2018 In retrospect, Part 2

Continued from Part 1326e9f23-fe36-4dd7-baf6-ee8464d105ef
San Francisco
The next five months would be a deep plunge into relationship, love, growth, travel, and learning to live with a partner in a new city. I have actively avoided California my whole life. Something about the big energy, the cost, the startups, and the endless activity always put me off. Now I landed right in the middle of it all. The Presido home we began our life in was beyond a dream for SF. A three bedroom Victorian with a garden in the back yard and nature walks around the corner would be our love nest for two and a half months. I was assured that I was being spoiled rotten with this much empty space, but it really provided us a nest in which to explore our new relationship, love, and living together. This house had been a long time coming manifestation for Ayna, and I was super grateful for this gift.

Long talks on the couch, cooking in our large kitchen, slow showers, meditation, walks, massage, pre-sleep naps, and falling asleep every night curled up in the safety of each others embrace were our daily norm. It was wild and unconventional to meet someone and jump into living full on with them. We managed extremely well for our level of intensity and deep inner work happening. Communication was extremely important and necessary to manage our triggers. Ultimately we were preparing for the next step which came in September with The Path Of Love.

Ayna would be participating for the first time in this full on, one week deep exploration into who you are and what stands in the way of your freedom. It would be my second time participating, but my 6th for staffing. We would both be working on ourselves for a week, not communicating with each other, except for longing eye contact, and hoping to find more freedom and come closer together in our relating.

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I ended up working on stepping into my Man. To put down my child as the leader of my life experience and find the Man who has been there, but holding back on stepping forward. Everyone in my group was able to easily see both aspects living side by side where I could not. I had a lot of trouble allowing everyone to help me; always wanting to do it all on my own. That became a big key for trust during the week and the support was beautiful.

We followed the rules pretty well, but enjoyed some conversation sneakily during meals, and once we both soaked in the hot tub after a long day. Once reunited, we had a lot to talk about, but also a lot of issues melted after that week. Taking responsibility is a key factor and when the other stops being the issue, you can take responsibility for how you feel. Our relating deepened and our work continued to grow. I would soon be reflected with some issues I had never investigated, but I think everyone faces in relationship.

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What does it mean to give a partner space? Some issue has come up and there is tension in the air. My normal response would be to check in, to comfort, connect, and communicate until the issue is resolved. Sometimes the other wants to chew on it, take time, and even withdraw a bit to accomplish the inner work and that can be triggering to someone who wants to resolve it now or fix it. I need positive reinforcement feedback. If I try to connect and feel the other doesn’t perk up and pay attention, then well, you must hate me and I’ve done something terrible. Obviously the truth is that your partners withdrawal has nothing to do with you and this is the insecure voice telling you that you are the reason your partner is withdrawn. Like many others I learned, to give space when the other isn’t ready to open up, is to physically give space by leaving the area and tiptoe around till they feel better. However this type of action can be seen as pulling back, withholding love, or changing who you are for the other because you yourself have an insecurity about how your partner handles their inner work and issues.

It’s part unconscious, but this pattern was pointed out easily with a simple question. If you were dealing with something internal, how would you want me, your partner, to treat you? This question produced an immediate and simple answer. To treat me the same as always and just love me through it despite your own insecurities in the moment. This transformed me into being more present to my own insecure issues of needing security from my partner when they are actually processing something and just showing up with love until they are ready to share.

Life went on in our magical SF world, but our love nest came to an end. We moved houses to cat sit for a lovely fur ball who can see ghosts, named pichi (peachy). We had some more difficulties in this new space as it wasn’t our love nest, but someone else’s home. Never underestimate the power your energy has on a space. We did our best and loved our little fur child very much, but we struggled as I continued to be lost in my purpose. I worked each day on the computer for my fathers company which continued to drain me, fighting every moment with my inner calling and my familial duties. I managed a walk to see the bay on most days and that was a welcome respite. I felt the pull to get out of the USA and start my normal travels. The energy was building.

