Welcome!

Welcome to the Blog for Behind the Yoga & The Metta Center!

John & Lise are sharing this blog page and will post current events and news for both entities.

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Click HERE if you would like to find out more about The Metta Center.

From John:

“ Behind the Yoga,” is an online community which engages how Yoga addresses issues in our day-to-day lives.

Most yoga teachers take the scientific direction which is fascinating, but I take a liberal arts approach mainly because I have that background, studying religion and philosophy in college and being one of many seminarian drop outs.

My hope is that you will find this an open and safe place to engage in stimulating and respectful discussion about how to live the Yogic lifestyle in the midst of our hurried lives. My recent studies have been the Yama/Niyama or what many call the ethics of Yoga. Some people call them “do’s and don’t’s.” I don’t. I see them as yogas, practices to take on; to explore and question.

From time to time I will write articles and present questions about our lives and about Yoga.

I hope you will explore and question with me.

A Friend’s and Colleague’s Article

A friend and colleague (yoga teacher and artist) wrote an article about me on her blog.

Please read Kit Muehlman’s “The Secret Joy of an Obscure Artist” at this link: https://www.kitmuehlman.com/secret-joy-obscure-artist/

An Exhibition of Works by John Hawkins

On January 2018,  2nd – 31st, I will show 10 Pastel works at The Letter Streets Coffeehouse, 1001 Dupont St. in Bellingham, Washington.

A Reception with the artist, that is me, will be held on Saturday, January 27th from 2 to 5 pm.

Many of you did not know I was an artist for several decades before I arrived in Bellingham. In the year 2000 I was in a show with two other artists, Greg Benson and Peter Loose. It was called “Birds of a Feather” and was held at a city museum in Athens, Georgia, The Lyndon House Art Center. It was then I stop painting.

I had a box of drawings I brought up here to Bellingham and would look at them from time to time. Then in October 2016, I started making art again first using those drawings. The work below was started in the 1990s and completed in 2016. It was the first painting I worked on after my hiatus. It is entitled “Saturn, God of Melancholy”. I am thrilled to find art again. I guess I was painting all along, in my head.

Please join us for coffee, tea, and art.

 

“It’s a Wonder Tall Trees Aren’t Falling Down” – Neil Young

The trivia questions I asked a few days ago for the June 20, 2017 Tuesday Night Yoga class to honor the Summer Solstice were related to the sun as we explored the Sun Salutations. My internet was down so it could not be answered on Tuesday night, but after yelling at it a few days I managed to get it working,

Question.1. How fast in miles per hour (mph) does the earth spin on it axis? Well the answer is a little over 1000 mph. The Earth’s circumference is about 25,000 miles, so it is close a time zone every hour in our 24 hour day.

Question 2. How fast in mph does the earth revolve around the sun? Well, that would be about 68350.83114611221 mph if my calculations are correct. You can round it up to 68,351 mph.

And finally Question 3. About how long does it take the sun to revolve around the Milky Way? Around 250 millions years! Let us have a reunion the next time around.

Now a bonus answer to a question I did not ask is “How fast is the Milky Way traveling through the Universe?” Well, the answer to that unasked question is 1.3 million miles per hour or 2.1 million km/hr! At least that how fast it feels as you stand in Tadasana (Mountain Pose). Your teacher may ask you the stand still on your two feet, but after a short while you will sway, possibly because Earth is not still. We haven’t even discuss how our breathing or our heart beating affects our stillness.

Until next week. Enjoy your summer.

 

The Metta Center Newsletter Sept. 2014

The Metta Center (of Yoga & Healing Arts)

Grand Re-Opening

Thursday, September 25, 2014

6-9 PM

 

Enjoy beverages, finger foods, the musical Harp stylings of Violet Harris,

meet our Yoga teachers and therapists & enter to win a door prize!

 

RSVPʼs are nice- but not required. We will be here ready for you!

www.themettacenter.org  www.facebook.com/the.metta.center

www.twitter.com/themettacenter

Swarm!

 1602 Carolina Street, D12/ Bellingham, WA 98229

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Guided Partner Thai Massage Workshop- The Yoga of Touch

Lise Waugh

On Saturday, September 20 from 2: 00-6: 00 pm Lise Waugh leads her Guided Partner Thai Massage Workshop- The Yoga of Touch workshop. She guides students in a practice to give and receive with a loving touch in a gentle, non-threatening way.

Lise has been practicing Thai Yoga therapy since 2000 and through The Yoga of Touch workshops she teaches you simple techniques to share with loved ones which enhance your current tool box and expands your experience level.

