Ride the Focused Float

Water is my calming element. Every time I am in it, around it, or watching it my mind instantly tunes into my organic self. I feel free, floating and alive. When I was a kid, my dad signed me up for swim team. Bad idea. I never wanted to get across the lane, I was having such a fantastic time feeling supported by this magical atmosphere. My lap time was probably close to an hour, and getting me out of the pool is exhausting. 

Today, I have things to do and a big project I am undertaking to build my own version of home. I still need to find a job, and I have to support myself. I feel the gravity of my situation as the shadow side of my freedom. Imagine that same swimming pool but filled with molasses. Or, just when you feel the most connected in the water, another kid holds your head down. Or even worse, tries to pull you out because everyone else is heading home. 

Why doesn’t the world let us stay where everything feels good? Why are we constantly encouraged to leave our freedom behind because everyone else tells you it’s time to grow up? Why is the struggle towards floating a constant FIGHT???

I dream of being a woman in balance: floating in the atmosphere of her element but so focused that even if all the water were to drain out of the pool she would still feel light – airy in her own atmosphere. Untouchable. Free. 

The mind is your focused float. Start there. Your body is your conscious balance in that float. Keep going towards that delight. Your soul will emerge from those two feeling good. Be good to them. Be good to yourself.

May you float free and focused. May you find your element. May you feel joy, always. 

Sat Nam

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The Price of All That Happy

I saw an adorable but ugly dog – my favorite kind. I squealed at him and shouted, “PUPPY!”. The owner looked frightened. When I find out that my favorite band is playing near me, I’d put on displays of convivial joy while hunting down tickets online. If someone handed me a shaker of truffle salt? I would jump up and down in excitement.

Professionals stay neutral. Children stay happy. Realists stay realistic, but also can’t get hurt as easily. Where is the middle ground? Neutrality is what we seek on the spiritual journey, but also happiness. What happens when we seek to cross these both? Does it even happen?

This morning, as I wring myself out in yoga class and get rid of all the fears that surround me on a daily basis? I’m struck by the fact that we can never have a lot of happy without a lot of sad. Just as in a risk-and-reward situation, the higher you go the higher you have to fall.

Consider the wave. As it heads towards the shore it gets highest before it falls. But then it goes back and another high is reached. The water goes fast and then slow, and paces based on it’s peaks and valleys. When it’s closer to the sand, it is forced to absorb the changing landscape before it has strength to rise again.

life like this...

life like this…

But it always rises. The higher it goes the more it inspires, accumulates and moves. It takes the whole landscape with it and fills its volume with sea life. It’s majestic, joyful and moving as the way nature intended. Beautiful motion.

I realize I am in a phase of my life now that I am tentatively calling “the good happy lonely”. I’m a woman on the verge of the next phase of my life and trying to enjoy the present while all of life fills itself inside me. That makes me happy. The price of all that happy is an equal or greater amount of sadness sometimes. But I have to know deep inside me that the wave will grow strong again even when I don’t feel it will.

The price of all this happy is sometimes laying on a mattress in the middle of the floor and feeling a void. The price of all that happy is a vulnerable feeling that I’m exposed as a fraud to everyone who knows me, false as that assumption may be. The price of all that happy is some sweat, tears and pain. The price of all that happy is sacrifice. The price of all that happy is some love lost over time.

But then I see a carton of truffle salt in the grocery store and I think – the world cannot be so bad. This savory fruit of the sea exists, and just like the sea will rise with me again.

May the price of all your happy be the strength to fight for it and let things go. May the price of all your happy be presence. May you ride your life like a gentle wave and feel lighter in every step along the way. May the price of all that happy be a committed relationship to the wonderful, amazing soul that you are.

Sat Nam.

When Looking for Signs Goes Wrong – The Bunny Story

I’m trying to be a grounded spiritualist, but I’m constantly surrounded by puzzling signs. Some of them are wonderful, some of them are terrible. Here is an example of when looking for signs goes wrong, for those of us who are still waiting for that sign of destiny from the universe.

Last month I applied for a job that I truly wanted. The ache in my heart for everything this job offered : benefits, freedom, money, a mission and good healthy food on discount? My interview was on a day when the new moon was in Aries, my sun sign. For those of you unfamiliar with astrology, some of the signs in the new moon may auspiciously be supporting our causes on this planet – especially when the sign is similar to our own. The sun was shining, the interview went extremely well, even the lady at the jewelry shop next door told me the job was mine, and offered me a sublease in the area. “For WHEN you get it dear, WHEN you get it!”the kind old lady smiled at me and said.

