Sharing thoughts on my spiritual journey using healing sound and movement to open to the radiance within.
Saraswati, the wisdom within!
|Posted by Lisa on July 1, 2021 at 3:40 PM|
Out of the navel of Viṣṇu comes Brahma, the creator, who is tasked with beginning the universe. He creates 7 beings called The Prajapatis and he tells them to get to work to create the entire universe. They are all male beings. They ask…”well, how do we do this??
At that point a voice wells up from within Brahma and says, you created only male beings, you must create female beings. While hearing the voice he envisions a being that is 1/2 man and 1/2 woman within him, the balance of 2 primal energies. He realizes he has only acknowledged half.
From the mouth of Brahma, the first female is born who is at first called Ushas, the daughter of the dawn, the light of knowledge. (which then later fuses into our understanding of Saraswati, she who flows, the flow of wisdom.)
Through Brahma’s desire for wisdom(can you relate?..the need to know the answers) coupled with his desire for union, he becomes obsessed with Ushas. She, in turn, transforms herself into all different creatures to hide from him..thus the beasts of the earth begin to be created:)
Brahma’s lust for wisdom and to join is a great lesson. Ushas is within him ALREADY. He doesn’t need to possess her because she is him.
Finally, Brahma causes such a disturbance running after her that Shiva steps in and pins Brahma to the heavens. Brahma then has an ah-ha moment: I have to work in partnership, I must join forces. It is at this point that he calls Ushas “Saraswati” and they join together to create the universe.
What you seek is within. The knowledge is within you. Join all the forces inside and jump onboard your natural wisdom. Give yourself time to be silent and just listen.
Here is a simple technique to get there. Aim is the seed syllable for Saraswati.
- Sit in a comfortable seat, a chair is fine but have your feet flat on the floor, tall spine.
- Be still, feel the natural flow of your breath.
- Repeat the sound Aim aloud, whispered and then silently on the exhale for 5-10 minutes.
- Pause after each mmmm sound and listen for a response.
- Finally sit in silence and see what comes up. Be a witness.
Let me know how your Saraswati exploration goes for you. You have all the spiritual wisdom right inside. Listen to her calling you. Listen to YOU calling you.
Shift into the Light!
|Posted by Lisa on June 18, 2021 at 6:05 PM|
Happy Summer Solstice!
The symbolism of the light of the sun goes way back in yoga. You can find the metaphor of light representing the illuminatory power of spiritual awakening dating back thousands of years to the oldest book of Sanskrit called the Ṛg Veda.
It is here we find the words of the sacred Gāyatrī Mantra which calls upon the light to awaken us to our connection to ultimate reality:
tat savitur vareṇiyaṃ
May that one, who gives birth to all
bhargo devasya dhīmahi
with It’s glorious radiance
dhiyo yo naḥ pracodayāt
illuminate our meditation
– Rigveda 3.62.10
I share this video, https://youtu.be/SmGQFeDBilI , from my sun salutation course just for you. It is a beautiful way to connect to the light this weekend. (Sanskrit Note: Sanskrit in this form of chanting begs you to get very specific and sometimes everyone can lose their way:) I notice in my short instruction I sound a long "ā" instead of short "a" sound in the word devasya. Try to make those "a" sounds short. When I actually chant it in it's entirety, notice how I shift to the short "a" sound.) The long and short vowels create the specific energy of the mantra as well as align you with the correct meaning and cosmic connection!
Another powerful way to honor the light is with the movements of the sun salutations!
The practice of Sūrya Namaskāra or bowing to the sun in ritual movements becomes structured much later around the 1930’s and is credited to the father of modern physical yoga, T. Kriṣṇamachārya.
Other practices have developed from there adding mantras to these ritual movements so we can taste the light of our own existence. (I offer a course on the Sun Salutations that teach both the movements and the mantras into an incredibly powerful practice: https://sonicblissyoga.teachable.com/p/surya-namaskara-1-2-complete/?preview=logged_out)
The yoga practice is here to bring us back to our natural state that is underlying all things.
This is the light of freedom. This is the light of LOVE. This is the light of transformation AND the light of fullness on earth for all beings.
|Posted by Lisa on June 4, 2021 at 1:25 PM|
A few of you may know that I LOVE the ancient language of Sanskrit. Last week, I described one reason why. It really improved my confidence in my voice.
Even learning the basics, the alphabet can make a profound impact in your speech and your confidence. What a gift!!
But I also believe that it is important to include Sanskrit in yoga practice and yoga teaching. Why??
