great studios, and with millions of Americans practicing yoga, there are countless avenues for beginners to find their way to yoga. I would recommend a new yogi attend a class with a friend who is already practicing and can recommend a teacher in their area. Most studios, like mine, Sage Yoga & Wellness, offers a Beginner Foundation Series, that is a class dedicated to just beginners, that offers information about what yoga is and how and why it works, in a setting where everyone is a beginner, so it takes the stigma off of ‘not knowing’.

I created my book for the beginner who perhaps does not have access to a public class, or who is timid about joining a class when they don’t really know what yoga is and are afraid of embarrassing themselves. I hear this all the time from people who want to start yoga but are very intimidated about going to a class. Having the ability to practice in the comfort of one’s home, at their own pace, slowly building overtime, is a wonderful way to build the confidence some need to walk into a yoga studio.

Current favorite music to practice to.
• Sol Rising
• East Forest
• Masood Ali Khan
• Sheela Bringi
• Tycho
• Jon Hopkins

For those who occasionally fall off the yoga wagon- how do you get back on? Does this ever happen to you?
I like to remind myself that life is cyclical. Sometimes we are super dedicated to a practice and sometimes the practice falls away, and when we return to it, it’s from a new place, providing for us the space and healing we need at that time. So often my students show up at my studio and have a mini confessional while they are checking in. They say sheepishly, “It’s been 2 months, or 3 weeks, or a year, since my last yoga class.” Like they need to apologize because I am disappointed in them. I could care less how long it has been between classes.

What matters is that they have been able to create the time and space in that moment. I remind them that we are all very busy, productive members of society, with families to care for, careers to grow, communities to be involved in, and that really most of us do not have the 2 hours it really takes to attend a yoga class each day. Nor are we expected to have the luxury of that time at this point in our lives. That comes in the later third of our lifespan. You get back on the wagon by carving out the little time you need to slow down and center. This can be as little as 15 minutes of yoga or meditation or pranayama. Or find a friend who will help keep you accountable by attending a class together. Or reset your habits by committing to a daily practice for a few weeks or more. I definitely go through phases when I am not able to find time for a personal practice. When this happens, the most important thing is to not give my self a shame and guilt trip about it, but to accept that I don’t currently have the time in my life to dedicate to being on the mat, but knowing for sure that the time will come again.

I also remind myself that yoga comes in many forms, not simply mat time, but in being a kind and loving human being, by spending time in nature and playing with my children, by dedicating myself to a service project, or in doing deep personal healing work.

Any tips for yogis that travel a lot (or work a lot, have kids- how to make it work through all the hustle)? 
For the busy yogi, be kind to yourself and know that no one is disappointed in you for not already being enlightened. You are not a sadhu in a cave. You are a highly productive member of society who is giving a lot to the world. Do what you can to stay balanced during this most active time in your life by attending a weekend or week long yoga retreat, by listening to a podcast by your favorite teacher while you are traveling, by taking a 5-minute conscious breathing break during the day, by putting down your phone and reaching for your toes, by going for a walk at sunset, by slowing down and enjoying the moment, whatever is happening. Be present. Enjoy the life you have worked so hard to create. Know that you are already enough.

Finally, what has made your dedication to yoga all worth it, how has it shown up in your ‘non-yoga’ life? 
 I know I can return to my mat, or to a breath practice, whenever I am in need to realign my attitude, to clear my mind to create openness for problem solving, to help me to be a more creative, generous, thoughtful human, and to know that I am more than my body and thoughts. Through my yoga practice I have uncovered more of who I already am – not that I have to strive to be something I am not – but that all I need to do is get clear, tune my frequency, and let my light shine. Yoga has helped me to live a brilliant, peaceful, adventurous life of service, sharing the wisdom I have learned through my teachings and my studio, and now in my book, so that others can also remember who they truly are and why they are here.

