The Heart of the Teachings

गते गते पारगते पारसंगते बोधि स्वाहा
gate gate pāragate pārasaṃgate bodhi svāhā

What it means to me ~ gone, gone beyond, gone beyond the beyond to the other shore, we encounter underlying peace that is always there, and this peace emanates through us. We attune each other.

This is the essence of the Prajñāpāramitā Hṛdaya, or Heart Sutra ~ the heart of the teachings ~ of which the mantra above is a part. It has been said that this mantra can’t be completely translated, that its resonance expresses an experience beyond just words. The all inclusive silence, beyond and including manifest sound.

One of my teachers, Parvathi Nanda Nath Saraswati, suggest that if we are graced with coming in contact with the teachings, it becomes our responsibility, and our gift, to allow them to evolve inside of us. And continuously evolve us.

The teachings are not static, something to be memorized and passed on rote; they are living traditions that grow through us. Always adapting and current. The specifics of the practices not as important in themselves as what they access. What evolves through each of us is what we have to offer one another.

Which illustrates the vow of the Bodhisattva ~ to awaken in order to help all beings awaken. And the action of the 12th Step, service. As you get it, pass it on. The more you share it, the more you “get” it. And keep going. Practicing these principles in all our affairs.

As we go beyond, whichever layer we are currently going beyond, as our obscurations are liberated, as we awaken from illusions, as we recognize we are not separate yet parts of the same whole, we share our perspective and help everyone else awaken too. Not to be righteous, just because that is what we do. We go beyond where we were, and then we come back and share this with each other. As for any of us to awaken, we all have to awaken.

It doesn’t make you more or less special or better or worse when you start to wake up, its just your time. We are all in this together.

Resonance. We attune each other.

Mahamrityunjaya Mantra महामृत्युंजय मंत्र

ॐ त्र्यम्बकं यजामहे सुगन्धिं पुष्टिवर्धनम् ।
उर्वारुकमिव बन्धनान् मृत्योर्मुक्षीय मामृतात् ।।

Aum tryambakam yajāmahe sugandhim puṣṭi-vardhanam ǀ
urvārukam-iva bandhanān mṛtyormukṣīya māmṛtāt ǁ

I relate to this as a prayer of protection and surrender, to remind us when we are trying to hold onto something that is passing…
It means to me…may we be released from our attachments, when we are ready, like the cucumber is released from the vine, without scar, when it is ripe.
The protection – may we be held by what nourishes us until it is our time to be let go.
The surrender – once we are let go there is no reattaching. When it is our time, may we have the grace and courage to let go.
One thing transforms into the next.

Yoga Awareness Meditation Retreat in The White Mountains

Yoga Awareness Meditation Retreat in The White Mountains

~ flow yoga as experiential metaphor to bring meditative awareness into the rest of our lives ~

In this one day retreat we will experiment with yoga postures and breath as awareness meditation, cultivating an increased ability to sustain presence and center ourselves at will. Developing this skill consciously together in practice will help us recall this quality of awareness when we most want to, or need to, be present in the rest of our lives.
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Starting with a short hike and meditation along the Pemigewasset River, we will then retreat to the sanctuary of The Mountain Club on Loon to integrate our meditative awareness into an indoor yoga asana practice. After lunch we will ride the gondola to the summit of Loon to practice in the forests of the White Mountains.
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This class is accessible to students of all levels. Simple postures will be offered for newer students to hold and develop awareness, while more experienced practitioners will be guided into more complex postures to refine their skill and attention once the simpler postures become easy. We will experiment to find our own unique expression of the potential of each pose.
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Bring clothing for yoga and a mat, layers appropriate for the weather outside, a towel and swimwear, and footwear suitable for light hiking. In case of inclement weather, we will utilize The Mountain Club as much as necessary and go outside as weather allows. Lunch is available at area restaurants, including The Mountain Club, or you are welcome to pack your own.
Please arrive well fed, enough to sustain you until lunch time.
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Make it a weekend retreat with spa services and discount room rates through The Mountain Club,
or with private instruction or a Thai yoga session with Denise.
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Denise practices in nature as much as possible, accessing a playfulness and deep awareness that she brings to her classes. In addition to teaching at the Mountain Club on Loon, she is the seasonal yoga instructor for the Loon Mountain Snowsports School and The Saint Anselm Cross Country Running Team. She leads yoga and meditation at The Plymouth House, a residential retreat center for drug and alcohol recovery, which has helped develop her teachings into a practical life skill that helps free us from dependence and confusion, awakening our potential through awareness and centering. She also brings yoga to festivals and events throughout New England and along the east coast. Her style derives from many traditions of movement and meditation and adapts to fit the specifics of her clientele. Denise is also available for personal and group private yoga classes and Thai yoga sessions.

