Sunday, April 28, 2013

Value of Sanga

Thich Naht Hahn is a well known Buddist monk. He discusses the cocept of the Sanga... people of like mind and the importance of having the Sanga to lean on and learn with. I have several circles of close people in my life, therefore several Sanga's but each family feeds an aspect of my experience.

I actually like to refer to Sanga as a group of "spiritually like minded people." I hardly think bowling club is a Sanga...

I participate actually in a handful of Sanga's. Some deal directly with my connection to the divine and worship of the divine inner self. Others reach to a "higher power" in the pursuit of recovery. Either way I find it would be difficult in life to navigate the world of spirituality without teachers, guides, brothers and sisters. We generally live lives, its tough to be able to council yourself on matters of spirit. Believe me the power of prayer and meditation and a personal relationship to what I call the "Divine Mother" is the cornerstone. Occasionally I need the help of my spiritual teachers, whos job it is to know the so called fine print. It helps to have the backdrop of knowledge and study that people have done for hundreds or thousands of years before we came along. So I listen to Thich, to Parmahansa Yogananda, to Depak chopra, and to my personal ministers. To the other fellowships I listen to the Elder Statesmen with years of recovery.

Some feel that its a waste of time. That "people that go to church all the time have no life". En Contraire, I have discovered more life within these people than I had running around on my own. Hey, I can't go to spiritual study all the time. Sometimes I'm just tired or want to go to the movies. Some Sundays I do want to go fishin'. That's why I have Sanga, my connection to spiritually motivated people, my opportunity to pray with them and talk about spirit is not limited to Sunday.

If you are agnostic or atheistic, that's great I still love you. Just know that something bigger than you or the universe made your life possible.

I once heard of a concept called Pascal's Wager. Basically a mathematician assigned believing in God and not believing in God mathematical values. I suppose he gave good and bad, sin and virtue like values. Given the possibility that God actually does exist and assuming the infinite gain or loss associated with belief in God or with unbelief, a rational person should live as though God exists and seek to believe in God. If God does not actually exist, such a person will have only a finite loss (some pleasures, luxury, etc.).  My hats off to any one who lives a virtuous life, I only hope that they can commune with people of like mind and have them to offer support when life demands the company of others.

I have my faith of what will happen through and at the end of my life. If the chips fall the other way than so be it. The Universal Spirit I'm sure has given us many paths to follow to the gates of Nirvana or heaven or whatever. Maybe it's as simple as coming back again in a better Karmic situation, maybe one path or another is like the difference of walking or taking an airplane to God's house. I only know that I have a spiritual family that will take care of me, not judge me and always call me Brother.




Friday, April 12, 2013

TotallyGuy Yoga, Making the Mat a Mans Place


I came to yoga to impress a girl. It was a hot yoga class, not easy in fact my sole focus was to not pass out in front of all those women! It was during a difficult period of my life. It occurred to me that I did not have a concern outside of that room in 90 solid minutes! Months before only alcohol did that for me... i had left that behind and in less than two hours discovered that the first day of the rest of my life began on a 3x5 1/2. piece of rubber mat and a pool of sweat.

Years of footbball, baseball, track had began to take a toll. I felt the old injuries, as they healed I left yoga behind for a while and delved deep into the martial arts world, studying in the shadows of Bruce Lee and one Mixed Martial Arts. I competed in the Can Am Police and Fire Games with fair success. By the time I became a Black sash Kung Fu candidate, I was in need of ACL reconstruction and had twice dislocated Right shoulder, and a neck injury. Never mind that, at that point I had been a professional firefighter for 15 years... my job was in jeopardy.

At work I double braced my knee learned to use my left arm, and just "manned up".  Realistically, iwas putting   my life and others at risk. I began to get back to yoga classes at the gym and in short order was able to start from modified poses to actual chaturanga pushups! My neck was getting better, not perfect but much better. The habit became obsession so I trained to be an instructor. Still I eventually needed an overhaul on the bum knee. I was now armed with an educated knowledge on rehabilitating myself with yoga. I didn't turn my back this time. I used the fact that I was teaching in a steel brace to demonstrate the value of working with what you have without risk.

At one time I ran marathon distance, threw a baseball a country mile, had great triceps, punt 40 yards,   strike 7 times a second and run a six minute mile. By the. time Iwas 35 years old I was taking 7 western medications, couldn't crawl on my knees, or sleep, drank too much and had ballooned to 240 Pounds at 5'10"... I felt like I was wearing 55 badly.

 Im now 46 years old can do the splits (nearly), take one western medication weigh in at about 210 (ill never be one of those svelt slender yogis). I have more functional strength than most men my age and more flexibility of almost any woman I know.

