Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Know Too That This Shall Pass- The Lesson of Impermanence

 Know Too That This Shall Pass- The Lesson of impermanence.

    If you've been feeling the surge of disorganized energy lately between the full moon lunar eclipse two weeks ago and the new moon solar eclipse yesterday, add in the grand cross going on, there is a whole lot of moving and shaking going on! We are in a very potent time of evolutionary shifts where we are challenged to release old patterns of thinking, feeling  and perceiving and open to a higher level of conscious awareness. These  growing pains  can feel very unsettling and its intended to unsettle us out of our unconscious complacency of conditioned mind habits that keep us small and asleep in the dream and drama of the material world. Being comfortable with uncertainty is not what the ego mind has as its mantra but its what the spiritual truth of our being requires in order for us to enter into a liberated awareness of who and what we really are.

I have truly felt it on many levels the last few weeks. The full moon illuminates our unconscious mind and guides us to what needs our attention. The new moon energizes our path of growth by bringing clarity to what is not serving us now and the invitation to release that.  Add the eclipse energy to these natural cycles and you can have earthquake level upset . The lesson here, whenever energies ramp up in our experience, know that whatever is arising is arising for us to grow and all things shall pass. The Buddha taught the principle of Annica or impermanence . Every thing that we perceive fades away. Thoughts, emotions, material things, our bodies etc. So knowing this , why get hooked into holding on to anything? Attachment is truly the hook of suffering. Attachment brings us out of alignment with the truth of what is and that is the quintessential definition of stress.  Whether we are attached to our opinions on how we feel things should be, or attached to control, or to some perception of how we want our bodies to be, or lives to be or families to be or our community and nation to be, these attempts to control  the flow of life experiences always results in pain.

All these attachments are movements of mind born of fear and operate from ego who loves to have a sense of created control. Its all an illusion we are told but as Einstein observed, its a pretty strong collective hallucination we participate in! Given the pull of the collective mind set which is heavily fear based what are we to do to anchor us when everything we once knew to be true begins to crumble? The answer is not in the doing but in the being.
When you are faced with very strong and challenging circumstances, a loss of a loved one, a loss of your health, a loss of your job, the attachment and fear energy can ramp up so strong that nothing else may appear available to place our awareness in. The truth is, the ever present awareness that is eternal , that is not subject to impermanence that is our true source of our Being IS HERE RIGHT NOW, ALWAYS! 

 The space to access that awareness is the stillness between your thoughts,emotions and perceptions. The way to tap into that space of stillness is STOP, PAUSE & BREATHE DEEPLY. Our sacred breath can transport us out of the smallness of our attachments into the spaciousness of our spirit. Its a moment to moment practice. When you are feeling compressed, squeezed, literally pushed into such a small space of experience by the stressors of life, take a huge belly breath and come back into connection to the stillness of awareness . It will remind you of the truth of your being, as the pure light of awareness behind all fluctuations of the mind. The attitude of gratitude and compassion for yourself as you navigate life's daily struggles is a true companion on the path . Be gentle, breathe deeply and know that in this moment, all is well! Namaste & Blessings for a Spacious Day. Anne Townend-Duffey
" Jump now into the space between your thoughts and exit this dream" - Adyashanti

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Earth Day- It's Really In Our Hands

 Earth Day Preservation- Its Really in Our Hands!

Earth Day is every day but we do take time today to note what exactly is our relationship to being good stewards of this planet that sustains us. I have a reputation for being a recycling nut going back 35 years or more, starting a recycling program in my sons preschool co-op in the 80's where I introduced a circular program of redeeming recyclables to fund an organic garden for the kids, as well as teaching these 3-5 year olds the practices of caring for the earth. I had more resistance of course from the parents who were use to tossing trash without thinking or even considering the health hazards of swabbing down a preschool in toxic bleach everyday!

I converted to non-toxic cleaners and simple practices to keep our school clean and healthy. No one got sick with some horrible disease as was the response when I suggested bleach was chemical warfare on their kids more than germs.

This brings me to today. Opening Lotus Yoga is a GREEN studio in where I took the time and effort to have all the finishes , paint, flooring , lighting etc be low impact, energy efficient and non toxic right down to our yoga mats and blocks with are biodegradable.. Practicing yoga is a practice of awakening consciousness. Being a conscious steward of this planet is inseparable from yoga.

