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The “S” Word

 

“Nobody speaks to God these days. Nobody speaks to God these days. I’d like to think he’s looking down and laughing at our ways. Nobody speaks to God these days.”

Bradley Cooper, A Star Is Born

 

“ . . . not to get all spiritual on you or anything . . .” I find myself using this disclaimer in many of my day to day conversations. And lately I’m asking myself why? Why am I afraid to elevate a conversation from commonplace to thought provoking? Am I afraid people won’t understand what I am saying? Or am I afraid I’ll lose friends as they’ll start to find me ‘too much’? Or am I simply afraid people will find me strange and run the other direction every time they see me coming? I’ll be that girl.

Maybe I’m afraid I’ll offend someone. Although, I don’t see how tinting discussions with a dose of spirituality can be more offensive than guns.

Frankly, I think this world could use a little more spirituality. A little more reverence for the beauty that surrounds us everywhere, every day. A dash of humility in the face of the grand force that created the Universe, the reason why we are here. A good old slice of humble pie as we say. The acknowledgement that our small ego mind is no match for the great mind of the creator. Call that force of creation whatever the heck you want. God, Allah, Buddha, Source, Shiva, Shakti. Use whatever pronoun you want – He, She, It. But make no mistake, you and I are really not in control. No matter how much we’d like to think we are. So, just a little bit, give it up. Let it go. Stop thinking you know what’s best for everyone, including yourself.

Maybe, if we invited a little more spirit into our daily conversations we could listen to each other no matter our race, religion, sexual preference or gender, with a little more tolerance, knowing at the end of the day we are all intimately connected and inexorably linked to one divine source. That despite our differences, deep down, we truly are the same. Maybe, if we invited spirit into all of our conversations, whether silently or outright, we could all find a little more kindness.

Truly, I see no other way. I can’t imagine we’re going to get out of the mess we’re in – politically, socially, environmentally – if we don’t bring a little more spirit into our daily lives. The only true and lasting solution I see to the hatred, the catastrophes and the fear of this world is spirituality and its close-knit cousin, an equally dirty word – the “F” word – FAITH.

Please don’t confuse spirit with religion. I don’t preach and I don’t ask anyone to convert to my way of prayer or that they pray at all. Speaking from a place of spirit is simply a recognition that with whomever I am speaking, as a child of God (again, replace that word with whatever you wish), is special, as I am special. And at the same time, because we are all God’s children, none of us is. Having more money than someone else doesn’t make you special, nor does your job or your position or stature in society, and certainly not your Instagram account.

Nor am I saying every conversation should be candy coated with the speech of rainbows, unicorns, crystals and chakras. Carrying a consciousness of spirituality as we move through daily life simply means that as we interact and converse with others, as well as ourselves, we are aware of a presence of love in our own hearts and others, no matter how different we may think and live.

I don’t care how you practice your faith. All I can ask, that I can pray for, is that we all find a deep source of love and wisdom to connect to. A knowing that beneath our skin, bones, muscles and tendons, there is a part of us that lives untainted by sorrow, hurt, and fear. That despite the errors and abuses our egos perpetrate, we are loved. When you come know that part of you and take time to connect to it every day, there is no need to defend yourself – with words or with guns.

I suppose that is why more and more, I will not shy away from inviting spirit into my everyday life. My spiritual practice is the very thing that helps me open up and listen more, despite the easy rush to judge and criticize. And it is the only thing in this mad, crazy world that helps me continue to find joy, peace and a reason for being here.

 

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Warrior Spirit

Moksh” the woman said to me, looking at my left forearm, just above my wrist. I didn’t even have to follow her gaze to know she was referring to my tattoo, the Sanskrit symbol for moksha – loosely translated as spiritual liberation or freedom. Many Hindi speaking people have commented on my inner arm marking. It’s led to some lovely conversations and connections I may not have had otherwise. This was no exception.

Yes. I knew she knew so I said nothing further.

She nodded.

Do you pray? She asked.

Every day. I replied.

Good.

There was what seemed like a long pause as I considered the black and white tile outdoor table next to me. It may have only been a couple of seconds.

You’re a warrior.

A little caught off guard, I looked at her with a look of surprise gauging by her response.