This HAS to be a sign, I said to myself.

I failed to notice it was April Fool’s day. Got a call in the evening that they had offered the position to someone internally, but would call me at the end of the month with another job opening. Sign? Maybe not.

Fast forward to end of the month. A day astrologically auspicious to those at a crossroads. Offering balance, the grand cardinal cross was a time that signified the end of self-pity, and the beginning of an awakening into fullness.

Then I saw the bunny.

Outside the office window where I was working? The most adorable baby bunny in the world was munching on a green leaf and staring at me. I stared back at him.

bunny

“Everything is going to be as fine as I am adorable. Tee hee!!”

He was the cutest thing I had ever seen. We communicated. He stared at me and I stared at him and I felt so happy inside. This is a sign of fertility, of things moving, of freedom, of play. I felt so ready to accept what was mine : my dream of supporting myself and moving on into the next phase of my life was being supported by ADORABLE MOTHER NATURE!!

This HAS to be a sign, I said to myself.

I got the call. There was a job available, but for much less hours and much less pay than the previous job. I told the hiring manager that I had to think about it.

I felt sad. I had been waiting on baited breath for this destiny sign to make itself known to me. For the right thing to happen to me at the right time. It sucked. For about two minutes, I let the tears flow in the parking lot. Then I felt relief.

“Now I don’t have to wait on them anymore”…I thought. “Now I can have some freedom in decisions that were hindered by hope and looking everywhere but now.”

It’s amazing how good it feels when you don’t have to rely on the outside anymore to bring you everything you ever wanted. When you can check yourself with who you are rather than what you need. When you can let go of the bunny and really focus on what’s right in front of you. Everything you need you already have. 

I’m not saying it doesn’t suck when you hope for something and then it doesn’t turn out. I’m not saying that the joy in finding isn’t something worth searching for. But I hope in the next week that you find that all the strength, love and prosperity you have ever wanted is not what the bunny has. It’s what you have.

I hope that every missed opportunity is a direction for you. I hope every failure is leading you towards success on a ladder you want to climb. I hope prosperity follows you as you follow your heart. I hope you let love win when you are looking, and you let love be when you know who you are. I hope you make your life a two way mirror of love : looking up and looking in front of you in the glorious dance of the present. 

Sat Nam.

“the universe is counting on our belief
that faith is more powerful than fear
and in that the shifting moment
we’ll all remember why we’re here”
-from “Awaken”at MysticMamma.com

Ways to Take Up Space

1. Say what you feel the moment you feel it. Tell the grocer he made a mistake in a very kind way. Tell your friend they are making you feel pressured, marginalized or hurt. Tell your lover that you love them and appreciate everything they do for you. Tell your parents thank you. 

2. If that makes you uncomfortable, write those feelings down and then say them later to the person. It still counts.

3. Sing loudly. In the car, in the shower, on stage, recorded or into your hairbrush. But sing with your whole body.

4. Hog the covers. If there is someone next to you at the time you attempt this, play-fight them for it. Roll around as much as possible while doing this. Wedgies are fair game. You know you are doing it right when the covers leave the bed and there are no winners. If you are single, make a fort just for you in the living room and invite in friends – or enjoy the solitude. 

5. Do some creative vandalism. Something impermanent that changes the landscape of how your space is defined. Arrange a few post-it’s so they make a smiley face on your wall. Put a ribbon on a statue. Make the outline of a heart in rocks on someone’s door. Attach a kite to the back of a garbage truck.

6. Think like an animal. Growl. Run. Chase. Fetch. Play. Find a field where you can run around and bring out your inner wolverine. Watch people be curious, and then not give a crap. Just don’t leave…traces. 🙂 

7. Reserve It – Is there a place in the park you like to go, a library, a dance studio, a street you like to run? Give yourself space to be in those spaces and give yourself time to be happy in them. For me, that is the bathtub. Mine, mine mine. 

8. Be selfish – Take care of buisiness, then do what you want. You have the right to be where you are and have that be exactly where you want to be. You get there by expressing the need from your true self, and then letting that true self take action. Take what you need, because then you acknowledge the plenty you have. 

9. Do something completely out of character – Ask someone out. Take a class you always wanted to. Travel. Eat something you are curious about. Make space for yourself to explore something new, and you will feel new space inside of you grow. 

10. Love – Love makes you big. Love makes you so big that all the issues you have to deal with become small. Love yourself so much that nothing will disturb your peace of mind, that you feel big in a land where you are taught to play small. Love your limits and go through them. Love everyone around you so the size of your love can carry you. 