All of my life is yoga now, whether I am in downward dog, having a conversation with my children or the barista or homeless man on the corner, when I decide on business practices and on the next new adventure, it is yoga, the truth of my existence and the consciousness that I am channeling- that informs the way the world is perceived and that I am perceived by it. Because of my dedication to yoga and self-discovery, my life is full of joy, abundant in resources and laughter, and radiates a calm, focused attitude that uplifts those around me because I am an example that yes you can have it all, yes you are the master of your mind and in turn your life, and yes, it is possible for all of us to find a connection to our inner world that anchors beauty, grace and light into all you do.


Pain in the Asana part 2

So you are starting to get some discernment between discomfort and pain and you are willing to work your butt off in your practice. You are willing to deal with the discomfort of the demands of your Yoga practice and you are still having pain… now what?

You need to know that your pain is a workable situation. This means that you have some alternatives to pain pills, surgery, and “just living with it”. Of course all this depends on expertise and I highly recommend that you find a professional to work with. Most of us need someone who is able to give us a proper assessment, diagnosis, treatment plan, and feedback. The reality is that even the best of us have a limited internal ability to sense, feel, and track all the parts of this human situation; our form and function, especially when it comes to pain. For the most part, we simply cannot do it alone.

Acute pain and chronic pain

Acute pain is pain that comes with cuts, bumps, bruises, breaks, bashes, and all sorts of life events and goes away within weeks of onset. Sometimes acute pain takes moments to pass and sometimes weeks. Its pathway is from body to brain via the nervous system.

Chronic pain is pain that last for longer than a few weeks. Its causes can be and are usually much more sophisticated than acute pain. Chronic pain pathways fire from brain to body rather than from body to brain. Chronic pain is also known as “learned pain”. Sometimes chronic pain is in the same region that has been injured and sometimes it shows up in a region of the body that seems to have no relation to the injured area.

The Pain Cycle

A lot of us have been there. We incur an injury, we do not fully recover from it, and yet the pain in the region of injury goes away temporarily or totally. If we have not yet fully recovered it is likely that we are actually in the pain cycle still and avoiding the pain unconsciously through the body’s own natural reactions to the sensation of pain.

When the body senses pain, it instinctively moves away from it. This moving away from the pain can be as simple as walking on the outside of your foot or with a slightly different tilt in your foot, adjusting the angle of your knee as it moves over the ankle. It can be a favoring of weight on one side of the body, a slight twist in the spine when bending over or picking something up… you get the picture. These are what are called altered mechanics. Altered mechanics change the way you move through life in order to avoid some pain. Sounds benign enough…

Altered mechanics in most cases creates a weakness in muscles, muscle groups, connective tissues, or joints. It does so by not allowing those parts of the body to do the work they could be doing to support the entire body system in its functioning. And this is motivated by the instinctual avoidance of pain played out through altered mechanics. This is starting to sound a little ominous… just wait.

The weakness of muscles, connective tissues, and joints do not in most cases stop a body from barreling through its appointed tasks of the day, including Yoga classes. Weakness in any part of the system of a human body come with a partner, compensation! Compensation is the overworking of a muscle, group of muscles, connective tissues, and/or joints. Compensation shows up in a myriad of ways depending on how much weakness it is compensating for and for how long it has been happening. It can show up as overgrown, hard and short muscle tissue, tight fascia tissue, achy and/or compacted joints, and/or worn down joints. These are few of the major compensation patterns we see in the pain cycle. Now your interest may be peaking a bit with the dark tones of where this is going…

Compensation invariably leads to pain. Though likely not in the region of the body or body tissue that was originally injured, creating altered mechanics, weakness, and thus the compensation, leading to more pain, more altered mechanics, and the cycle just keeps going.

This is the pain cycle:

Pain —> Altered mechanics —> Weakness —> Compensation —> Pain

It gives us a governing principle when working with pain in the body:

“Where you think it is, it ain’t!”

