waking up

The alarm clock is a weird thing. It sends a signal, most often loud and unwelcome, that jars the body into a state of being it is not necessarily looking to be in. The shift from sleep into wakefulness is profound I think, and one we don’t often investigate. When I go to sleep, I try to imagine what I will need to make that shift with as little disturbance to my psyche as possible. Sometimes though I turn off phones and turn on humidifiers, the disturbance cannot be avoided- like on the mornings when I my husband’s trusted white alarm clock from college independently decides to move its dial from our classical station to an in between station, a mixture of  Spanish news casting and static. The volume too changes, and this loud, crazy loud, noise breaks through the delicate walls of my fairy tale dreams.

Sometimes these jolts into the day make me sad, or leave me feeling a sort of woe is me quality, as if the quality of my life is impossible and isolating. In those mornings, even in the rush of lunch preparations or lost shoes or auditions, I now try to get into the warm sun, if even for a moment. The calm nourishment that warms me also connects me to all things, wild and tame, of my world and beyond. We are all being jarred in some way from state to state to state in this daily life of ours. I feel grateful to put down the potential weapons of my smaller view as I gain this wider perspective.

Here’s to hoping I will see you all in the coming weeks. Our schedule is in tact, as far as I can see, no more holidays in sight for some time, so come, find transition time with us, from one state to your mat and back in again. I will be here.

MONDAYS     8:30 (NOTE NEW START TIME)

TUESDAYS    9:00

THURSDAYS 8:30

All classes right no at Temple Emanuel, 300 N. Clark Drive.

In peace,

Michelle

toolbox

I was dying for candy. I finished an audition, and felt that open wound feeling- the one that begs to be filled by something sweet. I used to indulge this avoidance technique on a regular basis. In truth, there is nothing really wrong with a bit of a something to soften the oddness of what we as humans do when we show our wares and then have to put them away.

But today, I turned my car home, and sat. I put on my timer, nothing exceedingly long, just a short 15 minutes, propped myself up in a chair knowing that I might need a little extra support, and sat. I sat and watched and listened. My breath quiet and my mind loud. It looked to me like the printouts of telegraphy, the morse code in the movies about war time- jagged and changing and impossible to understand at first glance. I smiled and acknowledged the fight or flight feeling I was stuck in, and immediately the pulsating edges began to look more fluid, rounded and not rigid.

The meditation was not terribly deep, but I was deeply grateful for utilizing this newly resurrected tool in my tool box. We all have the ability to take ourselves from one state of mind to another, from a perception of our reality that might not be serving us to another state, that might not seem dramatic at first, but will ultimately bring less suffering.

As I get up to continue my day, I still have the want, but the vibration of my mind’s overly attached connection to this outcome has died down. From here, I can now make choices that are more my own. I can get the candy or not, but it will be MY hand that takes it into my mouth and not the habituated hand guided by emotion. Check your tool box this week maybe. See what wonders you might just have inside it that need some polishing off, and then… who knows where they can lead you.

MANY  changes to our schedule for the next couple weeks as we move toward Passover, and as I move closer toward the opening of the new play I am grateful to be doing. First, TONIGHT AT TEMPLE EMANUEL: OM SHALOM YOGA
Om Shalom
Friday, March 27
8:00 pm
Bess P. Maltz Center A 
a very cool, transformative Shabbat yoga practice led by Zach Lodmer. Definitely worth a try!

THEN…

MONDAY 3/30     NO CLASS

TUESDAY 3/31     9am

THURSDAY 4/1-  NO CLASS

week of 4/6 most likely as scheduled, but with the Monday will be at 8:30 not 8:15

thank you for your continued practices,

Michelle

 

traffic un-jam

One of my students asked me today was it worth it. No, not the yoga practice, the driving. She was referring to the new play I am doing at the Boston Court Theatre in Pasadena. Pasadena is one of those places in the Los Angeles area that I never understand how to get to, never understand how to get home from, and in which magic always seems to take place.

My student’s question was one to which I barely paused. “Absolutely,” I answered. There is no doubt in my mind. The morning fatigue is intense, and the meanderings amongst streets and freeways and sights as I bravely try to negotiate the directional calls simultaneously chirped out by WAZE and my Siri’s regular navigation system are really giving my irrational fear of maps and new routes a daily workout. But as I sit in this lovely room with my new and temporary little family, I can feel that holiness take over. The holy and whole-ly feeling you get when you are feeding your insides. Dissection of character and script, playing with others and bringing words from page into body in order to send them out with meaning for others to hear and learn from just  cannot be restricted because of a little (or long!) thing like traffic.

Our practices will, for the most part, remain the same, at least until the beginning of April. I remain ever grateful that you choose to spend your mornings with me.