Look Im still a guy. I can still fix a car, crawl into flames, play with creepy animals and speak like a  pirate. Iv discovered a way to get out of my head and in tune with my body, the experience bleedsast the hour on the mat. Im a more compassionate fit firefighter, a kinder more patient husband.

Of course id lime to see more men experience what I have found but honestly being the minority amongst such great women, rounds off my hard corners. I see men relax their bravado and transform

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Lately I have been on a roll of getting on people's nerves. It's confusing during times to discern between enthusiasm and restlessness.
I listened to a talk from one of my spiritual guides that had to do with whether or not your efforts are in the name of spirit and service or if your/ my actions are symptoms of being spiritually low. My life's goal is to serve the needs of spirit to live not in vein or to my own gain but to benefit others.

This is the joy of having such great teachers that remind me that Yoga is the practice of creating a seamless union between your spirit and your actions. In the life of activity, of action our lives at work we at some level are practicing Karma yoga: the practice of selfless service. Even if compensation is involved, it can be selfless service so long as the goal is to help others for their own sake rather than your own. It is wasteful  to strive to impress others, because the Karma it generates then becomes toxic and can turn on you. I realized that rather than to be upset at others for not recognizing the goodness of my efforts, I should offer amends at making them objects of my unhealthy behavior. 

So then what to do. My plan is to back down and re-analyze my life situation. My plan is to meditate and let the spirit of just allowing the organic occurance of grace occur. So long as I remain Mindful and uplifted, the Universe will provide for me as I hope it will you.

Om Peace Shanti


Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Yoga is like... Baseball

To know me would be to know how I could even remotely mention yoga and baseball in the same sentence but bear with me here... 

I've been teaching yoga, adopting it to my life passing philosophies alonb for a few years now. I've had to step away from teaching yoga for a short while due to life (a couple of times). Whenever I'm away from leading my friends from Samadhi bliss to Chataranga and back again I feel like I'm waiting for the new season to come. Baseball and its metaphores have been with me since age 4 or so. Baseball doesn't have the legs of the Gita, Upanihads, or the Sutras to stand on but it has taught me many of the life's lessons necessary to understand things like... Yoga. It all goes deeper than "be the ball", or "Oh Arjuna"... so much deeper. Great sages of both traditions (if you will) have been born from both. So I digress... why the comparison?

Last night I stepped back on the mat as a teacher for the first time in months and was elated, as I moved my friends and clients through the gift of self care through the poses, and discussed the bridge between the breath and life itself. I felt as though I had only taken a step out of the batters box, only to step back in and into the present moment. Much as the hitter only focuses on the pitcher and the spinning cotton threads of the ball hurling toward him, I felt that nothing else existed except me and 10 souls in the yoga studio. I felt the great joy that as a kid I had on the Sandlot, as I did last night on the mat.

Many times life takes us into an off-season in many forms both literal and figurative. I think the divine lesson here is to enjoy what I learn in the pauses rather than to pine for what was or lament at what may or may not eventually come back.

In as much as I blog to pass along my musings and maybe spur some though, the great lover of things is someone who realizes that yoga is never really gone once you have it, baseball is never really gone. Time is just giving you a chance to enjoy the time to live.



Sunday, June 5, 2011

Seekers and Meditation

Last night I was reminded of the value of communion and discussion with others on a spiritual path. During a conversation after a talk related to meditation, I found myself reflecting in a way that even gave myself clarity.

I have been in pursuit of the true esscense of meditation before I knew that there were people that could teach me. I checked out an obscure book from the library... 4 times until someone lost it. It was out of print and to this day don't remember the name or the author. However, my spiritual journey over the last 12 years or so isn't vast by comparison to the clerics, Swamis, and new age people that have been doing it since the days of Parmahansa Yogananda, the T.C. movement, days beyond. I have however put myself in a position to study and learn directly from some of these traditions through Self Realization study, Tao, QiGong, Yoga, various masters such as Thich Naht Hahn, Sri. Kriyananda, Sifu Johan Sasynuik, Ajayan Borys and others. This has been direct in some cases indirect in others. But I digress.

During this discussion, the woman I was talking to was basically asking me how I approach meditation, how I stop the chatter in my head and many other things. For the most part it was a matter of the old seeker imparting to the newer seeker. With respect to how do I take a break, and simply enjoy unadultrated bliss?

In the promises of a fellowship I belong to we're told that ,"we will intuitively know how to handle things that used to baffle us." ... so I spoke from my heart. I asked her if she's familiar with Thigh Naht Hahn's teachings on Mindfuldess to which she said she had several books about but haven't read. I imparted the following.

