I Feel the Earth Move…

Today in yoga we focused on the muladhara chakra. Moving energy from the base of the throat all the way down to the base of the pelvic floor. I presume everyone in the room was as in need of the grounding, meditative thread that was woven into the practice as I was, after the scary 6.1 earthquake that shook our little world at 3:30 this morning.

The dog had been barking before the quake hit. She must’ve intuitively sensed what was to come. As I moved to sit up in bed the force of the rumbling flung me upright and to the edge. I was certain someone was pouncing on my bed. I clambered for my bedside lamp, light ripping through the darkness. As my eyes adjusted, my body moved with the undulating room, the very floor rippling beneath my feet. The shaking world lasted so long I very nearly dropped to my knees at my altar and began to pray. I thought it would never end. And just when I was certain it wouldn’t stop, it did.

I woke this morning to a world more quiet and still than I had seen before. Naturally, it wasn’t that; the breeze swept gently through the trees, sunlight bounced in its many directions, birds sailed through the sky and bugs crawled across the earth. But something felt so supremely still, after a night of such earth-shattering magnitude. I sat in the sun in my backyard, quiet and unmoving, sipping a smoothie and contemplating events of natural force. Reveling at the power and prowess of Mother Nature; holding lightly the Truth that no human could stop the force that She is, while cultivating trust and peace in Her despite the unknown. 

There was some sincere damage done, including homes burned down by power lines falling, and a deep chasm tearing through the street in one town. My own parents’ house had things knocked off the shelves, a massive mirror fall and shatter, spraying glass across the living room, pottery and plants falling and smashing on the hardwood (fortunately they were away on holiday and not there to be even more frightened by the deafening blows of shattering glass). But no harm was done to anyone I know and love, for which I am abundantly grateful. Of the 70 who were counted as injured, I have heard of no serious injuries (and pray that is still the case). We are spectacularly blessed that the quake was not stronger. I hold space for faith that this was the main event and no stronger shake is coming. I thank the Divine Mother for keeping us safe and steady while she shook our foundation, keeping us ever aware and mindful of where and how we place our feet. My friend Dave said it perfectly, “Woken up by Mother Earth, reminding us that she still runs things around here, we’re all just visiting…”

If that 6.1 didn’t shake loose whatever we were stubbornly holding onto, I don’t know what will…a timely new moon release, I say. Shaking furiously from our grip what we obstinately clung to, making space, bringing us to our knees. Emptying us and readying our containers to be filled. The new moon is tomorrow morning. Such an apropos rattling; like the shake of a snow globe. Everything is more clear and silent once the flurry has settled…

Gratitude for stillness today in the wake of midnight forces of Nature. Muladhara focus. Rooting down. Anchoring. Establishing the security that only we can offer ourselves…that not even our homes or the earth can offer us. Only this, our True Nature, is unshakeable, unbreakable. Only this…

Inhale, exhale. Inhale, exhale. Inhale, exhale. Wake up, pay attention…turn eyes toward the blackened sky, palms up, releasing our intentions upwards into the inky canopy overhead. On the last day of the lunar month, we have been shaken free. Shaken violently and irrevocably free by our Mother, a reminder that we cannot move forward if we are weighted by our pasts…we cannot receive if our hands are full of what no longer serves us. In the earth’s tremor we drop what we’re carrying and grip onto ourselves and one another for dear life. In the emptying of our hands, we find they are now holding more than ever before…
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Burning Karma

Do you feel this fierce new moon energy? Holy cow! Rich and ripe…wafting all around, ours for the taking. The three days leading to and following the new moon are the most potent for access. A time for self-inquiry, visualization, meditation, affirmation, intention setting and, ultimately, RELEASE. Release what no longer serves you, make space for what you seek and desire; release positive intentions with palms open to the heavens and harness Her energy of potential. Shedding old skin, shimmying out of the outermost layer which has fulfilled its purpose, spreading our wings and fearlessly accepting this Divine offering of the Mother…the same one She bestows upon us every single month. What a gift! A night of darkness, holding for us the sweet space of renewal. We are being reborn with every breath, each cell bathing in new life faster than we can comprehend. We are miracles, and we are offered this natural, rhythmic, celestial miracle every single cycle; this opportunity to purge, to be vulnerable, to empty completely….so that we may stand in our strength, and let ourselves be filled up again, drop by sacred drop. Vessels of the Divine.

What a complete whirlwind of change the last couple weeks in my world have been, I tell you. So much release, so much shifting, I almost can’t keep up. We took up something on social media, within our little Tribe, called the Gratitude Challenge. For five days we posted three things for which we were grateful for or felt positive about. It. Was. Incredible. It bled into so many different realms within the inter webs that the effect was resounding. It spread to other nations, and it diluted the otherwise mundane and meaningless bombardment of social media with something truly pure and beneficial.

It led me to create a branch of The R3 Movement called the Radical Self-Care Pledge. Simply a pledge to be as diligent to one’s self-care as one is to one’s job or hobbies, fitness routine or social life. A promise to be radical, radiant and revolutionary in the act of self-care, as it is one of self-preservation, not selfish but rather a fortification to preserve the energy one needs to be a force of nature in this world. I’ve been loving the pledge, needless to say. A reason to find even the tiniest pocket of space every single day for me, just me.

