As we’re getting ready to for our Summer Tour, I am getting a little antsy. So much going on, so many amazing wonderful things to manage, oversee and create! Moses and I will be headed out to the Midwest Yoga Conference in Bloomingdale, IL, via the Kansas City Yoga Festival and many sweet stops at various yoga studios along the way and followed by the Kundalini Summer Solstice in Espanola New Mexico and the back to the Midwest for Bhakti Fest in Madison WI.
Wow, that’s a mouthful!
I am so excited for all of it, but I am especially excited about Bhakti Fest. I’ll tell you why. It’s modern time Woodstock but with a yoga twist to it. It brings together all the names of God, all the expressions of the Creator, all the languages of the Universe in One place. How sweet!
I’ll never forget the BLISS I felt, right after the very intimate Krishna Das kirtan as I was jumping up and down in my white skirt now turned brown skirt (from the mud and the rain), singing along with MC Yogi at midnight. I was done, exhausted, spent, FINISHED- but yet here I was moved by the Divine Source to chant and chant and chant. Hare Krishna. Jay Ganesha. I know I Can!
The more transformational experiences as blessed to have, the richer the rest of our experiences are. We keep peeling the layers baby, all to get to the real you, the real me, the real we. Namaste.
There is this conversational phenomena referred to as “Preemptive futuristic listening”. It’s that thing we all do with other individuals. You know, when your mom takes on that one seriously abrasive tone? She clears her throat and employs that little sigh with a wheeze after which out pops that preparatory phrase “Hey honey bunches I just have a thought…”
In that moment you get weird don’t you? You know what’s coming. You’ve predicted that whatever mom is about to say it’s likely to be genuinely annoying, obnoxious and probing. You also know that you are not enthusiastic about hearing it. You tense up, you become defensive, you get passive, evasive, reactive and so forth. It’s difficult to have a dialog at this point. It really isn’t going to matter what she is stating, what her intentions are, or for that matter what the probabilities of what she is proposing may actually be, you have checked out.
You might be completely convinced that she is the most obnoxious person on the globe. You have adequate evidence of course, and that evidence often seems to come out in conversations doesn’t it? “Mom, you do this all the time” and then an argument that spirals into an unforgiving tailspin, and you already know how the rest goes. You preempted what she was going to do or say and you determined the end result of the conversation before it even started.
This type of preemptive futuristic listening of other people keeps you from hearing what is really being said. It costs you that crucial connection with others, negates any possibility of being at ease, and creates stress and frustration.
Consider that you may very well be like that with absolutely everyone else in your life. Your parents often get the worst end of it, the explosive side of you. Try doing that with your boss or your lover and see how that works out (don’t really try it). This is why new people can be so fascinating, you haven’t developed the type of listening filter you have with those you’ve known for a long time and you greet the conversations with a sensation of discovery; fresh, new, organic and full of possibilities.
You may keep a straight face most of the time, but underneath there is a person who is dying to have a clean slate and really feel empowered in every conversation, internal and external. Some people are just plain crazy, or rather they tend not to hide it well. They walk around on this planet pissed off at everybody- generally just afraid that absolutely everyone is out to get them to some degree. You already know these people because they continually look like they have just eaten a piece of rotten fruit.
On the other hand, have you ever been in a conversation with another person in your family, a friend or co-worker and they look at you a little cockeyed when you tell them how much you love Yoga? “Isn’t that the thing that those tree-hugging hippies all do naked in the woods before they sacrifice a goat to appease the rain gods? It’s not for me, keep it away” Sounds like they might be listening to you in a certain way, too. You can’t have that so drudge on and prove your point right?
What would your conversations be like if you gave up the insistence of getting your point across, too?
Something nearly magical occurs when you give up the need to insert your position, your opinions and unsolicited advice into every conversation. Make note that you probably do this in the conversations you have in your head as well. You might find that the context of the content of your conversations is something entirely different from what you previously thought. Strange and wondrous things happens if you drop the need to predict others and prove your point. I’m just sayin’.
