Becoming Your Home

This evening, I had the pleasure of cooking a three-course meal for a friend of mine. I was invited into his beautiful home filled with outstanding artwork and an amazing energy. The moment I walked in I was transported from the noisy, haphazard streets of Manhattan into an oasis of tranquility and calm. I was enveloped in a cozy and comfortable sensation that beckoned my authentic self. There was no need to defend, no reason to hide. This sanctuary was made for acceptance. This was a home.

Living in small apartments and moving year after year has left its trace of stress. It is never anything permanent, nor too much to bear, but rather a discomfort or a strong unease. Uprooting one’s life is never an easy action. Sometimes it is exactly what is needed, other times it is more of an unnecessary hassle. Yet each time I have rerooted my life, I strive for the same sense of home that I grew up with; the same sensation I immediately gathered when walking into my friend’s apartment this evening.

Home.

It is like walking into a blanket that has just been pulled out of the dryer. Or maybe it’s like gliding into a warm body of water. I think I could even describe it as that feeling just moments before falling asleep. It is a perfect harmonious combination of ease and vibrancy. The encompassing nature of this energy is by definition soothing. It is the feeling of unconditional acceptance.

Many people live in a house, but not every house is a home. And that is the one thing that I make sure to bring with me every relocation I make. My life could never be complete without my home. Yet my home is not dependent on things. Beyond all my favorite decorations, homemade artwork and extremely sentimental items the essence of home is something I cultivate from within. Without this grounding anchor, my surroundings would never represent my idea of what home is.

I do love my incense.

Our environments reflect our state of being. I like to think of my home as a divine place, a sanctuary where all are welcome to relax, recuperate and enjoy. When I have guests over I notice they feel at ease the moment they walk in. I also notice that it is not the material things (or lack thereof) of my apartment but rather the energy I have been projecting. I like to think of the furniture, the walls, the colors and even the air of my home as an energetic ledger that is constantly recording vibration. Every thought I think, every song I play, every word I speak gets recorded into this invisible notebook. As these spaces gather specific vibrations, they build upon each other, developing relationships to their own surroundings. In this way, a commons is born.

Singing bowls, gongs, mantras and pleasant music will all support higher vibration.

The more I meditate, chant, pray and bless in my apartment, the more my apartment takes on those actions. Stored in their physical being, their very vibratory make-up (as we are all just the sum totals of sound vibration) takes on what I put out.

Have you ever been to a really crumby place? Maybe a hopeless hospital wing or a drugged out dealer’s pad (not that I would know). These places can be dark, unwelcoming and draining. It isn’t because the real estate itself is possessed, but rather its occupants are emitting a certain vibratory frequency which manifests its self in certain ways. Have you ever noticed a place that has been uplifted? Maybe an awesome yoga center moves into a town or a community garden is completed. When these types of frequencies enter into the energetic ledger, vibrations begin to rise and other results manifest.

This is not to say that one is better than the other. I will leave you to decide which vibration you choose. It is not the duality of the situation I would like to call attention to, but rather the mechanics of it. Our environment is an extension of our self. We are only a product of our surroundings and they one of us. This deep, intimate connection can never be severed, and although we cannot tangible see it (sometimes we can), this principle of existence is more concrete than the voice inside your head that is telling you it is not.

I was graced by great karma to spend just a few hours sharing the wonderful company of another’s spiritual abode. We are all graced by even greater karma that we can remain in that feeling where ever we go by just becoming aware of our vibration.

If you’d like a simple way to elevate your home’s vibration, try playing mantras. You don’t even need to hear them. Their vibratory effect will work just as long as they are playing at the slightest volume. Here are a few free ones you can download.

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Wisdom of the Seasons

Growing up in California has its perks.  I was surrounded by a generally liberal culture, I ate an amazing year-round selection of locally grown produce and was never too far from the nearest coastline. The people were warm and so was the weather. Even in Northern California, the extent of winter was only a month or two of mild rain. The separation of the seasons was measured by gentle gradients of gray.  Change was subtle and calm, to the point of indifference. Everything lasted forever. Plants didn’t die; they shrunk, as if exhaling for the winter. I grew accustomed to a sense of false immortality, an ever-lasting eternal growth. This perpetual continuity kept me sheltered from on of life’s greatest blessings: its cycle.

In other less climate fortunate parts of the country, a temporal consciousness exists. This time-limited offer is measured in months rather than Californian years. Life is taken by the harsh snap of the wintertime cold. Death is observed and understood and, for some, it is even appreciated. The cold months pass with the steadiness of the tortoise, while onlookers peer into the future, calling for the warm rays of the sun. This terrestrial process incites value, gratitude and humility.

The power and strength of nature’s effortless pattern is a miracle to be marveled. Thoreau once said, “Nature is full of genius, full of the divinity; so that not a snowflake escapes its fashioning hand.” Nature is graced by intention. There is not a moment of aimless action, nor a second of accidental happening. In it lays the perfection of life.

"Never does nature say one thing and wisdom another." ~ Juvenal

One of the greatest blessings of nature—one I am experiencing at this moment—is the bloom of spring. After winter has released its meditative silence, the dance of life begins. Set to the ballad of the most celestial symphony, the motion of spring reminds us of the splendor of creation. In its ease of return, our discomforts are soothed. Life begins again.

Yet, even with the joys of birth, we are never released from the awareness of the cycle. The looming seasons will surely repeat their pattern, leaving the recently bloomed daffodil no more than a rotted carapace. This understanding is essential to living a purposeful life. This awareness of temporality intensifies gratitude and promotes being. Only in the present can I fully enjoy the daffodil, for if I venture into the future, the flower’s demise will taint my experience. It is by this constant patterning that nature inspires full awareness of the present, bringing us into a state of supreme bliss.

