ananda

Tibetan Buddhism (Vajrayana or tantric Buddhism):

The Four Types of Bliss (ānanda) are part of the Sixteen Aspects (ṣoḍaśākārā) of Gnosis (jñāna) in terms of conventional reality.

  1. the bliss of the mind (cittānanda),
  2. the bliss of the body (kāyānanda),
  3. the bliss of speech (vāg-ānanda),
  4. the bliss of gnosis (jāñānanda).

Google Books: The Inner Kalacakratantra: A Buddhist Tantric View of the Individual

Ananda is a Sanskrit word I learned about back in the day when studied with my teacher, Gail, for my initial yoga teacher training. I understood the word to mean Pure Joy or Bliss or Absolute Happiness.

The word, Ananda, was first introduced to me in the context of Sat Chit Ananda (Truth, Consciousness, Bliss), a Sanskrit expression of the Absolute state of Being – or even the word God could be fitting.

When my friend, Nancy, shared this photo with me this morning, it was this word, Ananda, that I decided was the perfect description for the expression the dogs were exuding in the moment.

How serendipitous to receive this photo today, a very trying day, a day that called upon all of my yogic awareness to recall Ananda’s absolute presence through all of life’s challenges.

I awoke to a new and unusual pain in my chest, upon each breath, a pressure behind my right chest wall. I thought, Oh, this is interesting. What could this be now?

Today being chemo treatment #5 day, I would ready myself for the long drive. Although the pain lessened with each hour, my husband reaffirmed the importance of telling my oncologist about this new pain development.

Unfortunately, the Oncologist said a CAT scan would be necessary to rule out a potential blood clot, only as a precautionary measure.

Off we went to the hospital, for a STAT scan reading, a CAT scan with Contrast.

Yikes, Contrast? Although I was warned by the technician exactly what I would “feel” with the contrast, I was not prepared for the actual experience.

“Okay, it’s going to go fast” she warned, “you’ll feel hot, taste metal in your mouth, and feel like you’re urinating, but you’re not. You may get nauseous or vomit.”

Oh, how delightful, I thought, as I tensed every muscle in my body awaiting the surge. (This was after she stabbed me several times before finding a vein).

Now comes the hot surge. My imagination went haywire. Hot lava is being pushed into my heart, I’m going to explode from the inside out, this is going to fucking kill me, I thought. I winced at the foul metallic taste in my mouth, and panicked as the imaginary hot piss poured down my legs.

Fuck, calm down, I’m going to be okay. I’m going to be okay, I’m going to be okay. I’m okay, I’m okay, I’m okay. I tried to convince myself.

Then, the picture. I imagined the picture. I conjured the image of those dog expressions in my mind. I remembered the idea, Ananda. Quite remarkably, my awareness shifted. I knew I would be okay. I said the words, “I AM OKAY“.

And, of course, I was okay. But it could have gone so much worse had I let my imagination take me down the path of doom.

Later, the technician gave me the news, “It’s negative.”

Thank you, Nancy and Gary. You and your beloved dogs carried me through the day.

Photo Credit: Nancy and Gary Mahon

You can’t just stay on top of the mountain!

This is my humble expression of gratitude for this Spirit “angel” who chose to work through the human being named Alicia.

A wise angel gave me some unexpected insight this week.

She asked me to take over one of her yoga classes.

This will be my first job teaching yoga again after one year of cancer treatment.

This angel woman may not even be aware of her angelic action.

She probably thought she was acting in self-service, giving herself a needed break. By giving me one of her many jobs she could have Monday mornings off. Probably a much needed rest from her extremely busy schedule!

But beneath all that reasoning, something deeply informed me that this “angel” was not acting out of self service.

She may not even be consciously aware, but her service to my soul was made complete when she (nonchalantly while smiling ear to ear) said,

“You can’t just stay up on that mountain all day”.

That’s really when it hit me.

Here, again, this woman appears just when my soul is ready to re-engage in the world and teach what I feel is the only way to express God’s essence through me.

As she did, almost exactly one year ago, when I moved into this new place.

There she was standing at the edge of my driveway with her dogs. “I hear you teach yoga”.

This “angel” always seems to appear out of nowhere just when I need her.

And this week in particular, her appearance gave me electricity, fuel and power.

Ironically, (we had a storm and lost power) and so it even gave me the power to be vulnerable.

And so, today, after visiting mom in the nursing home, I let myself feel PAIN.

Fully.

I stopped pretending it was not painful to watch this.