There is such a clarion call NOW in terms of the tipping point for the health of the planet. Our water, air and soils health has been doused with billions of tons of pollutants including pharmaceuticals that find their way into water supplies. Our climate is warming and will continue to cause catastrophic shifts in weather, affecting all through mega storms, swings from drought to floods, heat waves to deluges. WE ALL NEED TO WISE UP AND BE COMMITTED IN EACH CORNER OF OUR LIVES TO LEAVE THE SMALLEST FOOTPRINT and IMPACT on the earth.

While reducing our consumption is key, also practices of rejuvenating our corner of the world with planting trees, and drought tolerant native species. Growing a garden is key to reconnecting to the sacred relationship of harvesting ones food from the earths soil. STOP BUYING WATER IN BOTTLES PLEASE, There are so many alternatives, glass bottles, stainless steel bottles, your tap is fine, use it. GIVE REUSEABLE WATER BOTTLES TO ALL YOUR FRIENDS AND FAMILY! Lobby your favorite resturaunts to stop using styrofoam take out containers. Walk or ride a bicycle more . Air dry your clothes. Set up a toy exchange with your friends to recycle the volumes of childrens toys that end up on the curb. Around here weekly I see dozens of infant and child items disposed of as the market for creating more and more complicated toys that children often ditch with lack of interest.
The list goes on. Be creative and find one issue that you have some passion about it and become a peace warrior for the planet!! We NEED everyone on board to make a shift. By the way, for a family of 4 with 3 adults we produce one small bag (supermarket grocery bag size) of unrecylable trash per week. Its doable ! Let me know what earth preservation practices you have adopted with your family, or at work. Namaste ~ Anne Townend-Duffey

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Death & Resurrection- Releasing Negative Samskaras


During this holy week of Passover and the Christian observance of Easter the energy of death and resurrection are potent.Couple that with the powerful lunar and solar eclipse cycles we are in this month, the message is of growth by releasing what is based in fear and not aligned in Truth.

In a yogic framework , in order for any transformation to occur, a death must precede the growth. This death could be a releasing of a mental habit, an emotional pattern or a physical habit that has kept the body -mind in a state of unconscious imbalance. In Sanskrit the sacred ancient language of India, these neural patterns of mind, thoughts and emotions are called samskaras. Some samskaras are positive, the patterns that support our health and well being. Many samskaras are negative. Like a deep rutted groove in the mind that plays over and over acting out imbalanced thoughts,emotions , conditionings and behaviors that keep us in a sub-optimal state of unconsciousness. The question is, what are you willing to release? What is not serving you? What are you caught in that has momentum towards negative outcomes?

Pick one and keep it simple. Perhaps you have a negative samskara of being impatient with others or yourself. See if you can schedule in 5 extra minutes for every task you undertake, whether its traveling to work, or errands or responding to your emails. With that few extra minutes factored in, see if you don't feel a little more breathing room to inhale deeply and exhale. To be present to what you are engaging in. The pattern of impatience is learned. In order for that pattern to die and a new positive pattern of patience to resurrect, we need to make the space. Rushing in our lives is a subtle form of self violence.

I am working on the pattern of Trust and practicing letting go and surrendering impulses of doubt, fear or the ever present ego need to know. In order for my sense of a deeper trust to emerge , I take notice when my samskara of fear, judging, or controlling might rear its head. I just notice it and with intention observe this pattern without judgement and let it release breath by breath. By creating the intention and practice to notice the samskara, I loosen the grip it has in my mind. I loosen my identification with it. I replace that pattern of fear with Trust saying, I TRUST THE WISDOM OF THE TRUTH OF MY BEING to guide me completely. Thats pretty potent stuff ! We are all conditioned to be doubting and fearful on some level. Our culture is rampant with fear and insecurity.

So this week, the powerful week of spiritual resurrection , the return of Christ consciousness , oneness, compassion and sacred energy of the heart, take a moment to examine what samskara  you are willing to release. There is a Buddhist saying,' Die a death everyday'. When we release what is not aligned with the truth of our being, we open to the the illumination of our hearts, souls and mind. Pure consciousness. We open to the Truth of our Being . One step at a time, let go, let go, let go, and allow your Higher Self to have conscious expression .

