Resolution or Ego Trap?

I was asked if I would teach class on New Year’s Day, and of course I jumped at the opportunity. Not because I was in town and had no plans for New Years Eve other than the plan to stay home, drink tea, snuggle with my main man (King!) and catch up on some much needed “Zzz’s” by hitting the sack at 8pm. No, no, no...I jumped at teaching because to me I am always so incredibly honored to share my teachings in the yoga room, and especially on the precious day of January 1st.

I spent a good week contemplating and meditating on what my offering would be to my students. And really, what I mean by that is I spent a week surrendering myself – letting go of whatever my ego wanted to teach – so that I could open up to RECEIVE the teachings from my inner guidance system. As I got myself out of the way, I received the inspiration and direction for a radical heart opening class. Peak pose? Handstand Scorpion, baby! (Against the wall...against the wall, of course.)

So I’m dyin’ to know, how many of you set intentions, goals or resolutions for 2017? I’m obviously curious about what those are, but in all honesty, I’m more interested in where that intention/goal/commitment/resolution was conceived?

Is your intention for 2017 conceived out of awakened consciousness or out of the ego?

Hmm...right? Please allow me to explain.

Typically all “resolutions” can be funneled into two categories (which are really one of the same, but to begin let’s simplify and break ‘em up into two. You know I got your back, wink!)

First, people often make a commitment to “GAIN” something, yes? Someone might make a resolution to “gain” work, relationships, travel, money, business opportunities, a healthy/sexy body, joy, inner peace, laughter, love, play, etc. We clear? Good, that’s the easy one.

The second group of resolutions are centered around “GIVING UP” something. Someone might choose to give up coffee (ummm...I’d rather cut off my arm then give up my Nespresso machine), animal meat, negative behavioral patterns, conditioned emotional reactions, swearing, running late, you name it. Yes?

Okay, but here’s the underlying energy behind this so-called “giving up.”

People make resolutions to GIVE UP something, but they are giving up one thing to GAIN something else.

Interesting, right? (The bright red flashing light indicating “attachment” just starting blinking in my mind’s eye.) Ask anyone who has made a resolution to “give up” something why they chose that particular thing and you will discover, woven into their reasoning, their “desire” to gain an internal or external experience.

So you see, regardless if you are giving up something or committing to gain something in your experience of life, resolutions are most often conceived out of DESIRE. Duh duh duh....!!!!! EGO!

Alright, friends, so here’s what is so important to comprehend if we choose to make any resolutions for 2017.

You are already completely full inside. There is nothing to gain!

Spirituality isn’t about GAINING anything. It is about shedding anything and everything that isn’t in highest vibrational alignment to your True Being.

In the Yoga philosophy there is a Sanskrit term “purna,” which means absolute fullness. Purna relates to the fullness we will experience when we awaken to and sit in the seat our True Being. The absolute Truth is...we are so full inside that there couldn’t even be a hint (not even a little, tiny, baby, infra decimal HINT) of lack. Read that again!

At the core of who you really are inside...you are SO full there couldn’t even be a hint of lack.

Wow. Right? Whew...breathe that in, my love. Pause. Enjoy the sweet taste of Truth.

So sweet friend, now the question becomes:

If you came to fully comprehend this and tasted the sweet nectar of your profound fullness, what resolution would you make for 2017?

If you realized in this moment, fully awoke to the Truth of the infinte purna within you – that there is nothing for you to ever gain outside of yourself – would your intention/resolution be ANNNYYY different than the one you have already made? If it is, that is a clear sign that your original intention was conceived out of the ego.

The moment we move into “gain” (highlighted in both the receiving and the giving up intentions) we have abandoned this inner dwelling place of purna and have instantly realigned with the ego. The ego is one hungry mo fo – it will use every single experience of life to feed its insatiable and desirous hunger.

When intentions are conceived out of the ego they feed only the ego. And when the ego is fed, what does it do? Eats more!!!! No matter if you “achieve” these egoic intentions or goals perfectly, you will have still missed the mark. Regardless of how much the ego gains, true everlasting qualities of our True Being will remain in the shadows of our sleepy consciousness.

No matter how much we gain in the realm of the ego, Shantaya, Purna, Ananda, Moksha – Ultimate Peace, Profound Fulfillment, Infinite Bliss, and Absolute Freedom – will continue to be in the outer reaches of our experience. These qualities are only accessed from nourishing the True Being and awakening the consciousness.

So we can see that there is no egoic intention, commitment, resolution or goal that will bring to us the gift of awakening the consciousness. It’s impossible. Miracles do not enter into our experience due to a call from the ego. Period. And in the moment we realize this, we instantly become closer to that which our heart truly longs for. No, not the world's largest bank account of Mr. Right Now – get your mind outta the gutter! Our heart truly longs for the completion of our individual soul’s mission and an awakening of the consciousness.