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When our cat sitting was finished we took two weeks off to travel the pacific northwest on a kind of scenic vegan food tour. Mount Shasta was the first stop with some hiking, yummy food, fantastic energy, and a special sound healing with my friend Jamie Lu. Shasta was a beautiful first step and the energy there felt like home. I could have stayed much longer with our adorable BnB hosts. Portland came next and while we struggled a bit with our cold and damp accommodations, we enjoyed the city. We totally over ate, sometimes fitting in extra meals just to try out special places. Our favorite though was Common Ground. A communal bathhouse were we got to soak away our troubles under the blue skies with naked people all around. We even went twice as Ayna and I love to soak, and is a passion I’m glad we both share.

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We perused Powell’s books and visited the rose garden, but it was the food that made the city for us. Vegan heaven as Ayna said. Specialty vegan cheese shops and breakfast biscuits were our special delights. Plus we found an amazing chai made with oat milk that satisfied my Indian taste buds and turned me on to oat milk.

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Seattle by way of Bainbridge island was the next destination. We toured the Grand Forest with its magical green moss, and walked the labyrinth. Crossing back on the ferry we headed over to have a special chefs tasting at Harvest Beet. There was too much food, but also everything was pretty amazing. This was our celebration for Thanksgiving which would be the following day. Now since we weren’t especially celebrating this holiday, we didn’t think the whole city would be shut down. After our vegan extravaganza, we were so disappointed in the offerings on hand and even whole foods wasn’t very vegan friendly for holiday foods. This stirred in me so many old memories and longings from Thanksgivings past that I was in a melancholy mood most of the day missing my dad. It also happened to be his birthday.

We were supposed to have been celebrating in Japan for his special 70th birthday. I was going to deliver his surprise gift of the book I wrote him and I had some expectations that it was going to be a good experience. Instead I had a scotch to toast his memory and read to Ayna the first chapter of the book. It was rainy outside and we at least managed to find some pretty good ramen for dinner. It was a sad holiday in many ways, as I was really missing family and the big jovial party that Thanksgiving can be. It was because of this however that I decided that Christmas would be fully celebrated.

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We stopped to visit my good friend Kimberli in Bellingham on the way to Vancouver. Catching up after some years over many cups of tea. Ayna’s old childhood friend also was able to join us from Seattle and the four of us spent hours reconnecting. Crossing the border was actually pretty simple and we were grateful. Our digs in Vancouver were as awesome as seen in the photographs. This city would prove to be an amazing place, even with the rain, and a food city worth many more tastings. We had so many friends in the city we didn’t even realize and manged a few dinners together. This city is certainly on the map for possible living places.

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I had a breakdown however. In my continued work on boundaries and feeling too much, something overwhelmed me. I felt drained and lost and ready to just hand myself over to God and die. Its a state of being that I am not well accustomed to nor like particularly. My mind frantically searching for the answer because I cannot understand strong emotion like this. Its so foreign to me, to be completely sucked into helplessness. I was trying everything to fix myself, I called in others to support me, and I tried to lean heavily on Ayna which would cause its own difficulties. I spent a whole day lost in bed, feeling miserable for myself, feeling like my world was going to end. Samantha helped me get back on my feet in the end. Ayna and I had a deep and strong conversation that also helped move some energy. When I woke the next day, I was again moving in a better direction, but once again realizing that the transformation process can be difficult. (In March 2019 I undergo a workshop and discover whats at the heart of this breakdown which is applicable to everyone and will cover in detail later)

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Mossbrae Falls, on our visit to Mt. Shasta