Saturday August 10, 2013
9am – 5pm
The Mountain Club on Loon
Lincoln, New Hampshire
$80 – includes lift ticket

For more information or to register call 603 568 5977
or visit http://awarenessretreat813.brownpapertickets.com

deniseporterkemp.com

Balance

yoga virgin gorda

The moment when we stop trying and it just happens…
प्रयत्नशैथिल्यानन्तसमापत्तिभ्याम्
yoga sutra 2.47: prayatna shaithilya ananta samapattibhyam
When the pairs of opposites come into balance, active effort ceases and presence spontaneously arises…the effort is in training ourselves to find the balance, and once it starts to support itself, getting out of the way…

Love

The Full Pallette of Wisdom

Right now, it’s the tenth night after the nine nights of the goddess in the Indian holiday of Navaratri, see https://deniseporterkemp.wordpress.com/2012/10/19/navaratri-the-nine-nights-of-the-goddess/ for more explanation…

Something I’ve been experiencing in all this is that being open to the wisdom that comes to me includes being able to stay open to the things I don’t want to see, too – in myself and all around me. Without trying to block it or fix it. Or fix how I feel about it, no matter how raw it feels sometimes. Or feel too sorry for myself or others about it, either. Well, maybe a little bit at first…yet then letting that veil drop, too, and just breathing it in, letting it integrate, no matter how uncomfortable it is to sit with it.

For wisdom, truth as we are currently capable of experiencing it, doesn’t always show you the things you think you want to see. And being aligned with “truth” doesn’t always mean you get what you think you want. It – the wisdom, the truth – holds all sides of the spectrum. None cancels the other out, the beauty or the tragedy or the mundane that lies between. Fighting or ignoring just prolongs the suffering and keeps us from seeing what we actually have to work with.
So on this day that asks us to begin again, my intention is to continue to clear and sensitize and strengthen myself so that I can stay awake in all of it, as best I can. Not shutting any of it out just because I don’t want to have to see it. Observing, learning. Reorganizing when I realize I have been confused. Letting go of grasping for what’s not when I realize I’m doing it. With as little judgement as possible, beginning again. Embracing the potential of what lies before me, as best I can. Right now.
(written last night, October 24, 2012)

Golden Cauliflower Soup

Perfect for soaking up the warmth and sustenance of the sun on this crisp and golden autumn morning, as we shift from the final night, last night, and following day, today, of Laksmi, into the first night, tonight, of Sarasvati, in the Indian festival of Navaratri.  The goddess of good fortune and abundance in the Hindu pantheon, Laksmi is symbolized by the harvest and the light of the sun that nourishes us, and the color yellow.  Sarasvati, associated with purity and the color white, is the river of wisdom and inspiration that moves through us when we have cleared the path and built the channel strong enough to hold her.  This soup, both raw and pureed, is very cleansing and sustaining, as it moves easily and quickly through your digestive system and provides lots of food and nourishment in each bite without as much bulk in your stomach.  The fiber in cauliflower acts like a scrubbing brush that pushes other food through your system, the lemon juice an astringent that draws out impurities and leaves you feeling clean.  The tahini provides calcium and protein, the miso and soy sauce friendly enzymes, the avocado potassium, vitamin E and healthy monounsaturated fats that soothe your stomach and keep your skin supple and moist in this drying time of year.  Cumin and coriander both stimulate appetite and improve digestion, and make everything more delicious!  They also balance each other as cumin is slightly warming and coriander cooling in nature.  Turmeric is also warming, and is an anti-inflammatory that relives joint pain and stimulates healing in the body.  And it imparts the golden tint to this cauliflower soup that causes even its aesthetic to reflect the blending of the golden light of Laksmi and the clear white purity of Sarasvati symbolically occurring on this day.

Enjoy!

