Monday, November 23, 2015

Love Stories Never Grow Old

My daughter loves the movie, The Sound of Music. In fact, it was the very first real movie she watched. We have watched it over and over and over. Over the years she has asked different questions about the story depending on what sparks her curiosity at the time. Not until now has she been a bit confused and now curious about the part where the Von Tramp family flees Austria to seek refuge and freedom from the Nazi army. I don't have a good explanation for why they have to runaway from their home, and why those men are chasing them with such determination and force. I was confronted with the same challenge when we participated in a demonstration on MLK day. She didn't understand the emotion behind it. 
I am at a loss on how to explain these issues to her.

Hate, discrimination and separation is learned behavior; is past on from one generation to the next. I choose to not teach my daughter about these things. I choose to do the best I can to hold the space for her to love herself and her fellow humans. She is the future. If I can teach her to hold her light strong and expand her capacity to love, maybe when she is confronted with acts of violence and separation she will only know the power of love. And Love is always stronger than fear. 

We are ALL affected by every action, every thought on the planet whether we are asleep or awake.  

Gandhi said, "If you want real peace in the world, start with the children." 
It starts right here. Right now. At home.

Let's change the story. Love stories never grow old.

Minutes before we sat down to watch The Sound of Music for the 100th time. Ash wrote in her tiny little notebook. And than read it out loud to me. It went something like this, "If you can forgive, than everyone can forgive. If you can love, every heart can love. Love never dies."  My eyes welled up. My heart melted. I don't know where this came from. How does she understand forgiveness? Maybe she is feeling the vibration of what is happening right now in the world. And maybe, just maybe, she is feeling a higher frequency of collective souls that are feeling those same hopeful words.

I am feeling it too. I am nauseous and at a loss for words and a loss of what to do. 
My heart keeps telling me to pray. To find others to pray with. To infuse the ether with love and forgiveness.

Love does not have to be taught. Its a natural state. Its a birthright. 
We just have to let it Be. 

Monday, October 5, 2015

Sahasrara Chakra: CONSCIOUSNESS

Consciousness, Embodiment, and Surrender. These are the words that came to mind as I contemplate the crown chakra, the 7th chakra.

What is consciousness?
An expansion of the awareness, the mind, the intellect. To be the witness of our own experience in the world. To observe.  Consciousness could be the connection to source, a higher power, to God, the I behind the I.

I am that, that I am.

I think its safe to say, that most humans on the planet today believe in something beyond which we can see, feel, and grasp with our own hands. Whether its found in direct communication with your God through religion, the spirit that moves through all things in nature, the spark that creates your art, the eyes of a child, in your dance, your walk, your talk. For the skeptics and the atheists, isn't the breath evidence enough that there is a mystery to the power of life? 

Where do you feel most connected? What brings you joy? When and where do you get your best ideas, insights, inspiration?

We all have our own way in which we connect with God, or higher power.
A balanced crown chakra, is so connected with the bliss of consciousness and understands that we are all connected beyond the illusion, that judgement of others falls away. All paths begin and end at the source. So, the journey does not matter as much as how much you are dedicated and devoted to awakening the power of consciousness.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Vissudha Chakra: TRUTH

Of all the chakras, this one speaks most loudly to me. For many reasons. Mostly what I realized while revisiting Vissudha chakra is this: Its all about truth. All of it. Every chakra, every bone in the body, every cell, every breath, every thought. The throat chakra is where truth is expressed and heard from within, from below, and above. 

Do you speak your truth?
The human voice is powerful beyond belief. A vibration, calibrated by human emotion. What comes through the voice is an expression of what's inside body, heart, soul, mind. Righteous and real. Angry and fearful. Sad and shy. Creative and wild.

Through the power of the voice we can sing a baby to sleep. Express love or cause pain. Cause a revolution. Take a stand. Alter our entire existence through mantra. Yet, words are limiting. The power and effectiveness, lies within the emotion, the feeling underneath the sound of the voice. Sound is created, expressed, heard and felt deep within the human psyche. Sound travels through ether in waves. The pranic body, or energetic body (maybe even the intricate web of fascia), picks up on these waves. We are all affected by what is expressed within the world around us no matter how far or near the distance between its source and receptor. 

