Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Is this a Holiday?

What do you do with all that vacation time. As Danes we have 5-7 weeks a year if you are a working slob. Way more if you are a student or on the teaching staff. Of course the student group will always bemoan the fact of no money, the time is still there. Time to travel, visit friends and experience something a little out of the ordinary.

Because he had travelled two days in the saddle, Claricles was sore, and wondered aloud to the stranger as they settled for the night, why anyone should travel.
The stranger said,"Some travel because they must, some because they will.
"Some feel a destiny, which is in fact curiosity and recklessness, and of their own accord take long and arduous journeys.
"Some love to live in the whole world, and the whole world often responds by refusing to give them anywhere to call their own.
"And so they wander still; the wood pigeon has a nest, the fox her den, but the wanderer's home is both nowhere and everywhere.
"The wise of every culture have their views about how to travel. It is well said that they know nothing of their homelands who know only their homelands, which implies that to travel is to learn;
"But there are those who travel and learn nothing. It is well said that at the furthest point of our journeyings what we meet is ourselves;
"But there are those who leave themselves behind, and forget themselves enough to err in foreign places, because they believe they are nowhere that matters.
"The wise say, do not travel with a fool. So the fool had better stay at home, because travel will increase his folly.
"When the wise travel they take note of customs, of people, of the way things are done differently.
"By the same token, to receive a traveller in one's home country is an opportunity to hear news and to learn of far places.
"The ideal traveller is he who travels with no baggage but his thoughts, eager to learn, ready to speak of what he has seen.
"But never to speak with exaggeration or falsehood, keeping due respect for all differences and strangeness he has encountered,
"Knowing that he is himself strange to the stranger, and that he seems different to those who are different from himself.
"Such a traveller is never more at home than when far from home. He sees with clearer eyes than the rest of mankind what ruins have been made by man,
"And what works he can be praised for. When he crosses the mountains on his travels, he can see the coming dawn of peace, because he sees further than the rest.
"The good traveller brings the time of peace nearer. He builds bridges across the seas, he draws nations closer together,
"He shows men that there are many ways of living and loving. He teaches them tolerance,
"He humanises them by being a brother to them even though he is a stranger in their midst."

(The Good Book made by A. C. Grayling)



This summer Lino Miele has a retreat in Italy, spend a few weeks with travellers from around the world. Staying in the hills of Marche, a few hours north east of Rome. Enjoy a morning practice, afternoon playgrounds, swimming pool, wonderful locally grown Italian vegetarian food. So many good reasons.

Lino Miele retreat

The dates for the summer retreat are 19th. June - 2nd. July Meeting on the 18th. June
For more details contact Rossana on astangayoga@libero.it







This winter and the idea of another Christmas in a traditional setting is losing its charm? Well Southern India calls. Lino Miele has a two month workshop in Kovalam, Kerala. Yoga practice 6 days a week. Quiet traffic free village by the seaside, Ayurvedic treatments, Temples and mountains, tea plantations, sailing on Rice Boats. Kerala is called God's Own Country. It is a lush and rich area, wonderful local kitchen, the state has the highest level of education in India.

Kovalam

The workshop runs from 11th. December to 3rd. February. With the long travel times and change of climate it is best to aim for at least two weeks. 3 weeks is better, anything over that is a bonus.

Guided Class on the rooftop of Peacock Hotel

Lino Guiding the Friday class

Local fishermen

Simon outside Suchindrum Temple with blessing.

Fruit stall

Shopping 

Temple Wagon

It tasted as good as it looks

Ayurvedic treatment (Foot massage)

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

In the words of Will



William Shakespeare. "There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so."


The Buddha says a similar thing. "Our life is the creation of our mind."