May you take all the space you need, and give all the space away. May you vibrate time and space so that all may serve you.

Sat Nam

Emotional Resonance and Relationships

Every once in awhile, if you are very lucky or very unfortunate, something resonates at such a deep level with you that your vibration changes. 

Now I’m not talking about romantic love, or finding that perfect person with the use of vibration or mantra…that is an element of spiritual practice I feel has been exploited lately – the use of using your higher consciousness because you want a boyfriend. I see it all the time, take this webinar, bring the miracle man of your dreams towards you, relationships are the highest yoga.

I’m not trying to seem undermining of any of these pursuits, finding a partner is important to those who have authenticity in their lives through partnership. But what seems to be missing is what people are REALLY searching for : someone who vibrates on the same emotional resonance. 

It doesn’t matter if that is a romantic relationship, family relationship, friend, work associate, teacher, or any other role that is constructed by humans. We aren’t responsible for those with emotional resonance that come into our lives, nor are we expected to define it? 

Did Harper Lee and Truman Capote feel the need to define their friendship? Do Bill and Hillary choose their sexual relationship over their empire, and if they didn’t how less powerful would they be together? Did Helen Keller and Anne Sullivan’s teacher-student relationship end just because Helen learned to READ?

If you are lucky in this life, you might find a romantic partner or several. If you are prosperous on top of fortune itself you find love that doesn’t expect anything in return. If you have won the lottery, you find someone whose very heart beats with yours and shares your every victory and defeat.

If this person or these people have an emotional resonance that echoes at the very core of your true identity? Don’t settle for a title. Don’t settle for having it be anything but what it is. The more you try to own it the more it will elude you. Let it land on your shoulder exactly as it is and don’t feel scared if it leaves. If you have felt it from the source of the soul, it will never leave you.

May you find the emotional resonance within yourself so that your frequencies heal. May you call upon the person or tribe that shakes you up, makes you happy and does not lie. May you clear the pathway towards your heart so that you call upon the highest emotional frequencies. May you feel guided, loved and protected by those who share your light. May your frequency be a universal sound of love. 

Sat Nam

29

I turned 29 today. Technically? One of those “not a big deal before the big deal birthdays” emotionally? Crucial considering there have been multiple milestones crossed. 

I made a list of things I wanted to do today, to really set myself up for the year –

1. Something Giving – Donated 10 dollars to a food bank because I have recently become vegan and wanted to give others a nourishing plate. Discovering food as an ally has been empowering for me ever since I have given up the cow in the new year. Giving that back meant something to me. I heard a story about Yogi Bhajan, that he used to make people bring cookies on their birthday. Even if it was a new student, who raised their hand in class saying “It’s my birthday” He would tell that person to bring cookies for the class, and they all would wait. He thought it was so crucial that you started your year off gifting that he was willing to wait for you to come around.

2. Something Creative – This is my true self. Ever since I was a kid, I’ve been trying to tell silly stories and make people laugh. I have fallen in with groups of people who are making things – whether that is a community, a book, a piece of art, a kid, a costume for comic-con, a song? Everything that you create and share makes you radiant and I wanted to explore that radiance within myself. I started work on a screenplay that has been stuck in my head and causing anxiety because I don’t have the words for it yet. Here we go.

3. Something with Yoga – My BOTTOM line!! Yoga has become like my religion – when times are hard I lean harder on my practice and find the strength to get through the pain. I went to a class tonight that was later than the others, but I knew was a good fit for me. I am a Kundalini Yogi but have been taking more posture based classes to learn the correct alignment in other forms. I get there, and sure enough I’m proud of my decision.

First, the teacher was older than myself. I love older yoga teachers because they have recognized the power inside them at any age goes beyond physical posture but still challenge your entire self on the mat. Gurmukh, the master teacher who taught me Kundalini Yoga? Was making me sweat in her 70’s and still makes people sweat today.

Second, the teacher reminded me what I knew was important while teaching me new things : when you take a yoga class it is never about how you bend or what you are physically capable of. It is how you handle yourself in the world when you leave class that makes you a yogi, how you interact with your friends, community, and those who need you that is your yoga. She showed me a posture that I needed to align my neck during shoulder stand, and she made me think about how I want to share intention and blessing with others. 

Third, the teacher gave me a hug at the end of class when I told her it was my birthday. Hugs are always awesome. 

