When life hands you lessons, make lesson-ade.

Let me be frank: I rear-ended somebody on the freeway yesterday. The morning traffic ahead of me came to an abrupt stop and I didn’t brake in time, so I swerved to avoid a full-on collision. Nobody was hurt. I put a big dent in the bumper of the Civic in front of me, but the front corner of my own Civic looks like someone stuffed it into a Vitamix.

I had just left Los Angeles, on my way back east with most of my belongings obsessively organized in bags and boxes in the backseat and trunk. Roadtrip: Canceled.

The woman in the car in front of me was very collected. Myself? Total mess. Sobbing, basically. In shock, feeling like I’d just fucked up big time, like the Universe had just bent me over its knee and given me a firm spanking.

In reality, it was just an accident, and it could have been much worse. I only have a $500 deductible, my insurance rate might increase, and I have to wait two to three weeks for my car to be restored to factory condition. The lady I hit gave me a hug and wished me a good trip, and the police officer was kind and making jokes.

Life loves an obstacle. There you are, cruising along in the morning sun, when something between the forces within you and outside of you collide and make thunder and play crack the sky.

Several people have suggested that “there’s a bigger reason.” I’m all for divine providence and grace, but couldn’t She just write the message down on some nice stationery and send it via post?

Maybe you’ve been through this before. If it wasn’t a car accident, it was saying something you regret. Maybe you were being too clingy and the person you were seeing starts slowly cutting down on the time you spend together until it all but ends. Maybe you failed to meet a certain goal, personal or professional. Maybe you stepped in dog poo while wearing your new shoes.

Even when the world goes topsy-turvy, stay true to your center.

Whatever it was that made you shake your fist at the heavens, you’re not alone. Here’s what I suggest when we are — and will eventually be — going through what we’ve perceived as a cosmic slight on our behalves:

1. STAY FOCUSED

Yeah, this is the hardest part. Our tendency is to get down on ourselves, mope, play the victim, and let everything else happening in our lives to come to a standstill while we spend too much time focusing on what happened. Take a minute to cry, to talk to your loved ones for support, even to stomp and pout. But no more than a minute.

When I got into the accident, I screamed twenty-seven obscenities in three different languages. Then I took a breath and ran to make sure the driver in front of me was ok. Then I went back to my car and cried. Then I called my friend, AAA, my insurance company, and my roommates.

When I got finally got back to my place in LA, I took a nap. Then I took a walk. Then I took myself to an amazing solo dinner at Pura Vita (vegan Italian cuisine – blog coming soon). I almost died at 8AM but by 6PM I was making the conscious decision to keep moving forward, away from the energy and drama of the morning.

Here I am the day after, writing about my experience. I’ll do an hour of yoga after this and practice my harmonium after that. I have a lot happening in my life beyond the incident that I can’t afford to let fall by the wayside. No domino effect. Staying focused means compartmentalizing your responsibilities and leaving your baggage at the door.

2. BE GENTLE

If you’re like me, you’ve got a few voices in your mind with a few opinions about how, what, and who you are. We all do the work to quiet them down, but when we’ve gone through something that throws us temporarily off the path we thought we were supposed to be on, those voices tend to get a little louder and we, in our compromised state of mind, are way too open to their feedback.

I’m the first one to admit that I was at fault. I fucked up and I’m going to pay for it. But that’s it. I’ve taken responsibility for my actions and their consequences, but I’m not going to succumb to negative self-talk. I’m not going to punish myself. I might have to postpone my trip to Paris, but I don’t have to flagellate myself for my mistakes, or take this incident and use it to magnify the other areas in my life where I may perceive myself to be lacking. Own the mistakes or lacks, embrace them, learn from them, and be gentle with your body and mind as you recover and reorganize.

3. BE ACTIVE

Seriously that line from Legally Blonde is the best: “Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people don’t kill their husbands. They just don’t.”

Take a walk. Hit the gym. Get to yoga – especially if you’ll be in Provincetown this summer where I’ll be teaching ;).

As your brain and body readjust to a new situation, they’ll be relying on chemical indicators of mood in your bloodstream and nervous system. Don’t overdo it with the wine, weed, or what-have-you. Your system needs fresh air, sunlight, movement, and to sweat out all the toxins it released in your moment of regret/fear/anger/etc.

And you’re better off mulling over your situation in a fitness class than in your bed with the curtains drawn. Choose an environment that supports your recovery.

4. CONNECT TO OTHERS

It’s very helpful to glean insight and support from the people in your life, just don’t burden them with your burdens. Don’t play the role of the victim. Don’t be a drama queen. Let your friends and family know what you’re going through and accept what they are able to offer you — without having any expectations. You never know what someone else might also be going through, so while you speak, also listen.

We are all each others’ mirror walking each other home on the same boat — or whatever metaphor you care to use. Be just as caring and careful with others as you are with yourself. That’s the Golden Rule.

So there it is. Life can be sour as a lemon, but you can add sugar and sparkle to it for your own delicious limonata.

CROW

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The original name for Crow is Patient Crane – Baka Dhyanasana – a pose which strengthens confidence and heightens internal awareness. It is a grounding posture that requires balance of body and steadiness of mind.

In a state of concentration (dhyana) we reveal a courage within that empowers us to fly. It is the natural courage of all things to live purely, wholly, and freely. Doubt will bring us down, faith will lift us higher.

Believe in yourself. Om.

Is Kundalini Yoga a cult?… Isn’t everything?

I’ve been taking kundalini yoga classes in Los Angeles and I have some things to say. 

