Soham

The identifications in this life are so tempting, sooo alluring…the urge to identify is rampant, laced into nearly every moment. Girlie, nerdy, athletic, vegetarian, teacher, doctor, outdoorsy, wife, mother, husband, father, artsy, conservative, liberal, ironic, pious…there are more ways we can latch onto false identifications than there are moments in the day. We do it unwittingly. We do it with honest and pure intentions (usually). But these are not who we are. There’s nothing wrong with enjoying these parts of our lives, but for liberation to be tasted, we must work towards the recognition that these “identities” are NOT us. We were infants once with no knowledge of math or science, unable to read, utterly dependent on our caretakers. Now we’re adults…our bodies have changed, our minds have changed, we dress differently, our careers have likely changed, maybe our partners have changed, we’ve had loss and we’ve had gain…so much has shifted, and continues to shift, and therein lies the danger in thinking we “are” any particular identity. In the deep, silence space of contemplation that is meditation, we begin to sip from the overflowing bowl of sweet nectar that IS our True Nature. The warm, constant pulse of our existence. Divine light. Earth angels. Beings of energy that are beyond any fathomable “identity.” In this space, there is such safety, such security, such warmth. The womb of humanity. So be you, do you, be “girlie, nerdy, athletic, vegetarian, teacher, doctor, outdoorsy, wife, mother, husband, father, artsy, conservative, liberal, ironic, pious…” but KNOW, in your very depths, that you are more sacred than any title could express. You ARE Divine light. You ARE an Earth angel. You ARE a Beings of energy beyond any fathomable “identity.” And you are here with a purpose. So step into the warmth of yourself, find that safe space, and proceed fully anchored by the roots of your untouchable Grace.
Namaste.

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The Art of Not Giving a Shit

I was going to call this essay “The Art of Not Caring.” But that’s frankly just too PG-13 for my current perspective. I’m going balls out and saying I don’t give a shit. Well, I actually do. I give many shits. But this past week the universe has laid out an intricate, land mine-laden obstacle course for me to navigate. In the process, I have found myself faced with the question, “Why do I care?” Actually, this very morning, my mom replied to my text-barrage of drama with, “Practice not caring.”

Practice not caring.

What a radical concept.

When I say “not caring” or “not giving a shit,” I by no means am implying one ought to walk through life with utter disregard to others space, time, feelings, thoughts, and the like. I am pinpointing a very specific and controversial notion. This is a constant, in our lives, this over-caring. I would go so far as to group it with the toxicity of holding a grudge. The whole “drinking poison and expecting the other person to die” idea. Does the person we’re angry with feel our anger when the argument is over? Nope. Does the person with whom we disagreed suffer over our ensuing obsession? Negative. Guilt, fear, regret, anger, jealousy, defensiveness…all of that ultimately affects one person and one person alone: you.

Clashing opinions, conflict, criticism…it’s going to happen. It’s called being human and living in a world with other human beings. One of my yoga teachers Seane Corn often says during practice, “Keep your eyes fixed on one spot and try not to shift your gaze…reduce the fidgeting and notice when you do.” That last part is what hits me the hardest, in the best way. Notice when you do. Occasionally we stray from our virtuous path. Sometimes we willingly engage in the “wrong” action. We get angry, we say something we don’t mean, we direct our rage towards other drivers on the road, we vent our irritation on our partner or the dog, we lie, we cheat, we fuck up. It happens. We do these things; we’re only human. It’s a part of life. But if we decide to do something harmful, like get totally wasted or blow off an important assignment or flake on plans last minute…may we do so knowingly. May we have the courage to say to ourselves, okay…I’m doing this. It’s not the right thing to do, but it’s what I am choosing to do in this moment. I am acting mindfully, even if this action is not in accordance with my highest morality. Hopefully we don’t find ourselves in this conversation often. But in the moments we do screw up, may we screw up with as much Grace and dignity as we are able. May we have enough compassion towards ourselves to realize we almost predominantly do the right thing, and then give ourselves permission to live fluidly. Sometimes living fluidly draws us downstream into a bit of pond scum. But we need those pond scum moments to strengthen our swimming skills. We need the moments of stuck-in-gunk-ness to see what it’s like to bob amidst that dirty film, and then exercise the kicking muscles to get back up to clean water where the moving is easy.

