A poem for the debt crisis

On the subway today,

An Asian woman notates a score, five or more parts, perhaps a symphony;
The woman of color in the green hoodie is mixing a poem about a French kiss, no doubt tasted in Brooklyn;
Two business people leaning against the don’t-lean door are discussing a reading of the one’s play — it was just a reading, she apologizes, though he is nonetheless impressed;
The nondescript young man against the railing caresses the head of an electric guitar case leaning lovingly against his belly;
I begin a poem on my way to teach yoga class.

There is no decrease in the importance of culture in the budget of my world.
Here are the keepers of the flame of our civilization, like yogis dispelling darkness in a lineage back to the gods;
They continue their work of non-market-value and offer us more than patriotic consumption…
more than brand-name poetry;

The creative abundance of the universe
flows from the riders
on the subway today.

by Peter Ferko
October 5, 2011

I need a laugh

Me, pretending to LOL

I believe people are writing LOL when they are not actually laughing out loud. If the usage were an accurate reflection of the act, I am quite certain I would be hearing more laughter everywhere. Perhaps we need a less dramatic, but more honest acronym, for example, one of these: STM, NL, CAB, GAL.

How to be Late… Gracefully

This was originally published on the Happiness Series

How to be Late… Gracefully

By Peter Ferko

Being fashionably late is one thing, but being late to a job, a meeting, or an appointment is not quite as hip. Instead being late is stressful! I’m often running on several tracks at a time and find myself running late more often than I’d like. I used to give myself a stomach ache over it, but I’ve found some perspective to help avoid lateness and some tools that help when I can’t:

1. When you realize you’re going to be late, call to see if you can reschedule or just adjust the time until when you’ll get there. You will be amazed at how often people could care less about you changing an appointment. Stress gone!

2. When you see you’re going to be late to a fixed appointment, call in to be responsible and to help create a workaround, if necessary. Once you get in, don’t mention it (you already called it in), just get on with things. Stress minimized!

3. When you’re late for things that don’t always start on time — the theater, a movie, a dinner party — surrender to the consequences. Since I stopped worrying about it, I’ve noticed that most of the time things starts late, so I’m on time anyway. Once in a while they don’t, and you watch the first 15 minutes from the lobby TV (for the theater) or you miss the trailers (at the movies) or you miss a cocktail (at the party). Stress never even appeared!

4. Trust that things work out the way they are supposed to. If you’re late, it will likely be okay. Just try to avoid being late in the future, it will be better for everyone involved. What stress?

5. Work on the causal plane. A yoga teacher can give you a mantra to help remove obstacles in your path, which could be a train that won’t show up or the forgetfullness around setting your iPhone alarm! Mantras are best when passed from teacher to student, so the energy the teacher has amassed around the intention passes to the student.


Graceful Self

This was originally published on the Happiness Series in March 2011.

Graceful Self

By Peter Ferko

People all carry opinions about themselves, and have patterns of response and behavior that are deeply ingrained. Since the moment you were born, you’ve been using whatever tools you have along with your experiences to hone a “self,” or identity. Yogis locate these deeply held beliefs in the energy center called svadisthana, which literally means, “abode of the self,” where their influence plays out unconsciously in your mind and body. The problem with this scenario is that your current experience takes place through the filter of this old self — you are looking at life through a pair of glasses that alter the view. That’s why it’s so hard to change, to break old habits, or to grow.

To move beyond your deeply held belief patterns into something new, you have to be willing — and able — to see things as they are now, rather than constantly reinforcing your old sense of self. While something like therapy might help you see where the patterns came from, yoga aims instead to give you an experience of a present moment free of the filter. Practices like concentration and meditation provide moments of clear perspective, and some guided meditations will encourage the release of patterns on an energetic level. Those present moment experiences help your “self” evolve toward a wiser “Self” who has a more graceful approach to life.

With practice, when you hear yourself thinking, “I’m this that,” or I’m the kind of person who would never be able to blank,” you can pause, take off those filter glasses and look from the perspective of the “Self” that is actually experiencing this moment. The more you practice that new way of knowing, the more you expand toward the best Self you can be.


Graceful Love, Part 1

This first appeared at the Happiness Series, March 2, 2011.

Graceful Love, Part 1

By Peter Ferko

Imagine a graceful relationship. Fantasy, right? I used to get upset that my romantic partners and I could not maintain the common civility that’s so easy with everyone else I know. But over the years, it became clear that those intimate relationships we create are like laboratories for expanding our abilities in so many areas: patience, compassion, understanding, unconditional love.

Ah, you may say, but what to do about the annoyance, demands, guilt trips, temper tantrums… need I go on?
This topic needs an encyclopedia, but I’ll try to provide some insights one by one over a series of posts. Working on even one will be a good challenge — and will, I guarantee, make a difference in your relationships.

So here we go, drumroll please, first thing to do to make your relationship more graceful:

Give up your need to be right. What?! I know, you thought you were going to get your way, that things were going to get easier. But where’s the growth in that?

What do you get when you find yourself in a ‘discussion’ and you let go of the need to 1) have the last word, 2) get him/her to admit you were right, or 3) prove your point logically? You get space. A clear open space where you’re not pushing back against the person you theoretically love. In that space, the most remarkable things happen. You might realize that your partner’s idea is actually pretty good. You might see that most things don’t matter at the level we try to control them. You might find that your partner is so transformed by being acknowledged — it might help him/her break through old patterns of feeling misunderstood, undervalued, etc. Plus, if your partner knows you don’t always insist on getting your way,he/she will be more likely to listen when that certain something comes up that really is important to you.