On the heels of this, and totally in relation to its creation, I also launched my Social Media Fast (#SMF on instagram). It was completely inspired by Jessica Sepel’s JS Health “switch-off” where she goes media-free for a day each week. I was enamored by the idea and have taken to this practice myself. For one day each week, no social media. No Facebook, instagram, twitter, email, internet. It. Is. Brilliant. The effects are palpable. A quietness…a solitude. I’ll admit even a loneliness, at times, has risen to the surface. So interesting to observe how I fill space with these devices, get lost in a world that is, in essence, not a world at all. It’s clear that we so often use social media as an escape, a social life perhaps at times, and as a black hole when we are exhausted or craving distraction. I think that social media is brilliant for entrepreneurs (thank Goodness I have been able to promote my writing on Facebook, it’s connected me to so many incredible souls I can’t even begin to fathom how difficult it would be to network without these platforms!), expanding social circles (I have become friends with many unfamiliar faces from the yoga studio now just because of the wonderful Gratitude Challenge) and for sharing beautiful, uplifting thoughts. The latter, though, is so often not what we see when we make our way into the two-way mirror that is social media. With one day weekly completely fasting, and the other days spent checking only minimally and, mostly, to participate in the uplifting challenges my teacher has shared, I have found a huge release around the obligatory “checking and posting” rut in which so many of my generation get stuck. A freedom. A carelessness over what’s happening anywhere but right in front of me. Like one swift exhale.

Next came a brilliant creation of my teacher Mynx’s; the Month of Magic (#MOM on instagram). This one is geared towards collectively raising the vibration, with the understanding that the power of many is greater than the power of one. It’s been really quite phenomenal. If I thought the gratitude challenge had made waves, this baby is blowing it out of the water. It’s spread far and wide, it fills my heart to the point of bursting. If this is what we have the power to transform social media into…what power! This is what it should be about. Magic, gratitude, community. Not a platform to parade one’s greatest achievements and expressions of seeming perfection. We all know there is no such thing. We all know that, while positivity is a necessary wind in our sails, realistically we all have our ups and downs.

As if this shift towards literally unplugging and disconnecting so as to figuratively engage and tap in wasn’t enough, I also purchased Jessica Sepel’s The Clean Life. What a GEM of a wellness manual! I am devouring this wellness bible and it’s resonating on such deep levels it’s almost unnerving. Something Jess goes into great detail about in her book is REST.

I know, you might be thinking rest? What about fitness and the best exercises to stay toned, lean and in shape? She shares some of that too, her own routine, but most importantly she harps again and again (and then some more) on rest. “A healthy body is a rested body,” I must have quoted her ten times already since starting the book. It’s neat because I am nearing the end of my nutrition schooling, and Jess’ compact, “nutshell” summaries of stuff that’s really quite dense, science-based and complicated gives a great refresher for me of what I’ve been learning and studying so intently. The book is interactive, with spaces to fill in one’s own experience and sort of journal one’s way through, so it’s been deeply healing. Therapeutic, even. It’s brought to light something I had been ignoring for many moons…

I had forgotten how to rest. I was on “go go go” mode for nearly a year straight. No time for down time. What sort of life is that? I was spending all of my time working, exercising, studying or running the hamster wheel of chores and tasks required to manage an adult life. I was exhausted. I had, personally, created standards of living and expectations so high I could no longer keep up. I had fallen into a rut of habitual tendencies, bolstered by my inherent OCD nature. I had begun to expect myself to do it all, every single day. If I did ten things one day, I expected to do ten, if not eleven, the next. I finally found myself run down, sleepless, anxious and frankly a nervous wreck. In the past couple of weeks, the minor shifts I’ve made – taking as much as was humanly possible off my plate, prioritizing rest, devoting myself to my weekly #SMF, trying hard not to plan everything out in advance and allowing my intuition to move into my world – have had resounding effects. I can’t even comprehend how I was going on day after day in such a numb and mindless rat race, especially when I know better!

That was the biggest part for me. This is my business. Wellness is my craft! How could I be “doing it wrong,” hmm? I laugh now at that phrase. I really felt, deep down, like I was “doing it wrong” but was powerless to stop myself. I knew damn well I would not tell a client to do what I was doing, expecting every single day to be as jam-packed as the last, failing to listen to my body because my mind was overriding my intuitive alarms, getting lost in the pit of planning rather than making space for the Divine to chart a new course. But, even as it was happening, I knew I just had to let it play itself out. I knew with every ounce of me that this was happening for a reason. I needed to experience the sensation “stuck-ness,” at this advanced step of my schooling and early stages of my career, in order to know what to say to my clients one day down the road when I, inevitably, encounter this with them in their own lives. I knew to trust, and now the reward is the sweet rush of release that I had been so deeply craving.

I spent the past week in my hometown visiting my parents. A day at the coast with my mumma Tuesday, climbing a mountain into the clouds with my dad Wednesday; long, therapeutic massages and family relaxing Thursday, then a brisk morning bike ride with my mom and tea in the sunny backyard with my dad on Friday. The week was indescribably healing, grounding and sustaining. It nursed and nurtured me in ways I can’t even fathom. It was just what the doctor ordered. I was tapping into what I needed to do, the role play in this journey of healing…

Carried away by the high of intuitive exploration and acknowledging my Truth, I finally tapped into something else I’d been smothering as well. A dietary concept.  Pescetarianism. I’d been feeling intuitively drawn towards fish for several weeks, even having symbolic dreams and being bombarded with nutrition literature to support the cause. Now, let me say, in my heart of hearts I desperately want to be vegan and thrive. I do. I believe it’s the best way to live, it’s cruelty-free and feel so very clean. I thrive on the concept and the lifestyle makes my heart sing. But (you knew there was a but coming), what I’ve learned in nutrition school has led me down a different path. It was  very – and I emphasize very – difficult to learn what I learned as a strict vegan, finding out day by day that I likely, despite my best efforts, was not getting quite enough of what I needed.

