The Joy In Finding Tribe

I spent a year of my life in hiding. Parts of me are starting to come out again, and parts are still hidden. But the one thing I can count on whether in solitude or vulnerability is the joy in finding a tribe. 

I went to a tattoo convention today. Extraordinary works of body art, modifications and piercings. I don’t have any modifications myself, but from people I spoke to today and those I have known in the past? The modification of your body through these ritual piercings and tattoos are not a choice : those who choose the lifestyle feel more connected to community with the piercings than without.

Then there were the present company : a friend I have known since I was five years old, her boyfriend and her two friends from high school. One of the things the women in the group had in common was a kind of transitional phase. We are all moving into parts of our lives where we are solidifying what we want and choosing what we don’t really like anymore.

Just like a permanent fixture of ink, the image changes over time of how you want to live your life. You have an idea of what it will be and then if you let it happen it becomes nothing and better than you imagined. You find the peaceful part of yourself that has joy in others and feels joy returned to them as a gift.

I hope that my tribe keeps growing, as yours does too. I hope you find the place where you feel like the better version of yourself and the people who help you get there. I hope you stop hanging out with people who stifle your love. I hope you live in harmony with your tribe and grow strong in those relationships.

 

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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.

Image

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.

Spiritual Journalism

I was sitting in Starbucks last week, overhearing a conversation between an Atheist and a Christian.

Here’s how it went.

Atheist : Point.

Christian: Counterpoint.

Atheist: Strongly worded point.

Christian: Louder Point.

Atheist: Even Louder Point.

Christian: Interruption.

Atheist: Not wanting to offend, but really can’t participate in a rigid dogma that has strict guidelines.

Christian: Not wanting to sound rude, but denial of something that is omnipresent isn’t representing the truth.

Atheist: (drinks coffee)

Christian: (Goes back to typing)

And what did we learn? Everyone enjoys engaging in a vivid debate with people who don’t share their beliefs. But no one wants to learn from the other. Our experiences of our spiritual dimensions are what shape us, and the more we share the better we understand our communication with our higher selves. No one wants to share the stories, only the limitations of a singular mode of celestial communication.

Here is what I hope to do with this blog:

1. Explore spiritual practices, lifestyles and themes. Write about those experiences.

2. Find a connective allegory for those experiences. Create more questions. Make the process relatable.

3. Use new media to chronicle these themes. Share and delight.

4. Highlight some soulful personalities, spiritual explorers and conscious givers in this world. Learn from them.

Here are some of my biases:

1. What practices are “spiritual”?

I don’t know yet, I’ll follow curiosity on that one.

2. What practices are “religious”?

I wouldn’t define this as a religion blog, but I am not discounting parts of religion as a way to trace a story.

3. What practices are “personal”?

I’m a Kundalini Yoga freak and I have an altar. Other than that perhaps my bias stems from our modern fascination in alternative lifestyles.

4. How do you define “soulful” when you can’t define the soul?

Dunno.

Either way, I’m hoping this blog grows into “This American Spiritual Life”. I hope you discover new avenues of connection with your higher self. I hope not to teach you anything, but to entertain and delight your curiosity about different spiritual elements. I hope to create a new path of spiritual journalism.  I hope you believe in the beauty of your soul.

Sat Nam

P.S. Sat Nam means “Truth is My Identity” A Kundalini Yoga Aloha.