Kundalini yoga is an excellent opportunity to discover new forms of movement and meditation that help to release blocks within our individual and collective energy systems. It is a synthesis of mind and body control, aided by the practice of chanting as well as the setting of clear intentions that open one up to his or her highest potential. 

In the month that I’ve been going to Nine Treasures Yoga, I’ve gained greater clarity of mind and body, and my physical appetites have been happily transmuted into a desire to accomplish things that I had let fall by the wayside for lack of energy or inspiration. 

Some have asked me if Kundalini Yoga is a cult and whether or not it’s actually devil worship in disguise. Withholding my signature eye-roll, I’ve happily offered some response. 

Anything has the potential to become cult-like, at least at first glance to outsiders. I felt the same way about Cross Fit, and still do. Whenever a group of like-minded individuals come together to participate in a set of practices and beliefs, it becomes a cult-ure. Cult, of course, is an unfriendly shortening of the word culture. Most people think of the many groups from the last half of the 20th century who committed suicide en masse or locked themselves in communities far away from the public’s prying eyes. And yes, I think such groups deserve a hard looking-at by the rest of society. Look at Michael Jackson’s estate and the hush culture of Hollywood pedophilia. Or the world of fashion. Or the Oscars. Making no judgements, I simply suggest that we look at distinct groups of people who come together for various reasons, nefarious or benevolent. 

However, I believe the difference between a cult and a culture comes down to the value of what it brings to those people and the world at large. Any sect of yoga practitioners appears cult-like to any other sect of Christian parishioners. The point of yoga is to help people release themselves from the bonds they’ve absorbed or created in their own minds and bodies so that our very inherent, divine nature might shed some ecstatic light on an otherwise weary world. Christians themselves, though many seem to have forgotten, are tasked with one rule above all others: Love thy neighbor as thyself. The various differences within the religious communities are imaginary. 

Barry’s Bootcamp is a cult-ure. Oprah is a cult-ure. The United States government is a cult-ure. 

I was recently pointed to a revealing article and series of videos about Yogi Bhajan, the founder of Kundalini Yoga. One of the videos was even titled “The Wacko World of Yogi Bhajan” and its purpose was to reveal the very flawed, human nature of a man who christened himself with sainthood and fabricated an origin story for what would become the school of Kundalini Yoga. 

I wasn’t really surprised at these findings. It’s common in every aspect of human activity to find corruption and deceit. AC Bhaktivedanta of the Hare Krishna sect as well as Bikram and other gurus have all been documented as having relented to their human desires. Look at the mass defrocking of Catholic priests and cardinals for their own indiscretions. Look at the current president of the United States and the plethora of information available about his own seedy past. 

I don’t believe in the infallibility of gurus or leaders. In fact, I believe that the potential for failure was built into the very design of the universe. In Christian terms, Lucifer is yet an angel of God, despite his rebellion and fall. The Devil himself has the potential to reaffirm his own divinity yet refuses to acquiesce to any power greater than his own. Of course, this is the historical parallel to the battle between the ego and the mind. 

Cults are based around egos; giant, powerful, charismatic personalities that naturally attract followers in a world where too many people sense themselves to directionless, unloved, and disconnected. I point you to the worlds of televangelism, Scientology, R. Kelly, and more. 

The power of yoga, when it is unadulterated by the trappings of a guru’s ego, is irrefutably immense. Equally, the power of men and women to love in the spirit of Christ has made such a mark on the world these past two millennia that we are convinced of its place as the highest of truths. However, I do not believe that Christ and the yogis held differing views on the world and on our participation within it. 

What I do believe is that such power in the hands of men is unwieldy and dangerous. So I offer a word of caution against spiritual leaders of all faiths, fitness gurus, fashion gods, Hollywood elite, or otherwise. Our highest truth is to be found within ourselves, beyond the dark narratives we have been conditioned and continue to condition ourselves to believe, as well as beyond any teachings that come from the mouth of anyone claiming to know what truth is. 

At Nine Treasures Yoga, we practice what was taught by Yogi Bhajan to his students. Whether or not he was taught kundalini yoga by someone who preceded him is still up for debate. However, the practices speak for themselves on a personal level, and we are welcome to throw out the bath water while gently holding on to the baby of our own souls, whom we have cleansed of the impurities within our own minds and hearts. You don’t have to wear a white turban and learn Punjabi. You can simply apply the practices to your own energy system and observe what results. The very same could be said for Catholics, Hindus, Muslims, bootcamp fanatics, Vogue divas, and anyone else who chooses freely to subscribe to a certain culture. 

Maintain your sense of self no matter where you are or what you are doing and you will remain free. Just don’t drink the Kool-Aid. 

SCORPION

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Scorpion Pose – Vrischikasana – awakens the Ajna Chakra, or third-eye.

Ajna means “command” and it is the point through which in a meditative state the practitioner receives commands or guidance from the Guru, the higher self. It is the bridge or doorway between the mental and psychic dimensions.

When Ajna is awakened, the mind becomes steady and strong, qualities which this asana requires on the physical level.

Open your mind and allow strength to flow through you.

Om.

INNER LIGHT


Even in your planning and doing, even in your projects and tasks, you do the work within you – it doesn’t happen outside yourself. Where is your mind? Is it in the gifted present? Or is it off chasing scenarios like the pointless catching of butterflies? Focus your mind on the soft beat of breath, and beneath its rise and fall listen for what’s next. Your highest bliss is seeking you – once you realize it comes from inside you, you will then project only its glory onto the world, absolving all shadows in its glad light.

Manifest fearless joy in your mind and you will see only that reflected in your experiences. The sun will break through the twilight of the forest and illuminate the path ahead.

Om. 

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#acourseinmiracles#lightworker #transformationalcoach