Symbols

There have been a number of very important astrological events in the past two years, but particularly this Summer; epic, life changing, Earth shifting cosmic things (at least for those of us who believe the planets and stars impact life here on Earth.

I’ve said it before; I’ll say it again; I was an astrology naysayer; thought it was complete bull . . . um . . .crap.

That’s the beauty of yoga, and any other tradition that is based on personal experience, instead of forced belief; I looked into it; investigated. Whoa. The real deal.

As a yogi, I look to these dates of astrological significance, and I look at my life; pondering the symbols, to gain insight into the cycle. For many of these cycles are long-term; example: Pluto in the sign of Capricorn is a 14-year cycle. So, if the symbols regarding the movement of Pluto into that sign weren’t so great for you, you need to start working to soften that energy, because the only other option is to hunker down and get used to the chaos for the next 12 years.

As I ask friends about the symbols that surround these events in their life, they look at me (or email me), and ask – symbols? What do you mean, symbols?

Therefore; time to blog on symbols.

I often say that I would prefer the Universe send me a parchment scroll; dropped down out of the sky; escorted by angels; and written in English. And it would say “Jill – You must . . . (fill in the blank); you must NOT . . . (fill in the blank). I love you no matter what; hence, you have a certain amount of free will; but (fill in the blank) will occur if you make the wrong choice. Love, always, GOD.”

Knowing the way my mind functions, I would even question that – thinking, “Well, yes, it is a parchment scroll, coming down from heaven; and yes, there were angels (were there trumpets? I don’t recall trumpets.)” And I would want ANOTHER symbol; you know, something big and concrete – like a burning bush (though not too close to the house, please) to make certain that it was for real.

*Sigh* — it doesn’t work that way.

The Universe doesn’t speak English, or Japanese; it usually doesn’t even speak drama; the big, huge events don’t usually come until you’ve missed the point a couple/three times.

Bummer.

So while you’re worrying about keeping your whites white, getting your kids into the right college, or even making the mortgage this month – these symbols, they are all around you.

Kriyanandaji gives the example of the day you are to be married. If you get up late; your dress rips as you put it on; the car taking you to the wedding gets a flat tire; the preacher gets the stomach flu – hey! It’s not necessarily that you’re marrying the wrong guy – you just shouldn’t marry him that day.

Try explaining THAT to the caterer.

But seriously; everyday, all the time, the Universe, your angels, your guides – they’re trying to get through to you. There are interactions with people, with nature; there are events; and these can be taken at face value, yes — but also explored for their symbolism.

Think about life as you would when you wake in the morning, and remember your dream. If you were dreaming that a dog is attacking you, it doesn’t necessarily mean you should develop a fear of dogs. You look at the symbol of the animal, and the symbol of you being attacked. It could mean many different things, but the meaning will be unique to you, depending on your memories related to dogs, and your feeling state with regards to being attacked.

Tricky stuff.

Today is another important day, astrology wise; it is the precise alignment of the Grand Cardinal Cross. Look at the headlines in the paper; look at the symbolic occurrences in your life over the past couple days, and in the week to come. Journal; reflect; develop awareness. Information is power; but self-awareness, well – that’s EVERYTHING.

Shanti,

Jill

Book Recommendations

Looking for some quality reading material? I’ve got some recommendations; books I’ve read more than once, and refer to frequently. Books I recommend to my students, and wish everyone would read.

First off, Eat, Pray, Love, by Elizabeth Gilbert. Yes, it may be a mass-market book by now, but it is a compelling story of a person in transition; dealing with radical spiritual and emotional shifts; AND it involves yoga, travel and food. No downside here; totally clicked with me. I suggest reading it once a year – I’ve read it cover to cover four times; loaned out my original copy; bought it again; loaned that one out, too. Get it. Now.

Feng Shui Your Life, by Jayme Barratt. This book may have pretty pictures, but it is not just about re-arranging your furniture, painting your kitchen, or buying a Buddha statute. It is a book that can give you specific objectives and concrete ways to make inner and outer shifts that will improve your life. The pictures are pretty – but most of us aren’t living that Pottery Barn existence. But with the life you have, you can still use this book to help organize, clean up, clear out and straighten out both your inner and outer self. Great book.

The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan. Because eating these days is complicated; Mr. Pollan cuts through the confusion; or adds to it, depending on your point of view. But seriously; if you’ve not devoted some time to thinking about what you eat and/or where it came from – it’s time. This book will help you to make wise choices – which is more difficult than you might think.

Moving Toward Balance, Eight Weeks of Yoga with Rodney Yee, by Rodney Yee with Nina Zolotow. Okay, you’re looking for a yoga book – about poses (asana); something that will show you “how to,” give you sequences; help you to develop a home practice. This is my favorite go-to book. Beautiful, detailed photographs; each pose has three variations, depending on your level of expertise, and uses props when needed; and then, of course, there is the beautiful Rodney Yee. His alignment is perfect, and he’s a gorgeous man. Win, win.

Happy Yoga, by Steve Ross. Steve Ross is my original guru; I discovered yoga through Steve Ross on the Oxygen network, with his 6:00 am class called “Inhale.” Sitting on the couch, half-asleep, nursing a baby. Looking at beautiful, happy, flexible people. One day I taped the show; got my butt off the couch; and it completely changed my life. His book is easy to read; accessible; and very easy to skip around as you choose what you are interested in, and pass over what doesn’t yet click with your mind. Great book, light read, fun stories; and plenty of things that will make you think.

The Spiritual Science of Kriya Yoga, Goswami Kriyananda. Complete disclosure here, Kriyanandaji is my spiritual grandfather; just the sound of his voice puts me in my happy place. This is the book to choose when you are ready to look beyond yoga as a physical practice. Yes, asana will change your life. Ready to embrace the entire eight-limb system? Start here. Brilliant chapters on the yamas and niyamas; great information on pranayama and meditation; get past the initial chapters on cleansing techniques (some sound scary!) and you’ll be on your way.