Sanskrit is the language of yoga. It has a mystical story around its beginnings (of course)! It is said that the language and the passages of the Vedas (Books of Wisdom) were transferred to the minds of the rishis (seers) who were in deep states of meditation.
Maybe you are down with this explanation and maybe you aren’t…BUT you have to experience Sanskrit for yourself to understand it’s unique power.
If you listen or even better, speak or chant the language, there is an energetic effect. Because this is experiential like all of yoga, you must try it to get a sense of what I mean.
It’s like a vehicle that transports you to other states of feeling and being. It can empower you when used one way, it can break your heart open when used another way and it can connect you to ultimate reality which is the great aim of Vedik Sanskrit and yoga in general: to yoke with the infinite.
It is a spiritually charged language that when included in the practice deepens and enriches the practice because it connects it to it’s 5000 (give or take) year old tradition that began (in sound) with the chanting of the mantras of the Vedas.
What do you want to learn around the Sanskrit language?
Art and Yoga
|Posted by Lisa on May 21, 2021 at 4:25 PM|
Baroque Abstraction by Victoria Koursaros
This past week, I went to the inspiring art exhibit at The Gallery Space in Rahway called Going for Baroque. It is a collection by contemporary artists who have peices that are inspired by the Baroque period. I was moved by the colors, the shadow, the ingenuity and the many unique expressions. Then, I was inspired to sing, chant, write and practice yoga. This experience of art fueled my practice and my life.
Yoga has always been a healing practice for me as well as a creative practice. Each day I wake up with different thoughts, sensations and emotions. Each day my practice adjusts to my needs. For me, yoga in it’s highest form is like art; a living, breathing thing that takes me into the flow of the infinite.
I have had specific moments as an actress and a singer where I have plugged into this flow.
While singing scales in voice lesson, I was transported into a higher plane of consciousness. I was just singing vowels like a or u…interestingly, these are both vowels contained in the Om. Also interestingly, there is a practice in Nada Yoga that involves singing scales! I didn’t know that then!
There have been times onstage where I was plugged into a creative force. There was such a freedom in it, such a fierce aliveness. The thoughts of the past or the future were stilled to be present in, well, the present.
I also went to a school of music where everyone sang together in a huge symphonic choir and I definitely had these experiences while singing in the choir with 300 other voices as we made one sound together!
These are just a few examples of how I have accessed the state of yoga through different art forms.
What about you? What art forms inspire you? Have you been transported by music, singing, acting, writing, visual art or dance? How can it support your yoga practice and your life?
I encourage you to get inspired by art and take it into your practice. Explore something different and see how it can inspire you!
My primary art form is mantra and music:) I am creating a course for you to be able to access the power of sound creatively in your own practice. What would you like to learn about mantra and Sanskrit that can support you, your practice, your teaching or your unique creative voice?
Yoga for Mental Health!
|Posted by Lisa on May 14, 2021 at 5:00 PM|
How’s it going? How is your mental state? This year I have really become aware of my tendencies when triggered. How about you?
For example, I have been noticing all of my goals and “to do” lists and how I cling to getting it all done. While we were in pandemic life, I got a lot done but it was never enough for me.
I notice this as just one of my habits. When can I enjoy the present moment, if I am always trying to get it all done and attached to the result. Gasp! This is a Yoga Sutra no, no!
Yoga Sutra 1.12: Abhyasa vairagyabhyam tan nirodhaḥ
With consistent practice while not being attached to the result of the practice, one retains a serene mind.
Hey! The Yoga Sutra is an ancient self-help book powered by the sounds of Sanskrit. More on that later.
For me to find detachment, I need to spend time in stillness looking inward as well to spend time in community. This need for community really came through for me this week when I practiced yoga to raise money for the Covid crisis in India. (It was a beautiful evening that raised over $3000!! Thank you to Ananda Hum Bliss, Rock and Ram Kirtan Band and Ruchi!)
We were one with the waves and the sand of Ideal Beach, we experienced ourselves as the vastness of the sky and we felt ourselves as part of each other. I was reminded what the word yoga means.
The word 'Yoga' is derived from the Sanskrit root 'Yuj', meaning 'to join' or 'to yoke' or 'to unite'.
“As per Yogic scriptures the practice of Yoga leads to the union of individual consciousness with that of the Universal Consciousness, indicating a perfect harmony between the mind and body, Man & Nature.” - Ministry of External Affairs, India
Too easily this feeling of yoga or yoking to each other, nature and the Divine gets clouded over by the veil of the ego.
