Honoring the Atypical Milestones of 2013

I don’t have a baby and I don’t intend to have one. I’m not interested in marriage until I have crossed a threshold of intimacy with someone that makes me see the joy in being someone’s twin flame. I don’t intend to die until my time. I have graduated from college and am seeking employment in a field that has led me down several paths at once, and definitely doesn’t require an office.

Here’s a question I’ve been asking over and over again : Do I have ANY milestones that are translatable? Explainable? Profitable? Are they even milestones if they don’t make sense to anyone else?

As I approach the end of 2013, I’m getting an atypical notion of what a milestone is. We teach the milestones that are most valuable to us: weddings, babies, jobs, deaths and graduations. But what about the atypical milestones that we all feel should be celebrated, or at the very least, noted?

Columnist and podcast host Dan Savage made a very interesting point about divorces. The fact is, the marriage is only deemed successful until one or both of the partners DIES without breaking the marriage. If you stuck with someone long enough that you DIED before they divorced you, then the marriage was a success.

If we apply that to other pieces of our culture, then births are only successful if the baby grows up and doesn’t commit a felony or end up on the stripper pole. Why not wait until they are 30 to REALLY celebrate their life, because when they are babies all they need to be is fed and changed. I mean, what if that baby grew up to be a total asshole, would we want to celebrate his birth before we knew anything about them?

Would a job be successful if you stayed there until you retired, although you hated it and everyone you worked for? If they fired you or you left early would it be considered a failure? What if you got a degree in finance and then left that job because you discovered you hated it? Would that not be a milestone because you were finally allowing your true self to guide your choices? There is no card for “Congratulations, you’ve realized what doesn’t work!” 

My point is, we need to start looking at the atypical achievements of our past years. Discoveries, Adventures, Obstacles Beaten and Commitments Brought to Reality are four things I’m truly interested in when it comes to marking milestones. 

Discoveries – Have you played with your inner child? Have you tried something different? Have you found something you love doing or are you attempting a discovery? Have you learned something about yourself that you never knew before? Have you discovered what you need to change, and if so, have you acted on it?

Adventures – Have you stepped out of your comfort zone? Have you seen something new? Have you immersed yourself in a book, dance, show or hobby? Have you found a process or a project that connects to an inner desire, and are you moving on that path?

Obstacles Beaten – Have you gone through a grieving process? Have you changed a habit you wanted to break? Have you blasted through an inner obstacle that you have been fighting for years? Have you beaten karma to become dharma?

Commitments Brought to Reality – Have you really loved in so deep a way that you have come to understand its true nature? Have you committed to yourself so that you can help others? Have you finished what you started? Have you continued to walk your path in spite of what other people think? Have you grown through your commitments that you truly care about?

So here are mine, for this year. I hope I have remembered all of them, but this is what I am most proud of:

DISCOVERIES:

1. I am a damn good writer and production manager. I am a horrible web designer and video editor.

2. I am part mermaid, and need to keep swimming always. I can swim 2 miles without practice in open water. Must build myself a tail.

3. I need to eat less sugar and booze and sweat and laugh more. I need to help myself first. 

4. I have found a mentor and a friend who supports me creatively, and can offer impartial advice. KEY when looking at your passions like a lost tourist with a fold out map from 1997. 

ADVENTURES:

1. I fell in love with a man who deserved it, and I told him/showed him as often as I could that it was true.

2. I saw Sigur Ros at the Fox Theatre on my birthday. 

3. I went to Wanderlust in Tahoe this year, further confirming that the yoga community is a place where I feel very much at home.

4. I salsa danced at clubs in Sacramento and Stockton, and held my own on the dance floor.

OBSTACLES BEATEN:

1. I broke it off with a man who wanted different things than I did, and I did that with grace and strength.

2. I got through the holidays without my Grandmother, and further attempted to break some karma and heal with my mother’s grief process.

3. I reconciled with a friend I haven’t talked to in years, because I was afraid of what they thought of me. I learned that true friends are genuinely happy to see you if they call, and won’t judge if you aren’t making the same choices they are. 

4. I watched my friend have her first child, held her hand through the ups and downs and confirmed that I don’t want children of my own. I managed to connect to her although her path was foreign to me, I learned to love someone through a different phase of their life and connect through the divide. 

