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Tortoise Imprint

Jane’s Carousel, Brooklyn, NY

The tantric practice of mudra is the art of imprinting. The world is always making impressions on us. We are imprinted (assaulted?) with a constant stream of images, attitudes and beliefs every day, every hour. Every New York minute can be a stimulating barrage of input. How do we slow this down and learn to receive what is valuable? For the tantric yogi, the art of mudra is one such technology.

The past week or so has left quite a mark on NYC. Some of us met with chaos at our polling sites yesterday, some of us (me) were in and out in less than 5 minutes. Sandy blew in and we all felt her impact. Mother nature has reminded us once again that nothing lasts forever. Walking the streets of downtown Manhattan last week I felt really vulnerable. This great city of ours – it seems so solid and permanent – could all disappear in an instant.

The rhythm of daily life has shifted for so many of us since the storm. Time itself is still moving in strange circles. The boundaries of time are less sharply defined. I depart earlier than ever to ride the buses and subways but I continue to arrive late to my destination. There’s a kind of relaxed mood about it though. Clearly we have all been counting our blessings. And now a nor’easter is coming to remind us to stay home yet again.

There’s no place like home. I feel that more than ever as I see images of my fellow New Yorkers whose homes have been destroyed. It’s pure anguish, seeing these pictures, hearing the stories of neighborhoods and lives ravaged. And yet how many times have I seen images like this in my lifetime? More than I can count. They are also so familiar as to be tedious.  It’s a strange mix of feelings to hold.

And I actually had a super sweet week in the aftermath of the storm. My son was off school, we had friends from downtown living with us – and it was a most jovial time cooking tasty food, building legos and marble ball tracks (Uncle Harrison taught us some epic new tricks) and savoring wonderful company. And trick or treating. At the same time as counting my blessings I was ravaged emotionally by images and stories of loss and destruction, guilty that I was not doing more to help, and anxious for the future. Again, how to hold this complexity?

The tantric imagination looks to the image of the tortoise for inspiration. A wise and ancient being – they live a long, long time and have seen it all, the tortoise takes her time and is always at home, wherever she is. Some might argue that the turtle withdrawn into her shell is hiding. The tantrica says not so, rather she is drawn into worlds of infinite possibility. It’s just like a seated yogi who closes her eyes to meditate, not to withdraw from the world but to find a home at the heart of the worlds inside.

Try this simple grounding practice of mudra. It’s called tortoise mudra, or kurma mudra. It helps me get centered before I meditate, and it’s also a piece of tantric technology that works on lots of levels as you begin to make it your own. It makes an imprint. (And you wanna be the one making imprints in your life, otherwise the world will do that for you.)

Place one palm on top of the back of the other hand. It doesn’t matter which one goes on top, go with what feels good to you. Your four main fingers are touching, thumbs splayed open. It’s a turtle. See it? Relax into this gesture for a few breaths. It’s really grounding. And also seems to slow down time. When we open ourselves to a rhythm of repose we can receive what’s valuable. This gesture reminds us that we can learn to be at home wherever we are, and that includes all the places of difficult emotion. And for me lately, creating this mudra is an offering to my fellow New Yorkers. It’s like an antenna beaming blessings of home, warmth and love to those who need it. Join me in this practice and let me know how it feels.

Photo taken by my teacher Dr Douglas Brooks in the early 1980s in Tamil Nadu, South India. The young hands belong to his teacher Sundaramoorthy’s son, Sriram.

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Summer 2012

 

Today I saw some some more hoo-ha doom and gloom for the End of Days / Mayan prophesies 2012.

I believe Mama Earth is aligning with a cosmic cycle that’s urging us to move boldly forward in our lives, disentangled from toxic relationships that no longer serve our heart’s deepest aspirations.  I’m up for that challenge. It can feel a bit like the end of the world.  Heartache and anguish. But more so, brimming over with love.

The Wisdom of 10. A Collective to Count On.