In peace,

Michelle

@Temple Emanuel of Beverly Hills

MONDAY       8:15 am

TUESDAY       9:00 am

THURSDAY  8:30 am

mecca

I have found mecca. The fountain of youth. The happiest place on earth. It’s just minutes from my house and not nearly as expensive as Disneyland. It’s the Number One Mailbox place on the corner of La Peer and Olympic in Beverly Hills.

I was trying to be a good mom on a bad day, so I set out to finally return the greatly anticipated new backpack that sadly did not work as planned. I don’t often frequent mailbox places. Rather when I need to engage in mail activities I choose the route of the martyr, standing in line with the masses at the local post office with others whose bad mood might match my own. But I was trying to treat myself more kindly that day, and had splurged on a nearly five dollar latte when I noticed the possibility to get that hateful returning-by-mail errand out of the way with one less movement of my car.

One person stood in front of me. She was opening a big box and was offering some of its contents to Michael, the store owner. Seems she gets this box monthly, some kind of health box, and I was reminded we are in Beverly Hills after all. She didn’t like the protein flavor of the month and was sure her kids would not want the trail mix. Michael was happy to take these items off her hands. He was a fresh faced, smiling kind of guy. A calm, surfer dude blend of office effieicney Michael interacted with all his customers, knowing their names, their dogs names, and sometimes even their kids. They knew him too, and asked after his parents with whom he apparently resides. There was much light hearted yet genuine banter as some entrusted him with deeply personal items.

I loved it. I wanted to be part of this easy looking interchange. I noticed a bit of birthday cake on his desk and asked if he was celebrating a new year. He explained that a customer (I think he called her client) had brought it to share. Seems she is  an older woman, a former Broadway dancer, living here with no friends or family, and brought her birthday cake over to the store to share with Michael and some other shop owners in the strip mall. That clinched it for me.  This little pocket of the world truly was the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. This could have been a super sad state of affairs to hear about, but nope, not here. Not at the Number One Mailbox place. It was just sort of a lovely little piece of this woman’s reality that was warmly accepted and reciprocated by the realities of these other humans with whom she interacts on a daily basis.

Maybe you had to be there. But it stuck with me, this little slowed down quiet moment in time. We all talked further about what makes a community for a moment, the elected version of family. Then Michael gave me the CD his band just finished, and I gave him my yoga teacher’s card for his retired dancer friend.

These people, this spot, secured my connection to the world around me on a day that I was not at all sure of my footing. I know well the benefits of being alone, but I know too the suffering that can come from feeling isolated. May we we all find the courage on those days to look out and up and around you as you might be hit with unexpected enjoyment. The truth is, I will not likely go back to this particular Mailbox place. Sweet as Michael was, he sweetly sent my package to the wrong place. But who am I to judge. He was too buys smiling and exchanging his kindness with me to fuss over the details of the actual work. I am ever grateful his accidental teaching.

 

Please come share in our community this week! Many BONUS practices available in addition to our regular schedule

FRIDAY     2/27     5:30-6:30 pm      U STUDIO     5410 Wilshire Blvd

SUNDAY    3/1       9:30-10:30 am     Alliance        9000 W. Washington Blvd, Culver City

MONDAY   3/2      8:15-9:15  am        Emanuel

TUESDAY   3/3      9:00-10:00 am     Emanuel

5:30-6:45 pm         U STUDIO

7:00-8:00 pm       U STUDIO

THURSDAY 3/5     8:30-9:30 am         EMANUEL

7:00-8:00 pm        U STUDIO

SUNDAY       3/8     9:30-10:30 am        Alliance

mind as parent

It is truly remarkable to me how much time our brains have to fool around. As I become more deeply immersed in watching my thoughts, the more astounded I am. It seems with all its power, it could be doing a great bit more than admonish me for things I did not do, things I have done, or things I just might mess up tomorrow. Certainly, at times, it gives healthy advice. It might drum up an inspiring quote it read, a kind of friendly pat on the back. Sometimes, it even does better. Sometimes my mind might offer up a less specific and more open ended kind of thought, These quieter moments might better be regarded as self- compassion. Compassion from the mind to the self seems awfully hard to come by for the regular pedestrian with whom I speak. It seems like we all might have learned to be compassionate towards others but very stingy in offering it toward ourselves.

I think this has something that happens when we move away from home. The environments of our childhood seem more structured. Rules which were either clear or not, fair or not, were most likely enforced by a host of adults for you. Whether you were self motivated or not, there were most likely people pushed you to do things, from homework to chores, to practicing or to just being nice and stop hitting your brother. These were most likely constants, pleasant or unpleasant, they were the tenets that organized your household. And they helped too to focus our monkey minds.

