Barbra Brady

Archive for the ‘Today’s Practice’ Category

Extremists for Grace, Extremists for Love: A Radical Step for the Occupy Movement

In Today's Practice on October 13, 2011 at 6:25 pm

The energy that is percolating around Occupy Wall Street is magnetic. It is expansive, it pulsates, is alive with a vibrant expression that cannot be contained. Wow. That sounds eerily, spookily like…Love.

What if the most radical thing about Occupy Wall Street is the power of love? Love as passionas a call to rise to take critical care of all we hold dear? It is the power of intention that brews in our very being, erupting into a Nothing can stop meaction. Love was the radical power in St. Francis, that crazy wild man of God, when he invited us to become extremists for grace, extremists for love.

In Occupy Wall Street, (OWS) and the spreading Occupation, action is being taken, alright, from sea to taken-advantage-of sea. If you’ve been reading my posts of late, you know that when it comes to feeling the darts of scarcity, unemployment, no health insurance, and my home up for grabs, I’ve got a beef or twoI’m a veritable carnivore. I have harbored a radical in my soul since the days of hippies, Yippies, and the Chicago Seven (I was way too young to be there, but I was mad for them), and now Occupy looks like my chance to be a part. In San Francisco, no less. Gentle Readers, when I do go to sit, chant, or march, I plan to leave my heart in San Francisco.

You see, in addition to feeling a direct hit from what caused OWS, I recently read a post on Yoga Set Free that inspired another spark in me. In it, author and yoga teacher Anne Jablonski urges:

Occupy your heart

“Anger is exhausting. And depleting. Love is not…When we look into another pair of eyes, if all we’re determined to see is someone who is wrong, whose behavior and actions we abhor, who is ‘other,’ then that’s all we’re going to see.  And that’s all they’re going to see us seeing.  But if we take a little leap of faith to ask, “Is there something else going on? Is there love here?”  Then a whole new paradigm becomes possible.”

Creative Commons License photo credit: ruurmo

I believe it is not through the blind ambition of anger that we find a wide open path to resolution. It is not through gazing through rose-colored glasses at our navels that we see our way to change what no longer works. It is through a courageous merging of the power of love with what spurs our soul. It is through what feminist theologist Sharon D. Welch, calls “sheer holy boldness.

Sheer, holy boldness. I first read those three huge words in grad school, nearly 20 years ago, and their grip has never let me go. In the deepest, darkest night of the soul, Welch’s words cradled me, dried my tears, and reassured me that while I may at times feel “sheer” and fragile, if I relax and let myself feel my inherent holinessI am all bold. 

Eve Ensler writes on Huffington Post: “Occupy Wall Street is a work of art, exploding onto a canvas in search of form, in search of an image, a vision.”  Think about it: a work of art. Action + imagination is the surest way I know to occupy my heart with its most precious residents.

The creative process is infinitely fertile, fecund.  It was a muse when Deepak Chopra  lead a meditation for Occupy Wall Street, posted on Occupy Within: a Movement in Awakening:

“Ask yourself internally, what kind of world do I want to live in? And listen. And now ask yourself, How can I make that happen from a place of love, compassion, joy, and equanimity? Simple anger will only perpetuate what already is out there. It was created by greed and fear. We have to go beyond that and come from a place of compassion, centered equanimity, and creativity.”

It is radically important that we get quiet and listen to the “messengers” that tell us what kind of world we want to live in. There is an amazing power in being still enough to hear the messages. And when we do, we may become a holy vessel. The heart. I can think of nothing else big enough to contain the sum total of shakti (power) that is our potential. And that, is radical.

Our minds will not be still until we take the time to listen, and respond to the pleading, sometimes pounding, messages that beat in our souls. What messages occupy your heart, and what practices do you devote to the messenger?

First published on

The Most Valuable Yoga Poses?

In Today's Practice on November 18, 2010 at 5:52 pm

I’m preparing for my first exam for ParaYoga Teacher Certification. (A ten day dive into divine study and writing that begins Monday, November 22!)

In reviewing my notes from my trainings (all nine of them), I just ran across this enticement from the five day training, Marmas: Principles of Enlightened Practice:

These two asanas develop will power, sweetness, refined one-pointedness, attention, enthusiasm, aspiration and a celebrative world view.

What be these boons?



Bridge and shoulderstand.

Wherefore, you ask?

Tomorrow, dear friends, tomorrow.

Hint: Bindu and your noggin being lower than your heart.

When is "Now?"

In Poetry, Today's Practice on October 29, 2010 at 2:02 am


I am sitting in my dining room in Sonoma, California, writing these words.

You are sitting (or standing, phone in hand) somewhere reading these words.

You are reading “now.”

I am writing “now.”

Are we really so separate?

Paraphrasing William Martin in his work on the Tao Te Ching, A Path and a Practice.



Subtle Energy Vinyasa Yoga. Come. Hear Your Soul.

On the Divinity of Listening

In Today's Practice, Truisms on October 24, 2010 at 2:12 pm


Mother Teresa was once asked,
“When you pray, what do you say to God?”

She replied, “I don’t talk, I listen.”

“Ah. What does God say to you?”

“He doesn’t talk. He listens.”


Subtle Energy Vinyasa Yoga. Come. Hear your soul.

What Gave You a Smile Today?

In Poetry, Today's Practice on October 20, 2010 at 7:55 am

My wish for you today:

Pay attention to what makes you smile, even a little.

Or, recall something that already brought a smile to your heart.