We are what we think, we create the reality we exist in.
Are we stuck in a reality that we are not enjoying?
Well the science of genetics are saying that we are predisposed to having a negative or positive view on life right from the get go.
Praise the Lord and pass the biscuits, fortunately there is a solution!
We can check in and see what our little brains are chattering about. We can change that internal chatter just by being aware of it.
We become more aware of what we are saying to ourselves on that internal chatter.
This internal chatter is then reflected in what we say.
What are we telling ourselves, what are we saying to the society around us?
Is what we are saying true?
Does it really hold up to the light of day?
If it is a continuous run of negative thoughts and speech then there is usually no real basis for this. It is rarely as dark and threatening as we have convinced ourselves our reality is. Have a close look at what you are telling yourself, is it really true, or is this just a reality that habit has created for you.
We are often so involved in the daily chatter of gossip, irrelevant news, worrying about situations and circumstances that we have little influence over. We are bombarded with advertising and images that draw our attention away from any calm centre.
The practice gives us a few moments during the day to calm our minds and go a little towards that centre that is us. As the chatter subsides we become more attuned as to how we can relate with our friends, our enemies, our challenges with negative ideas.
Keep an eye out for what you are telling yourself, check out if what you are saying has any real truth to it. If not discard those ideas for the rubbish that they are. Keep green, tidy up your "house" and remember to chuck out any garbage that is cluttering up the place.
Check out what you are dragging around through life.


Saturday, 2 April 2011

Amager in the sun

Today is really the first warm day we have seen this year. On with the sunblock and on my bike. I have been looking for an opportunity to get out and see Bjarke Ingels Figure 8 on the edge of Amager Fælled.
I always enjoy being out on Amager, it is so different to the downtown area of Copenhagen were I usually move around.
Riding out over the southern part of the city it turns high tech industrial. The old industries have now moved out of town to cheaper areas in Denmark (Carlsberg) and many have simply moved production abroad. Sydhavn is now Nokia and Siemens country with their new local headquarters in shiny new buildings, hotels and car salesrooms abound.
Over the bridge and onto the quiet cycle paths running a little away from the main roads, beside the wide drainage ditches that crisscross Amager. Turn down beside Bella Centre with its new Conference hotel and suddenly it is all new for me. the Metro runs just to the left of the road and it is looking very futuristic. When I was a boy the vision of the future was always flying cars, it is a relief that the trains have survived and that most sensible form of local transport, the bicycle has been encouraged.
A few miles down the road and there it is, an amazing structure rears up from the flat grassy landscape of a winter brown Amager. The Figure 8 building, it is just such a stand out structure, sleek and beautiful with its fine Scandinavian simplicity and the wonderful choice of materials. 8 Tallet
I wandered around seriously in awe and grabbed a coffee at the café. The café was large, very busy and seemingly filled with young families, maybe the new residents or just tourists out enjoying the day. The café is in the far corner of the building with two sets of steps going away up the sides of the building. It looks out across a wide water filled area to the grassy scrubland that stretches down to the southern tip of Amager. Good coffee, though a little too busy for my liking and only 3 toilets in the café! That was kind of strange, when there is seating for at least a hundred guests and more outside.
Riding back to town the spires of the city churches guide you in. Amager is such a strange mix, caravans and small allotments. brand new houses next to classic 60's and 70's villas. Suddenly changing to forests and run down workshops. Sandy paths and broken tarmac, it really is an assortment of styles and themes thrown together.
Cycling back I was watching the buildings on my left as I was now coming into town further east. this put Ørestad on my left. Many of the new buildings are well thought out and look appealing to live in. Maybe its a guy thing but they seem to be very masculine in their style, just the kind of place for a leather sofa and a big screen TV. And then there was something else Bjerget (the Mountain) another of Bjarke Ingels structures. It won the world architecture prize last year and is quite outstandingly different. The front is covered in wood (cedar?) forming cosy balconies and what looks like a great feeling of privacy. Cars are parked below the building with stairways rising up around an inner metal open wall.
Mountain
Riding on I was deep into the older area of Amager and this garden appeared. I am extremely jealous of the persons ability to prune the trees and plants in the garden. My only compensation is that it was a little anal as all the plants had little white markers beside them, saying what they were.



Back across the "new" pedestrian/cycle bridge and into busy city. Everyone seemed to be out walking. The motor bikes were roaring and screaming, carrying delighted owners after a long winter of tinkering, cleaning and quiet times.
Reading the Guardian in the sun, not too shabby.

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Vegan

From Bored To Death

Jonathan and Ray are at the colonic clinic.

Jonathan reading a brochure turns to Ray and says, "there really is a lot of information in here. You know we really all should be Vegans. I am kind of a non-practicing Vegan!"