It was a huge challenge to tune into my intuition in this way. I mean, I’m a yoga teacher, a yogini, a spiritualist, I desperately don’t want to take a sentient being’s life for my own benefit! The concept still riddles me with angst. But I slowly incorporated our neighbor’s pet hen eggs into my diet and felt the positive effects in my body and mind. Now, after having reintroduced some fish, I am still battling the guilt. Physically, I feel incredibly well. Spiritually, I feel nourished. I have prayed fiercely before every meal, thanking the sweet fish as well as the Divine Mother, offering up my gratitude for this medicine and treating it as just that. This dietary shift for me is medicinal. It is not for pleasure or preference, it is truly an act of healing. In an effort to not take a pill, I am turning to food as medicine more than ever. What baffles me, though, is I never expected to need to supplement my richly nutritious vegan diet with animal products in order to finally heal and find balance. What a concept!

Through studies of the blood type diet, our intricate endocrine and nervous systems, as well as a deeply meditative look at my own heritage and physical needs, I have found my way to pescetarianism. But I am trying actively to lay down the labels. I promote a plant-based diet; by that I don’t mean vegan, as Divine as it would be for us all to thrive on that diet. I mean a diet based in plants. That could be vegetarian, pescetarian, or omnivorous, so long as the foundation is plants, abundant in leafy greens. So that is what I have prescribed myself. A clean, organic, pranic-healing diet. A basis of organic veggies, unlimited greens, some low GI fruit, moderate gluten-free grains, no processed foods, no sugar, and the medicinal supplementation of pastured happy eggs and some wild, sustainable, low-mercury fish. Occasional grass-fed, organic dairy as tolerated, too. Foods my ancestors would recognize. Food that brings my family and I together around the table like it didn’t when I was vegan (funny how a shared meal of fish could foster such familial bonding…sharing food really is sharing love). While I do not eat meat, no land animal flesh passes my lips, I still feel guilt around eating anything that was ever alive. Despite my prayers, it aches my heart to take life for my own wellbeing. I have spoken to my teachers, prayed and journaled. I have come to a place of peaceful understanding that I do everything in my power to lessen my carbon footprint, and I am stretching my vegetarianism a bit in order to accommodate physical healing. I am trying to rise above any rules, any labels (Prakriti!). I am observing that much of the remaining guilt stems from comparison.

Ohhhh FUCKING comparison!

Pardon my french, but comparing has become the bane of my existence. It is literally driving me nuts. I have come to compare everything at every turn, and I don’t understand why. It only makes me crazy, it only confuses me, it does nothing to benefit me and, yet, I compare on.

I want to say it’s ironic, but as an intuitive I know it most definitely is not, that I sat in meditation this evening over my Zen tarot cards calling forth a collective reading. I pulled one card, asking the Mother to hold space for my girlfriends who are adjusting to some tough energy, as well as myself. Well, I can’t speak for my ladies, but the Universe definitely had Her eye on me because the card I pulled was, of all cards, COMPARISON. I was totally floored. I choked on my breath, and then laughed out loud. A deep, echoing belly laugh. What a comedy this life can be! Nothing is an accident. There are no mistakes. “Namaste. No mistake,” as Byron Katie would say.

So it all comes full circle, then. I’ll tell ya, old habits die hard (ha, as if I need to tell anyone that one). But they do. You know they do. They die harder than brick, harder than stone.

We cannot beat ourselves into submission, and we should never try. I did try, as I’m sure many of you have as well, and we can all agree it’s a terrible way to live. Guilt is poison and perfectionism is a death sentence. We are not perfect. We fall down. We fuck up. We are awesome on Tuesday and on Wednesday our shoes won’t stay tied and we lock our keys in the car. On Thursday we feel on top of the world with energy pouring out our ears and on Friday we just desperately desire a nap. The beauty in that? It’s all okay. It’s all perfect. We require something different every single day and, if we shut our troublesome brains off and get in tune with our inner rhythms, we are more apt to remember the value of the Self. We are more apt to care for ourselves as we would a loved one. We are more apt to rest, move our bodies, feed our souls, nourish ourselves with whole foods, get good sleep, rest, unplug, look up…we are liable to really enjoy life, free of worry and doubt. We are likely to find better health than we’ve ever before known…body, mind, and spirit.

My mom said something brilliant to me when I was home visiting this past week. She said, “when you have those comparing thoughts, when you have any thought that causes you stress, pause…ask yourself, ‘does this thought help or hinder my movement towards my goal?” So, I move into my every moment now holding space for that thought. Does this thought, behavior, image, experience support or undermine my goal? There’s no avoiding one’s Truth when one chooses to stare it straight in the face on a moment-to-moment basis…and I’d rather look a predator dead in the eye than stare at my feet while it eats me alive. I will never leave myself in the dark again. I mean too much to myself to turn off the lights. We are vessels of healing, completely equipped to give ourselves everything we need, in every moment. We are more than we think, and we are responsible for keeping the light burning. We must shine bright so that the Truth is always visible.