If we drive for years, most things become habit and it requires little though, only paying attention when there is a reason for hightened awareness. For the most part we don't think 1. turn key 2. clutch 3. shift and ease gears...... 10. Turn right 11. observe changing speed... etc. We Dont! Sometimes we get caught in our mindless world and end up with a citation. So I asked, "What if you made a practice of noticing everything everyday for a period of time, "I am getting out of bed, I am eating breakfast, I am washing the car, I am sitting down, I am noticing everything around me." What if then you sat in the evening or whenever you prefer  to meditate and gave your mind body and spirit to let go of Noticing Everything... would you then slip more easily into the quiet oasis deep inside your spine? Would the chatter go away as though you had slid into a soundproof box? I believe that THAT'S one of the great wonderful things that Mindfulness practice gives us! The permission to meditate better.

To meditate in a non frustrating and totally blissfull manner is the goal. I say excercise and take note during active consciousness and your meditations will take you closer to yourself, and even closer to God.
Om Peace!

Saturday, May 28, 2011


One practice we should all learn, or pay attention to is mindfulness. This is one of the centeral practices of Buddhism but serves to be practical in all parts of life. Yoga brings us union between our physical selves, and our spirit through movement and pranyam. QiGong acts much the same way, paying attention to energy flow focus and pranyam. Reiki packs much the same power where good mindful intention is transmitted to a desired "target".

Interestingly, this weekend I chose to work in service to one of my places of practice I call this Seva Yoga, or Karma Yoga... yoga of service. During this practice I relaxed into a total state of zen and mindfulness, focusing on the work as meditation... as work for God. When I was done, I then had to refocus on the sometimes dreadful task of auto maintainence. (One was my motorcycle if you get the metaphor.)

I talk to my Yoga and QiGong students always about Itention. Intention is transforming positive or even devotional mindfulness into energy that we can then "infuse" into our task. The old song, "Whistle While You Work" is a song about bringing joy to your work. Which of the Seven Dwarfs would you rather prepare your meal, fix your car, or clean your home? Grumpy? or Happy? Logically the outcome can only be enhanced with a joyful provider. Now what if the work was not only happy, but you were to recieve it with joy? Mindfully acknowleging, "I am recieving this service with an attitude of joy, and thankfulness."  Wouldn't that be much nicer?

This author is human and fallable and sometimes not in my Zen state of mind. As I tread the spiritual path longer, and grow more grey hair I tend to find that the way of Joy and the way of Mindfullness serves me well and acts as a testament to those around me of the benefits of such a way of life.

Long before the spiritual path came into play, I learned about the "self fullfiling prophecy" and "the power of positive thinking". I began to attempt those practices long before understanding the deeper tools I have since learned to apply them more intentionally.

I've learned to call it Magnatism, or Reiki, or being an instrument of God. In any case I think it serves us all to be mindfull of the energy we put into our every moment an that which we broadcast to others.



Friday, January 14, 2011

Kelley Rush, Mentor, Teacher, Devoted Yogi...

I have been a yoga teacher for about two and a half years. I stepped into a few classes and the more I practiced yoga and the wonderful teachers and people in the studios, the more I felt I belonged. I experienced a few teachers in particular to whom I developed a reverence. Once the decision had been made to pursue training I looked upon what other teachers had brought me.

I remember stepping onto the mat in a little studio in the deep backwoods of Washington state; Two Rivers Yoga. Kelly Rush was the instructor, and also the owner of this great little place I had been told about. The experience of Forrest Yoga was intensely visceral. The room smelled of freshly cleansing sage. Her presence and the spirit in which she guided us through asana was incredibly refreshing. The energy of the room could have only been created by a sublime soul and her band of practically disciple like yogis! Finally a class that really ended with OM's and hugs!

I live a distance away from Kelly's studio, but have been back semi regularly over the last three years. Even with her other wonderful teachers, Kelly's energy is always there!

Now my friend is in a battle for her life. Scores of yogis assembled to raise funds for her and her family as Anna Forest herself led us through a workshop. I hope to repay the spirit and inspiration she gave me to become a light bearer of 5000 years of yogis by encouraging anyone I can to make that trip to her little barn in the woods. Her trusted assistants will carry the business indefinitely, and the more friends of Kelly support her absence the more Karma will be sent to heal her.

I know scores of people that have had to deal with or even succumb to cancer this past year. I plan to support efforts for anyone suffering to find cures for cancers of all kinds. To give selflessly is to receive the wealth of Gods grace! I hope you will join me in my mission, or find one of your own.

Peace to you all!!


Brian M. Dotson