Well like Jonathan I am also in that place in life. The idea of Raw Food/Vegan has a certain kind of appeal. I can see the idea in it of having that completely clear conscience, getting that ethical high of doing the right thing.

But really it is not going to happen. Well not in the near future.

I have been a vegetarian since 1972 Christmas day. That was the last time I ate meat.

My buddy was over from California and he was a kind of hunting, fishing type. That is fine and dandy, getting your guns and rods and going out and killing what you eat. I had been living in the centre of London for a few years and it was the time of brown rice and macrobiotic diets. Hari Krishna groups were offering free vegetarian meals. The way forward was definitely not through the industrial production of meat.

My diet had been 90% vegetarian for a few years, eating meat when returning to the family home. By this time even my Mom and Dad had seen the light and were moving more and more towards a healthier vegetable based diet.

We went down Portobello Road and bought steaks for Christmas dinner. His choice! Well they were tough and enough to put me right off meat for the rest of my life. If you haven't been eating meat for a while then it is quite a shock to the system absorbing all that heavy fat, blood and protein.

It was an easy move from there to continue in the way of vegetarianism.

I drink milk and eat dairy products. To keep the cows with milk they are regularly bred and here is the nasty bit. Probably half of the offspring are bull calves, these are fattened and slaughtered. This is something that I have accepted in life, we will always be killing other creatures and beings in our movement through life.

What are you going to do? We swat mosquitoes, tread on ants and bugs, drive our cars and bikes into millions of flies and creatures every year.

Even if I move towards a Vegan based diet I will still be killing creatures, there is no real way to get around the conundrum of unintentional killing.

For nearly 40 years a vegetarian diet has suited me, maybe my ideas will change, miracles have happened!

Life appears to be more and more about making compromises, still working towards the higher ground, learning as we go. We have been given this life and if we will live it to our full potentiality then we will need to constantly revise what we have learned and how that effects our future decisions.

I want to live a happy life. To be truly happy then I will need to feel that those I am involved with are also in a good place. That the decisions I take are not going to create too much harm and pain. I also need to accept that some things I have no influence over. I cannot take responsibility for everything that happens on earth. To try and right all the wrongs would just be paralyzing in its enormity.
Step by step, being aware of what I can and cannot have an effect on, stepping lightly through life.
Breakfast of Champions

Monday, 21 March 2011

On the right road

Doing a little yoga, becoming aware of what I eat.
Taking care of myself, caring for how the people around me are managing.
Having a calm and steady approach to life.

Is this what we need to be doing?
It is a choice that can be taken, of course it is a very subjective view on life.
For myself I feel very blessed that I have a yoga practice a little grounding in the daily circus.
But then it is a choice and many have made quite different choices to bring themselves to a happy state.

Many are driving around in huge cars, searching for a parking space in life.
Maybe not even aware that there is an opportunity to enjoy what is happening at the moment.
Unaware of the joy that is in the present time. 
Always searching in the future for some form of happiness.
Regretting the past and not letting it go, still being burdened by decisions taken years ago.
Who knows what is the right path, it is all a learning process and we are all here to get what we can out this existence.
Who is to say what is right.

 

Saturday, 19 March 2011

Full Moon



Here we are on a Massive Full Moon, the biggest influence on our watery bodies for the last 20 years or so, 1993 was the last time the moon swung in close and gave us a strong pull. So what?
Well the what is, that the moon has always been a huge part of our emotional and cultural lives. Lunatic, as in lunar, as in crazy like a fox. We are an integral part of the pull and push of the universe. It gets in there and affects us, wild traffic, strange days, it all can get very weird. Stuff that "normally" doesn't happen, just gets up and does its thing.
Take a few moments out today, touch base, sit and let go, enjoy the flow.
It will be hitting a horizon somewhere near you at 18.35 this very evening.

Wikipedia, says that scientific research has shown no correlation between the moons phases and increases in crime, dog bites, epilepsy, schizophrenia. Ah well! 