I believe in us. We are in this together.

In the words of my teacher and soul sister Lakshmi…Sad Gurunath Maharaj Ki Jay, Victory to the True Self!

May we carry this torch, burning fiercely, into the new moon this Monday morning. May we light our intentions on fire and release everything that is no longer serving us. Sad Gurunath Maharaj Ki Jay, Victory to the True Self . . .

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Pay Attention

I know it’s already Friday, but I’ve spent the week meticulously processing this recent Supermoon (’twas Sunday). The super moon is the full moon each year that is closest to the earth. As you may know, full moons amplify whatever energy is swirling around our little worlds. Whatever we are thinking, saying and doing is magnified by the full moon. So, needless to say, the super moon enhances what’s going on for us tenfold.

I happened to take part in my first ever JS Health “switch-off” this past Sunday, or what I called for myself a “social media fast.” It was DIVINE, and it was interesting given the status of the moon. I’d usually have been posting reminders to harness the energy, to ground down, anchor, use the powerful current for manifestation rather than getting swept up by it. But I was unable to. I was untethered to any device and totally disconnected from the world of media, the world that is usually bombarding us from every angle.

Basically what I have learned throughout the week is this: the Universe doesn’t eff around…so tap in. Listen. Pay attention.

I was driving home from yoga on Monday and chatting my mom on the phone. Towards the end of our conversation, as I arrived home, she said sadly, “Guess who died…Robin Williams.” I had just pulled up to my house. I was stunned. Positively stunned. When she continued to say it was suicide, I was floored. Absolutely without words. I didn’t cry, I was too paralyzed with disbelief. I must explain that this isn’t just “any celebrity” in my family, and the Bay Area in general (not to say losing any life is ever without reverence and deep sadness). Robin Williams had a ranch in my hometown, had bumped into my family at bike races, frequented local spots in Marin, not to mention spent countless hours in the intimacy of our living rooms for the last two decades bringing laughter and joy to us through our television sets.

I could go deeply into my feelings around this tragedy, but instead will direct you, if so you choose, to this spectacular and touching letter written by Peter Coyote in response to this great loss. You can find it here. In the letter Peter, a Zen Buddhist Priest, puts aside his own pain to address what he believes to be Robin Williams’ last gift. He urges us to “extract the wisdom from his choice, ponder it deeply” and to pay attention.

The day following this heartbreaking news, I discovered that one of my longtime neighbors had been killed in a freak boating accident. While this is devastating in and of itself, what proceeded was nothing short of mind-blowing.

I began chatting up a coworker, a guy I’ve had limited interaction with but who has a great energy so I’ve been making conversation with more lately. We struck up a random conversation and, by its own nature, it ended up veering to my hometown. I made a comment about where I’d gone to college and where I come from originally, and of all people in the world to mention from my hometown, my coworker mentions my neighbor. He’d been the wrestling coach for my high school, and evidently my coworker used to wrestle. I was frozen in my shoes. Of all people to know in my hometown, of all directions the conversation could have gone, of all people to even be talking to in that moment…I stammered over the horrific news I’d been delivered that morning, and watched my coworker’s face melt into shock and horror. We both stood there silent, gaping; both completely floored by the sadness of such a tragedy and completely stunned by the coincidence of such a conversation. Pay attention.

I’m still honestly marveling at what the mind would consider to be a bizarre fluke but which is most certainly a Divine occurrence. Nothing is an accident. Let me repeat, nothing is an accident. There are no mistakes. Everything is a lesson, everything is as it should be, no matter how beautiful or horrific it may appear to our very human eyes.

In the past week I’ve been experiencing a grand shift. A revision, if you will, of how I’ve been living certain aspects of my life. A magnificent cleansing, a slowing down, a tuning in. The results have been stunning. I feel I have a new lease on life, which is so amazing, considering the relationship between the relatively minor change and staggering effects. This turning inward and listening closely to my intuition and deep intrinsic rhythms has been profoundly eye and heart-opening. It has brought to the forefront of my attention, clean and true, just what it is that I have been skirting around for the past year…

INTEGRITY.

What does integrity mean? Well it’s defined as, “the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles.” To me it goes even deeper. My personal integrity has been ever-evolving, and at an alarming rate these past few months. My dharma has risen to the surface in many regards, illuminating the pockets of space within and around me that I have let hide in the shadows. Shedding light on my fears and soothing their sharp edges with the soft golden glow.

I have been burning some serious karma, my loves. While it can be exhausting in the moment, in the aftermath the stillness is overwhelmingly serene. Beautiful. Intoxicating. I no longer look at struggle as something I fell into or as a mistake; rather it is the path to transformation, it’s exactly what needed to happen to me for my soul to transform.

Two totally different realms of consciousness; one of my own integrity and the evolution of my sadhana, the other a melancholy mourning of lives lost and a deep reverence for the immense palpability of the Universe’s current. There must be an overlap, right? Because, after all, there is no separation. Pay attention.

