What is real?

How does a yogi address this question?

The sense of separateness is not real, each of us is pure already , born and manifest in a state purity, and often to become polluted by our various afflictions, greed, desire, jealousy, stealing etc… but we are not separate, we are together, one humanity, one divinity with many names, and when we annihilate the sense of being separate we join together – as one, and in this moment, we know what is real.



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Copy your teacher physically and mentally!

Whoever your best teacher is, that is the person to copy! My Dharma Yoga teacher, Sri Dharma Mittra, always exhorts his students to copy what others are doing if they are doing it well. Copy mentally and physically. One of the best ways to learn! Needless to say he is usually the best one to copy!

Copying someone mentally is not so easy, what I do its try to understand the attitude they have or take on for each thing they do. Last evening during class Sri Dharma was teaching alternate side breathing, and he had set up a camera and screen so people can see him better.  He sat forward on his knees and close to his students in the first row.
The technique for alternate side breathing is easy to copy if you can see what he is doing and follow the cues. What the camera showed from above and what I saw in my teacher was a small and humble man who will teach on his knees, with an attitude of earnestness, determined to share this teaching with others, patience, and humility. It also showed and reminded me what it means to me to be on my knees. Being on my knees allows me to be small, and brings out in me humility, earnestness, and devotion…just that position in itself is an offering of prayer.

Physical copying is also important, each posture in yoga has a mental attitude or ‘spirit’ associated with it. When I take on certain postures, my body sends some message or learning to my brain that comes from the physical posture.  This way the body teaches the mind, usually it is knowledge that is beyond words. Shavasana is a good example of this – Shavasana is for total relaxation, and when I remain perfectly still, when my body stops sending messages to my brain, my brain can settle. It learns the attitude of quietness and stillness.


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The Yama of Ahimsa

Rainbow on the Hudson

As I understand Ahimsa, there are two main expressions of it – the first being non violence – the command that one not kill, or do any violence against others in word, thought or deed, and the second is the practice of being compassionate. Perhaps the best very well known example of a person who practiced both these with total commitment, faith and perseverance was Mahatma Gandhi. When he advocated self-governance for India’s people he did not call for them to rise up in the streets in arms but instead to no longer honor laws that were unjust. He also taught them to bear the beatings and insults of the British without responding in a like manner. It was only in this fashion that the just and right could remain just and right, while those inflicting harm had to bear witness to their own cruel and unjust practices. Further to this he adhered strictly to vegetarian diet and advocated the same, and promoted ways of life and livelihood that were also compassionate, such as weaving and other hand work that is contemplative and calm.

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Principles and practice of yoga – Vairagya

Dispassion – Vairagya – is said to be discrimination between the real and unreal.
From ‘How to get Vairagya’ by Sri Swami Sivananda

In my life dispassion is useful for observing my own actions. Without dispassion in the matter of observing my own behavior,  in particular the behaviors that do not adhere to the yamas and niyamas, but also the virtuous deeds that are done with some reward in mind,  it would be easy to say there is no point in going further,  this impoverished soul of mine has lost its path on the way to redemption. Dispassion allows me to see that I too am human,  neither devil nor saint,  but both in one, and yet I do not have to become paralyzed or demoralized by my own ignorance and misdeeds, or super-inflated by my good ones.

As I understand it in my life, dispassion is not an excuse, but an acceptance of what is. It is not a judgment or lack thereof,  but a discrimination,  that sees neither ‘good’ nor ‘evil’ but what is there. What is there in every human (my guess, and true for me) is a great capacity for good and evil,  for ignorance and enlightenment, for stormy emotions and calm acceptance. Developing discrimination, or dispassion, allows me acceptance of the totality, the oneness, that would have profound evil exist in me, side by side with profound goodness. Without dispassion I would give in to the lazy side of my spirit, become hopeless, and accept my lower self as if that is all that has been given in this life. In doing so at times, I have seen that this is a dishonor of the perfection of life,  the balance of life,  my own goodness, and a dishonor to the spiritual heights that are possible for a soul with a sincere intent and willing faith.

With the practice of dispassion, I can continue on my path, noting my behaviors, reflecting on their source,  and still choose to tread on the path of enlightenment.

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The practice of offering

It is said that any action, when done with the right intent in the heart, that carries with it no expectation of reward, is an act of Karma yoga.  The practice of Karma yoga is one path towards self enlightenment. When I choose to consciously make an offering of an action, whether to another being or to the eternal & divine, I find it creates in me an  attitude of compassion, charity and peace. And on occasion a sense of humor and joy! The practice of yoga can be a way to ‘exercise’ the practice of offering. When I offer my own yoga practice, whether it is devotional singing, prayer, study, meditation, selfless service, asanas, I also cultivate non-attachment. I offer the practice as it is, neither perfect nor imperfect, simply offering. I give up my attachment to the experience I might want to have, or the result I might hope for, and then I am able to experience that moment of offering my practice or action as complete & perfect as it is.


