I have been grading papers this week. Earlier I came upon a passage written by a student who has also taken my Yoga class. My heart swelled with gladness as I read the description of this girl’s first experience in a Kundalini Yoga class. It touched my heart to know that the class had so touched hers. Here is a portion of the endearing note:
On July 8th, I attended Professor Quesada’s Yoga class at Machatz Self Defense Studio. I am not a morning person, especially when it is not a school day. Thus, I entered the studio rather grumpy. However, the lights were out, so that was a plus. I sat on the mat and we were told to sit with our legs crossed, a diamond-like pose. The tuning-in mantra was “Ong Namo Guru Dev Namo,” meaning, I call on divine consciousness. It calmed me down…We began some deep breathing and gradually sped up the pace…we flexed our bodies…I couldn’t have begun my day better…Professor Quesada had us lie on our backs while she played the gong. This was my first time having this experience. It felt as if my heart was beating along with the sound. As I closed my eyes I felt as if I was in a whole different world, a world of emptiness, a world free of strain and frustration. To conclude the Yoga, we all began to sing Long Time Sun, which I found on Youtube that night and played on my laptop. It just puts a smile on my face, and the fact that we all sang along made it so much more beautiful…
There is a short excerpt from my book and an interview with me here, at the Hazy Moon Zen Center.
This old three-story, Victorian house is where I practice Zen-style meditation with my Sangha, or Zen Community, and where I meet with my teacher, at various steps along my journey back home.
“Zen Buddhism is a 2,500-year-old oral teaching carried forward one-to-one from teacher to student. It is rare to encounter a real Zen teacher. William Nyogen Yeo—our teacher, or Roshi—spent nearly three decades studying with the late Taizan Maezumi Roshi, who was widely regarded as the foremost Zen master of the twentieth century. Nyogen Roshi was the last of only a dozen disciples authorized by Maezumi Roshi to succeed him as a teacher.” (Hazy Moon)
I am fortunate to have found my way to Nyogen Yeo Roshi and to the Hazy Moon Zen Temple, where we practice meditation as a community.
I am wearing beautiful cotton clothing stitched by sun-beaten hands in a faraway place where the Buddha was born. The dyes used to color them come from ground up plants and a broth of chemicals. The bright blue bag sitting next to me that holds my books comes from Germany and is made from old truck tarpaulins. As I write, I am sitting in an elevated wooden chair in my favorite coffee shop, with a steaming cup of tea within reach of one hand. The tea leaves are left to dry under a distant sun. Millions of trees are ground into pulp to make the disposable cup I drink from. Gigantic steel ships traverse the seas, every day of every year, to deliver these goods, leaving hundreds of miles of smoky, black trails in their wake. After crossing the invisible line of arbitrary borders, they are waved in to dock by the welcoming flag of good relations.
Is patriotism a symbol of a false sense of division? Does it reflect what we might think of as communal ego, that serves only to separate—as if we could? Do we find solace in it and a sense of belonging, security and community? Or is it through political obedience? Are either valid?
Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace
You may say that I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will be as one …
~ John Lennon