We are bound to have moments of darkness. We are bound to be dishonest. We are bound to be offended by criticism. We are bound to hold grudges. We are bound to mess up. We are bound to care what others think. We are bound to give a shit.

We are bound by our humanity, and by our ethics. But I believe that if we are making an effort, day in and day out, to live in line with our moral manifesto, to see ourselves with compassion and to commit to truth…then I believe we are living our most authentic, well-intentioned lives.

What can we do besides follow our own moral compass? If we are living in line with our ethics, being good and doing good, aiming to spread beneficial energy all the while being true to our own internal rhythm – what more could anyone ask for?

But they do ask for more. And more, and more, and more.

You know it. You’ve been there. We all have. At some point, we have to determine the toxic load of our experience. We can’t change what’s happening…but we can change our reaction. We can choose to not give a shit. In my experience this means acknowledging the reality of a situation, responding to it with fierce authenticity, holding my ground while staying in line with my truth, and also remembering when to compromise. Is it better to be right or be kind? I think we all know the answer to that one.

But it’s also important to stand up for ourselves. So this is tricky business. What about the person who, despite no longer being in your daily life, still finds ways to criticize and get in “digs”? How do I “not care” about that? I find my “not caring” comes in a messy little package of defensive, guarded irritation.

I don’t believe it has to be that way, though. I know in my deepest depths that we have the power to revolutionize our own thought processes. We have the power to move, albeit slowly, from that place of irritated inattention to authentic neglect. What I mean by authentic neglect is the profoundly natural inclination to move away from an emotional state that does not serve our highest good. A response that says, this is not good for me, this is stressful and toxic on a cellular level, and I am benefited in no way by caring. We have that power! It just takes practice. Willful, repetitive exercising of that force. Those kicking muscles. We have to get to a place where our desire for our own peace and healing overrides any lower mind desire to obsess, wallow, regret or, ultimately, soak in the pond scum of negativity. We come to a place where we refuse to drink poison and expect the other person to die.

So, you see, learning to not give a shit is truly an art form. It requires practice, patience, dedication and compassion. It calls for truth, goodness, love and courage. It is by no means a throwing in of the towel. It is in no way a surrender. It is not even a “fuck you,” (most of the time). It is none of those things. But what it is is an act of self-preservation and of utmost benevolence. Choosing to remove oneself from the power struggle is the balm to the burn. This skillful choice cuts short the hurtful back-and-forth that ensues when one continues to care and, essentially, prod the wound. Adding insult to injury is never going to result in healing. Having the last word only gives the illusion of satisfaction.

Learning how, when and if to reply to criticism or conflict is a lifelong journey. But it’s one I hope we can begin practicing dedicatedly today. Right now. Because the more intimately familiar we become with the art of not giving a shit, the more deeply we can sink our roots into the moist, fertile soil of our truth.

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Give All Back to Spirit

Say “God” in a yoga room – much less any other room – and you may well lose half your class. Figuratively and even literally. The notion of God is tangled mercilessly in the web of religion. The image of a man in the sky with a long white beard ruling over humanity with staff in hand may come to mind when the G-word is dropped. Many of us were raised religious; some of us were even provided quite a patriarchal network painted as religion. Religion aside, though, God is a word often skirted around for fear of the ensuing implications. My yoga teacher Seane Corn has the greatest definition of God. It is, “that which exists within that is of truth and love.” Who could argue with that, right?

God, by this definition, exists within us all. God is whatever and whomever we, as individuals, deem proper. You could be drawn to the word “God,” or perhaps Divine Mother, cosmic consciousness, the Universe, higher Self or the powers that be resonate more deeply with you. The point is, God is me as God is you as God is everyone. We are all part of the Divine fabric, intricately woven threads each endowed with our own, marvelous sprinkling of Grace. Our expressions of spirituality are different, our prayers different, our vibration different. This is how it is meant to be! There have been wars waged over religion; unfathomable blood shed over what God is or isn’t. It’s devastating to consider, especially when the truth (as far as I see it) is no one man or woman is more Godly than another. We are all Godly. It’s just a matter of how, or if, we choose to express it.