Here’s a little secret. Everything the ego desires and lusts over will not provide profound fulfillment. BUT! There is a but! You can peel back every single egoic desire, every single dream or want you have, peel it all the way back to discover that what you really long for is the result of the awakening of the consciousness in that particular area. It’s not the job, the bank account, the Mercedes, Prince Charming, an army of children, blah, blah, blah, that will tap you into the profound fulfillment – purna – at your essence. The ego only desires these things because it craves FULFILLMENT. It craves fulfillment because you are disconnected from the purna within you!! So hello?!?!?! If we want to transcend the hamster wheel of egoic desires and truly live a life that is profoundly fulfilled we must focus on awakening the consciousness and tapping into the purna held within it.

I hope you are as pumped up as I am about this! So, I’m sure you’re wondering...how do we awaken the consciousness? Well, I’m sorry to say...it isn’t prestigious or glamorous, hopefully you weren’t expecting it to be.

We awaken the consciousness through absolute, total, and radical personal surrender.

Surrender to me is the only valuable resolution or intention to ever commit to. And I mean ABSOLUTE surrender. Most people say they are surrendered but you’ll find that they are “surrendering” with a plethora of contingencies and bargaining from the ego. WAKE UP! This is NOT surrender. Just like Truth can only be Truth if it is 100%...same applies to surrender. You can’t be 99% surrendered, you gotta be 100%, baby!!

When we surrender, we soften our effortful personal will, we give up our ego and allllll its wants/desires, and rather we melt the heart back into the hands of the Universe. We surrender back towards being held and guided every step of the way. Surrender requires us to resist the urge to rely on our effortful personal will to make shit happen in our lives. Surrender is about opening our hearts – even so much as devotionally offering our hearts – to the Divine.

The resolution to 100% surrender (without bargaining from the ego) will nourish your True Being, awaken your consciousness and open you up to miracles like you never even considered possible.

So please, in 2017...get the hell out of your own way. Please. Surrender.

Namaste peeps!

 

Tantric Yoga: Celebrating the Sacred Union Between Masculine & Feminine

Watch out guys...we’re getting R rated this week.

So I just gotta ask you? Ya know how there is all this talk about the asana practice of Yoga being a reflection of life? That what happens within the four corners of one’s mat, is a microcosm of the macrocosm of life? The practice and philosophy of yoga supports the belief that what is True in the individual is also True in the whole, right?

Then why is it, that out of the 5,000 or so yoga classes I’ve taken in the decade I’ve been practicing, why is it that I’ve never, not even once, taking a class about sacred sexual union?

Whoa, whoa, whoa – before you label me into a specific category or allow your mind to run loose calling me a bunch names you’d never say in front of your children, take a deep breath, and chill out. No nudity or “OMing” is involved in what I’m referring to.

Sex is easily the most spoken about subject. Maybe not the downright nitty gritty details of the instinctual act, but the world is obsessed with preparing for this passionate rendezvous. The nail painting, the perfume squirting, the haircuts, etc. are all in some way because of sex. Right? Come on, let’s be honest with ourselves. It’s true!

Think about it. Sex energy is creation! How can we practice yoga and really integrate the philosophical teachings if we ignore the power of creation! It’s mind-blowing to me that after a decade of practicing asana, absorbing the teachings and studying both the Tantric & Vedantic philosophies of Yoga, I am just NOW embarking on addressing this concept of sex in Yoga.  (hahahaha, maybe because finally I couldn’t care less about pleasing or pissing off your ego).

Sex isn’t taboo. Sex energy is the creative force of the cosmos!!! It’s SO sacred. What isn’t sacred is when we use our sexual energy to feed the desires of the ego – such as its endless grasping to satisfy desire and lust – vs. accessing the sexual energy to come together in a state of consciousness, holding the sacredness of this great Union at the forefront of our hearts, minds and bodies.

A few weeks ago in Yoga, during my practice I had a total epiphany:

I am making love to myself on my Yoga mat.

OMG, mindblowing, passionate, intense, intimate sacred union! Hahah, no wonder my best friend recently told me how much he enjoys practicing next to me.

Again...I’d like to offer a loving reminder to calm down before you decide to report me to Yoga Alliance. Just take a deep breath, relax, soften you gaze, let go of any holding in your heart and listen...really listen.

I hate being in the front row during Yoga smashed up against the mirrors. I really do. I’d prefer to be slightly back behind the scenes. But a few weeks ago, for some reason, which was unknown to me at the time, Divine orchestration plopped me right in the front row, day after day after day. I shared with one of the teachers how I just hate the front row – “total stage fright” I joked.  She said to me, “Just look at yourself in the eyes.” “Just look into my own eyes, yes I can do that,” I thought to myself.

So my practice began with eye-gazing, into my own eyes, into my own soul. It was romantic, intimate and beautiful. The asana practice started and it started slow, encouraging and promoting relaxation before there was any engagement. Also, the beginning of these classes were all completely centered around coming into my own center. So I started to pull all the tendrils of my awareness into the focal point that was active, which happened to be the core of the pelvis – the sacred power center of my womb.

Then the classes began to build in energy. Slowly, not too much, not too fast. I noticed that my masculine was containing my feminine energy – the Shakti, the power. My masculine side wasn’t smothering her, suppressing her in any way, but rather he was the container for her to truly unfold herself in, multiplying her power within herself.

