Archive for December, 2012


Sunday, December 30th, 2012

With deep and quiet breathing, vitality will improve, which will influence the brain and help the mind to grow pure and stable and fit for meditation. Without vitality, little can be done, hence the importance of its protection and increase. Posture and breathing are a part of yoga, for the body must be healthy and well under control, but too much concentration on the body defeats its own purpose, for it is the mind that is primary in the beginning. When the mind has been put to rest and disturbs no longer the inner space (chidakash), the body acquires a new meaning and its transformation becomes both necessary and possible.

~Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj


Sunday, December 23rd, 2012

Recently Karuna  has acquired a new instrument, a shruti box. A Shruti box is a small bellows instruments that is somewhat like a simplified harmonium. The instrument itself has a relatively short history but the name invokes a few poignant ideas in Yogic philosophy. Shruti literally translates to ‘hearing’ or ‘listening’ in sanskrit, but is a term that is associated to sacred texts in Hinduism. In this respect a sruti (shruti) is of divine origins and “is traditionally believed to be a direct revelation of the “cosmic sound of truth” heard by ancient Rishis“. The Vedas are understood to be shrutis. In the context of music, “A shruti is considered the smallest interval of pitch that the human ear can detect.”

In the weeks since the arrival of the Shruti box it has not been uncommon to happen upon one of the teachers chanting before class, or to be lulled into savasana with a series of haunting oms accompanied by the sound of the box ‘breathing’. It has added to the soundscape at Karuna and helps to fulfill the original intention of the architecture of the room; to be a space that celebrates sound.  The instrument has inspired more contemplation among students and teachers of the practice of chanting and use of mantra and has allowed us another access point into the powerful effects that sound and vibration have in the enrichment of our spiritual and physical practices.

I have personally been inspired by the shruti box to contemplate OM more deeply as a sonar bridge from prakrti to purusha or from body to soul. When it arrived at the studio we where in the middle of a advanced training weekend. In the excitement over this new tool we were all invited to get up and lead a chant of our choosing. Many of us have only lead others in the chanting of OM and have had little experience (or confidence) leading traditional chants.  After everyone took a turn we were truly energized and giddy. The experience for me stimulated what felt like every cell in my body, as if the matter of me had been set to a different frequency.  I also found connection to the fact that the shruti box is a style of instrument that ‘breathes’ sound which, for me, resonates with my own practice of connecting my breath to energy in asana and pranayama.

One of the students in the training, Dawn Heilman, captured some of the chanting we did with the shruti box. This is a recording of Eileen Muri and Chris Hamil chanting Om and the Invocation to Patanjali. patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart..

Monday, December 10th, 2012

“…be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves like locked rooms and like books that are written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you win then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.”

from Letters to a Young Poet*

by Ranier Maria Rilke

*Read the full letter at the link above.


Friday, December 7th, 2012
This picture was taken by Eileen Muir the other day. Owls have been turning up a lot in her life lately. There is something to be said of the symbolism of different animals. When we get to spend time with them in the wild we often feel blessed.
The experience of communing with a wild animal is often granted to us when we find stillness and silence in the woods. In the context of the practice of Yoga, these chance communions can fill us with sattva and allow us glimpses of purusha. Achieving this stillness often requires an awareness of self. In this sense these moments are opportunities for svadhyaya, or study of the self, a niyama from the second limb of Yoga


By Mary Oliver

When the owl

on her plush and soundless wings


from the black waves

of the oak leaves,

or floats

out of the needles

of the pines

that are moaning,

that are tossing,

I think:

o she is beautiful

with her eyes

like burning moons,

with her feet

like twisted braids

of old gold

flexing and curling-

and I am glad to see her-

some wild loyalty has me

to the root of the heart-

even when she ruffles down

into the feild

and she jabs like a mad thing

and it’s hopeless,

it’s also wonderful,

so I thank whatever made her-

this beast of a bird

with her thick breast

and her shimmering wings-

whose nest, in the dark trees,

is trimmed with screams and bones-

whose beak

is the most terrible cup

I will ever enter.


Owls have held powerful symbolism for many indigenous cultures. The book Animal Speak by Ted Andrews offers this survey on different cultural perspectives of the owl’s significance:

Owls: the mystery of magic, omes, silent wisdom and vision in the night

Symbol of feminine, moon, night- ties to fertility and seduction
worshiped as idol and hated as reincarnation of the devil
Great healing powers- bird of prophecy and wisdom
Greeks- associated w athena- higher wisdom “gaurdian of the acropolis”
Gnostics- associated w lillith- first wife of adam who refused to be submissive
Pawnee- protection
Ojibwa- evil and death
Pueblo- skeleton man- god of death/also fertility
symbolically associated with clairvoyance, astral projection, magic
Ancient rome- beleifs that owls extract secrets- a symbol of the darkness within
***One who works with owl medicine will be able to see and hear what others try to hide. you will hear what is not being said, and you will see what is hidden or in the shadows…this can make others uncomfortable because they will not be able to deceive you about their motives or actions. Owl people have a unique ability to see into the darkness of others souls and life. This is very scary to most people.***
Owls fly silently- those with owl totems should practice silence- keep silent and go about your buisness- this will bring you the greatest success.