In my recognition of integrity and the many forms she takes, I have begun to observe my asana practice through a different lens. Asana practice mimics (off the mat) yoga practice in totality. I have come to marvel this past week at the fact that, one year ago, I couldn’t (or didn’t have the courage to) free stand in the center of the room in sirsasana, but just one year later, I can (or cultivated the courage to try). I’ve been enamored by the experience of breaking through behavioral patterns, burning karma, shattering parts of the psyche that have been clinging on for dear life…completely floored by how very similar this journey is to the evolution of the postures. Yoga asana, as a moving practice, is meant to facilitate spiritual growth, self-inquiry and stillness. Asana means “to take a seat,” meaning to find a seat within a pose, not to contort the body unnaturally into a perceived shape, but rather breathe and feel one’s way into an authentic representation of an energetic expression. What comes up in the pose mentally? Physically? Emotionally? Is the breath there? What do the thoughts have to say? Pay attention.

I have been using my yoga off the mat more than ever before, these days. I am finding that my surprise at the evolution is rather endearing. What did I expect to happen? I guess I am a little surprised by the growth, on all planes. I for some reason felt very stable in myself and very permanent several years ago when my deep practice truly began; looking around at other yogis who were deeply seated on their path, who had advanced asana practices, who knew more and were more capable than I could ever be (notice all those comparing thoughts?). I just felt like how I was then would be how I would stay. How very naive of me :) I suppose I had to have known I would grow stronger physically, be able to advance in my practice of asana, learn more about philosophy and apply yoga to my daily life. But I guess it feels like it all happened while I was sleeping, in a way. Like I floated along, numbed to some of the painful bits, focusing on the brighter aspects and shunning the shadowy parts. I didn’t fully shun them, but I admit I didn’t peer into the darkness fearlessly, either. But there comes a point when the darkness isn’t something scary, it’s just the opposite of light. There comes a point when you can’t help but tune in, when you can’t help but pay attention, pay attention, pay attention.

The second definition of integrity is, “the state of being whole and undivided.” Ahhhh yes…now we’ve come home. This is a yogi’s true practice. Returning to, and remembering, the natural state…true nature. That of being whole and undivided. No separation, no “other.” All as one. All is one. So Robin Williams’ sweet, agonizing last gift…the sudden jerking of a father off this earth, out of the lives of his children and wife…the Divine poetry of two near strangers, finding symmetry on a cosmic plane in everyday conversation…the drunken bliss of removing the veils and peering into one’s inherent perfection, medicinal application of “less is more” mentality, like soothing balm to a burn…the inner musings of a wild spirit, observation of routine becoming ritual, happenstance becoming holy…

Our integrity is our unity, our collective consciousness used for the greater good, solidarity and oneness, unhampered. We lose members and we gain members, on a moment-to-moment basis, this Tribe ever ebbing, ever flowing. I have to believe, with every bit of me, that there is a sanctified rhythm to it…no matter the story. I have to believe, to the depths of my being, that we all are each other’s teachers. The horror and the harmony, the blackness and the vibrancy, all are orchestrated so as to allow us to evolve and transform. To learn. To see. To understand. To remember.

May we take this super moon energy, our collective mourning, the vibration of healing, our integrity and our self-inquiry into tomorrow unbridled. Fully prepared to be 100% present in our lives. Fully prepared to be receptive to the Universe’s cues. Fully alert. Our presence here is not accidental and not without purpose. May we know this. May we please not let our brother’s gift go to waste. May we open our eyes. And may we please, please God, may we pay attention…

 

Namaste

 

 

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Presence

How present are you, on a daily basis? It’s SO easy to get caught up in what I call the “windows.” The “5 minutes ago” and the “5 minutes from now” windows. Maybe even the “30 seconds ago” and “30 seconds from now” windows…it’s a part of my practice, trying to stay present. It’s a practice that requires diligence, constant maintenance. Because just when you think you’ve got it, just when you release your attention…boom, you’re back in the windows. So what to do?

I find it helps to have little rituals. Here are some of my go-to practices as examples…

•Food Blessing: Sitting down to a meal (sitting, not standing!) and committing to 3 deep breaths. A moment of gratitude for the food I’m blessed to have on my table, and a small prayer mantra of gratitude. Presence.
•Nature Connection: While it’s ideal to get out IN nature and immerse ourselves in it, some days just getting out into the neighborhood for a walk or standing in the sun can have an immeasurable effect. Even when I’m standing at the crosswalk waiting for the light to turn, I make a habit of closing my eyes and feeling the sun on my face…really noticing the sensation of the breeze on my skin, the way it makes little strands of hair tickle my face. Presence.
•Meditation: While ideal, meditation does not HAVE to be twice daily for 20 minutes a sitting, in a dedicated space, like clockwork. While these circumstances are supreme in allowing time and space for deep stillness and silence, it’s not accessible to every person every day. So make space wherever you can. Space to close your eyes, quiet (quiet, not clear! The clearing comes later, hopefully) your mind, and BREATHE. First thing in the morning or last thing at night, in that space before a meal, after yoga practice or exercise, for the last 5 minutes of your lunch break, every time you go pee during the day (NOW we’re getting Holy!!  Seriously though, that adds up! ANY time that is free of distraction and available for closed eyes and steady breathing…TAKE IT!), for a moment at a red light, when waiting for an appointment (when waiting for any reason, really…). Presence.

Those are just a few. I’m sure your brilliant Selves can come up with 100 more in just a breath. The point is, these tiny maneuvers in our daily lives can fortify our essence of presence tremendously. I am beginning to learn, in my practice, that I have a tendency to overcomplicate things. That’s the human condition…so how can we unravel the tightly wound way of life? How can we unspool the thread that is our moment-to-moment existence? How can we unwrite the “rules” that say we must do something a certain way for it to be “enough” or sufficient? By breathing. By moving into each moment with grace and ease. By continuing to remind ourselves to release what happened 5 minutes ago, it no longer belongs to us, but rather to the past. By continuing to remind ourselves that what will happen in 5 minutes does not yet belong to us. By continuing to remind ourselves, diligently, that our most prized possession is our very Self…in this very moment. Inhale. Exhale. Presence.