Sound is vibration. Vibration is everything.

What we say, what we think, what we tell ourselves, our prayers, and intentions all have a vibration and travel in waves ready to be received. We will resonate with similar wavelengths. What we hear, is what we are tuned into.

Truth and love have a strong recognizable vibration to all of us (we were born this way). If we choose to be honest no matter what the consequences are, we release the blocks that hold back our true essence. We can than resonate with truth, we vibrate at a higher frequency; we attract more truth in our lives and further align with our soul's true purpose.

The truth shall set you free! 
Its not always pretty. Removing the obstacles that hold back truth might mean a total disintegration of things that have been jamming the path. Its vulnerable. Its painful. This is the point where we need to stay committed to ourSelf, to a practice, and trust with all thats left, that there is a divine plan at work.

There's a saying, "speak up even if your voice shakes."
My voice shook for a long time when I would speak. Even the most simplest of things. Family dinner. Making an important phone call to a supposed stranger. But I knew I had to keep talking. What was inside me needed out. I practiced (and still do) raw rough vulnerable honesty.

Being honest and true requires a commitment to practices that uncover the authentic power of truth and love.

Its through yoga that I smoothed out my voice. Even before my first yoga teacher training. The yoga asanas silently opened my body up and moved some blockage. Traumas surfaced and healed. Eventually I had to face my biggest block head on (see How Yoga Changed My Life). The lump in the back of my throat. The noose around my neck.

It loosened, because I continually showed up to teach. Not because I always wanted to (yes, there were times I secretly wished no one would show up, so I wouldn't have to). But because I knew deep within that it was the right thing for me to do.

Now, I use my voice wholeheartedly to deliver truth. When it sounds like crap, I trust. When its smooth and to the point, I trust. When it shakes, I trust. When my whole body vibrates, I trust.
I trust I am heard.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Manipura Chakra: AGNI

The body is dense. It takes a lot of will power and action to get it to move, and "catch up" with the energetic, emotional, mental and spiritual bodies. 

Manipura chakra (third chakra) is strongly associated with action, will power, transformation and fire. More specifically, agni, the sacred digestive fire. Agni is the digestive fire of all things, including food, water, emotions, thoughts. In relation to the physical body, manipura chakra is located at a very soft vulnerable spot. Above the navel and just below where the lower front ribs join. Structurally, only the spine holds us together here. The rest is soft tissue and organs. To be able to stand up straight and strong, strengthening the core and spine is necessary. Fire needs space. A collapsed core, suffocates the inner fire. A strong spacious body is better able to digest, contain and integrate life experiences. When we feel weak and overwhelmed with life, our systems are not able process which can lead to lock down (fight, flight or freeze response). 

A synchronistic encounter immediately following that day at Wanderlust (see The Unexpected Awakening), provided a very helpful tip on how to ground and transmute excess or intense energy. I was inspired by Rod Stryker's teachings. So, on the last day I found myself at his booth purchasing his book, The Four Desires. As I waited to speak with him and have him sign the book, I connected with one of his assistants. I shared with her my experience, from the previous day, and what I thought was likely a kundalini shakti awakening. She agreed. She went further to explain how to manage it. "Send the energy here." She pointed to her navel. 

I've intellectually known this. But now I am able to apply the practice of directing excess energy to the digestive fire for emotions, excess energy, and life experiences. 

To practice this I visualize the excess energy moving down from either the crown of the head or heart and to the belly, and new vital energy rising up. As I do this a "wheel" begins to circulate the energy, transmuting excess, scattered energy into a more balanced purified energy. Inhale draw excess energy in through crown, exhale sending it down into belly, into the fire.

