Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Freedom Yoga Project- the aftermath-Building it up, to breakthrough.

The breakthrough comes only if there is a struggle. There has to be resistance to experience the contrast between "almost" and "beyond". It's a fine line, but the resistance creates its form sharply, like the level of tension of the strings of a guitar spanning from the machine heads over the soundhole to the bridge that determines the pitch at which the air inside the body vibrates and breaks through in finding resonance at a free frequency.

This experience has been challenging, and rewarding, and I justify the challenging by the reward. I so badly want to grow, to be better than right now. Only I know, I can only be here in the now. That is all there really is. Monica said "I’ve read the book. So go on, you ain’t teaching anything new". Monica is one of my Kula members, Kula means family or community in Sanskrit, and she is my sister from another land that teaches at the same studio as I do. She would remind me that at times perhaps my courage is better left... within. Somehow, when the words descended into my body, it was like the sound coming from a tightly spanned guitar string: it spiraled up a higher vibration that lured my courage to flow….. without.
I know what I want. Presence.

When the "From the Hips to the Hop Workshop" ended on Sunday night, a huge weight of responsibility rolled off my spine, well I was off to Subway, dinner time. I walk in with my Freedom support pillar Lawrence Pradhan, with whom I not only share my name, but more so, the passion of creation and in whom I find resonance at whichever frequency he plays the guitar. I order a sandwich “cut the bun all the way through please”, they normally do a taco style half cut to stuff it, I like it stacked. I won’t eat Subway meat, so I normally order the veggie delight, with the veggie patty- “please don’t microwave the patty, toast it, with the bun, no, no not on the bun, beside it, yeah, thanks” 45 seconds later, the bread and patty rolled out of the toaster, “will you please, spread the mayo” that’s right I eat mayo,”yes spread across the top half with a knife, right there, there’s a glob, spread that out, thanks, perfect.” I know exactly what I want and how I want it.

The distribution of energy is very much like the spreading of the mayo on the bun, we only have so much of it, and we want to make the most of what we have. The globs are like packets of energy that we let go unspread, unmentioned; just like taboos, ideas and notions that have been deemed immoral social customs.

The way I directed the sandwich-creation exercise can be seen to be laborsome to the naked eye. Even after two years of an average sandwich, every two months it’s always a surprise to those sandwich creators and the spectators in line. This time was different because of my company, Lawrence, who not only found the process innovative, but decided to apply my sandwich-making directions to re-create his own sandwich, re-creating the average into something non-average: I led the way for re-creation to happen in his Subway sandwich-creation life.

Freedom Yoga is just like giving sandwich-creation instructions. No, not bad analogies, but it’s the truth, it’s in the specifics, and it’s asking explicitly for what it is that you want, that, - although it may not seem so -, extends beyond one's individual benefit directly affecting the collective. The sandwich-making creatorship is a skill-developing exercise: it’s important to speak your mind and shine a light toward others to having the courage to speak their mind.

It is not easy to guide the sandwich-artists to follow a routine that I re-created, because it is completely different from what they create. But I do it, because it makes a difference to me, the output is greater than if I were to remain silent. That would be a glob, and I’m looking to spread all the taboos out. My natural instinct is to be a rebellion: to destroy only to re-create, to find a new shape in an update of yesterday’s idea. I don’t believe in right or wrong, I believe in the moment, in making the most, while staying tuned in to the climate that is revolving. What Hong Kong and creating Freedom Yoga here has taught me is skillfulness, and finesse; physically, verbally, and mentally.

I step away from my first ten weeks with the Freedom concept, only with the intention to re-create it again. I plan on making the expression of energy expand, spreading it out like mayo and where I find globs I will expose them. That’s the point to unleash taboos, to find a way to get skillful. We have established a base, and now we can re-create it, without destroying our foundation.

I feel we can, as the rebellion turns to pride, and the pride dissolves into a deep sense of maturity. Phase one has ended brightly, phase two will explore how light meets shadow on the journey that travels through the untouched territory of mysterious but adventurous obscurity.

To be continued.

