Monday, July 2, 2007

Big Guns

Big day! After clearing the ins and outs required by the hospital, and getting back to normal living, I'm onto the next big thing. I am welcoming my first treatment of chemo today. Getting the big guns in to help me fight is the right thing to do for me. So I'm counting on it, and the wonderful love of my family, and the friends who become family through their actions, and all of you who are holding me in your hearts to be an invincible team. In musing on today, I find there's a curious intersection that I don't know has been noted before between science and religions in which, somehow or other, female human hair becomes a point of interest. So, in the interest of science and with a bow to religions, I'm happily releasing mine, knowing that it will grow again - perhaps curlier this time.

I know chanting is heavenly and earthly. Dispite the difficulties all New Yorkers bring up about crosstown transportation, no problems here. And there was chanting fron all directions from all areas. The quiet reflections, joy, chanting and prayers of all forms are in my consciousness.

So, onwards and upwards!


Robin Janis said...

Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing,
thee is a field. I'll meet you there.

When the soul lies down in that grass,
the world is too full to talk about.

Ideas, language, even the phrase
each other
doesn't make any sense.

-Rumi the really big guns...


Laureen said...

Mary, I am surrounding you with white, healing light and energy.

When my son went off to college and came down with mono, I e mailed him that I had been surrounding him with healing white light. He e mailed me back, "That's why I haven"t been able to sleep. Mom, can you turn it down a little.!"

So, I will keep yours on a continuous soft glow so that you can sleep.

Leslie said...

"...Fight, therefore, O Bharata."

sandra said...


Let me know if you want me to send anything we talked about. We are leaving on Friday but I can send anything out before then. You'll get through it all just stay with it. Sandy

Ann McDermott-Kave said...

Dear Mary ~

Your blogging has alleviated the wondering. Thank you for continually communicating so openly.

Thinking of you throughout each new day ~

Norma Colón said...

Oh Mary!!
You are such an inspiration!! Such a possitve spirit! In this in addition to all you've been and will be in Yoga! More than a role model!! Your attitude is so great! My life is better because I have you.

I'm keeping you in my heart and prayers.
Next year we can all look back on this time and celebrate your recovery and progress!
Lots and Lots of love,

Admin said...
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Tracy said...

Robin is right; Rumi is a BIG gun!


You're sitting here with us, but you're also out walking
in a field at dawn. You are yourself
the animal we hunt when you come with us on the hunt.
You're in your body like a plant is solid in the ground,
yet you're wind. You're the diver's clothes
lying empty on the beach. You're the fish.

In the ocean are many bright strands
and many dark strands like veins that are seen
when a wing is lifted up.
Your hidden self is blood in those, those veins
that are lute strings that make ocean music,
not the sad edge of surf, but the sound of no shore.

gina said...

I hope you are getting my messages of love and support through the people who are seeing you, but I was moved to communicate via the blog today to say that, not for the first time, you are encouraging ME with your attitude toward your own challenges. You are truly a teacher, regardless of the nature of your platform.

I am taking care of our monday night class for you until you return. We miss you very much. Tonight we are working on stability, as it is standing poses week. Often you tell us to relax and let go a little as we approach a difficult asana. At the same time you exhort us to fully inhabit what is happening with all of our resources, including that sensitive and informative thing, the breath. We will do as you have taught us, as you are doing that for yourself. We will all do it for each other, and for you, as you, amazingly, continue to do it for us.

with love and gratitude,


Adina :) said...

Hi Mary,

So they are sending in the "big guns" just before Independence Day,sounds like good tiing to me!

Sending you protective loving light everyday and

You will be well.


Tamar Kelly said...

Dearest Mary,
I have found myself smiling every so often through out my day, over the last few weeks. Whether while practicing asana, or just walking down the street, I think of something you have said, I hear your voice. The sign of a good teacher (and this wonderful thing called "Yoga" )is that the teachings keep on teaching. So I am grateful to be heard your voice and keep hearing your voice.
I hope you heard mine yesterday as we all chanted away in your honor, for your good health. I hope you hear me whispering today,"thank you, I send you love, I send you bright hope, I send you the warmest of wishes".
x Tamar

Maureen said...

Hi Mary, Please know you are in my thoughts, prayers and practices each day and you are held with love.... Maureen in CA

Francie Ricks said...

Dear Mary, you have always been an inspiration to all of us, and beautiful, with or without a full head of hair. Thank you for sharing what is happening and I hope you will continue to blog regularly even after you go home, for those of us who are not on the first line of communication, but who love you and need to know how you are.