COMMITMENTS SEEN THROUGH:

1. I finished my certificate in web development, even though I discovered I didn’t like it. I finished what I started.

2. I finished another degree that I have put off for 5 years, my undergrad degree became official in 2012.

3. I finished my first feature as a production manager for a full length feature.

4. I have done the same yoga set and meditation for 60 days, and am moving to 120. 

May you reflect on this year though all your milestones, both typical and atypical. May you honor your successes and failures with equal love and respect. May each milestone be a door and a clarity. May your open heart breathe in prosperity for the new year, as you shed old identities. May you become divine in your actions and pure in your intentions. May every step bring you closer to your truth as a living soul. 

Sat Nam.

 

 

 

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The River and Elements of Choice

We drink every day out of the cup of our own consciousness, but never aware of the other side of it. Many times we wish our identities could be solid, our emotions identifiable in origin and our roles cemented. At least then we could scale our lives down to margins and degrees.

Could you imagine? I am 80% happy today for my role as daughter, barista, and yogi has been filled. Now that other 20 percent, if filled by my role as girlfriend, nuclear physicist, and professional break dancer? I would be set for LIFE!! Also? I want to dye my hair/get a tattoo/go by my middle name so that everyone will INSTANTLY know I’m different without anything happening. Michael Fassbender will also come into my work, get coffee, fall madly in love with me and we will dance at our wedding to Neil Young’s “Harvest Moon”.

You see how crazy that sounds? We are creating holes in our own life for things we aren’t even sure we want. Each identity is crazier than the last because we can’t wrap our head around infinity.  How can we filter happiness when we are constantly searching for things that make us unhappy? How do we make choices about who we are when the model changes constantly? How do we react to change and not get swept into a false identity because of it? How do we not wake up in shock wondering “Is this REALLY my life?” and feel drowned by that discovery?

Life flows much like a river. At our best, we move at a natural course and are filled with life. But imagine if the waters of that river were to encounter a huge island at the center of the river’s path. An unexpected division, a natural obstacle to life’s flow. Half the water would flow around the island one way, the other half would flow on the opposite side. One way has the exact same volume of water as the other, the only difference is the direction.

I’ve reached an age where things are neither good or bad anymore. My life simply merges and diverges depending on the obstacle presented. Whether I go on one side or the other, I’m still water. I’m still mutable and transformable and a product of my environment.

Depressing, right? But think of it this way:

The water, when flowing on it’s natural course, can’t see the new pathways being created during the merging of the elements. It can only feel the motion and respond by joining with the universal organic flow of everything around it. 

Our job is to not see the monumental island in our way. Our job is to find the path of least resistance and go there. Over time, the island becomes a bar of sand or disappears completely for the water is made strong by its consistency. I’m not the best at limiting my fantasies, nor being swept away by illusion. But with practice, and with love and time? I could follow the flow of my life exactly as it is and get exactly what I need. The organic path of the soul, lived by its present. Delicious.

May your time, talent and discipline prove to be your best friend. May you not see the giant island but feel the grains of sand flowing between your feet, and trust they are wearing what isn’t needed. May you choose either/or, but be blessed with the knowledge that there are no bad choices, but simply choices to be reckoned with. May all of your problems be the result of a life that you want, a life of least resistance. May your destiny serve you in ways you never knew, and may you be blessed because of it.

Sat Nam.
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Burn the Effigy of False Stories – Winter, Fire, and Marzanna

At 4:30 PM the sun starts to go down. It is cold outside. I light a candle for my evening meditation, a real karma-burner that allows me to open the lotus blossom of my heart. Feel its fragrance, be inside the chambers of where the oldest stories I tell myself are hidden. I look at that flame every night and I focus on the process: it is a pleasure to burn the old life inside me because it is too painful to carry anymore.

Most people spend their entire lives crawling. This is a fact. The mind is a series of patterns on which we are sent messages from our subconscious. These stories are older than our childhoods, and our karma is to figure out why we came to this planet to suffer the same story over and over again. Why we seem to be the victim of our life instead of the hero is patterned in our subconscious tales of lack, fear, hurt and pain that we were brought to from the human condition. From the suffering that we seem to be doomed to follow.

Its a fucking pleasure to burn that story. I want to throw the entire chapter of my false identity into a pit of flames and never hear words from that place again. I want a working heart and a loving soul.

Fortunately for me, I have Kundalini Yoga, and the teachings of Yogi Bhajan. Tonight my teacher explained to me that all of those stories are from fear. That the way of the heart-centered warrior is not to fight and suffer and lose and be an animal. But to be gracious, regal and gentle with my soul. It is easy to be numb, to be harsh, to be critical and to hate. It is the hardest thing in the world to face fear with the open lotus of the heart.

