Death, Life, and Walking the Line

My grandmother passed on February 14th, 2012.  She was 95.  She died of uterine cancer, one that she had chosen about three years ago to not treat but to allow to run its course because she was not at a point where she was willing to trade the misery of chemo for a few more years.

Over the last few years, I’ve watched her go from a vibrant woman to a shut-in invalid who was waiting for death.  In the end, with hallucinations, confusion, and lots of tears, she lost consciousness on February 11th and never regained it. 

Last week was hard for me.  As a spiritual person, I turned to my faith in God, my connection to the Divine, capoeira, yoga… and promptly chucked it for a beer, smokes, and eating badly. 

Granted, this woman was a part of my life since I was born.  Her home was my sole refuge for nearly 20 years, and for many of my cousins, it was sanctuary.  Sanctuary meant that when the dogs bite, the bees sting, and the rest of the world turns their back, I always had a warm bed, a plate of hot food, and someone who would be there for me no matter what.

When I said ” F*** this” to my college life and ran for the hills and mountains of Colorado, my one stop on my mad flight away from the shambles of my life was my grandmother’s house.  She gave me $50  (and she was living on $286 from Social Security), a bag of burritos, and a plea to stay there.  Maybe I should have, but I was insistent that I had to go to Colorado.  She gave me a hug and told me that I was always welcome at her house.

Who else gives unconditional love like that? 

Yes, I fell apart.  My carefully constructed life of balace, harmony, and easy acceptance of my relationship with God and my eternal soul promptly fell apart like a sand sculpture before the ocean – instead of peace, all I had was an aching emptiness inside where a person’s life once comforted me.  Nothing felt more like a lie than trying to go through a sun salute with this hole blown through the middle of my life, not to mention eating healthy.  It was easier to smoke a cigarette and drink a beer to take the edge off then it was to accept the pain and move on.

A week afterwards, I have since carried her to her final resting place, and cried with my cousins, eaten so much greasy road food that I gained three pounds, and smoked an entire pack of cigarettes.  Self-destructive behavior was oddly pleasurable, as though each bite of greasy food, each drag on a coffin nail, each swallow of beer hurt and let go of a little bit of the horribly relentless pain, that hurt that nothing can ease… and each day I did it again.

This morning I finally was able to calm down enough to meditate, to turn my focus from my pain and try to reconnect with my soul and with God.  I didn’t follow a specified meditation, I just closed my eyes in the bath and followed the path to my soul and God.  Instead of regimented discipline,  I just floated in that peace for a moment, feeling a gold light surround me.  It was peaceful, and for the first time, I was at peace with my grandmother’s death.  She’s at peace, a more profound peace than I will ever find, no matter how much I meditate, no matter what yoga set I do.

Yogi Bhajan said that there are levels of afterlife.  Simplistically (relatively), it goes  like this:
1.  30 seconds before you die, you see your life flash before you.
2.  20 seconds before you die, you judge yourself.
3.  10 seconds before you die, you take your last breath and then die.
As you die, you enter a cylinder (the white light of Near Death Experiences) and you pass to a place to choose where to go – to the left and heat or or to the right and cold.  Yogi Bhajan says to go to the cold and not the hot part.  From there, you hang in Earth’s electromagnetic field for 17 days before you enter the blue ethers and go on to the next life, or stay in heaven.  Occasionally, some people just skip that and fly right through to the ethers, according to YB.

I personally think we simply go to God, and ask to stay there or occasionally ask to return.  Some souls seek to find heaven, others seek to wander because they have to see.

Back to my grandmother – I can feel, in my heart and in the core of my soul that she is with God, in the realm of pearly gates, streets of gold and precious stones, and where all is fulfilled.  She lived a hard life and made hard choices in the name of protecting, raising, and maintaining her family.  In the end, when she died, I am sure she cast aside her body, which must have been like shedding dirty, rank clothing and being free.

Yoda said, “Luminous beings are we, not this crude matter.”