You have a warrior spirit.

So I’ve been told.

I thought she was going to drop a full on Vedic reading right there in Cost Plus on a random Thursday afternoon. Instead she stayed silent. I simply said Have a nice day and walked out.

I didn’t know what else to say. There was nothing else to say. I knew what I was.

Once outside, I paused a few feet out the door and felt a swell of emotion, a few tears rolling down my face. Ah, yes – the familiar tears of a warrior who doesn’t know how to drop the shield. The tears that came from being seen, by a total stranger no less.

This interaction has been sitting with me for the past few days and a theme that has been resurrecting itself for months.

As the Bhagavad Gita lays out so beautifully, life is not about floating around, jumping from one ecstatic spiritual experience to the next. Life takes place on a battlefield as we do our best to slay our karmic debts so that we may evolve towards liberation when we move into our next life. There is no doubt the battlefield is where I’m most comfortable. Running around, overcoming challenges, fighting for the next victory – both in the material and spiritual worlds. I’ve become quite adept at walking through the fire and in many cases, I even court and cajole it. But what to do when the fight is over or I’m just too tired to wield a weapon? Well, therein lie my most recent lessons.

I feel like there’s no time to rest. We as a species seem to be in such dire straits that it’s going to take every one of us who are called to do this work to do it 24-7. Humanity is at a tipping point and it’s all hands on deck if we don’t want this ship to sink. Yet, there are days, like today, when I’m just too tired. Sure, I want to go to kirtan. Sure I want to get out in nature and convene with Her. But on the first day of my moon cycle after teaching one class, running a few errands and some light household chores, all I can manage is a yoga nidra practice, and laying in my space with my eyes closed. Waves of cramps keep me fixed on the floor. Chanting even feels taxing. As I’ve become more attuned to my body and my cycles, I know I should rest and rest seduces me like a forlorn lover, and yet – yet. It’s so darn uncomfortable to lay down my sword and my shield and allow myself to be held.

I rub my swollen aching belly, wondering where my leaner, warrior like shape disappeared to. I feel soft. Squishy. I don’t necessarily like it.

So, like a child, I rest my head in my Mother’s lap. I let her stroke my hair and I hear her whisper It’s okay. I cry. Not working is, indeed, my work.

Sowing the Seeds Of Self Empowerment

I was having a soulful conversation with a friend the other day about all the ‘self-work’ we do. It got me thinking about how much I’ve invested – both time and money – on personal growth. Learning, evolving, healing and changing. And on the flip side, sharing and teaching what I’ve learned. It’s been countless hours, thousands of dollars, a shit ton of books, quite a bit of counseling and a whole lot of tears. Like, a LOT of tears. It literally has been my life’s work. At least since the age of 24 or so.

I’m not sure why this has been my path. It surely has not been an easy one. It helps to believe that there is divine purpose in my life and to trust that no one else could walk this particular path other than me. That I am here for a reason although I may not know what that reason is.

Despite its difficulties and some lengthy battles with darkness, I don’t regret any of it. Lucky for me, I’ve been blessed to have the guidance of some of the most gifted teachers in the world. As far as I know, all of them have stood in the utmost of integrity with their work. Their goal has always been to foster my independence. To give me tools, tips, and techniques to restore my personal power. There are a great many teachers who do the very opposite. They steal personal power, albeit likely subconsciously. Their success is predicated on your need to keep returning to them time and time and time again.

It seems my teachers over the past 20 years or so have done their job well. I feel I am very well armed. So much so that I am going to cease any more advice seeking, healing sessions, wisdom offerings, trainings and deep dives into the cosmic realm for the next 30 days starting this weekend. I have an appointment with a Vedic Astrologer as well as a new moon ceremony to attend on Friday so my moratorium on all things seeking will have to begin after those. That’s over $300 in one day in the name of spiritual growth. See what I mean?

I know I will always be a seeker. I will never be content with the way things are. I will always strive to make myself a better person in service of making the world a better place. However, if I’m honest, a lot of my journey has been propelled by the thought that there was something wrong with me. That I somehow, some way, need to heal every broken and torn and tattered part of my body, mind and soul. Essentially the premise has been that I am broken.