Then I noticed that the spanda – pulsation – of energy started to build. The magnetic and electrical energies (feminine and masculine) started to pulsate in and out of the active focal point, which in all standing poses is the core of pelvis. I noticed and deeply felt into how my womb was holding the coming together of this pulsation. The beauty of this sacred union was emerging in my own eyes, as I never lost my drishti, my gaze hypnotized and in a trance with what I saw deep within the windows of my own eyes. I noticed that my eyes were actually changing. A fire was lit inside – tejase it is called. 

I caught myself being very focused on how the magnetic and electrical energies – masculine and feminine or in Anusara Yoga referred to as muscle and organic energies – were coming together. I started to delicately unite the two in a split second of union, then over time, the pulsation of energy – hugging in and stretching out – didn’t happen separately or apart from one another, but they merged as One. OMG, talk about orgasmic!

As the energies merged, I then shifted the tendrils of my awareness to harmonizing the left and right sides of my body – the feminine and masculine sides, the lunar and solar sides. I focused on the feeling I had inside when I brought these together in Union, which is not accomplished by effort, but rather about smoothing things out and relaxing into the Beingness of the body.

I realized as we reached the “peak,” the purna huiti moment of class, that I really didn’t care where we were in the sequence or class, as the peak pose no longer became the goal of the class. As in Tantra, there is absolutely no goal because absolute beingness cannot be a goal.

At the very end, as I laid myself down in Savasana in total surrender I was held by myself....ahahhahah, “after cuddles!” There was absolute stillness, absolute perfection.

I experienced a sensual love affair that gave birth to the sacred union of Shiva & Shakti within my own heart- the total integration of my masculine and feminine sides. In that moment, I was complete. There was Oneness. There was Yoga. I am so grateful. Om shanti, shanti, shanti.

When we make Love consciously, we actually experience ourselves being more loving and therefore more lovable. 

PS: There is just SOOO much to share about the parallels between the practice of asana and the Tantric practices for sacred union. I'm so inspired that I'll be sharing them in a ebook format and offering a workshop for those interested in diving deeper into their own Self through sacred sexual union. Stay Tuned - Muah! 

Om Parásaktiya Namah!

Namaste.

Being Love Without Attachment

 

I recently spent time with Amma at one of her retreats in San Jose. It was an incredible experience on so many levels. The best way that I can describe the retreat is comparing it to a very intense emotional healing, personal development or self-help program. Ya know the kinds that require SO much work. The writing, the talking, the lectures, the sharing, the homework, and the list goes on. And ya know even though it is SO much effort and “processing” during that period, at the end, you always experience the result of awakened consciousness. Yes? You always feel, in a way, rebirthed, cleared, wiped clean, and the benefits of your effort are all revealed.

Yeah, well after spending a few days receiving and witnessing Amma give Darshan, I experienced that same sense of renewal, epiphany, and paradigm shift at the end. Except, the actual experience is the EXACT opposite of effort.

Time with Amma is about absolute surrender. Zero effort. It’s about letting go and simply receiving her infinite Love, her embrace and allowing the Darshan to take care of itself. There is no talking, processing, sharing – haha, and instead there are trays full of vegan chocolate cake! (Sooo basically HEAVEN!) You sit in a chair for 3 days – one night we sat for 17 hours straight or some nonsense – completely mesmerized by her capacity of Love and pumped full of so much Shakti you couldn’t sleep even if you tried. This beingness – her Love – heals people by waking them up without all the effortful attempts to shift, change and transform.

Just being “in Love” with Amma has healed millions of people.

One of my greatest takeaways was peeling back another layer as it relates to the difference between human love and Divine Love.

Humanly love is really just attachment. We have labeled what that “attachment” feels like mentally, emotionally and vibrationally as love. In this sense, we have decided to put love between you and me, like in the phrase “I love you.” In this humanly sense, it is love that “attaches” me to you. This is not True Love. Humanly love/attachment is sourced from the ego.

Divine Love is totally free of this attachment of me and you. There is no “love” or “attachment” between us or anything used to tether us together (marriage license, terminology, etc.). Rather, it is about being “Love” – waking up to the essence of who we really are inside by transcending the ego – and holding that in the totality of our individual beings, together.  

Divine Love is about becoming Love. Instead of “I love you,” it is “I am Love.”

This reminded me of the journey and practice of Yoga – I am Love, you are Love and we step forward into Love together, yes?

Namaste = When I am in this place of Love, and you are in this place of Love, we are One.

In this sense, you see that Love is no longer an attachment but rather a state of being. This is the beauty of the yogic path and its teachings regarding non-attachment & non-clinging – aparigraha. The absolute truth is, the greater you cling to something, the greater the suffering when it is lost.

This right here is the Achilles’ heel of the human condition. So many people are in incredible depths of suffering due to their attachments they refer to as “love.” They choose to cling to the idea of “love” as something that will bring forth the feeling of Oneness but as long as there is attachment, there is ego, and while there is ego there is no Oneness. To me it’s pretty damn clear – now sure what all y’all are missin’?

The Great Work of awakening the consciousness helps us to dissolve the ego, transcend this wheel of suffering and to instead become Love.  Then from that place, making the conscious choice to step forward into Love – into the Oneness – with someone else.