How does one go about expressing God in day-to-day life? Kindness. Compassion. Love. Generosity. Gratitude. Just to name a few. While cathedrals and chapels and shrines are stunning, we needn’t go to such trouble to express our devotion on a moment-to-moment basis. We are Divine expressions of God in and of ourselves! Our bodies are our temples. Our breath and movement is our prayer. Our very existence is an expression of devotion and, with mindfulness and commitment to Self and other, we have the capacity to fortify the unification of humanity.

I am a yoga teacher and soul activist who is deeply spiritual and open about my faith in Grace, the Divine and intangible cosmic beauty. On this path, I have been faced repeatedly with the judgment that yoga is a religion. I was even told recently that all yogis are “going to hell” because they fancy themselves “above God.” What the what? First of all, the ancient system of yoga originated in India. It is a multi-layered practice, and asana is only one limb. Yoga is not a religion. Hinduism and Buddhism are the two most well known religions associated with the yoga practice, but they are completely separate.

It’s important to differentiate between spirituality and religion. Religion is the subscription to a specific dogma. “A particular system of faith or worship,” according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary. On the other hand, spirituality is less a practice and more an embodiment. It is defined as “relating to or affecting the human spirit or soul as opposed to material or physical things; not concerned with material values of pursuits.” Quite different, yes? I will definitely admit there are some grey areas. A religious person can be deeply spiritual. But, on the contrary, there are countless spiritual beings who are not religious in the slightest. So one must be mindful of how one does differentiate, if discussing religion and spirituality. Especially when yoga is involved in the conversation!

Spirit is where we all came from. The Divine essence of existence. The pulse of the Universe. The rhythms of nature and the cosmos, the steady thread of unchanging bliss. My guru, Mynx Inatsugu, taught me what our “true nature” actually is. We are not the bodies we live in. We are not the minds we have in our heads. We are not the titles and various identities we accumulate throughout our lives. Because all of these are changing. Our bodies grow and age, our minds learn and change, our identifications come and go. The one steady constant we have had since coming into this life is the simple thread of awareness we were born with. It is unchanging. It is unaffected by weight, height, intelligence, memory, success or failure. It is the sweet nectar of our very being. It is our own personal dose of Spirit.

Spirit comes from the Latin root “spiritus” meaning “breath.” As yogis, and as human beings, everything comes back to the breath. Breath is life. Breath is prana; life force; sacred energy. Without the breath, we cannot survive. Similarly, without Spirit, we cannot survive. We can live completely disconnected from Spirit, in denial of it, or completely oblivious to it…but it will persist. It is threaded into our very spiritual matrix. We are vessels of Divinity. We are conduits of Grace. We are Gods and Goddesses in the flesh. We can argue it all we want, but we are vibrational beings of light living human lives on this sweet little planet. We come from the stars; we are literally made of stardust. The human restrictions of flesh and thought cannot contain us; we are inconceivably more than anything any human mind could even process. What power that offers, right? We all have this inherent capacity to “be good and do good,” by birthright. We are all cut of the same cloth.

It’s really easy to identify and cling to the changeable nature of things. Money, possessions, politics, relationships. It’s practically impossible not to cling to these things, at least some of the time. But the real problem lies in the belief in duality. The belief that you are different than I am. The belief that what I’m doing is wrong and what you’re doing is right. Seane Corn says that all things happen exactly as they’re meant to “so as for our souls to transform.” We are on a journey, all of us. We are here to grow, expand, transform and learn. We are here to spread love and be love but, most of all, we are here to remember how to love. We are here to teach each other. We are here to spend every single day practicing the art of seeing God in one another, of practicing compassion and kindness, to our Selves and to others. We are here with a great responsibility to the very magic of which we are comprised…to recognize the power that lies within, to never forget it, and to stand in awe of the great gift we have been given. You are God, you are Spirit and you are perfect – absolutely perfect ­– just by breathing.

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Soften and Surrender

Early tomorrow morning is the rising of the Blood Moon, and a total eclipse of the full moon. This moon is the Hunter’s Moon (the full moon following the Harvest Moon) but is being referred to as the “Blood Moon” as it is part of a lunar tetrad and ancient prophecy. All that aside…this full moon is bringing the heat. POTENT energy abounds…it’s yours to harness, my loves.