You do not wish to be enlightened. Of the many things you could do or pursue or live your everyday life in the name of, enlightenment is definitely not one of them. You may think it is, but, it is certainly, definitely, without a doubt, not.
The way in which it is described in most publications, at Yoga joints, and in those pseudo-scientific quantum physics movies about we-are-one mind-over-matter evolving-consciousness blabber that is woven all throughout the spiritual circuit is this: Enlightenment is like living in a state of constant full mind/body/spirit orgasm. Who wouldn’t want that, right? I mean, forget vacation to Florida, let’s go to Enlightenment-ville. Enlightenment is not any of those things and whoever sold you on any of those ideas being or leading to it, well, I’d call them to get your money back. You may as well go spend your hard earned funds on beer and cigarettes, buy the most fuel inefficient automobile you can find, get a rifle and go hunting for an endangered species.
Enlightenment is full truth realization. Nothing added, absolutely nothing taken away. It is in it’s essence the simplest possible thing. That which cannot be divided any further is Enlightenment. Let me tell you the only reason you don’t want to be enlightened. Here it is: The you that you think of as you is the very you that you have to give up being, that you have to completely destroy. Commit a metaphorical/spiritual/ego suicide( Yes, really). A comprehensive transformation. The caterpillar has to die to make way for the butterfly. A caterpillar doesn’t know its going to develop into a butterfly so he’s got it easy. He thinks he’s just saddling up to take on a lengthy nap. With you it would be much different. You resist most of your life, you are distracted and demented by the mania of owning things, becoming someone and undertaking something you are going to be proud of.
Consider that your identity-force, or impetus if you will, is hard-wired to survive at any cost. The only way it knows to perform this task is to look good. Enlightenment is the exact reverse of caring in any way about your actual physical appearance. A truly enlightened being would by no means care about such a trivial thing. Rest assured you will never take that leap and no amount of Yoga or Chanting Om or what have you will ever bring about enlightenment.
Carry on with your everyday life just as it is. Carry on doing what you’re doing and revel in being human. Nothing must be added, and nothing must be taken away. Take major risks, get off the road, fail big, let loose, relax, take it easy. Continue your Yoga practice and understand that you are entirely perfect and complete just as you are and no matter what, you are going to be here for a while. Nothing is ever going to really transform you and that is thoroughly acceptable.
Ayurveda is a 5,000 year old tradition of medicine that comes from the subcontinent of India. Ayurveda uses all natural diagnostic methods and treatments. It is an Organic system of healing that considers everything from how one sleeps, to the emotional and mental states of the individual when making a recommendation to fix what ails them. Ayurveda also states that anything can be used for either a medicine or a poison, so there is really nothing that is off limits in this system. The diagnostic methods and the way to determine treatment is based on each individual situation and often varies.
There are however, many general recommendations that are universally applicable. Yoga, for example, is recommended to everyone. The type of Yoga is again determined by the predisposition of the practitioner. Yoga and meditation (Chanting Om, for example), along with diet are major factors of consideration for disease prevention and longevity. Another across the board prescription is to be as organic as possible with everything in our day-to-day lives. Our clothing, for example should be comfortable. Handmade organic cotton clothing is my personal choice and it is one of the few cloths in the world that everyone can benefit from. There are no harsh dyes or chemicals, it is resilient and sturdy, and as a result, quite long lasting. These are all desirable qualities we strive for in our lives everyday. Perhaps we could all take a lesson from this prestigious cloth.
