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Archive for the ‘Buddhism’ Category

Walt Whitman’s Yoga

I received an amazing parcel in the mail a few days ago from SCOTLAND, no less, and immediately knew from where it came. My dear friend Lesley, a fellow Himalaya Yogini from my teacher training program had sent it.  She is an incredible force of a woman; a massage therapist, artist, dance teacher and luminous ray of sunshine.

Was Walt Whitman a Buddhist? My wonderful gift from Lesley!

I was so excited to get a last taste of the bonds I formed with her over our course; writing poetry and drawing in the afternoon sun on the beach…this is beginning to sound like a romance novel…anyhow…I RIPPED open the packaging to find two things: a hand drawn logo for my blog “Wandering Lotus” and a 1939 edition of Walt Whitman’s “Leaves of Grass and Democratic Vistas”.

She had remembered our long discussions on the infiltration of yogic and Buddhist philosophy on western intellectuals, poets and artists, and sent me a prized possession, for which I am forever grateful.

A few years ago, while a student at Colby College,  took an amazing class entitled “Buddhism in American Poetry” by Professor Peter Harris. In the class, I discovered how much Buddhist thought had influenced American poetry for decades.  Reading poetry could therefore become a meditation and a practice in yoga.

As I sat down to read my new gift I opened my self up to the poetry as a meditation and studied it for its poignant moments of utter awareness, of the realization of attachment and detachment, of its acceptance of the ebb and flow of time and pain. Walt Whitman practiced compassion for all beings in his poetry, self-awareness, meditation on reality, acceptance of the use of language as a mere human convention, realized the cyclical nature of time, accepted pain and suffering as a result of attachment and strove to praise the natural world continuously in his poetry.  Maybe he did do yoga…?

So today I am just going to leave you with a few passages from the great Walt Whitman that may inspire your practice today….

To be in any form, what is that?

(Round and Round we go, all of us, and ever come back thither),

If nothing lay more develop’d the quahaug in its callous shell

were enough.  –Song of Myself

I believe a leaf of grass is no less than the journey-work of the stars,

And the pismire is equally perfect, and a grain of sand, and the egg of the wren,

And the tree-load is a chef-d’oeuvre for the highest,

And the running blackberry would adorn the parlours of heaven,

And the narrowest hinge in my hand puts to scorn all machinery,

And the cow crunching with depress’d head surpasses any statue,

And a mouse is a miracle enough to stagger sextillions of infidels. –Song of Myself

I hear and behold God in every objext, yet understand God not in the least…- Song of Myself

From imperfection’s murkiest cloud,

Darts always forth one ray of perfect light,

One flash of heaven’s glory -Song of the Universal

Whoever you are, I fear you are walking the walks of dreams,

I fear these supposed realities are to melt from under your feet and hands,

Even now your features, joys, speech, house, trade, manners, troubles, follies, costume, crimes, dissipate away from you,

Your true soul and body appear before me…-To You

And one of my favorites by Mr. Whitman…reminds me of meditating on the beach in Goa, India at dawn…

Moorthi...Spiritual Seeker and Himalaya Yoga Valley Philosophy/Meditation teacher...dawn on the beach in India writing on the sand

ON THE BEACH AT NIGHT ALONE

On the beach at night alone,

As the old mother sways her to and fro singing her husky song,

As I watch the bright stars shining, I think a thought of the clef of the universes of the future,


A vast similitude interlocks all,

All spheres, grown, ungrown, small, large, suns, moons, planets,

All distances of place however wide,

Akk distances of time, all inanimate forms,

All sould, all living bodies though they be ever so different, or in different worlds,

All gaseous, watery, vegetable, mineral processes, the fishes, the brutes,

All nations, colours, barbarisms, civilisations, languages,

All identities that have existed or may exist on this globe or any globe,

All lives and deaths, all of the past, present, future,

This vast similitude spans them and compactly hold and enclose them.


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Kayaking in my used kayak called "Perception"...how appropriate

Kayaking in my used kayak called "Perception"...how appropriate

Now that the weather is finally cooperating, knock on wood, I’ve been able to do a lot more of one of my favorite summer activities…kayaking.

