Giving Up on Giving Up – Karam Pad to Shakti Pad

I’m moving out of my parent’s house in less than 5 days. At nearly 29 years old, this would be a good time to move on with my life. I’m hungering for something different, a new life, new circumstances. So what did I do?

I got a haircut.

Then I recognized a pattern. Every 3-4 years my life seems to change completely. College, 4 years. New York, 4 years. Sonora, 3 years. Usually a drastic haircut happens a few months before a major shift. For some reason, I need to shed skins. I thought this came from my wanting to be an actress, but as I’ve retired from that profession I’ve seen more and more that I can hardly keep up with the changes I want to make for myself. 

There are stages of spiritual development we all must pass through in order to master ourselves, our destiny, and our tasks on this planet. The first stage is the apprentice, where you take everything in and absorb everything. Next is Karam Pad, where you align against discomfort, push your limits and test your knowledge. Shakti Pad is next. This is where you confront the ego. This is where you decide if your work is aimed onto the higher path or quit altogether.

There are lots of things I haven’t made it past the Shakti Pad with. Singing, Dancing, Typing, Crafting, Waitressing, Sales, Mime… all things that may or may not have given me spiritual fulfillment but for whatever reason I had to leave it behind.

But what if I’m leaving myself behind by giving up before an ultimate payoff? What if by focusing my mind I can focus myself to true destiny?

We can all be kind of good at a lot of things, but if you master something? REALLY put the time in and heart and get past the awkward phase? Miracles beyond your wildest dreams usually fall when you least expect it.

For the past few days I’ve been a little on edge. Old addictions and thoughts are popping up when I don’t need them. Old reminders the big fear : You’re just going to get a drastic haircut again and want to change everything in 3 years anyway. But will  you really change yourself in that time? 

I’ve wanted to hide these feelings. Hide from everyone, really. If my home for the past 3 years was a crowded movie theater, I feel like the person who is sneaking out the side door. I don’t want to bother anyone, I just want to leave. Secretly, I think I’m annoying everyone and no one will miss me. But publicly? I hope that once I leave, that cracks the light open for someone who feels stuck. That if I can seek a basic prosperity in a space where I don’t know the rules, anyone can. 

And this is where the next phase of my life is headed. I want to realize that I’m probably still in apprentice phase with myself. I need to cross over to the space where there is no ego. And in that way, I let go of not being good at things right now. My hope is that I keep doing what I love doing and the money, fun, adventure, space and balance appears. 

I have dreams. I want to work as a writer/producer and get paid good money working with talented people. I want to make pieces that people will think about. I want to share light, and make a difference for someone who I may never see or hear but who is affected by a message I have yet to send.

In the meantime, I accept that I have a lot of work to do if I am going to get to the Shakti Pad of myself. I promise to be present with the changes, and acknowledge that I may not be able to solve everything, do everything, or be everything to everyone. But if I can rise to the challenge of meeting my soul with grace, work at it every day, and seek joy in all I do? Then I will be fine.

I’m giving up on giving up on myself. Because I am the source of all that makes me powerful, graceful, and human. And that is enough. 

May we all develop as we are. May we all leave the spaces better than when we arrived. May we all embrace change. May we stick with our true gifts from God and leave what everyone expects us to be. May we be happy exactly as we are. May we prosper as we grow. May we love ourselves as we stumble through the change.

The One Thing Wrong With You

“What IS that?” “Did a boyfriend beat you up?” “Did you grow a unicorn horn and cut it off?” “Are you the devil?”

With questions like these, it’s no wonder we have a warped view of who we truly are. I have a scar. Its dark, it’s prevalent on my forehead, and it affords others opportunity to ask because unconscious people are ready to believe you are willing to discuss every small detail about yourself that is different. When something is apparent yet subtle about someone, most are quick to assume it is a flaw rather than a piece of the puzzle about your unique and beautiful soul.

Let’s start with apparent. If something is obvious about someone, most people would choose not to point and stare unless they were jerks or had hangups about that particular transparency.
I categorize the apparent by:

A) Ethnicity B) Handicap C) Unique Dress D) Assumed Image of the Beholder.

Then there is the subtle. That which isn’t always apparent but different enough that people feel like they can bring it up in conversation without being rude. Sometimes these are a matter of choice, other times they are not.
I categorize the subtle by:

A) Hairstyle or Hair Growth B) Scars/Tattoos C) Accessories D) Symbols or Slang

Let’s group them for easier handling, and see if we can’t get a piece of this puzzle put together. Note that all of these categories could go with any other on the list, and you could make an argument for any one of these to  but for the sake of following a pattern in our culture I have generalized. Yes, I am fighting generalizing with MORE generalizing. Deal with it.

