In late Winter,1992 ~ I was on a bus on the elevated expressway portion of I- 93 South ~ the ‘Green Monster’ that traversed the North End, Harbor and the Financial District of Boston before the Big Dig submerged the highway and the Rose Kennedy Greenway was planted.
I had been living in mystical Marblehead way up and ‘out east’ on the North Shore since 1988 and it was no longer proving to be workable ~having an early morning job teaching yoga @ the Boston Harbor Hotel, still being the general manager and main producer @ Cambridge Multicultural Arts Center in East Cambridge ~
and feeling that my need for the solitude of my 4 + years-long retreat to the North was waning…
I had been praying to and asking MahaLakshmi ~ the Goddess of Wealth and Abundance, to help me to manifest a place in town that I could live and work in.
That very morning on the bus, internally singing her chant ‘Mahalakshmi Stotram’ ~ a practice that I performed consistently every day since the the first of Spring 1986 when Gurumayi had sent the text and music to the Boston Ashram in Chestnut Hill, telling our community of Boston area devotees to practice this chant,
I had just asked mother Lakshmi to please help me.
As the bus sped by I saw a sign on the brick building near the end of Broad Street ~ ‘ thousands of square feet for rent’. Later that day in the damp misty March evening I took the ‘T’ to Government Center and walked down State, turned right onto Broad, past the disappeared location of ‘Cantones’ a small intimate and friendly punk rock dance club in the early 1980’s, and got the info from on a sign posted above the steel grate of the appliance store ‘Boston Ship Service’.
Soon I was living there ~ on a handshake and initially for $600.00 a month,
2,700 square feet on the 6th floor : walk up ( 147 steps from the street-level front door ) AND freight elevator with loading dock.
Featuring a kitchen, 1 & ½ half bathrooms, a curved brick wall, gas heat, rough hewn stone front walls beneath 2 working diagonal skylight windows, an abundance of of natural light , very expansive ‘rooms’ and internally connected spaces ~ enough for 2 bedrooms, office, library ,art studio, wardrobe and miscellaneous storage, access to the roof via a sturdy ladder in the attic that led to a hatch.
Yet Best and most significantly of All ~
that long room with the curved brick wall became my 800+ square foot yoga studio.
In those days I taught a Sunday morning class there that was attended faithfully by two women devotees, Ann Rahimi-Asa and ebony queen Cheryl Landy, a talented, gifted African-American woman who became a highly successful advertising genius who built an impressive portfolio of ‘maha’ advertising accounts for the Boston Globe in their heyday of the mid 1990’s. Cheryl was also very fond of ‘English’ culture and mannerisms in a non-uptight way. I believe her affinity for and identification with the English culture came from being strongly connected to a recent lifetime she spent incarnated in the form of a wealthy, happy and aware English woman.
In the initial months I had no refrigerator so I ate out a lot; ‘Pizzeria Regina and Pomodoro in the North End, Milk Street Café, the Sultan’s Kitchen and right across from my front door ‘Country Life Vegetarian Restaurant’.
After class one Sunday morning, I wandered over to Country Life to partake of the fabulous vegetarian brunch where you could get an actual vegan breakfast along with a complete vegan Sunday dinner.
Reveling in my overall good fortune @ the time which was manifesting in that present moment as the ample and delicious vegetarian food I was enjoying, I noticed a young Asian family come in; sisters with their children a husband and a stately queen of an older woman who was obviously the matriarch of all of these beautiful offspring. They emitted the subtle yet brightly pleasant vibrational buzz of happy people ~ very uplifting. My eyes caught the sparkle of one of the elder woman’s daughters who had young children ~ a cute handsome boy and pretty girl with lovely Asian eyes noticeable even @ that young age. The mother daughter smiled. I did not ‘play it cool’ and pretend that I was not checking her out. In less than a minute we found ourselves looking @ each other rather steadily with a comfortably familiar yet uncanny thought-form: ‘ we can’t -place- who-is- this familiar-stranger !?! ’. She took the initiative and approached me; “ Don’t we know each other from somewhere ? “
I said; “Uh, maybe from another lifetime, or maybe somewhere in yoga “ She exclaimed “ Yes! That’s it ~ we both studied with Patricia Walden when she taught Iyengar Yoga @ the home of Victor Oppenheimer ! “ ( near Fresh Pond in Cambridge, 1983 and ’84 ).
“ Cool ~ that’s right “ I responded, very happy to be seeing her again. “ Ciay, when I last saw you it was in Wellfleet on the Cape when Patricia taught that weekend workshop and you came, probably 8 months pregnant dressed in white accompanied by that very handsome man with dark eyebrows and black hair wearing a white shirt.“ ( Her husband. who appeared to me @ that time, as a choir boy-graduate, then possessing another level of the awareness of reverence for his sacred experience with this beautiful woman who was carrying his child ).