Yogi Bhajan

“Repeat after me : I love myself, I trust myself, I am myself. LOUDER, Until I believe you…” – Yogi Bhajan

Tonight, I read about the goddess Marzanna. She is a goddess from Poland who represents the seasonal rites of Winter. She is the death that needs to happen in order for Spring to bloom. The Slavic root of her name, mor, or mors, means death. Some German studies have likened her to mare, or nightmare. She visits and brings death, nightmare, phantoms, visions, hallucinations. In other words, she is the bringer of the dark days without sun or sky so that the soil of the Earth is clear for a rebirth.

marzanna

Marzanna. Ugly doll of death, harbinger of Winter. 

There is a tradition in the Czech Republic to burn an effigy of Marzanna during the vernal equinox of Spring, on March 21. A likeness of Marzanna is brought through the town on that day and burned on a pyre of herbs, flowers, and stones. This is a community passing of Winter and the welcoming of Spring. When she is burned, it is considered bad luck to touch any of her ashes after she has been put on the fire. You don’t want that old story carried around with you any more than you want six more weeks of cold. The time for death and mourning is passing and we don’t have time for the baggage that follows that season. Don’t look at Marzanna once you are done with your ritual. Don’t carry any more of her stories with you. You don’t need them anymore.

In the next few months, I’ve got a lot of burning to do. The old habits, the old stories, the old triggers. They need to die quick deaths so that life may regenerate in my soul. May the following weeks bring you a burning process that clears the cosmos for your destiny. May the false piece of yourself that you keep identifying with die out. May you feel the lotus blossom of your heart open and may that burn bright in the harsh conditions. May your baggage fall into flames. May you regenerate with love and understanding so you may be strong and carry your community through the Aquarian Age.

Sat Nam.

Burn the death goddess

May your Goddess serve you to burn the stories.

Ke$ha and my Klesha

I’ve experienced surges of emotion in the past month. Euphoria, Sadness, Madness, Despair. As one who traverses the meditative path, I try not to let my feelings of life become the facts of life. But I’m human and when crisis happens the first thing that falls out of line is my emotional stability. I can only blame it on my moon in Pisces for so long, and then I actually have to put my big girl pants on.

What happens when we experience separation from our fixed identities is what the Buddhist tradition would call kleshas. Anger, Jealousy, Pride, Fear. Those are all strong emotions that occur when we separate from our former selves. Look at a very drunk college co-ed. She stumbles on her heels, gets upset when her phone dies, and cries when she can’t find her way out of the bathroom.  That is the esscence of Klesha, all reactive and no clarity…lost and hurt for no reason.

My kleshas have a visual component to them. You are all familiar with a whiskey-loving pop star named Ke$ha. For those unfamiliar, her songs involve waking up in someone else’s bathroom, brushing her teeth with Jack Daniels, and becoming so crazy over a man that she likens love to a drug. She is my vajazzled force of self destruction with glitter in all parts unknown.

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Is this your bathroom? I think I’ll sleep here tonight – Me, in College.

But what’s so interesting to me about my personal party demon? She’s seductive. Secretly we adore this hot mess. When Britney Spears was on the brink of suicide and getting into car accidents? We thrive on that story. When Lindsay Lohan gets away with another drunken incident? We want to see more. Not only are these kleshas of culture in my consciousness as the party demons of my  past, but she’s in the collective consciousness of the world as what we all value.

Because if the world convinces us that emotional calamity is our normal, then we don’t have to be bothered with our infinity. If we are taught enough times that being crazy is what’s expected, then we don’t have to be responsible for our lives. 

There are two sides to kleshas when it comes to going through hardships. There is the creative burn of this process, where we go through the veil of our emotions and fears and come out the other side as clear. Britney’s comeback? Getting over a loss? Doing what you love in spite of your fear? All empowering. We have equal opportunity to rise through the calamity and that makes us stronger and clearer. When we break through our emotional passages, we become human and we recognize that suffering in others.

Now here I am, at the age of 28 and my emotional calamities have not gotten any less complicated. Hurt, Regret, Fear, Lack. All of my Kleshas which appear to me like seductive club monsters who could turn my mental clarity into hazy weapons-grade jaeger bombs. An emotional hangover much worse than the physical. Self poisoning at its worst.

What I need to remember is this: all of this emotional Klesha, Ke$ha, and turmoil? Comes from a false image. It comes from an image that I am separate from infinity, love, and the light inside that guides me in the darkness. All emotional calamity is from a separation that doesn’t exist between me and infinity.

We are all beautiful creatures of this planet trying to become soul. We stumble, we cry, we get drunk and pass out. But we wake up and we try again. Every morning. Even if we feel terrible consistently, we slowly learn to detatch from that feeling and eventually it doesn’t bother us anymore. We are soulful beings here to learn messy love and life. Calamity is not our purpose, but navigating calamity through the strength of our path will get us there.

