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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