 

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A Flash of Lightning, Energies Colliding

Connecting with someone on an energetic level, reading someone’s energy and simultaneously committing their intricate matrix to your own energetic DNA, coming into contact with someone’s energy and remembering them…this can be a powerful experience and, quite frankly, transcendent.

If you’re an energy sensitive person, like I am, then you probably “get” this, straightway. But if you’re not – and that’s perfectly okay – let me try and explain this experience I had in relative terms…

Call to mind for me, if you will, a feeling. The feeling you get when you have a dream that rocks you. The best way I can describe connecting instantaneously with someone else’s energy is by having you embody the sensation you have after you’ve had an intimate dream about someone. Have you ever had a romantic, sensual or even sexual dream about another person? Particularly someone inappropriate or unsuspecting, like your boss (cringe), the next-door neighbor, an in-law (double cringe) or even someone of the same sex (assuming you’re straight and this feels like it’s out of left field). If you haven’t had this experience, you may be totally freaked out now, possibly even compelled to stop reading (ha). But persevere, bear with me please! I beseech you (can you tell I’ve been watching The Tudors on Netflix?), I promise there’s a juicy point ;)

If you’ve ever dreamt intensely about another person in this way, then you know of what I’m speaking. A person to which, in waking life, you have no real connection, no real attraction to…but, after this dream, you feel suddenly and strongly – magnetically, even – drawn to them. If you’re still with me, then you likely have experienced the ensuing energetic “attachment” that follows such a sleeping life experience. (*Note I didn’t say “real life” versus “dream state” because, inherently, there is no separation. What we experience at night is as palpably relevant to our every cell as is what happens to us in the daylight, if not more so). The weird “crush” you might develop on a person you’ve dreamt about, or the uncomfortable draw to that person in the days following the dream. Your senses tell you that it’s just a bizarre reaction to the dream and it will fade but your energy is locked in, the feeling alive in your body of wanting to think about, be near, possibly even be with said person. Am I speaking to you? The potency with which one’s psyche, spirit and heart are momentarily infiltrated by this intense passion, the senseless manner by which one’s energy is married to this other person’s, cannot easily be captured by words. It’s a feeling, through and through. There aren’t comprehensible explanations. And the feeling flutters away as quickly as it came.

The latter is where this analogy diverges. True energetic connections do not always fade or dissipate, and certainly not with the speed of a dream. They sometimes do, they often can, but it’s not a rule. Whereas the intense or inappropriate dream infatuation does fade every single time, almost certainly (thank goodness, because it’d be really awkward to see the next door neighbor every morning if that never went away…). We likely will remember the dream, but the bind had on us by the accompanying sensation slips away like grains of sand through the cracks of our fingers.

Most of us have experienced these dream-generated infatuations, and even if the dream details aren’t 100% clear, the feeling is fierce. For a couple of days – or maybe it’s only a day, maybe it’s an entire week, it depends on one’s sensitivity and the intensity of the dream as well as the parameters around the space in which that occurred – but usually it’s a few days of feeling really powerfully connected to and drawn to this person. That’s how I feel about spirit connections, energetic level connections. Where you just recognize a soul or lover from a past life, or someone who means something to you in a capacity other than just this physical realm right here right now, disengaged from the roles you play in this world and in these lives. These powerful connections that can’t be explained and must be surrendered to, allowing the sensation to fill your every cell. A sensation of familiarity, extreme comfort, provocation, intimacy, what-have-you. There aren’t any specifics that unite the experience, it’s just felt (how many more times shall I say this is a feeling? I feel I’ve made that point ad nauseum by now, ha!). I’ve had a lot of these connections and the more sensitive and open and aware I become, the deeper I go in my practice, the more it happens. The more I’m awake to it, rather.

So the point is that this happened again to me recently, and I’ve found myself thinking about this person – this perfect stranger (or so I would think) – every single day. When it occurred, they were the one to make a straight shot across the crowd to me. Like a flash of lightning, energies colliding. They felt it first and proceeded to initiate contact; a sincere hug. A hug of two souls remembering, not two strangers converging.

I admit I was a little bit overwhelmed in the moment by the whole experience, unable to truly process and digest what was happening around me, their eyes locking with mine, their enamored expression – my own likely one of puzzlement and ardor – the familiar word exchange, the warm embrace. The connection has somehow grown, despite only spending mere minutes in this person’s presence, and frankly not even fully engaging my energy just for sheer discombobulation. It’s been just over a week now. How strange for the intensity to still be heightening! I am observing it passively, and yet my instinct is to keep asking, “Why?” Why did this happen, what is the significance, why does this happen, what am I supposed to learn from it? I couldn’t help but chuckle at my persistent seeking, my inquiry, because I know deep down why it happened. Why it always happens. Why it will continue to happen. So instead I surrender to the intensity of the sensation; and I find it so interesting because, in my mystification, all I can equate the experience to is the sensation of having a dream about someone! An experience I’ve had again and again since early childhood. The process of how one slowly recalls the dream, the lack of context for how and why such dream passion should manifest physically and tangibly upon waking…but it just does. And you have to ride it out.