Allowing myself to be aware of my mind’s incessant intellectualizing, arguing in my own mind why we put dogs down and not people, and blaming the ‘systems’, the drugging of these elderly people to keep them quiet and controlled, and being angry at my mom for letting herself go, not taking good physical care of herself. Rationalizing away all the guilt feelings I have, even though guilt is never a true thought at all. Blaming myself for her being here. Blaming her for giving up. None of these ideas holding any truth, but allowing the thoughts to come to surface and be felt with emotions through my humanness.

After my visit, I was sitting in the car, in the pouring rain, allowing myself to sob, holding my head in my hands and just feeling the sorrow, the pain, the disappointment, the horror.

Strangely, such an orgasmic crying. A real release.

A witnessing from an inner place of gnosis, watching Janet be a human being.

A witnessing from an inner place of gnosis, watching Janet be a human be-ing.

post surgical quietude

For just a while last night I felt a deeper love for Life Itself. I felt a more compassionate resonance. Not that I had no compassion prior to last night.
But something came up for me .…..

A deeper feeling. A deeper knowing. Something that knew even though this life is a sham in so many ways, it is also the most important thing that there is.

It’s so much more than body parts.

The post mastectomy quietude requires watching, witnessing, being present with everything as crazy as it seems…..

It’s noticing the sense of EMPTINESS I feel around my chest.

The first time I recall having a knowing experienced around “emptiness” was in a self-hypnosis therapy session.  Being talked gently downward into hypnotic relaxation, the therapist asked me to “LOOK INSIDE” and tell her what I saw.

I “saw” NOTHING, and said, “it’s HOLLOW, it’s EMPTY”.

She replied, “That’s a brave observation, something many people are afraid of”. I wasn’t afraid. I felt more at peace than I ever had.

It’s noticing the physical pain, which is certainly present.

Being curious about how it feels. The heaviness – like a ton of bricks is sitting on my chest, pulling, stretching, pinching. And noticing that there’s actually a choice about one’s reaction to the feelings of pain.

When the surgeon took out 2 of my drainage tubes yesterday, I was terrified …. Worked myself up into frenzy thinking about what I’d heard from others that it would “feel” like when they yanked out the tubes.

I closed my eyes, took giant breaths, kind of like breath of fire pranayama, even chanted Om Namah Shivaya ……
The actual puling out tubes EVENT was not as bad as the thoughts that I CREATED from my high anxiety mode.

It’s accepting the need to REALLY REST

There’s so many things I WANT to DO, it’s just my nature. Especially movement and change, which I ADORE ….. learning to move the body in new ways. The thrill of being upside down.
But I can’t do my morning handstand now. I have to accept that. It’s time to REST. The handstand will be there when I heal.

For now, slow walking, sitting, reading, looking at nature outside the window, dreaming.

It’s being more aware of TIME, and its illusive quality

Having so much time on hand with no work obligation can be tricky if your personality is conditioned to be busy and productive all the time.

I now have to view this abundance of time as an OPPORTUNITY to notice the VALUE of each and every moment as it REALLY IS. Not just a damn RAT WHEEL. Not just setting and meeting goals, not just carrying out obligations and duties, not just working toward achievements of any sort.

HERE I AM.

That’s really the only TRUTH I can know for Absolute sure. WHERE that really is – I don’t know, and WHAT that really is – I don’t know, and certainly HOW that really is – I don’t know.

The acceptance around TIME being illusive is a huge opportunity for me now having so much of it on my hands. The recognition of it again and again is so liberating.

It’s being more TRUSTING and HOPEFUL that by consciously bringing my attention back to benevolence, more of that will appear to manifest

When I look at my surgery site, what I see is HIDEOUS. Blue pen markings, glued puckered ugly skin incision sites, the rim of the flat pancake spacer showing through from under the skin. It’s so gross to me that I wince looking at it.

What if this “hideous” mastectomy site were viewed instead as an amazing masterpiece holding the potential for a new body, a work of art in progress, a site of regeneration and healing?

Instead of grimacing each time I view my surgery site, what could happen if I remember to place my attention on the wonder of being ALIVE…….. a human BEING Radiating with a Divine Luster?

Yes, exactly as I’ve chanted a zillion times in my Anusara yoga classes:

Niralambaya Tejase “This describes Shiva, or the auspicious energy that Is, as completely free and illuminated.

NIRALAMBAYA means without support. Source has no outside support because there is nothing other than Source. It is a stable ‘IS-ness’, if you will; completely free from limitation for it is all that is.

TEJASE is a light that is always present, even if we can’t see it. It is the fire of passion, the luminous divinity that is in every heart. It is the spark of the conception of a new being, the sparkling beauty that shines out through all of creation and within the meditative realms. It is the purest, most powerful light, and it is beaming its goodness within you!” Katrina Ariel

Today, I am making a conscious vow to continue my work on radiating this attitude.

Namaste.

Photo: alexandra-levasseur