Kathy Jo said...

Mary, may I add my ammo to your big guns?
When my dear mother would go to the hospital for her chemo treatments for ovarian cancer, with the needle in her arm and the medicine dripping into her vein, she envisioned the golden honey flowing in and the cancer flowing out.
She was a life-long swimmer and in between treatments she went to the Dolphin Research Center in the Florida Keys to swim with the dolphins. Did you swim with the dolphins in Isla Mujeres?
When she came home to California, my mother would go in the water as often as possible and visualize a dolphin swimming beside her. Her dolphin had a golden spear at the end of her nose and would stab my mother's cancer cells.
Now, Mary, I feel my mother's dolphin swimming beside you.
Gobs of healing light,
Kathy Jo

lucienne said...

As a young girl in the early seventees growing up in Amsterdam, I always enjoyed the gatherings of the salmony pink dressed women and men with their drums and tambourines. Innocently I clapped and danced along with them, chanting "Hairy Krishna, Hairy Krishna...
Bon Courage Mary and all my love,

Linda Hays said...

On July 4th we do the fourth round of sweats for you.

Much love,

Mary Haight said...


I've been reading your blog every day and holding you in the light, and I've asked the other members of Friends Meeting here is State College to do so also. (I hope all the light is not keeping you from sleeping.)


Mary Haight

paul cheek said...


Love and light your way from your students in the Northwest.

You are in our prayers.


paul cheek
Rushing Water Yoga
The BKS Iyengar Yoga School of Southwest Washington

Yvonne said...

Dear Mary
With love to you on Monday afternoon. I trust that all went well today.

Marc D said...

hi again, Mary
In another of my spiritual practices, I've oftenheard I gain enormously by giving my love. So much can be said about giving, and I find it ticklingly delightful that the giving returns the warmest feeling when its only goal is transmitting loving feelings to another, in this case you, without thinking of the warmth that will surely return. Chanting to/about you with so many others on Sunday was a kind of magic for me, and I felt blessed to have been part of such a focused sending of care, and therein was a piece of return, and since it carries on a full day later, I'm glad to think the chanting has moved more than counting matters, forming a critical mass beyond mass. I send further wishes that the MDs wisdom further contributes to transmitting signals in furtherance of your cells regaining the balance they've known so well in you. It was great to take part in your tradition of fingers stretching wider than wide!

LeimomiE said...

Duane and I know you are absolutely doing the right thing and hold you wrapped in Divine healing Light. Also, we're glad that you have released to NOT having to blog daily -- your healing is what is most important. At the same time, it is truly wonderful to know how you are doing when you feel like telling us all. We're ever grateful for you and your sharing what Guruji has taught you. And that goes with or without hair! Curly may it return!
With aloha,

Mary Beth Early said...

Mary, when my son was small and in Montesorri school he once in a troubled moment sqeezed his small hand in mine and passed me the "energy ball", which his teacher had taught the class to pass to each other in time of need. Many times we have offered each other the energy ball and it seems to grow like topsy. I'm offering it to you today. Thank you so much for using your energy to increase ours in so many ways, including most recently your blog. Best wishes and healing energy, with love,

Mary Beth

sarah p said...

Dear Mary,
I have never read ( or seen ) a blog before, much less respond to one. What will you teach me next??

You are an amazing inspiration to me.
I am thinking of you every day.

With love,

Nagisa said...

Mary, As one of your newer students, I waited to send you a message, but know this in your heart--no one ever looks at your hair, it is your glorious smile that draws people to you. Fingers crossed that this stage moves quickly, and get well soon, Nagisa Manabe

Karyn Ginsberg said...

Dear Mary,
"The heart believes. The mind conceives. The "yes" achieves. The adventure of consciousness in Joy."
You have given so much joy to all of us and I send you back as much joy as my heart holds.
With love, Karyn Ginsberg (Greenwich)

Karen said...

Dear Mary,

I am thinking of you each day, sending prayers, and smiling with joy to feel all the love you are giving and receiving. I hope the next few days go smoothly.

Karen Allgire

Dale Simmerman said...

My mother
Wore her bald head
Like a badge of courage
To the supermarket
Without a wig

She was quite the talk of the town

But that was in Tennessee

If you do the same thing
In New York City

No one will notice you

But as you pass by
People will

Release their shoulders

Lift their faces...