Heading down to kayak in the Putnamville Reservoir...my dog Magic loves to kayak too and follows me out to the water everytime I go

Heading down to kayak in the Putnamville Reservoir...my dog Magic loves to kayak too and follows me out to the water every time I go

Kayaking can be an intensely athletic and competitive endeavor for some, which is wonderful,  but for me, I kayak simply for the pleasure of getting my blood flowing and putting my mind at ease while  escaping from land for an hour or two (or an entire day when allotted the time).

The original Kayakers

The original Kayakers

Kayaking, which was originally developed by the arctic Inuit people, and brought to mainstream recreational trends in the 1850’s, is a wonderful avenue to utilize mindfulness, pranayama, meditation and yoga to maximize one’s kayaking experience and performance.

Connecting with water physically, mentally and spiritually has been emphasized in every culture and religion. It is widely known that water has an extreme calming effect on the mind and humbles the spirit. Religions such as Islam use water in rituals to purify the soul, while water is regarded as holy areas of the natural world in Shinto. The fact that our bodies are also made mostly of water means that being close to the water would have wonderful therapeutic effects on us.

A Shinto shrine marks the gateway to a holy place...water... (photo courtesy of touchnote.com)

A Shinto shrine marks the gateway to a holy place...water... (photo courtesy of touchnote.com)

Here are some tips on how to incorporate yoga and your kayaking experience, physically and mentally.

I. Yoga, the physical body, and kayaking:

“Nothing is softer or more flexible than water…yet nothing can resist it” -Lao Tzu

Even if you are not “into yoga”…taking ten minutes to stretch certain muscle groups will increase your maneuverability of the paddle, kayak and yourself, while decreasing the likelihood of injury and post-kayaking soreness.

A. Lower back pain and tension in the shoulders and neck are common problems associated with kayaking. Some poses to help included…

Cobra pose before a morning kayak out back

Cobra pose before a morning kayak out back

1. Cobra, Bhujangasana (click here for details or view the photo above)

An early Monday morning Chakrasana (or Urdhva Dhurasana) Wheel pose out in the backyard...mid-modification with the heels off of the ground

An early Monday morning Chakrasana (or Urdhva Dhurasana) Wheel pose out in the backyard...mid-modification with the heels off of the ground

2. Wheel, Chakrasana, is a great shoulder opener and supine pose (above)…click here for my previous post on this pose, and here for the post on a more advanced version… Dwi Pada Viparita Dandasana

Twists and binds, especially in the Warrior II sequence, are great shoulder openers, which is necessary when getting ready to paddle for a few hours...

Twists and binds, especially in the Warrior II sequence, are great shoulder openers, which is necessary when getting ready to paddle for a few hours...

3. Warrior II modification with a bind, Virabhadrasana.

3. Cat/Cow pose: Marjaryasana (click here)
B. Your hip flexors and groin also have a tendency to get tight while kayaking, as well as your glutes. Some of my favorite stretches for these areas are

1. Adho Mukha Svanasana, Downward-facing Dog, with the hip open to the sky (click here for some instructions)

2. Warrior IIVirabhadrasana (click here)

3. Pigeon, Eka Pada Rajakapotasana (click here).

C. And the most important part to tie these all together is strengthening your core.

Plank is great for your core...Dolphin pose is a similar pose where the elbows are lowered to the ground

Plank is great for your core...Dolphin pose is a similar pose where the elbows are lowered to the ground

1. Plank pose (click here)

2. Full Boat pose, Paripurna Navasana (click here)

Sirsasana on the back porch- great for core work and calming the mind before heading down to the water

Sirsasana on the back porch- great for core work and calming the mind before heading down to the water

3. Headstand pose, sirsasana…click here for my previous post on this

Eagle pose....a favorite of mine for shoulders, lower back, core, leg strength and balance (great before sailing too)

Eagle pose....a favorite of mine for shoulders, lower back, core, leg strength and balance (great before sailing too)

—> Eagle Pose, Garudasana,  is one of my favorite poses that addresses all three of these areas (the upper body, core and hips) plus increases concentration and balance, which is much needed when kayaking (especially in the ocean). (Stay tuned for a more thorough Yoga Pose of the Week feature on this pose!)