“ Well, I still try to study with Patricia but it’s a challenge since she moved her studio and I have a job managing the Cambridge Multicultural Arts Center .” She smiled as she said to me “ Well, you should come and study where I study ~ with Barbara Benagh on Beacon Hill, Joy Street very close to here”.
I said I would do that and probably see her there. “ Thursday nights”; she said.
After I left the restaurant I went up to Washington Street to Woolworth’s which was still in existence in the building that now houses Marshall’s, H & M and one of my employers, The Boston Sports Club. As I walked back towards my expansive penthouse loft I reflected upon my previous relationship with Ciay. She demonstrated herself to be a very proficient and capable yogini @ Patricia’s classes. We rarely spoke ( maybe 2 times + very briefly ) over that 2 year period. I would regularly check out the way she did poses which, along with internally chanting the Siddha Yoga Mantra ‘Om Namah Shivaya’ proved to be very helpful and inspiring for my own study and learning.
As I approached the beautiful ‘front yard’ of the Financial District known as ‘Post Office Square Park’ on that moist, balmy afternoon I had yet another memory of knowing Ciay. We had been together before ~ in a place that was full of water and streaming currents, beautiful islands and dolphins and sea beings who all lived together in playful joyous harmony ~ it was Lemuria ~ an ancient place in the area now known as the South Pacific Ocean, tens of thousands of years before Atlantis. She was like Tinker Bell and I was like Peter Pan. We were delightfully close friends. We swam, explored and played together in this age and place until the Earth changes caused our severance from one another and Lemuria ‘went down’ causing all of her inhabitants to travel to other continents and develop along different evolutionary pathways. It was wonderful to remember this ecstatic high incarnation that we had shared and I was very happy to anticipate that we would again be friends in this present lifetime.
To invite me to study with Barbara ~ this was a ‘no-brainer’ ~ a brilliant piece of crucial information handed to me by Ciay. I was still feeling the importance of continuing my yoga studies compelled somewhat by my need to ‘be grounded’ as I still often experienced profound expansive surges of energy and perception relating to the evolution of my consciousness – now having been accelerated by travelling upon the path of Siddha Yoga Meditation ‘officially’ since 1983, May – for almost 10 years @ that time.
I had already met BB @ the first North American Iyengar Yoga Teacher’s Convention held in the Summer of 1986 @ Harvard University, coinciding with the ‘Harmonic Convergence’ ~ a timespan during which our planet, solar system and the Universe were supposedly shifting into a higher vibrational frequency forerunning the actual arrival of the New Age ( sometimes referred to as The Age of Aquarius, or Sat Yuga ~ the age of Truth) following the ultimate decline being brought about as the present age of the Kali Yuga imploded upon itself, all life forms and the soon to be revealed obsolete way of life on this planet.
Barbara had been assigned to teach a Forward Bends workshop on the top floor of the Malkin Athletic Facility ( where in 1994, I began to teach yoga in the Harvard University Recreation Program, still doing that to this present day ).
My primary memory of my 1st encounter with BB was being very focused on improving my forward bending asanas ~ and she telling everyone to stop their pose in her bright, pretty Southern drawl to come over to take a look @ how terrible my pose was. I didn’t mind this @ the time as long as it was about improving everyone’s pose, including mine. Ciay had assured me that Barbara no longer ridiculed her students ( an Iyengar type of teaching-thing, because most of his student teachers imitated ‘Guruji’s’ fierce and somewhat caustic manner of relating to students ). Ciay had conveyed to me, somewhat telepathically, that though BB’s approach was softer than the traditional Iyengar ‘method’; it was potently capable to help you go ’to your edge’ and ‘beyond your edge’ making accessible places of greater possibility’ in your experience of the practice of Hatha Yoga ~ which Barbara refers to as ‘meditation in motion’.
Within a month I started my 20 minute ‘by foot’ commute from Broad Street to Joy Street on Thursday afternoons to Barbara’s studio which was on the top floor of a community center known as the Hill House. The studio -room had a pyramidic shape which I believe enhanced the power of the shakti that accumulates when and where people practice yoga regularly. So the energy was noticeably good there. Because of a yoga teaching commitment, I began to come to the 6 PM class when Ciay also came to study. In November of 1993 that year Ciay invited me, Barbara and a few other students over to her home after class to celebrate her birthday. The Misa Volpe family then lived in a residence @ Upton Street in Boston’s South End. I remember that chilly Autumn night when Ciay first welcomed me into her home. I knew we were going to be good friends again.