 

Working with Pain

The good news is that you can work backward through the cycle. First you admit that you are in pain and agree to face it head on and get help if need be. Once you are working with an honest and relaxed attitude about your pain, it is going to be way faster to change. Notice I did not say easier! Start to track down the compensation patterns you notice in your body: one leg bigger and stronger, one hip more stable and/or mobile, one side of the sacrum able to tip forward easier than the other…Things like this. Get an honest and clear picture of what you suspect are your major compensation patterns. Once there do a little research. Go to Google and type in the muscle groups and find out their function and most importantly their opposing muscle groups. It is very likely that the opposing muscles and muscle groups to compensation patterns will be weak. Make a skillful plan [with guidance from a pro] to strengthen those muscles. Note! These muscles may have been weak or even dormant for months or years.

You cannot strengthen a muscle that your brain does not recognize!!!

If a muscle or group of muscles is dormant, you must learn to ‘awaken’ it before attempting to strengthen. Otherwise you will most likely misfire and compensate to achieve the exercise that aims at your goal of strengthening the weak muscle.

Watch out for altered mechanics. This is a tricky one. It requires a lot of skill, patience, and honesty. One key that has helped me to unlock the pain cycle is to do exercises slowly and carefully with low weight to begin, be extra diligent about form and function. This is basically an alignment issue. One needs to know the optimal mechanics of the body’s function and understand through feeling when it is and is not happening.

Note: The sensation of building strength in an atrophied muscle or muscle group is pain. Make sure it is manageable and not causing you to spiral into the pain cycle through altered mechanics etc.

When the weak and  mechanically altered parts of the body start to do their job properly, the rest of the system responds. It is as if the pain was just waiting to be released. The process of getting free from physical pain is an ongoing one and it is worth the effort. It is liberating to come to know more about yourself and your abilities and limitations in this regard. It builds a large degree of wisdom and sympathy to acknowledge and work with pain and getting free from it.

I wish you luck on your journey to living free of physical pain. Having experienced some of the highest degree chronic pain from severe injuries and worked my way out of it [with help and without surgery] I can vouch for the possibility and potential in this process.

 

By: Brent Kuecker – Yogi. Musician. Educator.

 

 

 

 


Pain in the Asana

It has been a while since I wrote a blog on the body. I guess mostly because there are so many blogs out there about biomechanics, 5 poses for this or that, 3 ways to tear your rotator cuff, etc.. I generally write about the layers of Yoga practice beneath the apparent physical because well… I am interested in them, and, I don’t see a necessary separation between the physical practice and the mental, the energetic, the spiritual. I experience many times that when I have a deeper insight in the mind, emotions, and spiritual vision which I am living with and practicing, I immediately see a resulting shift in my physical practice.

Now to the body… and PAIN!

Pain is often labeled “bad” in Yoga and something that should not be allowed. The reason for this is largely unknown to the adherents of the “pain is bad” camp. While physical pain being the most sensational and identifiable is where most of our minds go when we consider pain: from stubbed toes, burnt fingers, a punch in the face (on the lighter side), all the way to dying by boiling in oil, in a house fire, or being eaten by ants (a personal favorite of mine), pain goes far deeper than the physical.

There is a type of pain that we feel in life when we are demanded to be somewhere we don’t want to be, when we have to go through an aggressive argument, when we lose a friend, or there is not enough people at our party. We feel this pain when we have to punch a clock, account for our actions, or have to fulfill pretty much any duty. We feel this type of pain when we sit alone for longer than 20 minutes without a task to do, when we miss a green light, or when we have to read something that takes longer than 30 seconds. This pain is much deeper and all pervasive than physical pain and I will pretty much enact countless strategies to stay unaware of its existence. Fortunately for the reader, this pain is not the main subject of this blog and buffers to said pain will not be outed and asked to be looked at here. It is simply important that we admit the truth of its existence.

