Archive | Recommendations

Happy Birthday Insight Meditation Center!

Today is also the birthday of The Insight Meditation Center in Barre, MA.

That is Sharon Salzberg’s base and she and others founded it today 36th years ago.

I am not absolutely sure about this but I think that’s where one of my favorite political writers Robert Wright did a meditation retreat, which he hilariously wrote up for the New York Times in 2009 (it’s really funny), and which I highlighted here.  He recently landed a blog at The Atlantic.  He hasn’t written about meditation there.  Yet.

For Your Yoga Playlist

If I were still teaching this song, My Valentine, would be on my playlist. I love it!

I can easily see the choreographed vinyasa – moving into ardha chandrasana – with a feeling of certainty we can fly!

I just love that new ballads like this are being written, and yes that it’s Paul McCartney.

I love even more that Diana Krall is on the piano, and she is barely mentioned. Her albums are great too! (And she is married to Elvis Costello).

Their performance at the Grammy’s last night was awesome.

“The Buddha Walks into a Bar….”

I just find this effort and book terrific. The Daily Beast headlines Meditation Teacher Lodro Rinzler Rebrands Buddhism to Deal with Drinking and Sex. I’m not sure how much rebranding is going on here, but it’s interesting nonetheless. I read Rinzler column occasionally over at the Huffingtonpost.com because the title alone is funny – What Would Sid Do

The take on how to mindfully drink alcohol is worth the click over alone. Well, alright, I will highlight it here,

Rinzler gave me a crash-course in “right drinking” over a pot of Chrysanthemum tea. The first step is to know your intention: Is the drinking celebratory or to eliminate sorrow? Next, he says, taste the thing. You’ll drink better, he says, shirking the inferior sauce. As in silent meditation, he recommends observing your mind while consuming the beverage and labeling ideas or feelings that come up. And lastly, he advises knowing your limits, qualifying that he drinks less than he used to. “I try not to get to that point where I would say things that cause harm.”

but click over anyway for some more enlightenment or buy the book – The Buddha Walks into a Bar…

Ethan Nichtern is mentioned in the piece and he is the founder of the Interdependence Project, which is also worth the click. I’ve never met Ethan, but I know his father David (whose Tuesday night Facebook Dharma Talks have been fantastic) and a dear friend of mine, Kim Stetz, teaches yoga there. And here is a podcast where Lodro and Ethan talk about Lodro’s book. It’s on my list to read now.

Feng Shui Tips for Love

Carol Olmstead is the author of Feng Shui for Real Life. So if you can’t afford to move the door to the entrance of your house, she offers some real life tips that you can implement.

If you are single, if you are divorced, if your love has gone stale – she has some doable suggestions for you. Check out her Feng Shui tips for Attracting Love.

My favorite is:

Add red accessories to your bedroom in shades of scarlet, crimson, and burgundy to activate the Fire Element and ignite your love life.

Well, I have an orange wall. Activation!

Love Potion, I Mean Love Oil

I visited Pratima Spa in Soho last June. Was quite a treat as I have been a fan of Dr. Pratima Raichur book Absolute Beauty since 2003.

In honor of the upcoming holiday, I want to tell you about their Love Oil, which I used and love. Smells and feels just wonderful. Scent of cinnamon, clove and cardamon as well as rose, lavender and vanilla. You can use in the bath or as a massage oil. Her products have no preservatives so use it!

You can buy here.

Kama Sutra? Yoga Sutra? What’s the Difference?

In a word – much!

They were both written in India in Sanskrit about the same time and have the same word in the title. So genre, time, place, language are common to both texts, but as you would learn from listening to the recommended BBC interview on the Kāma Sutras – many other topics were written about in that time and place and language on a variety of subjects in sutras.

Sutra means thread or line that holds or threads ideas together. The Kāma Sutra’s were written about 2000 years ago and is about sensual pleasures (among other lifestyle tips). Vatsyayana is thought to be the author. The Yoga Sutra is estimated to be written between 1900 and 2400 years ago and written or compiled from an oral tradition by Patanjali.

I briefly wrote about the Yoga Sutra a few months ago here. The Yoga Sutras offers four chapters, while the Kāma Sutras is seven chapters, so the Kāma Sutra is much longer. And sex comprises only the second of seven chapters. So there is much else there to explore and learn.

There is a new translation of the Kāma Sutra just published, and The New York Times printed a laugh out loud hilarious and favorable review on Sunday. When to Quote Poetry or Moan like a Moorhen: The Kama Sutra, Newly Translated by A.N.D. Haksar. Reviewed by Dwight Garner.

There is this:

You might not think the Kama Sutra and “Downton Abbey,” the warm <a “=”” abbey”=”” downton=”” href=”http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/masterpiece/downtonabbey/” style=”color: #004276; text-decoration: underline;” title=”Web site for “>PBS soap opera about intrigues on a large rural estate in England, would have a great deal of thematic overlap. You would be wrong. Both are to some degree investigations into the kind of life a gentleman (or gentlewoman) should aspire to lead.