When we get to have these moments, we are reminded of what it feels like to live fully. The task becomes how do I live fully in ALL that I do or experience. How do I live into my life?
Today in meditation, I asked myself this question. I listened to a voice from within telling me to slow down, connect to nature and speak from the deepest place I can access in each moment.
How do you support your mental health?
Mother Yourself, Heal Yourself
|Posted by Lisa on May 6, 2021 at 2:40 PM|
Have you ever had a rebirth in your being that gives you a deeper understanding of yourself and your connection to everything? It’s an awakening or a reawakening. It’s a big aha moment!
I recently had this happen. I had a deeper understanding of a habit that I fall into…you know, again and again. Without even realizing it:
“Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.” - Carl Jung
For my awakening to happen, I had to have someone brave enough to point it out when it happened, then I had to take actions to heal the root cause of this habit. And I had to sit with my discomfort.
Since that moment of awakening, I have been very aware of this pattern. When it comes up, it actually makes me angry to not just go with it. Hahaha! Maybe because now I have to deal with it. But I know that when I do this, healing can happen.
I have been practicing a ritual that I learned from my mentor, Russill Paul called Ṣoḍaśa Upacāra. He has been guiding me to use it as a container for healing the sacred feminine. It is a very beautiful practice.
In it, there is a blessing of water, where you chant to the sacred rivers in India. It begins the healing process through cleansing and blessing us as we prepare for the awakening of consciousness as pure spiritual wisdom.
Schedule some time daily to work toward this intention of healing actively, whether that is 5 minutes or an hour.
Let me help by watering your intention with a special mantra invoking 10 sacred rivers in India from the ancient Vedic period. You can use this mantra to purify water and any space in which you practice.
- Snap your fingers 8 times aorund your head to clear negative energy
- Join your palms and set a healing intention.
- Clasp your fingers together, extending your index and middle finger into a bowl of water.
- Listen to the mantra in the video blog.
- Sprinkle the water around your space, your altar and on yourself.
- Sit in meditation or repeat a mantra or have a physical practice. Do what you need in the moment!
- Palms together with an Om to conclude
It will be a beautiful start to your day and clear the path for healing.
Share with us how this simple ritual works for you and what you have added to make it personal!
You and I come from pain and trauma as well as from courage and love. Let’s find a healing path forward.
Asteya and Giving Back to India
|Posted by Lisa on May 1, 2021 at 12:50 AM|
The incredibly rich offering of yoga in all of it’s depth and ancientness comes from India where the Vedas or books of wisdom were born.
Yoga is considered a way of seeing the world or a dārṣana which encompasses much more than a philosophy in my opinion, it’s a way of life. The practices that have funneled into modern yoga which are actually ancient are ritual, mantra recitation, meditation and spiritual study.
Proof of āsana or postures don’t come along until the Haṭha Yoga Pradipika in the 14th century. Previous to this Patañjali mentions āsana in The Yoga Sutra where it means “seat” and to find one that is both steady and comfortable…so that you can sit for meditation and ultimately samadhi, realization of your highest self.
These practices have ultimately become my passion to practice and to share as a yoga teacher.
These practices keep me centered throughout my day. They bring me back to the present moment when I want to stew in the past or worry about the future. The practices allow me access to a power and confidence from within, a radiance that is palpable. Physically, I feel more open, fluid and strong in my body.
I hope to share all of these benefits with people who work with me through Sanskrit, mantra and movement.
I have gained so much from these practices and I feel that I have to acknowledge the lineage of where these practices come from and honor that in my teachings.
I also must honor that especially when the country of India is suffering so much right now from COVID. It is a devastating situation and I ask you all to join with me to help.
In fact, this is part of yoga practice.
In the Yoga Sutra, Patañjali outlines something called Aṣtaṇga Yoga. This is the 8 limbed path that will lead you to the state of liberation as I mentioned above. The very basis of these steps he details something called the yamas and the niyamas. These are the spiritual & moral principals that uphold the path of yoga.
Today I want to speak of one of these and it’s called “asteya.” Asteya can be translated as non-stealing. (Think “Though Shall Not Steal” from the 10 commandments of Christianity, in fact, there are similarities between these 10 yamas and niyamas!)
The positive way to access this teaching would be as “giving.” This outlines an action that you can take, to become a conduit for giving of yourself, your time, resources or ideas for the greater good.
In fact, Nikki Meyers from the Yoga of 12 Step Recovery likes to say “You can’t keep it if you don’t give it away.
I used care.org and found an emergency relief fund for India. You could also organize a beneifit concert or a benefit yoga class. There are so many ways to be of service for India and it's people.
