JAI GURU DEVA, OM

GUITARUS INTERRUPTUS

My parents bought me a Stella 6-string from Sears and Roebuck when I was 13 and I took to it immediately. I closed myself up in the bedroom, taught myself 2 chords and wrote a song called “Yesterdays Footprints.” Then I saved my allowance and bought a guitar chord book and learned how to play a few Bob Dylan songs and Donovan songs. I took my act to a little coffee house in my neighborhood in Chicago.

When I was in college, I got a paid gig at a local bar for happy hour and had expanded my set with originals and a bunch of Joni Mitchell songs, occasionally tuning to open D, strumming happily away.

When I was in my early and mid-twenties and had been singing in front of bands for a few years, my guitar-playing had taken a back seat to the more skilled musicians. I only played when I was writing a song. Looking back, I see that I had a built-in belief system that I was supposed to just know how to do it, so I just gave up. I never asked for help. My skills were wanting and so I just thought “forget it.”  The grown-assed woman I am now wants to sit that young lady down and ask “Why didn’t you think enough of yourself to take lessons, girl?” I didn’t even realize I was perpetuating low self-esteem about myself as a musician.

I moved to California when I was 24 and kept writing songs, which I recorded with a stellar group of musicians (and maybe I’ll put it out on iTunes or YouTube one of these days). I was playing a black Telecaster with rudimentary strummy rhythm chords, but one more time leaving the “real” playing to the other guys. When my first child came along, I bought an acoustic Ibanez Ragtime that fit my small stature and fingers. I sold the Tele to Brian Ray. Bessie the Ibanez began collecting dust, only to be brought out when inspiration would hit to write something. The space between those times got longer and longer. I didn’t even notice.

For a while, I resurrected my Bessie, putting together a little set of children’s songs that I would play for my kids’ classes.

The kids got older and didn’t want to sing “La Bamba” anymore. The spaces between playing guitar got longer and longer. I still sang, but with other people playing the instruments.

I forgot to play guitar. For a long time.

After 38 years in California, a divorce, an empty nest and new love, I moved to New York City. Bessie was sitting there, in a corner, in our little apartment, collecting dust and beckoning. A neglected child. A lost soul. My lost soul. So, on September 15, 2018, I just picked her up.

For several years, I’d been making a list of songs I’d like to learn. Someday.

I got my list out. I googled the lyrics and the chords. I taught myself my first new song in years. It was “Across The Universe” by John Lennon. “Jai Guru Deva Om”

It was very humbling. My fingers were weak. But it was a start.

Should a woman well into her 60’s learn how to play a guitar again? The answer is a resounding YES!

I took a lesson. Learned some scales. Learned some new fingering. Built up callouses.

I’m up to about 25 of those songs on my list.

I traded in Bessie. She was the one for the children’s songs. I got a used entry-level Martin with a built-in Fishman pickup system. I’ve named her Josephine.

And I bought a ukulele and named her Layla.

I’ve played in front of people a few times already, willing to not be perfect but doing it anyway. Being a grown-assed woman has given me permission.

I’m still working on it. Now I’m doing some online lessons. My old bandmate, Debbie Davies, has promised a Skype lesson. Soon.

Jai Guru Deva Om roughly translates as “Victory to God Divine.” Jai is a Hindi word meaning ‘long live’ or ‘victory’, Guru is “master” and Om is the vibration of the song of the Universe.

Long live victory.

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Maggie Parker has recently moved to Manhattan from Los Angeles and delights in sharing her many years of life, music, love and yoga practice. Take a class with her at Naam Yoga, 141 West 72nd Street in Manhattan www.naamyoganewyork.com Join her Slow Flow/Restorative class on Tuesdays 5:15-6:15 PM. Please follow this blog and share with your friends!

To get a glimpse of her journey as a singer, go to www.maggiemayall.com

 

DROPPING THE ROPE

I recently read something about dropping the rope of a tug-of-war with someone I think I can change. Oh my god I related to that! So, I am making a commitment to try not do this with the people I love. This is my New Year’s resolution.

TUG-OF-WAR

When I pick up the rope to play this tug-of-war, I never win.
So I’m dropping this rope.

When I was a child everybody played that tug-of-war.
And I made up my mind that the rope must be how you love.

I picked up the rope. I tried to make you see it my way.
Force you to me.
I tried to change your mind.
Give you unsolicited advice.
Like I’m speaking from some higher throne of
EGO.