Ethnicity/Hairstyle or Hair Growth

Both of these would be assumed as the organic and beautiful parts of who we are as people. Whatever transparency our race is we can’t hide the fact that we each have a crown on which our glory resides. In Kundalini Yoga tradition, the growth of a man’s hair to a long length is what is called his “Rishi Knot” or place where wisdom resides. Whether someone chooses to even show their hair, as in the tradition of the Hasidic community of Judaism, is completely their values and judgement. Whether someone wears a turban, has dreadlocks, or if a woman cuts her hair short in the Buddhist nun tradition. Different cultures have different views on what style works, and what doesn’t.

And yet I hear all the time about TSA agents requiring Sikh men to remove their turbans. I’ve heard horror stories about black people having strangers come touch their natural hair with NO respect for their space.  I go to a hair salon and ask to cut it short? The stylist asks “are you sure?” In other words “Are you sure you want to remove the thing that’s culturally feminine about you? You might lose some opportunities…”

Handicap/Scars, Tattoos

When I was a kid, my parents were ardent against tattoos for professional reasons. I brought home someone who had multiple tattoos and ear plugs, and bless both my parents they loved him too. But whenever I asked my boyfriend about his fears of cutting off his professional opportunities because of his tattoos? He told me that he did not want to work anywhere that would judge him by his modifications. When I came across more people who had these kinds of modifications, they all remarked that the tattoos and piercings made them feel more like their real selves. They were becoming who they were in essence.

People assume that when you have a scar or tattoo, there either is an emotional handicap about it or that you have dark issues you need to solve. But the truth is our scars and modifications normally have real significance for our lives. They mark passages, honor friends and show us the passage of our real time problems. My scar happened because of stressful periods in my life that caused me to break out and pull off pieces of my skin. Now I wasn’t really willing to talk to strangers about this, but now that you know are you more willing to ask?

Unique Dress/Accessories

Now this does tend to vary based on community. In big cities? Usually this doesn’t apply because everyone is celebrating the unique wave of fashion within urban culture. But picture this: a man walks into a liquor store completely dressed up in Women’s clothing. Suri Cruise wears high heels while walking in downtown SoHo. A woman wears a see-through dress and walks into a grocery store. Two fans of the cult-hit cartoon “Adventure Time” make a pact to dress up as the lead characters and traverse the countryside having adventures.

Seemingly meaningless crimes against fashion, doesn’t it? Would you be quick to devalue that person because they wanted to wear something different than anyone else? Would you take a picture of that person and post it on social media with something like “WTF? FAGGGG”. We often lose out on what we are missing when we choose to marginalize the person who shows us a different way of life. Exterior is only a part of the picture. Imagine what we could learn from someone who has absolutely no fear of being judged in the public eye. When Lady Gaga does it, we call it art. When your neighbor does it, he’s a freak.

Assumed Image of the Beholder/Symbols or Slang

Just like these categories, humans enjoy putting people into tribal groups. Hipsters, Druggies, Hippies, Shiny Happy People. We don’t have time to recognize the middle area of persona because we are too busy with our own hangups. I’m guilty of it too, I see someone with a Romney/Ryan bumper sticker and I instantly try to pass him with my Obama 2012-mobile. But in truth, I’m not passing anything but a fake symbol of a fake idea with my own fake symbol and fake idea. The image I portray is nothing compared to what kind of person I am and sometimes I forget that when dealing with opposing views.

When we see someone who has an assumed image of, let’s say “alkie”, what exactly do we mean? Do we mean it like a sorority girl does to tease someone who drinks with her at 10 in the morning before finals? Do we mean it like someone who is seeking treatment? Like someone who needs help but can’t ask for it? Like the guy we could secretly idolize who can get into a fight while still holding his beer? Like our relatives we excommunicate because of behavioral patterns? These symbols are meaningless, and yet we find ourselves getting hung up on them when we can’t figure out the minute details of that person’s life.

