Archive for October, 2009

Receiving the Medicine Buddha Initiation

guest post by Viniyoga teacher,  Linda Prosche

The Dalai Lama visited Long Beach Convention Center at the end of September and I attended the Saturday two hour session to receive the Medicine Buddha Initiation. Usually, Tibetan physicians receive this initiation, but it also works to give laypeople more healing powers, too.

“If one meditates on the Medicine Buddha, one will eventually attain enlightenment, but in the meantime one will experience an increase in healing powers both for oneself and others and a decrease in physical and mental illness and suffering,” says Lama Tashi Namgyal.

medicine buddha

Some 5 days later, the glow of the experience still wrapped around me. A Buddhist friend who’d scored front row seats confirmed this: “Once you have been touched by His presence, your life will never be the same.” I wondered, “Am I different, now?”

Although, I am not a Buddhist, my personal yoga practice helps me to compassionately release my habituated conditioning which no longer serves me.  Is it possible that I could have swapped out a bad habit for a better one just by listening to this man?

Apparently, he is not just any man. When I entered the Center in the company of thousands I felt the quiet hush of meditative reverence. My other feelings are harder to describe: I found myself serene, humbled and in a state of awe.  Awe at the sheer simplicity of this man in robes with his back towards us in preparation for his offering.

He began with a simple message.  “Take care of the earth, it is your only home. Be kind to one another and don’t kill things.”

Then he asked who would be interested in the initiation and 90% of the crowd raised their hands.

It was a bit funny. I shot my hand up only to wonder, what is he really asking of me? In a culture of sensationalism and drama what did I have to do and how much would it cost?

Again, his requests were simple and if I was not able to do them all, he explained, I could do less. How tolerant!

Dalai Lama

He then began the Medicine Buddha Mantra which I was unfamiliar with.  But I joined in.

We seemed to go on chanting for hours, between wakefulness and deep sleep. Then, without skipping a beat, he said, “That’s all. Goodbye.”

I was stunned. But then again, what else was there to say? I just wanted to sit in the delicious reverberation of the mantra.

I returned home and the next morning made my way over to Starbucks. I noticed the pleasant mantra rumble still floated through my brain.  I also noticed that I chose a new nutrition bar over my habitual chai latte. The bar was called NICE. Can you believe it?

Was it a message to me, prompted by His Holiness? Maybe I had changed!

Later that morning a student asked what I had learned from my visit with the Dalai Lama. I reached into my bag and tossed the nutrition bar her way.

I said “This is his teaching: be NICE to one another and share love and compassion on the earth just as easily as I shared this nutrition bar with you!”

Of course she laughed and I felt that infectious giggle so many people have experienced in the presence of his joyful being.

And then I did something very different. Just like the Dalai Lama, I said, “And that’s it. Good bye!”  It was that easy and that simple.

guest post by Viniyoga teacher, Linda Prosche

Happy Diwali Message from President Obama

Diwali party, the Hindu festival of light, was last Saturday. I helped a friend prepare for his Diwali party by picking up food from Jackson Heights, Queens: trays of saag paneer, spicy lentils, rice, tubs of chickpeas, and sweets such as jalebi (which seems to be 100% sugar spun in pretzel-shapes, fried, and dipped in sweet red syrup and is kind of like eating a tasty neon sign).

stacks of jalebi

stacks of jalebi

Last week, President Obama showed his chutzpah by delivering first-ever presidential wishes for the Diwali festival. He addresses Hindus, Jains, and Sikhs and even citing Sanskrit verse (a chant you might recognize from yoga class!).

It reminds me of watching Queen Elizabeth give her Christmas Day speech from Buckingham Palace on TV as a kid (true story) but way, way cooler.

Watch President Obama’s message for Diwali here:

LuLu or Cult: Clothes Call?

The NYTimes Style section today (The Critical Shopper) goes after the LuLu culture, focusing on the boppy, sunny, perky, happy, can-do, yes’m attitude of the staffers. The writer walks into the flagship store in Manhattan (sounds like the set-up to a joke) and “A nanosecond after I entered, a spunky girl greeted me with a “Hi!” as if she were my life coach or wife.”

His take is that it’s all a bit culty. Not just out on the LuluLemon-covered streets (which is what New York Magazine’s juicy LuLuLemon article this past summer was talking about), but in the store itself.

LuluLemon works hard to create such boppy attitude in its educators, with personal growth coaching that sometimes includes a session at Landmark Forum.

This is not very “yoga,” but it is to be expected if you are to create a brand that appeals to the public on a global scale. Lululemon understands that we like our enlightenment to be results-oriented, self-esteem boosting and comfortable so that we can flop on the couch after doing our inner work and watch “Grey’s Anatomy.”

Hmm, true: how many of us like our enlightenment to be results-oriented? Many, I’d guess, though we’d never say, “Oh, checked in with Brahman, supreme cosmic spirit from Hindu Vendanta philosophy this morning, cross that off today’s to-do list.”

Aside from using the word relentlessly relentlessly (well, twice, gad zooks! “relentlessly sunny”, “relentlessly cheery”), he also does his bit to give the back story on Chip Wilson and review the clothes. He likes the selection of men’s clothes. He seems to practice yoga himself. He’s a fair reviewer, not beneath a bit of ribbing:

Some of the get-ups are insanely garish. Run Ultra pants have black and white swirly striped panels over purple fabric and look like something Patricia Heaton wears on one of her 14 sitcoms; cropped bottoms with green plaid fabric around the waist is fine if you want to look like a Scotch tape dispenser while you are in Uttanasana.

Any Lulu article must discuss the unusual materials in their clothes, and Albo obliges. And, like the NYMag writer, he takes a shot at the purpose of wearing those hot pants anyway (hint: it’s not all about “wicking away moisture”):

The materials, with names like Silverescent and Luon, are obsessed with wicking away sweat and therefore suit the typical yoga-goer’s secret mantra: I am willing to bow to an elephant-headed god, but I refuse to look skanky when I walk to my car after class because there might be a hot guy around.

It seems we can’t get enough of LuLu, even if we’re making fun of her: she’s an easy entree into yoga culture for, well, people who perhaps relate more to the lifestyle aspect of yoga than the, say, sutra-studying aspect. And she provides an opportunity to play in the entertaining contradictions in this yoga-saturated moment.