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Practice of Yoga


There is no greater gift to a student of Yoga than the chance to share the practice with others. I have not posted on this site for many months, but I am today as it was my second ever class teaching Dharma Yoga Gentle, in Bliss MI. Afterwards I went home and had greens from the garden. My daughters picked the nice clover pictured below, which happens to be sour, not sweet, a bit like lemon grass, so I sweetened the salad with grated raw beets.


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Who is there to be enlightened?

Questions are wiser than answers, I am sure of it. Recently Sri Dharma asked the question, “who is there to be enlightened?”

What I have understood when reflecting on this question is that when I surrender my ego, when I realize there is no ‘who’,  what is left is my various layers of body and mind/consciouness. And, if it is true that ‘there is a small portion of God in everyone’ then God is already there. with my ego out of the way, it is now a matter of getting God consciousness. Said another way, being present to the presence of God.

When I have a daily practice of the yamas and niyamas, (non-violence, truthfulness, non- stealing, sexual responsibility, abstention from greed, cleanliness, contentment, austerity, self study, surrender of myself to God) the foundation for God consciousness is there.

If through my daily practices I am already God conscious, then, I can see in my life, it is the constant practice that allows me to stay close to and live in that light.

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Renouncing the fruits of action

Recently I found myself in a poisonous mood unable to be grateful. I was tired of washing dishes, clothes, cleaning house, and caring for everyone else. What had been for me my expression of devotion had become tiresome. What was missing was my own practice. I excuse myself from practice by saying a) I don’t have time, b) my practice is my devoted attention to the needs of others. Two amazing things that I knew to be true yet chose not to believe: time is mostly a creation of the mind – and we can create time for anything we need to do. Without a conscious practice of yoga asanas and meditation, my acts of devoted service became polluted by a desire to have some reward for my actions. When I do practice, meditation and asanas, it is easier to desire nothing, and have no ego to create disturbance or be disturbed.

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Vegan Pumpkin Pie (with sweet potatoes)

So no pix for this until tomorrow… but here is the low down on a pretty good vegan crust and pumpkin pie that is made mostly with sweet potatoes.

To make 2 pies use 6-7 med-small sweet potatoes
1 small can of pumpkin (organic if possible)
each pie needs about 8 cups of filling if you have typical pie plates/pans
[if you prefer you can cook your own organic pumpkin – I have done this – it is very time consuming and I find the potatoes taste almost identical to pumpkin once you add spice]

Boil potatoes until soft, cool, peel and mash

In a blender or bowl using a beater
add pumpkin + mashed potatoes
1 can coconut milk (makes the pies taste amazing!)
1 cup brown/raw sugar or other sweetener to taste
1 tbsp cinnamon
1 tbsp pumpkin pie spice or a blend of
nutmeg, allspice, cloves
1 tsp salt
blend til smooth and set aside until pie crusts are ready
or pour into crusts
bake for 10 minutes at 425, then 40 -50 minutes at 375

CRUST for 2 pies
3 cups raw almonds ground to powder
I use the coffee bean grinder
3 cups organic corn meal – fine
1 cup earth balance or vegetable margarine
[the non-hydrongenated kinds]
mix almond meal, corn meal and with the hand blend in the cold ‘butter’ substitute.
when the mix begins to get sticky you can take half into each pie pan and begin to press it down onto the bottom and sides to complete the crust.
It comes out very much like a graham crust, but more nutritious and wheat free,

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Thanksgiving for Vegan Stuffed Squash

The ingredients I used for this:

Acorn squash – but any favorite will do – spaghetti squash is also nice
Saute together in 1/3 cup of cold pressed olive oil
Onion – 1 large or more if you love onion
Celery – approx 5 very large stalks or ten medium to small
Ginger – a large chunk – I used 1/3 of what is in picture
Cranberries about a cup and a half (fresh organic if available) dry can also be used
Raisins – 2/3rds cup
Chilis dried – to taste – or omit altogether
Garam Masala – 3 tbsp I use Garam masala as it is both sweet and spicy
Parsley – 1 large bunch
Brazil nuts  – about 2 cups – you can sub with your favorite

Here is the basic ‘how to’ , this is fun and easy so you can improvise!
Chop the onion, celery, ginger and saute lightly with the garam.




Add the cranberries and raisins after about 10 minutes sautéing and continue for another 5 minutes until the juice of the cranberries starts to come out.




Turn off the heat and add the chopped parsley and nuts

Prepare the squash – this is the hardest part – if they are HARD you need a very sharp hatchet to open them, be careful for your fingers!




Stuff the squash and steam!














Steam in the oven or on the stovetop depending on your pan for about 45 minutes until the squash is soft. Serve as is or with rice. I rehabilitated the old turkey roaster!

And if you don’t want to bother with ‘stuffing’ the squash – you can just steam it in a pan then serve with the stuffing. My kids love spaghetti squash.

Save the seeds for the squirrels!


Posted in Delicious and simple food, Food kids love, Giving Thanks, Gluten free, healthy food on a budget, RECIPES - ALL, VEGAN, Vitality and love | Leave a comment