This practice is integrative. Mental energy is focused on the direction of pranic energy within the physical body; which ultimately leads to alignment of spiritual energy within the physical. Embodiment. Spiritual action. Spirit in action.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

An Unexpected Awakening

Mantras, Beats, and Meditations with MC Yogi,
Amanda Giacomini, DJ Drez, Marti Nikko.
Wanderlust Squaw Valley 2014
Exactly a year ago I took the journey to Wanderlust, Squaw Valley. There I attended many back to back workshops for three days straight. One particular class provided an apex to my entire experience there.
It was divine intervention and divine timing. I showed up for the class I originally signed up for. The minute I walked into the enormous room I felt off. I found a spot to lay my mat. Which was easy at Wanderlust because you just look for a round sticker with some positive statement like, "Just love" on the floor, and line the top of the mat up with it. I got on my mat, followed the instructions from the teacher, which was weird. Because I wasn't late, and she had seemingly already began. There was no real beginning to class. I immediately felt ungrounded and confused. Now, this is Wanderlust. Wander and lust. Its like we are already given permission to move around. Explore. Eat from the all-you-can-eat yoga buffet. If you don't like something, look around, find something else (not that I necessarily agree with this sort of yogic display, but I chose to play with it for the weekend).

I have never before in my yoga experience walked out on a class. My inner voice kept saying, "You can leave. Don't settle." Right than, I saw someone get up and leave. That was my cue. This was divine intervention. So, I rolled up my mat and walked out into the fresh open air wondering where I would go. I remembered that the MC Yogi, DJ Drez class just started and it was outside and yogis could just spill over onto the adjacent lawn. So being late was no big deal. I arrived to the tent where yogis were tightly squished up front to avoid being cooked by the intense sun. I didn't mind the heat. I was just glad to be there. MC Yogi, his wife Amanda, DJ Drez, and his wife Marti were on stage singing, chanting, instructing, storytelling. I already felt the love radiating from this foursome. All in their own art form, collaborating to create a transformative experience. It was simply beautiful. The backdrop of vertical rugged slopes added to the magic. While holding poses we chanted "om mani padme hum" over and over and over. I don't recall what MC Yogi and Amanda told through the storytelling. But something magical was happening. I was communing with all the people present, with the mountains. I was communing with God. The God in all things. Something was stirring inside me. Something was awakening.

When the class was over and I was catapulted back into "reality". Even though I was completely blissed out, I felt a little disappointed. Like waking up from a really good dream. I found some of my friends. We were all blissed out. And tried to find words to describe what just happened. 

My friend, Corrine, and I started our way to the next thing. Food, class, nap, who knows. I felt nauseous. Really nauseous. I felt dizzy and disoriented. As we walked into the crowd of yogis, this feeling grew and I started to feel nearly out-of-body. My mind or body was grasping for something. I needed something cold. We passed the HonestTea booth, drank some samples. I decided I needed a full bottle of one (they didn't sell them at the booth). It became a short-lived mission to find one. We got about 50 feet and I could not function. I needed to sit, lay down. Anywhere. 

The beautiful, harmonic sound of a hang drum filled my ears. "There", I pointed to the dreadlocked man playing the drum. "Lets sit there." I was so happy to have Corrine with me. 

We sat down. First, tried to talk to Corrine and explain to her what I thought could be happening. Its the heat, I'm dehydrated. The ego is threatened by spirit and tries to reason. No, its the combination of Shiva's class this morning and this class, and the chant and...Than I just stopped trying to make sense. I laid down flat right there next to the sweet sound of the drum and focused on my breath. Big belly breaths. 

It could have been hours or minutes that I laid there when I finally felt I could sit up and function. Corrine was hungry by now, and I could at least get up and walk with her to find food. 

I was so thankful for this guy playing the drum, I gave him the only thing (besides my yoga mat) that I had on me. I placed a large quartz crystal in his donation bowl and said thank you with all my heart and soul, and wished him luck on his journey.

