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.

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.

The Glove that Fits the Hand

“The true crime is that you will not admit you are god.” ~ Alan Watts

A couple posts ago I linked you guys to an Alan Watts youtube video entitled Suffering for Enlightenment.  At the time I wanted only to post the video with a few short questions.  I wanted to let the information sink in, for it had a tremendous impact on how I view things.  A lot of what he verbalized rests inside of me, dormant and hidden.  I’ve only had a few experiences where I have come face to face with the dilemma he speaks of and the video was the first time I heard it outside of myself. What he had to say was simple.

The idea that we are all pretending not to be god is the capstone of life.

It's all about patterns

Back in my younger days, I used to experiment with altered states of reality.  Well in all truthfulness, I am still experiencing altered states of reality but through yoga and meditation.  However, back in my youth I was obviously not using such sustainable enterprises as I do today.  A lot of my journeys were basically informational overload.  With constant bombardments of raw data, I had a light-speed glimpse of what life was all about.  From what I could coherently piece together, life was a charade.  It was play of dynamic possibilities in an otherwise static existence.

Experience was the game and it was a game we played as humans.

What I took away from my experiences was the notion that I was part of a greater whole. This whole was everything that could possibly exist. In my time afloat, I learned that I could reach degrees of realization of just how complete—or for that matter separated—I truly was.  This is also an echo of my spiritual practice today. Through meditation and yoga, I experience different levels of connectivity.  Albeit for shorter durations and with much more dedication, I am able to experience certain levels of awareness.

Between these vastly different experiences, there has always existed a common thread, almost like a tiny voice.  One that has been spoken over its entire existence. It speaks softly and steadily but goes unnoticed. It carries a message worth all the conquests of man, yet its simplicity is blazingly self-evident. It is the secret of the universe.

What was that?

It reminds us of the unthinkable crime we continuously commit.

This intuitive feeling will continue speaking until you listen to it. It will never change its simple message: the idea that you are god.

This loaded statement has already scared off half of my readers.  One half flees to the anti-Christian bench while the other to the psyche-ward offensive.  But before you start calling me crazy, take a moment to see this statement with new eyes.

Use the eye between your eyes, your mind's eye.

We are god. Well what is god? For starters, it is not God.  This capitalized version I will coin the Catholic/Christian/Muslim/Jewish/etc. religious figure.  By now, we understand there is no man in the clouds watching over our every move, waiting to send us into the depths of hell to suffer for eternity.  What I mean by god is better explained through ground-breaking frontier science than it is by modern religion (although this is not to discredit religious origins, as in their purest forms they understood what god truly was).  When I speak of god, I mean energy.  And by energy I mean everything that exists, seen and unseen.

With this viewpoint, it is easier to understand that we are all be god.  Think of a ripple.  As it expands through a pond, it bounces off of rocks, misshapen edges, protruding reeds, and also itself.  Each of these ripples came from the same source, but they have taken on many different, complex forms.  Eventually, they will all return to the stillness from which they came.

This is what we are.  We are ripples of physical energy that have been shot out into the universe.  We bounce around, creating this and thinking that.  One day we will return to stillness, and then again we will form.  It is an energetic pattern of creation.

The common thread between all of this is that we are pretending not to know who we really are.

Here is a great analogy from a documentary I saw: We have designed a theme park. It has huge roller coasters, amazing games, and tons of fun activities.  As the creators of the park, we know every aspect of every attraction.  All the curves, all the surprises, all the outcomes.  We’ve made a wonderful place, but we want to experience it.  If we go on the rides with all of our knowledge, we will certainly not be a fulfilled.  In order to truly experience our creation, we must forget that we created it and begin anew; from a blank canvas.  We decide to do something about this. We are now children who enter the park for the first time.  Not knowing anything about the park, nor our role in its creation, we can experience the park to the fullest extent of its offerings.

This is our experience on Earth.  We have chosen to forget we are god so that we may experience life unadulterated and raw.

Facets of the same feature

I have had this picture in my head lately. It is a hand—the hand of god—that has put on the glove of life.  Each finger has become a person and everyone is talking to each other.  They all introduce themselves and say nice pleasantries, unknowing that they are all fingers of the same hand.  This is our life.  It is our comedy; our play.

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.