Blessings for a Beautiful Season of Resurrection! Namaste
Anne Townend-Duffey

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

What Unsupportive Habits Are You Willing To Shed?

   Habits are a funny thing. We as human beings are fond of creating routines and habits , so much so, that many of us live so tied into routines, we may feel a bit lost when our day or week upsets our set routines. Notice how many folks get quite edgy when traveling and having to adapt each day without their habits and routines. Habits are tied in with our tendency for attachments and attachments are often masking a deeper anxiety that we are not willing to examine. 

  I remember having a habit of a particular coffee cup I had. I started each day(when I did drink coffee ) with this cup. One day I got up to notice my beloved cup was missing! I can remember going through the usual motions of checking for it in the obvious places and it was no where in sight. What ensued was a ramp up of annoyance and eventually outright frustration. Where the heck was my cup and I took it even to a more ridiculous level, Who the Heck Took MY CUP?? It was so irrational and I realized that but nonetheless, I had a strong attachment to starting my day with that cup! 

  These are  signs that our habits and routines may be leaning on the constricting side rather than nourishing side. A habit can be healthy like, getting to bed early , exercising, eating whole foods and hydrating optimally. Habits can also be devilishly persistent like wanting your morning coffee and sugar fix, putting off self care in light of our affinity for distraction , or deeper habits like self criticism or impatience with self and others. The saying goes it takes 21 days to learn a new habit and 40 days to root that habit into our daily living. 

  Teaching the seasonal detox course, the subject of our habits and routines becomes central . It gives us a clear picture of how we choose to care for ourselves (or not), how we choose to use our time and determining what habits and routines are not supportive to our health and well being.Its a wake-up call to uplevel our personal responsibility for being in charge of our wellness. In Ayurveda, the medical sister science of yoga, the key term is Dinacharya or daily rhythms. We examine what rhythms or routines are daily habits are creating. Are they creating balance and integrity or distraction and and chaos?  Basics like getting enough rest, exercise, hydration and meditation can seem monumental when we have filled up much of our waking hours with too much . So the first step is dial everything back. Take inventory of your day from start to finish. Ask yourself how you feel day to day. Do you have energy or are your fatigued daily. Do you feel optimistic and inspired or do you feel weighted down and lethargic in body and mind? Do you feel nourished or depleted? 

  The only way to make meaningful shifts is first to assess how you are using your energy now, how you structure your day and begin to pick 1-2 new healthy habits that can plant the seed of wellness to take bloom. I often suggest to students to focus on the basics; Hydration, Rest and Nutrition. We may actually achieve improvements in all these areas by eliminating some of our current unsupportive habits. You will increase hydration by cutting back on caffeine , sugar and alcohol. You will improve rest by cutting back screen time, TV, emailing and other distractions.(The average american watches 6-8 hours of TV or screen time day!) You will improve nutrition by eliminating empty calories of processed foods . Just cutting snacking out is a major shift. Two tips, every time you crave something like sugar or a carbohydrate snack, drink a large glass of warm water and eat an apple! 80 % of food cravings are linked to dehydration ! If you followed this tip for just one week you would be making a powerful shift to boost two positive habits, optimal hydration and improved nutrition.

Another KEY INGREDIENT to successfully shedding old habits for health invigorating new ones is to access support. Unhealthy habits are often born of  unskilled attempts to manage stress.  Find a friend to be your accountability partner whether its to exercise together, or check in on each others commitment to healthier routines. Take a yoga class! You will be immersed in a community of conscious wellness and continuous support for evolving to a deeper level of integrity. There are many online support groups for folks making healthier shifts, or be creative and start your own local support group.

