Soul transition.

It has been a month since I boarded the flight that brought me back home. I have relished these past four weeks, taking in every familiar sight and sound and taste as if for the first time. Hugging commonplace conveniences like my washing machine. Wandering around for hours at the grocery store. Driving. Running. In my transition, there has been little room for reflection and I imagine it’s similar to the first visit to the lake every summer. You know that water is going to be damn cold so, standing on the edge of the dock you muster up a whole heap of courage, plug your nose and make a dash for the water. You plunge beneath the surface and for a few moments are suspended in a watery dream. It is damn cold. For a moment, there is nothing but pure adrenaline pulsing through your veins. Then you realize you survived the jump, the cold and shock of the first plunge and you smile, knowing the rest of the summer is going to be easy living. And as you resurface, life is a bit different. You have a new confidence. A new outlook. I imagine my transition in this way. The fifteen days I gave myself between making the final call on leaving my apartment in Los Angeles and boarding a flight to New Delhi: that was
me, standing on the edge of the dock as I mustered up a whole heap of courage and made a dash for the water, a whole lot of unknowns. The five months I spent in India, completing my yoga teacher training and life transition as a person: that was the plunge, the watery dream. It was damn cold (and then unbearably hot). For a moment, there was nothing but pure adrenaline pulsing through my veins. I realized I survived the jump, the cold and shock of the first plunge and I smiled, knowing the rest of my life is going to be easy living. The four weeks of chaos that have buffered me from becoming too nostalgic about my experiences in India have been a blessing, from losing my best friend to switching coast lines. And now, it’s the final resurfacing, the breath of fresh air, the knowledge that life is a bit different because now you live with a new confidence, a new perspective. That’s the moment to reflect on, the moment not to be missed among the trinkets and remnants of India.

This is my soul transition.

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Again, the universe is SO silly

This morning I was hydrated enough to get my running shoes on and head out with my loyal running partner for a 3 miler. We wove our way through the cows and puddles and dogs and motorcycles until they gave way to our familiar mountain path, the terrain shifting to a tree lined dirt path. Similarly, our the conversation wove its way from saris to boys and finally settled on yoga. But of course, right? After all, yoga is the microcosmic practice of life.

I shared with her my fear and anxiety about the upcoming week, in which I teach my first full two hour yoga class. Just me. And a class of 20 students. That’s my first diversion from the truth. When my teaching slot comes, I will find myself in a room with just me. Teacher/student. No difference. It’s cliché, but it’s true: we are all here to learn. Life. It’s just that we learning through our bodies.

The universe always brings you the guru you need right when you need them. The same applies to when you need honey lemon ginger tea. True story.

Marriage and death

A favorite slogan of yoga teachers goes something like “Be present on your mat; do not worry about what your neighbor is doing.” How we relate to what’s going on off our mat directly relates to what’s happening on our mat, so it’s a valid suggestion. But suppose for a second we look up from our forward bend and take a look around. What’s going on? For me, I see lots of people getting engaged, married, lots of relationships starting. And what’s happening on my mat, in my world? I’m separating from the relationship I’ve known for most of the last three years. Simultaneously, I’m starting a relationship with myself (take the cliché and appreciate the beauty it holds; something that rings true is timeless).

We can talk about relationships and marriage by talking a little bit about death first:

We once knew eternal joy, eternal love. It is what we are. Soul matter. Our natural state is one of peace and joy. An easy example is to consider the first thing we do when we are born: we cry. If a baby doesn’t cry, the entire delivery room knows something has gone wrong. Why do we come into this world crying? First, our eternal soul, which is infinite potential, is tucked into this tiny, confining body. Then we come from an internal, pure, free, existence of peace into an externally focused world of duality, pain and suffering. We come into this existence crying, knowing what we have left behind. So then life begins and life is a process of forgetting. Imagine giving a ball to a small child. Without any questions they explore it. They will try to eat it. They might throw it or bounce it. They will probably sit on it or try to pop it. Give that same ball to an adult and what happens? They ask “What am I supposed to do with this?” No potential at all. A completely external approach to the world, looking for an answer from somewhere outside themselves. As we grow older, we are confined more and more until the world of infinite potential becomes a world of this or that. We are conditioned: do this, don’t do that, pay this, watch this, don’t watch that, be this, don’t be that. Duality. Duality is not our true nature; duality is the nature of the mind, the dirty, rusted tool we use see the world by. The mind is always pushing you towards yourself, towards infinite peace and love. The mind is on a never ending search for that feeling of eternal joy, because we carry it within us; it has experienced it before and wants it again. But we keep giving the mind external solutions of peace and love that are always changing (that’s the nature of the external world; the internal world is stable). And then we die, kicking and screaming because we think we haven’t found that eternal source of love. Its just that from very early on we have forgotten that we are that source. The goal is to reverse the conditioning, reverse the forgetting. Remember your infinite potential, remember that your true nature is peace and happiness. By remembering, we begin to appreciate every moment for the infinite potential it presents. Death can the be seen as a transition we need not to be afraid of. We come in crying, but the trick is to leave with a smile.

So then, some way, we come to marriage: People get married because they think they have found the ultimate source of happiness. Then a year in, they realize the peace and happiness is gone. Its not really gone though. The reality is that we can’t give what we don’t have. If we don’t understand that we are peace and happiness, those things are not accessible to us and therefore we cannot give them to others. A solid relationship is built on the understanding of mutual peace and happiness; you bring that to a relationship, you don’t find it in one.

So while my relationship with another soul is ending, I am expanding my understanding of our true nature of peace and love and I can relax into the pain that comes with losing someone you love.