Anyone who has experienced one of Lise’s workshops knows that she presents a thorough teaching which changes with every presentation.

Come with a friend or come alone and meet a friend. A steal at $20.00.

Guided Partner Thai Massage Workshop- The Yoga of Touch

September 20th from 2:00-6:00 pm

Only  $20 per person

Wear comfortable, loose fitting clothing

RSVP info@themettacenter.org

 

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New Class, New Teacher!

Hatha Flow

Carmen Winquist

 The Metta Center is happy to announce a new class with a new teacher. Starting 9am Wednesdays Carmen Winquist presents her “Hatha Flow” a class based in traditional Hatha yoga presented in dynamic, flowing sequences mixed with longer holds of the postures

Carmen’s classes focuses on proper body mechanics in a healing environment centered on honoring each student. These asanas, combined with breath work (pranayama) promote a healthy body, mental clarity, and harmony within your whole being.

Carmen designs each class on the needs of the group; All are welcome in this Multi-Level class.

Hatha Flow

Carmen Winquist

Wednesdays, 8:30 am to 10:00 am

Wear comfortable, loose fitting clothing

RSVP info@themettacenter.org

 

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Stand

Rev. John Hawkins

Saturday, October 11; 1:00 pm -3:30 pm

 

Rev. John Hawkins presents the workshop “Stand” celebrating our bipedal disposition and emphasizing the importance of grounding. “Stand” explores the unique behavior humans place on standing on two feet. How did we get here and how did it free us?

We explore balancing asanas and warriors poses. How do these asanas apply to our daily lives? How can they teach us to face the hard issues of today?

Join John and discover how Standing asanas can benefit you.

 

 Stand

Rev. John Hawkins

Saturday, October 11; 1:00 pm – 3:30 pm

Wear comfortable, loose fitting clothing

RSVP info@themettacenter.org

Call 360-820-1277 for details.

 

 

 

Santosha and Original Sin

“Oh that this too too sullied flesh would melt,

Thaw and resolve into a dew.”

                                     [Hamlet I ii 129 – 130]

Since Shakespeare placed those words in Hamlet’s doleful mouth the view of the flesh has changed, … but not as much as we like to think. Many times in a Hatha Yoga asana we may wish that not only flesh, but bones and ligaments would melt into a sweet dew as we push, relax and wish ourselves into the postures. Hidden in our efforts resides the belief in just how tarnished we think the flesh is. Many of us who practice Yoga believe we are here to change the body, because the body is not flexible enough, not strong enough, not quick enough, not clean enough, not pure enough, not sexy enough, not well enough, not young enough; just not enough.

A book in the “Yoga Sutras of Pantanjali” reveals a quaint little niyama (observance) called Santosha. The text reads: “santosâd anuttamaï sukha-lâbhaï” which translates as: “Contentment brings unsurpassed joy.”

Many of us in the West don’t come by contentment easily and we suffer grave difficulty in opening to unsurpassed joy. Our forever search to attain stuff is the engine driving our very active consumerism. And it is no wonder, especially coming from a western Christian background. Here and only here the strange concoction first formulated by St. Augustine of Hippo (354 – 430.) arose; Original Sin.

Karen Armstrong, author of “A History of God; the 4000- Year Quest of Judaism, Christianity and Islam” (Ballatine Books, 1993) wrote, “A deep sadness … informed Augustine’s later work; the fall of Rome influenced his doctrine of Original Sin, which would become a central way people would view the world.” According to Armstrong Rome represented law, reason and order and was dragged down by the “chaos and lawless passions” of Barbarians. “Neither Jews or Greek Orthodox Christians regarded the fall of Adam in such a catastrophic light; nor later would Muslims adopt this dark theology of Original Sin.”

Matthew Fox, an Episcopal priest, wrote in his book, “Original Blessing” (Bear and Company 1983) that when Augustine was formulating Original Sin he was translating the Christian Testament from a Latin misinterpretation of the Greek text. He wrote that “original sin became the starting point of the west’s flight from nature.”
Armstrong would agree when she wrote, “Augustine left us with a difficult heritage. A religion that teaches men and women to regard their humanity as chronically flawed can alienate them from themselves. Nowhere is this alienation more evident than in the denigration of sexuality in general and women in particular.”

It is not the job of a Yoga teacher to teach dogma, but to open one to the experience of being truly human; to help the student find that peace within themselves. We need to look closely at how a way of living from another culture may play when introduced into our own; how certain beliefs filter through our backgrounds. We also need to look into our own life-long beliefs and become aware how they affect us day to day.