—->  Upward-facing Dog, Urdhva Mukha Svanasana, is fantastic for the lower back, core and hip flexors....click here for my previous post on this.

Cultivate mindfulness in a meditation practice before heading out to kayak, even if only for a few minutes, i promise you'll notice a difference!

Cultivate mindfulness in a meditation practice before heading out to kayak, even if only for a few minutes, i promise you'll notice a difference!

II. Meditation, breathing and kayaking:

“Give up your selfishness and you shall find peace, like water mingling with water, you shall merge in absorption…”– Sri Guru Granth Sahib

One of the wonderful things about Kayaking is that it allows you to escape from the noise of land for a little while to calm your mind. We can all find answers to our questions and concerns in nature, we just need to open our hearts and free our minds to find the answers.

Before, and even during a kayaking trip, I suggest trying a little meditation to calm the mind and open the heart to receive all the benefits of being alone, on the water, with just you and a small vessel.

A good meditation I like to try is as follows:

1. Take a comfortable seated position on a mat/pillow overlooking the natura destination you about to kayak across/down. Align your shoulders, neck, back and hips over one another, close your eyes, inhale and exhale deeply…

2. While breathing deeply, scan through the body, relaxing hips first, than consciously relaxing body part by body part up through the abdomen, spine, chest, shoulders, jaw, space between the eyebrows, top of the head, the head as a whole, the body as a whole…

3. Chant the mantra “Om” three times. The first “Om” will connect you and your physical body, the second, to connect you and the outside world, and the third will connect you and your inner spirit and mind. Notice and perceive the vibrations of mantra “Om” filling up our whole body, harmonizing it.

4. Focus on a light in your third eye, let this become a ball of light, becoming bigger and bigger in you sight until it encompasses you and you are a part of it. Let the light soak through your entire body, rinsing your body of negative thoughts, feelings and emotions.

5. Next, set an intention for your day, repeat a personal mantra (always a positive one) for your journey…such as “I will be aware of the natural world around me”, or something even more specific…repeat this as a command to yourself three times.

6. Take a few more deep breathes and let the mind settle. Thoughts will come and go, but do not judge yourself for having random thoughts because “you aren’t supposed to in meditation”. Let the thoughts come in and pas through as they came, not dwelling, just noticing them being there. Let them pass over like clouds in a windy sky.

7. Take a few more deep inhales and exhales, slowly open your eyes, and begin your yoga practice and/or kayak adventure!

–> It is also important, after Kayaking to do a few spinal twist poses, some stretches like the one’s above and then finish with a savasana pose and more meditation to fully receive the benefits of your adventure!

Meditative thinking before and during Kayaking can increase your ability to flow your paddle strokes more freely, consistently, and with more ease than normal. You become less focused on your destination, time limit, or external worries and focus simply at the task at hand and the vista surrounding you.

Becoming conscious of each stroke and the present moment… the feel pressure of the water against your paddle, the sound of the droplets of water falling of the paddle as you raise it out of the water, the smell of the ocean salt beginning to speckle your skin, and the panorama of the natural world around you…all of these sensory gifts can be utilized to enhance your mood and your kayaking flow.

“Kayoga” or “Yogak” has been catching on along with other yoga-sport cross-training methods because the benefits are undeniable.

If you simply google the terms “yoga” and “kayaking” together, a slew of programs will show up and one is bound to match your skill level, desired amount of either yoga or kayaking involved, and ideal location.

Even my dog loves to kayak!

Even my dog loves to kayak!

Kripalu does a “Yoga for Kayakers” workshop, as well as any other yoga retreats, while adventure and outdoors expeditions are now incorporating yoga into their kayaking trips. There is actually one coming up on July 17th at Kripalu I believe…and more are available through the summer and early fall led by Greg DiLisio and Johnny Snyder…click here for details.

You can also customize a ocean kayaking-yoga trip in Mexico with a company called “Sea to Sky Yoga” (based in Canada)…click here.

To go it alone, and locally…check out this Kayak Route website (here) which lists kayak routes in your area and beyond!