I see the word, asteya, with both meanings as I reflect on how to act for the good of India.
Not stealing and giving back have a relationship. We take from the suits of the earth and need to give back to replenish it, we need to care for it. In the same way, we take from the fruits of yoga, we need to give back to where it originated.
Hari Om Tat Sat
|Posted by Lisa on April 23, 2021 at 3:35 PM|
Happy Earth Week! Let’s talk about an earth goddess to awaken our relationship to the earth and then create a simple ritual to support our healing intentions.
The goddess Bhuvaneswari is considered sarvarupa…the form of everything. She is the spaceholder and the energy of it taking form.
Her name means Goddess of the Universe or Earth and is said to be ruler over the first three realms represented in the Vyaariti Mantras
Bhuḥ - earth
Bhuvaḥ - atmosphere
Suvaḥ - sky/space
This year I have been doing more contemplation on how I can support the earth while living on the planet. It seems like the earth gives me so much and I continue to take.
The entire system of yoga is, in essence, a relationship.
The oldest written words of Sanskrit of the Ṛg Veda gives us mantras for rituals to support all of the mystical beings who care for the earth.
In Tantra, there is an understanding that we are part of a whole and part of each other. We understand this within the mantra “So Haṃ” I am that. We are both a drop in the ocean and the ocean in one drop.
In Bhakti yoga, we call out to the Divine to give love and devotion. We recognize our relationship as lovers. “The eye through which you see God is the same eye through which God sees you.”
You can see through the strife of the past year where we as humans want to blame each other for the wrongs in the world. The past year has taught me that recognizing my wrongdoings and then taking action in the world is the only way to affect change.
We are the earth. As long as she is sick, we are sick.
Here is a simple ritual to open to the earth element and embrace actions to take.
- Bring one hand to touch earth and have the other hand touch your heart and call forth your intention or dedication. And ask that it be manifested on earth and for grace to assist you every step of the way.
- Take 10 long slow breaths. During this breath, imagine you are taking the pain and illness out of the earth on the inhale and sending out love and healing not he exhale. You could think, breath in pain, breathe out love. Or breathe in darkness breathe out light.
- Come to sit upright and be still.
- Take some kaphalabhati breathing to move any stuck energy. This is where you have a sharp exhale through the nose and the inhale just happens through the nose.
- Stand, Repeat the mantras and stomp your feet for 5 minutes:
Om Bhuhu - earth
Om Bhuvaha - atmosphere
Om Suvaha - sky/space
- Sit in stillness and ask yourself how you contribute to polluting the earth and what actions can you take to help.
- Journal what comes up and set an intention to to take the actions.
What came up for you? (I will be bringing my own containers and mugs to coffee shops and bringing my own bags to the grocery store amongst other things. Reducing plastic use is at the top of my list.) What about you?
Internal Spring Cleaning!
|Posted by Lisa on April 9, 2021 at 5:25 PM|
Spring is here! But wait…how are you feeling?
In my house, I am hearing the sneezing and moaning of Spring allergies. It has hit us all hard this year but especially our daughter, Anya. It feels like a pressure in the head that will NEVER go away which makes sleeping hard. And then the next day you are groggy and unfocused.
What to do?? Of course, there are over the counter medications and I am not poo pooing their usefulness but the sister science to yoga called Ayurveda tells us that these symptoms point to an imbalance within our bodies and minds.
Think about ALL you have accumulated this winter….ALL you have stored in your body and mind. Any fear that has not been expressed gets stored in your body and mind.
And energy needs to move.
If we carry or deny fear for example, it can turn into panic or paranoia. If we let it move through us, it becomes an energy that can help us heal and grow.
How can we open to, express and move through our feelings?
Mantra can be a healing tool! Sound on breath gives voice and movement to emotions, even ones triggered by trauma which allows us to experience, release and transform.
Ok...cool but HOW is this done??
There are actually a number of ways to use mantra for healing.One system would have you identify your needs by which element (Earth, Water, Fire, Air, Ether) may help you find balance, or by which location in your body needs healing or to identify how you feel contracted and then utilize a specific mantra to address this issue.
For example, if you feel nervous and ungrounded, you could use the seed syllable, Laṃ, to invoke the earth energy.
Laṃ, Laṃ , Laṃ.
If you feel stuck in an endeavor or feeling, you could chant to the energy of Ganesha to unblock your path. Another way to think about this is that you chant to remind yourself that YOU can unblock your path.