May this week be filled with clarity and healing. May all of your emotional turmoils be re-directed towards your inner light and burned out with the intensity of your truth. May you never feel sadness, fear, anger or hurt when your love becomes the place of peace. May your daily practice peel back the layers of your emotional pain so you may live your destiny and the destiny of a peaceful planet. Sat Nam.

Lakshmi: The Love Versus the Lack

I am overdrawn by thirty dollars. I have put the gas from our family boat into my car to keep it going. My car looks like I’m living in it as I drive a full hour to work for a minimum wage job. I’m still waiting on checks from work I did weeks ago. 

I need a prosperity intervention. Badly.

I look at a picture of Lakshmi. This Hindu Goddess represents prosperity and beauty. I look at her like I looked at the cheerleaders that went to my high school : I’ll never look like that. Surrounded by open lotus flowers, Elephants fat and healthy, and a pool of water that looks like the most serene bath I’ve ever seen. I want to dive headfirst into this picture. 

What I don’t realize is that Lakshmi is a dual-faceted goddess. On one side, she represents Bhudevi, the earthly world of material possessions. On the other, Sirdevi, which is the spiritual world or energy of the unseen realm. 

What is interesting to this picture is that Lakshmi, in her essence, is the embodiment of pure love. Prosperity is the opposite of greedy because it takes place in both the earthly and spiritual realm. Bhakti (Love), Atma (Soul) and Pakriti (Spiritual Purity) are all achieved with her blessing.

I had a talk with my father the other day about budget. Not for how to spend money or balance a checkbook, but how to give of my time and value it. I have been told by those close to me that I give away before I give to myself and that causes my crisis most often. 

“Lizzie, your mother and I seem to notice that you don’t really value your talent when it comes to getting paid. I’m a lawyer, and I do nothing but spend my time on things. You seem to be entering a place where your time is your money, and you can’t ask for what you need. Have you noticed that you don’t take care of yourself first?” 

Internally, I’m dealing with a glass ceiling that has to do with a constant feeling of lack. Self love and self loathing have been twin dragons that when pitted against each other can battle most of my demons. But I’ve reached a point in my life where I’m realizing an extremely important fact.

Your mental image of what you deserve, in the spiritual, emotional and material realm becomes the master of your self worth. 

It’s not self esteem, confidence or talent. Does the Goddess of Lakshmi set foot in the limpid pool of your heart, or does she have no beautiful waters to step in? Have you created a place for her fat Elephants to play and eat? Have you enough nutrient-rich soil in the waters of your soul to plant the lotus of good fortune?

This week, may love fill your heart where you feel only lack. May you find ways to give to yourself first before you fall apart from emotional, material or spiritual starvation. May you have the light of your soul lead you to a beautiful garden of prosperity, so that you may share that with others. May you be great and full. Grateful. Sat Nam.

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All of this could be yours, my dear…

Ra Ma Da Sa – Heal Thyself, Heal the World

Last week, I had a panic attack. The first one I have had in years. Hands shaking, my mother tranquilized me with her calming hands as I cried so hard my entire body felt an exorcism of grief. This is a feeling I have been storing in my body for several weeks. Loss of a relationship one year in the making, loss of a job that made me feel alive, the loss of my grandmother and her release from pain. Everything hit me all at once as I began to break down. One piece at a time.

We have so many ways in the current culture to destroy ourselves. Let me list some that I have engaged in.

  1. The Boring Drugs – Bad Television, Food, Booze… all things seemingly normal and undetected in all social circles.
  2. Sex – Ok, this list is starting to sound like a purity test. I’m not on this earth to make anyone, least of all, myself look like a soapbox diva. But what better way to forget than to lose yourself in another person? When did we decide as a culture that medicating using another’s genitals was a good idea?
  3. Self-Importance – We are taught, in America that the bigger we are the more powerful we become. Bigger homes, more followers, more social networking and more social anxiety. I am the most socially adjusted person until I engage in online comparison and then fear sets in. Where were we before we coveted our neighbor’s online post? How did we even survive?
  4. Martyrdom in the name of Service – When you are inspired to give, you want to give more and more. But if you never give to yourself you run on fumes and become either a financial, emotional or physical martyr. The cause of your life is to live it happy. When you martyr yourself in the name of others, you never get that solid foot on the ground and lose your liberation.
  5. Fear – I’ve let fear destroy many wonderful experiences that could have been completely pleasant. Shows I have been in, projects I have started, friendships? Relationships that never started because I couldn’t tell someone “I think you are amazing. You make me smile, and you add color to my view of the planet”. Chances, adventures, life. All curtailed out of a non-credible emotion.

