The Fifth Chakra

Since I started practicing yoga seriously in 2011, the chakras have come up regularly. In world of meditation and yoga, we study our 8 chakras. A chakra is basically an energy point in the body (check them out here). The fifth chakra is located in your throat and it supposedly helps you speak your truth.

Back in 2013-ish, I read the book The Eight Human Talents by Gurmukh, a famous kundalini yoga teacher (she owns Golden Bridge Yoga which has locations on both coasts). The studio in New York is on the Lower East Side and sadly, I’ve never been able to make it down there because on the weekends I’m usually a) busy, or b) lazy. 

In her chapter on the fifth chakra, she talks about wearing a blue pendant whenever she’s feeling weak in this chakra – having trouble speaking her truth or whatnot – because blue is the color associated with this chakra. I always really liked this idea and was always on the look out for a blue pendant that I liked. 

Throughout the years, I would walk past, especially when I was working in the Film Center building on 44th and 9th, a really pretty blue pendant in the window of this used jewelry store/thrift shop on 43rd and 9th. It was always there, sitting in the window. It wasn’t at all expensive but I would never let myself buy it, probably because I have so much other jewelry.

The week before Valentine’s Day, this necklace came up in conversation with my boyfriend. I honestly don’t remember how it came up because it’s such a random thing to talk about in a conversation. But it did and he asked if he could buy it for me because he wasn’t comfortable picking out jewelry for me on his own. 

On the day before Valentine’s Day, on our way to Brooklyn, we met on the corner of 43rd and 9th (also the corner of the apartment where he was living when we met) and the necklace was still in the same place in the window so I tried it on and that was that. 

I haven’t told him all the chakra theory because I don’t like to shove too much of my yoga/meditation/new age-y stuff down his throat. I don’t know if the necklace is having an affect on my ability to speak my truth, but it’s pretty and it’s meaningful and I like it. 

I was super thrilled on Wednesday to be invited to try an early class before MNDFUL’s official opening on Friday on Wednesday morning. I hauled butt down to East 8th Street to their beautiful new and zen space and took my seat on a cushion. 

The class was 30 minutes and it was led by a teacher named Kate Johnson. I’m pretty sure it was a mindfulness meditation. 

They have two spaces for meditation and the rest of the studio if a common area as the owners are hoping to create a community there. The studios are beautiful and warm. They’re offering 5-8 classes a day there, starting on Friday (the schedule can be found on their site!).

Much gratitude to Lodro, Sarah, and Ellie for the experience. I will definitely be back soon!

That Time I Spoke to Jake Gyllenhaal

Before the performance of Constellations that I attended, I was sitting in the front row of the mezzanine with one of my friends. We were watching Jake Gyllenhaal and Ruth Wilson were onstage warming up. Gyllenhaal kept up his British accent the entire time. A few minutes after we sat down, he looked up, straight at me, shielded his eyes and said, “There are new people up there! Who are you guys?” and I responded, telling him who we were, saying hi, and he responded, “Hi there! Welcome to warm ups!!

He seems like a cool dude, I’m just saying. 

Also: He studied Buddhism at Columbia in 1998. Doubly cool. 

Back on December 4th, I joined a march for Eric Garner and against police brutality. While we were stopped on the West Side Highway, I asked a dude what was being said or happening further away then I could see (he was tall). We continued chit chatting for a little while and then in the midst of a confrontation between police and protestors, we lost each other.

The following Saturday I decided to post on “Missed Connections,” fully expecting nothing. I wrote every piece of information that I could remember about him. A few days later, after I’d forgotten about the post, I got an email. It was him. His friend (who, he said, was the kind of person who spent free time reading Craigslist ads) had found it and forwarded it to him.

We met up a few days later after we both marched (separately) in the Millions March. It turns out that he was a fan of Buddhism and regular meditator. We also both loved John Lennon. And reading, among other things. It was really nice. It was easy. We meditated together. He met one of my best friends. He was completely honest with me about how he felt (and it was good) and I was with him too. I was pretty sure he was one of my soulmates.

Then he found out that he’d gotten accepted to a great school to go to their post-bac pre-med program and everything changed (understandably). He wasn’t a science person and he was trying to make himself one so he needed to study. And study, and study more. We decided last week when he came downtown to have lunch with me that it was for the best not to date anymore. He just didn’t have the time that he wished he had.

It was hard and it sucks. But it was also the logical decision. I still believe he was one of my soulmates, but as Elizabeth Gilbert points out above, it doesn’t always mean that’s the person you’re meant to be with.

I’m still trying to sort out what the lesson was that I was supposed to learn from these past two months. I’m sure it’ll come to me when I least expect it. Just like he did. 

Equanimity is likened to the way parents feel when their children become adults. The parents have nurtured, have given so much care, have been loving, and then at some point they have to let go. They don’t do so with a cold feeling of withdrawal. They don’t throw the adult child out of the house saying, “Well, it was nice. We don’t really need each other anymore.”

Equanimity has all of the warmth and love of the previous three states but it also has balance, wisdom, and the understanding that things are as they are and we cannot ultimately control someone else’s happiness or unhappiness.

Sharon Salzberg, Loving-Kindness

First Two Books of 2015

I finished Radical Acceptance (I read Tara Brach’s other book, True Refuge, in 2014) a week ago and picked up Loving-Kindness, by Sharon Salzberg, right after and just finished it a few minutes ago. 

I was lucky enough to go to a meditation gathering lead by Sharon Salzberg just last Sunday. It was a very cool experience. Her talk heavily centered around equanimity.

Both of these books are very much about Buddhism and meditation. Both offered mind-opening explanations for dealing with things that inevitably come up in life. if you have any interest in either of these topics, I’d say you should go pick up these books now.

Next up? 21st Century Yoga. Namaste 😉 

Happiness of the Heart

Happiness starts with your thoughts.

I’ve been going to a weekly meditation class for the past couple of months on Sunday evenings. It’s run by the Downtown Meditation Center for only $5. And I’m totally digging it. It’s nice to spend 90 minutes with like-minded yet diverse individuals.

After the 30-40 minute meditation there’s always a dharma talk and tonight’s was about happiness and happiness of the heart. We’ve all heard it many times before but it’s always for reinforcement. We discussed how our culture has conditioned is with if-then statements. Ie: “if I get this job, then I’ll be happy.” “If my relationship is this way, then I’ll be happy.” But we all know that’s not truly where happiness is found.

The group talked about happiness starting when you decide to change your mind. Instead of telling yourself that your life sucks, remind yourself that you just have a wish to be happy.

It sounds stupidly simple but it’s true. If you’re always reinforcing the notion that life sucks, life probably will suck.  This circles to something that one of my gurus, Gabrielle Bernstein, teaches which is “live with an attitude of gratitude.” It’s really hard to be bitter when you’re grateful.

Just some necessary reiteration.