My kayak is also not the most innovative and fancy kayak in the world, but it does the job and was bought used from a friend…no need to buy new. So I feel satisfied that this big hunk of plastic at least wasn’t a brand new purchase. However, there are actually ways to “green” your kayaking trips…

The Walden Vista Expedition Kayak at earthfriendlykayaks.com is made with recycled plastic

The Walden Vista Expedition Kayak at earthfriendlykayaks.com is made with recycled plastic

Aside from buying used kayaks instead of new ones like I did, it is pretty difficult to find eco-friendly kayaks. However, I did find some and there are also eco-friendly kayaks for sale through companies like Walden Kayaks.

The Walden Kayaks are made from recycled HDPE (plasctic code no. 2) and sold via Earth Friendly Kayaks…click here

Now, go get your paddle on!

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When the weather is nice, classes move outoors...overlooking Stockbridge Bowl

Kriaplu center, Lenox MA....When the weather is nice, classes move outdoors...overlooking Stockbridge Bowl

Now that the weekend is approaching, I would like to offer a weekend activity for all you Bostonians out there. Take a drive out to Western Massachusetts, to Lenox, and spend a day…or two…or a week, at Kripalu Yoga center.

This place is a sustainable yogi’s utopia!

the gardens around Kripalu are little sanctuaries waiting to be discovered. There are multiple meditation gardens all of the property and in the woods...

the gardens around Kripalu are little sanctuaries waiting to be discovered. There are multiple meditation gardens all over the property and in the woods...

I have spent numerous days at Kripalu,  and a week out there for a workshop with Raphael Cushnir. Although the center is famous in yoga circles, especially for its phenomenal yoga teachers, Ayurveda, and massage practitioner, trainings, I had not heard much of it before a few years ago. I almost literally stumbled upon it while out visiting my grandmother in Pittsfield, MA. I had experienced dreams of going there, and finally, after she passed away, I decided it was time.

The KRiaplu center from the back, it used to be a church, so its architecture is a little odd on the outside...but it is stunning on the inside!

The Kriaplu center from the back, it used to be a church, so its architecture is a little odd on the outside...but it is stunning on the inside!

At first I spent only a day. You can get a guest pass which allows you into all the facilities, includes free general yoga classes and includes a meal. I was hooked! The center focuses mainly on “Kripalu” style yoga, started by Swami Kripalu, however, the best teachers from all types of yoga in the world come and teach workshops there, such as Shiva Rea.

Birds eye view of Kripalu yoga center

Birds eye view of Kripalu yoga center

I spent a week last year, kind of a birthday present to myself, doing a “Transformation” workshop for 5 days with Raphael Cushnir. He is an amazing resource on incorporating Buddhist philosophy and mindfulness in every day life.

The program was a bit pricey, but it was completely worth it. I lived in the “dorms” which are just big, pristine rooms for about 6 people. They have options for doubles and singles but it was cheaper to live in dorms and I am really glad I did. I met a wonderful friend there and numerous other women from all walks of life who I will continue to stay in touch with.

The atmosphere at Kripalu is light, mindful, gracious, calm, compassionate and yet everyone almost acts as if they are in summer camp, because that is what it feels like!

There are evening activities, like chanting, yogadance and book readings, while you can take kayaks out on Stockbridge Bowl (the lake it looks over), go hiking in the trails behind the center, or even take in a Boston Symphony Orchestra Concert right next door at Tanglewood.

Class at Kripalu

Class at Kripalu

My schedule, while there, basically consisted of waking up extremely early, going for a swim in the lake at dawn, heading to a 6:30 am yoga class, having an amazing organic microbiotic breakfast (one of the best parts of Kirpalu is the food) attending my workshop, lunch (amazing again), more workshop, maybe another yoga class or a hike, then relaxing in the sauna or giant whirlpool, having a wonderful dinner with new friends at the dining hall, writing for a bit, then attending an evening event, or just relaxing and reading.

If I had my way, I would go every weekend! Lenox, MA also has so many artisan shops, cafes and galleries to entertain you when you want to leave the space. Definitely a must try!

Workshops at Kripalu are usually themed and can be anything form “Kayaking and Yoga”, to “Yoga for Women”, to “Yoga for Relationships”, and even “Yoga and Horses”.

If you do not want to commit to a workshop, try a day pass for $50…you’ll be hooked!

Because the place also runs on volunteers, you can also arrange to do a volunteer stint at the center in exchange for room, board, and unlimited classes!