Which brings us to another type of pain before we get to the physical. At one point in each of our lives, we had no demands on us, we felt connected, taken care of, loved, totally free of burden. Everyone felt this if at least only a few moments while being in the womb, and some people continue to feel this long into their life until one day, reality comes knocking at their door and says, “Hi, I noticed that you have not been living with me, I have come now to live with you.” At this point in life, depending on the resource amounts of denial, self-deception, and parental coddling one has in their life, this feeling of burden can be temporarily or cyclically ignored. Of course we occasionally get free of the burdens of reality when we complete a task we signed up for, when we get off work, when we get out of a toxic relationship, when we feel sane. This second type of pain arise as we go back and forth between experiencing the pain of burden to free from burden, sanity to insanity. It’s mental narrative sounds something like,

“Why is life this way? There must be someway out of this alternation from pain to free from pain!” “Can’t we just automate everything and take away the burdens of being alive!?”

Now we come to the physical pain, which is as far as I can see, labeled “bad” out of the unwillingness to honestly look at and respond to the other two types of pain spoken about above. Physical pain has a close neighbor who is the real time expression of the other two pains, “discomfort”. Discomfort is the product of the pain of burden; the all encompassing pain of separation and loneliness that we all carry as human beings and because of this is often mistaken for physical pain. The good news is that as we gain discernment in knowing and recognizing the distinction between discomfort and physical pain, we are simultaneously more able to skillfully cause less [self-inflicted] physical pain and work on (by proxy of our Yoga practice) the other two pains of our existence.

Think about it. You are doing a Yoga practice and it has challenges, innumerable challenges of breath, muscle engagements, connective tissue limitations, joint mobility, attitude, mental concentration, attention, awareness, adjustment, response to sensation, the releasing of unnecessary strain, and the list just keeps going (if your teacher is worth their salt). These challenges which are demanded of us by practicing can seem painful to undertake, though none of them are physical pain! They are what can be considered ‘burdens’ of practice and therefore come with discomfort as we face them.

The fact is that a lot of people either quit their Yoga practice because it is uncomfortable (outside their comfort zone) or because they avoid taking on the discomfort of the burdens of practice and end up putting themselves into pain through injury.

TWO FUNDAMENTAL QUESTIONS:

  1. Is discomfort allowed in a Yoga practice?
  2. Is pain allowed in a Yoga practice?

How you answer these questions tells you a lot about yourself and your view of life and the path to self-knowing.

The writer’s big fat opinion:

  1. Discomfort is allowed in a Yoga practice.
  2. Pain is allowed in a Yoga practice, and need not be permitted.

***The distinction between ‘allowed’ and ‘permitted’ is very important here. Mother Nature has given us the pain response to help us learn about ourselves, the world around us, and how to more skillfully navigate the demands of life. She is eternally and infinitely allowing of behavior in life, AND She does not permit just any behavior, thus the pain. She will allow the freedom to touch a hot stove, though She will not permit you to do it without the ensuing pain. She will allow you the freedom to overstretch your connective tissues into unsupporting, unfeeling, scar-tissue, though not without the resulting pain which comes with such instability. She allows the freedom to tighten your muscles and joints to the point where you cannot lift your arm above your shoulder, though not without the pain which comes with immobility and hypertension of connective and muscular tissue.

When we avoid pain at all costs, we tend to avoid discomfort as well and in so doing put ourselves into the subtle agreement to have another type of pain, if not today sometime later. When we allow our self to play the edge between discomfort and pain, we get the opportunity for a greater degree of self betterment, development, adaptation, skill in response, strength of character, tolerance, compassion, and pretty much everything we came to the practice for in the first place (even if that was just a nice ass).   

How to mature in your discernment of discomfort and pain

  • Start to see that pain is on a spectrum from 0-10. Zero being total happiness and ease (not just satiated or appeased), and ten being the worst physical pain imaginable, ie: being burned alive
  • See 1, 2, and 3 as levels of discomfort and 4-10 levels of real, verifiable levels of physical pain
  • Come to know the distinction between level 3 to 4
  • Give yourself permission to practice in discomfort
  • Do not give yourself permission to practice in pain

*** You need to know that level 3 discomfort is easily confused for level 4 pain.

You need to know that slip ups will occur. We will make mistakes in perception and decisiveness; pain will happen. We can allow these experiences to aid in our development of discernment and by doing so cultivate a much wider window of tolerance and compassion for all beings that experience pain.