Washington Square Park

Washington Square Park

Currently, every corner of New York is filled with scenes of blooming life. Everywhere, people and nature alike are taking the first deep inhalations of the season, expanding their presence and enjoying the moment. Spring is a celebrated event that transforms the city. Grumpy New Yorkers become gazing naturalists. Fast-paced business types are suddenly found strolling the streets. Speeding cab drivers…well they still speed. But the world has changed and for an instant, we become attuned to the consciousness of the natural world. Through its effortless, patterned pace, we become aware of the gift of life.

Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished. ~ Lao Tzu

Changing Vibrations

If any of you have wondered where I have been for the past week, the answer is Mammoth Lakes, California. This beautiful safe-haven of endless mountain-scapes, relaxed country folk, and champaign powder snow is a one-time-a-year stop for me and some old college buddies. I am fortunate to stay in contact with such great people and even more lucky that we get to rendezvous in such a gorgeous, breath-taking place.

One thing about Mammoth is its vibration. Peacefully lethargic like being trapped under a large, comfortable blanket, Mammoth is the epitome of homeyness. Each visit, my host introduces me to old friends who have never strayed from the comforting shadow of the mountain. There is always that awkward moment awaiting imposed judgement, but unlike anywhere else in the world, the locals could care less. They boast of extreme pride: their love for their town is undeniable. And I can see why.

Spending time in Mammoth is like recharging your spiritual batteries. What’s even more spellbinding is that you don’t need to know what spirituality is to benefit from the penetrating vibrations of the town. Nature and its beauty only need be experienced to gain its wisdom. Happiness, calm, peace, and reverence are almost unavoidable in Mammoth. You’d have to be a hard-pressed pessimist to miss these waves.

Writing an article on Mammoth could easily turn into a book, but what I’d like to do is to expand on my experience returning to Manhattan.

The beautiful intensity of the city

No more separate than night and day, my flight from California to New York brought me across the threshold of environmental duality. Like stepping out of fire and into ice, my experience, my being was thrust into a completely different vibration. Although I had experienced a similar change going West, my trip back East was much more jolting. Traversing down hill is always much easier than heading up. And going to New York from Mammoth was like scaling a the face of an inverted skyscraper.

Once in the city, everything felt faster. People’s eyes were the first things I noticed. No one let their eyes relax. Scanning, pulsing, and shooting in all directions, eyeballs were going insane! No one could keep my gaze and everyone was too busy to stop searching their surroundings. Even patrons awaiting their flight—with ample time on their hands—were struck with an incredible eyeball immediacy. The next experience I noticed was my lack of involvement with the vibration of NYC.

Kind of like being left behind, I was a fish swimming downstream against an entire city of fish heading upwards. Bustling was the word. Everything was moving at the fastest pace possible. The energy was overwhelming and for the past two days I have been crippled by the weight of a sloth-like laziness.  Just moments ago did I finally feel like I’ve begun to shake of the binds of extreme relaxation. It would be safe to say that the vibration of Mammoth and New York have little to do with each other aside from the fact that they are both vibrations.

Mammoth's Breath-Taking Mono Lake

I find myself asking, why do I live in New York. And I see my answer as a duty. My life, my writing, and my passion is to help others and only in such a productive place as New York will my lump of coal turn into a diamond. Living in Mammoth, Fiji, or Costa Rica may be very enticing, but my purpose of existence in this life is not relaxation—at least not yet. And the vibration of New York is the most upbeat, exhilarating vibration of any place I have ever been. Getting work done here happens in your sleep.

To each vibration their own

What I’ve taken away from this mini-vacation is an appreciation for the inherent qualities of different locations. Like the people that inhabit them, each place brings a different vibration to the scene of experience. Understanding their subtleties (and sometimes no-so-subtleties) is the extravagant offering of life. Experience is the game and life is where is it played.

Mmmmmm. Vegan Ice Cream

Ice cream.  The long lost delicacy of the vegan.  A remnant of worlds past, this delicious delight exists in the dreams – or nightmares – of those dedicated few who chose to call themselves vegans.  Or that was until I stumbled over my neighborhood vegan ice cream shop.

That’s right.  Vegan ice cream shop.

Now I know there are vegan ice cream options in the freezer section of my nearest health foods store.  Between coconut, hemp, almond, and whatever else you can freeze, these options are plentiful.  But I’m not talking about the bland, freezer-burned, chalky flavors found in the frozen section of Whole Foods.  I’m talking about the real deal: amazing, delicious, hand-served, in-house made ice cream.

Lucky for me, less than half a block away is Stōgo, a vegan ice cream haven.  Through the day I’ll catch myself fantasizing about which dairy-free ice creams I’ll be choosing from later that night. Flavors like Creamsicle, Coconut Green Tea, and Mojito Sorbet come to mind.  Despite just having devoured an entire 10 ounce cup, my mouth is already beginning to salivate.  If you can’t tell, I love ice cream.  It’s probably my most favorite thing in the world next to blankets—yes, I love blankets.

I usually don’t go out and advertise for people, but this place deserves it.  Stōgo offers tons of crazy flavors that will get your palate educated in the pleasures of being vegan.  They even offer seasonal flavors.  Being that Thanksgiving just passed, tonight I grabbed up the remains of some Pumpkin Pie and Coconut Sweet Potato.  I even threw in a new flavor that I just couldn’t resist: Vegan Eggnog.

I dare not write more, for I am already fighting off the urge to run down the street and grab another.  I guess living this close is a double edge sword.  Gift and curse alike, one thing is for certain: the people at Stōgo are making vegan ice cream nostalgia a thing of the past.

For any of you in NYC, Stōgo is located on 159 2nd Ave, entrance on E 10th street between 2nd and 3rd.