Now is the right time

I am currently exploring western reception of Indian philosophy through the centuries, specifically yoga, it’s reverberations with neo-vedanta and Indian nationalism, and historicistic beliefs in an uninterrupted yoga tradition.

Our culture has always been global. Resonances and cultural exchange has been a component of global cultures for a long time, as have interruptions, disappearances and resurfacing of old wisdom and folly. Modern Yoga with its psychophysical, denominational and purely physical practices is very much a product of amalgamation of western and eastern knowledge and tradition. And this is ok. It doesn’t invalidate an individual practice, or make it less significant for the spiritual development of the individual that the tradition dates back less than a century. Further I believe that our transnational amalgamation called Yoga is a valid path to inciting far reaching socio-economic change.

Insisting that Yoga as a practice dates back 5.000+ years of uninterrupted tradition, and is thus more valid than Abrahamic traditions, modernist scientific knowledge and other systems of understanding the world, as well as trying to force any insight, or fallacy, one has, or adopts into this corset of uninterrupted tradition, does a disservice to one’s own spiritual growth and understanding. Amalgamation, differentiation, interruption and discovery are all necessary to form a functioning understanding of the world, both as a culture and as an individual. Insisting that there is one ring to rule them all, figuratively speaking, and one that has been around for 5.000+ years at that, blinds one to the possibility of salvation in what is now.

Now is the right time, states the Lotus Sutra. I believe that our culture contains the possibility of giving us all the wisdom we need to live a life that is meaningful and human today. Some of it is already written, some of it we have to painstakingly discover, yet all of it is already there. Whatever wisdom we gain will be uniquely suited to our times. Those who come after will find their own wisdom, a new amalgam, partially using and partially rejecting what we have gathered and painstakingly making their own discoveries, to live their own meaningful and human lives.

Life is about…

Life isn’t about *finding* your inner Neo and the Matrix, the one thing you need to solve that no one else can solve. It is about being *right there were you are* and meeting the problems that are yours today.
It might be that your challenge *right now* is survival, or learning how to live in your imperfect body, or growing your idea from a seed into a business, or maybe it is learning patience, or accepting that you aren’t the hero of someone else life.
No one else will find your answers and leave you free to follow more glorious challenges.
You can’t think your way through life, hoping that some better problem will come along.
You can’t wait to meet life for some other time, when the circumstances are better.
Life is yours, will you accept the challenge?
——————
“We had to learn ourselves and, furthermore, we had to teach the despairing men, that it did not really matter what we expected from life, but rather what life expected from us. We needed to stop asking about the meaning of life, and instead think of ourselves as those who were being questioned by life – daily and hourly. Our answer must consist, not in talk and meditation, but in right action and in right conduct. Life ultimately means taking responsibility to find the right answer to its problems and to fulfill the tasks which it constantly sets for each individual.
These tests, and therefore the meaning of life, differ from man to man, and from moment to moment. Thus it is impossible to define the meaning of life in a general way. Questions about the meaning of life can never be answered by sweeping statements. ‘Life’ does not mean something vague, but something very real and concrete, just as life’s tasks are also very real and concrete.”
– Viktor Frankl, Man’s Search For Meaning (Please, Please read.)

Curation

Let’s do some curation today, this week.
******
“Because there’s an intense discomfort to the act of saying, “This is what I am going to do,” and face the fact that if those five things are going to get done, it means that these other 6 things that are also important are simply NOT going to get done today.

This is scary stuff, because it’s bold stuff to say, “This, but not this.” It means you might choose something, and then regret it. You might get criticized by mean people, or by the future you. You might do something, and make a hash out of it. You might try something, and have it turn out to be way harder than you imagined.
In some ways, it’s less painful to just stay in the swirl– because when we’re in the swirl, we can pretend that we are somehow going to get ALL the things done, we will we will!, even though in reality we are panicking, breathing into a bag, and cutting more pumpkin pie because we can’t remember what we went into the kitchen for.
This is a way of escaping responsibility, of staying in victim mode, instead of stepping up to be the hero of your life”
(http://www.annakunnecke.com/decl…/may-the-forest-be-with-you)

Enlightenment

Platitudes about self-realization and unconditional love are well and good, but for most of us the journey is about shoveling out the bullshit, hoping we can shovel faster than we are excreting it.

Community

I can share my experience and people who share that experience are less alone.
I can share my experience and people who share that experience help me feel less alone.
I can share what I learn, so that that learning sparks a shift in someone else’s journey.
I can share what I know and learn more myself and shift my own journey.
My [life] is about connection and reciprocity. We build a community that sustains us through the hard and the light.

Amalgamation

“Instead of amalgamations of parts having contradictory and uncontrollable purposes, suppose we consider ourselves to be already what we long for: functional, integrated wholes who produce the results we choose, effortlessly, with our entire beings.”
– Brad Blanton, Radical Honesty
Would you still try to change the way you look?
Would you try to do the work you want to do?
Would you try to work out the relationship that’s on the rocks?

Meeting Absence with Presence

“This ain’t no place for the weary kind,
This ain’t no place to lose your mind,
This ain’t no place to fall behind.
Pick up your crazy heart ’n’ give it one more try.”