For more informaton on Kripalu Yoga Center click here.

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Chakrasana…wash away the weekend’s toxins in Wheel pose

An early Monday morning Chakrasana (or Urdhva Dhurasana) Wheel pose out in the backyard...mid-modification with the heels off of the ground

An early Monday morning Chakrasana (or Urdhva Dhanurasana) Wheel pose out in the backyard...mid-modification with the heels off of the ground

After a wonderfully sunny and eventful weekend filled with July fourth barbeques and fireworks, I am sure most of us are in the need of one word…DETOX.
Well, you are all in luck, because I have the perfect detox pose for you today…
 

Chakrasana

The name of this pose comes from the Sanskrit term chakra, meaning ‘wheel’, and asana, meaning ‘pose’.
An alternative name for this pose is Urdhva Dhanurasana, stemming from the words ‘elevated’ or ‘upward’, Urdhva’, and ‘Bow’, Dhanur.

The picture above is actually a deepened variation on the pose in which the heels lift off of the gound, while the tailbone presses towards the sky and the feet walk closer to the hands and then the heel release back to the ground after.

Wheel pose acts as a cleansing tonic for the body.
This exhilirating pose has actually become a part of my daily morning practice, after surya namaskar, because it increases confidence, clears my head and soothes my mind, leaving me filled with vitality for the rest of the day.
The pose is very popular in Kundalini and Hatha yoga, in which the pose may be held for upwards of 3 minutes. When held this long, the full respiratory and meditative benefits may be received.

When just starting out, I recommend practicing the pose about 3 times, consecutively, per practice. Push up into the pose and hold for a few breathes, increasing the time you stay up each time. Breathe deeply when up in the pose through the nose using ujjayi breathe, or “the ocean breathe”.

Use Ujjayi Breathe, the ocean breathe, in this pose to cleanse and revitalize....each new breathe is a new wave (photo taken by my dad while visiting me in Cape Town, South Africa last Spring...thanks dad!)

Use Ujjayi Breathe, the ocean breathe, in this pose to cleanse and revitalize....each new breathe is a new wave (photo taken by my dad while visiting me in Cape Town, South Africa last Spring...thanks dad!)

When coming down, release to the ground slowly, close your eyes, and lie down for a few breathes with knees remaining bent and hands on your stomach.

Notice and perceive the sensations through your body and if you see anything mentally. Sometimes, coming down from bow can be a clarifying experience for certain thoughts, visualizations and emotions.

Release the old toxins in your body and create something new and beautiful in wheel pose... (photo courtesy of worldofstock.com)

Release the old toxins in your body and create something new and beautiful in wheel pose... (photo courtesy of worldofstock.com)

The pose tones your digestive and respiratory systems, helping to release toxins out of your body. Doing chakrasana frequently can help your reproductive system and increases flexibility in your spine, hip flexors, wrists, elbows, biceps, triceps, legs, glutes, and shoulders. The pose improves physical and mental stamina, especially if you hold it for longer periods of time, and can help prevent osteoporosis.

The pose  is a mood enhancer and can help treat symptoms of depression, while it aides in the function of the thyroid and pituitary gland.

An advanced variation on this pose is Eka Pada Urdhva Dhanurasana from the Sanskrit words for ‘one’, Eka, and ‘foot’, Pada. It is performed by shifting the weight onto one foot and lifting one leg to a 45 degree angle, or higher, and holding for a few breathes.

For a visualization of how the more basic  pose should be done at abc-of-yoga.com… click here.

You can also find variations of this pose in B.K. Iyengar’s “Light on Yoga” in the section on the Viparita Dandasana Series. To order the book from Amazon, click here.

The philosophy behing Chakrasana:

The pose invokes the “Wheel of Life”  from Hindi and Buddhist culture. The Wheel of Life is present in everything from Hindi texts, to the theory of the energy chakras, to visual art in Tibetan mandalas. The Wheel of Life, or Devanagari, in Ayurveda represents the balance we must find within ourselves and all the elements in our external and internal world. 

