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.

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My Creative Process

I never know where the inspiration for my next blog post is going to come from. Every time I sit down to write, I have a brief moment of fleeting panic. A voice I have recognize as my self-animosity chimes in a few defeating words that usually sound like: “You won’t think of anything good to write. Nothing you will write will help anyone. You can’t figure this out. Blah blah blah…”

At this point, I have learned to listen to my inner voices. I recognize that they exist, I identify what they are saying, but I do so from a neutral stance where I am detached from their wants and desires. By acknowledging the voice, I understand what it is I truly want (and what I do not) and can act accordingly.

The next step in creating a meaningful blog post is silence. This is probably my most difficult stage of the creative process. I often try to push through this stage with thunderous brainstorming and cunning wit. I try to force ideas out of my consciousness. I know that they are in there and that I have access to them, but I am entering the wrong key in the correct lock.

Wouldn’t want to live here.

This process is like building a house without a foundation. Whatever ideas I forcibly gather will not stand up to the winds and gravity of my self-criticism. Much like the house pictured above, my ideas will crumble. I may even formulate a topic worth writing an entire anthology over, but it will lack the luster of its origin. It will be separated from the area from which all creativity spawns.

In this creative space, the secrets of the universe are whispered. All information can be heard in this space. Yet much of the time we are talking (or thinking) so loudly that we cannot pick up on this quiet voice. Silence is an essential part of the creation process.

After being silent, I find that ideas begin to grow. It is subtle, palatable feeling, like hanging static electricity just before lightening strikes. The smallest movement occurs and my thought is guided by something other than myself. It is here that the next challenge occurs: letting this motion take its course.

I seem to be obsessed with weather today.

In order to let a creative thought manifest, it must develop on its own. There are certainly stages where I can manipulate, personalize and expand on its creation, but in its first established moments in the physical real estate of my brain, I find that if I tamper with its progress, it never matures to its fullest potential.

In gardening, when sprouting seedlings, it is most beneficial for the new plant to remain in its seedling habitat until it has reached a stage of maturation where it can physically sustain a transfer to a larger pot. If one moves the seedling too soon, the stress of the unnatural process will harm—if not destroy—its growth. This is parallel to the birth of a creative process.

“Let me grow!”

After allowing a firm stability, creativity will hand itself over to its environment. In the case of this blog, I am now harboring the creative potentiality that was given to me from the source of creation. I can now play with it as I like, typing this word or that word. Yet, even in this process, I am subject to creative severance.

The moment I attempt to claim this beautiful creative process as my own, I begin to lose it. As I begin to take stock in the idea that these concepts and words sprang from my thoughts, the flow of their existence begins to clog.

As many spiritual teachers have told their students, the wisdom from their mind is but an extension of the greater mind. Serving as a channel, rather than the “source” is the best way to transmit creativity. A mother is not her child, but the vehicle that brings it into this world.

Be the channel.

The last stage in my creative process is being grateful. I have not always been capable of accessing creativity. There were many times when anger, addiction and fear limited my ability to know creation as I know it today. I also realize that tomorrow never holds any promises. Yet more than all of these things, the actual process of creation keeps me in awe, and for this I am eternally grateful.

Giving thanks brings forth not only more opportunity but also a deeper understanding of my place in this world. It humbles me, carves out a deeper capacity for silence and ushers in a self-less attitude.

Creation is truly sublime.

Thank you.

Who Do You Pray To?

It’s funny how the act of teaching can unexpectedly become the ultimate teacher. This past week, I experienced an influx in the amount of yoga classes I teach. I’ve been subbing for other yogis like a madman. In this process, I have had tremendous amounts of exposure to the lessons I preach. It’s as if my words echo off the walls  and whisper themselves into my ears. I am certainly learning a lot from all this teaching.

One of the most repetitive lessons I have been taught is the concept of self-prayer. Usually, prayer falls into two categories: culturally stigmatized or a form of pleading. These two categories are dependent upon one clause: the idea that who or what we pray to is outside of ourselves. In the former category, prayer is discriminated against because who actually believes a man separate from us in the sky is listening to everyone’s thoughts? In the latter view, we focus on the exterior power of another (be it Jesus, Buddha, Krishna or the all-mighty dollar) to give to us what we think we cannot give to ourselves. In both situations, fallacy is observed and prayer is focused outward.

"No servant can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other."(L16:13) The Self or "God"

Jet backwards two weeks. I was in a yoga teacher’s training focused on conscious communication. Among the many invaluable lessons learned, the one that seems to have stuck the most is the lesson of conscious self-communication. Many times a day we often talk to ourselves. Voices in our heads repeat, reflect, judge, battle and vie for our conscious attention. This inner dialogue is a form of self-communication. And like this self-dialogue, prayer is one of those voices.

Although prayer may be thought of as a more conscious and intentional mental narrative, it is certainly not free from the sliding gradient of unconscious thought. On the lower end, the awareness of prayer is basically exhibiting a pleading/begging posture towards an exterior power. This is like trying to get a full stomach by watching the Food Network channel. It is idealistic at best, but utterly ineffective. Instead of refracting your desires off an unknowable entity, try asking your Self.

Mmmmm. Delicious!

This concept of prayer is a method of conscious communication. It implies that we are God. We are the universe, the physical embodiment creation, stemming from one common source. In this light, we can see that all our prayers, blessings, questions and concerns are capable of being answered with nothing more than our conscious attention.

This transition inward has been a great lesson for me. It has shown me the extent of my patience and will, as many times my belief in this method of prayer has been tested. I often do not see immediate results and begin to doubt my power as the great answerer of prayers. However, when I continue to know beyond faith that I am capable, my questions are answered. I surrender my prayer to the fear of realizing my ultimate power.

There are many psychological and spiritual barriers to making this an easy-as-pie process because we have been conditioned to believe that we are inept and incapable, leaving us at the will of an entity that exists outside of ourselves. The leverage point in this equation is the realization that we are the omnipresent being, the source of creation. Once this old paradigm is expanded, the true extent of the Self can be realized. The key to this is persistance, understanding and the ability to listen.

Listening is the beginning of prayer. ~Mother Teresa

I use a simple technique that was given by Yogi Bhajan. When monitoring your mood and finding yourself in an undesirable place, ask yourself to raise your spirits. Simply say: “I do not like the state I am in. (Insert your name), will you elevate my consciousness.” Now when you say this, you must direct it at your highest self. Recognize that there are other voices that do no represent you highest state of consciousness and avoid speaking to them. Instead, focus on that person who you are when you are happiest, most conscious. Through listening, the proper voice will be heard. This is how you will lift yourself.

So often we beg and plead with the ideas we place outside of ourselves. We send out wasted energy into the ethers hoping that it will return. Disappointment and challenge face those who are not impeccable in the traditional forms of exterior prayer. In these times of spiritual redefinition, old structures of practice are no longer as effective as they once were (although for some—like my Lola [grandmother]—external prayer continues to work). As our minds change, so do the ways we perceive the world, God, and ourselves.

So if prayer has served you fruitlessly, stop sending out a letter to an unknown address and instead try sending one to yourself. Better yet, write an email. The turn around on your prayers will be instantaneous.

Stamped, sealed and self-addressed.

A new, favorite quote of mine from Yogi Bhajan:

“Blessed are those who bless themselves.”

It is time to quit thinking you are incapable, limited and separate from the energy of the universe. Omnipotence is your birthright, and you are as powerful as you will let yourself be. Release that which does not serve this purpose. Recognize this and you will become limitless. Turn off the TV, get into the kitchen and start cooking.

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.