1 + 1 = 3

Sometimes the most exceptional lessons in life are heard between the most unexceptional moments.

Just the other day I was speaking with a wise friend of mine about some very ordinary things. We came about relationships and our respective states within them. We began to mumble about this and analyze that. After a few fleeting moments of rather darb commentary, a sagacious spark shot across the room. We immediately looked at each other. I repeated the phrase: one plus one equals three.

No more than five words. Simple and—quite literally—uneducated. Yet the words were extremely potent. The conversation was about relationships. This was not just about lovers. The small proverb-like sentence was referring to the essence of all authentic and prosperous relationships. It was the secret behind all bonds.

A real relationship is one that brings forth a sum greater than its parts. It is an illogical, unexplained phenomena bordering the line of a magician’s trick. The end result of a relationship is more than what could have possibly been created had one calculated the pieces separately. This marvel of relationships is why we are attracted to having them with others.

Looks like chem lab paid off.

An energy, a chemistry, a connection or a vibration. I have heard all of these terms used when describing a meaningful connection with another. It is something literally magical.

I first understood this concept in probably the most blue collar, laymen’s terms that existed. A couple teaching yoga taught a tantric class on relationships. The male was a former carpenter and electrician. He described relationships in the form of voltage.

Any one person is capable of emitting 110 Volts—the power expelled from a regular US electrical socket. 110 volts is a decent amount of power, but to really get things flowing, 220-volts might be needed. Now, if two 110-volts try to fuse together improperly, they will be unable to obtain 220 volts. Instead, they must use a transformer. This will reach the desired output.

Git r done!

The metaphor of the transformer is that two people can create a larger output if their relationship is properly established. Properly established is he key concept. In today’s world, many people carry out relationships without transcending past the surface levels of formalities and physicality. By venturing past these barriers to authentic relationships, deeper levels of trust, intuition, connectivity and love await.

The first and only step is trust. Faith in the art of giving is the foundation of all great relationships. A pertinent example is my relationship with the wise friend who inspired this post.

Trust, its what’s for dinner.

I will never know what our friendship will bring. There are no guarantees, no promised rewards and no IOU’s. All there is, is what I choose to give. When I give unconditionally, I know that my friend will receive that which he needs from our relationship. In this process, I learn to surrender to any sort of control or unknowingness while at the same time enjoying the gift of giving. Our relationship grows because we both believe in this concept. Because of this, our relationship can defy simple arithmetic.

When a relationship is about the sum and not the parts, it becomes a greater entity, capable of achieving unimaginable heights.

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The Art of Giving

Originally posted at theamorist.com

“You have not lived today until you have done something for someone who can never repay you” ~ John Bunyan

Whether it is a handful of change or a lifetime of devotion, the act of selfless giving is the most important action one can take. At its core, giving is the ultimate form of spiritual practice.

For ages, religions and spiritual groups have honored the art of giving. In India, the word seva, or selfless service, is expanded by the phrase, “Manav seva Prabhu seva,” meaning service to mankind is service to God. By carrying out seva, one is giving his or herself to the universe by offering time, money or prayer. In Christianity and Judaism, the concept of tithing, or an offering of 10 percent of one’s time or money represents spiritual giving. And in non-spiritual circles the common concept of donation represents the art of giving. In each case, the idea behind selfless service is that one will be covered (be it spiritually, financially, or consciously) by giving up something important.

Giving doesn’t have to look like this.

It is sometimes difficult to see that true wealth and prosperity—be it fiscal or spiritual—begins with the relinquishment of such objects. The other day I was speaking to a friend about his financial problems and I suggested he donate some of his money to a cause he felt strongly about. He retorted, “How can I become rich if I give all of my money away?”

This question is the boundary that separates those who are prosperous from those who are not.

First, a prosperous person is not determined by how much money he or she has, but rather their state of mind. In the case of my friend, he believed he was too poor to give. His financial insecurity stopped him from creating a prosperous mindset. People who attune themselves with the vibration of prosperity receive money and success after they have aligned themselves with that specific frequency. Only for a select few does it work the other way.