I lose myself in my partners. Its part of my psychological conditioning. My core issue is that I lose a sense of my Self and then fill it with the strongest person around. That was my father, and now its my partner. This creates a problem immediately depending on how much power I am giving away. Ayna, and all women I suspect, want a partner that is strong and secure in themselves. When I lose my sense of self, if I try to latch onto my partner and find my definition there, she feels this power suck and its terribly icky for her. Making your partner the source of your self love and solid ground doesn’t work well practically or energetically. Coming back to myself which is the correct response for my own conditioning, is to recover my lost power and reform my sense of identity. I am here with myself, now and always. This is the spiritual lesson for me personally. It also gives me a sense of being here and then able to be present for my partner. I believe this was a major component to our difficulties during the last months as my internal identity was in crisis having lost my father, who was my core person to whom I always returned to find my stability and identity. Transformation can be rough, but through those hard days, I was able to quickly and effectively build a stronger sense of my own adult self and step forward as my own person.

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The view from Ayna’s birthday cabin

We headed all the way down to Cannon Beach where I had located the most special cabin, overlooking the ocean, with a wood burning fireplace. This magical cabin would be the site for Ayna’s 33rd birthday. Having mostly recovered my energy and mood, we were able to really enjoy the atmosphere of crashing waves, star lit nights, and once I managed to get the fire going, with some creative ways to light wood, we snuggled into the peace of home. We fluctuate often when there is resistance moving inside us. One moment all is perfectly well, another its all crashing down. To enjoy when you can enjoy and to learn how to enjoy all the rest when its difficult is one of the best keys to life I know. Our troubles weren’t over, but we were able to enjoy a lot. After waking beautifully, we went back to Portland for a very special day of soaking at common ground, enjoying lunch and tea and a friend of mine, and then the highlight was the 14 person, seven course tasting menu at Farm Spirit. Of all the good food we had, this one was the most inspiring, the most creative, and the most technical. It was like going to a top New York restaurant and being bewildered at how they created such flavors and textures. Here however, they answered every question I had, and more often than not, the answer was very simple. Simple good food, sourced from within 100 miles of the restaurant. The flavors shown through, because they were mostly just the vegetables themselves, turned with expert skill into a variety of textures and dishes.

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Sad to leave our most recent love nest, the journey continued down beautiful highway 101, through majestically rich redwoods, and along breathtaking coastal views. We were heading to Stanford Inn, the famous vegan inn in Mendocino. The digs were beautiful with fire places in each room, along with Christmas trees filling the main welcome and sitting room. The pool area was a bit dated, but still charming in a way. Truly looking forward to a wonderful meal at their restaurant, we were highly disappointed. The staff seemed to be made of under trained high school staff, and the food was lacking flavor, complexity, and plating. Its like they had an off day or something we thought. When this was repeated at breakfast, and high tea, we figured out that the world had stepped up its game for vegans and Stanford Inn was left sadly far far behind.

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Exploring the little town of Mendocino was quaint. We strolled along the coast and got promptly rained on, but a few rainbows graced our skies after. Shopping in small town shops and art galleries, we spent the rest of our day meandering the streets and thinking about living the slow coastal life. We located two vegan options for dinner and our choice turned out to be fantastic. Our trip almost complete, there was some tension in the air, things still not settled and both of us feeling it. Frustrated that our fancy inn was not the highlight we hoped to finish our trip, we both left unfinished.

We cruised easily into SF and into our new apartment. It was mostly as advertised and the energy good. With a quick trip to pick up our home stuff, I managed to load the car quickly, to the brim, and deposit it into our new digs. Moving is my specialty and Ayna is always thankful and surprised that I do wonders and work miracles she cant comprehend. I wanted to get settled and the kitchen back in place immediately. This went well and she took care of the bedroom. We were able after two hours to settle into the couch, that would be our final home in SF.

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I got my second handpan!

Just a few days later I flew to Kansas City to arrange some final things of my fathers. Mostly storage items that needed decisions on. I enjoyed very much to go through his things, finding some clothes that actually fit me, and a few pairs of nice shoes. Spending time with my aunt, we played backgammon and talked for hours about life. Her home is always welcoming to me, and her new basement was just the space I needed to settle down and recover myself. She also had just the perfect amount of Christmas decorations around the house and it was just what I needed to sink into December.