If only we could wake up to the profound value and fulfillment relating in this way of “being Love” actually brings to our hearts and souls. Being Love and stepping into Love together, without the attachment and clinging that causes suffering, is an eternal & infinite experience. In this way – Love can never be lost. People suffer inside when they have lost something they “loved” and/or fear that they will lose this something in the future.

Being Love in relationships frees us from this illusion of loss.

My whole time with Amma, circled around this concept over and over again. It’s very beautiful (sometimes slightly annoying) how in the presence of great masters, you will get exactly what you need, instead of what you want. Guess I needed to take “inventory” of my past relationships because the whole time I was there I kept coming face-to-face with a handful of men that each individually were reflections of all my past lovers. Hahaha, needless to say – Mother was working me!

When each one would reveal himself to me at the retreat, I noticed that I was drawn towards each of them for very different reasons. Whether the “leaning towards” (best way I can describe the inner feeling vs. using the word “attraction”) was consciousness & eloquent speaking in one man (Oooohhh and his Jesus hair & beard...insert 3 heart-eyes emojis), pure, palpable devotion in another, creative expression in the next, and then bright eyes, a charismatic personality and remarkably sincere compliments in the last. It was interesting to witness how radically different my past lovers were and yet all so beautiful in their own way.

Afterwards a friend pointed out to me, that all those things were qualities that I embody (minus the Jesus beard and hair). So basically, what? I'm attracted to myself? Ha! But think about that for a moment. All kidding aside...if I do not exist outside of you, then you are...therefore, I am. (Insert Master Yoda's voice here) Hmmm...interesting, yes? 

That experience brought me into a place of really appreciating each ones unique, natural gifts and talents. At the very end of the retreat, having swam through the sea of all my past lovers for days, I noticed that my heart leaned towards the reflection of one specific man. There was just one that stood out above the rest.

This man represented my best friend when I was young, let’s call him Vladimir (keeping his character Russian...wink!) Before Vlad and I were ever lovers, we literally shared a solid friendship for many years. We did everythhhhhinnnnng together. From attending church services together, dragging him shopping with me, gorging on chocolate, ditching class and pulling ridiculous pranks on campus (you don’t even want to know but it involved streaking, a gas mask and body paint), to spending the holidays together.

One day, after years of being best friends, I literally woke up in the morning, dumbfounded and shocked...”I’m in love with Vlad.” Ha! I remember going to my parents and confessing to them my epiphany. I remember what they said to me:

“We were wondering when you were going to realize that.”

Vlad was the best friend of all best friends. When I was a teenager I was in a very dark place – my environment was toxic, dramatic, traumatic and crushing to my spirit. At that time, I can remember lying awake in bed, crying for hours, until finally at 1am or so I would break down, roll over and text Vlad. He would literally get in his car, drive 30 minutes to crawl in my bed and hold me until my tears dried up and I would finally fall asleep. Then he would get up and go home!! These incidents came many years before there was ever a romantic or passionate fire between us.

After Amma’s, I contacted him. Without one second of hesitation. A friend asked me if I thought I should touch base and what I thought he’d do if I did? I said, “Oh he’ll respond in 1 minute.” I knewwwww deep in my heart it was right to contact him. Not like we are meant to rekindle some “lost love,” but all the pieces of the puzzle were coming together and I sensed he had a missing piece. And he sure did.

He literally responded in one minute with a beautiful message. I knew it! A message remarking about the “angel” I was and have always been to him. He wrote to me that he just recently shared with his friends the influence I had on his life and that looking back now he can see how many of his accomplishments and successes can all be threaded back to me. To me?!?!?! What!?!?!? I was blown-away!

I cried like a baby when I read it, the same why I bawled when he held me 15 years ago. But instead of crying because of the pain within my heart – my suffering – I cried because I realized that the Love we shared between us, was True Love...it had never been lost, not even a drop. We had been each other’s Angel for so, so long.

After drying my eyes, I realized that I have been so blessed in relationships. Wow. That although I’m not married with an army of children, I have truly, experienced Love in relationship that far surpasses what most relationships are built on --- attraction.

Today, right now, there are two men in my life that I never hesitate to call, that I know would show up for me if I REALLLLLLLY needed them...which that Truth makes me never need them. Beautiful, right? And more importantly, they always hold me in their hearts.  One of them still holds me when I have nowhere else to hide my face and cry. (Hey you, if I don’t tell you enough...thank you.) These two men are amazing examples of being LOVE. They never tossed our cultivated friendship along with me away when the time of our togetherness romantically came to an end.

I realized that the difference between these two men and the others I have shared moments with, is that they were never just my lover; they were first and foremost, my absolute #1 best friend.

What a beautiful awakening of absolute CLARITY! The desire, the attraction, even the sexual chemistry doesn’t last, right? It doesn’t!!! You and I both know this from failed attempts at relating. What most people refer to as “chemistry” is really a chemical cocktail my energy psychologist refers to as “the mating instinct.”

Conscious, fulfilling intimacy and sexuality in partnership can be sought out by declining this offer to drop to low levels of relating (desire & lust) and rather choosing to become ONE, through sacred practices that support the “beingness” together rather than getting your rocks off. (Wink!)