When we leave though, it seems we have to take on the role of inner parent, and that’s when our minds, which had been used to solving algebra equations or memorizing spelling words, or trying to get the boy to like you, or practicing for the big game, now has nothing more to do than jump in and keep you in the organization you grew up with, because lets’ face it, creatures of habit we all tend to be. So now we are out there adjusting to this new, unbridled mind power that seems often meant to destroy us. The mind that is unfocused and untended swerves toward the negative. There is a great deal of research being done on why the unpleasant things we notice take more of our attention than the pleasant.

I know, for some of us, it is not so dramatic. The parent inside the mind can be both compassionate AND an a ball buster.  But my real wondering is: is anyone truly living out there free from the constant mutterings of your mind?

Come share your thoughts with me this week as we practice. Our regular schedule plus bonus classes for the next week.

THURSDAY          8:30 am       Temple Emanuel

                             7:00 pm       U Studio, 5410 Wilshire Blvd.

SUNDAY               9:30 am       Alliance Cross Fit, 9000 W. Washington Blvd. Culver City

MONDAY              8:15 am        Temple Emanuel

when bad things happen to make better people

We are, all of us, our stories. It’s what we do with them that make us who we are.

This past week, I was privileged enough to make two new friends. Each of them told me their stories, stories that sounded like writings from the pages of Shakespeare or Chekov. These were the stories I see on a rare indulgence of an episode of CSI or some such procedural show that leaves me almost giggling in incredulity.  Yet, these two lunches, within a day of each other, left me deeply in awe of the resilience of human nature. Or the possible resilience, asI could not help but wonder if either of these had been my own stories, would I have fared nearly as well. Of course, these people have had their bouts of despair and wonderings. Their issues of self worth , finding meaning in their topsy turvy lives and how to just get through the day were clearly with them. However, they both are highly functioning individuals, each with significant others whom they love and care for, and whom love and care for them in return. They both wake up daily and move toward the good- toward good food and toward good health, toward doing good in their careers and making a better place for themselves and others.

The thread of similarity between the stories as far as I could hear was in these two men’s abilities to forgive and move on. Certainly, some of us are born with a stronger constitution toward stress than others, but we cannot refute what we hear and read about the power of forgiveness. Those who keep anger towards others in their minds and hearts often sicken themselves, whereas those who acknowledge the pain that was inflicted upon them but then take steps to release themselves of it seem to find a deeper sense of fulfillment both outwardly and inwardly.

I was never one to buy too much into the notion that we are only given what we can handle, but there must be some truth to the ability we all must have to stretch ourselves beyond what we can imagine, and how the mere process of that stretching can benefit our ever growing personalities. The next time that you begin to throw up your hands in defeat, the next time you might hear yourself say, “I can’t handle this,” or some such phrase, maybe ask yourself… Well, what if I COULD really handle this, just this, as is, the way I am, right now. Who or what would I  really have to forgive in order to trust my resiliency? The who might actually be yourself. And the what, might be the outside expectation that something was supposed to go a certain way.

As you move into your weekend, with all the chitta v’ritta, the meanderings of your own mind, maybe embrace them anew. Maybe view them from a distance and in wondrous compassion for all that a human mind can go through, and all the inner power we have yet to free from our minds into our actions.

 

SCHEDULE FOR THE WEEK OF FEBRUARY 9 AT TEMPLE EMANUEL OF BEVERLY HILLS

MONDAY     8:15-9:15 AM

TUESDAY    9:00-10:00 AM

THURSDAY 8:30-9:30

10:30-12    @U STUIDO  5410 WILSHIRE BLVD.

SUNDAY      9:30-10:30 @ALLIANCE GYM 9000 W. WASHINGTON BLVD., CULVER CITY

 

in peace,

michelle

Anti – Semitism in Europe – Again?

michelleazar:

thank you jayne

Originally posted on Travel Well, Fly Safe:

Anti – Semitism in Europe – Again?

“At Auschwitz, tell me, where was God?” And the answer: “Where was man?” William Styron

We are all born into some story, with its particular background scenery, that affects our emotional, social and spiritual growth.

My story was anti-Semitism. My grandparents were part of the well documented immigration of eastern European and Russian Jews at the end of the nineteenth century to America. Restrictions and barriers were placed on Jews that made it impossible to have a normal self-sustaining life in their countries.   In Russia and Poland, pogroms (physical attacks on the Jews and their villages) happened on a regular basis.

Both my parents were born here and had experienced anti-Semitism growing up. My father was a high-ranking officer in the army (not a job Jews could have at that time) and had fought in two wars. He experienced extreme prejudice during his…

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