The body we have with us always. We may take it for granted and we often view it as a machine. Yes, it ages and grows weary, but we should honor it as a living organism. We need to respect it for the joy it brings in sexuality, in the way it captures the cool breeze with our face or even in the way it tastes chocolate in our mouths. Honor it for how it allows us to feel sensations. Trust it for how it warns us when things go wrong.

To think of it as congenitally flawed because of a long ago break from the Divine will bring us to describe the body as sullied. Yes, Shakespeare’s words are beautiful and take us to a Divinely artistic place, but language sullies our perceptions.

Maybe when we feel our aches and notice the body does not work like it did when we were younger we can be content with the fact that at least it stills works.

 

STAND

Imagine times when our species slithered on the ground or when we crawled on all fours. What was different? We were close to the earth and more balanced. Falling was not as plentiful and with two sets of legs we could travel faster. Yet, we stood. For what reason is open to debate, but we stood. We stood on two feet and became bipedal. Some paleoanthropologists believe that it took up to six million years to rise to our own two feet and we saw great changes.

First, standing still. We stood still on both feet, an active process to keep balance as any yoga practitioner will tell you.  When we were on all fours we had easier balance. When we stood we learned to use our skeletal structure and muscles to stand still.

We walked! We place one foot in front of another with one foot always on the ground. We developed our psoas and incorporated movements from our earlier evolutionary means of locomotion to walk.

Our dominant sense switched from smell to sight. Instead of smelling what was once there we looked ahead anticipating what may be.

We changed our center of balance to a higher level so we could see at a distance, over shrubs and hills detecting prey or predator.

Our front paws morphed into hands (and thumbs) and we learn to fashion tools. Most of that was great news, although as we learned in 2001: A Space Odyssey, we also developed weapons.

Our sense of dimension changed. On all fours we had basically a top and bottom orientation, like a dog or cat. Now, as we stand upright, We have developed an orientation for top and bottom, left and right, and front and back. One can’t help but think that our mathematics may have arisen from that simple multi-million year gesture of standing on two feet. Lucky for us we developed fingers on which to count,

This evolution is still happening and our sense of the dimension is still changing. We engage more consciously the evolution of our spirituality and maybe we will reach a tipping point with more people living consciously. With hope we can shape our world more positively.

Yet, what is rarely mentioned in the discussions of evolution is probably the most important. From slithering on the ground, to crawling on all fours, to negotiating our rise to a bipedal position, we developed a disposition which ultimately makes us stronger. I refer to it in my Yoga classes when I teach tadasana (mountain pose) and virabhadrasana. (warrior pose) When we rose up onto two feet we became more vulnerable. Not only could we be pushed over easier, but our soft underbelly, once hidden and protected by the ground, became wide open, exposed to others and to the elements. And our heart is out there, front and center. It faces the future, it faces where we are going.  It faces danger. It faces joy.

My unscientific belief is that our evolution is an evolution of the heart. And the heart evolution continues.

On Saturday, October 26, I am offering Stand: A Yogic Exploration of Standing Postures. In this 2 and a half hour workshop will we will look at the standing postures that help us with our personal alignment and the benefits we gain through standing on our own two feet.

Swami Sathchidananda said, “Yoga is not just standing on your head, as many people think, but learning how to stand on your own two feet.” I will add that how we stand on the mat is how we stand in the world. Join us.

Stand: A Yogic Exploration of Standing Postures

Saturday, April  26; 10:00 am to Noon pm
The Metta Center
131 Broadway, 2B
Bellingham, WA 98225
Only $25.00
360-820-1277
(Space is limited)
 

Out of This Wood Do Not Desire to Go

When I walk the Wood I find stillness. My deep mind activates amongst the giant Doug Firs. I am not alone. I begin to see in each tree, whether evergreen or deciduous, individual shapes and particular styles of bark displayed prominently in the wood. I see moss covering the trunks and then I see bare trunks with limbs covered with moss, looking like spindles on a cotton candy machine. The stillness opens my deep mind, releasing me to listen. I still hear my shallow mind’s chatter, fighting battles long lost or preparing for disaster which never come. But I also hear the silence, a silence which pervades the very essence of existence.

These trees offer sanctuary, but it’s more than sanctuary. Their great heights create a cathedral where my thoughts rise and flitter about.. And when I encompass those thoughts with love and compassion they begin to dance around the ceiling of that natural cathedral. I sense  Oneness and heed the call from Titania in Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream: “Out of this Wood do not desire to go.”

