Sunday, August 31, 2008

Notable Quotes: Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray

I've just finished reading the very charming, stimulating and exciting novel from Oscar Wilde and wanted to share a few quotes that resonated with me. I find it amazing how one can read a book more than once, or listen to a song twenty times and always find something new. Although I've never read this book before (and am reading it because so many kept pointing me towards it), I think the collection of quotes indicative of what stimulates me and what is happening in my mind at the moment...

"I have grown to love secrecy. It seems to be the one thing that can make modern life mysterious and marvelous to us. The commonest thing is delightful if one only hides it"

"Words! Mere words! How horrible they were! How clear, and vivid, and cruel! One could not escape from them. And yet what a subtle magic there was in them! They seemed to be able to give plastic form to formless things, and to have a music of their own as sweet as that of a viol or of lute. Mere words! was there anything so real as words?"

"I felt that this grey, monstrous London of ours, with its myriads of people, its sordid sinners, and its splendid sins, as you once phrased it, must have something in store for me. I fancied a thousand things."

"Children begin by loving their parents; as they grow older they judge them; sometimes they forgive them."

"I once wore nothing but violets all through one season, as a form of artistic mourning for a romance that would not die."

"Yet, as has been said of him before, no theory of life seemed to him to be of any importance compared with life itself. He felt keenly conscious of how barren all intellectual speculation is when separated from action and experience. He knew that the senses, no less than the soul, have their spiritual mysteries to reveal."

"But youth smiles without reason. It is one of its chiefest charms."

"The tragedy of old age is not that one is old, but that one is young."

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Your Energy, Your Body, Your Practice

I've been doing a lot of yoga lately. Ever since I went to that ashram I've had a renewed dedication to trying new classes, stretching my limits and expanding my mind. These days, I have to admit all I do is work and yoga. Even so, I'm not complaining, I find that even though my social life isn't off the wire, I've got an incredibly multidimentional life going into work and practicing yoga. I've started discovering that I have a fascination with the relationship of man-nature through architecture/planning and that yoga is an incredibly important in my life. As for architecture, even though my dad has been an architect longer than I have been alive, it is only this summer that I've started to really delve into the field of study/practice and see how much varied potential there is in it; I've heard the different opinions of various visiting scholars at the Canadian Centre for Architecture as well as seen the essays and articles and books they want me to find (sometimes holding onto the book or making an extra copy for myself). I've started learning that every moment of the day has potential for new paths, new learning, new connections. Extra employment in the form of translation jobs have popped up out of nowhere and given me a nice rhythm to life.

But while I am offering a nice little digression, I really want to write about new realizations I am getting to in yoga. Sure it's cool to build strength and pull of those difficult positions I couldn't do before (I'm still working my way into the free-standing headstand). But it's cooler to grow in emotional stability, inner strength. [I keep fearing that I am going to go off the Zen end and go a little hippy, if I do, please let me know.] I've had some trouble focusing in class, always straying to what other people are doing, always worrying if my body is in the right position, if I am doing the right thing... I compared myself to others and fell into a mental block of having my mind be all over the room. Now that I think about it, it's the same for life; we constantly worry what others think and don't take the time to turn in. Call it selfish, I'd rather call it selful and absolutely necessary. I came up with the mantra today heading into yoga class: Your Energy, Your Body, Your Practice. I just focused on the breath and repeated my mantra when I felt my mind sway, worry, tense. It's funny that the mantra is in not My Energy, My Body, My Practice... somehow I am disembodied.

Leaving class today I could already feel the benefits, or foresee them. If I come to terms with the way my body works, beyond straightening my arms in warrior or always rolling down the shoulders, and see the way my practice enriches my energy, I'll then be able to turn outwards to others and make stronger connections having built a stronger foundation. For me, this revelation of a mantra that just distilled itself from my thoughts is wondrous, it feels so freakin' cool. And it's for wonderfully liberating, accepting moments like these that I am going to continue raving about the exercise because, really, it's so much more.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

What did you do Saturday?

On Sunday morning, I got up at 5.30am for a 6am silent walk up a mountain in Val Morin to take part in 6.30am prayers. By 8am I was outside on a wooden deck doing yoga for a good two hour stretch. Only at 10am did I first eat.

This past weekend I escaped Montreal to the peace and quiet of the Sivananda Ashram in Val Morin, one hour from the city. Being on edge about job decisions and the upcoming year, I decided to forego a more ambitious vacation for a peaceful staycation. I went up North for 2 days for yoga, meditation, prayer and wonderful fresh air. While I did pay to wake up at 5.30am each day and do one hour of Karma yoga (some sort of chore around the Ashram), I must say that I enjoyed the focus and healthy energy that runs through the place.

I was a bit apprehensive on day one. The early morning wakeup call was no problem and the half hour of silent meditation was a challenge. But I was put off by the chanting and the intense breathwork that was part of the routine, activities which I haven't practiced diligently. But I acknowledged the fact that I was resisting and tried to go with it. By the next day I wasn't questioning as much and I was definitely getting more involved in the rhythm of the ashram (although I had to leave that day).

I've come back to Montreal with a much more positive outlook on life and a renewed dedication to my practice. Today, for no reason, I woke up at 6.30am refreshed and ready to go. I keep having dreams about looking at the clock and seeing the time I should be getting up and awakening in reality only to realize it is way early. I also have dreams of planes landing on beaches and highways before the final destination.

I realize more and more that this is a time of transition, and that can be difficult. At the same time though, my attitude needs to be positive, it needs to take each day and moment for what it is right now. Positive energy needs to constantly be flowing, because you never know when opportunities will arise, you never know when a new path will open up. But thanks to two 5.30am wakeup calls, a lot of prayer, a lot of meditation, and a ton of yoga, I'm now quite open to possibility...

Monday, August 11, 2008

Leverett of Yore

I was doing my thing, finding articles at yet another Montreal library, when I stumbled across a Yale-Harvard Game spread. I flipped back and saw that it was also a little photo reportage on Harvard itself. And then, on the righthand page I saw LEVERETT HOUSE... And there was a nice little description of my House back in 1932 in Fortune Magazine. So, I thought I would share.