Mercury is also retrograde, meaning don’t be surprised if things go completely wonky (and I mean DON’T be surprised – this coming from someone who has, in the last 12 hours, had nearly every plan for the next MONTH get flipped on its head). Be extra mindful driving and where cars and electronics are concerned (again – take it from me, my car is currently tripling its original repair estimate as of 7am today, thanks Mercury!). More importantly, though, is how we react to these events. You may skate through retrograde without a hiccup, as many of us have before, and this Blood Moon may rock your friggin’ socks, being the wind in your sails, fortifying all the good and abundant already swirling around your personal little Universe (and I fist pump you heartily if that’s the case!).

But, if it’s not the case, you are in good company…and what matters most, what is absolutely vital, is that we react MINDFULLY to the circumstances. That we look quietly at the hand we’re dealt, chew on it, and don’t act without thinking. Being brash or overly emotional in these situations when there’s a full moon is like tossing a lit match into a puddle of gasoline. Just don’t do it. I have said it again and again but feel the need to reiterate (for my own sake, if no one else’s!), the full moon amplifies whatever is going on, especially internally.

So try and take a deep breath, go inside for a moment, have a little talk with yourself (yes, this is me talking to me, take what you will from it loves), and – most importantly – trust the process. Use the magnified essence of the Blood Moon to cultivate what harmony and surrender you can around the changeable circumstances and uncontrollable bumps that may occur in and on your path. We are in this together. Our sweet, sacred Divine Mother wishes nothing but to facilitate our highest good and necessary growth. We must trust, we must know, that sometimes these “what the F*CK” experiences are the only available mode of transportation in getting to that place of clarity.

Tonight, wherever you are, take a moment to get out beneath the waxing moon. Maybe say a little prayer. Maybe say nothing. Close your eyes, turn your face upward, and let her light soften your features. Leave your crystals and stones outside to charge beneath her radiance (assuming it’s not raining where you are and your crystals are in a safe place). Sit in meditation afterwards, inside, and take some deep breaths. Focus on your intentions and harness the sweet nectar of the moon to help give the manifestation of these dreams the extra gusto they need. Drink water. Put your legs up the wall for a few minutes. Ground into the earth. Indulge in a little bedtime ritual (candles, journal, soft music, eye pillow) and make sure you allot enough time to foster restful sleep. Ask for illuminating dreams. Then release. Soften and surrender. Breathe deep, seek peace.

Let love in.

Om shanti, shanti, shantihi . . . Om peace, peace, peace.

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Home

We are living in a physical realm; we bathe (hopefully) and feed ourselves; we sleep and build homes in which to live. But we are spiritual beings. We are particles of Divinity, made of stardust and light. We are earth angels. Our existence is fundamentally on a physical plane, we call it the “food body” – literally the flesh. But this is not who we ARE. This is not why we’re HERE. We are transcendent, astral bodies with the capacity to access our higher Selves. Our higher minds. Our highest potential. We also have the capacity to never experience our true nature. Because to experience it, really KNOW it, we must first see it. Acknowledge its presence, and then excavate it. This process is exquisite and a gift, through and through. This Truth lies within all of us, and it is made of love. When we see it we must really see it. We must recognize it. We must carefully maneuver it out from between the flesh and the bone and embrace it…knowing full well how valuable it is and promising never to squash it between our mortal fingers. We must bottle this up and carry it in our very human minds. A reminder, each time the flesh threatens to swallow us up in its complex web of existence, humanity and life and all the accompanying chaos, that we are light. We are untouchable. Our very presence here has a purpose and is an act of great wisdom by the creator (insert the Universe, God, Goddess, the Divie Mother, the cosmos…whatever resonates within your unique spiritual matrix). We are dancing between a physical realm and the celestial sphere…the latter being home. May we always, always, ALWAYS remember our way home.

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Fundamental Truths

As I stood at the kitchen sink meditatively massaging the inside of a large pan with the soapy sponge, I was struck with a wave of nostalgia. I had a sudden and vivid memory of the first time I learned the difference between “pot” and “pan.” This must have been a memory from grade school, a grammar lesson, but it suddenly felt fresh in my cells. I couldn’t help but marvel at the sensation. We are students of the universe, constantly learning and ever-evolving. But the teaching of such simple knowledge? The acquisition of fundamental truths? Most of these happened early on in our sweet little lives, when we were just wee little kiddos.