Om Gaṃ Gaṇeshāya Namaha
If you are feeling unsure of yourself, chant to the goddess of courage and fierce action that will lead you to take a bold step forward.
Om Duṃ Dūrgāyai Namaha
If we follow in this path we may have wonderful results but if we approach mantra for healing as purly prescriptive, we will only touch a small part of its healing potential.
Another way to access the healing potential of mantra is to offer your energy or emotion up in order to surrender to grace. This is very powerful. Instead of trying to manipulate your way to an outcome, you funnel all of you, all of the emotion as an offering to be transmuted into healing, not just for yourself but for others as well.
You make whatever mantra that resonates with you an offering to your highest ideal of the Divine. You begin to heal this relationship between you and your highest self as well as you and the Universal.
One day, while driving in the car with my daughter, an argumemnt ensued. We were late for something and tensions were high. There was a mantra playing on the car stereo and we spontaneously started chanting to it. Within a few minutes, I could understand why I was reacting this way and that I had the freedom to choose a different way of being.
And in that moment, I chose a more powerful way to be with my daughter. It was the merging of effort and surrendering to grace through sound.
Looking forward to sharing more mantra for healing with you as I have a really special offering coming up with my mentor and highly esteemed mantra and spiritual teacher, Russill Paul. More to come!!
For now, enjoy this practice with the simple but profound sound Om or AUM!
Durga & The Roar Of Your Voice!
|Posted by Lisa on March 25, 2021 at 1:20 PM|
Durga is the fortress, the Invincible One, the warrior goddess. She harnesses the power of a lion or a tiger and rides that harnessed wild & fierce energy. She is your fiercest self. YOU are THAT!
From the mythic stories, Durga was born in a time of great turmoil from the joining of all the creative forces of all the Gods. She then destroyed the demon, Mahishasura and the world was restored to order.
She is your fierce voice.
As I reflect on this time of separation, I realize that I have been unable to exchange my outer voice with others freely.
It has been a year of saying, “Do you hear me?” “Are you there?” And…”You’re muted!!” Haha!
So, I have spent some time listening to my inner voice in the cave of my heart. And I heard and saw why I thought my voice didn’t matter or wasn’t important or would be disruptive. I learned in affect, to be silent.
By having this time apart, it seems as if we have been called to reassess our core values, our purpose, our path or dharma in this world. and ask ourselves at our deepest level, “What do I want?”
To do this work of getting clear to hear your inner voice, you may hear echoes of past voices. Pain may bubble up. It is a great time to journal. Write down the voices from the past, those things that are sticking around that don’t reflect the truth of the now.
Lisa Ann Land by Lisa Ferraro
I am from Tuesday Taylor’s Townhouse,
From Love’s Baby Soft, Aqua Net and “Gravy” not Sauce.
I am from 5 kids in one room but sometimes tomatoes in the backyard.
From disfunction, adult tantrums, a lack of money
And an abundance of love.
From tight throated screaming and big belly laughs.
From Schlemiel! Schlimazel! Hasenpfeffer Incorporated!
I am from giant sunflowers reaching beyond the fence like beanstalks.
I’m from Anne and Pete, From Christmas Eve parties for Gina and Jesus. From arguing, making up & holding each other up.
I’m from Ferraros and Oliveris, from Roselle Park, NJ, Croatia and Avelino, Italy.
From church singing, Father Loreti and peace be with you.
I’m from homemade sausage and macaroni on Sundays.
From the time a letter reached me at my Westminster Choir College mailbox from my 10 year old brother, Matthew that said,
“How are you? I am thinking of you.”
I am from sacrifice. fear, math, music, broken hearts, risks
And just so much love.
Embrace where you have come from first. It is foundational to understanding what blocks your path. When triggers come up, you can bow to them and say, “I have a new way. Thanks.” Sometimes it will work and sometimes it won’t and that’s ok! You will be more aware and able to take the next step.
As I have listened deeper, I encourage you to listen deeper. Sit and listen. Ask yourself, What do you want? What is your inner voice telling you? Listen to that faint whisper as it gets louder and louder. In challenging times, touch back on this deepest intention, deepest desire as you remind yourself that You are that. Tat Tvam Asi.
Another wonderful practice to embrace your warrior voice is to repeat the seed syllable for Durga which is Dum! Repeat it aloud, whispered and then silently for 5-10 minutes daily or whenever you feel the need to reach down deep to find the courage to speak your truth.
Or use her full mantra:
Om Dum Durgayai Namaha
I bow down to the warrior goddess within me that sits with my pain and comes through with a roar!