The Goddess lineage of tantric yoga I’ve been reared in – Rajanaka Yoga – has a rich & heady complexity and also a few very basic tenets that will lead the planet on a visionary new spiritual path in the Age of Aquarius. That’s why I’m leading a new course at Yoga Teacher Academy on the Dasamahavidya, the 10 Great Widom Goddesses. If you want to evolve and heal with the planet, I’d love to have you in our constellation of seekers.

Ours is a GODDESS tradition. Can we please turn over the running of the world to Mothers and Grandmothers ASAP? It’s coming. Little by little. Stats show that among dual household incomes in the US, women are bringing in more dough. The Green Movement is obviously all about Mother Nature. The narcissism of patriarchal conquer/colonize/conquest consciousness is blowing up and dissolving at every turn.  Some people are freaking out about that. To them I say, time to catch up. A shared, collective, speedy and sometimes gossipy information flow is beginning to dominate the world. Hi Mark Zuckerberg!

In a goddess tradition, empowerment is self-realized as much as it is a collective endeavor. The Age of the Guru is over. That singular being who’s come to save our sorry asses has been exposed as a fraud in virtually all areas of contemporary life: witness the Penn State Coaching scandal, endless financial meltdowns on Wall Street or the radical blowup of my own tradition of Anusara Yoga. (A very happily ex-Certified teacher, I am loving watching the bold moves of my colleagues who are willing to be brave in their own power and in extraordinary new collections of connectivity. I’m grateful to have taught for 10 years at Vira in NYC, a studio named by Elena Brower to be an abode for the courage one’s heart’s commitment.)

The Goddess traditions provide visionary technology to awaken, provoke and inspire us. From the inside out. We need to do this well and better in 2012 and beyond. A new student recently shared with me that she’s been attending the same teacher’s class for years and years. And years. And she said she only recently realized how dangerous it was to pin all her yoga on 1 person, that her yoga was all about her teacher and not about her. Frankly, yeah, it’s kinda silly to be so insulated on the spiritual path. We must look out into the collective of great company if we are to evolve and heal and grow.

We can do that. Profoundly. Powerfully. And there’s a set of 10 Wisdom Goddesses who are our guides. Every single person I know, including me, is at some kind of tipping point. Some very dramatic. Major life changes. Some much more subtle. Stirring beneath the surface. An undercurrent of radical change is coming for each of us. It’s 2012. End of the World! And we can plug in to a set of 10 WISE women who, collectively, stand for the totality of human possibilities. I’m not gonna be presenting this material as a sanskrit scholar.  This isn’t some ancient wisdom I’m purporting to have special access to. This course is all about right now. NOW is the time we come together to begin our study of yoga. And at the same time we will stand with the great beings who’ve come before us while designing the collective and personal dreams we crave for our future.

I’ve learned what I know about these 10 in the wisest and most brilliant of great company. And I’m eager to share it with you in such a way that you can bring this greatness forward into your everyday life, just as I have done. We can count on these powerful energies to support, uplift, churn, transform, inspire and expand us.

You don’t need a guru to teach you the secrets of these sublime wisdoms. And while you can find a ton about them in books and online, there’s nothing sweeter than the transmission of an oral lineage. You and I need a collective, dynamic community in which to open their resonance as our own. I’m gonna facilitate that in this course. You should join me.

And I don’t know what will happen when we do this! I don’t have all the answers already. But I am boldly, bravely willing to enter the darkness in the company of these 10 Great Ladies with you. Together we will make magic. I’ve been working with their resonance for a long time. They have nourished and protected me like no others. I have confidence in them and their evocative charms. Cue Willy Wonka.

Come with me
And you’ll be
In a world of
Pure imagination
Take a look
And you’ll see
Into your imagination

We’ll begin
With a spin
Traveling in
The world of my creation
What we’ll see
Will defy
Explanation…

There is no
Life I know
To compare with
Pure imagination
Living there
You’ll be free
If you truly
Wish to be

Sign up for the course at no obligation. Listen to my free preview call. I’ll see you on the Digital Cloud.