After classes , we soon began to go out to dinner, attended a Christmas Carol vegan lunch @ Ann Wigmore’s Hippocrates Health Institute, then located on Commonwealth Avenue in the Back Bay which I found to be very ‘heart warming and welcoming’. We sometimes visited my former place of employment, the CMAC ~ where I was still treated like an honored guest, went swimming in Walden Pond, and a couple of times we found ourselves on the roof of my loft, watching movies late @ night with the Customs House Tower ( in its pre-Marrriot time-share days ) nearby, this scenario taking place beneath the cosmic presence of the urban full moon rising above the deep blue indigo of the North Atlantic. Also in the following Spring ,we saw Angelique Kidjo live @ the Roxy ( now called the Royale ) with Ciay’s friend, Johnnny, an AIDS survivor. It was like seeing that Motown had gone to Mali on the West African coast and had returned to America ~ excellent ecstatic dancing that night. Our attendance @ the concert was preceded by a dinner @ Addis Red Sea Ethiopian Restaurant on Tremont Street. We sometimes bicycled thru the city streets over to Buddha’s Delight in Chinatown and when BB was away, we would get together with Ali Righter and Lucy White and practice yoga in my loft, Ciay often encouraging us to make sounds as we took on the forms and shapes of our ‘asana friends’.
Come every Christmas mid- December, Ciay would return to her native land of the Phillipines ~ located in the geographical region of the South Pacific known to be part of the previous location of the civilization of Lemuria. On New Years Day of 1995 I was walking towards Cambridge Street towards the Joy Street studio bundled up in the face of sub zero winds and frozen ice to partake of a free yoga class that BB was offering that day. I was acutely aware that Ciay was present within me ~ we were connected on a very deep soul level ~ I saw her golden hued skin and short cropped black hair with it’s streaks of silver, I could feel her breathing within me and with me as I walked through the frozen hostile Boston architecture that seemed to have been unconsciously designed to make this city a place even more windy than Chicago with its great oceanic inland fresh water lake. I was clearly aware that Ciay was connecting her essence to a level of the mineral kingdom characterized by warm, active, solidified volcanic rock deep in the ocean and islands of the Philipines. I envisioned her skin glowing with sweat, heard the sweet whispering vibration of her breathing as she merged her essence with that aspect of the ‘earth element’, the volcanic oceanic realm of rocks that have been there since Lemuria flourished.
Ciay is skilled in her ability of being able to channel ‘prana’ . She knows about healing by sending the energy of the breath infused with ’love’ to different areas of the body and different levels of consciousness or ‘skandas’ as they are referred to in Shavite philosophy, which make up what is called a physically incarnate being which includes, but is not limited to the ‘human being’.
( Sometimes I think that species, ‘homo sapien’ might end up being aptly re-named ‘humanus extinctus’. )
In 1999, Ciay’s brother, Lito a creative entrepreneur had come to visit her in Boston and also to make contact with Coca Cola, presenting them with proposals about helping him to develop and market inventions he had created. Being enrolled in the certification program of Holographic Repatterning® @ that time, I gave Lito a complementary repatterning session one Sunday afternoon. I then prevailed upon my friend, JoAnn Rose, to give him a lift back to Dartmouth Street in the Back Bay so he could walk back to Upton Street for a family dinner. My friend Jo Ann wanted to know why I was so concerned and about my willingness to accommodate Ciay and her family members. Just before getting out of JRF’s car Lito turned to her and said : “ Jo Ann, you’ve got to understand that Ray and Ciay have been very good friends for a very long, long time“. Instant replay for me ~ of the visions of us swimming and playing together in the watery land of Lemuria expanded forth in my consciousness.
@ Ciay’s 50th birthday party I got notoriously drunk. I was bored, and had made the mistake of not inviting a sexy, lovely woman, Lisa whom I had just started to date. Much of the food was dairy–based except for the poached salmon, which went very fast. There was ample champagne and to top it off ~ deadly to me ~ a tequila-based birthday punch. I got a taxi home and sat in the parlour of my Winchester Street apartment where I practiced inner healing, accompanied by the ‘Raga Bhupali’ ( Blue Pearl ) version of the ‘Om Namah Shivaya’ mantra to remove the drunken frequencies from my energy system.
@ 8 AM, I got up and bathed, then went to teach my 11 AM yoga class @ Wellbridge on Commonwealth Avenue.
By Monday afternoon, after work, Ciay called me and asked me “ Ray, why did you do that to yourself ?”
Apologizing to her, I told her that I had allowed myself to become totally bored and had sought to transcend my boredom by attempting to see if I could just get intoxicated enough ~ which I had failed to do. She received my apology and our friendship has continued.
After her return from the Phillipines in 2008 Ciay showed me a very exotic portfolio of photos of herself taken by an elderly Japanese photographer she had met and befriended that year. They are pictures of her in the nude practicing what can only be described as asana infused with elements of earth along with wood, water and sky. They, to me, are a living manifestation of the vision I beheld in 1995 walking on that Winter day.
They are featured in Ciay’s book ‘ Yoga in the Wild ‘
For more information about the living reality of Ciay ~ Lucia Misa – and to check out her book, please visit her website @
I attest to the truth of the above rendered account of my relationship friendship with Lucia Ciay Misa.
Love Light Laughter + Meditation,
Copyright 2010 Ray Iasiello ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
Certified Hatha Yoga Teacher
Certified Resonance Repatterning™ Practitioner