One of my favorite healing modalities to come from Ayurveda is Shirodhara. Shirodhara is part of what is called Pancha Karma, or five actions. It is a surprisingly simple and incredibly profound treatment in which warm oil is poured on the forehead. Shirodhara deeply relaxes the nervous system, increases self-awareness, improves sleep (decreases insomnia and excessive thinking), relieves minor depression and anxiety, nourishes the eyes, increases the perception of tastes, enhances memory, and slows down the aging process. It further has been know to bind with certain functions of the brain to create brain wave coherence, resulting in an alpha state. When the brain is under stress cerebral circulation is compromised. When oil is poured on the forehead the nervous system is deeply stilled. This causes brain waves to slow down and become coherent. Once the brain is quieted more life, energy, oxygen and other nutrients flow freely to the brain. The result: better brain function, mood stability and improved stress handling. With each successive Shirodhara treatment the mind systematically achieves an even deeper state of silence and more healing takes place. Regular treatments are said to have a lasting and profound effect on the individual.
Now don’t think that being prescribed Shirodhara gives you an excuse to skip Yoga practice, you have to work the mind and the body to feel the full benefit.
In the spiritual traditions of the world there are people that have dedicated their entire lives to otherworldly living. Spirituality. For some it’s a life in renunciation, for others it’s a life of spreading the transcendental seed around the world. We call these people our Gurus. They are our go-to people for all spiritual questions and problems.
Some have allegedly achieved Yoga; union with the God, the infinite. They love Yoga so much they married it. These people are as close to perfect as one could expect of another person, or something like that.
Some of these masters of Yoga share the path, others choose to live in caves or behind an ashram blissfully surviving on a pittance. Some of them even make a big splash in mainstream society. You can pick up your official spiritual master decoder ring with the purchase of an organic cotton Ganesha sarong, Namaste T-shirt, or most any handmade Yoga clothing, learn to chant Om in a thousand different ways now!
Selecting the appropriate guru can be challenging. As we know people will be people, and people can be deceptive and shameless. Some so-called gurus have developed interesting powers such as manifesting diamonds or shooting lasers from their eyes. The use this as a ploy to lure in unsuspecting seekers. Due to this unfortunate circumstance some followers have become jaded and untrusting of the real deal. It’s hard to know who to trust.
I suggest, for those of you seeking an enlightened being, to get a dog. Dogs are much more reliable than people, and, yes, even gurus. Here is why a dog is better than a guru:
They posses and exemplify Unconditional Love
They posses and exemplify Instant forgiveness
They share Unabashed Empathy
They give Unabashed Sympathy
They are incapable of Guile
They are incapable of Dishonesty
They are always in the moment
They don’t carry past and don’t post it to the now
They don’t fret the future
They are not ashamed
They live off the kindness of nature when we are not around
Everything is always new and wonderful
Everyplace is always the right place, especially if it’s with you
Anytime is playtime
They will defend you, even against all odds and never forsake you
They take what you give them and you don’t have to worry about repercussion
They physically appear when you call them
They never go away, never forsake you
They don’t charge and there is no allegiance necessary
There are no stipulations to their love
So the next time you find yourself in a philosophical, ontological or spiritual pickle and you don’t know who to trust or what to do, just stop what you are doing and call out to your pooch. In mere moments, you’ll have all the divine input you’ll ever need!
Circadian Rhythms a.k.a. the “body-clock” are an endogenous (internal), system within the body that automatically synchronizes with the 24 hr cycles of nature (particularly the sun and electromagnetic fields). It creates the ideal context for perfect health to occur and be experienced within- complemented with diet & exercise of course. They are Natures Yoga to us!
You could theoretically live in a cave & still maintain all your biological functions in a timely manner.
The body: master of efficiency. Precision & effectiveness. It’s tao: doing least, achieving most; synergy. Too, like a puppy, no matter how much abuse, mistreatment or neglect it forgives instantly and does the best it can to continue to keep on playing. It does this through electromagnetic and other amazing, unseen, critical biological functions.
Because of these silent synchronizations the body will function higher and lower during various times of day and night to fulfill specific functions. For example, even though a lot of us may stake claim to being night owls we are inherently programmed to sleep at night. We can override our dispositions. We also secrete HGH for cell regeneration, only when asleep before 10 pm. Digestions is highest at noon, hence we should take are largest meal during this maximum enzyme secretion period. In other words don’t eat pizza so late, digestive juices are not present! These are just a few minor yet important examples.