To sum it alllll up – my radical clarity after spending time with Amma is as follows:

 For Love to truly last a lifetime --- just “be LOVE” together with your best friend.

 

When I am in this place of Love, and you are in this place of Love, we are One.

Namaste.

 

 

Fragmentation

Have you ever noticed that the closer you get to someone the more that you see how fragmented they really are inside? Ya know, like you meet someone and from a distance you think to yourself, “Damn, he has his shit together.” Or, “Wow, she’s really kind.” And then the more time you spend with them you see how he is falling apart by the seams and can barely keep his head afloat. And that “kind” new friend you made, well her inner world is chaotic.

This is fragmentation. When people act, say, believe and preach a certain way but fall short of it being truly authentic. Authentic meaning there is “unity,” there is connection between the words, the thoughts, the actions --- ESPECIALLY when no one is looking.

Hey, there’s absolutely no judgment here.  As I sat in front of my students this week to teach, I completely admitted that to them, that if they got close enough to me they would probably catch me behaving or speaking in a way that went completely against what I teach (preach) to them.

We all have this fragmentation and struggle with it being in our “blind spot.”

This fragmentation I speak of is true for every single human, unless they are a true master – fully enlightened. A true master, the exact opposite is true. The closer and closer you get to them, the more and more time you spend gazing into their interior world, you will find that everything about them is connected.

There is absolute unity.

So the question isn’t whether or not you or I struggle with this fragmentation – it exists, the struggle is REAL – but rather are we actively choosing to commit to the Great Work of enlightenment so we can do something about it!

Think of your fragmentation as the qualities outside your periphery – your blind spots. They are the qualities that maybe someone has pointed out to you along the way, but you’ve said to yourself, “Oh yeah, I might be a little selfish, monopolize the conversation, run late, etc. but it’s all good, it’s just who I am.” While people around you want to pull their freaking hair out because of how unbelievably annoyed they are at your selfishness, your obsessive chatter about yourself or you lack of respect for other people’s time.

If only we knew how others viewed our fragmentation.

If only we could see into our blindspots.

The Yogic path is about unity. It is about recovering a connection to all the fragmented aspects of ourselves so that ultimately – in this life or another – we exist in unity. We become the master, the inner guru.

A true master learns to master 1 thing – him or herself. Period.

How do we bring our fragmentation to unity? Easy. Bring light to it. Bring light by actually acknowledging, accepting and working on disengaging the samskaras – the patterns – of this fragmented behavior. You actually have to do the work, yes! With breath, patience, and a commitment to the Great Work, you will start to illuminate darkened aspects of your fragmentation and be able to bring them into the light of unity.

You can do it! I know you can. 

Express Yourself - WITHOUT APOLOGY!

I’m nearing a milestone birthday and as I look back at this past decade, one of the things that truly stands out to me is the evolution of my embodiment. In a decade, I went from completely hating my body (understatement) to truly feeling like a goddess…the Queen of my Queendom! I feel empowered by my embodiment instead of disempowered.
 
This, of course, has absolutely nothing to do with the size and shape of my actually physical body, and when I refer to myself as a goddess, it is not descriptive of what is on the outside, but what is on the inside. Power!
 
My teenage years I spent battling an eating disorder and other severe self-destructive behaviors. My 20's have pretty much been about healing the wounds of my heart and the karma associated with the intense chaos and misalignment of my teens.
 
Now as I turn the corner and enter my 30's, I got to say – I am BEYOND excited. I am entering into a new period of my life where for the first time I feel completely accepting and embracing of the power in my embodiment…I feel completely free to fully express myself authentically and uniquely…WITHOUT APOLOGY!
 
I credit my daily, morning sadhana and my Yoga practice to this evolution of my embodiment. My path of self-realization has taught me to embrace who I am THIS DAY, wholeheartedly, and to harness the power within me. There is absolutely nothing wrong with you in this moment! You have no shortcomings, no internal flaws...the question is only, "Are you in alignment with your True Self and the wellspring of power, wisdom and joy found there?"
 
A lot of times people confuse this spiritual path of “enlightenment” and “expansion” with abandoning everything in the material world and moving to a mountaintop to meditate for the rest of one’s days. This could very well be your path (Not the hell mine - unless that mountaintop has a large accessory closet and top shelf tequila!) One of the greatest lessons I am taking into my 30's is that my spiritual path is about waking up to my unique, gifts, talents and abilities and perfecting them. It isn't about becoming a monk or a nun...but about perfecting "Lex's" expression of herself - which is really my unique expression of LOVE.
 

The spiritual path is about embracing the most precious parts of yourself – no matter how quirky, weird or unacceptable – and turning them into your greatest assets. This path is about freely EXPRESSING your most authentic self with the world WITHOUT APOLOGY!
 

I believe part of our purpose is to FREELY EXPRESS OURSELVES in whatever way makes our hearts sing and our bodies groove. If that's selling all your belongings and moving to a hut, then please, please...GO! I'll be thinking of you as I turn 30 and freely express myself with an obnoxious amount of champagne and shopping. NO APOLOGY! 