Jivamukti Yoga, Sharon Gannon and David Life. Nobody makes loving God and living a holy, spiritual life seem more hip and current than Jivamukti yoga founders Sharon Gannon and David Life. Great information here for those of you looking for a unique and modern spiritual path.

Autobiography of a Yogi, Paramahansa Yogananda. Another disclosure here ; Yoganandaji is also my lineage. And I find the complex, formal English that he uses a little tough to wade through – but it is worth it. Follow him as he grows from boy to man to yoga master, living the Kriya yoga tradition. Through success and failure, confusion and certainty, this book is full of inspirational passages, and fascinating glimpses of what it is like to experience the path of the yogi living in the ashram; beautiful tales of life in India; as well as a vision of the beautiful path of the householder. It has earned its place as a classic. Very worthwhile.

The Essential Edgar Cayce, by Mark Thurston, Ph.D. If you at all connect to Jesus Christ, you will be fascinated by the psychic readings of Edgar Cayce. This book gives the basic concepts of the nature of reality, keys to health and healing, and some insights to mystic Christianity as given through the readings of Edgar Cayce. A great launching point into the Cayce material that will help you to discover your interests, and lead you into a deeper understanding.

The Astrology Bible, by Judy Hall. I have a lot of astrology books. And astrology is a deep, multi-layered science. This book is small, easy to read and very complete. Great for beginners, but also offers much to the experienced student of astrology. Concise; attractive; detailed enough, but not overwhelming. Great starting point for your astrology studies.

Sooooo . . . no excuses for sitting in front of the television, or blobbing out on Facebook; this is a fascinating, amazing world; there is so much to learn, so much to experience; and you chose to be here.

Hit the library, the bookstore, or Amazon.com.

You’ve got some studying to do.

Shanti,

Jill

Time of Change


There is a dramatic period of change coming upon us . . . do you feel it?

I do. And it alternately thrills me and terrifies me. Such is my relationship to change.

We are preparing to enter a new phase of existence. A period of astrology that indicates a vast shift that involves our country, the planet and pretty much everyone and everything on it. It is not something to be afraid of — but does it sound like mumbo-jumbo to you? It certainly would have to me, not so long ago.

Like many things, when I first heard them, my mind said “what? – no way.”

And then I thought about them; my experiences augmented my understanding; and instead it was “Ah-HA!” Think back; is that true for you?

When I was pretty young – about 21 years old — I worked as a secretary at a law firm in Boston; a big-time law firm, my desk on the 36th floor overlooking the ocean — and I worked for two incredible, brilliant women. One of them was an up-and-coming associate, and though I respected her, and liked her, I still didn’t give her thoughts and opinions the weight that I gave my “senior” partner.

One day she mentioned that she had stopped eating meat for the environment. Well, this was a while back – 1988-ish – and I thought that was gibberish. “Well,” she stated — without any malice or edge to her opinion — “It takes 2,000 gallons of water for each pound of beef . . . and so I’ve stopped eating red meat.”

Oh, PLEASE! I thought. That’s ridiculous! Makes no sense.

But actually – it does. You’ve got to give water to that animal as it grows; plant, nurture, harvest and process it’s food; deal with it’s excrement; and then – when you kill the animal, there is a lot of water involved in dissecting, processing, packaging, and cleaning up the mess.

Two thousand gallons per pound actually sounds like an understatement.

But at the time, my mind was not open; whatever contradicted my mindset at the time, I immediately placed in my own mental garbage pile. I was not prepared for my concepts, my ideals, to be challenged. My own sense of self was not even completely formed. How could my mind do battle with anything foreign? I just wasn’t equipped.

It was like that with astrology. I mean, really – reading the stars? Watching the planets? Okay – reading the daily horoscope, that was acceptable – but really getting into the movement of the planets, signs, houses? Absurd!

Then I read “Autobiography of a Yogi” by Paramahansa Yogananda. Which, if you read it, is not at all what you would expect. Yoganandaji is so honest in his failures, so humble in his glories. There is so much great information in this book, and there is an excellent chapter entitled “Outwitting the Stars.” In it Yoganandaji says to his teacher “I don’t believe in astrology.” And Sri Yukteswar’s response is fantastic: “

It is not a question of belief; the scientific attitude one should take on any subject is whether it is true. The law of gravitation worked as efficiently before Newton as after him. The cosmos would be fairly chaotic of its laws could not operate without the sanction of human belief.”

He goes on to explain astrology in a way that makes it real; that ties it together with why we exist; where we came from; and where we’re going. It opened my mind to the possibility, and I decided to look a little deeper.

Have you ever admired a glorious full moon? Really beautiful, isn’t it? And it is really just a reflection of the Sun; without the Sun, we would never even see it.

That Moon – one very small celestial body in the vast sky — has the power to move the oceans on this planet, and create the tides; you yourself are almost 75 percent water – it effects you, too.

Now ponder – it takes a MILLION Earths to reach the equivalent size of the Sun; a MILLION.

That’s . . . a lot.

And our “Sun” is but just one star in a solar system in a galaxy full of other stars, planets and systems. We are on a small tilted planet, spinning through space; we think we know what is up and what is down; what is “right” and what is “left” (or what is “right” or “wrong”). But really, to quote my Guru, “we’re a speck, on a speck, on a speck.”

Astrology gives us that insight into where, when and how. And now – big change is coming.

It is not random, and whether it is positive or negative will depend a lot upon your viewpoint, and your astrology.

Don’t let your cultural programming take over. Investigate; then decide.

Shanti,

Jill