Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Is Yoga a Religion?

I am a Christian and I find that some Christians feel hesitant to involve themselves in Yoga. Here are some questions I have been asked.

1. Is Yoga a religion? 
Yoga is an ancient path which may be older than any religious belief. A few religions have adopted the pathways of yoga including meditation, asana, or movement, and breath observation. 
2. What does Yoga mean?
The word yoga has been translated from a sanskrit word which means to bind or "yoke" together. Yoga is a verb, which you do when you yoke the body, mind and spirit together.

                                                             3. Is yoga exercise?
                                             Yoga is movement synchronized with the breath.
                                                            4. Do I have to be flexible to do Yoga?
      Yoga may help you become flexible but any body can benefit from yoga providing you protect yourself by using movement that feels good. Props to aid tight muscles help to find ease in each movement.
5. Do I have to be able to sit on the floor?
No, a chair can offer support and you can have the same benefits from using it as a prop.
6. Will I have to chant during a class?
Some teachers use an opening "OM" to start class together. Actually, the vibrations caused by vocalizing the sound of "OM" are very healthful and wake the body. No one, in my experience, has made me feel like I have to do everything in class. And I have never encountered religious symbols or relics in any class I have taken.
7. Why does everyone say "Namaste" at the end of class?
Namaste in sanskrit means "the spirit in me honors the spirit in you". I feel the truth of those words in my belief system.

8. I don't have a perfect body, will I fit in?
We do tend to compare ourselves against each other and we are all vulnerable about our bodies. I won't lie and say that I have never felt too big to do yoga but the benefits far out way any embarrassment I have felt. I do yoga alongside skinny young things, men with really inflexible limbs, and older people who make me want to be like them when I grow up. I have done yoga on a cruise ship in Alaska, in a farm town in Wyoming and in several studios on the Island. We have some of the best instructors right here at home.
9. What is the most important benefit you have experiences from Yoga?
Yoga has helped me appreciate and honor the body I have. What would my Heavenly Father say if I told him thanks for this body but I don't really like it and would rather have a different one.
The prophet Joseph Smith taught new truth about the importance of gaining a body in mortality.

"The Prophet Joseph Smith taught, "All beings who have bodies have power over those who have not. So every living soul who has a physical body ultimately has power over the adversary. You suffer temptations because of your physical nature, but you also have power over him and his angels."

In a recent address to youth, Elder Packer said,

"We need our bodies because it is through the body we receive revelations.
 Perhaps the single greatest thing I learned from reading the Book of Mormon is that the voice of the Spirit comes as a feeling rather than a sound. You will learn, as I have learned, to "listen" for that voice that is felt rather than heard."

I have finally learned to hear my body. For years I felt only two physical messages, pain or no pain. I lived in my head. But yoga has helped me learn to hear my body and give it what it needs. I still ignore it sometimes but I am much better than before.
Yoga has helped me feel the spirit more sensitively.

 "Some critics have said that these verses are in error because you hear words; you do not feel them. But if you know anything at all about spiritual communication, you know that the best word to describe what takes place is the word feeling."

So, I recommend yoga to anyone and hope I can encourage others to try it and see if it "does a body good"

Monday, January 30, 2012

The Tabernacle in the Wilderness

   In the Book of Exodus we have a vivid description of the Tabernacle built in the wilderness. The description is wordy and long. It takes a good imagination to visualize what it may have looked like. My stake president has such an imagination and desire to learn. Almost fourteen years ago he spent a year finding materials so that he could build a replica to scale.

   He found goldsmith to craft the ark of the covenant, a weaver to make the goatskin coverings, a seamstress to sew the high priest's clothing, myrtle wood, which is as hard as shittim wood, to make the frame. He claims that this long hands on project enabled him to connect with these passages of scripture. It has done the same for me. Every four years, while teaching the Old Testament, I either borrow the model or visit him to have my students handle and observe this replica.

    The Israelites recognized this mobile structure as being the house of Jehovah. They offered sacrifice on the alter in the outer courtyard. The priests cleansed themselves in the laver before entering the tabernacle.

   Very few priests entered into the holy place. Here the menorah was kept alight, a table of shrewbread held symbols of the 12 tribes, and the alter of incense smoldered with coals from the alter of sacrifice to provide a sweet savor of smoke to symbolize the prayers to Jehovah.
  Once a year, the High Priest entered the Holy of Holies to offer a prayer of atonement.