Without going into all the “science schmience” part of it- though fascinating, these rhythms are a result of a sort of cosmic and planetary dance, an interplay with the body which directly affects and influences all of our biological, psychological and behavioral- or instinctual and regulatory- functions. Such as: core body temperature, brain wave activity, hormones, cell regeneration and other things that would blow your mind (metaphorically speaking that is). Our Karma (actions) with relationship to these fixed yet slightly malleable laws of nature actually plays an enormous role in our liveliness and overall well being. It is the real Yoga to be tuned in with these cycles of nature; to flow in harmony with the laws of nature. Adhere and the body will say “I love Yoga”!
As you get tuned in, life gets softer, sleep gets better, sex more amazing, productivity and efficiency increases, the heart becomes tender and compassionate, and there is an overall decrease in stress, thinking and worry. Not to mention the benefits in regards to less depression and anxiety, poor digestion, bad decision making due to your brain engaging in a higher level of function.
The body can and does wear down over time. So, take good care, tune in and be patient to maximize quality and quantity.
Get plenty of sleep (sleep before ten pm). Wake early, slip into a nice pair of organic handmade cotton Yoga pants or Yoga shorts, your favorite Om Shirt and get your physical Yoga on (I am partial to Asthanga Yoga or Kundalini ) to circulate blood and oxygen and wake the body up. Meditate: “Namaste” yourself, Chant Om. Eat a light breakfast to stimulate your body (get some ghee) and live your life in accordance with God, the divine, nature… Whatever. Live in bliss!
When I was twenty years old I watched the movie, based on a true story called 7 Years in Tibet with Brad Pitt. This was a far cry from my usual blood n guts shoot em up flicks tended to favor back then. But, what the heck, eh?!
There is a scene in the movie when that really impacted my life. The main character Heinrich (Pitt) and his traveling companion of many months had snuck into the off-limits and sacred city of Lasa, the spiritual capital of Tibet and home of the 14th Dalai Lama- Yes, the Dali Lama- after escaping a P.O.W. camp in India.
Once in the city the almost fully exhausted, totally destitute and starving men were stumbled upon an elderly gentlemen who took them in, bathed them, clothed them and gave them shelter after he found them scrounging from his dog’s eating bowl on the back porch. Some days later the elderly gentleman sought permission from the local governmental officials for the two foreigners to stay in the city as his guests. The officials asked him why he had taken in the two outsiders. He simply replied “Must one have reason to help those in need?”.
BAM! No, one does not need reason to help those in need.
Humanity at large is kinda like those two wanderers. Tired, hungry, needing refuge and solace. Love above all else.
That sort of nurturing, loving-kindness and service to humanity through acts of compassion is part of the Tibetan culture. Yippee! It is something, too, that is rapidly becoming a part of the American, or, Western culture as well. In our world of busy, surviving lives where stress and anxiety often rule and consumerism concerns our well-being we all need a little heart here and there. All over the country now, and even in the world there are companies and products that are springing up all over the place that exist, at least in part to support this rising global vision of, essentially, all beings being free from suffering.
People are starting to get that they win when everybody wins. Though There is not necessarily a solid, unifying religious connotation, cultural synchronization or structure to fulfill on this vision we’ve got our Yoga and the entire, alternate sub-culture. Combined with the essential and basic assumption of peace on all sides that has been created out of what it implies: Freedom for all!
You’ve got your Yoga accessories & Yoga apparel; sarongs, headbands and Yoga pants , yoga mats, (I favor the Organic cotton) and a whole bunch of other products. I slang Namaste like it was going out of style. Heck, I even got the Namaste shirt.
Whether you’re the business Yogi or the closet practitioner practicing Asthanga Yoga or Kundalini Yoga, or someone involved in the Africa Yoga project, there are products and companies out there that when you purchase their products you not only get something great for yourself nd your life, you are making a contribution to humanity.