"Yoga is awesome!...It's a very calming thing...and I feel better." YogaShine Students
Armonk, NY 10504914-769-8745
Vitalah Simon, M.Ed., RYT-500, LCAT, BC-DMT, Teacher and Therapist
 ~ serving Westchester for 33 years ~ 

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Learning to Abide

Summer walk at Rockefeller Park, late afternoon amble around the lake, crossing the bridge of stones, I stop to soak in the warm hot sun. I stand still. Baking. Then walking, slowly into the shade, I come upon some horse droppings, "road apples" they are sometimes called. As I adjust my step to avoid a direct encounter, I notice flying nearby a black butterfly with light greyish blue markings and flecks of orange and white. I want to see the colors more closely. The blackness combined with the light blue attracts me. Black, in this situation, calls forth to me all that is unknown, hidden and difficult in this world. Light blue calls forth to me the presence of the Divine Mother. I get closer to admire the light blue and darkness, unified in the butterfly's wings. I stand still and soften my eyes.

And the butterfly lands on a ball of the excrement, as though it was finally home! I pause, a long long pause. I watch. The butterfly appears to be eating something from the surface of the large turd. Gross. It stays there for 5 minutes or so. Then it starts to flutter about, coming near me, circling around me, and then, finding another "road apple" on which to feast, it settles once again. I know I am being shown something that my mind can not grasp. Something about something very beautiful not being afraid of the shit of this world, but easily resting on it, WANTING IT.

I have never thought of 'butterflies' and 'horse manure' in the same sentence before, and it is the first time I did NOT want a butterfly to land on me.

When I get home, I look up "butterflies and horse manure" on google, and discover that a butterfly sticks its proboscis out and sucks the nutritious liquids and minerals from the feces, receiving nitrogen and phosphorus that it absolutely needs. The males especially need the minerals to develop sperm, to continue their species.

This factual information, however, does not address the sense of wonder and confusion I feel. Two things that don't typically seem to go together AT ALL, are in fact in reciprocal and harmonious relationship with each other.

On first glance, I identified with the butterfly, as a part of me that longs to be transformed and be FREE of all the shit of this world. THAT butterfly in the park was NOT AFRAID of the shit in this world, but in fact was totally comfortable with it, AND sought it out. Perhaps similar to the lotus flower which rises above the muck, with its roots deep in the muck of a lake, the butterfly becomes MORE of who it is supposed to be by not fearing the darkness or bad-smelling parts of the world, but lives by diving INTO it, even finding essential nutrients for its vitality, and, unmarred, it still remains a butterfly, free, and beautiful.

In the quiet woods,
not moving, perched on horse turd,
butterfly sips truth.

Here is a visual link - it's not the same butterfly as I saw, but it certainly conveys the juxtaposition.

Photo by Carla Robertson,

I continue on my walk around the lake. It generally takes about 45 minutes, but today I enjoy an unusually slow walk. As I turn the far corner of the lake and start to head back, I notice a small skinny-legged bird in the swampy region of the lake, more shaded, more stagnant waters. The bird is perfectly poised and deeply unmoving. I join its stillness and breathe awhile. As I watch, I notice the bird is in fact imperceptibly moving, and with the elegance of a prima ballerina, is stretching its leg an inch or so forward, with time also stretching into a measureless flow. Somehow, without making a visible motion, the bird places its foot and, taking all the time in the world, shifts its weight. THIS is graceful slow motion like I have never witnessed before. The bird would move, but did it? Stillness in motion. Not disturbing anything around it, not even the water's surface. When I told someone about this, he commented that the bird was preying, but I think it was praying.

Now focused on the darkened waters, I continue my walk round the bend. I see two small turtles out on a thin log, fairly commonplace at this lake but still a welcome sight. A third turtle struggles to get up on the thin log and join them. The newcomer falls off, swims away, and I start tracking his underwater path by watching the ripples in the water and the algae. Occasionally it surfaces. As it swims to my left, I notice another much larger rounded log. To my utter shock and dismay, the log starts to move and a head-like object starts to lift and protrude above the surface of the water. There is a long neck expanding and thrusting forward and the branch-turned-into-a-head now opens its mouth, sliding along the water’s surface. I watch with incredulity. I can not believe my eyes. I have visited this lake for over 20 years and NEVER have seen such a turtle here. It's head is easily the size of my clenched fist, and its shell, at least that I could see, was about 18" in diameter from side to side and at least two feet in diameter from neck to rear. Its total length with head and tail extended is over 4 feet. The movement of its head as it eats is scary! This pre-historic head comes lurching out, elongating 6 to 12 inches from the shell rim, opens its mouth and bites down on the algae, with a kind of slimy ferocity.... then the head retreats back towards its shell. I cannot take my eyes off this new discovery.

Whereas before, I was quite content to have my own experiences with the butterfly and the bird, now I feel an urgency to share this discovery with others! It is so spectacular, I cannot keep it to myself. Fortunately, many people walk and run here, so I have a couple of opportunities to show others: an Asian woman and then an older couple with their daughter. They relish the new sighting, too, and are appreciative that I stop them and bring the turtle/sea monster to their attention. As I start to leave, I notice a photographer about 25 feet away from me. As I pass him, I mention the turtle I have been watching. He seems eager and interested, so I show it to him. I tell him I have named the turtle Larry. Captivated by the scene as well, he takes these photos.

Here is Larry:

Photo by Hugh Brown 2015

Photo by Hugh Brown 2015

Leaving the park, an awareness arises:

All living beings already know how to be deeply still.
They just do it - they don't have to take a yoga course or go on meditation retreats.
It is built in to their nature, and they are guiltless in their quiet.

We humans, too, are wired for stillness.
It's a part of our intrinsic nature.
We've just forgotten.

In slowing down,
all is revealed.


Vitalah Simon

Welcome YogaShine for Adults Creative YogaShine for Kids
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Peggy Huddleston’s Prepare for Surgery, Heal Faster ™