Peace is Courageous

I received such a sweet gift the other day. It’s a sweater (Cashmere of course, “the way to a woman’s heart.”) that says, “Peace is Courageous.” Honestly, when I first opened the present and read the sweater I thought it read, “Peace is Contagious” which I completely agree with. Yet, I quickly realized that I had read it wrong.
 
“Peace is Courageous?” I thought to myself. Interesting, right? The more that I’ve thought about it (and nestled up in it while I write in the early AM hours) the more I truly resonate with its message
 


Courage is about living with your whole heart, wide open and present to whatever “is” in the now.
 


The word for peace in Sanskrit is “shanti.” In the Anusara school of Yoga, they define the word shantaya as “The realm of peace – an ultimate peacefulness that is complete and all-pervading.”
 
In my personal experience, “keeping my peace” (dwelling in the realm of shantaya) is one of the most courageous things I do everyday. In order to stay awakened to the ever-present perfection of peace inside of me, I must continually make the courageous choice to open my heart and accept whatever is. This isn’t necessarily as easy as it sounds because multiple things are happening at once...

“Keeping your peace” means staying anchored into your center, a place that is unaltered by whatever is happening outside of you. Living courageously means accepting whatever “is” and “allowing it to move through you – instead of rejecting or deflecting emotions, inviting them in.
 

Let's use the example of a close friend of yours happens to hurt your feelings. Regardless of what your friend said or did to hurt your feelings, you are still completely responsible for how you feel. Period.
 


No one has the power to make you feel a certain way.
 


I love how the Presence Process by Michael Brown describes this:
 


“If you are upset, it is the Universe setting you up.”
“Don’t shoot the messenger, get the message.”
(Especially since the Universe has an endless supply of messengers!)


When we wake up and claim our responsibility of how we feel inside, we can finally own the power to “Keep our Peace” in any situation or experience. This frees us from unnecessary worry, fear, anxiety, or blame in relationships. Having the power to “Keep our Peace” opens us up to profound connection and new depths of intimacy. So how do we do this?!
 

Keeping Your Peace:

First off, ground in the present moment and turn into the “realm” of peace inside that is profoundly complete and full. This can be done through visualization, breathwork or meditation.
 

In the example of being hurt by a friend, aligning first to the peace inside of yourself allows you to bring peace to the situation with your friend. Nothing is found outside of yourself – if you strive for resolution and peace in a relationship, first cultivate it within yourself.

Courage:

After having found your peace, your realm of shantaya inside, your willingness to bring this peace and open heartedness to resolve conflict, tension or hurt in relationship is one of the most courageous things one can do.

 
Open Heart = Vulnerability
Vulnerability = A Doorway to Deeper Dimensions of Love
 

Keeping your heart open doesn’t involve pushing away feelings of hurt, rejection, abandonment, betrayal, fear, anger, etc and only focusing on the "light." Peace is cultivated by accepting all emotions for simply what they are – felt resonances containing information – and nothing more.


What you feel has absolutely nothing to do with another person. Feelings originate from inside of you, not outside of you.


In order to maintain your peace people, you must cultivate the courage to accept whatever “is” in the “now” and allow it to cleaning pass through you without clinging to or pushing away any emotional signature. This ensures that no sticky residue is left behind in your energy system. Emotions are just energy – keep the energy flowing by having the courage to open your heart and “keep your peace.”
 

Try Easy Baby!

For those of us yogis, it probably isn’t the first time we have heard the phrase “try easy” as it relates to the physical practice of Yoga. Oftentimes we can find our selves “pushing,” “fighting” and “forcing” in the postures on our mats. I would also venture to guess that if this energy to “push” your way through shows up on the mat, it probably is showing up somewhere else in your life, whether in your relationship with yourself, others, or your creative expressions such as work, dreams, and intentions.
 
Last week I found myself with a little bit of writer’s block. I stared motionless at my computer screen for one hour without receiving a single clear sentence or direction to take. Shit happens! Thank goodness that the one thing that I know for certain is that the more I “force” or “push” myself to write, the more limited I feel. The more limited I feel, the less my creative inspiration flows.
 
So I took a break and went for my afternoon meditation session at the temple. As I sat in silence, allowing my breath to deepen, my agitation to dissipate and my energy to soften and expand, I opened back up. In that moment of opening I received incredible guidance. “Try easy baby.”
 
I knew what a magical shift this persepctive would have on my writing time. I am a big believer that we are not meant to force, push, fight or muscle our way through to create.
 

Instead, I believe we find those things that we are naturally good at (our true gifts, talents and abilities), the things that make us feel most like our selves, and turn those things into our passions, our job, our commitment or our dreams.


When I “try easy” when I write, the page fills with words. When I “try easy” on my mat, my practice is fluid, weightless and fun. When I “try easy” as I teach, I delight in my personal offering without fearing judgment or criticism. When I “try easy” in my relationships, my heart feels free and I am inspired by Love. “Trying easy” keeps me open and expanded in all the moments of my life, bringing me a great sense ofcontentment.
 