4. Something involving a Friend – I spoke to a very dear friend of mine who has gone out of her way to make my day special, and shared some nice love on the phone. Then I did what I do every year : write 3 pages in my Google Drive entitled “29” and write every bit of magical thinking inside of me.That was when another friend appeared. She hadn’t been described to me in that way since I had been in therapy, but this friend became truth as soon as I wrote her. Our duality inside us is such that we have the critic and the friend – the critic saves us from making bad choices but can cut us off if we let him take over. The friend is constantly there for others but sometimes can forget to be there for himself. The friend is expansion, compassion. This year, I did something with the friend inside me : Treated her like she was a precious jewel. That God and me, me and God are one together. Friends, forever. 

May all of your birthdays be creative, prosperous, kind, generous, filled with divinity, light and love. May you have many birthdays that are better than the last, and may you be happier with each coming milestone. May you bring life and adventure as you take advantage of the gift of being human. May your light shine through your years as you do : with every intention towards truth and your inner destiny. May you be of spirit, always. 

Sat Nam

Fear is a Brave Stone

Start, and the pressure will be off. Maybe not right away, maybe you aren’t even aware of the changes that are happening. But you’ll feel much better under pressure in the right direction than stuck in an old one. 

You know how the saying goes, a rolling stone gathers no moss. Something moving has no time to atrophy. But what I’m curious about is how that stone started to roll? Was he pushed off a hill? Did he get dislocated from a spot that was formerly secure? Did he grow from a small grain of sand which over time snowballed into a bigger, stronger stone?

Any of these can happen. But here’s how life works, according to a rolling stone:

1. The first three seconds of falling are going to be the most terrifying part of your trajectory. You are going to gather unfamiliar momentum and it’s going to scare you shitless.

2. After that, you are going to keep going and it won’t be as hard. But you still won’t know what’s at the end of your race. So keep racing.

3. If parts of you break off during the fall, you are going to have to leave them behind. True story.

4. You are falling as part of an organic landscape. Everything around you, the earth, the sky, gravity and all the elements in nature are supporting you, even though you don’t feel it. 

5. When you land, you are out of momentum until the next shift. But you have changed all the landscape around you by risking your fall, brave stone. Don’t take your new role for granted, because you may have to change it just as quickly.

6. You have fallen into a better place. Actually? I can’t say this for sure. But you have fallen and you are still here. So that’s something. Be grateful. 
Image

“FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCK!!!!!!!!”

 

May you be continually falling into better landscapes. May you trust the first three seconds of your fall are making the rest of your run easier. May you be truthful to your path, even when you feel pushed by it. May you fall with grace. May you land with ease. May you live with passion.

Sat Nam

Going Pro at Being Stupid

Try this : fake a laugh for 3 -7 minutes. Guaranteed? Within the first 5 minutes you will eventually have one or more organic laughs, because the idea of faking something for that long puts the body in an autonomic response.  Isn’t that amazing? If you get over your fear of looking stupid long enough, eventually you become yourself and do what feels good anyway. 

Today, I went for a run. After doing my laundry, inevitably I’m left with two mismatched dress socks and nothing else in the immediate vicinity that vaguely resembled a match. 

ImageWith every decision there are drawbacks and payoffs. To me, the day outside where I get the chance to be limitless far went below the risk of looking like a crazy vagrant who does hand dances when she runs. The fact that I had no pants on as well, probably didn’t help – (just kidding, but totally thought about it) and of course? My white shirt with a burrito stain on the front, making this an effortless, classy yet completely stupid look.

Then I went and sat at Starbucks, as usual, looking through the classified postings and nagging people who have never met me to take a look at my resume. I saw someone who shares the last name of a friend of mine, working for a production company. I was willing to be stupid enough to take his picture in public, although was completely discreet. 

But then I had an amazing thought : I’ve got my resume, why not walk up to him and ask if he needed anyone like me? If he’s in production, what’s the worst that could happen? He would say no, maybe. I would definitely not do this in Los Angeles, CA…but what is overbearing about this in Los Altos, CA? Smaller pool, he probably doesn’t get the chance to meet someone like me that often, even if he is annoyed, all I do is be quick and judge the situation as it is…what if-

And then he walked out the door. Granted, it was at the exact same time I was scheduled to have a phone interview, but it would have taken me 3 minutes tops to make an elevator pitch about my skills. 

Dammit, do you mean I wasted this day being stupid like an AMETEUR, and then I get the chance to do something PROFESIONALLY stupid, for something I cared about and I let it WALK OUT THE DOOR? 

This week, don’t make the same mistake I did. I hope you look stupid for the things you really want and can laugh at yourself about the absurdity in small things. I hope you become professionally stupid. I hope you fall stupid in love for things that make you happy. I hope you are stupid enough to follow them. 

Sat Nam. 