How to grieve? I don’t know. It’s a skill I have yet to acquire. Part of me resents having to acquire it.
It’s awkward sitting here with this weight on my shoulders and thinking „um… yeah… what do I do now?“
It’s an uncomfortable place to be stuck. If you stay here long enough you calcify. The absence becoming your final reality, a well so deep you can never fill it, even if you throw all your joy and aliveness at it.

It is a living thing this grief. You have to feed it, with love, with care and presence. The absence, however huge and insurmountable it may seem, is contained in the space of your heart. It seems that you grieve with the same bigness as you love.
It seems grief is an expression of love.

So if love and grief are two sides of this multifaceted coin of aliveness, how do I mourn?

What do I even know about this grief?
Where do I feel it? In my body?
What does it feel like?
Is it expansive like anger? Or contracting like depression?
How does it relate to the vividness that suddenly suffuses my experience of this world?
Does it have a face?
Does it have a voice?
And what is it saying?

Other people say things about grief
I cried every day for two years.
It helps me to remember that she is in a better place.
I know that this isn’t the end, just another transition.
I ask myself what would she have wanted.

What good are the wishes of the dead to the living?

Freeing grief from the mind
When I am willing to have an experience as it is, I have a choice about how I to react to it. To move through the grief I need to experience whatever comes up. And to fully experience it, I need to free myself from the idea that there are wrong and right ways to express grief. It might be that I need to cry huge howling sobs every night, or it might be that I need to run after aliveness like an adrenaline junky on a motorbike.
An emotion unexpressed festers into judgments and helplessness. To get back, or to stay in a place of health and aliveness I need to give myself space to express, rather than jumping into „dealing with it“, or „getting over it“.

This is my Practice

Sitting in presence.
Breathing in presence.
Walking in presence.
Feeling all the feelings, with presence.
Moving through the absence in presence, getting to know it like I know my home, like I know my body. Letting it be a living, breathing thing, so that some day it will be just another part, integrated and unquestioned, the way the existence of an extra toe might not be questioned.

[Katrin Schramm; January 26th 1960 - July 28th 2014]

So how do you sum up the person who was everything, your earth, your sky, your best friend, your confidante, your mentor and of course your mother? How do you mourn the woman who nourished you, protected you, soothed you and let you fly when the time came, never trying to keep you back for her own comfort?
I keep wanting to pick up my phone and call mom to ask her to help me with this, read over my words, as I have done so often throughout my life, and especially through the last years.
The last time we talked was at 6:15am the day after Germany won the Soccer World Cup. I was getting ready to fly back to home and she got up to say goodbye. She looked at me and smiled and wished me a fantastic week and then handed me 50€ to pay for the taxi, even though it only costs about 20€. We said I-love-yous and hugged. I left knowing that I had her full support, her trust and her confidence that I would live a happy life.
In May we talked about what it is like to be this sick, about preparing for death and about mourning traditions. One story my mom told was about a death-researcher who had this grand theory about how you could prepare to die and then refused to die when her time came.
My mom was also like that. She had the most tenacious hold on life, she lived with fierceness and determination. I can see that same tenacity in my sister, the same strength. And as I sit here ready to dissolve in tears I am glad that my sister is at my side.
We also talked about what was important to my mom and I realized how similar we are as well, not just in our habits and tempers, but in the very way we value life: Life is good when you spend it with people you love and in the service of others.
There are many memories to share of important moments, but right now what I miss most is her waking me up with a cup of tea, and sitting around the breakfast table (it had a blue polka dot table cloth) in our pajamas all morning sharing ideas and plans for the future.
In the judaism there’s a tradition called sitting shiva that I told my mom about in May, it’s a seven day mourning period after the funeral in which the relatives gather at the deceased’s home and receive visitors who bring food and share stories. This tradition also requires one to rend a piece of clothing, to not shower and not look in a mirror. Mom didn’t really appreciate that part of the tradition.
We’ve set up a web site at http://katrin-schramm.de as our virtual place of sitting shiva. We would welcome it if you went there and shared stories and photos of our mom (if you knew her), or words of comfort. Or feel free to leave virtual comfort food and stories of mothers and mother figures here in the comments.
Thank you and “May Heaven comfort you”

Expansion Ritual

“Expansion Ritual!
These rituals are especially created when someone expands into a new space of being or doing. [...] It’s a celebration of acquired new skills that the person has defined as his personal challenge and we celebrate as often as the “challenge” is attained.”
Henrika Jansson Tonder, another wonderful ‪#‎aliveinberlin‬ participant, posted this accompanied by pictures of her 8yo doing celebratory things.
It’s completely blowing my mind.
Like another commenter on that post I first assumed that an Expansion Ritual is another word for Birthday Celebration, but this is so much better. (!!!)

So who’s up for celebrating their own expansion? Are you even acknowledging it?

to schweinsteiger:

to schweinsteiger: v.; getting up again repeatedly, even if you just got punched in the face so badly that you are bleeding on the pitch; summoning unknown energy reserves to reach your goal; persevering in the face of adversity

“She schweinsteigered the organization of the conference.”