Contentment isn’t the high-low, up-down intensity that forging forward with your personal will brings you. Contentment is peaceful, steady and brings a great deal of ease to one’s body, mind and heart.
Trying easy is equivalent to surrendering your personal will (which is what my new book is allllllll about friends...yay!).

When you surrender your personal will, you give up all of the drama that pushing and forcing your way through life brings with it.


We give up all the drama and in return we open to something so much more magical. Miracles. By surrendering our effort, miracles become possible where we only felt or saw limitation.

Valuing Joy Above Success

At the moment, I’m editing my fourth book and have been working on a section the past few days about the power joy has in opening our hearts to miracles. Some people commonly misinterpret joy for happiness. The two are very different though. Happiness is based on conditions. Joy is your True Nature. Happiness is fluctuating. Joy is ever-present.  Happiness is temporary. Joy is infinite.

Joy transcends all conditions, where happiness comes and goes based on circumstance.

A lot of times, as movers and shakers in an urban society, we set goals to accomplish and spend a lot of time and energy diligently working towards achieving them. Whether it is getting into shape, making money, saving money, writing a book, starting a business, getting into relationship, etc. I believe that no matter where we are along the journey of reaching our “goals” it is unbelievably important to dwell in a state of joy.  

I believe that when we are unable to find joy in this very moment, no matter what we are working towards, we are out of alignment.

If you can’t find joy in the path that you are on and what you are walking toward now, then how do you expect to find joy once you get there?”

You actually can't find joy. It isn't created by anything outside of you. It is only tapped into and resourced from alignment with your Truth. Isn’t that powerful? I certainly think so.

People can commonly get wires crossed in their heads, believing that once they achieve, gain or obtain something they are going to feel fulfilled and joyful. They might feel happiness, accomplished, proud…but joy is never created from something outside of one self. 

The absolute Truth is there is nothing for you to achieve, gain or obtain. Everything you desire for a joyously fulfilled life already exists inside of you. Everything.

The concept of awakening this joy inside of you is simply explained through the Sanskrit term satcitanada. According to Wikipedia, satcitanada can be translated to “truth, knowingness, bliss.”

When you remember (knowingness) your True Self (truth) you experience joy (bliss).

Satcitanada has become my equation for profound, personal fulfillment and joy. For me, when I live my life in a remembrance of my Truth and allow the wellspring of joy to emerge from the depths of my heart I get a deep sense that I am living out my purpose in life.

PAUSE.

Take that in. For me…my experience…when I am aware of who I really am inside I am so joyful (regardless of what I have achieved professionally and personally) that in those moments I am fully living out my purpose of existence. MIND-BLOWING!

You don’t have to wait to obtain anything or achieve something before you live a joyful life. In fact, I believe we often lose sight of our innate purpose for being here when we are not awakened to the joy of our True Nature as we work towards our earthly goals and dreams. We lose sight of what really matters and what we value most when we get lost in the continuous, hypnotic trance of the hamster wheel or the never ending rat-race.

It’s simple to tell if you are on point and in alignment in your relationships, work, efforts and goals – are you joyful? Do you laugh? Smile? Do you feel full in your heart each night when you fall asleep? Do you wake up giggling on the inside anticipating another magical day on Earth?

If you don’t have joy now, moving towards all the things you desire, how do you expect to have joy once you get there? Joy is not something that can be obtained…it is only unlocked through living in exquisite alignment with the recognition of your auspicious divinity. Joy naturally flows when you remember who you really are.

Joy is a sign that you are not only in alignment with your purpose but also that your heart is open to miracles.

Embracing Our Humanness

One of my primary intentions for 2016 is to integrate the expansion I experience in both the spiritual and earthly realms of my life – to bring these two realms together harmoniously and in balance. Through this focus, I already have come to intimately understand and appreciate the true power in embracing not just my spiritual essence, but also my humanness.

We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience.

- Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

Once we get a taste, or an awakening of our inner essence, the spiritual aspect of who we really are, it isn’t uncommon for people to forget that at the end of the day, we are here to have a “human” experience! To me, these past few months of 2016 have really taught me to fully embrace my humanness (as well as love and value other's) in moments of joy and discomfort and everything in-between. By doing so, I have actually opened up to a greater access of spiritual wisdom, guidance and insight. Imagine that? By embracing my humanness, more revelations of Truth have unfolded.

This perspective of choosing to fully embrace my humanness has been so impactful in the playground of relationship. The Truth is, no matter how much time two individuals spend in “spirit” or in the remembrance of their “spiritual essence,” they are still coming together in this physical realm – coming together in human form.

In relationship, we spend a hell of a lot of time in the physical plane. This is one of the many beautiful blessings of our human experience – one to be embraced, rather than transcended. Just as we remember to view everyone through the eyes of Oneness, seeing whoever is sitting in front of us as an angel, I believe it is also powerful to accept their humanness right alongside their divinity.

By transcending the human experience we are in a way missing the whole f’in point of being here!

I believe the philosophy and teachings of Yoga can greatly support our embracing of our humanness, experience this magical physical plane in relationship with our selves and others while also remembering our spiritual essence. This is why we come to the mat, why we sit on our cushions, and why we breathe deeply and consciously throughout the day. Because Yoga works!