Returning to SF I knew I was going to have to make a choice. I was feeling that something was not quite right between Ayna and I. That some differences had been brewing under the surface and they were about to come out. On the long taxi ride home, I decided to center myself and just be present. I decided that no matter what I was just going to continue loving Ayna. Coming home, I was greeted with a long hug and piercing eyes. She went back to work after our greeting and I got cleaned up and unpacked. I made some dinner and she finally took my hand and led me to the couch. She had discovered what she finally needed.

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Ready to travel the world, backpack style!

She decided she truly needed to explore her freedom and aloneness. The original issue we faced had not been silenced, in fact it needed more expression. Our relationship ended on that couch, but our love remained. Our chemistry showed up almost immediately and strongly. It was a surprise to us both. We continued on almost as we had before the conversation; a very loving and peaceful life together. There was more romantic loving expression actually because we had broken up. Freedom is everyone’s right and the highest quality and value. If we don’t feel free inside, then this must be remedied. For Ayna it seemed she needed to feel her freedom which was already present from my perspective. She also wanted to make sure I wasn’t confused and that we were indeed broken up. I agreed with her, and I understood. Yes some part of me could see where we would just continue to travel the world together and love each other, but not be in a relationship. To me this seems as natural as anything else. For her, this was totally new territory and it was important to her. We continued through the month of December like this. Doing more for ourselves than we had previously. Freedom seemed to spill into all the areas of our life that had been stuck. We drove to Salt Lake City to enjoy Christmas with our families. Knowing that explaining our situation would be strangely difficult. I guess we were just very loving friends now.

I would visit her whole family upon arriving and be warmly welcomed. Food and family galore, I was just trying to put names to faces that I had heard about. I ended up playing music and doing some healing. It was kind of like being a celebrity. So in this way I met and greeted her whole family. The interesting guy that had been in Ayna’s life had finally been explained; mostly. I left and picked up Sam from the airport and we journeyed up to the cabin. Full on snowy winter greeted us, but so did a warm home and family time.

Perhaps its uniquely western the psychological depths in which Christmas touches. For me it isn’t about religion, or the commercialization and gift giving. Its a time to be cozy, surrounded by family and loved ones, a time to eat and converse and feel the warmth of human connection in the depths of winter. Yes the decorations of Christmas and the music also touch a place that has been conditioned to feel these things, but it only helps open this space of connection. I am very grateful that the cabin is a meeting place of so many people. Neighbors, friends, and family alike all gather here, to eat, drink, and be merry. As is tradition, we all read Tortens Christmas story, complete with voice acting and sound effects from everyone present to tell the story, a ritual to honor the season and bring us all together.

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Ayna and I had fun in the cabin and exploring the snow. She avoids deep winter like I avoid summer, but a few days here and there are good for everyone. We had a lot of strange expressions when we explained how our relationship had turned into just a loving relating, and that we were still traveling together over the next year. She left a few days early to head back to SF and meet her son for Christmas time there and I continued on wrapping up a few big items. On my way out of town, I left my two precious handpans in the care of a beautiful musician who would put them to loving use in the community. Then, right before heading to the airport, I dropped into the Honda dealership and sold my car. What a strange experience. The vehicle that has gone on so many adventures with me, with the simple signing of one piece of paper, handing over the keys, and walking out the door, was finished. Easier than picking up a rental car. Unfortunately that person who backed into me in Colorado ended up costing me another thousand dollars because it lessens the value when listing it online. I wouldn’t have been able to argue anyway as I was getting on a plane and that would be that. The car served me well for three years and even with the depreciation it really only cost me about seven thousand dollars. Not a bad deal. Thanks for always promoting getting a new car dad.