So here’s my conclusion. The one thing wrong with you? Is ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. I figured out that the more gravity I give to my scar, the more people will comment. So I choose to believe that it truly is a piece of me that isn’t wrong at all but perfect and real. My apparent subtleties are beautiful, and so are yours. May you find all that is wrong with you right. May you chase the parts of you that are different and can’t be put into any of my dumb categories. May you appreciate every loose end that you have and live by them as a child of soul. May you love yourself exactly for who you are. May you be perfectly imperfect. May your differences unite. May your true self prevail.

Sat Nam.
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Flawless. 🙂

When We Mourn Celebrity

My RSS feed fills with the very sad news of Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s death. The tragedy of addiction, the anger at being robbed of his performances for the next however long, and the amazing talent that left us too soon. Now, I believe that all of this is true. But none of it has anything to do with Phillip Seymour Hoffman.

See, mourning is a process that we have been doing together for centuries as human beings. The viking funeral, the open casket, the spreading of the ashes in some sacred place. We come together as a community to support those closest to the death, in hopes that someone might do the same for us. Same as with weddings, only difference is no one wants to admit they hope people come to their funeral. That would be too vulnerable, too openly admitting that dying is close to all of us whether we know it or not.

Which leads me to Mr. Hoffman. When an actor dies, especially a talented and beloved one, everyone sounds off on social media. Shared articles, youtube clips of favorite scenes he did, interviews where he revealed a bit more about the actor’s craft and art. But here’s the secret: an celebrity is never mourned for what they truly are, but what we secretly hope we could be.

We get off on the idea that being mourned by millions could happen to us. We join in the noise on the internet, but that’s the closest we get to contributing to the memory.

Do any of us really know Phillip Seymour Hoffman as a person? Have we had coffee with him? Did we send him a handwritten note wishing him well and Merry Christmas? Did we attend his wedding? The majority of us did not, and yet we feel gut punched by his demise. Millions of people all feeling the sting of his loss, because the story we felt was not quite over. We felt we deserved more of him and yet we didn’t know him at all. I am not marginalizing the tragedy by any means, but how close do we claim his tragedy as our own because of his celebrity?

When I was younger, I attended the funeral of someone from my high school. A person I had never even spoken to in class, nor interacted with on any level. And yet, being there with his family in the front row, the entire football team laying their jerseys on the casket and people vomiting out of grief? I cried and mourned for someone who didn’t even know my name. Who was I to cry for someone I barely knew, out of empathy or not wanting to seem like I didn’t belong to this community? The humanist inside me will say the former reason, but the truth is probably the latter.

I will say that there is something about actors that changes the dialogue. An actor’s job is to transcend, to go beyond his form as himself and become something grander than anyone could imagine possible. To expose themselves in front of us, naked and honest. When a beloved actor dies, we almost think he’s playing a trick on us. That this “death” is just a job that he’s doing and eventually someone will spot him at a Starbucks somewhere in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Yeah, tell that to his actual family and friends that “dying was the greatest role he ever played on any of us…so exposed..so REAL”. That’s messed up, and anyone with half a brain would tell you to stop speaking like you knew him.

We feel like we own these celebrities, their bad outfits, their meltdowns, so why are we only present with them as human beings when they die? Why does Phillip Seymour Hoffman with a needle in his arm make him suddenly our best friend, when we ignore the homeless man on the street who dies right in front of us, every day. I’m not saying one death is more tragic than the other, but when dealing with addiction and dying it seems like we are willing to take up the cause of someone we’ve seen in pictures rather than help the person next to us.

Which leads me to my point – when we mourn celebrity, we are really mourning for the part of ourselves that we believe could be larger than life. The exact same way Mr. Hoffman was, and the exact way he dove into every amazing part he played. So when addressing anyone’s death on social media, speak about the parts you admired and knew but don’t pretend like he was your favorite teacher in school. Recognize the artist for who he is…the one who inspired you to do great things. And then DO them, because what better way to remember someone’s inspiring life then by having one yourself? Why not become someone ten times greater than Phillip Seymour Hoffman, but in a way that only you can do?

I do hope that those who knew Mr. Hoffman intimately find peace in the passing times. But as for me, someone who admired his work but did not know him? I hope that if my destiny is to be mourned by millions when I leave this planet, that I will handle that destiny with grace. If I am to be mourned by one, may that person be TRULY changed by my being in their life. May we all follow our path in this life with strength, caring and compassion for those around us. May we experience loss in our way but recognize when we are lost in the noise of what loss really is. May we recognize the truth in our own lives and stop borrowing the sad ones from others. May we live happy, healthy and holy.

Sat Nam.

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Phillip Seymour Hoffman 1967-2014