The night I left West Texas to go home, I stopped to eat on the road and looked at the stars… they were so bright and seemed like there were billions and billions of them.  I kept looking at them and wondering where the boundary between physical and spiritaul was, and how many people sat at that boundary, watching the people who go by.  Loved ones watching us and wondering if they loved us enough, held us enough, or otherwise did enough while they were here.  I know I wonder if I told her I loved her enough times, hugged her enough.

On a show that I follow on Netflix, one of the principal characters lost his dad.  He was sitting with his brothers as they shared profound statements that were the last words their father had said to him, and his last words were that “Crocodile Dundee 3 was worth watching, and it totally holds up.”  instead of revealing that his dad pocket dialed him and saying he loved his son.

My last words with my grandmother were when she hugged me, and said a blessing for me as I traveled home.  I kissed her forehead and told her that I loved her.  that was the last time I saw her, smiling and happy for me and my family. 

I love my grandmother and miss her dearly. Today I was able to reconnect with my soul and with God again.  It still hurts, and it will hurt for a long time.  No more beer, or smokes, or bad eating.  I’m done with my streak of self-destruction, and ready to move on.

In the path of my life, this is yet another stretch where there were only one set of footprints, although I think I’m ready to start walking on my own again.

Motorcycle Yoga Set – Mastering Your Domain

As a biker yogi (Jeez, its been this long and I still snicker at that) I have to feel like I am dialed into the world around me, moreso now that people drive like lunatics entitled to the road in front of them. So, this set is designed (and modified) from a kundalini yoga set that I ran across that gives the yogi(ni) mastery of their domain.

By stimulating the glandular and deep circulatory system, this set helps release tension and refreshes the body and mind, boosting clear thinking and responses, thus assisting in mastering the self and therefore your domain.

The standard warnings apply – don’t do something if it hurts.  Don’t continue if you feel lightheaded or offbalance.  Don’t fall off your bike.  Don’t make your bike fall on you.  Don’t do this if it contraindicates something your doctor says.  Don’t do this on someone else’s bike without permission, and lastly, don’t blame me if something happens – no one told you to do this yoga set.  You are your own beautiful, wonderful person and capable of making your own decisions, which includes choosing to do this and understanding if something happens, it is all on you!

So, that being said, if you choose to continue:

1. Feet on pegs, lie back. Curl your toes toward the sky. Make a circle with your mouth and begin Breath of Fire.
Now, keeping BOF rhythm, lift one foot off the peg, straighten, and lift up til its 90 degrees in relation to your body. set it down. Lift the other leg in the same manner. Alternate legs for five minutes.

Take a deep breath in, sit up, and extend your legs straight out. Release slowly and lie back, continuing BOF and leg raises for another two minutes.

2. Shift your feet to the back pegs, and put your hands on the tank or handlebars. Begin BOF again and alternate extending legs back and up (take care not to hit lights or saddlebags) and back to you. Move at a fairly rapid clip for four minutes.
Now, from there, begin lifting a hand with your leg as you continue BOF. Right hand, left leg. Left hand, right leg. Keep your abs engaged to maintain balance and continue for two minutes.

3. Move feet back to your normal pegs. Place hands at saddle and stand, and lift your butt up until your legs are straight. Bring your butt down until it touches the seat, and extend again. Do this 52 times.

4. Sit in your saddle, feet off pegs and sit in Easy Pose. back straight and arms straight, lift your arms to 60 degrees, palms facing each other. Inhale and lift to 90 degrees, then exhale back to 60 degree position. continue for five minutes while completing a breath every two seconds.

5. In Easy Pose, hand on knees and back straight, with long deep breathing for five minutes.

6. Set feet back on pegs, and recline in a modified corpse pose for 11 minutes.

First New KY Kriya for Bikers!

Vrrooom.... ommmmmmmmmm!

Everyone can get elevated

Come on, admit it.  You ride and you do yoga.  I do – I can’t be the only one who has been seen riding a motorcycle to yoga class.  I know that people must be out there all dressed to ride with a yoga mat on their back or in their saddlebag, ready to get elevated.

Come on… its ok to admit it.  Honest.  I swear.  Look!