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We went to the Museum of Ice Cream

I returned to SF and would spend the next few days with Ayna and Roshan. We ate and played board games and saw a bit of the city. As quick as it came, our time in SF would finish. With a snafu of our storage unit right at the last minute (they closed early for New Years and we missed it by 20 minutes) we scrambled and found a wonderful solution. It is always so nice to be taken care of by the universe. To just breathe and know that everything will always work out. Sometimes you need to use your mind to figure out the solutions and other times the solutions will present themselves to you. Ayna called a friend and suddenly a huge garage space was opened to us. A rare thing in SF, so all the more a miracle. Its nice to have that little reminder right before you board a plane to India.

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Goodbye San Francisco, India here we come

So still a little in shock and awe, tried from packing and moving everything, we settled into the airport. Barely any time to let the realization sink in that we were headed to India. We both had just quit our jobs, we were going to staff Path Of Love in ten days time and this would be the moment our lives changed from living in the daily go to work culture, and a year of travel and exploration would begin. All our dreams of travel, the shift in energy that always comes with change, and the unknown mysteries of the path would unfold before us with a simple one foot in front of the other attitude. We got onto the plane that would take us to the next step. Ill tell you now, Its all just been a preparation for the next step.

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Lots more to come…

2018 In Retrospect, Part 1

Its been a long while since I last posted, and the stories below will attempt to explain the last year and the events that helped pull me away from the internet and go deeply within. I am thankful to be able to share all that has happened and hope that it contains some wisdom for all.
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2018 wrapped up and has undoubtedly been the biggest, most surprising, and difficult year of my life. I have not woken up on so many consecutive days with an anxious knot in my guts asking me to investigate deep inner truths. Unbearable emotions come wafting through the side door. I lost all my grounding, and was as vulnerable and wide open as one can be. Inner child trying to run my adult life, grief spilling forth into minor and major meltdowns, stuck in a  job that sucked my soul through a keyboard, and the largest sense of not knowing what to do with my life. I then threw a deeply committed new love relationship on top of that just to make sure I was well covered on inner work.
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I want to highlight some wonderful things I did, before I get into the heavy stuff. I learned how to paraglide and now have my license. My father had his pilots license and flew planes. My personal aircraft is just a lot smaller and cheaper, but perhaps even more fun. I also managed to make it to Harry Potter world for my 33rd birthday. I absolutely love the magic of the Harry Potter universe and for that it really touched my soul. Too bad it never feels like winter in Florida, which I always associate with Harry Potter, or that would have been extra magical. I traveled through India, Canada, Cuba, Ireland, and Scotland. I moved to San Francisco for half a year and checked out the pacific northwest on a long road trip. Everything was extremely beautiful, if not rather expensive, and I made some wonderful new friends along the way.
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My 2018 started out in India as usual, flying into Pune on new years eve, after missing a flight to Hong Kong. The celebration was extravagant as usual, but having just arrived, I didn’t feel quite settled and ready to party at that level. I was in India again to staff Path of Love and continue to work on myself. I arrived this year leaving behind my girlfriend in Canada where she continued her winter work. Pune is usually the place to find a girlfriend, but this year I tried out the reverse, my heart longing to be back with her while exploring my spiritual freedom. Path of Love was incredibly powerful and I learned many new things from watching the facilitators work. Enjoying time with my family and making some new friends as well. I would cut my normal travels short after six weeks to return to her and for a big surprise change in my life.
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I traveled to Goa India for a second try this year. Last time I went three years ago it was an energetic disaster and I struggled so much being in the party atmosphere. However this time I managed to stay inland with a good friend, rent a scooter to commute, and this combination worked wonders. I was able to visit the beach and enjoy for a few hours then escape back to my quiet abode to sleep soundly. I was able to connect with all the Path of Love staff and continue to grow in the work and friendships. I found a nice rhythm to this beach life and came to enjoy it. My next stop would normally have been Rishikesh to sit by the Ganga and meditate, but I returned to Canada to visit my girlfriend.
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Something was not right from the very beginning. We had been conversing very well on the phone and all seemed well, but when I arrived I could sense something deep was off. Over the course of the next rough week, many conversations would be had, and many tears shed. For whatever reasons, I may never really know, she closed off and walled up her inner world to me. My belief is that suddenly the intimacy and reality of a relationship got very real and scary. That to change and grow at this level became too much and she wasn’t ready.
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On my first visit to Cuba