It never works out.
I’m a hopeless failure
at this tug-of-war.

This is not love.

When I drop the rope, the other person is left with the slack.
They might fall on their face and then
I’m afraid.

When I’m pulling on the rope, I can’t see my crazy:
Trying to change you.
Trying to make you come my way.
Do it my way.
An illusion of being in control of what I am powerless over.

When I drop the rope
I let you be.

And then I can see.

I’m dropping the rope.

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Maggie Parkerhas recently moved to Manhattan from Los Angeles and delights in sharing her many years of life, love and yoga practice. Take a class with her at Naam Yoga, 141 West 72nd Street in Manhattan http://www.naamyoganewyork.com Join her Slow Flow/Restorative class on Tuesdays 5:15-6:15. Please follow this blog and share with your friends!

THE ROAD TO VIÑALES

I fell in love with Cuba on Day 3.

Cuba is a country in a state of arrested development, still stuck in the 60’s and 70’s. On one hand, it’s sad to see roads and buildings crumbling and their society getting by without all the accoutrements of a capitalistic “First World” economy. However, on the other hand, they are also getting by without the consequences of capitalism: the corruption, the over-development, the greed, the pollution, the fast-pace, the loss of independence. There is something still so pure about Cuba.

After 2 nights in Old Havana, with its decaying colonial charm and history, staying in a guesthouse (or hostel) on Calle Havana, we took the long, bumpy drive west, along the potholed and minimally maintained Autopista Este-Oeste, to Viñales. We were traveling with a group of 16 in a Chinese-built modern 24-seat coach with good shocks and air conditioning, though, so the ride was long but comfortable. On the way, we stopped for a tour and lunch (one of the best meals of the trip) at Las Terrazas, a UNESCO-listed biosphere and reforestation commune project built in the ‘70’s that is quite successful and charming. We were entertained by skilled musicians playing fabulous music as we lunched family-style at our long table on a covered patio overlooking the terraces of the surrounding forest that had been restored after French Colonial decimation.

After a winding climb into mountains, we descended into The Viñales Valley, past farms being tilled with ox-drawn plows, surrounded by the tall, steep-sided limestone hills, known as mogotes, which dot the sprawling valley floor like vegetation-covered bread loaves.

We drove past the main street, which is lined with colorful colonial-era wooden houses, and up 2 blocks to our guesthouses.  Disembarking our bus, my love and I were led to our Casa, run by 2 tiny-statured sisters named Maritza and Marina, who yanked my oversized luggage from my grip and led us to our room. Maritza and Marina were smiling and trying their English with us as they showed us around. I responded with the best Spanish I could muster.

All the accommodations on this trip were intimate and personal. We stayed in family homes and our quarters were clean and sweet. Viñales was the sweetest. I felt like I had come into an ideal childhood bedroom, with carved wooden beds with ruffled bed skirts straight out of a 70’s T.V. show. Our bathroom had a hand-held sprayer that was basically a small rubber hose with a nozzle hanging from the ceiling. But you could tell there was a pride in its representation, as clean towels were folded nearby and fresh soap was in the dish.

Looking out the window, occasionally a car would go by: either a 50’s era American or a newer car, which was either Chinese, Russian or Korean.

People were sitting on their porches in rocking chairs, so I, too, joined in on observing the scene. Horse-drawn carts clomped up and down the street ferrying children from school, goods and supplies and workers. A man came around the corner calling out in Spanish whatever he was selling from his bag as he slowly walked up and down the street. Dogs wandered in and out of yards. Children happily kicked a ball around. The world had slowed down.

That night, our group was led down a dirt road to a local organic farm where we sat at another long table on an open patio for another incredible meal and conversation, while our local hosts proudly shared their world with us.

Later, I bought a small painting of the Vinales Valley at the Mercado des Artistes by a local folk artist named Adonis.

I was so touched by the sweetness that I wept.

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Maggie Parker has recently moved to Manhattan from Los Angeles and delights in sharing her many years of yoga practice at Naam Yoga, 141 West 72nd Street in Manhattan http://www.naamyoganewyork.com Join her Slow Flow/Restorative class on Tuesdays 5:15-6:15. Please follow my blog!