You also need to know that everyone’s spectrum of pain sensation is different and you will probably have a different discomfort and pain tolerance than other practitioners. Always verify for yourself what is true and maintain a nonjudgmental attitude toward yourself and others in this regard. Your tolerance for discomfort will shift as you gain in strength and stamina and the ability to relax.

Take it slow and practice at your edge.

 

 

By: Brent Kuecker – Yogi. Musician. Educator.


What an absurd statement. How can going slower get me anywhere faster? This sounds so backwards, upside down, and idiotic. Well, I suppose it depends on where you think “there” is, who you think “you” are…

Self Knowing is a statement of purpose on nearly all spiritual paths. It has been an aim of Yoga practitioners for centuries and has the paradoxical nature of being both a process and product. As a process, Self Knowing is as difficult as finding your way through a thorny labyrinth, on a crescent moon night, with crippled limbs. As a product, Self Knowing is as elusive as the eyeglasses on your head that you are sure are lost.

When someone tries to sell you Self Knowing as a product, it is as if they are selling you a watch which they stole off your wrist… Of course if you had forgotten that you owned a watch, this would seem like a really good deal!

So where are we going to find Self Knowing?

The destination is the present…

                  …And the slower you go, the faster you get there.

 

“Don’t we all live in the present?” Well, yes… and not really. Being in the present depends on attention. The “energy” which is subject to my will [very little!], follows my attention. When my attention is captured by thoughts, imagery, emotions, etc. that have nothing to do with what is currently arising, I cannot reliably claim to be present. Furthermore, Thinking “I live in the present” no more gets me into the present than thinking “a million dollars” puts the money in my bank account.

*** NOTE: Attention in this context is not the same as ‘attention span’ or any psychological definition of attention. Attention in this context is much more fundamental to being; the witnessing function in consciousness. In this context, attention is closer to what we might call soul, awareness, essential self, or any other irreducible language that holds the polarity to that which witnesses impressions.

So what is the pathway, or process for being in the present?

  • The breath and the body. Both breath and the body are only and always present phenomenon.

Sensation and feeling in the present moment are the eternal resources which fuel the process of building our presence of being. Sensation and feeling, like the breath and body exist forever and always in the present. Struggles arise in the process when I do not like, cannot take, what I sense and feel; when I am in pain and averse to what is being sensed and felt. Likewise it is just as difficult to remain present in pleasure, or when I am sensing what I do like and all I want is for the feeling to keep going.

The struggle to remain present is as difficult as turning down a night out at your favorite restaurant club with the most famous and beautiful people, the richest and most delicious food, stunning and sexy dancing ladies (or men if that’s your bag) moving to the most energetic and thrilling music, any intoxicant of your choice, all for a simple night at home, alone, cooking for yourself with a few basic ingredients, and if you dance, you do it sober.

What to observe in the struggle for presence:

  • Unnecessary thinking
  • Inappropriate emotional reaction
  • Unnecessary tension in the body

Unnecessary thinking – About 95% of all thinking is what could be called unnecessary; it is not serving a present purpose of: communication, solving a real problem, remembering to put attention on present sensation and feeling.

Inappropriate emotional reaction – This is a difficult one to describe… Mostly because the mere mention of it often triggers inappropriate emotional reactions! The list starts with (but is not limited to): guilt, shame, and blame. While these experiences seem to serve some purposes in politics and court systems, they have no particular use on a path of Self Knowing. As such they serve to keep our energy captured in an intellectual/emotional complex which consumes attention and keeps us in habituated states of fear and anger toward our self and others.