There at the mercy seat, directly in the center of the room, the Lord would meet with Moses, or Aaron. The arms of mercy would enfold the priest and if he was clean, through washing and sacrifice, his sins and the sins of Israel would be forgiven. Often, as in Exodus 9:23, the people would see the glory of the Lord upon the tabernacle.
   For me the big insight I received from working with this model was the that the High Priest represented the work of the Savior, Jesus Christ. He is the only one who could go to the mercy seat. When the atonement and crucifixion took place Christ rent the veil of the temple and made it possible for all worthy mortals to worship in the temple. He literally opened the doors of the temple to mankind.
  The accounts in the Old Testament of the tabernacle and temple have sweeter meaning because of this model. I so appreciate the work that my stake president went to, so any years ago.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Book of Mormon Sunday II- Mosiah 16-22

 The preaching of Abinadi, the prophet was a blessing to many. He gave his life for his testimony of Jesus Christ, and it was not in vain. Through Alma, many hearts were changed as they heard the words of the prophet.
The people who came looking for Alma to hear his preaching were filled with grace when they were baptized. One of the aspects of the grace of God is the enabling power of the atonement.
Mosiah 18:16 "And after this manner he did baptize every one that went forth to the place of Mormon; and they were in number about two hundred and four souls; yea, and they were baptized in the waters of Mormon, and were filled with the grace of God."

   In my opinion, the grace of God gave them power to come together and support one another.
   Mosiah 18:21 "And he commanded them that there should be no contention one with another, but that they should look forward with one eye, having one faith and one baptism, having their hearts knit together in unity and in love one towards another. "
   In the coming chapters of the Book of Mormon, the bond of love they have for God and for each other, will give them power to endure the hardship of the bondage imposed on them by the wicked priests of Noah and the Lamanites they influence.
   The people of Limhi, on the other hand, also desired to be free from bondage but grace, or the enabling power of the atonement, was granted slowly, only as they opened their hearts.
  Mosiah 21:15 "And now the Lord was slow to hear their cry because of their iniquities; nevertheless the Lord did hear their cries, and began to soften the hearts of the Lamanites that they began to ease their burdens; yet the Lord did not see fit to deliver them out of bondage."
   King Limhi commanded them to see to each other's welfare. This gave them a closer bond to each other.
   Mosiah 21:17 "Now there was a great number of women, more than there was of men; therefore king Limhi commanded that every man should impart to the support of the widows and their children, that they might not perish with hunger; and this they did because of the greatness of their number that had been slain."
   The grace of God was working in behalf of these people aligned to King Limhi. They were prepared for Ammon and when he arrived they rejoiced in the knowledge of the people of Zarahemla and also in the knowledge of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
  Mosiah 21:32 "And now since the coming of Ammon, king Limhi had also entered into a covenant with God, and also many of his people, to serve him and keep his commandments. And it came to pass that king Limhi and many of his people were desirous to be baptized; "
   And thus we see that the power of at-one-ment works through preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ. Once the spirit can enter into the hearts of a man or a woman, an inward change brings desire be aligned with God and a desire to be connected to others.

Friday, January 27, 2012

The Way We Are With People

   I have been remembering some remarkable stories in the Old Testament which lead me to think about their examples as people who just are really good with each other. Today in seminary we read through the Book of Ruth. My two Early Morning Guests seemed to be as interested as I was in the way Naomi related to Ruth, her daughter-in-law.

Naomi was deeply grieving the loss of her husband and her two sons. She was in a foreign land and could not fathom why her "nonmember " daughter-in-laws would want to accompany her to the land of Judah. But Ruth did want to be with her, she clave to her and wanted to go wherever she went. What an uplifting relationship to read about. Ruth's virtue wins over the heart of Boaz as well. He notices her in his field and sees how she stays away from flirting with his men workers. When Ruth tells Naomi that Boaz has instructed her to glean as much as she will from his fields, Naomi sees that her daughter-in-law's goodness will win over the righteous man, Boaz. And what a good example we have in Boaz, who makes sure he is not usurping the rights of another kinsmen in buying Naomi's land. This story was so good for teenagers to reflect on. The gospel is about relationships and we live it when we are good with each other.
Unfortunately, we like conflict more than peace. Here is why:

Resolving our heart of conflict brings us into a better world.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

A Picture In One Word

 Here are some of my recent shots with one word description:









Sunday, January 22, 2012

Book of Mormon Sunday II- Mosiah 8-14

 In the reading block for this week I encountered the phrase "in the strength of the Lord". It is stated by Zeniff several times. Since my focus in this reading of the Book of Mormon is looking for references to the strengthening power of the atonement, this phrase seems important to understand.
      Mosiah 9:17 "Yea, in the strength of the Lord did we go forth to battle against the Lamanites; for I and my people did cry mightily to the Lord that he would deliver us out of the hands of our enemies, for we were awakened to a remembrance of the deliverance of our fathers."
   Two things in this scripture precede going forth with the strength of the Lord. Crying mightily infers a type of praying that employs great mortal strength. So, receiving His strength comes after applying all our strength, not towards controlling our situation, but towards reaching out to Him in supplication. We, in essence, are asking our Heavenly Father to supply us with strength we do not have.
   The second element that comes before stepping out with God's strength is being awakened. When we wake up we go from an unconscious state to a conscious state, so waking up to remembering implies that our capacity to remember needs to be switched into an "on" position. When we consciously remember how our prayers have been answered in the past, how we were carried through trials, we then have an attitude which softens our heart and allows divine power to enter. 

   The story of King Noah is set in contrast to the story of his father, Zeniff. 
   Mosiah 11:19 "And now, because of this great victory they were lifted up in the pride of their hearts; they did boast in their own strength,"
   Our own strength can bring us money, fame, power over others but that strength also comes with the sickness of pride. Pride is a disease which shortens our ability to understand reality. It thickens the walls of our heart so that we understand only our story. The thickening walls of pride can choke off the actual view of how things are, or how they were, or how they will become.
   Mosiah 12: 26 "I say unto you, wo be unto you for perverting the ways of the Lord! For if ye understand these things ye have not taught them; therefore, ye have perverted the ways of the Lord. Ye have not applied your hearts to understanding; therefore, ye have not been wise. Therefore, what teach ye this people?"
   Abinadi stands before the king and his priests and testifies of their lack of wisdom in using their own strength. Their power has brought down a whole group of people. The consequences of their actions will cause them to be trod upon by their enemies and the power they boasted of will be removed and they will become powerless. Abinadi demonstrates where lasting power originates.
  Mosiah 13:6 "And he spake with power and authority from God; and he continued his words, saying: ...And moreover, I say unto you, that salvation doth not come by the law alone; and were it not for the atonement, which God himself shall make for the sins and iniquities of his people, that they must unavoidably perish, notwithstanding the law of Moses."
   Why talk to this group about the atonement? Here is the mercy of God. After exposing our sins he teaches us about the Savior because there is no other way to survive spiritually. He teaches the sinner repentance because his power desires to strengthen not destroy. Noah's court is truly depraved and will ultimately destroy itself but among the group is a man who's heart is not entirely hard. The words of Abinadi will awaken him and he will turn around to embrace the Savior. Rejoice, at-one-ment will prevail.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Creating a Happy Space

    Over the years I have watched my children decorate and arrange their rooms at home, at college, and then their own homes as they established themselves.

   My Knitting Queen gave permission to show off her eclectic style. Her favorite things are given special homes for display. Books and yarn are essential to her happiness.

There is a definite fondness for twinkle lights which I share, too. I don't understand the need to relegate these sweet sparkles to Christmas. 

   One must have accessory for The Knitting Queen is the scarf. Her long graceful neck loves to be wrapped in color and texture. She has every length and every hue.

If you happen to have a long, graceful neck you may also love earrings. Little dangles that bounce.

   The ceiling is covered with fabric so when I lay on the floor I am greeted with soulful eyes.

   The adults who once were my children are endlessly interesting and amazingly unpredictable. I am a guest in their homes and an observer in their lives. I hope they let me pop in now and then forever.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Farewell to Hugh Nibley (Our Rabbit)

I am standing upon the seashore. A ship at my side spreads her sails to the morning breeze and starts for the blue ocean. She is an object of beauty and strength and I watch her until at length she hangs like a speck of white cloud just where the sea and sky come down to mingle with each other. Then someone at my side says, 'There, she’s gone.'
Gone where? Gone from my sight...that is all. She is as large in mast and hull and spar as she was when she left my side, and just as able to bear her load of living freight to the place of destination. Her diminished size is in me, not in her: and just at the moment when someone at my side says, 'There, she’s gone,' there are other eyes watching her coming, and other voices ready to take up the glad shout, 'Here she comes!'
And this is dying.
--Henry Van Dyke

   Amidst the strange weather we lost an old friend this week, our bunny Hugh Nibley. We are not entirely sure of his age but the Mama Daughter brought him home eight years ago and he was a mature rabbit then. In bunny years he was an old man. His care, once the Mama Daughter married and moved away, was in the hands of the Piano Guy. Everyday upon arriving home from work he would go feed and talk to Mr. Bunny. Hughie would get a treat, a piece of banana was his favorite, his food bowl filled up, his water checked, and a gentle rub down. He really liked the Piano Guy.
   There was a while when his cage was inside. Being allowed out was such an adventure. he would tear up the stairs and hide under the girls's bed. When we dragged him out he would be covered with dust bunnies. 