 

The List of Things We’ve Done

I went to a memorial yesterday. When you step into a church that was built in the 1960’s, the first thing that hits you is the smell. A dusty paper smell that invades your nostrils and manifests silence as you make your way into a solitary pew in the third row. People are crying, sharing stories and then there is the list. 

Mrs. Jane So and So was born on So and So a date and went to Junior United School. She enjoyed horseback riding, and driving her car way too fast down the road. She had a puppy named mittens and every summer would go fishing at Wintercrest Lake. She worked at such and such a place so she could provide for her two lovely children. 

It’s a list of the things we’ve done. We all will have them at the end of this ride. And that scares me. The places I’ve worked are many. The people I’ve known are many. But what I have to give and what I have to share? How often does that list feel like I’ve come up short? 

Everything that I have done is nothing compared to how I want to help, and there I feel that I’m short on what really matters. Every creative thought of a project I have started or not finished, every community opportunity I haven’t taken, every dinner I haven’t shared with someone I love.

They then opened up the conversation to the crowd. Anyone welcome to share a memory, a story, a happy thought. This is where things grew more dimensions. There was talk of a whole person with dimensions – someone who was always there for her neighbors, someone who loved her family very much, and someone who gave all she was to make sure that the kids in her neighborhood had fun and felt safe. 

People forget the list of things you’ve done. They never forget the way you made them feel. All the days of my life I hope to make everyone around me feel loved, respected and cherished. I hope to skip the list and go straight to the generosities, the details, the times when it came down to how unity mattered over difference of opinion. I hope that we have the chance to make the things we’ve done matter less than the people we’ve healed. I hope that everyone has the chance to let go of what they were expected to do before life got in the way, and reconnect with those who matter most and those who need most urgently. 

Sat Nam

The Mind, The Student, The Power of Habit

Imagine your thoughts as a community college student. They go to school, and the majority of their life is spent growing pathways of knowledge into growth. The mind has been given an opportunity to expand itself, gain social mobility and become a contributing member of the larger world.

But like most community college students? The mind has hobbies. Distractions from what is really important. Some extracurricular activities that don’t really serve the larger goal of whole life education.

So you take your pot-smoking, netflix-watching, class-ditching, binge drinking thoughts and what do you do?

Replace old attentions with new ones. Find the mechanism for each old thought and welcome a new way of thinking. 

One of my favorite books of the last few years has been The Power of Habit : Why We Do What We Do in Life and Buisiness. In this book, Charles Duhig outlines our mind’s underlying connection to our habits and breaks it down in three steps.

From "The Power of Habit", The Habit Feedback Loop

From “The Power of Habit”, The Habit Feedback Loop

Say our college student is going into finals week. He has to be out late studying. Since he doesn’t study, his mind goes to the exact same thought pattern the last time he crammed for finals. Red Bull. He has drank so much Red Bull in the past during finals week that it is ingrained as symbiotic with studying.  That would be his visual cue. Finals + Late Night Studying =Red Bull. Not only that, but he also has a cue of the kiosk next to the library, which is the same place he bought a Red Bull the last time he forgot to study.

Then we enter routine. Drink Red Bull. Study several hours. He moves through his routine and pattern and doesn’t even think about how he came to this choice. It’s no coincidence that most habit-forming addictions come from places called “convenience stores”. The mind is lazy. When making decisions, it will choose routine every time out of convenience as a way to expend less energy.

Finally, we have the reward phase. Sugar high. Seven hours of energy. An overnighter spent cramming semesters worth of knowledge into one evening.

The one thing I find absolutely crucial in this book, and something that I consider every time I focus my attention on habits is this : this cue and reward system cannot be changed, it can only be replaced with alternate cues and rewards.

Say our college student has made it to the last semester. He no longer has school, but now he is working at Save Mart to pay off student loans while he finds a job. Does he go to the Red Bull whenever there is an early morning job, or has he learned from the constant shaking and does he switch to juice or tea?

This week, I am trying to change one pathway involving my yoga practice. For the past months, I have been trying to get up at 5:30 every morning to do my daily Sadhana. It’s been a struggle. So what do I do, when faced with a pathway that doesn’t have a cue in place yet? Change the cue.

When I wake up, the first thing I do will be my practice. Before I answer any email, look on Facebook or eat breakfast, I am going to hit the mat this week.

Have I been successful? Not entirely. Am I giving up? Hell no.

May you commit to change one small pathway in your practice of life this week. May all of your unconscious habits benefit a life that is healthy, happy and whole. May you look at your habits with love, and look to change the ones that don’t serve your love. May you move forward, even in the dark.

Sat Nam