Warren Zevon


Ain't That Pretty At All
written by Leroy P. Marinell & Warren Zevon
1982 Tiny Tunes (ASCAP) & Zevon Music (BMI)

Well, I've seen all there is to see
And I've heard all they have to say
I've done everything I wanted to do . . .
I've done that too
And it ain't that pretty at all
Ain't that pretty at all
So I'm going to hurl myself against the wall
'Cause I'd rather feel bad than not feel anything at all

You know, I just had a short vacation, Roy
Spent it getting a root canal
"Oh, how'd you like it?"
Well, it ain't that pretty at all
So I'm going to hurl myself against the wall
'Cause I'd rather feel bad than not feel anything at all

Gonna get a good running start and throw myself at the wall as hard as I can man

I've been to Paris
And it ain't that pretty at all
I've been to Rome
Guess what?
I'd like to go back to Paris someday and visit the Louvre Museum
Get a good running start and hurl myself at the wall
Going to hurl myself against the wall
'Cause I'd rather feel bad than feel nothing at all
And it ain't that pretty at all
Ain't that pretty at all

Warren can really bring you down with a smile on your lips. His openness and critical sense of what is "right" and having "the correct attitude" is so refreshing. The guy was a breath of fresh air in a world of conventional thinking. Warren I miss you.


 

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Swamiji



We had the great pleasure of hosting Swami Brahmadeoji at the studio last night. Swamiji had been in Holland and then flew on to Norway where he has been for the last few days. Flying from Holland to Norway he realised he was passing over Denmark and decided to make a detour on his return journey to the USA and the Caribbean.
Eskil collected Swamiji at the airport taking him home to his house and family.
The idea of a Satsang was very spur of the moment, we only got word of Swamiji's intended stop a few days prior to his arrival. Long live emails and Facebook, managing to get the word out, a very interested and expectant group arrived on a cold dark and sleety evening.
Satsang (Sanskrit sat = true, sanga = company) is in Indian philosophy that involves the company of the "highest truth," the company of a guru, or company with an assembly of persons who listen to, talk about, and assimilate the truth. This typically involves listening to or reading scriptures, reflecting on, discussing and assimilating their meaning, meditating on the source of these words, and bringing their meaning into one’s daily life.
We started with a quietening of the mind, settling in, a short meditation. Swamiji quoted a short text and expanded on its meaning. The floor was then opened to questions and answers.
Swamiji spoke of our need to move towards a blissful state. A state of the divine consciusness of life. Happiness was fine, though was very dependent on outer conditions. Someone praises you or compliments you, this brings happiness; however if they are rude or unkind towards you this will show itself as unhappiness. We have to work towards inner strength, calm and peace of mind. This is less conditioned by outer circumstances. The practice of yoga and meditation was highly recommended. Both practices support one another and are the bridge of moving towards the more internal practice.
Pratyahara withdrawal of the senses, is the fifth element among the Eight stages of Patanjali's Ashtanga Yoga
Swamiji spoke of "spiritual engineering" this has a very appealing sound to our western minds. Get the toolkit out, read the instruction, see it click into place and then start working. This isn't some airy idea that has been pulled out of the ether. It is tried and tested over thousands of years, refined and purified. Getting to the truth of life, why are we here, what should we do with this opportunity, what happens when we die? All these huge questions that furrow our brows, send us off on false trails of compulsive behaviour! We have to start from where we are. If we want to learn how to swim for example, there is very little use of someone instructing you how to swing your arms on dry land. No, you have to get into the water and get a feel of it, gradually learning to float and get comfortable in a new environment.
We have all been given the opportunity to travel this path of discovery.
Swamiji said that "God" had given us a torch to shine our way. Our journey might be 5 kilometres, no torch is going to shine 5 kilometres. However the torch will give us enough light to see the path ahead. If we keep moving along, shining the torch, then eventually we will have lit the way on our 5 kilometre journey.
The sign of a true master is shown in how they receive and respond to questions. Swamiji shows true generosity in his way of accepting the questions and then making the answer relevant for the assembly. There is no sign of irritation, just a welcoming being, willing to absorb the challenges that the audience is experiencing and then creating a positive and universal response.
Swamiji closed the evening with a short Kirtan (Sanskrit: "to repeat") is call-and-response chanting or "responsory" performed in India's devotional traditions.

Om Namah Shivaya

There were no instruments to accompany us, our clapping hands held the rhythm speeding and slowing.
Thank you Swamiji, we are fortunate to have been given this chance to grab the brass ring.