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This site is about contemplative living. Quiet things like nature walks, books, meditation, and yoga. The practice of regrounding in a post-Internet age.

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A Matter of Three Seconds…

threefeet

Yesterday, I had this idea that since I live in a walkable city, I should walk to do a few errands, not just for pleasure like walking in the park, which is usually is the case. But useful walking. Walking with a purpose, walking to move my body and to remove my car from the congestion that is in-town Atlanta traffic.

I was walking down the sidewalk when with no warning whatsoever, this massive branch crashed down three feet in front of me, destroying that fence. Three seconds later it would have been me!

Have no idea what I was doing that delayed the appointed rounds of my day by three seconds. But I’m grateful just the same. I called my brother right after it happened and sent him this pic. “Go out right away and buy a lottery ticket,” he told me.

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Non-Judgement & Metta Meditation

An intention is a positive statement said in the present tense about a positive quality that you would like to bring into your life. For instance, I am healthy. I am confident. I am flexible.

I’m substitute teaching at the noon lunch class at Nirvana today and offering for the class intention: I am non-judgmental.

It is said when we judge ourselves (our bodies, our thoughts everything) and everyone else (fill in your own blank), we’re in a spiritual prison. Whether or not you’re spiritual, I think we can all agree that judging others gives the ego power and from there our mind becomes a prison to its righteous indignation.

One method to cultivate non-judgment in our bodies and in our minds and in relation to the world around us is to practice Metta meditation or loving-kindness meditation, according to yoga philosophy.

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Angel Yoga Class notes from January 6, 2020

Namaste Angel Yogis of St. Ds!

Here are my notes from last week’s class. Last night, Barbara and I did compassion meditation and a stretchy floor flow. Beyond the B.K.S. Iyengar Light on Life notes is the savasana reading from The Heartbeat of God: Finding the Sacred in the Middle of Everything by former Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori.

NYC Public Library

Window on the park.

Tadasana, mountain pose. There’s a lot in this pose.

The body is nature, made up of 5 elements –earth, water, fire, air, and space. Our bodies are nature and therefore constantly changing and so we are a “little piece of continual change looking at an infinite quantity of continual change.”

“Soul is unchanging, eternal, and constant; it always remains as witness, rooted in divine origin and oneness. The whole practice of yoga is concerned with exploring the relationship between Nature and Soul.”

This is intention setting I borrowed (with permission) from one of my mentor teachers, Leigh Anne Neal, owner of Nirvana Yoga in Atlanta where I did my 200-hour teacher training and often practice. It comes from the book “Light on Life,” by B.K.S. Iyengar, one of the Indian teachers who popularized yoga.

I selected this ultimately for a New Year class because it seems like habits that are repetitive, easy to remember, and useful in terms of mental/emotional well-being so perhaps likely to translate to overall well-being. For instance, I seem to make healthier choices the more grounded I am in my practice but the choices seem to make themselves without any effort on my part.

Iyengar writes: “Through yoga we are able to lessen the six emotional disturbances that cause us so much anguish: lust, pride and obsession, anger, hatred, and greed.”

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Yoga on the Beach — Pensacola

The Gulf Island National Seashore, Pensacola Beach. The pose is humble warrior. Baddha Virabhadrasana. The temp was hovering between 50 and 60 and the water was frigid.

Yoga on the beach is different from yoga in a quiet protected space on an even surface. The first thing that happens is that against vast expanse of ocean and empty beach and sky, you are really quite small. It is humbling.

 

 

Half-moon. It’s a totally mental pose. Chandrasana. If I reached back to catch my skyward foot and made a sort of candy cane out of the pose, I would be doing Ardha Chandra Chapasana.

One thing about practicing balancing poses on the beach is you can play as much as you want and take chances and feel free to fall because the sand is soft. How many opportunities to you get to fall safely?

 

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Remembering Billy

I’ll get this part out of the way first—Billy was murdered where he slept behind a gas station near my house in Grant Park. Local media reported the cause of death was believed to be blunt force trauma to the head.

“Neighbors told Channel 2 that customers and workers at the gas station loved Bethune, who they said held the door open for everyone and did favors for people,” the short blurb in the AJC read as if trying to humanize someone whose life was already made meaningless by the headline: “Homeless man found beaten to death in Grant Park.”

Not that I am any better. Billy not only held the door for me but he knew my name and what I did for a living. He knew my son and where he went to school. He had a rough idea how much I gave him the last time I gave him something and when that was.