These practices help us live as an embodiment of spirit - grounding the spiritual aspect of our selves in the human, physical world. This is Union…Connection…this sweet friend, is the play of Yoga.

When we live embracing our humanness alongside our divinity, I believe we open our hearts and eyes for the Truth to be revealed. We can finally stop searching for guidance, direction, insight, clarity, and inspiration. There is nothing to seek. This embodiment of Spirit in our humanness allows us to be right here, right now in a state of total presence.

This is when our relationships magically transform - when we first meet presence to presence, and then person to person. 

By embracing the world of form, the physical embodiment all of us human beings are experiencing, in a way it gives us permission to simply be who we are without judgement...flaws and all. We are all works in progress. There is no need to compare ourselves or our beloveds, friends and family to the perfect, spiritually enlightened individual. Our relationships deepen with ourselves and others when we fully embrace each other's divinity and humanness simultaneously. We get to be human...it's apart of the journey. Celebrate it both within yourself and others.

Run into Love

There I was, in sheer enjoyment, running down the mountain I had just spent an hour hiking up when I observed myself quickly hold back, tighten up and move into a place of fear. I noticed how all of a sudden, instead of being overtaken by the fun and speed of running weightlessly downhill, I became overtaken by the anxiety that I might “get hurt.”

I broke my ankle running about 6 years ago and it never properly healed. The doctors told me I probably wouldn’t be able to run again - which I am able to do now, along with yoga, totally free from pain…most of the time. The only real lingering residue of the break is the “weakness” I feel in that ankle from time to time.

After a good solid vertical hike, you can imagine the freedom and ease that comes with the downhill return trip. Compared to the effort and energy expelled in climbing, the downhill leg is always easier. Right? Or so I typically experience it to be.

This time though, as I was galloping down, a wave of anxiety took over and I went into borderline “panic” mode that my ankle would give out. I immediately flashed to reliving the initial “break” - the sound of it snapping, the intense nausea, the gut-wrenching pain…and how the following 8 weeks of healing prevented me from doing so many of the things that I love.

I watched myself hold back, slow down and move with the hesitancy that “pain” might happen at any moment if my ankle were to give out again. The whole way I was behaving, holding back out of “fear of pain,” reminded me of the hesitancy we experience in giving ourselves freely to love.

We all have had our hearts broken. Some of us experienced deep woundings to our heart during our childhood while others lost their first love, a best friend, or a family member later in life. Regardless of what age we are, we all share a similar story – which is the brokenheartedness we’ve experienced while experiencing our lives.

Just like me on that mountain, holding myself back and running with hesitancy instead of reckless abandon, because of our brokenheartedness, we hold ourselves back in relationships. We hold ourselves back from love. Our bodies, our minds and our hearts remember the pain of the initial break and like a child learning not to touch the hot stove again, we avoid love to ultimately avoid pain.

Unfortunately, similar to my ankle never truly healing, our heartbreaks, most often than not, never heal properly either. We jump too quickly into a new relationship or avoid the pain and healing process completely by distracting ourselves with work, play, exercise, or through settling into a deep depression while blaming others for our pain.

We do this because the process of healing actually requires us to “feel” the emotional pain generated inside, yet we are taught to avoid any and all things that don’t make us “feel good.” I personally, agree with Michael Brown (author of the Presence Process) – that integrating the wounds of our hearts isn’t about “feeling good, but getting better at feeling.”

But the minute we feel “pain,” “heartbreak” or “loss” we typically believe that something is wrong and we look for any outlet to shift ourselves out of the pain and into something that feels good. What if the answer to unconditional love with yourself and shared with another is to not avoid this pain but to sit in it as long as need be until it authentically shifts? What if the answer to finally being free from your emotional pain was to actually FEEL IT?

I believe this is the healing balm for our broken hearts. Feeling our hearts without judgment or needing to shift its experience at all is the answer to freeing ourselves from emotional pain. It’s okay to feel pain, loss and heartbreak – it really is! Through the process of “feeling” it, we have the opportunity to truly heal the heart rather than spend a lifetime shoving down our pain and avoiding people and situations that trigger it.

So back to the mountain. As all of this swirled through my heart, mind and body, I came to the conclusion – “If my ankle were to give out, would it really be that bad?” No, because in the breaking of my ankle again, it would give me the opportunity to heal it properly this time.

Like our hearts, instead of avoiding heartbreak by moving into love and relationships with hesitancy, I encourage you to embrace the possibility of heartbreak. The experience of it is actually a beautiful gift, given to us to heal the places inside of it that have never healed properly.

The complete shattering of our hearts, gives us the perspective to see where healing is needed as we put each little piece back together. And the Truth is, when we do this – when are hearts come fully back together – they are always expanded with a greater capacity to love and be loved. That is the power of healing the heart.

The lesson I carried off the mountain that day was as you stand in front of love, imagine yourself, like me, descending a mountain. Run wild and free. Heart open, free of hesitancy. Run into love and embrace whatever unfolds (even if it’s heartbreak), and feel it deeply – all of it. Anchor back into the Truth that whatever happens is essential for your expansion and your return to living wholeheartedly.