(This recipe and some of the nutritional information is adapted from the recipe for Curried Cauliflower Soup in Brigette Mars’ amazing cookbook, “Rawsome”, which is, um, rawsome, truly…I am not raw or vegan and yet including these types of recipes in your diet can increase your nutrition and add another way of experiencing food to your repertoire of food preparation.)

Golden Cauliflower Soup

½ head cauliflower

1 avocado

Juice of ½ to 1 lemon

5 Tablespoons tahini

½ teaspoon turmeric

teaspoon each ground cumin and coriander

2 Tablespoons soy sauce

2 ½ Tablespoons sweet white miso

2 or more cups water

Cut cauliflower into pieces that will fit into your food processor.  Peel and pit avocado.  Squeeze lemon juice through a strainer to remove seeds.  I use whole cumin and coriander and pulse them to a powder in a coffee grinder that I only use for spices, never coffee – coffee is too strong and will overpower the taste of all your spices.  Put everything into a food processor and blend until smooth.  Adjust water and all seasonings to desired taste and consistency.

Navaratri – the Nine Nights of the Goddess

Right now is an auspicious time in Hinduism, for we are in the midst of Navaratri, the Indian holiday celebrating nine nights of the goddess in the Hindu pantheon.  To appreciate this, the gods and goddesses don’t have to be believed in as actual beings.  They can be seen as metaphor, personifications of aspects of ourselves and in the natural world that allow us to better understand and perhaps relate to these universal qualities.

The first three nights are for Kali and Durga – names for the benevolently fierce form of the mother goddess, the goddess of death and transformation, she who clears away what blocks us and doesn’t let us get away with what keeps us stuck.  In the stories Kali carries a severed head, for she stops the chatter of our minds.  She wears a belt of severed arms, for she stops us from grasping.  Durga rides a tiger and catches the blood of the demons that haunt us on her tongue, transforming the negativity while remaining unscathed herself.  The second three nights are for Laksmi, the goddess of abundance and good fortune.  She manifests in human form to restore balance in times of darkness as Radhe, the idealized maiden, and Sita, the idealized mother and mature woman.  She helps build our strength and sustains us so that we can actualize our potential.  The third three nights are for the goddess Sarasvati, the river of wisdom that flows through us once we have cleared the path and strengthened the channel to hold her.  She is the creative goddess who moves through us and manifests our talents, and is seen as the goddess of knowledge, music, literature, and the arts.

The tenth day after the ninth night is the festival of Dusshera, also called Vijaya Dashami.  It is like being reborn – we have been cleared, we have been rebuilt strong, the wisdom flows through us.  It is considered to be a particularly potent time to begin something new, especially something creative in the arts.  As I experience each of these nights from sunset to sunset, for me, this tenth day is also the third day of Sarasvati, as it is the day after her third night.  This year, Dusshera will occur on Wednesday October 24th.

For much of the world Navaratri started this year on Monday, October 15th.  Yet because of the way the time of the new moon fell, for us here in the eastern time zone of the United States, Navaratri technically began on Tuesday, which is a rare yet occasional occurrence.  And night three and four happen on the same night, the third night of Kali shifting into the first night of Laksmi.  Which was last night, and as I experience it, into today.

Which fits perfectly with this rainy, vibrant Indian summer day.  The reds and rust of Kali and the golden ochre hues of Laksmi dancing in the trees and mixing upon the ground.  The rain cleansing and clearing the falling leaves, and the abundance of the harvest all around us.  Both warm and cool, the between time.  Shifting.  As it is said in Celtic Paganism, the veil between the worlds is thin.

Each year this autumn Sharada Navaratri, the most important of the five Navaratris celebrated throughout the year, reflects the cadence of what is happening in my own life – a transition that clears the excesses of summer into the gathering of autumn, preparing and paring down to tune in and turn in towards the introspection of winter.  I so appreciate this ritual that reminds me how we walk in rhythm with the natural world even when we are not necessarily paying attention – I usually don’t remember about Navaratri until someone reminds me and I say, Ah! Of course! And it excites me to slow down and notice what is happening inside me, and all around me, right now.

Love.

(This may not all be 100% technically correct, it is my interpretation, and as I am experiencing it as metaphor I feel alright about that.  I in no way mean to offend.  I am always interested in deepening my understanding, please share your own experience or information if you feel inclined…)