It’s a resonant feeling, one that you feel in your flesh and the ether of your being. That’s all I can really use to describe in terms of how it feels. As for why it happens, I gave you my inklings…past life karma, Divine intervention, fate. I truly believe to the very marrow of my being that we find our Tribe members on this path, that we remember one another and who we are to each other, who we have been to each other. I believe life is a series of these paths crossing, crossroads, these detours, and everything is Divine and these people who pass through our lives, whether it’s just someone at the market or a dear friend for life, they’re there for a reason. They are placed in our line of sight, illuminated in white light, made visible on our path, purposefully. Not always for extreme transformations, sometimes just for the most subtle, the faintest, most delicate renewal. Somewhere deep in our beings.

These opportunities litter our path. Our soul mates walk among us, disguised as mere “people,” with whom we draw innumerable contrasts, separating “them” from “us.” Protective measures against our own humanity, veils to live idly behind. A reason not to connect, not to make eye contact A reason not to be vulnerable. A space of perceived safety. A space that is, in reality, a prison. A pane of glass that energy can permeate, so why not just open the window? Why not just hang our legs over the ledge and let the air flow freely between you and I? We have the power to really connect to so many of our Kind. We have the capacity to harness this power. We have the Divine gift to come home to our Kind! So long as we remain open; open to love, open to one another. So long as we practice sensitivy to energy, our own and other, we will remain…flashes of lightning, energies colliding. Conscious collective, initiating shifts; peace rising, fog lifts.

 

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Mesh

There’s a being of light who sits beside the stoplight at the freeway onramp that I use every morning to get to work, yoga, wherever I am going…I see him often, regularly. I always wave, or throw him the peace sign. And he smiles.

I don’t have the means to give plentifully. I’ve given a few ones here, a five there, but more often than not I offer the most sacred thing I have…eye contact.

I took a class in college, a Humanities class, which focused on the sixties. My teacher was a haggardly wonderful and supremely intimidating woman. She wore tie-dye, a long, gray braid and Birkenstocks. She took no shit. One of the most haunting subjects we studied was that of the homeless population. The sheer quantity that is comprised of war veterans. Men who saw unfathomable horror, now displaced amongst society, shattered in ways no one but a fellow brother could ever imagine and wrecked in terms of achieving “normalcy” by general standards. My professor said a good number of her friends were homeless, a beautiful byproduct of volunteering at the shelter. She told us that the one thing they all had in common was that no one ever looked them in the eye.

This was haunting for me. The idea that no one would look these human beings in the eye. Even upon giving money, people would look down, or away. When walking by them on the street their eyes would be downcast, looking at phones, looking out at traffic. Anywhere but on the life that was in front of them. I realized, in this class, that it’s true. We do look away, instinctively. We do it out of a myriad of reflexive feelings; perhaps respect for their circumstances, not wanting to stare; perhaps to protect oneself from the reality of taking in what it would be like to walk in another’s shoes; perhaps out of discomfort, disgust, misunderstanding, any range of human emotion that any unique person might feel given the sight of a homeless person asking for help.

We begin to label ourselves, and them, as “this” or “that.” I just typed it myself, “homeless person.” Why not just “person?” I don’t call myself a “home-having person.” Our true home is inside us, it goes with us wherever we go, and we can never begin to understand what has happened in the layers of another’s existence to bring them to where they are right now. We can’t begin to attribute our own perceived notions to someone else’s way of living. Perhaps it’s freeing; perhaps it’s liberating in ways unknown to us who are tethered to our automobiles, mobile phones, corporate jobs and fancy homes. Perhaps it’s devastating; perhaps there’s extreme loss, tragedy, trauma and horror surrounding some’s state of homelessness. We don’t know. We can’t know, and so we can’t judge. But what we can do is give. Give of ourselves, of our humanity, we can give less and yet give so much more if our heart is behind it.

We don’t have to give money…yeah, money helps. Money buys “things.” That can’t be argued. Our society is built around money. But money, as a show of generosity especially, can be complicated. Some people don’t have extra money to give. Others do, but don’t believe in giving money to those in need, for whatever reason. Some people don’t believe in supporting anything uncertain. How can they know their hard-earned money won’t be used to buy alcohol, or something they don’t support? But the truth is this: we can never know when it comes to other beings. We can never even really know when it comes to ourselves. Some people are firmly rooted in their beliefs on the topic and I’m not here to say anything is right or wrong. We all choose for ourselves. I’m just here with the reminder that we can give so much without really giving anything…

I was given no money by this man this morning, nothing tangible to carry away from our interaction…and yet he gave me so much. He sat cross-legged, with a tiny little cardboard shred of a sign that had no words written on it. He wore a sideways smile and dirty clothes, clutching the piece of cardboard, nothing else in his hands. I pulled up to the stoplight with my window cracked about six inches. He turned his goofy grin to me and asked,

How ya doin’ sweetheart? 

I said I’m doing well, how’re you doin’? 

I’m good, I’m alive, he said. Then, I love your car, it’s a great color. I smiled and nodded.

Thanks, I love it too. He told me he’d had twelve bugs, and a rabbit, and that “they” had had to cut him out of the rabbit. Suddenly he was far away, still smiling, but lost in a memory. I listened, fully, giving him complete eye contact. I wondered, quietly to myself as he mumbled on, whether he’d really had twelve volkswagons. I wondered what had happened for him to have to be cut out of the last one. He interrupted my reverie by saying pointedly, look at my sign. It was about 3″ by 3″, clean cardboard, totally blank.

