Namaste, 2017!

Life is ever brimming with challenges, sadness, joy, surprises, togetherness, alone-time, emotion, work, play, love and learning. Comedy, tragedy and everything overlapping in between.

Walking the path of beauty means making the choice to live in a way that fulfills you…. the deepest, truest, clearest version of you. When we embody the best version of ourselves, we transmit our happiness, fulfillment and light to those around us.

In reflecting on my past life in the States — working overtime, eating packaged foods, fighting traffic, perpetually stressed and seeking contentment in all the wrong places — that lifestyle seems like it was already many lifetimes ago, when really only eight years have passed.

Over the course of the years, I’ve had moments where I sense that my long-ago, seemingly impossible dreams (to live in an exotic Latin American culture, to teach yoga and meditation, to write, to create a family with a wonderful partner) have become reality.

This month, I’ll be collaborating with some fabulous friends to give a weekend retreat at La KzonA Atitlan, and I will be leading my first week-long retreat — at Villa Sumaya!

p.s. There are still spots left for both; if you are feeling inspired to join either of these learning circles, I encourage you to take the leap!

I am filled with gratitude for these opportunities to share the powerful practices of chakra yoga, yin yoga, heartfulness and creative writing!

Here’s to living the dream, day by day, moment to moment.

May you live your dream.

May you be you.

May all beings be happy!

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Lunation

Full moon intensity anxiety fulfillment
Journey coming to an end
Except there is no journey and no end

Bubble baths pampering appreciation
Playgrounds across North America
Slides swings metal plastic then and now
Leaves falling trees standing swaying
Interpreting swirls in pumpkin chai lattes
Bundling up stripping down

East west north south above below
Center of the Heart
Love.
Trust.

Easier said than done?
Easier done than not done
Nothing to do
But watch the water go by

Soul coughing memories and plans
Dharma media yoga social club
Carrying wishful books around
Not reading
Not writing
Not listening
Not speaking
Punctuating.

Learning by osmosis, by un-design, by letting go, by receptive awareness
Traveling diagonally, chasing Dylan down the sidewalk chalk
What about Bob?
What is it about?
Train cars jet engines soles of feet
Rubber soul steel mind trap
Saturn day all work and all games

Om sweet om
Namastay Na-MA-ste
India Guatemala Mexico Canada USA Colombia
Mama Africa
Gaia on the astral plane

Purple jade sore joints absorbing the pain of our brothers and sisters
Worrying
Not worrying

Choosing our own adventures
Feeling poetry rise up until sunset
Music in the ever present

Reeling in what is illusion and what is a dream and what is reality
Realizing nothing
Oppositional defiance
Order disorder
Chaos in silence

No no no
Perhaps perhaps perhaps
Oh, yes!

Happy New Day

Life is

broken down into

made up of

years months weeks days hours minutes seconds

moments

The task goal point meaning of Life is to live each one of them
fully, openly, heartily

Moments are Life
This moment is living

This moment is what it is
And it is also in movement

The movement of the moment
flowing with grace
simultaneous embrace and let-go

Accepting the innate perfection of everysinglething,
while at the same time
choosing healing
(choosing yoga, breath, meditation, meaningful work, mindful consumption,  healthy lifestyles)

Above all,
loving
and choosing love.

buddha faces

To live is to love.
To love is to live.
You live that you may learn to love.
You love that you may learn to live in the eternal.

~Sivananda

When I get that feeling, I want sexual healing!

I must admit it kind of freaks me out to have written and published this, but I’m reading two books simultaneously about the yoga of intimacy and sexuality and so I got inspired. Sex is something we are ashamed of as a society. The more that people can talk and write and read about sex and intimacy, the more we can shine light on the shadow and heal the wounds around sexuality that culture imposes.

So here it is:

My journey of sexual, spiritual healing.

(Don’t read it.)

What Yoga Isn’t.

Originally published on elephant journal.

“Yoga is the mere or sheer participation in the wonder of Life as it is already perfectly given.”
~ Mark Whitwell, Yoga of Heart

The word “yoga” has become popular, mainstream and confused.

The question for today is: are we practicing actual yoga? Or are we making our yoga yet another item on our endless task list, an appointment in our weekly agenda after which we can go back to being miserable?

Are we creating spiritual practice just to have something to do or to attain enlightenment or flat abs or the perfect life?

The teacher is within. A guru can light the path, but only the yogi can walk that path.

Every yogi has her own practice.

There are as many yogas as yogis.

Yoga isn’t asana.

Yoga isn’t meditation.

Yoga isn’t ethics and morals.