At the Yoga Crib, Ojai, CA

Rona Thau, beaming at the the Yoga Crib in Ojai

It will bring another.

This brings to mind a line from Mary Oliver:

Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it.


A Poem by Richard Miller

In Today's Practice on October 18, 2010 at 10:44 am

The past two weeks have found me in confusion. I.e., I have been experiencing one of the human conditions. As a yoga practitioner, I know this is temporary, it is “avidya,” or a veil over our truth.

It is with great gratitude I know Richard Miller, and that he lives close by in Marin County, where he guides the amazing, helpful, healing Integrative Restoration Institute.

Just when I needed it most (determined to find my way back into “vidya,” or right knowledge), I found this poem this morning in the Institute’s newsletter. As with all references to “God” in yoga, and the vedas, the notion is much as it is in 12-step programs, God in its meaning to you.

I offer you, with pranams, Richard Miller.

God is never unkind

by Richard Miller

God is never unkind but is always being an embrace of perfect love. You and I are each the heir of this inheritance.

When the mind doesn’t father ideas of right and wrong, all that is present is a sweet song

rising out of this heart that is also yours.

Here, we discover our very being that never changes, from where suffering and joy well up to the surface.

When we forget this simple embrace we are overwhelmed by such a mirage of complexity.

But when we drop our need for changing… love blossoms; and we live here, where there is no advantage for ‘you’ or ‘I’. Nothing to gain, nothing to lose, no strategy, no demands, no role, no agenda, only spacious Being. One loving heart beating as the many.

Thinking is the defense that keeps us separate. Living as “I don’t know”, what brings us back home. Oh, what wonder, astonishment, and delight.

Life Practices for the Best of Your Life

In Today's Practice, Truisms on July 5, 2010 at 7:43 pm

From ParaYoga’s tradition, and my teacher, Rod Stryker:

Yogarupa Rod Stryker

The Six Sva Dharmas (life practices for the Best of your Life)

1. Respect the world as beautiful and love it (Life is a web and if we destroy any part of it we are destroying life itself).

2. Love yourself.

3. Respect yourself.

4. Love your physical self (the more you dwell on what you hate about yourself, the more that part expands).

5. Cultivate and have trust in yourself, your will, and your determination.

6. Learn to be a living example to yourself.

(I’m loving #6 at the moment.)

To Free the Spirit, or Free the Mind?

In It's Not About the Asana, Today's Practice on January 18, 2010 at 1:53 pm

For those unfamiliar with the sub-species of skiing, skate skiing is a type of Nordic, or cross-country skiing wherein the heels of the ski boots are not locked onto the skis (unlike Alpine, or downhill skiing where the entire boot is clipped down). The toe is clipped in, the heel is unattached. Free.

We Nordic skiers have a credo: Free the Heel, Free the Mind. Recently I overheard a fellow skier put a slight spin on it, Free the Heel, Free the Spirit. Both sound like a good plan, right? As I pondered the alternative take on cross-country skiing’s rallying cry, it hit me: It’s free the mind. Our spirit (soul) is already free!

Granted, our spirit at times feels locked in, fearful, or broken. The reality is, the soul is always free, unperturbed. The mind misconstrues. Often. It can and does read the world as oppressive, fearful, discombobulated. But our soul (purusha) is inherently whole, and knows no sorrow. The tricky part is, the soul must look through the mind, misguided and muddled as it can be, to see what the world looks like. If we learn (better yet, remember) to free the mind, it and the soul can just ride…seamless…unblemished.

Free the Mind, Free the Soul! If you want to pry this “puzzle” a bit more, and learn more about how ever to free the mind, drop me a line. Better yet (both/and) go straight to my source, my teacher, Rod Stryker. Friend him on Facebook. There, Yogarupa offers daily “dharma pearls” that re-mind my soul everyday.


The cat (and human) infirmary

In Cats, Today's Practice on September 30, 2009 at 8:30 am

I’m infirm. The surgery on my broken clavicle not quite two weeks ago, I’m still in an arm sling and have restricted movement. Doing well, but not exactly up to par. Or typing. Or preparing my own, and my cats’ meals without consideration.

So, what does life present, but another challenge. Jai, my giant, sweet, and at times, aggressive, tabby cat.

Case in painful point: Following a cat fight–don’t know with whom or when– he developed an abscess on his tail and I had to get him to the vet yesterday (thank you, Joanne, for helping me get the 17-pounder there) for a procedure: shaving around the base of his tail, lancing, and insertion of drain tubes. And the requisite wearing of an E-collar.

Jai with E-collar

Jai with E-collar

Poor kitty. I brought him home yesterday evening, whereupon Fanny, my other cat, and at this point the only member of this three-individual household who is not infirm (save for her neurosis) saw and smelled this odd monster I brought home and went into full-fledged Chicken Little mode.

Jai needs meds and hot compresses on his very sore tail twice a day, plus some navigation management. (Getting around the house with the vexing E-collar is adding a component of beside-himselfness that doesn’t exactly add to the calm we all need right now.) I’m still recovering and caring for myself…

I take comfort where I can, which right now includes the comic effect of one woman and two cats, two of them recovering from invasive surgical procedures and in need, the third falling from the occasion into the depths of her neurosis.

Joni Mitchell's "California"

In Today's Practice on August 29, 2009 at 5:30 pm

My heart’s broken to wide open for the first time in oh, so long…it is divine.

I’m transfixed with serene, grounded glory.

Thank you. (We are indeed all connected, we, as universe, so all, everything plays into my peace and happiness. Thank you.)