So how do you heal from all these subconscious traumas? How do you resonate healing and love when you are falling apart? Where are the healing hands of your earthly and heavenly mother when your entire body resonates with these self-destructive tendencies?

There is a beautiful meditation in Kundalini Yoga. Tonight I felt the waves of peace roll over me as a voice whispered in my ear: “I think you are amazing, you make me smile, and you add color to my view of the planet”. It’s the inner voice I have been afraid to tell other people, because I need to tell myself first.

Healing cannot happen unless it starts at our original home, the heart.

Sitting on the ground with your legs crossed, close your eyes and focus at your third eye. Hold your hands palms flat at the level of your shoulders. Elbows are bent and resting next to the shoulders. Back straight. Breathe. Chant along with these beautiful elements, bringing in the navel point as you chant the syllables Sa and Hung, illuminating them both –

Ra – Sun

Ma- Moon

Da – Earth

Sa – Infinity

Sa- I call on Infinity

Say – I personally embody that Infinity

So – I merge with that Infinity

Hung – That esscence, I am thou.

To finish, hold your breath and visualize that green, healing energy of love. Send it to yourself, to the planet. To the world. Inhale and focus on that person or place you need to heal. Exhale and Inhale one last time, send it out further than you ever imagined. Exhale and heal the world.

Start with 11 minutes. Start with the love that you owe yourself as a divine being having an earthly experience.

May your week be healed by everything that makes you fall apart. May you peel back the layers of fear in your life to reveal the healing vibration of self love. May you care for yourself so much that all others are healed by being around you. May you inspire others to be healing waves of love. May that wave submit itself into an ocean of compassion. May that ocean be our planet. Sat  Nam.

Try this musical version with Snatam Kaur! Rights belonging to the artist-

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w9OCEfi4Lv0

Akal – Deathless

Today my Grandmother died.

The dying process that is quick for some became long for her. A year of being on more morphine, pills and insulin than most hospitals would administer. All pieces of this puzzle were made known to my mother, who took the role of caretaker and support for over ten years. The karma of care is something passed on so strongly from mother to daughter. Felt from infancy, giving back that unconditional support we recieved as an infant? It’s no match for what we want to do when we are adults and feel like we can do so much. But in the end, what little we can do hits us all at once and we’re lost.

I held my mother in my arms this morning and said “I am so proud of you”. Because no one could have done what she did, maintained consistency as my grandmother deteriorated, hallucinated and grew weak. No one could have been her at that moment and not broken down.

My grandmother raised two girls as a single parent. In a conservative town where divorce was considered loosely hanging skin on society, she took on the responsibility as she could. Worked at the same bank for 30 years, trained male employees to become her superiors. She was the valedictorian of a high school class of one in Oregon, a farm town where there were more sheep than people.  Getting lost on our way to the movies, reading, riding bikes down her street, and Jello with fruit. All memories I take with me.

When my mom became aware of grandma’s situation, I asked her how she could keep watch over a woman who was falling apart. Her answer was simple:

When someone refuses to give up on you, you don’t give up on them.

My mother explained that when her Dad left, Grandma didn’t stop being a Mother. She didn’t shirk responsibility when she had no support. She didn’t give up. She may have stumbled on that path, but she didn’t forget who her girls were. This past week, my mother held my grandma’s hand as she chose to stop eating, stop taking medications, and release herself from pain. To release from this earthly shell we all have to leave eventually. To become the matter of the next life, whatever that may be. It was a holding cell of the next world and we all could recieve her wishes as she passed. Painful, powerful, complete.

There is a chant that the Kundalini Yoga community recites when someone leaves this planet : Akal. It means undying, deathless. The death place where, when you are asked to go there, you can go with grace and dignity. For the past week, when my Grandmother decided that death was her choice, that it was her time to go, she left on her own terms. It’s the place where change feels like burning and everything crumbles around you but you stay still. You stay deathless, for death is your peace.

Death isn’t about giving up, it’s about letting go. It’s about being there for someone in their last hour and allowing them to let go. It’s not giving up as the letting go is painful. I will take the lessons of my mother and grandmother of that deathless place. May that deathless place give you strength when all karma is burning into dharma. May you remember those who held your hand into the deathless place. May you become deathless as death surrounds you. May you all be light when your time comes to illuminate the deathless path. Sat Nam.

Grandma

Eileen Arabella McKay. Akal.