No More Unicorns

For me, food is everything. i have a very delicate relationship with food. It directly represents how when why and in what way I can nourish myself, and those in my sphere. Are we surprised that in my new to New York haze I cant seem to find the one thing that tastes right? or cooks well? ok, i did find one thing that tasted right. No, two things. my morning warm beverage and chocolate.

My other issue is being highly sensitive in an environment that is over stimulating. Everywhere I look I see buildings and people and am auditorally assaulted with noise. Those sayings "look for the good" and "look for the beauty". That was child's play in boulder. Easy peasy compared to this shit. i get it now because if you do not find the one inkling of hope and faith in a sliver of beauty everywhere your eyes go you will literally die inside here.

Yesterday I sat down to eat with Elliot and we barely made eye contact the entire time, which was disturbing. I noticed every single person around me had their iphone out on the table like it was a napkin. If they didn't have it sitting next to them they were either talking on it or checking something. When I tried to get a break from this and look out the window all I saw were more people on phones.

New York might be the rawest place I have ever experienced. Everywhere I look I see the desire to connect and need for contact with little of it actually happening. Which is weird because everyone is going somewhere to see someone at some time in some place with some strategy of self-preservation and protection.

Ok, I’ll reframe so I am not projecting...

I feel the rawest I have felt in a long time. I want connection and contact but amongst the scarves and hats and glasses and ear buds and attitude carefully put on each morning with my clothes its sort of f-ing hard to make that happen.

Look all you shiny happy unicorns in Boulder; I don't even want to hear you complain that it is sunny too much or that your whole foods parking lot is a bitch. I have seen the sun one day since I got here and whole foods here is a death wish. The moment I walk in there, or to any store for that matter, my brain literally shuts off because there are so many people I can’t think about what I need.

The natural world is such a gift my friends. It makes spirit much easier to grasp. But when spirit comes in honking horns, over-sized squirrels and darting pigeons you really do gain a new perspective. Its a complete reframe. I literally have no schemas for some of what I see. I literally am a fish out of water. Or the person off their mountain.

It’s easy to be at the top of Maslows hierarchy of needs when the bottom layers are simple to achieve. When the basics are hard, your third eye gets a twitch. The antidotes I presume are practices that bring us back home to our own bodies. Oh right, I know those.

It is far too easy to be a character--to be the strategy one has built--in any town. It is easy to give up the practices that seem out of place in the context one is in. Yoga, meditation, dance and somatic practices of self-regulation and resourcing should be employed everywhere one goes.

The greatest teaching of yoga I am resting into currently is that we are adaptable creatures with unchanging, unscathed cores or essences of being. Structures and strategies change.  Environments change. Circumstances change. The only thing that we can contact that is true for more than a split moment is the deepest essence inside.

The irony of course is that we contact change in a sustained way. We contact our essence though in moments and flickers. When we live for the thing unchanging moment by moment. The changing moment does not matter as much or cause as much pain.

Well, I better run. I live in New York time now.

The Soul Must Flow

When Anusara Yoga fell to its knees and I made my very wise exit, I was forced to decide on a name to call my current public class. I settled on the name soul flow, which I now affectionately refer to as SoulFlow. (Please note there is not a trademark on that right now. Nor am I suggesting you read this and then name your class as such.) At the time, to be honest I had no idea what I was doing. I actually thought the name was pretty lame, cheesy and actually frankly, stupid. I also felt like I wanted to call the class 'yoga' but no one would come to a class called 'yoga'.

Like we name our babes we name our intellectual and creative children. So I gave SoulFlow its name, not fully realizing the thing I had birthed. But it was a birthing. I am clear about that. 

Through trial and error I learned how to nurture it, care for it, grow it and be with it. I learned who its friends are (the people who come to the class). So no, SoulFlow isn’t 'just vinyasa'. Like a child that is given a nickname and then outgrows it, this class should not be nicknamed vinyasa because it is a misrepresentation.

It is fringe in a way because it boldly takes the leap that many of its schoolmates have yet to take actually. The class explicitly reaches into the psyche. We do not apologize for, or cover up in any way the fact that we are working at the deep emotional level in the class. Many other yoga classes work at this level, but few make it explicit. (The few that do by the way, are the classes I go to and the teachers I steep with).