Divine timing. Its all the events, choices, hard work, the let-go's, the openings, the openings, the openings that come before the moment of pure synchronicity. And in that moment all is perfectly aligned.

To be continued....

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Svadhisthana Chakra: Flow

Working with the energy of second chakra, we move slowly, like the waters of a deep and full meandering river. Or like the surface of a pristine mountain lake moves from wind gusts. Or like the continuous pulse of the ocean tides. Forward and back. In and out. Push and pull. Rippling, rippling, rippling.

Water, creation, shakti, flow, sensual, feeling, liquid. 

For the last month, in class, we have focused on the second chakra, Svadisthana, which translates to mean "self-sustaining". Gary Kraftsow, in his book, Yoga for Transformation, explains this well. He says that taste is the primary sense which corresponds to this chakra. We use taste to judge whether we like something or not. Taste represents the flavor of not just food but also relationships with "other".  It is a way to measure our appreciation of the essence of something. 

Feeling the reality of duality. When second chakra develops, roughly between the ages of 6 months to 2 years, the child begins to sense separation of Self from "other" (see Eastern Body, Western Mind). The outer world meets the inner world through the interface of the five senses and the environment in which we live. Desire develops. Due to sensory data received, we begin to seek things, experiences, foods, that give a desired feeling. One key aspect of the second chakra is the right to feel. With a healthy balanced second chakra, we feel for the sake of feeling. Pleasure, pain, discomfort, warmth, cold all of it. Without judgement, without holding on to any one feeling. 

Raw energy, raw information. Let it flow to fully experience the outer world. 

Allowing the continuous push and pull of feeling, emotion, and waters through second chakra we open up to experiencing and embodying shakti (creative essence) in all ways. Cultivating connection and awakening to shakti gives rise to our own individual creativity. As it awakens, we move upwards into the third chakra, into action, manifestation. 

Monday, June 8, 2015

Muladhara Chakra: TRUST

Muladhara chakra. The root. One of the most significant qualities of this foundational chakra is Trust. For me (and I know I am not alone), this has been a life long process of building strength, stability and a firm ground to stand on. 

Trust is subjective, until it is second nature. To trust implies that there is something to trust in. At first, I learned to trust in many many external sources. It was a necessary experiment in the journey that ultimately led me to the bindu point of my heart. I trusted my family as they reflected back to me, who I am and who I was not and who I chose to become. I trusted my yoga teachers. I trusted my therapists when she told me what she saw. I painted the word TRUST on the entire side of the garage.  I trusted the Swami in India when he intentionally neglected and ignored me when I asked for help and guidance. 

Still, inside I crumbled with fear and doubt into a spiraling mess. 

It wasn't until I had my daughter that the trajectory of my big lesson on Trust started to shift from a longing for external validation to an internal knowing.  Maybe part of it was I didn't have the time to occupy myself with so much doubt. It was no longer about me and my problems. There was no time to stew. I was responsible for another life. It was my duty and responsibility to ensure that this other little precious human could trust the world she just entered without an inkling of doubt. So the awakening and rebuilding of the root chakra began for me, as hers was only developing.

As we bring the root chakra into consciousness this week, my experience at the ashram in India resurfaces. As it was the most potent lesson on trust for me.

Here is a excerpt from a blog post I wrote during my time there:

How do we trust our experiences are real, and are for our benefit to evolve? How do we trust ourselves when we have been shaken, stripped down to the core, when there is nothing to hold onto?

Trust begins when you're simply so tired of not trusting anymore. When you reach the threshold of mental conflict; when you start feeling motion sickness from waves of indecision; when force feeding yourself something that makes your stomach churn takes away every bit of energy to hold it down; and when your head hurts from banging it against the wall so many times. 
"Enough already!" Screams your real Self. 
Once this trust sets in and starts working, it is ultimate freedom. Freedom from worry and expectations; and freedom to really experience life in its grandeur and beauty.

Monday, March 23, 2015

The Real You Emerges...