Second, giving is ultimately a question of faith, for there is no tangible promise or guaranteed return from giving a gift. There is no proof of gain other than the conviction that you are doing the right thing. This challenge is often daunting to those with empty pockets. Yet the saying holds true: “You only get what you give”.

It can look like this.

Of course, there are some clauses. Obviously, selfless giving is an act that requires no desire for reciprocity. To truly give is to surrender to the relationship of commerce and instead initiate one of complete compassion. Intention plays an important role in this process, as one who gives just to receive is not truly giving. It is only through selflessness that the act of giving will create true prosperity.

On Saturdays I teach a donation-based yoga class. In this class I begin with a story about why we offer these classes. I end the story with, “I ask that you donate what you can, but I recognize that the greatest donation you can make is simply being here.” Most students find this welcoming, but I see it as the true donation.

Each individual has given and hour and a half of their (prime Saturday afternoon) time to spend working on themselves, elevating their consciousness. As they leave the class calmer, happier, and relaxed, they raise the consciousness of all they come into contact with. By coming to class, they have donated themselves to selfless service. In that action, they uplift their own consciousness.

“A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle” ~ James Heller

We often think of donation and giving as something that has to be measured by numbers and fiscal value. Many times the most important gifts are not those carrying a hefty price tag, but rather the ones that come from within: the homemade meal, a hand-sketched picture, a daily spiritual practice or a few kind words. The opportunity to give is never dependent on income.

We all have something to worth giving.

Short but Sweet

Without saying much, this quote says it all.

“If you can simultaneously listen to every word you speak, you will fall in love with yourself”

To compliment the words of Yogi Bhajan, are those of Rumi:

“The minute I heard my first love story,
I started looking for you, not knowing
how blind that was.
Lovers don’t finally meet somewhere.
They’re in each other all along.”
— Mawlana Jalal-al-Din Rumi (The Illuminated Rumi)

Movement of the Soul

In many ways, I see a successful day as one that has led me to dance. Whether it is on a crowded dance floor or in a packed subway car, if I can get my body moving, I have accomplished another well-lived moment of life. I am addicted to dancing. Something about the way music awakens my entire experience keeps me yearning for more. It certainly is an addiction worth having.

Dancing has been an important part of existence since the first person rhythmically pounded one object against another. Cultures across time have celebrated, mourned, and communicated through dance. Dancing has existed throughout every society from the Heliconian Muses of ancient Greece to the cosmic dancing form of Shiva, the Nataraja. The body has painted pictures long before our words ever could.

I only bust out this hard on really good days

The secrets of motion captured by the body allow expression where words fail. In the heart of dance is communication. In forms of celestial, communal, and personal exploration, dance brings together both the society of individuals and of the universe.

In many cultures, dance is the greatest form of expression. In Hawaiian culture, the hula is the language of the soul expressed in motion. In the aboriginal tradition of Ojibwa in Southern Ontario, dancing celebrates the sun and the changing of the seasons. Their famous Morning Dance is a tribute to the tree of life, giver of all creation. Native American cultures have used dance to form prayers for healing and gratitude to Mother Earth. In the Sufi tradition, whirling or Sama—a form of active meditation—is performed to reach kemal or the source of all perfection by transcending the ego. Dance has universally been enacted to communicate otherwise incommunicable emotions.

Meditation in motion

Personally, I know when I dance I reach a state of extreme ecstasy. It is by no coincidence that the drug named after this emotion is most associated with dancing. Yet even without substances, dancing can take on the form of an active meditation, a holistic expression of the soul that can transcend the normal guidelines of everyday life.

When I am most entranced in dancing, I am transported to a timeless realm of potentiality. Freeform motion is creatively unrestrained and my limbs become brushes for which I can paint the picture of my existence, changing moment to moment in an ever-evolving pattern of infinity. Dancing is a language best spoken with liberty.

If you’d like, you can come join me and many others in NYC this weekend as we dance our spirits into the night at Ecstatic Dance in the well-known Jivamukti yoga center Saturday night (3/24). Here’s the link.

I’ll leave with you with an amazing quote:

“When you understand who and what you are, your radiance projects into the universal radiance and everything around you becomes creative and full of opportunity.”

I think Yogi Bhajan understood the power of dance.