NON-ATTACHMENT—THE FIFTH YAMA

The fifth Yama in Yoga is Aparigraha, the virtue of non-possessiveness, non-greediness and non-attachment. This is a good thing to aspire to, to meditate on and to practice at all times, but focusing on Aparigraha during the holidays can be a great reminder to let go of the attachment to all those material things at this time of year. Consider not making this season about things but instead about growth. The Winter Solstice is upon us and the year is coming to an end. This is a good time to get grounded. Where did this year take you and what are your intentions for the coming year? Hideout from shopping and light some candles of good intentions instead.

Is Aparigraha only about material things? My meditation this week is to practice Aparigraha in my relationships. During the holiday season, we are bumping up against people and there may be tensions. Why am I so attached to making that family member see it my way? Why am I so attached to letting that person in front of me know that they are holding up the line? I need to learn to detach with love. Without judgment.

Applying this Yama to my relationships is a challenge. It is a lifetime undoing of decades of habit.

I learned to be a co-dependent person as a child, which has not served me well in adult relationships. The good part of what that means for me is that I am a caregiver. That helps when I’m teaching yoga because I take care of you! The bad part is that I want to fix other people that I think need fixing! And when I don’t stay in my lane, it never ends well.

Here’s something to ponder “Detachment is neither kind nor unkind. It does not imply judgment or condemnation of the person or situation from which we are detaching. It is simply a means that allows us to separate ourselves from the adverse effects that another person’s [behavior] can have upon our lives. Detachment helps families look at their situations realistically and objectively, thereby making intelligent decisions possible.”–Alanon Family Groups

MEDITATION AND AFFIRMATION FOR THE WEEK: I am open to Aparigraha, to non-possessiveness and non-attachment, in all areas of my life today. I am detaching with love. I am free. OM.

“Let there be space in your togetherness.” –Kahlil Gibran

“Please dear God disconnect my heart from this longing within me that does not serve. I release this person into your hands. May the ropes that bind our hearts be cut. May they not bind me…Retract the silent hooks..Bring back to me my power and my love…May we find peace.” –Marianne Williamson
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Maggie Parker has recently moved to Manhattan from Los Angeles and delights in sharing her many years of yoga practice at Naam Yoga, 141 West 72nd Street in Manhattan http://www.naamyoganewyork.com Join her Slow Flow/Restorative class on Tuesdays 5:15-6:15. Please follow my blog!

HEALING MEDITATION

“Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.” –John Lennon

This week I traveled to my former home of 38 years, Southern California, to visit my boys, my friends and see my ex-husband perform for the first time since he had a life-threatening health episode last summer. It was all supposed to be so much fun! But…

The first night there was a horrific mass shooting in nearby Thousand Oaks. The second night, the monster Santa Ana winds blew in from just north of where I was staying. And over the next several days, my hosts and I watched as the fire chewed a large path from West Hills all the way to Malibu.

Now, the winds have died down, the Red Flag has been lifted, the San Bernardino mountains are visible again, and the toll is being tallied on human life, animal life and the loss of property and the natural beauty of the Santa Monica mountains. This was just recently my community. These mountains were where my kids explored and where we hiked, camped, swam and skied. These neighborhoods are where our friends live. The shooting site was where I took West Coast Swing Dance lessons and where a former neighbor’s kid was hanging out last Wednesday night (he’s ok).

People are beginning to move about today, move back to their homes or their burned out properties and assess the damage. I ran some errands in Calabasas today and the word “fire” was in every conversation. I heard “We lost our home…” a few times. But what I have seen this week is the tremendous strength, generosity and fortitude of the human spirit. I’ve seen or heard or read story after story of amazing courage and resilience. The neighbors who help each other. The first responders who risk everything to save lives and property. The kindness of strangers.

And, mostly importantly, I’ve heard “I still have so much to be grateful for” in the face of disaster. That’s huge.

Many years ago, we lost everything, too, in a brush fire in Laurel Canyon. I know all too well what it’s like to lose it all, right down to the foundations. The good news is that I have that experience to share with others. Yes, it’s material stuff but we’re talking about mementos and the treasures of a person’s life, of a family. Art and letters and home movies (before we had The Cloud), family photos and heirlooms…all these things that are life’s souvenirs and carry such meaning for us. It’s a total shock to the system. You will grieve. But you will survive.

One thing I could share: 1) Have an evacuation plan. 2) Hope for the best. 3) There is a beginning, middle and end to every life experience.