The real you is waiting in here.
Not out there.
You can't patch your soul's truth together
with workshops, a wardrobe, identity choices.
You'll likely spend half your life trying to do just that;
composing, polishing, packaging, facing outward,
even though its all inward.
Eventually you'll stop looking out there.
You'll stop in your tracks,
or, in a slow grinding halt.
In the middle of the noise and the obligations it will dawn on you,
maybe right now;
That the real you emerges.
Because its already there.
Beneath beliefs, and untruths, and fatigue, and wonderful experiments,
the real you emerges,
when you are courageous enough to be still.
when you act on your inclinations,
when you put your preferences on the altar of your life
and you say,
This is what compels me.
The real you emerges,
from lifetimes of living,
from the accumulation of your prayers,
from your groin, from your gaze,
The real you emerges.
Not from anyones teachings,
but from what resonates in your cells.
Resonance, resonance, resonance.
The real you emerges.
When you dance,
When you let down your guard,
when you've had enough!
in between breaths, and waves, and let-downs, and bliss, and your fantasies,
and your steady longing.
Incant it.
Seduce it.
Set the stage
clear your calendar.
And the real you will surprise you like God tends to do.
The real you will surprise you with options for euphoria,
and blazing vitality,
and it will carry you like you long to be carried,
If, you let it emerge.

by Danielle LaPorte

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Love Seeks Love

I have arrived.
Where a sometimes gentle, sometimes torrent river flows,
over steady stones.
When I arrive, I melt.
I am neither deep, nor shallow.
I am all at once.
without questioning "why?"
the salmon swims miles and miles upstream to die,
Or how crystal water rises from an opening in the Earth.
I do understand,
divine destiny seeks its arrival.

The heart does this too.
It seeks purposeful expression 
and holy destinations.
It might break into a million pieces.
but love does not stop.
What makes the heart whole again?

Love seeks love.
A trickle, a current, a tide, or does it come in waves?
Let the river of love flow.
To quench the thirst of dry lake beds,
To carve secret canyons,
Let it flood wide open arms.

Monday, January 12, 2015

A Response to "Light On Life" by B.K.S. Iyengar

Sometimes we acquire a book by synchronicity. A calling, to be received and answered somewhere. And the universe cuts a path to make it happen.

This is one of those books.

At the time I was curious about the kosas (sheaths of the body) and the integration of all five as a true aim of yoga.  Somehow, without looking, I ended up with this book about the same time. As I started to read the introduction and into the the first chapter my response was "yes, yes, yes!"  It all made sense to me. Iyengar has a profound way of putting yoga into words that is so brilliant, practical, aspiring, and easy to understand. It is also very satisfying reading and studying a book written by a great master and father figure of yoga.

This is my third time reading the book and it seems to penetrate into my practice and teaching even more potently.

Integration is key. In fact, it means wholeness; to make whole. I believe this in every part of my body. Yoga is not yoga to me unless it is integrated. Integrated on the mat. Integrated off the mat. Integrated into relationships and how we treat one another. Integrated into what we put into the body. Integrated in how we think and how we love. Integrated in how we spiritually evolve. If yoga is "oneness", and integration is "wholeness"; these concepts are one in the same. The question lies in what are we integrating? What parts are we bringing together to make one?

"The yogic journey guides us from our periphery, the body, to the center of our being, the soul. The aim is to integrate the various layers so that the inner divinity shines out as through clear glass" B.K.S. Iyengar

On the mat, we integrate legs, arms, back, pelvis, neck, head and every part of the Self to move synchronistically into a pose. The practice is to make this happen all at once, to the point at which it is effortless. Physical alignment serves spiritual alignment.

Off the mat, it is not so much the body that we are moving together, as much as our awareness. Awareness of body in space, of the surroundings and environment, each other, thoughts, reactions and responses, drinking, eating, and driving. As awareness grows and expands it encompasses all things simultaneously. Ultimately, when we are able to do this; we live in presence, in the heart. In this place, no harm can be done to anyone or anything. We are in service of our unique dharma and the universal dharma.