Unnecessary tension in the body – There are many types of unnecessary tension in the body: Any tension that is not contributing to the integrated and relaxed posture of the body. Any tension that is due to unconscious posturing: slumping, leaning, hanging in joints, etc.. Any tension that is patterned do to overuse, underuse, and habits of movement and action. Any tension that is arises from unnecessary thinking, and inappropriate emotional reactions.   

How to observe in the struggle for presence:

[don’t believe this blindly, test and verify it for yourself]

  • Without Judgement
  • Without the need to change that which is observed
  • With attention on bodily sensation
  • With ruthless self honesty

Without Judgement – DO NOT CONFUSE judgment and discernment. One is useful, the other is not. Discernment is knowing the clear distinction between things. Judgement is based on preference, bias, personality, like, dislike, aversion, pleasure, pain, and basically boils down to criticism and fault finding. Judgement can never lead us to Self Knowing because the act of performing it holds up and reinforces our separate self identity and feeds off our experiences of fear and self hatred.

Without the need to change that which is observed – The compulsive need to change or attempt to fix that which I observe in myself can never bring me to Self Knowing because the impression that I need to change is based on judgement. This one is very difficult to tolerate because there is so much about life both inside and out that gives the impression of “wrongness”, and that I somehow need to be “fixed”.  

With attention on bodily sensation – Bodily sensation is a gift! Without any added analysis, attention on sensation verifies that I am present. A key to experience the value of this is to see that attention is usually either captured and consumed by the intellectual/emotional complex or placed in a relaxed and settled way on bodily sensation. When attention is captured through unnecessary thinking, emotional reactions, and unnecessary tension in the body, I am not present. The aim of having attention on bodily sensation is not just on the parts of the body I currently have access to. The aim is to sense the entire body at once.

With ruthless self honesty – A key principle to work with in self honesty is: ‘a relaxed body is an honest body’. This facet of Self Knowing is aimed at unearthing all the layers of self deception, denial, and sabotage that are upheld by our separate self identity. In the words of one of the World’s most talented theoretical physicists, Richard Feynman:  “The easiest person to for me to fool is myself”

The work to be present and live of a life of Self Knowledge is not easy. It demands a tremendous amount of focus, commitment, allowance, patience, wisdom, compassion, tolerance, and a willingness to work against all odds. When we see the demand clearly we might want to treat the path of Self Knowing like a “to do” list or a “race to the finish”. After many years of practice and listening to the account of those who have practiced twice as long or more and who carry for more wisdom than I, I say:

The slower you go, the faster you get there.

 

By: Brent Kuecker – Yogi. Musician. Educator.


Animating The Feminine

My experience of The Feminine Essence is that it does not need to assert effort outside of itself to affect positive change. It doesn’t feel the compulsive need to fix and it fundamentally sees any and every problem clearly. The Feminine Power in the Universe has so much Trust in Life from the wisdom that when accurately seen, all “problems” lawfully attract their appropriate “solution”. What this means is that to animate The Feminine in our lives is to work to see clearly and accurately “what is, as it is”, and to attempt to stop asserting control over and trying to change “what is, as it is.” To animate the Feminine is to put down our “hammer” and stop seeing every event in life as a “nail”.

What is The Feminine?

  • Everything manifest

Literally all matter and energy and the space that contextualizes it.

I know, I know. It is hard to believe and even harder to see any evidence of this Universal fact. I agree it would be much easier and more inside our comfort zone if only human women defined what is Feminine. And of course they do… except when they are behaving as aggressive, controlling, dominant men have behaved for centuries. In that mode they are defining something else while in the ‘role’ of a woman.

The problem is in the eye of the beholder

Trying to make a solution in an insoluble situation is a source of much unnecessary tension, strain, pain and suffering in life. The proverbial trying to put a square peg in a round hole and calling it a “problem” is not noticing that something cannot really be a “problem” if it has no “solution”. I can hear the masculine force in the back of my mind saying, “Oh, just router out that circle a bit and make it a square! Then the ol’ peg will fit…”

When we default to “fix it” mentality we cut off our connection to the Feminine and miss the opportunity to see that most “problems” we find in life are completely fabricated by us, so that we have something “to do” about the fact that most of time, there is no problem.