People do not come to SoulFlow unless they are ready to be worked over at every level.

Some people find this annoying. Cool. When I was in grade school I was super annoying too. Mostly because I asked a lot of questions of the Rabbi's. I would get sent to the principles office for all the questions and rebellion. SoulFlow has been sent to the office once or twice so to speak. It too, is a little rebellious. It is an outspoken class that gives students the space to question the authorities within themselves and around them.

The class has some tenants to its 'style'. I profoundly dislike the word 'style' when it comes to yoga. It’s all fucking yoga okay? But if it is all yoga and we are all going to the same place, are we not entitled to take the road that most entices us to get there?

So yes, SoulFlow has its specific elements. You will always find those four elements in every class. Now before you go all ‘that’s like Anusara’ on me, you can trust me deeply that its not.

We need structure and continuity to learn and grow at every level. We actually will not feel safe enough to deepen if those pillars of stability are not present. It is difficult to work on issues in a marriage if one person keeps threatening divorce. So the four pillars of what happens is just the guidelines of how the self-selected community organizes itself within and around the context of the class. In this way you can sort of prepare yourself for what is about to happen. This is good.

Do not fret; I am not making a style of asana. I am not trying to trademark or patent asana. Asana is free. Anyone can do asana. It is just that there is a way to study and practice asana. That is what SoulFlow is. It is a way to study and practice asana. What places SoulFlow into its own uniqueness though, is that it is also a way to study and practice your SELF. And when I say self, I mean the little self and the big Self. The class is about learning asana yes. The class is also about learning to take the seat of your self. This isn’t much different than any other yoga actually. All yoga helps us, in the end; take the seat of our selves most fully and comfortably.

The difference in SoulFlow is that the study of the SELF is explicit. There is tremendous power in transparency and making the covert overt. So the inner workings of yoga are brought to the surface in this class. It is in the practice of using asana to make ourselves transparent creatures that this class gains its power. It seems most of all, that SoulFlow is an embodiment practice using yoga asana as its vehicle. SoulFlow is a practice of embodiment—of coming home to your body, mind, and soul. It takes a practice that has many ways of ascension and relies on and emphasizes the ways we can ever more descend into our bodies to be radically full--radically, painfully, and ecstatically HERE.

It is magic and it is science. It is ritual and it is routine practice. It is deep exploration and radical enjoyment.

All the pieces I speak and teach to through Applied Psycholgoy for Yogis, show itself in SoulFlow. Think of SoulFlow as the living and breathing example of what Applied Psychology for Yogis looks like in action. There are other ways to utilize the teachings from Applied Psychology for Yogis. SoulFlow is just one of the ways. That though, is another post. 

Creatures and creations must always live into their names. We create not knowing the form it will take. We birth without knowing what our children will look like. We see the meaning of our creations develop over time. And eventually 'our' creations come to stand on their own without the handholding and carrying of us anymore. They no longer belong to us. They belong to world. 

Each creation, whether a child or an intellectual creative expression, must come to exist on its own. It has its own Life Force, Soul and Essence. And this essence must have room to flow.

Year Of The...

I think this has been one of the most significant, beautiful, joyful, sorrowful, wretched, ecstatic years of my life.

Somehow almost every nasty coping mechanism I invented early on came rearing its head. Somehow I learned that love is real and actually the only TRUTH. This is the year I have had to come into right relationship with my WILL.

I buried my last living grandparent this year and changed my last name. That one felt huge. Huger than huge.

I also decided it was too painful to stay quiet and am trying with courage to say something, do something, be something of whatever teaching lives in my soul. Hence why I have started Applied Psychology for Yogis. I feel so committed to the enlivening and re-membering of the lost parts of us as students, teachers and practitioners.

I started using the word God a lot this year. I learned that I have an even deeper level of emotional regulation than I ever thought possible. I learned I am pretty good at counseling after all. I was tested in so many ways from the deepest core to the most external of circumstances.