 So today, take a few moments and list 3 habits you have in the following categories that are not supportive; Mental, Physical and Emotional. Then circle one in each category that you can commit to shift into a more supportive habit. Then mark your calendar for 21 days and 40 days respectively to see the 'celebration dates' . There is no need to live tired, stressed , uninspired and energetically depleted lives. With a few key choices, you can begin the journey of renewal and resurrection! Spring is a powerful time to release what is not serving you anymore. Let the habits go unless they add vitality and joy to your days! Namaste and Blessings for a Beautiful Day! Anne Townend-Duffey

Wednesday, April 2, 2014


 This week is cleanse week for myself and some Opening Lotus Yoga students that are taking advantage
 of the Spring seasonal change to do some inner clearing and cleansing. twice a year practice, in Fall and 
Spring, through the ancient holistic health model of Ayurveda, we take 
time to slow down, clean 
out our diets of inflammatory foods and substances, simplify our days so we can rest more,
 basically, we CHOOSE to go in so we can TUNE IN.

   As we stop ingesting things that aggravate the natural balance of our physiology 
(read here, caffeine, sugar, animal protein, dairy, eggs, alcohol, wheat) and infuse our bodies with 
healing ,simple foods like veggie smoothies, soups, broths, kitchari and some small amounts of fruit, 
our bodies start this amazing process. THEY WAKE UP!
 Like the melting snow and ice, our bodies begin 
this process of releasing the stagnation in our tissues. We may not feel 'great' in the first few days' 
of release as the bodies tools of release are fatigue, or increased elimination,  headaches and sinus 
congestion etc. Our emotional bodies are detoxing too so we may feel our emotions more on the 
surface as they rise up, being released from the arctic freeze poor diets keep them in.
 One major effect of poor diets is a numbing from our emotional energy keeping us in low energy
 habits and 
 highly reactive and imbalanced moods. 

  The gift is just wait for it! Let your amazing body wash clean the stored toxins in your liver and
as you feed it simple, easily digested , high prana foods. Cleansing is like nirvana for your body! 
It's so grateful you are going to bed earlier, not overloading on foods that do not support natural energy,
 dialing back your tech time and spending more time walking, gentle yoga and meditating. 
Within ONE WEEK, you start to emerge like a butterfly from its cocoon , with a feeling of 
 and a renewed brightness of being! Then you will have such a deeper awareness of how to 
take care of this amazing vehicle we call our bodies! Many folks start to feel so amazing they 
decide to extend the cleanse period for 2-3 weeks or longer! If this is your first time, aim for 7-10 days.

You will be reawakened to the reality of what you put in your mouth and take in through your senses,
 creates who you are ,physiologically, mentally ,emotionally and consciously.
The Standard American Diet isn't called SAD for no reason. It's SAD that it creates a populace that is
 so dulled out from its own body's wisdom that its like listening to music with earplugs and earmuffs on. 
Message not received. Result? Suffering, chronic pain and inflammatory illness, depression and all sorts
 of disconnect 
from what is deeply meaningful. 


So take the plunge, choose a 7-10 day period to pull out all the aggravating foods from your diet to 
gift yourself the best boost you could experience naturally. Not sure how? Check out Dr. Mark Hyman's
 book the 10 day detox, or Dr. Weil's Anti- Inflammatory diet. 

 Meat, Wheat, Sweet, Soy, Caffeine, Alcohol, Dairy and Eggs for 7-10 days.
 Add:, Greens Galore
 (kale, spinach, romaine, arugula, parsley, cilantro, beet greens etc) soups, salads
 (with minimal oil or none) steamed veggies with basmati rice or quinoa seasoned with warming 
spices like turmeric, cinnamon, cumin and ginger to rekindle your digestive fire, some low glycemic
 fruit like berries , apples and pears. Lots of warm lemon water and herbal teas. 

By mid -cleanse you will begin to feel the surge of new energy as your body has reset
 its system to
 GLOW! Your eyes and skin will be brighter, your digestion will be regular , your sleep
 will be restorative and your connection to your body wisdom will be realigned. Your mood will be 
balanced and you will feel so energized you will WANT TO CONTINUE TO FEED YOURSELF FOR

 A side effect of cleansing your diet, you naturally will want to cleanse your living and
 work environment. 
Clearing out the clutter goes hand in hand with internal cleansing. Move in to a spacious, energetic 
relationship with the sacred body temple we have been given and honor that body with living as simply
 and supportively as you can!
Happy Spring and Happy Cleansing! Blessings and Namaste
Anne Townend-Duffey (BTW. beautiful photo of my niece Kira celebrating life!)