“never without duality”

The Art of Shiva. And My Decade as a WASH.

Upon checking my email during a welcome pause (art overload!) halfway through the epic show at the Met “Wonder of the Age: Master Painters of India, 1100 – 1900” I learned from my friend Susannah that this week marked 10 years of dedicated study with our favorite teacher of tantric yoga, Douglas Brooks. She reflected on it so beautifully. Thank goodness I have clever women in my life reminding me of important anniversaries. Do my wife and I count our elopement in Las Vegas at a drive-thru wedding chapel – or the private ceremony officiated by Douglas a few weeks later – as our wedding anniversary? Lucky for me it’s NEVER NOT a question. (That is to say… Always.) And so I start to pay attention to the dates well in advance.

Now this show at the Met was huge. And the works of art small. Any show where you get a magnifying glass with the audio tour is gonna be a compelling commitment. Towards the end of my experience it was all starting to wear on me. Another vision of Vishnu. Ho hum.

Then in one of the last galleries I saw the image above, “Shiva Descending Mount Kailash.” ca. 1800, attributed to Khushala. Shazaam. Wide awake. Mesmerized. Drawn in to this miniature world in ways that I hadn’t yet experienced with any other piece in the exhibit. The artist is from a long family line of great painters. His generation captured “masterly detail, dreamy lyricism and raw emotion” better than anyone according to the gallery guide.

Who are these strange celestial beings leading the way? Half men, half beast. Seeing them in person, they literally seemed to sing from the canvas. Actually, I did hear singing. Another moment of unexpected and wonderful insanity in the life of a yogi. Dreamlike lyricism indeed!

Thus enraptured, I observed Shiva, here as a very pale, ethereal and tender fellow. And I realized that this is a night scene. Forget Radha and Krishna in the luscious flowered forests by day, this couple clearly create magic by moonlight. Though impossible to see in this small image I lifted from the Met website, Parvati is done up in fine, luxurious detail: makeup, nail polish, furs. The fetching little leopard skin hat with orange tassels reminded me of the well-groomed ladies in head to toe mink one sees on the crosstown bus along 57th street in the winter here in New York City.  Here is a lady who belongs in fur pelts as her birthright.

They just look so comfortable in their roles, leading a motley caravan of strange and extraordinary beings down the mountain. Though the central and largest figure is a man honoring them with a humble bow to their feet, the experience of seeing this picture live doesn’t create any clear focus on him. It’s almost instead like he’s a quiet void in the middle of the work. The artist is saying, sure, you can do that (Shiva and Parvati’s expression toward him are more bemused than anything) but truly, it’s more fun to participate in this circus with eyes wide open. I for one wanted to get into the conga line in the foreground.

If YOU want to join the conga line with me, and enter a richly beautiful lineage of yoga, join me for my Tantric Yoga Vision Quest. We’re gonna have an amazing time. The gods of yoga welcome you to see all the world as art when you learn to see the world through their eyes.

PS – A WASH is a White Anglo Saxon Hindu. “We’re a happy little cult.”

Mor Mor’s SECRET Pepparkakor Recipe

My great-grandma arrived to the States when she was about 18. I remember interviewing her during the centennial celebration for the Statue of Liberty in the late 80s. The media at the time was brimming over with sentimental hoopla, and I thought I could channel Barbara Walters and get her to cry during my own VHS camcorder moment.

Me: “Mummo (a version of great gram invented by an older cousin) what did you feel when you came into New York Harbor and saw the Statue of Liberty when you immigrated to the US?”

Mummo: “Not much. I was only interested in seeing American boys.”

Classic. My great gram Ellen Nordin was not only a maneater, but also an AMAZING baker. She died at age 98. From what I can tell, Swedish cookies and a gin martini every night before dinner were the keys to her longevity. Here’s her secret recipe for Pepparkakor.