Yoga isn’t studying the Gita or the Sutras.

“You cannot do yoga. Yoga is your natural state. What you can do are yoga exercises, which may reveal to you where you are resisting your natural state.” ~ Sharon Gannon

Yoga isn’t a lifestyle; yoga is life.

Yoga is not a lineage. Yoga does not require any particular equipment, apparel or paraphernalia. Yoga is not just on the mat. Yoga is not just in a studio. Yoga is not just formal practice.

Yoga isn’t the conscious inhale and exhale.

Yoga isn’t perfect balance.

Yoga isn’t New Age relaxation.

Yoga isn’t flexibility.

Yoga isn’t mindfulness.

Yoga blesses us with well being and freedom from inflexibility, weakness and chronic imbalance. Freedom from rigid beliefs about life, God and our own bodies and abilities.

Yoga is the dance of the soul, the root of the smile, the hollow center inside the space that fills the heart.

Yoga isn’t exclusive.

Yoga isn’t expensive.

Yoga isn’t a business or a marketplace or a commercial for the happy, healthy, mindful life.

Yoga is who we are and always have been.

“Yoga must be adapted to our needs, and no standardized approach will work.” ~ Mark Whitwell

We mustn’t integrate Yoga into our lives—that would be impossible, as it is already integrated. What we can do is learn certain movements, exercises and breath techniques for our body type and personality. What we can do is meditate and cultivate mindfulness and heartfulness throughout our days and years on the planet.

Yoga is realization that we are the energy to live fully, serve others and give love, kindness and compassion to all beings, including ourselves.

We are practicing everywhere, all the time, whether we know it or not.

Yoga is union.

Union of what?

Not the little self to the Big Self. Not the ego to the divine. Those are already connected, and there is no way of separating Us versus Them or me versus God.

We are nature, and nature is us. Yoga helps us realize that.

24 Inspiring Quotes on Learning to Change Your Mindset

  1. “The primary goal of real education is not to deliver facts but to guide students to the truths that will allow them to take responsibility for their lives.” ~John Taylor Gatto, A Different Kind of Teacher: Solving the Crisis of American Schooling
  2. “Real education should educate us out of self into something far finer; into a selflessness which links us with all humanity.” ~ Nancy Astor
  3. The home-schooling movement has quietly grown to a size where one and half million young people are being educated entirely by their own parents; last month the education press reported the amazing news that, in their ability to think, children schooled at home seem to be five or even ten years ahead of their formally trained peers.” ~ John Taylor Gatto, Dumbing Us Down: The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling
  4. “Knowledge is power. Information is liberating. Education is the premise of progress, in every society, in every family. ” ~Kofi Annan
  5. “As society rapidly changes, individuals will have to be able to function comfortably in a world that is always in flux. Knowledge will continue to increase at a dizzying rate. This means that a content-based curriculum, with a set body of information to be imparted to students, is entirely inappropriate as a means of preparing children for their adult roles.” ~ John Taylor Gatto
  6. “I’ve never let my school interfere with my education.” – Mark Twain
  7. “School is about learning to wait your turn, however long it takes to come, if ever. And how to submit with a show of enthusiasm to the judgment of strangers, even if they are wrong, even if your enthusiasm is phony.” ~ John Taylor Gatto
  8. “Great education means self-education, but as some point it must also mean having a great mentor. In the history of the world, the combination of classics and mentors has been the method of obtaining all of the necessary knowledge, traits and skills.” ~Oliver Demille
  9. “A good scientist has freed himself of concepts and keeps his mind open to what is.” ~ Lao-Tzu
  10. “All problems in life-whether they are international life, in the collective life of a nation, or in the life of an individual-are the problems of education. And the problems of education are the problems of knowledge.” ~ Maharishi
  11. “Food is a perfect microcosm of learning. Anyone who does not eat well has failed in his or her own ability to systematically learn. Learning is impossible without being fed. The act of growing according to one’s genetic blueprint supersedes the act of learning. Students who are adding inches to their height are biologically different from people who are not, and the same eating schedule will not accommodate other. Every stated goal of an educational institution (or real goal of a parent) is predicated on a student’s lifelong health, which requires good food as a foundation.” ~ Clark Aldrich

These final 13 quotes come from J. Krishnamurti’s brilliant essay, Education and the Significance of Life:

  1. Conventional education makes independent thinking extremely difficult.
  2. Reaction only breeds opposition, and reform needs further reform.
  3. It is only when we face experience as it comes and do not avoid disturbance that we keep intelligence highly awakened; and intelligence highly awakened is intuition, which is the only true guide in life.
  4. As long as education does not cultivate an integrated outlook on life, it has very little significance.
  5. All of us have been trained by education and environment to seek personal gain and security, and to fight for ourselves. Though we cover it over with pleasant phrases, we have been educated for various professions within a system based on exploitation and acquisitive fear.
  6. Education is not merely a matter of training the mind.
  7. If education leads to war, if it teaches us to destroy or be destroyed, has it not utterly failed?
  8. To bring about right education, we must obviously understand the meaning of life as a whole, and for that we have to be able to think, not consistently but directly and truly.
  9. To understand life is to understand ourselves, and that is both the beginning and the end of education.
  10. The function of education is to create human beings who are integrated and, therefore, intelligent.
  11. Intelligence is the capacity to perceive the essential, the what is; and to awaken this capacity in oneself and in others, is education.
  12. What is the good of learning if in the process we are destroying ourselves?
  13. The individual is of first importance, not the system.

My Life on Paper

words

Hey, yall.

It’s Friday.

Outside, the soft breeze is blowing, and it looks like it will rain in a little while. I have been online too much today. I am working away on lots of little things. I am about to unplug and go breathe and play with my daughter and hug my husband.

But first, this post! In revising this website as I tend to do seasonally in great spurts of sudden enthusiasm, I had updated my resume/bio section to say the following:

Experiences

  • Yoga Freedom, Founder/Director (2002-present)
  • EnlightenEd, Co-creator (2014-present)
  • Villa Sumaya Retreat Center, Retreat Coordinator (2015-present)
  • Bilingual (English/Spanish) School Teacher (2006-2015)
  •  Advertising, Marketing, Copywriting (1999-2005)
  • Semester abroad at the University of London; traveled to Wales, Ireland, Spain & France (Fall 1999)
  • Lived in the San Francisco Bay area and ran Yoga Freedom, learning entrepreneurship by fire (2003-2004)
  • Completed 10-day silent Vipassana meditation course in Texas & 3-week Spanish-immersion course in Mexico (2007)
  • Solo trip to northern India for 5 weeks; completed another 10-day Vipassana course (Summer 2008)
  • Moved to Guatemala and became an expat (2009)
  • Gave birth to a daughter, Jade; traveled in the US, Mexico, Ecuador & Colombia; got married (2013)

And then I deleted it because it was on the home page. I don’t need to share all these details on the home page. I need to share them, and many more, in my memoir, which I am finally back to writing!

But I couldn’t just delete it forevermore. No, I had to cut and paste it to this little post here. (What would we ever do without cut and paste?)

This is my life on paper/on screen. It sounds good. It sounds ideal. And my life IS good and ideal for me at this moment. But it is not perfect. Perfection is an evil, nonexistent creation of the consumer monkey mind, that nagging feeling that always leaves us seeking more, unfulfilled with the tiny joys of the mundane.

How to Own Your Shadow

We all know about spiritual teachings regarding our body, mind and spirit, or soul, but many times the teachings leave out an essential fourth area of work—shadow work.

Life is duality. Yin, yang. Moon, sun. Black, white.

But, of course, life is also full of paradox. Death and life are black and white, yet simultaneously painted with infinite shades of color. We make choices every day, all the time, yet control is an illusion.

Nothing is linear or as easy as a list of ten pieces of advice.

Owning our shadow sides means being in touch with reality.

It means expanding our self-knowledge to include awareness and acceptance of our dark side, our shadow. What do we fear? What makes us rage? What are our habits and patterns? Where is our resistance?

Body work is movement, which has a thousand forms of expression from sports to yoga to hiking to massage and more.

Mind work is meditation, which is really just a fancy way of saying sitting still and witnessing the mind and its activity in a nonjudgmental way. Mind work works mostly on the levels of thought and emotion such as insight meditation or loving kindness techniques.

Spirit work is also about meditation, deeper meditation, and the incorporation of mindfulness practice into our daily lives.

So, what about the shadow? What is it and why should we care?

Shadow work is another category of mind work that is often neglected or ignored completely. It’s just as crucial as body work, mind work and spirit work. In fact, without doing shadow work, we will never get rid of our neuroses, no matter strong our “spiritual practice” may be.

Unless we start owning our shadow sides, our lives will never be completely functional.

Here’s to working with our shadow aspects, owning them and transforming them—thereby freeing up more energy to focus on the light.

How do you shine light on your shadow? What are your escapes? What are your fears? What makes you mad? What makes you feel guilty or ashamed? How can you own your shadow?

To learn more about working with your shadow side, check out our new e-booklet, Shadow Work!