Fill in the blank, I said, smiling. He laughed, started to say something, and then the light turned green. I gave him the peace sign and said take care of yourself, God bless you. 

As I pulled away, he raised his peace fingers with another grin and said I love you sweetheart. 

As my car rounded the turn, his words floated into my window and into the very depths of my soul. They permeated me. How human. How real. How raw. I felt so deeply touched. I wasn’t capable of giving him anything that would have mattered more than the exchange we had just shared. What I gave him, we are all capable of giving. What he gave me, that takes a truly tender soul. To sit in one’s own skin, in one’s own human condition, and have a chat with a stranger. His cardboard sign to my yellow car. One of us dirty, the other clean. One of us a bit tipsy, the other sober. One male, one female. One asking for help, the other holding space for that. We are one and the same. For him to treat me as an equal, to talk to me candidly, to still smile and look me in the eye though I wasn’t offering him money, fills me with warmth. There’s a purity one must admire, for someone to have no airs like that. To just be. To make space for me to meet him where he is, unchanging in my position, him unchanging in his. Each of us owning where we are in the present moment. Some unspoken knowing that we are both where we need to be right this moment. Maybe he needs sunlight and fresh air and the simple conversation of passing strangers more than a shelter and government assistance and whatever else society has to offer. Maybe what has driven him to be “homeless” is bigger than any aide can ease. Maybe he’s exactly where he needs to be. Maybe eye contact and compassion will carry him and clothe him and feed him more than a wrinkled five dollar bill. Maybe love is enough, this morning.

As I drove away I thought, I love him too. It almost made me laugh, to love a stranger whose silly smile and humble ways only touch my life for moments at a time. But I do. Because he is God. He is God as I am God as you are God, and everything that happens here is Divine. No matter the container or the shell that we’re in, no matter our stories, we are here for so much more. We are here to do great work, whether it’s on the corner with a sign, or in a car with a meaningful gaze. We are here for those small moments in the light of morning with the window cracked. We are here for the stories and memories, the intangible exchanges that feed the soul even if the belly is hungry. But then again…what do I know?

I know this: the titles are just a disguise. To label someone as homeless, to label someone as successful, to label someone as wounded or healed; we’re all on this path to transformation, and we all need these little bits to hold us together. These little perceived identifications. Not because they’re who we are, but because it serves as a temporary container for who we truly are. The story serves as a container, a net really, a hammock for us to slink into, to hold us while we discover the exquisite reasons why we’re really here. The trick is seeing all the little things that we think comprise our entire lives, our entire beings, as what they really are. A container. Not even a container but a net, truly, a hammock with holes so we can see through, breathe through, so we can float bits of our souls through…and eventually someday, one would hope, break free of it altogether. Shatter the net, the webbing, or just permeate it entirely…liberation. Nothingness. A return to the stardust and bliss and space that we are made of, from which we originated.

 

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Illuminata

Some of my favorite moments are spent looking back at my past, observing what had to shift to bring me to where I am now…moments spent rooted in the present, but allowing the psyche to journey back in time; making note of circumstances, people, beliefs that once ruled my world and which now hold no weight at all; making equal note of other circumstances, people, beliefs that have persisted, held true, which still contribute to the core of my existence.
Healing and growth are constants in life, inherently circulating in nature, and yet we so often forget to heed the triumphant effects of their presence in our lives. We so often forget to give thanks for the natural rhythm with which they operate, soothe, infiltrate, embody. Like breathing and hearts beating, they move forth involuntarily, as uncontrolled as the forces that wound and stunt us. They just slip in silently, pacifying, often to our unintentional neglect. We are so wrapped up in the colors and sounds, the pain and pleasure, that this intrinsic process easily goes unnoticed. But it’s magical, it is truly a gift.
Being on the path of Awareness brings so much to light, this included, and it’s very difficult not to find oneself feeling grateful on a moment-to-moment basis. Despite the other human reactions to life that flitter to the surface, I believe this path lays gratitude as a solid foundation. It might feel far below us at times, the more raw and potent, fleshy emotions taking greater precedence on impulse, but it’s there…holding us up, the supportive structure to the very path on which we walk. Just as the yogic life brings great discomforts to the surface, it also illuminates just how miraculous the entire process truly is…how what was once broken is now mended, what was once infantile has now matured, what once was a supreme struggle has now been braided with ease…we must take notice of these shifts, we must. Because this acknowledgement is the half that makes us whole. It’s the railing on our journey upwards, onwards, downwards and upwards again. It’s the invisible ceiling as well as the ground beneath our feet.
Some of my favorite moments are spent looking back at the past and observing what had to shift to bring me to where I am now, right in this very moment…tasting every drop of the decadent gratitude that ensues, savoring it and knowing it intimately. Coming to know this self-inquiry, this observation, this panorama…is to build intimacy with the Self, to fortify the relationship with oneself. It elicits pride, not of the egoistic sense, but of fortitude; perseverance. This remembering, this knowing, is a badge of resilience, of Truth, and ultimately of Spirit. This remembering anchors us, brings us home. It is a deeply sacred practice, indulging in these moments, and it is shared with the greatest companion any of us could ever hope to walk with on this path . . . the Self <3

Wishing peace and love to all of you, this night and every night. Om Namah Shivaya.