 Ken Kaiser Drawings

Now the cage is empty and he will not be replaced. It was a once in a lifetime pet but he will be remembered as a patient long-suffering creature.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Ice Creatures

     I looked out the window and what did I see? Ice Creatures growing on my Rhododendron tree.

    Winter has brought such a nice surprise. Creatures growing right before my eyes.

  I could take a blowtorch and make them melt. It would serve them right for the card they dealt.

    It wasn't really so, but it seemed to me, ice creatures growing on my Rhododendron tree.

Extreme Weather

   This was one of those days when life comes to a grinding halt. Covered with 5 inches of snow I was sitting in a snow globe.

I couldn't help but wander around outside to document the amazing scenes .

Both directions, north and south, were a blur of winter white.

Foliage was covered, etching the edges with furry frost.

Some fuzzy friends felt the extreme weather cooled their heated battles.

My gnome Walter was put out as he endured the presence of a suspicious orange pumpkin.

The sobering fact is that it is just January and it ain't over yet.
Ah, winter, you've done us in already.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Fashion From the Knitting Queen

   Today is a day you want some warmth around your neck and shoulders as you battle the snow and cold. My Knitting Queen is making lovely cowls for the winter weather.
   These cowls are made from hand dyed Malabrigo, super chunky merino wool yarn. Each skein is different and the colors are vibrant. We took these pictures just after she finished this one and we had a sun-break in the weather yesterday.


Monday, January 16, 2012

Snow is Here

   Oh, my gosh, we finally have a bit of snow again. And, it looks like there will be more to come. I have a love hate relationship to snow. If snow is forecast during the night I wake up and have to go look. I love the stillness, the light it reflects, the crispness of the air; I hate the kink in travel plans, the schedules it wrecks, and my fear of crashing my car. Have I ever crashed in a car because of snow? I have been real close 3-4 times and I still feel the knuckle grip on the steering wheel.

    I must confess, I went out in the dark with my coat over my jammies and shot some pictures. Losing my footing on the driveway, I hit the deck. Ouch! That smarts, especially on the palms.

  I am enamored with night time pictures around my town. I love the light that the dark defines and the lines and angles the dark reveals. See more here.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Book of Mormon Sunday II- Mosiah 1-7

    The reading this week was pointedly discussing the power of atonement and the strengthening that comes from that power. No other account is as clear as the King Benjamin sermon when it comes to understanding how mere mortals can be changed spiritually to be united with Jesus Christ in an alive and vibrant relationship.
   The book begins with a statement of the importance of scripture.
   Mosiah 1:5 "I say unto you, my sons, were it not for these things, which have been kept and preserved by the hand of God, that we might read and understand of his mysteries, and have his commandments always before our eyes, that even our fathers would have dwindled in unbelief, and we should have been like unto our brethren, the Lamanites, who know nothing concerning these things, or even do not believe them when they are taught them, because of the traditions of their fathers, which are not correct."
   King Benjamin tells his son Mosiah that the people should prepare for a special experience. The event will culminate with a name given to his people whereby they will be known and whereby they will exercise power.
   Mosiah 1:11 "And moreover, I shall give this people a name, that thereby they may be distinguished above all the people which the Lord God hath brought out of the land of Jerusalem; and this I do because they have been a diligent people in keeping the commandments of the Lord. And I give unto them a name that never shall be blotted out, except it be through transgression."
    Bro.Cummings, a member of our branch, gave a talk about the name Jesus Christ which put into words some of my own thoughts.  
   "Well, when we do something “in Jesus’ name” we are invoking priesthood power and invoking the promise Jesus made when he called us “friend” that whatsoever we ask in his name God may grant to us. When we invoke the “Name of Christ” we are invoking the power of the role of Messiah. I believe that this is invoking the power of the atonement. It is by the power of the atonement that the priesthood was returned to earth and by the power of the atonement are we able to engage in the ministering of angels, receive the gospel of repentance and administer the baptism by immersion for the remission of sins."
    Mosiah 3:17 "And moreover, I say unto you, that there shall be no other name given nor any other way nor means whereby salvation can come unto the children of men, only in and through the name of Christ, the Lord Omnipotent."
   Through the Holy Ghost this whole group of people came to the truth of their state before God and desired to be be made whole.
     Mosiah 4:2 "And they had viewed themselves in their own carnal state, even less than the dust of the earth. And they all cried aloud with one voice, saying: O have mercy, and apply the atoning blood of Christ that we may receive forgiveness of our sins, and our hearts may be purified; for we believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who created heaven and earth, and all things; who shall come down among the children of men. And it came to pass that after they had spoken these words the Spirit of the Lord came upon them, and they were filled with joy, having received a remission of their sins, and having peace of conscience, because of the exceeding faith which they had in Jesus Christ who should come, according to the words which king Benjamin had spoken unto them."
   I believe to take "His name" upon us means to submit to his power to make us one again with our Heavenly Father. We bring our fervent faith in Him and our desire to do his work to call upon His name for our own salvation and for others who seek him and require our testimony as a witness for Him. All this is done through the power of atonement.
   Mosiah 5;7 "And now, because of the covenant which ye have made ye shall be called the children of Christ, his sons, and his daughters; for behold, this day he hath spiritually begotten you; for ye say that your hearts are changed through faith on his name; therefore, ye are born of him and have become his sons and his daughters. And under this head ye are made free, and there is no other head whereby ye can be made free. There is no other name given whereby salvation cometh; therefore, I would that ye should take upon you the name of Christ, all you that have entered into the covenant with God that ye should be obedient unto the end of your lives."