What if I begin with another assumption? What if I assume there is absolutely nothing wrong with me? That I don’t need to ‘fix’ anything. That I don’t need to be healed. That everything simply is. What if I could rest in trust and acceptance?

I’ve sowed so many seeds in the past 20 years. Maybe it’s time to rest a bit and allow them to blossom. Let the knowledge and wisdom I’ve been blessed to receive stew in a soup of self empowerment. Trust that I have everything I need to move forward and thrive. I think my body and my bank account will thank me. Plus, it’s only 30 days or so.

Broccoli And Strawberries

Walking through my neighborhood farmer’s market today, I found myself wishing for another life. A life that looked more like what I envisioned for myself when I was in my twenties. Yes, I do live in the greater metropolitan area known as Los Angeles. However I ended up landing in a home in one of the most idyllic neighborhoods known to man – The Pacific Palisades. Imagine Wisteria Lane, only more picturesque. Beautiful homes, perfectly manicured lawns with fragrant flowers, surrounded by the mountains of Temescal and Topanga Canyons, and ocean views. A neighborhood filled with children and families and large bank accounts. A reminder of everything I don’t have.

I didn’t roam around that Farmer’s Market with people like me – older, single creative types that have dedicated their lives to pursue passions and truth. I’m not saying the lady next to me perusing bunches of broccoli and strawberries hasn’t done some soul searching, but it’s unlikely if you’ve got a family to care for and what I can only assume are high bills to pay, you’re not taking weeks off to travel to India, live in ashrams or sit and type out pages of emotional analytics. No, there’s no time for that shit. A large part of me envies that. I sometimes wish I didn’t have so much freedom to do whatever the hell I want.

I found myself down on the Pali High School track, watching young, tan, fit men chuck a Frisbee around. I longed for the days of my youth. To turn back the clock and maybe choose a different path. Make different choices. As I made my laps around the field, I knew in my heart, I didn’t have that choice. My destiny has already been written out for me. It is my duty to follow it. I wept anyway. Especially at the sight of a Father running, racing his little girl. Something in my heart broke. It was a deep longing for a family that I may never have. The grief over a loss of something I didn’t even know I could even want. The desire for a ‘normal’ life.

I’m not naïve in thinking these people live in perfection. I know all life comes with struggle, conflict, sacrifice and loss. And I’m sure plenty of them wish they were in my shoes from time to time. But for the time being, and maybe just today, I wish I were in theirs.

I Have Questions

I recently reached out to one of my teachers about a session I had completed with him a couple of weeks prior. I explained that while I was still bathing in the afterglow of the healing time together, I continued to feel unclear about a few things.  He said the very best answers are the ones that bring us to better questions. Yup, I had questions. I always have questions. I always want to know more. I’m like the four year old. Why is the sky blue? Why does the ball bounce? How does the car start? How did I get here? What is that all about? What does it mean? Where is it going? And of course, the biggest one of all Why am I here?
I suppose it’s good to be a curious soul. But there are times when I wish I weren’t so, well, inquisitive. Honestly, it often makes it difficult to simply sit back and enjoy the fucking ride.
I know all of my questioning is prompting me in a very particular direction. I know my curiosity propels me to my dharma – or role I play in the world order – something I wouldn’t be able to uncover without asking some very tough questions.
I do wish however, that more often, I could lay down and let shit go. That’s what I’ve been working on for the past few weeks. Trust. Faith. As simple as those concepts sound, they are challenging ideals to develop. At least for me. I grew up in an environment that for all intents and purposes, was very black and white. There is right and there is wrong. There is work and there is play. And ne’er the two shall intertwine. We live in a society that increasingly needs an explanation or proof in order to make things so. Trust? There are so many reasons not to. Sit back and wait for things to happen? Not an option. GO GET IT. Do, Do, DO.
I see the inherent beauty of my life. I FEEL it. I have a clear picture of what’s on its way. But to trust it’s coming? And believe in what I’ve ‘seen’ yet not be able to explain it? Or know exactly the next step I need to take to get there and trust She will show me the way? Well, that’s a tough one. As is patience. So here I sit, writing. Waiting for what’s to come.

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