We’re going somewhere.

editor-Rani Kamaruddin

Copyright © Lawrence-Jacob Milman, 2009. All rights reserved. The reproduction or transmission of all or part of the work, whether by photocopying or storing in any medium by electronic means or otherwise, without the written permission of the owner, is prohibited. Any unauthorised use or act in relation to the work appearing on this website will result in both civil and criminal liability.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Freedom Yoga Project- Blog 5- the Calm Before the Storm in tribute to Morako Victims

Recreating a Pose

It’s just a couple of days away and I am feeling the life force that breathes through this process of creation and re-creation, lifting me off the mat, and taking me on journeys that I have not taken before.

As a grounding influence, this blog has used people to describe Freedom Yoga. It has discussed acting techniques, and hinted at a strong need for movement, re-creation, of what the world knows as yoga. Many individuals that walk into the studio surprise me, of all ages, of all lines of life experience and they are the ingredients of Freedom Yoga. Freedom Yoga is the act of bringing together single individuals to form one cohesive force of energy. The explosive release of that energy in as many different forms as individuals is freedom. It’s free. Or… as the first Pure teacher attending the class on Sunday puts it:

Freedom is available all the time but I sometimes forget that I myself have enclosed it in until someone breaks it out of the box, and says -- ‘Here you go, all yours, now run and jump or stay still --- all up to you, you’re free. I’m right here, won’t judge you, will guide you if you need me and just let you be. Play.’ I loved and savoured every second and didn’t want the hour to end. Thank you for your inspiration. Wind, string, strum, ladder, glass box, ball, water, pole, wings, socks, bamboo, poetry --- my kind of symphony! You are a gift.

A gift, each class so far has been a gift. Earlier this morning I climbed the visionary ladder into the upper chambers of my head, exploring what was there that I could demystify to re-create and give as a gift. I had my workshop prepared, knew exactly how I was going to give form and substance to it, but subconsciously I knew something was about to happen, like the lightening that is expected seconds after thunder roars the skies.

It wasn’t until that moment when the Pure events staff called to me asking for my thoughts on directing the workshop into a charity event for Morakot-victims that I realized how interconnected that natural disaster was to my coincidental state of mind. As the typhoon blew its breath over the island of Taiwan, its life force took away that of many, the death toll was moving towards 500 (last time I checked) and here I was, safely harbored in the upper chambers on the left and right side of my brain, watching the re-creation of turbulence.

To be completely honest, up till the point of that call, I didn’t know about typhoon “anything”. I was consumed with the process of creating as I woke up to the realization that it’s the universe of which I form part, a universe that creates and destroys itself only to re-create itself. The universe that is freedom; the freedom is universal. I am blessed with an opportunity to look beyond the The Freedom Yoga Project, to influence it with it and in it. How ironic in a class that toys with the elements of wind and water, that its maturity is guided by the horrid effects of wind and water!

I can see myself now. I would stand up, the way Sean Penn did when he took out a full page in the Washington Post, printing a letter he wrote to President Bush addressing the way he along with millions of Americans disapproved of how the Bush administration was handling the “liberation of Iraq”, the “search” for weapons of mass destruction. Liberation means a release from constraints, yet it is barely anything close to freedom; liberation almost always follows resignation, where freedom embodies something infinite. In the hope of healing ‘the system’, I would stand proudly in my Jewish heritage, the proof is in the two central words of the old testament, known in Hebrew as the Torah, right in the middle. The core of the scriptures is the idea of continual questioning, and I’ve lived to personify its meaning. Like Johnny Depp was shaking his head in dissatisfaction, I see myself shaking my head off dissatisfaction, claiming both I and the details of all surrounding the workshop could reach a new level of reality, vitality, artisticality.

With that, and the “Sacred Journey of the Peaceful Warrior”, we’ll twist the typhoon this weekend, by cycloning the proceeds of the event to The Red Cross. The mat brings us together, yet life is delivered in the moments between mat meetings. Power struggles, boundaries, and sheer ablity to fall at the feet of love will all shaken the inner experiences like typhoons, rallying the earth in full force freedom.

editing - Rani Kamaruddin
special thanks- Kitty Cortes

Copyright © Lawrence-Jacob Milman, 2009. All rights reserved. The reproduction or transmission of all or part of the work, whether by photocopying or storing in any medium by electronic means or otherwise, without the written permission of the owner, is prohibited. Any unauthorised use or act in relation to the work appearing on this website will result in both civil and criminal liability.