As I walk this natural cathedral I notice its very structures cast shadows across my path. Usually, I do not see these shadows, but look straight ahead to where the path leads. However, the shadows do not go away. They are there as I walk through them.

Shadows Across my Path

Shadows Across my Path

Be Fruitful and Multiply ______?

When I was born under 3 billion people walked this earth. Now, almost 59 years later that number has soared to 7 billion plus. The first thing that comes to my mind is: well …I am among the OLDest people living on this planet, 🙂 but more importantly, I notice that the humans are the most adaptable creatures to walk the earth.

Our species have faced and overcome grave challenges. For instance, 70 thousand years ago due to severe climate change we dwindled to a mere 2000 people, bottled up in southeast Africa We almost went extinct. But we grew and migrated and quite surely we populated this world.

About a month ago, 78 thousand people applied for a one-way ticket to Mars with a Dutch company intent on settling that planet in 2023. http://nasawatch.com/archives/2013/05/people-want-to.html  So we may be fruitful and multiply Mars as well. Who knows? We may even have an interfaith minister and/or yoga teacher among that lot.

Some marvel at our ability to move out of Africa and populate an entire planet. On the other hand, some may call it an infestation; crowding out other species, causing massive extinctions and putting a grave strain on our resources.

How did this happen? Well, we have a long history and prehistory of adaptation to our environment. But there is a religious backing to this population growth. Of all the commandments, from all the scriptures, in all the world the one commandment we fulfilled beyond anyone’s dreams is found in the Jewish Bible; Genesis 1:28. “Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the earth.” What an incredible command given to Adam just after he was created. He is ordered to “be fruitful and multiply and replenish the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and every living thing that moveth upon the earth.” We INDEED have been fruitful and we INDEED have multiplied! And our numbers are still growing. This world is silly with humans! And getting sillier. We have filled the world with our species, the most adaptable apes to walk the earth; homo-sapiens. It may be wise to rename our species homo-populatus. (A word I made up) So, let us congratulate ourselves! Let us give ourselves a good pat on the back! We have indeed fulfilled this dictum.

However this verse offers an array of interpretations throughout the traditions that also populate this world. Christians claim it more generally. Raymond C. Van Leeuwen , a professor of Biblical Studies at Eastern University in Philadelphia writes in “Christianity Today” that this verse “..teaches that our sexuality can be properly fulfilled only in the secure garden of delights we call marriage .” He writes, “Outside the bounds of marriage, sex is like luscious fruit that God has said is not for us.” But he claims that “Be fruitful and multiply’ is not a command, but a blessing for “what God does for and through humankind.” http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2001/november12/4.58.html

This may be a blessing for some, but this verse has been used also to define marriage, deny birth control and prohibit women’s reproductive rights. It has also been a salvo against population control.

Yet, people are taken aback by how quickly crowded our world has become in the past 100 years. Over-population violates our stewardship of this world. The Prophet Muhammad said, “The worst problem is to possessplenty of children with inadequate means.”  http://www.overpopulation.org/religion.html He was speaking to families, for sure, but it applies to our world family, also. Yet, the Koran also has its dictum. “Procreate and abound in number.” http://contraception.about.com/od/additionalresources/ss/religion_6.htm

Religions across the world vary on their ideas concerning contraception. In Hinduism, Gandhi was against it, but, Indian philosopher, Radhakrishnan, and author, Tagore, encouraged it. The Dharma (a doctrine of moral codes for Hindus) emphasizes the need to act for the sake of the good of the world. Chinese religions emphasize the importance of balance and harmony in a society. Family planning is encouraged in both Taoism and Confucianism.

This is not an essay about birth control, but merely a look how the commandment can play differently. Couples do more than create children through the act of sexuality. They create pleasure for one another. They deepen intimacy and togetherness. Children are beautiful and offer hope for our species, yet, it is good to know there are other ways to be fruitful and multiply. I, not having children, am grateful for this. Can we be fruitful and multiply in other ways? What would happen if we are fruitful and multiply education? We can be fruitful and multiply equality, respect, diversity, hope. We can be fruitful and multiply joy, devotion, or even sweet, deep compassion for everyone despite backgrounds, beliefs, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, or gender.

We can and are commanded to be fruitful and multiply love … Think about it. Be fruitful and multiply Love … Multiply love AND fill the earth.

Now that is a commandment worth fulfilling.