See?   Orlando Bloom was caught with a yoga mat and a bike helmet getting ready to do a yoga workout.  Its really just putting the two things we love together, riding and yoga. 

For those of who are not ready to come out of our secretly-granola closet, I’m developing yoga sets based on Kundalini Yoga for bikers.  Your bike will be an integral part of this system, as bikers and machines are often one and the same.  There will be meditations, yoga sets, and mantras you can do on your own at a rest stop, or in your garage, or even during a gas stop.

A little warning – this is not intended to sub for a doctor or any type of medical care.  Don’t hurt yourself.  If it hurts, quit.  If you are unsure of yourself, don’t do that posture.  This is not intended to be used while riding.  Don’t do anything that might entail you falling off your bike and landing on the floor, or doing anything that may cause the bike to fall on you.

Get the idea?  Good.  Let’s be smart.  Its not my fault if you do something and end up falling  – by following these instructions, you are taking your own safety into your hands.  These instructions are for edification only.

That in mind…

This set is based on the Basic Spinal Energy Series.  Bike is parked with side stand down. 

For Beginners:
Anything marked with 108 repetitions can be cut down to 26.
Take a break if you feel the need for it, then continue when you feel ready, especially the breathing portion.
Don’t do the exercise if it starts hurting.
Root lock is like doing a Kegel – squeeze and tighten the anal and genital area and hold it.
Navel point is three fingertips over your belly button.

1.  In Easy Pose (sitting criss-cross) grasp your ankles.  Inhale as you flex your spine forward while pulling on your ankles.  Exhale and flex the spine back.  Use long, deep breathing and find something to gaze at.  The head remains level and does not flip-flop back and forth.  108 repetitions.

2.  Put feet on your pegs/footboards or ground.  Place hands on your thighs and continue as in Part One.  Mentally vibrate “Sat” (sounds like ‘sought’) as you inhale, and “Naam” (like in “nom nom nom” LOL) as you exhale.  Keep your eyes level.  108 repetitions.

3.  With feet on pegs or ground, grasp your shoulders with same-side hand, fingers in front and thumbs in back.  Twist to the left and inhale, twist right and exhale.  Complete 26 twists.

4.  Feet still on pegs or ground.  Grip your hands in bear lock (fingers locked together, thumbs out) and as you inhale, move your left elbow up.  Exhale and lower left elbow as you raise your right elbow.  The motion should be like a seesaw.  Complete 26 times, then raise over head.  Inhale, pull root lock/Mulbanh and hold for 10 seconds.  Exhale and release.

5.  Return to Easy pose on saddle.  Grasp knees and flex spine forward during inhale, and backwards during exhale.  Eyes and head remain level during motion.  Complete 108 times.

6.  In Easy Pose on saddle.  Place hands on knees and raise shoulders as you inhale, and relax during exhale.  To finish, raise shoulders, hold for 15 seconds, then exhale.

7. Still in Easy Pose on saddle.  Roll the head to the right five times, then the left five times.  Inhale as your head rolls to the front, and exhale as it rolls to the back.  Bring head back to a neutral position, inhale and hold for 15 seconds, then exhale.

8.  Still in Easy Pose on your saddle:
A.   Bear grip in front of your throat.  Inhale, and pull root lock, then release.  Exhale and pull root lock again while you hold your breath out. 
B.  Raise bear grip over your head.  Inhale and hold breath while pulling root lock, then release.  Exhale and hold breath out while you pull root lock again.
Repeat A and B for three cycles total.

9.  Put feet back on pegs or ground. Raise your arms up straight over your head.  Interlace fingers and press index fingers together, pointed straight up.  Arms should be next to your ears.  Say “Sat” as you pull your navel point in, and “Naam’ as you release. Continue for 3 minutes.

Notes on this set:
Age is measured by the flexibility of the spine; to stay young, stay flexible. This series works systematically from the base of the spine to the top. All 26 vertebrae receive stimulation and all the chakras receive a burst of energy. 

Many people report greater mental clarity and alacrity after regular practice of this kriya. A contributing factor is the increased circulation of the spinal fluid, which is crucially linked to having a good memory

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