And put on sunglasses



Mary, the blessings your blog has created is full of inspiration, healing and hope. It is with great respect, awe and wonder that I have crossed paths with you and others embodied with pure and beautiful souls...Rest well and battle mightily...Warmest regards, Susan Turis

colleen fontes said...

Hi Mary, I am thinking of you all the time and holdng you in the Light. You are teaching and inspiring us even now. We all love you. Please get better soon. Colleen

Jackie said...

Hi Mary--I'm wondering if you've seen or considered seeing a nutritionist to help elimiinate chemo toxins after they've done their good work.

Chanting yesterday was extraordinary. The light was green and gold, and, dressed in clothes suitable for a formal wedding, we faced east and joined the rhythms of ether and air and California sunshine to Patanjali. everyone else, and you.

The wedding was great. The groom is 58. This is his first marriage, and it's also hers. Their faces were vulnerable and open and brave. They looked at each other with an utter adoration which proves that falling in love is useful and productive at any age. They'd written their marriage contract themselves, and it was one both of them looked eager to stick to. There was nothing extra in the ceremony, just what was necessary. It was a great day.

xx Jackie

estie said...

Dear Mary,

I am thinking of you much of my day and always rooting for you, Mary.


torimilner said...

Hi Mary,

Well, as you are releasing your hair to the universe, I am releasing all the healing, loving light from my heart to yours. The big guns are necessary from time to time in life. Imagine us all with our arms stretched wide in Utthita Hasta style ready to catch you. There is a giant human net of love underneath you.

I went to a dharma talk at the New York Insight Meditation Center tonight and two things struck me. Finding "rest" in restlessness and the bliss of blamelessness.

I am wishing you peace and rest in your body, mind, heart and soul.

Love and Miss You!


Maria C. said...

Hello Dear Mary

It's late in CA, you might be sleeping. Wish you are resting after a big day.
I missed you on Sunday but it's good to take a day off :). Hope you gathered with your dearest closest one and with your inner self to face the big day and you did! Lot of nuances. Learning is an ongoing experience and you are just getting richer and richer!
Your wisdom comes to us in so many wonderful ways with so much grace that I am fascinated following up your updates and admiring you by the second even more!! I always feel inspired by you as a teacher, as a human being and can feel you warmth even being miles away from you. You are aily in my thoughts, deep in my heart and in my chants.
With respect, admiration and much love adding to that great deep wave of love coming your way from all over the places and that goes on and on and on and on and on and on...
All the best in this new phase
warm big hug from maria ;)!

Michael said...

Good luck on this big day. I hold you in my thoughts and hope the big guns aim well.


Jen said...

Bring on the curly hair! Now, that I can really help you with!

In my thoughts, my prayers.

Yes, as everyone blogs, you are an inspiration. May our love inspire you further towards healing.

Lisa said...

Dear Mary,
I expect by now your tumors are melting from the chemo blast & all our prayers.
I'm in Sag Harbor..took a non-Iyengar yoga class.We did something called 'half happy baby pose,' & after shoulder balance--specifically done w no blankets, we did pourvotenasana. EEEk.
Get well sooooon.
Lisa M

registration said...
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david harshada wagner said...

Mary, you probably don't know me- I come to your Monday night class sometimes.

Years ago when I went through a big illness and huge surgery, I asked a wise and deeply spiritual friend -who had been through a medical thing even harder than mine- what she learned from her experience.

"Don't take it personally." Was her response.

I miss your classes and your clarity.

Love and blessings,


7/3/07 8:05 AM

Paula Grimm said...

...From a seasoned Russian hairdresser who advised my sister last July when she began her chemo treatment. Rinse hair in WHOLE milk--she thinned a bit, but never lost it!
With love and prayers...

Tree said...

Dear Mary,

What an inspiration you continue to be for all of us!Thank you so much for this open communication. I am sending to you and all with dis-ease a stream of healing love and light. Curls would be fun! Looking forward to seeing you soon with your curly hair.

thomas said...

the freedom of ease,
to walk in the morning light and see my friend and beloved teacher.
Mary, you mean the World to me
. open arms always,

Columbia said...

Here, I am- in my heart, for you to get healthy and recovered— it is wonderful to read, and hear your spirit… your progress- with this intelligent and loving idea: this blog that allows us to form the human net - to hear and feel it all resounding with you
,to read everyone’s words....

Now, that photo that I promised-
when you see it: know please, I also give this to you!..(you’ll know what!)
Have sent photo the pre-blog way with James' email(am as yet unable to figure how to blog it!) --may you receive it very very soon!

Columbia said...