I remember learning how to address an envelope in second grade, and mailing ourselves letters as practice. I recall practicing the alphabet, and later cursive, on dotted line worksheets at smooth desks poised on the edge tiny chairs. I can visualize the finger paints on my skin in preschool as I was familiarized with the color wheel, the new shades created when one puddle mixes with another.

I am stages away from finishing up my post-grad studies and will soon be a Certified Nutritionist. Just yesterday I spoke with my mom about the wonder of learning. The conversation was prompted by an experience with an acquaintance earlier that day. A man in his late forties or early fifties, I presume, someone who knows my general doings and the brushstrokes of my educational route. Yesterday he asked me my age. When I replied that I’m 26 he nodded. “I was 30 when I learned Swedish,” he said matter-of-factly, “and it was hard.” I nodded in appreciation, taking in his words.

It is harder now to make space for new, foreign information that it was at the start of college, I suppose. I couldn’t quite grasp whether there was truth to the concept for me, in this moment, at this point in my life. But upon reflection, and prompted by this sudden memory just now at the sink, I am rather amazed by the notion. When we’re children, we’re blank slates, fresh canvases. We have space and capacity for learning likely greater than our own knowing. But as we age, on both a physical and psychological level, it’s more challenging to retain new information. It’s not to say we can’t achieve phenomenal intellectual feats or become greatly educated later in life, not at all. Many of the greatest scholars, philosophers, authors and thinkers actually came into themselves later in their lives. We gain more wisdom and clarity the  more life we have in our rearview mirrors. But it’s simply a a fact that we have less “empty space” the more life we have lived, the more we have experienced, the more we have filed away in our minds.

We don’t have less capacity for learning, we just have more information cluttering the sky-high shelves of our intellect. Grammar, mathematics, locker combinations, pin numbers, passwords, names, song lyrics, directions, memories…it goes on and on. Our brains, if we could open them up and uncoil them onto the table for inspection, would provide miles and miles of fascinating, brilliant, mundane, useless and priceless information. Facts and dreams and images and ideas. We are brilliant time capsules, walking encyclopedias, sponges ever soaking up the data we are drenched in with each waking day.

How beautiful is this? This life, this capacity to learn, to know, to forget and to learn again. How nice would it be to take a clean cloth to the parts of our brains that are crammed with useless information…wiping the slate and making space to be filled with new, fresh material. I’m fascinated by this concept. Who’s to say we can’t do that?

Sure, we can’t literally take a cloth to the inside of our brains (please don’t try this at home). But what we can do is access our pineal gland, the “seat to our soul,” our third eye. We can tap into our intuition, via mediation and self-reflection (journaling, pranayama, silent time spent immersed in nature, sitting down to the sensory feast provided by the world on a moment-to-moment basis – if only we could stop and have a listen…). We have the power to harness our dreams, our waking thoughts, and embody them to their utmost capacity. As beings of light we are not just here to know pin numbers and memorize formulas and learn languages. Yes, we need to do these things too, but what if we mindfully sectioned off a portion of the brain to contain this monotony, and opened the rest up to the Divine? What if we offered all that remaining space, with fiercely beautiful intention, to the realm of creativity, passion, artistry and imagination?

What if we dropped the “what if” and just did it? What then? I think we might amaze ourselves.

We were born to be creators, passion flaming, we were born as artists, imaginations wild and unbound. The human brain is a brilliant, brilliant phenomenon. The amount of potential we have is greatly more than we actually access, on average. The human mind is another phenomenon altogether; I see the brain as the physical manifestation of the mind. The mind is much more encompassing. The mind operates outside of the brain, all the way to the fingertips, it emanates from the body via thoughts and energetic intentions. I believe the brain is exercised by fundamental truths…pot versus pan, red versus blue, 7^2 is 49, slavery was abolished in 1865. I believe the mind is exercised by tapping into magic…meditation, imagination, singing, writing, taking photographs, music, dancing, drinking in the beauty of nature, making love, laughing, delighting in colors, moving the body with breath, pranayama, deep relaxation, studying, reading, embodying utter stillness and presence, mindful intention setting, journaling, dreaming.