I also scored on my yoga mat. The pose of the year was hands-free lotus. Success!

This is the year I had to learn that I really must always choose life--always affirm life. I had to make choices that forever change the course of my life. I found a total new independence. I started talking to the angels. In the last few moments of this year I am realizing, I am far more spiritually inclined than I ever believed.

So all in all I really full year of goodness but with so much pain. In the coming days I am going to lie this year to rest.

I have never felt so pulled to the earth inside my skin.

I also had to give up some of my darkness. I was forced to say ‘enough for now’ and move on. I was reminded it is ok to be joyful, juicy, enlivened and that life is just as authentic and meaningful when you are not shoveling shit (so to speak.). 

I am far less interested in analyzing others and myself. It actually is not that productive. I am interested in being with people. Sitting with them. Sharing with them. I am most interested in being cracked open repeatedly and letting the world shape me and smooth my rough edges.

I was a bride this year and in so being I discovered the truth of Mary Oliver’s brilliant words. “I want to be a bride married to amazement.” So pose of the year this coming 2014 will be sitting in amazement. I want to be amazed over and over and over again. My deepest prayer is to find the light of amazement and wonder in everything. I want to be curious and open and welcoming. I want to receive the world, myself, my beloved, my work, all to the fullest.

~~~

Blessings to you as you transition between the calendars. May your retrospection be fruitful and productive. May your prayers and wishes for the future be courageous and bold. May the good Grace of Life fashion itself in such a mysterious way that those prayers come to fruition. 

The Walk

This is a piece I wrote a while back but it is worth posting again. I suppose my christmas wish is a deeper sense of connection and authenticity in every way possible. I think one of the hardest pills to swallow and make use of is one's privilege. 

~~~

The other night strolling along downtown Boulder after sushi I witnessed something truly touching. No, that’s not really the right word. Maybe it was enlightening. Maybe it served to remind me of kindness. I think it reminded me of human being-ness.

We passed a man with a sign who was asking for money and the sign said it was his birthday. Elliot stopped, let go of my hand and walked up to the guy.

“Hey man, I don’t have any cash or anything but look, happy birthday.”

The man’s face grew a big smile and his eyes had the glimmer of something--recognition, maybe hope--something where he felt of personal value I think.

“Thanks.” He said back.

“Yea, sure. I hope its great. Happy birthday”

And then just like that, Elliot retook my hand and we walked on. I looked back at the guy like I was five years old or something and he was smiling at us and nodded at me. I turned and kept walking hand in hand with Elliot proud to be his fiancé. Shit, I was proud to be his friend.

A while back he said to me that the worst thing to do when someone on the street is asking you for money is ignore them. I know you know what I am talking about.

The person blatantly asks you as you walk by for nickels and cents or a few dollars and you walk on like you didn’t hear, like you magically went deaf temporarily. Eye contact in those situations is almost impossible and so you walk on.

I think Elliot said to me that it’s the worst thing to ignore someone like that when he saw me do it one evening stroll. He saw my awkwardness, my momentary lack of sensitivity. I suppose I decidedly walk on because I tend to not have cash in my wallet (enter the world of universal plastic) and so I feel badly I don’t have anything to offer, or at least give them what they want so I just ignore the whole situation altogether. Also I think I just feel like I can’t help. And so in that powerlessness I pretend like I don’t care. In fact, he explained, it is not even about the money.

Anyway, so he says to me that even if you don’t have any money you should at least make eye contact. You should at least acknowledge their presence and need. You could even say: “Sorry dude (or dudette) I don’t have any but I hope you take care.” Just words or body language to acknowledge that they are there on the street is something to give. The worst thing is to pretend its not happening. The worst thing is to ignore. The worst is to let them slip through your consciousness like a waking dream of no consequence.

Note to self: We all want contact. We all want to be seen. We all want to be acknowledged for simply existing in a body as somebody. It is not always easy to see things as they are. To see the truth in all its painful beauty is a skill cultivated through acts of kindness in simply acknowledging presence and existence of whatever is present in one’s field. 

May kindness find its way through each of us, in the biggest and smallest of ways.

IMG_5430-lores.jpg