The Devenagari  Wheel of Life

The Devenagari "Wheel of Life"

However, in Tibetan  Buddhism, the Wheel of Becoming, or  Bhavacakra, can be understood as the cycle of samsara that we repeatedly experience until enlightenment and nirvana is reached, and we can escape it.

The Tibetan Buddhist Wheel of Becoming or Cycle of Samsara

The Tibetan Buddhist "Wheel of Becoming" or "Cycle of Samsara"

In both interpretations, the visualization of the wheel is represented through spokes. In Ayurveda, the spokes are filled with different elements to be balanced, while in the Tibetan understanding, the spokes represent the six forms of unenlightened existence.

Former Tibetan Buddhist monk, Losang Samten, working on a sand mandala of the Wheel of Life

Former Tibetan Buddhist monk, Losang Samten, working on a sand mandala of the "Wheel of Life"

A practice some Tibetan Buddhist monks partake in is the creation of beautifully intricate mandalas of the “Wheel of Life” made with sand, and then the destruction of them. It is a practice of no-attachment to one’s achievements. I was fortunate enough to witness a creation and destruction of a “Wheel of Life” sand Mandala by former monk, Losang Samten.

Visit Losang Samten’s official site here.

A close up of Losangs work from www.tusconcitizen.com

A close up of Losang's work from http://www.tusconcitizen.com

The Self is the hub of the wheel of life,

And the sixteen forms are only the spokes.

The Self is the paramount goal of life.

Attain this goal and go beyond death!

Prashna Upanishad

Note: To [prepare for the pose, warm up with other spinal flexibility related poses (such as Bow and Bridge). You will not want to do this pose if you have had injuries to you back, shoulders, elbows, or wrists, or if you have carpel tunnel, a headache, high blood pressure or heart problems. Always attempt a new pose in the presence of a seasoned yoga instructor!

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philosophy in unexpected places....

philosophy in unexpected places....

So again, this weather is still getting me down, and I was reminded today on the Orange Line in Boston of how that posh voice on the London Tube politely requests that everyone “MIND THE GAP” before stepping off to their destination.

I love when Buddhist philosophy comes from unlikely sources, and this little reminder definitely qualifies.

Many of you out there, including myself, have found ourselves in a ‘Gap’ in our lives, whether it be because we are unemployed, have moved back home, recently graduated school and don’t have a trajectory, ended relationships, or simply had to give up a few activities or pleasures because of the economic crisis. Fact of the matter is, we live in a culture that demands we be ‘productive’ and working all the time.This pressure can leave us feeling overwhelmed and stressed.

this will not happen..do not worry

this will not happen..do not worry

But why does this “Gap” in time that we recently have found ourselves in, have to be completely filled with “productive work” leading in a direction towards the next 9-5 job we think we must attain.

Instead, take a day our two, maybe even just an hour, sit and meditate on the ways in which this time can be a blessing. Maybe your past 9-5 job really wasn’t your passion and this is an opportunity to head into an ‘alternative endeavor’ as I like to call it. Living back home with the parents/family or moving into a smaller apartment with more roommates can let you mend some previously strained relationships before you fully cut the umbilical cord.

take some time, breathe and appreciate the open spaces you have just received...photo courtesy of healthylivinglounge.com

take some time, breathe and appreciate the open spaces you have just received...photo courtesy of healthylivinglounge.com

For me, all these gaps are moments of opportunity that I’m attempting to appreciate.

In a monetary sense, I have decided not to invest in a gym membership for the summer after graduating from a  school where the membership was included in the tuition. I’ve allocated my allotted funds for yoga towards yoga class cards at my favorite yoga studio. From this, I have realized a few things…

a. I really don’t like gyms and don’t really have a desire to work out in one.

b. I found so many new and interesting exercise classes through “try a free first class” promotions including Krav Maga (my friend Ryan is an instructor at a local studio), Boxing, and numerous yoga classes. Krav Maga is a form of close combat fighting developed by the Israeli military and used all of the world and even as a workout for celebrities such as Hilary Swank! Its empowering and addicting and stands on the philosophy of using what you have and never giving up…never!