Here, I am- in my heart, for you to get healthy, strong, recovered— it is wonderful to read, and hear your spirit… your progress- with this intelligent and loving idea: this blog that allows us to form the human net - to hear and feel it all resounding with you
,to read everyone’s words....

Now, that photo that I promised-
when you see it: know please, I also give this to you!..(you’ll know what!)
Have sent photo the pre-blog way with James' email(am as yet unable to figure how to blog it!) --may you receive it very very soon!

Kate Marshall-Chase said...

Mary...I'm sending back to you some words of wisdom you shared at FPR that I came across in my practice today. "Access the quiet state then transport it to all you do. What you do is less important than how you do it" Holding you in the light in Lemont, PA

Love, Kate Marshall-Chase

Steven said...

Here's from another you're not expected to know or remember, but whom remains deeply grateful for your presence in the world.

Anonymous said...

Dear Mary,
Hope all went well yesterday. Your are close to our hearts, thoughts and prayers as you continue to inspire, teach, to love and to live.

alexander vreeland said...

Dear Mary,

You are so courageous. Pursuing the treatments and therapies from Sloan Kettering is a very agressive path. Unfortunately, western medicine deny the importance of diet, vitamins, massage, acupucture, positive thinking and all aternative options. As you so well know, life is all about balance. Finding your equilibrium in this process is essential for long term health.

Cancer is not the enemy but the teacher. Like all adversaries one gains a respect for it and eventually can laugh at the fear that it created.

You are such a great teacher and this experience will bring you to a whole new level of inspiration and clarity for all your apprentices around the world.

With lots of love,

roy said...

dear mary
i used to live in nyc and attend your classes ill always remember your generous teaching and kind heart.
praying for your good health
michal , israel.

cathy said...

I opened my chest in a way that quietened the nervous system and allowed me to fill with gratitude.
You are an inspiration.
love cathy

Janna Peterson said...

Dearest Mary:
Before the days of hairspray, curlers, mousse, hair gel, "Japanese Hair Straightening", or anything beyond bobby pins and plain water, my mom had kinky, curly dark brown hair. Bet you didn't know that...
All she ever wanted was straight - or at least, straighter hair. Once it turned silver, she got her wish!
You're going to look great in curls!

Sending you our healing love and prayers,

Janna and Joann

Scot said...

Can you feel all the love coming from the Staffords right now? You're in our thoughts constantly.....Go, Mary, Go! I've always thought you were most beautiful with your hair really really really short anyway... Many hugs, Betsy

anna and art said...

to the big guns,
to the chants,
to foot massages.

xo anna
xo art
xo ryan
xo jonathan
xo buster
xo max

naghmeh said...

dear mary,

your spirit always reminds me of the Virabhadrasanas: the big guns! Virabhadrasana II - for your great wide embrace and broad heart; Virabhadrasana I for your great Heart lifted Upwards - Virabhadrasana III for that great Intent Onwards! may the great Big Spirits of Virabhadrasana be with you all the time- love + blessings, naghmeh

Sue Shapiro said...


Hoping your first round of chemo went well. Looking forward to seeing you soon, curly hair or no hair--. I dreamed of joining you in being shaven headed. May all my love and energy join with the love and energy streaming from your friends and students around the globe, and surround you with peace and strength as you go forward on your courageous journey. I so appreciate your openness and willingness to let us give to you as you have given so whole heartedly to all of us.


Sheryl Nigro said...

You have taught me many, many things.
Now you are teaching me how to be both brave and graceful in the face of fear.
I truly admire you for that.

Carol Cavanaugh said...

Dear Mary,

Have been thinking about you so much that it seems you are just inches from me, not several states away!

Just wanted to add a thought to all the wonderful support you are receiving. You know, people say that you are an inspiration and of course you are, but there might be moments during this period when you don't want to be noble or inspiring or a radiant demonstration of yoga. It's okay; you have enough challenge right now without having to inspire those to whom you've given over the years. So if at any point that becomes a burden, please drop it. Let us support you if you need it.

My Buddhist teacher Tara Brach said in the first class I took from her that the goal of this life is to wake up. And no matter what situation life places you in, you can use that situation to help you wake up. So you can never be in a "bad" situation. I am sure that you are now learning things beyond the imagining of those of us who seem temporarily to be "able-bodied". So, give yourself space to be a student. Part of being a student might be frustration, not-knowing, seeming in a void at times. No one who loves you will really mind that if it happens. In fact, it helps us to wake up too.

People just love you and don't want you to suffer, is all.