Tonight is my ex-husband’s show in Agoura, where the fires raged all around and licked the corners of our psyches only just days ago. The show will go on, though. Life will go on. People will pray. People will cry. People will comfort. People will grieve. People will clean up and rebuild or move on. People will love. Eventually, the music comes back. Eventually the chaparral and the trees come back. Eventually the animals come back. And, though loved ones don’t come back, all I can say is I hope the strength and support of family and this tremendous community will carry you through.

The wounds are open now. But eventually they will be healed over. They will be scars that we carry with us. Scars that we can use to help others. To heal.

Oh, mighty winds. Please leave us in peace now. Let us heal.

Maggie Parker  delights in sharing her many years of yoga practice! Join her Slow Flow/Restorative class on Tuesdays 5:15-6:15 at naamyoganewyork.com. Please follow this blog for Your Weekly Om!

SURRENDER

A hawk, high in the sky
above.
Her wings outstretched.
Gliding on the currents
of air way up there.
Invisible currents,
but they are there.
Strong.
Gentle.
Holding her up.
She circles in figure eights,
barely moving a muscle
or a feather.
A little twitch of a feather here and
a little twitch of a feather there. Gliding.
Gliding.

She hasn’t thought about it.
She hasn’t planned it
or prepared for it.
No fear to overcome, no tension
or holding back.
She just showed up there,
trusting those currents to hold her up.

Oh! What would that feel like?
To be that free!
To be able to surrender and let go like that!

Try it on.
Be the hawk now.
Feel the currents of air holding you up.
No tension, no fear, just peacefully gliding away, up in the blue sky.
Surrender.
Surrender.

Look down onto the earth below.
Look down at yourself.
And there you are,
in your perfect magnificence.

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Do this meditation in Svasana pose. Lie down somewhere comfortable. Svasana means “corpse pose,” so just lie there like a corpse. Legs straight out, or a bolster or rolled up blanket under your knees. Arms by your sides, palms up. Take a deep breath in, filling your lungs, and then open your mouth and blow it out with a sigh.

Feel the back of your head on the floor.  Scan your whole body from top to bottom and notice where your body meets the floor: Your shoulders, the backs of your arms and hands, your upper back, your hips, the backs of the legs all the way down to your heels. Release everything. Feel the density and the weight of your body being held down with gravity. While Mother Earth gently cradles you and holds you up, supports you. Let the insides of your ears release.

Peace/Love,
Maggie

Maggie Parker  delights in sharing her many years of yoga practice! Join her Slow Flow/Restorative class on Tuesdays 5:15-6:15 at naamyoganewyork.com. Please follow this blog for Your Weekly Om!

LETTING GO

Ever have a problem that you’re straining to solve and the answer is just not coming? You need to just let it go for a while and get some perspective. Sometimes that’s hard for me because my mind keeps going back to it, trying to figure it out. Or I might be having a conflict with someone that keeps swirling in my head. I’ve certainly had my share of not being able to move on when someone or something hurt me or even just bugged me. And I’ve had more of my share of needing to change and surrendering.

What does it mean to surrender? The dictionary says: “sur·ren·der /səˈrendər/ verbto cease resistance to an enemy or opponent and submit to their authority”

Well, I don’t have to submit to THEIR authority! But I can submit to a higher authority, to what the Universe is saying in the situation. When I am having a problem with someone or something, I am resisting what is. I am probably resisting something that I need to accept about them or it that I cannot change. Again, what is the Universe saying here that I am not accepting? To me surrender doesn’t mean to give in and approve of something that may not work for me, it means to just give up the fight.

But first, I have to acknowledge what it is that I’m fighting. I cannot let go of that which I do not own. I’ve got to OWN what’s bugging me.

I’ve got to remember to:

  • Let go of the idea that I can control others’ actions
  • Accept the things I cannot change
  • Trust that there will be an answer

“There will be an answer, let it be. Let it be, let it be, let it be, let it be. Whisper words of wisdom, let it be” -McCartney/Lennon

“Surrender to what is. Let go of what was. Have faith in what will be.” -Sonia Ricotti

And, above all, I’ve got to remember to not take myself too seriously.

Next week, I will share my “Letting Go” guided meditation.

Peace/Love, Maggie

Maggie Parker  delights in sharing her many years of yoga practice! Join her Slow Flow/Restorative class on Tuesdays 5:15-6:15 at naamyoganewyork.com. Please follow this blog for Your Weekly Om!