Once Again, A New Page Turned

In 1976 I attended Vanderbilt Divinity School. I was lost. I had no idea about my future, but I knew my life at the time did not revolve around the church. My major of religion and philosophy at Birmingham-Southern College seemed at time a waste. Later on, I learned that there is a difference between education and training. Both are good paths to follow, but I received a very good liberal arts education at the college which provided me a joyous life of continued learning and questioning.

 Well, here it is 37 years later and on June 9 of this year I was ordained, after two years study, as an Interfaith Minister at International Seminary of Interfaith Studies. I even spoke for my class at Christ Chapel at Riverside Church in New York City. So what began in 1976 has ended, at least formally, in this my 59th year of life. Once again, a page is turned in my life. We received education about the different traditions and training on events such as how to perform weddings, memorials, rituals, spiritual counseling and the sort.

 Still, the church is not in my orbit, but I now add a new dimension to my Yoga classes. Two weeks ago mark my fifteenth year as a certified Yoga teacher. A ministerial approach has opened an exciting perspective to this mind/body experience. Also I scour the internet and news to explore how we express ourselves spiritually. This aspect of my business is a mission I call “InterSpiritual Dialogues.” More on this adventure as it reveals itself. I want to thank my friends and family for the support through this challenging process. My business partner, Lise Waugh and my students have been most helpful. Thank you.

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The Spirituality of Atheists

I am reminded of a time in the 1990s when I engineered an interview at a WUGA-FM, a public radio station in Athens, Georgia.  A professor of botany was interviewing a biologist who happen to be an atheist.  The biologist had written a few words of his spirituality but the botany professor asked him to reconcile the two positions of spirituality and atheism. He replied, “I am a biologist. I wonder. I wonder how a hawk flies. I wonder how nature works. That is my spirituality. “

My role in that interview was a silent one, making sure the audio levels were even, but my spirit soared with his response. That was a great expression of spirituality for an atheist.

This past week a bill was introduced in Congress to add atheist chaplains to our military. Democratic Rep. Robert Andrews of New Jersey who introduced the bill said that he wanted “to give atheists the same opportunity to visit with counselors and obtain the same personalized guidance as those of the faith.” http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2013/jun/6/democrats-push-create-military-chaplains-atheists-/#ixzz2WgNePtEm . Opponents said would make a mockery of military chaplains. http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2013/06/06/house-republicans-denigrate-atheist-chaplains-in-military-saying-they-would-make-a-mockery-of-the-chaplaincy/

Three Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) Radio pieces address issues that face atheists who are actually coming out as atheist. The first concerns an atheist memorial in Florida. http://www.cbc.ca/asithappens/features/2013/06/06/american-atheists-plan-a-monument-to-non-belief-in-florida/

A second story, again from the CBC radio comes from London where an Atheist Church has opened. http://www.cbc.ca/asithappens/features/2013/05/09/a-church-with-no-god/

And the third on Q, a CBC radio program, inquires about the plight of a Texan pastor turned atheist. The story begins at 3:47 into the program. Time:16:09   http://www.cbc.ca/q/popupaudio.html?clipIds=2392207644

In the middle of the last decade a few writers published accountings of their firm beliefs in atheism. British biologist, Richard Dawkins wrote “The God Delusion,” (2006) American philosopher, Sam Harris, wrote “The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason” (2004) and author and journalist, Christopher Hitchens wrote “God is Not Great; How Religion Poisons Everything” (2007). The Christian right had taken a firm foothold in American politics at that time and it comes as no surprise that a pushback would be in order.

One’s divine expression is different even among people of the same faith. Whether it is in a sense of wonder and scientific inquiry, a congregational gathering of like-minded people, a memorial to honor one’s non-belief or one’s life journey, atheism is making itself known. We still hear stories of religion’s intrusion on people’s lives in this country. Just recently Margaret Doughty, an atheist seeking U.S. citizenship, was told by an immigration authority that she must join a church or be denied citizenship, and all because she expressed her beliefs against war. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/19/margaret-doughty-atheist-citizenship_n_3469358.html?utm_hp_ref=daily-brief?utm_source=DailyBrief&utm_campaign=062013&utm_medium=email&utm_content=NewsEntry

The United States is becoming more secular as these things swing in generational cycles. Yet, it is interesting that some atheists are seeking out spiritual questioning which pop up in everyone’s life. This new to the West, but in the East we have Buddhists and some Taoists who work to attain spiritual knowledge without the help of any deity. It would be interesting to see what they discovered in their search.