Summer, I love you.

A season is by no means a significant amount of time. Three months, four if you’re lucky (and it’s summer). Give or take a hundred days, not even a third of a year. And at this point in my life, years are beginning to lose their luster for grandiose blocks of time, as they fly off the calendar as fast as months did in middle school. Yet, a season was plenty of time to change my entire life.

This summer was one for the books—and by this I mean quite literally one full of books. It was also a summer of airports, as I flew across country, across countries and into interstellar dimensions. This summer was also one for community, where I was welcomed into the arms of different tribes across the world. This summer was about leaving improvement behind and accepting perfection as it is. This summer was the beginning of my life.

And so was yesterday. And this morning. And probably tomorrow.

If the summer was one thing, it was a realization of lightness. This lightness was not something I carried pre-May.

Before heading into summer my life was one dictated by restriction, practice, guilt and imperfection. Routine and rhythm were things that held me together. I was bound to my practice as much as I was to the surface of the Earth.  I withheld pleasure for piety, in hopes of one day reaching an ultimate goal. I even caught myself feeling guilty shades of superiority over others adopting less “conscious” lives. The one measure of the perceived success of my pre-2012-summer lifestyle was that I felt like I was in control.

Boy was I wrong. This summer started out like the twisted ending of one of those psychological horror movies that somehow convince you (the viewer) that you’re the one killing all the people in the film. Everything I thought I had under control was flipped upside-down. It was shocking at first, but much less difficult than it had been in its previous incarnations (for these realizations have occurred before in lesser degrees of intensity). The main objective was to reset my spiritual ego.

What is a spiritual ego? Well if I had ended my blog post with “This summer was the beginning of my life,” you would have got an extreme does of Yogi Ego. Basically, for me, my egoistic self is searching for one thing: control. It wants to be in charge. Whenever I think I have figured out life, that is when I’ve let my ego take control. This summer was a gentle slap in the face that told me life was much less than I was making it out to be—this being an extremely positive, relieving, and loving thing.

Life is for experience! This summer’s oeuvre was a reassuring mantra that everything is equally as important as everything else. This means that I am exactly where I need to be, doing exactly what I need to be doing and so is everybody else. This liberating realization was the posture that broke this yogi’s head open. And I surrendered my thoughts, preoccupations and fears to the universe willingly.

We spend so much time trying to be something else that we forget to honor who it is we are. In the complicated maze of desire, we lose sight of achievement. We focus on a future that never comes, preparing, practicing and pondering what might be. We never get there because it is an illusion. There is no where to go.

And for some the illusion is perfect. This article is not to say that one way of life is any better than the other. It is only the recount my own realization. At this point in time my current state of consciousness is perfect as was my state in May, last October and when I was five. All stages, outlooks and understandings are perfect. It is not the shape, context, or content of the state that matters, but the progression through them. Change exacts experience, which adds to the richness of life.

As I find time in between my coursework, I will gladly share with you the specifics of my summer. But until then revel in the awesomely emancipating idea that you are already there. In fact, there is no where else you could possibly be.

Much love.

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)

The Inner Salt March

There are very few people who enjoy being sad. There are many less who will welcome its arrival. There are even fewer who will marvel at its perfection. Yet, with all those opposed to sadness, there is a great wealth to be found in learning to love the “negative”. And as today is the anniversary of Gandhi’s Salt March in 1930, there is no better teacher than the powerful and compassionate Mahatma Gandhi.

We tend to undervalue the role negativity plays in our lives. Negative experiences are truly only as negative as we make them. In fact, all emotions are only the product of the assigned value we attach to them. It is in our minds that we create the perception of good or bad.

We perceive what feels good and what feels bad by our decision to adhere to these declarations. This does not mean that a punch to the face feels any different from what it actually feels like. Instead, it reveals that the mind’s reaction to that feeling is what creates our judgment, our perception. Experience is placed on a human-emotional narrative; where judgment is made, creating a system of likes and dislikes.

Doesn't look like that felt too good.

And although the punch always feels like a punch, it does not need to invoke a negative response. Imagine getting punched in the face and feeling nothing but compassion for your assailant.  Without doubt, the amount of emotional pain needed to make one person punch another is quite unbearable. This understanding paves a path to feeling an overwhelming sense of love in the midst of conflict.  From this perspective, we can see how there is always a choice.

It is this concept that has driven the peaceful protests of millions across the world. Gandhi’s famous satyagraha, loosely translated as truth force, is based on the principle that universal truth rather than passive resistance will conquer opposition. In this regard, we can relate the idea of satyagraha to our personal lives. It is an inward pressure that accepts “negative” emotion and reacts with love. And although Gandhi’s movement had a very obvious and directed purpose, his philosophy of the force of the soul was that the opponent must not be attacked or ignored, but showered with compassion and patience.

Are we not all opposed to ourselves? A battle of the mind contra the heart. The positive versus the negative. There is a constant inner battle in each of us that assigns biased judgments, which labels emotions and feelings as something more than what they truly are. In applying this definition of satyagraha to our personal battle we use compassion and patience in dealing with all emotions. It is here that the secret nature of emotions is revealed.

All emotions serve but one purpose, and that is to experience. Life is one great, unfathomable experience, constantly unfolding and evolving. Our minds are our vehicles for transmitting and decoding experience. We choose to create a world of good and bad, but in the same breath with the same amount of energy, we can choose to see every experience as an expansion of our universal awareness. Be it ecstatic or terrible, enlightening or ignorant, every possible occurrence that takes place is solely manifested to show us the extent of our creative possibility.

Life is an ocean. When we choose to experience life sailing on the waves, out boat sails smoothly and also rocks violently. When we choose to experience life from the bottom of the ocean floor, the waves cannot leave their impression. Instead, in the calmness we are able to watch our boat rock without attachment. We are able to ascertain, experience, and enjoy everything without judgment. Action is revealed as experience—not better or worse than any other emotion.

And in this stripping of judgment and value, one can truly experience the beauty of all aspects of life.

We are here for our enjoyment.

The Beauty of Pain

Photo: soulbounce

With Valentine’s Day around the corner, instead of buying flowers and making dinner reservations, I find myself feeling the pangs of a broken relationship. But even with this heartbreak, I’ve found more love than I could imagine. And it is all because of pain.

Sometimes, pain is the most important teacher in life.

It takes on many forms: physical, emotional, existential, spiritual, the list goes on. Yet regardless of the different shapes it takes, pain is always the same. It eats at the core and it sinks down low. It is blue and hollow, victimized and regretful. Pain is a horrible feeling that is relaying a message to the inflicted. At the most basic level it yells “STOP!” Take your hand off the kettle, take pressure off your ankle, release your grip of the thumbtack. It alerts us to safety when we are in danger. In physical form, the tangibility clearly denotes the necessity of pain. But what about the less palpable pains?

What about heartbreak? What about depression? What about fear and failure? These are all forms of pain and they all hurt—sometimes more than physical pain. What are the messages of these non-material sufferings? What is pain telling me when my heart is broken?

It is telling me the same message: “Stop!” Something in my life is causing me harm and I need to pay attention to it. This stress is taxing my energy and causing friction, so much friction that pain must speak up.

In all honesty, I am going through a lot of pain. Break ups are never easy, nor the ones you wish did not happen. As easy as some make it seem, separation is always tough. However, it is nothing new and the outcome will always be positive because, as they say, life goes on. What I would rather discuss is not the details of my situation, but the process of pain.  I find that too often I speed through the painful moments in order to reach happiness. This neglect of hurt has denied me valuable lessons. Lessons that one can only receive in true moments of despair.

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