Monday, August 10, 2009

The Freedom Yoga Project - Blog 4 - we are the 'Dreamers'

Do. Act. Here. Now.

Just keep going, one day after another, the mechanical hamster wheel of life!

I first became conscious of the hamster wheel when I returned to the treadmill after my first yoga studio was moving away from the 26-2 bikram sequence I had been practicing for a year - 26 yoga postures, each performed twice, with 2 breathing exercises as bookends for the 90 min class - a routine that was the only yoga I knew at the time. Apparently, there were legal issues around copyrighting the name and sequence. I took it as a sign that the yoga wasn’t pure enough for me to stick with; and this was my chance to escape, back to my rightful home, the treadmill, with a book, or better yet, music videos playing on the television screen hanging in front of my eyes to help the time pass unconsciously. Now you tell me which of the two the hamster wheel was.

One of my most vivid memories of the long, storied relationship I had with the treadmill was of this day: I was at ‘extreme’ fitness in Thornhill, a Toronto suburb. As gym rats hovered nonchalantly to the world being set up for a revolutionary shift that is still quivering today, I, a fresh 22 year old, was jogging at a dilly-dallying pace on the treadmill, simultaneously eyeballing CNN, unconscious of the fact that within minutes I was about to witness the world being shaken by images of planes crashing into the twin towers. September 11th, 2001.

So, three years later, over a year into living on the Canadian west coast and practicing yoga for the same span of time, I exchanged my yoga mat for the treadmill. I brought a book, read and ran. I felt like a hamster in a hamster wheel: fooled. Though my mind and body were both there, the different focal settings led me to only getting half of the experience. It took me less than a week to get my act together, cancel the hamster wheel membership, and step onto a brand new yoga mat. The contrast made it obvious that I craved for a fully connected practice. That’s right: a practice. Not for hamsters.
Patrick Haley
AYC 2009

Let’s wheel back to Sanford Meisner in Blog 1 . In the 2-year acting program, Sandy asked the class of acting neophytes “how many light bulbs are in the room?”. It sounds like it may have been a trick, especially when perceived by a student who is looking to impress, yet there isn’t a right or wrong answer to the question, rather, the answer is irrelevant. The question is just a device, and the device is to instigate a ‘doing’. It means nothing to count it the fastest, as it means nothing to have the right number of light bulbs; as really, the focal point of that question is to actually ‘do it fully’.

When we are fully steeped in our activity, that what we do becomes us and that is what is undisputable. Like one can say whatever one wants about Michael Jackson, the artist, yet it is undisputable, that when he was in the moment performing, the stakes were high and the pressure of that moment closed in on one focal point. As such, all the opinions melted away, because in that moment he was captivating for one reason: he had a talent for ‘fully doing’. The greats seek out high stake situations. It’s not about showing off their acquired skills; rather, it is an ‘expression’ of their talent under intense circumstances to conquer the left brain and find the right side just in time for the storm. The storm brings out the deepest truths, the hidden talents as well as hidden blockages. The storm is the action of the mind and the body swirling away from the spirit. As the storms arise, we get still, connect to our center, and ride the waves. Staying cool. Watching. Feeling. Being. The serious at play.

A practice of letting go of time by so ‘fully doing’ creates the space for time to pass on its own without the urge for us to find any form of distraction to help it ease it’s passing.

Yoga has always been a form of art. While the mainstream has offered its friendship, there is a community growing parallel to what we see. What one would call the watering down is actually a fortifier. Spreading the practice may seem like thinning the quality. However, publications like Yoga Journal have taken yoga beyond the dogmatic followers of endless lineages, deepened it beyond the upper middle class and landed it there where it has always lived within the urban artists, those individuals that have made a life out of living yoga. Yoga didn’t change us, it just lent us a tool to communicate, a common language. Finally, those of us that have the ability to make our dreams come to life in this world have found our medium to share our soul secrets on a regular basis with the television generation (after all, many of us are spawned from this media culture), the generation that was conditioned into the left side of the brain, almost as if it was deprived of the right side.