Unicorns

Sutra scholar on campus this week. Came in from Chicago to be with us and his presentation tonight was equal parts light and heavy. We are talking universal consciousness, after all. At the end of the talk I asked him about manifesting and why we manifest trees that are green and flowers that are yellow and so on. His first response is that the green I manifest is different than the green someone else manifests. I prodded further and said ok well if we are the universal consciousness and out of nothing comes something, then I could manifest a unicorn if I wanted to! He said yes but there would be two unicorns, the one I manifested and also the one that would manifest itself when it’s optimal manifesting potential presented itself in that unicorns life journey. Woah.

After the talk, I chatted with him about how the universal mind manifests itself all the time, in moments we have come to label as “coincidence”. He agreed and shared some of his experiences of tapping into the universal mind and I shared my experiences of running around in chaos and wonderment yelling “The universe is so silly!!!“.

As I left for the evening, just as my hand touched the door handle, I heard this elder sutra scholar call out after me: “Don’t forget to bring your unicorn to class tomorrow.”

Family

for my mom in particular

“It is a little overwhelming to think about all the things people have done for me over the years, most of which I don’t even know about, still don’t know about. I’m a product of all that – all those efforts, all these people who loved me, even before they really knew me.”

Level up, hippie.

We are knee-deep in philosophy and Roshan is dropping some fantastic knowledge. We are discussing how the mind is a filter through which inner consciousness (the soul, if you will) sees outer consciousness (matter). I raise my hand and ask why this barrier has to exist: if we are consciousness and matter is consciousness then why does this veil (mind) exist that clouds our perception? The mind is causing all this ruckus with its coloring of what we observe. It seems that our perception is LIMITED by the mind. I gave an example of a flower. When I see a flower, I touch it and think it is soft. I smell it and think it is fragrant. I see its color and think it is vibrant. Through my five senses I am experiencing consciousness which is manifesting as a flower. But the same consciousness is manifesting as me or you or this computer. So, in this example, if we agree that we have pure consciousness (me) looking at pure consciousness (the flower), then the mind just gets in the way, right? Because really (and then I said it:)

I AM the flower but because of my mind I experience the flower as separate from me.”

Oh man. Super hippie, level up.

I should have died but I survived Pt. 1

Back in December, when I first arrived in Delhi, I was naive. I was warned of the struggles in India and the precautions one should take to keep up a healthy system but I was arrogant. I thought I was the star of the show. Buying saris, seeing sights, living the dream. Eating veggies and fruits not giving a damn and thinking there’s no way I’m eating out of boxes! I had mastered India within the first 24 hours and I was untouchable. Then, maybe because she had never seen such reckless happiness, India struck me down: Delhi belly. Coming out of that experience, I was a changed woman. Who is the boss? Not me! Who makes (or doesn’t make) the rules? Not me! What do you want for dinner? Something out of a box!
The body is amazing though and adapts to its environment. January saw a broken hippie, scared into a much quieter, sedentary, less obnoxious existence. Then February was like a baby learning to walk. Tentative. Cautious. Small increments of progress. This meant eating legit (delicioussss) Indian food and hoping it would take mercy on me. Now here we are at March. It’s the reckless teenager phase. My body is getting stronger. My immune system is on a level unprecedented. And two days ago, India and I came face to face again.

I was hungry. It was Tuesday and I wanted spinach paneer (cheese). So I asked Mary, the fantastically sweet Indian woman who helps take care of the household, if she would teach me to make it. She was more than happy to impart some knowledge to me. She also gently laughed and remarked that it was about time I learned to cook Indian food; all those cookies can’t be good for anyone. We set off to the microscopic market just a few blocks down the street. Now, I had a sense on that walk that what I was about to come up against would be significant. I couldn’t put my finger on it at the time but I noticed that colors were brighter, sounds were louder; I was walking into battle.
We arrived and indeed, it was a small but lovely market.

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The first shop we stopped at to pick up henna was a jack of all trades shop. It had everything: razors, henna, a red flyer wagon, balloons. All of this was piled up into towering stacks leaving only enough room for one man to sit in the middle with his cup of chai, a calculator and a box of money. Mary negotiated the henna and motioned to the soda pop refrigerator. The man opened the sweating door, letting out a blast of cold air, and pulled out a block of packaged paneer. I was generally surprised to be buying refrigerated packaged cheese in Delhi; maybe this wasn’t battle after all! There was some discussion between the man and Mary that I couldn’t follow not because I couldn’t understand them (which I couldn’t) but because I was deep in thought, trying to come up with another adventure for the day since this “brush with Delhi death” was being overrun by modern conveniences. I had safe cheese to eat; there’s no blog story in that. When I arrived back to the present moment, Mary was turning away from the shop and heading across the street to this guy, henna in hand but no refrigerated paneer.

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I ran to catch up, worried. “Why didn’t we get that wonderful paneer?” I asked. She replied “It was expired by a year.” Right. “They will have some over here with the vegetables”, she offered. Indeed he had some. It was in a bath of murky white water inside here:

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India’s play. It was my move now. I didn’t want to back down but I was scared. I watched in silence as he plucked the cheese from the bucket, sliced off a chunk, threw it on the rusted scale and tossed it into a bag. I watched in silence as Mary paid $1 for almost a pound of cheese. And I walked in silence for a few moments knowing I had just accepted India’s challenge.
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We cooked and ate. Three days later I am alive and healthy. Well played, India. We have a mutual understanding: I respect the *#$^ out of you. You let me live.