Insolubility of the sexes

The tension between the sexes is a perfect example of a “problem” that is not really a problem. It belongs there, just as the tension of your musculoskeletal system in relation to gravity. No tension in the body means no healthy growth, erect and integrated posture, or freedom of movement and mobility. When we experience the tension between the sexes as a problem, we tend toward habitual, unconscious, and unskillful attempts to ‘solve’ it. These attempts usually create more unconscious tension, or a lack of integrity in the relationship of the parts at play [which both exist in YOU regardless if your apparent sex is male or female].

The sexes come as a pair and parts of a wholeness. Trying to make a ‘solution’ for the tension between man and woman is like trying to fuse the nuclei of atoms to solve our power situation; the efforts tend to cost more than the results give out as well as being implosive and destructive.

Identity, Form and Essence

Identity in simplest terms is “neurotic” [which is not a problem]. Where gender is concerned, identity plays out through the psycho-physical and biochemical experience of appearing in the form of woman or man. Form comes with all sorts of cultural baggage, expectation, injustice, confusion, frustration, doubt, and many other tension filled experiences. In this it is easy to see why there is so much focus on form to “solve” the problem of the tension: changing form, culturally pushing form away, limiting speech by extreme to satisfy sensitivity, and any strategy that attempts to “change that which is” in order to “solve the problem”.

*** I wonder how many of us notice the masculine encoded language of “solve the problem” when we are addressing the experience of the tension between the sexes.

What is Feminine Essence?

Freedom, Love, Compassion, Dynamism, Creativity, Receptivity, Balance, Resonance, Refinement, Beauty, Play, Allowance, Elegance, Variation, Relationship… and… Terror, Rage, Formidability, Chaos, & Power.

What is Masculine Essence?

NOTHING… NO THING… I mean it. Silence. Emptiness. Void. Absence. The Unknowable Unknown.

[These views are of looking at the Divine Feminine and Masculine polarities from a Tantric perspective]

Animating the Feminine

This phrase means to bring conscious attention to each present moment without: judgement, maintaining sensation of the body, with complete self honesty, and without the need to change what is observed inside or out. Animating The Feminine is to struggle to stay present and work lovingly with and against the unconscious habits and patterns that keep us inert and stagnant. To bring the dark parts of our self “home” to the Light that they may be purified and integrated.

Animating the Feminine is to forgive oneself for all the abuses inflicted upon this human body.

It is each individual’s choice to take on this responsibility if they so wish. Both men and women. We live in a time where thousands of years of male dominance and control has left the Feminine Essence all but unnoticeable and virtually without a societal platform for expression.

For women, animating the Feminine is as natural as breathing and walking. You lovely beings do it so well and I cannot imagine the frustration of experiencing that the only way to “get ahead” in life is to live with your Essence pacified and act in compliance with the “masculine” code of conduct in business and social interaction. On behalf of the men, I sincerely apologize.

For men, animating the Feminine is much more difficult. We will be up against intense cultural pressure from outside and in to “be right”, “fix it”, “control it”, “change it”, “do, do, do”. We will need to build the strength in our self to maintain vulnerability without guarding. We will need to stop blaming the women for our inability to be secure in ourselves. Our work in this regard will be rather much more difficult. Good thing we have big strong bodies!!!

We all must find the strength to not fear what others might think of us should we choose this life aim. We must cultivate profound Trust in Life and practice to integrate our daily choices, movements and relationships into that experience of Trust.

 

By: Brent Kuecker – Yogi. Musician. Educator.

 

 

 

 

 

 


Udaya Spotlight

CALEY ALYSSA
I practice to stay connected to my body, my mind, my community, and to stay inspired as a teacher. I teach because I hope to provide a space for others to feel the way my practice has made me feel: supported, nurtured, challenged, empowered, and confident! Happy people = a happy world. I’m inspired by my dog who loves unconditionally,
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