As Caroline Myss PhD. and bestselling author says: the parts of us that we have developed are just as much part of us as the parts we have yet to discover. By use of music, imagery, organic movement, breathing/pranayama exercises, and one of the best workouts you’ll find in a Hong Kong hour, Freedom Yoga is creating a small space for big transformations in empowerment to take place, within you. Again, not for hamsters.

I can’t tell you how proud I am of the first 8 classes, guards down, students come back and back, times 8. To sweat, and play, to dream a little and smile a lot. The intention for me is to create that space where inspiration and insight meet one another. I now walk out that studio door, feeling both.

The mat played a part in a new type of domestication. The Freedom Yoga way is to throw the mat to the side, stepping off the mechanical wheel, out of the box, into the unknown, into becoming Freedom Yoga. It can never be anything but yoga, no matter what happens; baseball is yoga, dancing is yoga, Sebastian Foucan is yoga, Jill Bolte Taylor is yoga, Freedom is yoga, everything is yoga, because, ‘The Dreamers’ don’t do yoga; we live yoga.

Welcome to the start of the re-creating of what we thought we already knew. Do it fully. Break the hamster wheel.
Stoke of insight-click on Jill Bolte Taylor for amazing link.

editing - Rani Kamaruddin
special thanks- Peter Lloyd

Copyright © Lawrence-Jacob Milman, 2009. All rights reserved. The reproduction or transmission of all or part of the work, whether by photocopying or storing in any medium by electronic means or otherwise, without the written permission of the owner, is prohibited. Any unauthorised use or act in relation to the work appearing on this website will result in both civil and criminal liability.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Testimonials- From Freedom Fighters

Rani Kamaruddin-
from a freedom follower who's attended 4 out of the 5 sessions:

break the routine, don't become a machine;
get out of your shell, you too have a story to tell;
start to feel, it makes everything so real
spice it up with that beat, really that's what you'll need;
a class that empowers liberation, in movement and imagination;
create your own creativity, apply a sense of sensitivity
check it out yourself, this doesn't come off a shelf;
so get your spot fast, that mat belongs to the past;
it's going to set you free, and that's just one guarantee

GO CHECK IT OUT, words are limited in terms of expressing freedom. DO IT.

John Morgan-

First taste of FY tonight: lively, unique, fun, unpredictable, positive, different… it sneaks up on you to make you sweat… perfect sounds for the experience… then you sweat more… a combined sense of work in development and , yes, freedom. Well done, L.

Angel Yan-

Not yet find a simple & easy way to explain what is "Freedom Yoga" though I already took a couple of the best way to understand it is to "try it" & "feel it" sometimes feeling cannot be literally expressed. Once you try, I am sure you will love it as I do.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

The Freedom Yoga Project- Blog 3- The Definition Of "Hip Hop"

Today is Saturday, July 25th. The day started as my friend Patrick woke me up. I stayed over at his family’s home the night before. We watched Inside the actor’s studio with Johnny Depp , then slid in the DVD of “Dead Man Walking”. Sean Penn. As mentioned in "WRITE NOW” (Blog 2) , I love to read. I recently colored my life with Sean Penn, by completing a transition book on the return long haul from NYC: “ His Life and Times. Sean Penn the authorized biography”. Penn had just become one of my teachers; his life carries a stench of integrity, and I stand in that stench inspired. As the waft lingered, we made Vision Boards. Slicing up magazines to create a creative collage of what I’m designing of my life. Inspiring INTO my life.
Book Cover I carried From NYC to HK

I would be speaking at an interfaith dinner tonight. I was invited to speak on the topic “Freedom”. I would be sitting there side by side with religious scholars, an ordained Interfaith Minister Peter Llyod, a Lutheran Priest of the Christian church, a Hare Krishna since he was eight years-old and then there was me. What life throws at you can be so odd! Of course this is a dream, and I am the contributer assisting its unfold, one moment at a time.

