His holiness the Dalai Lama visited Chicago a few days ago and I was excited to see him! I bought tickets before they went on general sale via a pre-sale email I was lucky to receive. I've been planning to see His Holiness for months, maybe my whole life.
My good friend Abby Factor and I attended, waiting in the bright sun with other neat people. At the front of the line, there were protesters from China carrying signs that said, "Practice Violence Through Meditation" and, as you see above, "Dalai Liar!". When I asked why they were protested, they preferred not to answer in depth, or at all.
The protesters were college aged looking Chinese nationalists who finally offered that the reason they were protesting the Dalai Lama was because "...there is no Tibet. Tibet is part of China. The Dalai Lama can't lead Tibet because Tibet is China." English was clearly a 2nd language for this group, who were actually protesting half assed. They lamely carried a few signs over head for a few minutes and chain smoked before they were forced to move across the street, where they continued to smoke and hold just a few signs overhead. Hmmm. It's great living in a country where people are welcome to protest and speak their minds. I'm not sure they'd be able to protest like that in China...! Ah, the irony.
When His Holiness walked on stage, the first thing he did was look straight down into a tall floor lamp next to his chair to see what it was. Charming! So in the moment. His Holiness spoke for a long time. He was charming, witty, and full of joy. The kindness of his face radiated through the digital media of the jumbotron screen.
It was unfortunate how bad the audio was. We literally could not hear what he said. People left early, many people complained to the UIC Pavilion staff, and we snuck downstairs from our 2nd floor balcony seats where it was impossible to make out anything he said. We did manage to catch a joke or two sitting on the steps of the first floor balcony, though.
In the end, it didn't matter that we couldn't hear him. The protesters and the terrible audio quality were transcendental elements to the reality of His Holiness. We were in the presence of a great spiritual leader. I, and others open to receiving his prana (energy), felt his vibrations from far across the pavilion, even though we couldn't hear him.
The challenges of disappointment and frustration from the bad quality of this event are all lessons about choosing how to react to a situation. I chose to relax, roll with the punches and enjoy His Holiness' smile and laughter. I'm still excited about haven been around him, still tingling, and still choosing not to be frustrated. Thank you, sir! You're not a liar. At all.
Today is a very auspicious day, Guru Purnima. It's the full moon in July and a day where we honor our spiritual teachers, including our internal teachers.
Thank you, Rod Stryker, for your practical and spiritual guidance. You have the right amount of oomph to inspire me to continue my studies and enough understanding and compassion to make me feel comforted and not judged.
Through your guidance and inspiration, I am becoming the person I should be. A person who honors and respects the divine spark of life inside of me, who is filled with gratitude and joy, and who wants to help others become the persons they should be.
Gush, gush, gush...so much to be grateful for. I could write for so long. Words really can't express the love and thanks in my heart for my all my teachers, from my family to my cat to my guru to you. Deepest, deepest thanks.
Tuesdays & Thursdays 10-11am
This beginner's yoga class is for rockers, artists, thinkers, funky people, and for those who don't feel comfortable trying yoga in a yoga studio. You know who you are! Rally your non-traditional self around the ancient tradition of yoga to do the most radical thing possible: become the best person you can be and truly get to know yourself. While you're at it, get some exercise, reduce stress and detox. Quiet the mental chatter to let the best misfit you are shine through. Experience not necessary. Open mind mandatory.
Flat Iron Building
1565 N Milwaukee Avenue
$10 cash Some props there, but bring your mat Arrive at least 5 minutes early
..this is FINALLY happening! i've been excited to start this class for so long, and it begins next week, i'm thrilled. hang in there with me, summer loving radical yoga people. let's start this class strongly! thanks!
I visited Toronto for July 4th weekend and wanted to take a picture of where I practiced yoga every day. I forgot the snap the shot, but picture this: My friend, Trey, lives in a 400 square foot apartment with the loveliest little back porch. Cozy, and just big enough to fit my travel yoga mat, his two chairs and a tiny table. I swept the cement ground, moved his furniture, laid out my mat and was able to practice this way. Some practices were shorter than others, but it was so important to keep consistent with my practice, that I either woke up early or slipped out to the porch during the afternoon to get a practice in.
The practical part of this was that I traveled by train and bus from Chicago to Toronto, and keeping limber really helped with cramped "sleeping" arrangements.
The energetic part was to keep my head even keeled while I was in a new environment. Geesh, can I be a bear to travel with, sometimes. I control, I get hot headed, I want to do the things that I want to do, darnit. Yoga yoga yoga sure does take the edge off of traveling for me and my travel mates. Believe me, we all benefit when I'm doing yoga regularly!
The fun part of my practice was trying to figure out which direction North was. I was turned around a bit and don't think I did too much "damage" not facing North while I meditated (South is not a good direction to face while practicing, sources say). At any rate, I justified packing my yoga mat with me in order to keep regular.
By the way, there's a popular yoga studio in Toronto called, "Down Dog" and even though many people told me to practice there, I didn't connect to any teacher's bios that I read. My practice is to the point that it's better if I practice alone over practicing for 60 minutes or more in a class that will whack out my energy. So not worth it! I'm sure I would have found a teacher/class that I'd gel with but upon initial research, there was too much vinyasa/power yoga action for me. All the more reason to have the discipline to practice alone on a teeny back porch in downtown Toronto.
(Lovely town, by the way. Highly recommended!)
Mia Park is a ParaYoga teacher in Chicago, IL, specializing in teaching Basic Yoga for Advanced Misfits, as well as teaching people how to cut through the junk to shine on.