For more info on Krav Maga…or to find out about some local classes (in North and South Shore of Boston) contact Ryan Reilly at reilly44@gmail.com.

kick some butt and learn how to defend yourself! photo courtesy of socialmartialarts.com

kick some butt and learn how to defend yourself! photo courtesy of socialmartialarts.com

c. I have reignited my passion for trail running (which I lost over the winter months) and because I get bored and scared doing it alone, have rekindled friendships by running with friends. Running can be both physically healthy and therapeutic.

Russell Orchards, Ipswich MA...click for their website

Russell Orchards...click for their website...photo courtesy of bostonzest.com

Crane Beach, Ipswich MA

Crane Beach, Ipswich MA

d. While running with my friend, James, we try to find new, free, places to run and have made some great local discoveries and rediscoveries….Our favorite run is a run from Russell Orchards in Ipswich (parking free) then running up to Castle Hill or Crane’s Beach and back. It is a beautiful run and usually parking at Crane’s beach is $15 , but we just run in and out for free because we park at the Orchards.

Also, you can pay only $5 and walk/hike around the Crane Estate at Castle Hill, a beautiful Estate and picnic venue not to be missed. Support it and the local flora and fauna through the $5 donation by going there and treating yourself to some apple cider doughnuts or freshly picked strawberries at Russell Orchards afterward.

overview of the Crane Estate

overview of the Crane Estate reservation in Ipswich...great place to meditate...do yoga...(photo courtesy of thetrustees.org)

e. I also have enjoyed finding activities physically that help others. My mom recently participated in her first ever road race, with a friend, at the age of 59. We ran the Louis Rossetti race in Beverly last Wednesday and I was so proud of her. The proceeds went to support the Louis Rossetti foundation and it was a women-only race on a fabulous evening. I even won a trophy for coming in 4th in my age group- my first ever trophy for running! Check out your local 5k run/walks in your area…its a great way to bond with others in your community and donate to a good cause while getting some fresh air and physical exercise!

For more info on the Crane Estate and surrounding areas click here and for running routes in your area…just try googling!

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Wandering Lotus…New bud

As my first and only blog, I have very excited and nervous to write this initial post.  As an avid traveler, yoga enthusiast and lover of all enlightening things, I would like this blog to be a window into unconventional ways of travel and experiencing the world.

There is beauty in the most unlikely places in this world, and I want to share the movie of it that has been collected and edited through my lens, and the lenses of those closest to me.

After taking some time off from school to tend to my health I had the opportunity to travel and volunteer in other parts of the world, opening my experience and knowledge of what suffering is and how I will be connected to it. I grew up traveling (my mother is a travel agent), however it wasn’t until I was older that I began incorporating volunteer work, cultural immersion, personal connection and adventure in those travels.

After falling in love with the practice of yoga and studying Buddhism extensively, both at school and in India, I have attempted to approach my travels and hearing other stories as valuable lessons on humanity, beauty along with physical, mental and spiritual “awakeness” and “mindfulness” (sati).

I also am a 23 year old recent graduate who has a strong attachment to all things aesthetically pleasing and anything sensually and emotionally stimulating. I want to incorporate anything that appeals to my senses and the consumer side of me in this blog as well, but in a way that is socially responsible.

I am calling this blog Wandering Lotus for a myriad of reasons, but I will highlight one for now. The Lotus flower continues to serve as a guide for living one’s life with self-acceptance, hope and beauty. You may have noticed the presence of the Lotus motif in a yoga studio or two, but the spiritual connection and contemplation of this flower is much deeper. As Buddhism is a way of living (not necessarily a religion unless you are studying Pureland Buddhism), the Lotus is an embodiment of that way of life. The Lotus can grow out of the dirtiest, muddiest, more cluttered of muddy soils. The Lotus does not pretend to grow out of perfect soil; it accepts the flaws of its origins and characteristics and opens itself up to becoming spotless and beautiful, silently sitting among the mud, embracing the sun, water, clouds….whatever comes.

For more information about the symbol of the Lotus in Buddhism click here!

lotus

Note: the header of the blog- the picture- is a photo I took last March (2008) while travelling with some friends in Namibia. It is the sunrise we saw while sitting on Dune 45 in the Namib Desert! My camera is a Canon POwershot S5IS…its kind of in between a point and shoot and an SLR and was a gift from my brother before heading abroad to South Africa for a semester at the University of Cape Town. Great camera!

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