This day off felt different. I intentionally created the space to be exposed to the space to create. The real conception of what happens in FREEDOM YOGA starts from here: the creative process, which heavily relies on my spirit. In the way a musician leads the breath through a saxophone deducing sound, it’s the breath capacity that leads the spirit through me inducing creation.
Blowing Breathe

The breath and the instrument are powerful tools, independently; the saxophone is a brilliant architectural design, and the breath, the birth right of every human being, yet together they create a brand new paradigm, re-creating their solo identity, a whole new world view. It’s a creation of the breath journey - a new wave of frequency that concurrently fuses with the truth already existing, like a ray of sun shining through mosaic glass, creating a kaleidoscopic range of colored light, yet it’s still light in it’s purest form.

Freedom Yoga is yoga, yet it carries the spine of Sean Penn’s courage; the courage of a man that married and divorced Madonna, said “no” to a ten million $US film role for the mere fact that it lacked depth, got on a plane to Iraq, when the world was convinced that “Weapons of Mass Destruction” were hidden under some Persian rug in the region. He is embarrassed by being an actor, because he is much more than that, he is an artist. Like Sean, Freedom Yoga invites you to go beyond the boundaries, to reform the shapes that condition your mind, to step out from the expected and be curious as to what else is there. Here.

It soaks up Johnny Depp’s heart, the man is completely unsatisfied, “If I was completely and totally over the moon about my work and I was satisfied. I would get out of the business immediately. I would leave this work behind. Because I think, for me as an actor, if you get to a place where you're satisfied, you're happy with it, then you're dead. It's over. You're not hungry anymore. You won't try things anymore.” That thought personifies his lust for life, Depp illuminates life’s beautiful unknown, the Freedom that lives in the mystery, and the mysterious urge to lose control by the continual evolution of exploration, and experimentation.

When your full time job is to play, playing itself becomes focus. Freedom Yoga, is yoga, but it’s so much more.

It’s a yoga class by all means, but ignore the gossip, it’s neither a dance class, nor is it a hip hop class, (although it is derived from the deepest truth of hip hop - to make the most out of limited resources). It is the canvas of a painter, the blank page to a writer, the denim of the designer, the empty studio of a choreographer, a welder’s metal and now a playground to the explorer of breath, imagination, and emotion.

Spiritual, in it’s very true nature. As it calls on your spirit to give more then it’s used to. Giving more in the sense of complete surrendering, the ultimate LET GO.

Alignment, increasing one’s breath capacity, or exploring the great philosophies that were born out of the yoga traditions, are the pillars of the yoga zeitgeist. Freedom re-creates all three by marrying them; alignment, breathe, and deep truth, contained in a makeover that asks YOU to participate. You must show up with the open mind of a philosopher, but then be prepared to throw it all away again just to allow your spirit (you may call it your subconscious) and your body to be swept by the music, while your imagination leads you through the rise and fall of your body. In some classes you can fake it, in this class you’re exposed. BIG TIME. The feeling of inability to play puts the truth right in the centre of the spotlight: to play is a choice, and choice is the most powerful energy there is, even eclipsing love; for even “to love” is a choice.

As the mic was handed to me, after freedom was explained from the Christian perspectives, as well as the Hare Krishna angle, I simply said I was born Jewish, and I teach yoga, but my religion is Art, I am an artist. I believe in the truth of expression, creation, and ideas. Freedom is the process of the three coming together and moving apart as solo identities with the sole purpose of coming together again to move apart again; making the most out of limited resources. recreation and re-creation.

editing - Rani Kamaruddin

Copyright © Lawrence-Jacob Milman, 2009. All rights reserved. The reproduction or transmission of all or part of the work, whether by photocopying or storing in any medium by electronic means or otherwise, without the written permission of the owner, is prohibited. Any unauthorised use or act in relation to the work appearing on this website will result in both civil and criminal liability.

photo- Patrick Haley
Asia Yoga Conference