And then this:

your partner might find this sleek new Penguin Classics edition an intellectual aphrodisiac, though it contains no erotic illustrations, except several sublime ones on its cover. (For a certain audience, all Penguin Classics are trance-inducing objects of lust.)

And then this:

There is an impressively esoteric list, for example, of varieties of moaning during sex. These include: “the whimper, the groan, the babble, the wail, the sigh, the shriek, the sob and words with meaning, such as ‘Mother!’ ‘Stop!’ ‘Let go!’ or ‘Enough!’ Cries like those of doves, cuckoos, green pigeons, parrots, bees, moorhens, geese, ducks and quails are important options for use in moaning.” America’s porn actors have clearly not made anywhere near a proper study of this sonic landscape.

See? Funny! I’ve had a tiger but not a green pigeon (?!) or a geese, quail or duck!

If you don’t have time to read the book but are still curious about the origin and context of Kāma Sutra, I can very highly recommend this BBC4 Radio broadcast from the show In Our Time with Melvyn Bragg . There I learned that the arts and culture of India was at a height. And how the Kama Sutra is part of a popular genre of the time. Not only the yoga and kāma sutras were recorded then but also on a wide range of topics including logic, astronomy, politics, aesthetics, medicine and social ethics.

The discussion about 42 minutes long, free and you can download from iTunes here. He interviews:

  • Julius Lipner, Professor of Hinduism and the Comparative Study of Religion at the University of Cambridge
  • Jessica Frazier, Lecturer in Religious Studies at the University of Kent and Research Fellow at the Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies
  • David Smith, Reader in South Asian Religions at the University of Lancaster.

Check it out. Or if you don’t have 43 minutes, you can also download this eight minute free podcast from SoundsTrue on Taoist Sexual Secrets. At eight minutes, it’s only a teaser but the entire series is about how to transform lovemaking into a spiritual practice informed by ancient and somewhat arcane material.

What People Talk About When They Die?

I finally saw The Descendants – a movie about families and love and forgiveness and death. I found the story thoughtful and real and funny. And religious – in the sense that it’s about unity. As I note in my essay Is Yoga a Religion?, the term “religion” enjoys a similar etymology as yoga. Derived from the Latin word, “religare,” religion means “to bind back” or to reunify.

And here is how I defined yoga at nilambu.com

B.K.S. Iyengar notes the etymology: “The term yoga is derived from the Sanskrit root yuj meaning to bind, join, attach and yoke, to direct and concentrate one’s attention on, to use and apply.” Iyengar also conveys that in the Bhagavad Gita, Sri Krishna defines yoga as, “a deliverance from contact with pain and sorrow.” Donna Farhi notes, “Yoga is a technology for removing the illusory veil that stands between us and the animating force of life.”

How to we bind back? Join? Attach? Through love and forgiveness. That practice can deliver us from pain and sorrow. It is a practice, none of us are perfect lover and forgivers.

For me, that practice inherent on the yogic path and my spiritual practice. And those moments when death enters our lives crystalize the importance of this – how we love and forgive. And helpful to remember why we love and forgive.

Here is the trailer:

And then I saw this article, which is about love, really, and how we define meaning in our lives at the end and how and if God figures into it.

Kerry Egan, a hospice chaplain, and she wrote this thoughtful essay, My Faith: What People Talk about Before They Die for the CNN religion blog. I was interested too because a dear friend and fellow OM teacher trainee recently shared with me that she is exploring working

What do people who are sick and dying talk about with the chaplain? …Mostly, they talk about their families: about their mothers and fathers, their sons and daughters. They talk about the love they felt, and the love they gave. Often they talk about love they did not receive, or the love they did not know how to offer, the love they withheld, or maybe felt for the ones they should have loved unconditionally.

They talk about how they learned what love is, and what it is not…people talk to the chaplain about their families because that is who we talk about God. that is how we talk about the meaning of our lives. That is how we talk about the big spiritual questions of human existence.

We don’t live in our heads, in theology and theories. We live our lives in our families: the families we are born into, the families we create, the families we make through the people we choose as friends.

And concludes towards the end –

If God is love, and we believe that to be true, that we learn about God when we learn about Love. The first, and usually the last, classroom of love is the family. Sometimes that love is not only imperfect, it seems to be missing entirely.

Monstrous things can happen in families…Even in these cases, I am amazed at the strength of the human soul. People who did not know love in their families know that they should have been loved. They somehow know what was missing, and what they deserved as children and adults.

When love is imperfect, or a family destructive, something else can be learned: forgiveness. The spiritual work of being human is learning how to love and how to forgive.

I agree with that.

If you’re looking for a book on forgiveness and Buddhism, check out Jack Kornfield’s The Art of Forgiveness. If you’re looking for a book on death and Buddhism, check out the Lotus in the Fire by Jim Bedard. I’ve read the latter.

UPDATE: Marianne Williamson tweeted on Thursday February 9: “Think of who you haven’t forgiven, then close your eyes and see yourself washing their feet. Hold 2 minutes; you’ll be 1,000 times lighter.” Love that. We all have someone to forgive in our lives, sometimes ourselves.