We’re pretty set on the brain exercises. Most of us operate on a day-to-day basis working jobs, driving cars, going to the bank, paying bills. We are bombarded by numbers, decisions, equations, formulas and details almost incessantly. Our left brain is, I dare say, chronically overstimulated. Our right brain, however, often gets shut down in order to make more space for logic, reasoning, critical thinking. But that only gets us so far. Because, while I’m grateful to have the capacity for discernment, what does it really matter if I call the pan a pan or if I call it a pot? It doesn’t matter. It will cook my vegetables nonetheless. But if I marvel at the texture of the pot pan, if I get lost in a poem about the way the food sizzles upon its surface, the way the fragrance rises, curling seductively from the stovetop, warming the kitchen while the frosty winter air clings threateningly to the outsides of the windows…that matters. That is an experience worth making space for.

My point is that there is a serene oneness between these two seemingly separate entities. The right and left brain are one. The reason and the intuition lean on one another, support one another. The structure is not sound without one or the other. So let’s work on our right brain exercises. This means: permission to daydream. Permission to make up songs, barefoot in the kitchen, while scrambling eggs in a pot and boiling soup in a pan. While drinking tea from a bowl and broth from a mug. While standing on the ceiling, steam curling upwards toward the floor. Because what’s a name without an image to match it? What’s reason without recognition? We are the creators of our own universe. We are the pilots of our own orbit and we determine whether we fly through thick fog, trusting we are flying because we’re in a plane…or soaring above the clouds, drinking in the blues and pinks of the sky, toasting in the heat of the sun and cooling in the light of the moon, taking in valleys and mountains, ocean and treetops, letting rain wash clean our exterior and humidity cleanse us from the inside out. We can know we’re flying because we see it, we feel it, we taste it and we hear it. We can know we’re flying because we have given life to the world around us.

You’re flying, didn’t you know? We are in flight, and that is the most fundamental truth that has ever been.

Awaken.

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Convergence

This is the time to be focused on setting intentions. I mean, really putting your entire being into it. The autumnal equinox is Tuesday, closely followed by Wednesday’s new moon. This latent energy is sooo powerful and it’s just WAITING for you to tap it. What do you seek in your life? What do you wish you could change? What, if anything, would you blink into existence if you could this very moment? YOU are in control of your actions, YOU make the rules. Use this power. Harness it. Turn your eyes to the sky, open your palms and unfasten the latch of your heart … let Divinity pour in. You have the power. What are you planting?

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It is no coincidence that mama earth’s new moon cycle begins right on the heels of the autumnal equinox. This convergence of energy is pooooootent. Don’t underestimate it. A space of deep release, renewal and utmost potential – as inherent beings of Divine light we are always poised on the precipice of our highest potential, but these celestial events magnify and heighten the intentions we are setting and the vibrations of manifestation we emit into the universal frequency on a daily basis. USE this time. Don’t underestimate your innate power to create your life, down to the sweetest little pockets that are hidden from the rest of the world. Find some space this evening to retreat inward…design an image of the life you desire. Envision the energy that naturally builds (that feeling in your belly or chest that bubbles up when you really melt into the details of a fantasy of joy and contentment) emanating from your very being. Like little cell messengers floating into the abyss to do the work of the Divine. Journal your intentions, or simply state them aloud. Acknowledge the things that no longer serve you, the things you wish to release, or even scrawl them onto paper and burn them at sunset. Whatever you decide to do, give yourself the gift of intention-setting and the gift of mindful release. Then let go. Palms upward, heart open, set free everything that you wish to cultivate as well as everything that is no longer serving you. Emptying the container so as to be filled. This life is a sacred gift. May we live it to our fullest potential in every breath. Namaste <3

The equinox is just after midnight here in this realm, and the new moon is tomorrow. Join me for an #SMF (social media fast) and tap deeply into the current of energy, the conscious collective, by abstaining from all web distraction for the remainder of the equinox and new moon. Let the Divine infiltrate your cellular matrix. Be free.