Tara also often reads this poem from Mary Oliver. You might like it.

Wild Geese

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.

Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.

Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting -
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

I am sending much love to you, Carol

Ellen said...

Like for how many of us? from the dinasour age, this is my first experience with blogging, and , as I understand it, I think a "blog thing" is that we can respond to one another.

It's early morning in Vienna and after checking in on Mary, the first blog I read was last night's last -

so to Carol C. - "Wild Geese" is so beautiful. Thanks for setting me off into the day with it. Judy, my sister, and I share a love for Mary Oliver's poetry.
Others will too.

Mary, sending you continued love, Ellen

Maria C. said...

Dear Mary

Wish leaving the hospital was smooth and you are now at home surrounded and supported for all you dear family and closets friends. You always were. Being at home should feel good. It's like Tadasana! Where one knows where everything is! But has to rediscover it every time.

I have been thinking of you very much and often see you and hear you in my heart and smile and tears come.
Even though I am far away (west coast) it doesn't feel so because your energy is so powerful that can be felt miles away and it comes in the blog with great spirit, love, enthusiasm, poetry that it seems you were here, And you are! (talking about SF area).

Thanks a lot for keeping us posted about what was going on. Things haven't been easy but you bravely faced it all.
Rest, recover, reflect and reappear when you feel ready to reconnect. Take your time to heal well. I have faith you'll do so and wish that every minute. All the very very best.

Maria :) a fan, fan, fan, fan of you!!!

Jackie said...

Science Merging With Religion, In Hair

Bye for now to the DNA record,
There's something good to be said for that:
No incriminating evidence will be there tomorrow,
The record will be clean and clear.

Bye for now to the wedge cut of the skater,
The blue afro of the long ago happy masquerade,
The short cut which is sensible and pretty, and so bye and

A cheery wave to the combout and wash
A flip to the meditative brush and the repeated tease,
Some time is saved, some honored and shampooed

God be with the strand derived from skin, god bye
Toss away the bobby pins
Hello, hallow, to skin

For here is the goddess
The goddess and doctor
The doctor and cosmetologist of the soul

Here in the strand that breathes away
Releasing its hold on beauty and pity
Here in the soft skin over the skull and brain
The sutures newly discovered, the embryo
Here in the bald as only a baby can be

You were pretty and we loved you dearly and daily
And now you are maybe no more
For now, though maybe you are
In the bald moment of truth
Soft swansdown, soft, soft peace
Waiting in innocence to be born and hello
Resting in quiescent fact and silent belief
Making one what was, what is and what will be
not a bad hair day, not a no hair day, but a day
a day of what may be

Robin Janis said...

to my favorite Mary, from my favorite poet, Mary:"Wild Geese"was copied and ready to send you, but in rising at 4am and turning to your blog, I see that the geese have already flown over to you. So here is little early morning offering of some other kind of bird, with glorious wings and an uncanny ability to (with) stand on one leg...

Some Herons

A Blue preacher
flew toward the swamp
in slow motion

On the leafy banks,
an old Chinese poet,
hunched in the white gown of his wings
was waiting.

The water
was the kind of dark silk
that has silver lines
shot through it
when it is touched by the wind

or splashed upward
in a small, quick flower
by the life beneath it.

The preacher
made his difficult landing,
has skirt up around his knees.

the poet's eyes
flared, just as a poet's eyes
are said to do
when the poet is awakened
from the forest of meditation.
It was summer.

It was only a few moments past the
sun's rising
which meant that the whole long sweet day
lay before them.

They greeted each other,
rumpling their gowns for an instant
and then smoothing them.

They entered the water,
and instantly two more herons--
equally as beautiful--

joined them and stood just
beneath them
in the black, polished water
where they fished, all day.

-Mary Oliver
House of Light (well of course!)

Tomorrow I will send you another poem via cyber flight, a reflection on the light of the full moon (well of course!)

much love to you always,


Barbara Nicol said...

Dear Mary,

I wonder how you are doing today, the 4th of July. I associate this day with freedom and therefore, the quest for enlightenment.

After reading your blog about summoning the big guns to help you,
I decided it was time to ask His Holiness the Dalai Lama to pray for you. However, I can only report I am still waiting to hear from his secretary, who I think is in the midst of birthday preparations (His Holiness's birthday is July 6th).

I must say this delay is rather normal for me, for I have never been able to approach His Holiness without also getting a teaching in patience and humility myself. Maybe if everyone prays it will help speed things along.

Much love,

Abby Gross said...