In my Tantric lineage called Rajanaka Yoga we like to say, “Secrets are only as good as they are shared.” In fact, the shareability is what MAKES a secret a secret. So enjoy. And oh yeah, Ikea, eat your heart out.

Ellen Nordin’s Secret Pepparkakor Recipe

1 c butter

3/4 c dark brown sugar

3/4 c white sugar

1 egg

2 T dark corn syrup

1 T water

3 1/4 c flour

2 t baking soda

2 t ground cardamom

2 t ground clove

2 t ground ginger

3 t ground cinnamon

1 1/2 T fresh grated orange zest

Cream sugar & butter

Beat in egg til fluffy

Stir in orange peel, syrup & water

Combine dry ingredients in bowl and stir in gradually

Refridgerate overnight

Roll out dough to about 1/4″ thick. Use SMALL cookie cutters, not more than 2″ diameter. The SECRET to amazing Swedish cookies of any kind is that they’re SMALL. Pop in your mouth in 1 bite. 2 max. The store bought kind are like doorknob sized. No. No. No. Don’t do it.

Bake 350 degrees F for 10 – 15 minutes. They should be crispy, not chewy, when cool. It’s a fine line to burnt. Careful.

I love these especially with my morning coffee. Their subtle flavor hits you after a 2 second pause…

…and it’s WONDROUS.

Santaland Diaries

My first job in New York City was at Macy’s. That was 1997.  I had just moved here. A good friend of mine from college was working in HR. She got me placed at the Chanel counter. I made more money in that 8 week stint than I ever have in a 2 month period before or since. Thousands of little old ladies fresh off the tour bus bought their No. 5 from me and I made a 20% commission. If I can make it here, I’ll make it anywhere.

Our Chanel district manager would sweep in every few days in yet another full length fur. I don’t remember her name, something Eastern European, but she made an enduring impression. She was 5 feet tall. And the most perfectly groomed human I’d ever met. In a cloud of perfume, flawless makeup and a french twist she’d inspect my fingernails. “A gentleman who sells Chanel must never bite his nails.” And I never did again. Another bonus of that job: I know my way around the World’s Largest Store like the back of my hand. I know where the hidden express elevators are. And more importantly, I know the location of the cleanest, untrafficked toilets.

Since Jasper was born, we’ve been taking him to Macy’s Santaland on the 8th floor every year. The photo above comes from 2008, the year Obama took the White House. And the year we saw black Santa. Amazing.

My 3 year old became obsessed with Tim Burton’s Nightmare Before Christmas. I know some 9 year olds who can’t even watch that film. Too scary. But, like his Papa, Jasper admires the strange and creepy. To date, his favorite ornaments for our Christmas tree are from that film. I’m pretty sure his repeated viewings inspired the cute little skull and crossbones cardigan he was wearing in 2009. We liked it so much apparently that he wore it again in 2010.

Over the course of my evolving life as a yogi and WASH  (White Anglo Saxon Hindu) I’ve come to appreciate, to reconcile and to reimagine a great number of my socio-religious customs. Especially at those places where spirituality and family traditions cross. To be a Tantrica is to take the best of what’s come before and to weave it into the fabric of one’s body, heart and mind: Tan (to extend) tra (to cross)

Since Santa Claus is a manifest form of prosperity and magic, I’ve made it my own new tradition and practice to give him, every year, a letter. In this letter I write down all of the things, people, experiences I’ve been grateful for that year. He always slips it in his boot and tells me he’ll take a look at it later. Anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours later, I get a huge hit of bliss. And I know, Santa has read my letter. Try it. You’ll like it.

Happy Solstice 2011!

TANTRIC YOGA VISIONQUEST

I just got off the phone with Tal Rachleff with a free preview of the VISIONQUEST I’m offering in 2012. You can listen to the download of our conversation anytime. I hope it enriches your interest in yoga. And we’re offering a special holiday discount on continued studies with me in 2012. Perhaps Santa will give you the gift of Tantra??