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Nirvana Yoga Community Donation Class to Benefit Hotel St. Dunstan’s

Lotus mudra and sunshine amid the fiddleheads at the Atlanta History Center.

Teacher: Sibley Fleming completed her RYT 200-Hour Yoga Teacher Training at Nirvana Yoga in December 2018 and has been a regular student of yoga for the past five years. Her teachers include Leigh Anne Neal, Amanda McGee, Lucy Curtis, and Douglas Johnson.

 

 

 

 

Location: Nirvana Yoga, 464 Cherokee Ave SE #201, Atlanta, GA 30312 (Grant Park)

Saturday, April 13; 11 am -12:15 pm

Gentle all-levels yoga flow. Suitable for beginners.

Free/voluntary $5 donation to help support “Hotel St. Dunstan’s”

St. Dunstan’s serves as one of 13 host congregations that provide shelter and meals for up to four homeless families for a week at a time, four times a year. Sunday School classrooms become home for the families while they are here. Parishioners provide meals, serve as evening hosts, and spend the night. Hotel St. Dunstan’s is part of Family Promise a national organization that seeks to help homeless and low-income families achieve sustainable independence through a community-based response.

Here’s the playlist! 🙂

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Wish I Knew at 22

There was an awesome challenge on LinkedIn this week in honor of #Internationalwomensday called

Mybeautifulpicture

At 22, I was intensely creative, unfiltered, dragged along as if by the invisible strings of constant and passionate inspiration. My brain would wake me at all hours of the night with full poems or paragraphs that had to be scribbled down on paper before it would shut back down and allow me to sleep. My tall Eiffel Tower frame–fine architectural wonder of Amazon flesh I had the potential to be–was left willowy and weak from body image issues and the attendant eating disorders.

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January: Not Ordinary Time in Yoga Studios

Last night before class, I asked the teacher, Amanda M., if now that the holidays had passed we had entered yoga “ordinary” time like in the Christian church calendar, those regular days when we go about the business of ordinary living.

January7

The first Monday of 2019.

“No!” Amanda responded emphatically. “It’s January. There’s nothing ordinary about January in yoga studios.”

“Really?” I asked. “Why not?”

“Because it’s when everyone returns to the studio.”

A major ah-ha went off in my head. It was true. I had been in some sparsely populated Monday night classes in December (I was keeping my eyes on my own mat so I wasn’t noticing overtly.) Yet Monday, January 7, the first Monday of the New Year, was full of people.

My youngest son’s girlfriend gave me a Yoga Journal calendar for Christmas that has daily practice tips, from how to get into Parsva Bakasana (side crow pose) to how to meditate. Most people probably view yoga as primarily a form of exercise like CrossFit, which is completely fine. I guess like other exercise routines, you start out great at the beginning of the year with the best of intentions and then life happens.

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Hello, Yoga Teacher!

sibleyflemingyogateacher1

New Year’s Eve 2018 I taught my first yoga class.

About a week after Christmas 2018, I was anonymously walking down the potato chip aisle of the convenience store across the interstate from my house, when a familiar voice tapped me on the shoulder. “Hello, yoga teacher,” said my late night friend, one of the store clerks, a young Indian man who often marvels at what I am willing to put in my body and how little impact it seems to have on my well-being.

There are many ways to get to know strangers. One is by having late night conversations about how poor food choices conflict with the idea of yoga teacher training, one of the main focuses being non-violence against yourself and the world around you.

What my friend did not know was that I wasn’t in training any longer–I was a fully certified instructor, so “Yoga Teacher” was less a nickname and more a fact. It was a little ironic given I was secretively buying Ruffles cheese potato chips and Vienna sausages. And it sort of jolted me awake a bit–it’s simply not always easy to walk the walk. For me or anyone else, about anything.

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Where the Bears Are

Mesmerizing live brown bear cam. Check it out at www.explore.org.

This summer, I’ve been watching the brown bears fishing for sockeye salmon at Brooks Falls in Alaska’s Katmai National Park and Preserve in Alaska via a live cam.  The National Park Service provides this 24-hour live stream free of charge every year between July and August.

I shared the bear link with a girlfriend who subsequently invited me to spend the weekend at her mountain house in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina.

On the way in the car, she told me that she’d received calls from her mountain neighbors warning her not to walk alone in the woods because of the plethora of black bear sightings in the area. There was lots of evidence of rummaging through garbage cans, and one man walked into his kitchen to find a bear in his refrigerator.

Knowing I love to walk, my friend said we should walk together, or at the very least I should take her hunting dog, Millie. It’s one of those things you agree to because it’s easier than telling a likelier truth.

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