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Dear Olivia


       Your Mama told me about some really great questions you asked. She wondered how to answer you. I am far away but I would like to give you my answers to your questions.
     Where do dinosaurs come from?

      I think Dinosaurs are cool and you must have read books about them. I know they lived a loooooong time ago. Longer than a whole day. That's long isn't it? It is longer than a grown-up day, or year; it is as long as Heavenly Father's year. Oh, and remember, Heavenly Father  is real and we can talk to him when we pray. He seems far away from us and that is why Jesus opened the door so we could find him. Jesus created the dinosaurs because Heavenly Father said he could. It is hard for us to know when they first made those huge creatures. The Bible says that the earth was made 6,000 years ago. But those are grown-up years and I think Heavenly Father's years are way longer than that. One year for Heavenly Father might be a million grown-up years.
    Jesus said, "My ways are not your ways, and my thoughts are not your thoughts," so maybe we can't figure out exactly when they those dinosaurs lived on the earth. But we can become good observers of our world. An observer is someone who looks very carefully at everything. Scientists are carefully observing the ground and they dig really deep to find bones and other signs of how old the earth is. Heavenly Father wants us to look at our earth and see all the things he made for us. He makes amazing things for us to see. Like the way a butterfly comes out of a cocoon.
    Where do cocoons come from?
     Heavenly Father is teaching us a wonderful lesson when we look at a cocoon. He made the cocoon as a hide-out for the caterpillar while he slowly turned into something else. A gorgeous, amazing butterfly comes out of the cocoon and doesn't crawl anymore but flies. You will change as you get older and your amazing body will be like a cocoon to let you change from a little girl into a beautiful lady. Good observers will see things in the world to help them understand how Heavenly Father works. He and Jesus are artists, designers, and organizers and they want us to be that too.
   You are a good observer, I know, because when I was visiting with you we saw many interesting things , like the lichen growing on the wooden bench. Each day, on our walk, you came back to your job of ridding the bench of the lichen.

   So keep looking at all the wonders of the world. Jesus and Heavenly Father want you to praise them for their work and they will bless you with many insights.
                        Love, Oma

Three views of how old the earth is:
1)The earth was made in 6 days through catastrophic events which God has divine power to perform.
2)Each day of creation was really 1000 years so the earth is 6,000 years years old from Adam and 
     Eve being placed here.
3)The creation of the earth extended over immensely long periods of time.
   a)The Lord works in his own time and in his own way
   b)The true translation of the word day is an undefined period of time
   c)Scripture uses the word "time" to distinguish periods; "this was the first, or the beginning of
         that which they called Day and Night. Abraham 4-5
   d)Genesis opens with 'In the beginning" and it is not agreed upon what the beginning was. Alma
         40:8, "All is as one day with God, and time only is measured by man."
   e)Nature shows us how slow it moves. All human experience points to the need of periods of time
          for beyond 6,000 years, to fashion the earth as it appears today.
   Clearly it does not matter to one's daily welfare or ultimate salvation which view you adopt, except that every Latter-Day Saint must seek and cherish truth above all else.
  From Evidences and Reconciliations by John A. Widtsoe