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.

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The Man With the Gun

We were now only three. We sat solemnly, silent with downcast eyes. The man with the gun continued to speak in foreign tongue, a language that resembled Portugese, but my ears could not be sure. Or was it my mind? Racing as it were, I was unable to comprehend anything other than the eminent fate that laid ahead. It was clear by now that this man had come to kill. He had already taken two. Now it was our turn.

The man’s friends stood by, cheerfully watching. There was no trace of remorse, guilt, or sympathy. To them, it was a game; a reason to avert boredom. I could see they were having fun. Out of the group a couple eyed the girl next to me, my love of a previous life. The woman spoke in tongues and gestured with her fingers. The man with the gun translated, “She wants you.” The woman crawled over the girl’s body with her filthy eyes, leaving their heavy impression on the soul of my love. She began to cry and although we had separated in another life, she grabbed for my hand, squeezed it and searched for the flame we had once let die.

In our last moments, she reclaimed the forgiveness and love of the universe. She lived in my eyes while confessions of love poured from her heart. “I love you,” she said with uncontrollable despair. She had already given up. I watched as her gaze began to distance, leaving this world in search for the next. With ample ambition, I intervened. The man with the gun was growing annoyed, his dissatisfaction was apparent.

“We will make it. Look at me, ” I called to her eyes, beckoning their return. A glint of recognition followed by a total release of identity. This surrender was ensued by words of the soul which battled for the present. Come back to me. Look into my eyes. If you can stay here it will be over. I watched as the color returned to her skin, the motion danced in her breath and the recognition of the self sparkled in her eyes. She had come to fight. And now it was my turn.

The man with the gun cocked his pistol. I closed my eyes. The person to my left was first, his head laid upon my shoulder. Three shots fired and I couldn’t tell if the universe had stopped. The weight of my eyelids was tremendous, so much so that I thought they would forever remain shut. I heard the air make way for barrel of the gun. I felt its long, blunted nose directed at my soul. I heard a click and I began to purge.

With all the force of the world, I cried; vomiting tears. Emotions born in my stomach were ejected up through my throat and out of my mouth. I was unable to stop the convulsions. I wanted them to continue. With each heave my being was lightened. I was transported into another existence where only I and myself existed. Spring cleaning of the soul. Anger fueled the roar, but by the time it was set free, I noticed there was only fear. As it floated out of my body, my tongue tasted love. Once released into the air, it was only love.

My hand was still grasped by the love of a life passed. I looked up at the man with the gun. He smiled. “Doesn’t it feel better?” I stood up and laughed, “Yes, it does.” I could see the rain had stopped. The pavement was wet with the remains of the evening. The sun had kept such an angle that it felt like breakfast, a beginning to a new day. I thanked him in all sincerity and he approached. We shook hands and he walked past. “Hasta luego,” I blurted in Spanish. He replied with only a warm glance. We would see each other again.

I took the hand of my lover and we walked into the morning.

—-

I awoke from Shavasana healed.

Forget about Enlightenment

Mooji.  Until just a few days ago, this was a man I had never heard of.  A friend of mine passed on a video where Mooji discussed the binding nature of Sadhana, or daily spiritual practice.  As a kundalini yoga teacher and student, I am well aware of sadhana.  Well aware. Waking up at ungodly hours (although they are in fact known as the most godly) followed by half asleep yoga sets and painful 28-minute arm-melting asanas are the instinctual images that come to mind.  However, what Mooji was referring to was a broader sense of sadhana that takes on many forms, including the entirety of spiritual practice.

Evening practice? Not. Morning Sadhana before sunrise.

In his view, sadhana is beneficial for only so long before it becomes an impediment.  A waning fan of early morning sadhana, this intrigued me.  He said that all spiritual practice and thought is a form of interference, which can withhold liberation.  I defensively asked myself, “How could spiritual thought become an obstruction to spirituality?”  I was starting to ignore his words, but something inside of me kept listening.  He continued his explanation that spirituality is great for those who are without any other means or understanding of the metaphysical.  It brings the newborn into a world of possibility.  However, much like the training wheels on a bicycle, spiritual practice begins to hold one back from experiencing true freedom. Hearing this, I didn’t know what to think. So much of my life is about spiritual practice.  So, for the time being I ignored his reflections, but surely enough, within a few days, I was unable to deny them.

I have always worried about my addiction to meditation and yoga.  Much like any other addiction, when I do not make use of it, I feel its absence.  For me, this translates into a daily practice.  I have always known that all the spiritual things I do have never been the source of my happiness, clarity, or balance.  At the end of the day, I am the one who decides how I experience my life.  Meditation, yoga, and whatever else just grease the wheels.  I am the one who steers.

So for the past few days, Mooji’s message of forgetting enlightenment and all the rules of spirituality have plagued me.  There is comfort to my practice.  I like setting the rules that control, and even dicate, my life.  However, at what point do these rules limit the possibilities of experience?  If I have to meditate 2 hours a day, teach class, listen to mantras, and send countless blessings across the universe just to have a normal day what am I really gaining, besides more practice?  Even the word practice assumes that you are not that which you want to become.  And spiritual practice continually tells us that we are not yet enlightened, that we must spend x amount of time and effort to attain realization, and that this is all a gradual process.  As I start to look at it different, it seems like just another system of control.  I needed it in the beginning, but do I need it now?  Is it holding me back?  What if we can all be enlightened right now, with one true thought?

Just one thought, like a key to a lock.  Once open, the humor of it shines through.

This is my dilemma.  Venturing into the unknown without my training wheels is a bit scary.  What if everything collapses and I find myself worse off than where I was?  What if I become less conscious and succumb to ignorance?  What if all my fears are just an illusion that keeps me practicing my practices?  What if enlightenment is simply realizing that we are perfect; have always been, always will be, and can never not be perfect.  Even when we are imperfect, we are perfect, for we are not our sentient bodies, which includes the mind.  All judgment arises from thought and all thought is not our true Self.  Our identity as universal is that which exists behind our thought.  This identity is already complete, enlightened and perfect. Understanding this is the only true spirituality that can exist.  It is not a practice, but a law.  

I mean how wrong could he be?  Look how happy he is! =)

We are already enlightened, we only choose to believe we are not.  And we create the boundaries, pace, and limits of our growth through our spiritual practice and intentions.  At what point must we move past these barriers and experience true liberation, the freedom from our own suppression?

This is where I am. What will come next, I do not know, but one thing I have come to understand in my life is that once the seeds of awareness are planted, there is no turning back.  And truthfully, I wouldn’t mind freeing up 3 hours of my day.

Enlightened is all we can ever be.