TANTRIC YOGA VISIONQUEST:

Embolden 2012 · Enrich your life · Encounter the gods

A Rajanaka Yoga Telecourse Series with Eric Stoneberg

Whether you are a yoga teacher or an inquisitive seeker, this course will arouse your curiosity and refine your knowledge by creating a valuable connection to a living, breathing and ever-evolving lineage of Tantric Yoga. You’ll discover how Tantra relates to you, your life experience, your choices and your story. You’ll enter into a very special conversation with other seekers who, like you, yearn to cultivate their gifts for a more fulfilling life. A course for Aquarian Age yogis who long for valuable contemplations and a more prosperous world, Eric will lead a lively discussion plus share visionary meditative technology each week to draw you into your heart’s creativity. No previous experience is expected or required. All you need is an open mind and a willing heart.

REGISTER HERE

 

PART ONE

Telling Secrets: Goddess Wisdom

January 16, 23, 30

7p – 8.30p EST

Lalita Tripura Sundari (She Who is Lovely in Three Worlds) and Akhilandeshwari (She Who is Never Not Broken) are breathtaking energies of the Divine Feminine who invite us to receive the challenges of the modern world as a radical opportunity. So instead of lamenting our rapidly expanding universe, we wear complexity as a playful adornment. Receptive and generative, these great Goddesses are none other than you.

PART TWO

Desire at Your Door: Ganesha

February 13, 20, 27

7p – 8.30p EST

While Ganesh is known by sight to almost every human on the planet, it is the adventurous and curious yogi who seeks to recognize why he’s called everything from the Giver of Gifts to the Lord of the Mob. We will cross the threshold of the great Elephant-headed yogi to meet and revel in his power as he invites us – with lightness and compassion – to savor the depth of our humanity.

 

PART THREE

Subversive Activities: Subrahmanya

March 12, 19, 26

7p – 8.30p EST

Hidden deep in south India lurks a little known character that takes his seat on the back of a peacock and commands a Celestial Army. A shaman Prince among the gods, Subrahmanya is the son of Shiva… his father’s only teacher. To align with his resonance is to manifest wonder and vibrancy into your life in ways that eclipse ordinary expectations.

There’s more!

Participants who register for all three sessions will receive the special gift of a recording of Eric’s Master Class on the topic of Saptatandava, the Seven Dances of Nataraja, recorded live in New York City at Laughing Lotus Yoga Center. The Saptatandava is a secret and profound vision of Nataraja, the Dancing Lord of Yoga, distinctive to his lineage of Rajanaka Tantra.

REGISTER HERE

Testimonials

Eric Stoneberg’s studies of yoga have run deep for a very long time now. His is a voice filled with the empowerments of experience, serious practice, and the commitment to understanding the great traditions in all their complexity.  Eric brings Tantric teachings home. He has taken matters to heart and he can express himself with clarity, depth, and personal insight.  Time spent studying with Eric is that rarest of commodities: great company, worth the effort, and an experience of value that is well more than its cost.  He is a gift of Rajanaka Yoga’s legacy, a soul willing to bare himself to share values of good conversation. Here is the invitation: be not afraid of greatness: some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them.

Douglas Brooks, founder of Srividyalaya

What I love most about Eric’s classes: he seamlessly weaves together myth, practicality and pure ritual, passing the teachings from his own deepest Heart, directly into ours.

Elena Brower, founder of Virayoga NYC

I have been studying Tantric philosophy with Eric Stoneberg for two years. The teachings and mantra meditation practices we are learning have opened many doors for me, bringing more richness, expansion and clarity into my life.  I am very grateful to have found a teacher like Eric.  He brings directness and authenticity to what could feel like out-of-reach, esoteric teachings.  I marvel at how he is able to preserve this lineage in all its beauty, power and mystery while his humor and ease keeps his students grounded and the teachings practical and approachable.

Anita K, New York City

Eric is an inspiring, creative and consummate storyteller. My life has been enriched and profoundly touched by these teachings, and I am so grateful to Eric for these transforming gifts.

Maria K, New York City