I felt it coming. That familiar experience when my intuition starts telling me that someone is going to leave. I could have just kept quiet and let it be, but I decided to be vulnerable. I decided to share everything like it would be the last time I would ever see her. I didn’t want to leave with anything unsaid. I didn’t want to look back later with regret that I didn’t try everything. I wanted to know that I did everything possible to stay open and connect. It was a deeply humbling experience to share myself that way. To share all my fears, including that I felt she wanted to leave. She wasn’t able to open with me while I shared, but I continued to just share myself, not needing anything from her; this was for me.

When I left, I was a bit lost and sullen. I didn’t know where I was standing in my life with her. She needed some space, which I offered, just that she keep me informed if she was going to disappear from communication for a while. I had planned to be in Canada for much longer than a week, but it didn’t work out. So in my suddenly free schedule, I went for a trip down to Santa Fe to visit my good friends and therapist’s Nirodha and Mushkan.

 

Upon hearing my story, three books where plopped in my lap, and the greatest understanding of my life, about relationships, was handed to me on a silver platter. Its called attachment style and very simply put you are either Secure, Anxious, or Avoidant. In my own words, the question is this: When intimacy gets real, and the fear comes, what is your tendency to do? Anxious people like me feel their love is at risk and move towards the other person. In extreme cases this is the classic needy person. Avoidant people feel they are being consumed and need to take space to feel safe and feel themselves again. They disappear for a while, physically or from communication until they feel safe again to connect. Secure people are able to be with their fears and aren’t bothered much about it. Everyone thankfully is heading toward secure.

 

The problem comes when an anxious and avoidant person get together. They create a vicious cycle of triggers. The anxious person needs the other to confirm their love and support, and this causes the avoidant to run away, which only worsens the cycle. Even when the avoidant comes back after the natural time, the anxious person may then crave them so much that the cycle starts again rather than becoming secure, and the trigger cycle begins again.
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Traveled to NYC and got a Cronut, Chef Ansel even opened the door for me!

There is much advice in the books about effective strategies to work with a cycle like this, but the authors were all very clear; if you aren’t already committed to a relationship like this, NEVER date an avoidant person if you are an anxious type. Find a secure person instead, because they will be able to offer security when your insecurity gets triggered. This seems to have been the exact dynamic I was in with my girlfriend and seeing it clearly at this moment changed my life forever.
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Ten thousand waves spa, with an amazing soaking tub

After a few days of play in Santa Fe, including visiting Meow Wolf, and Ten Thousand Waves Japanese spa, I went to Florida to visit my dad as per usual when I don’t know what else to do. Florida is not really my cup of cultural tea, but it was winter so the weather was still enjoyable for me. My dad had moved into the home of his lifelong best friends and so would I. I would pick up the habit of having drinks again, since this happy group likes to eat and drink and converse. I would also get to check off a bucket list item and see a rocket launch into space. In fact I got to see three, but the one at night was beyond beautiful.
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That’s a Space X Falcon 9 rocket launching into space with the full moon

As I arrived, my father was experiencing some pretty bad back pain from a few days prior which was now causing him to stay in bed. We went to the chiropractor as he had been doing, but it was getting worse. I was driving him every day it seemed to a doctor or appointment to find out what was going on. I gave my dad his first taste of my massage skills since I became a licensed therapist, but it wasn’t helping either. Eventually we found the right doctor, but with the wrong outcome. His throat cancer which had been successfully overcome had spread to his spine. He had been having his blood checked and scans taken every two weeks and it was completely missed by everyone. This is also why it took us so long to find it as well, because we thought it was being managed.

 

The next two and a half months were incredibly difficult, but also beautiful in a way I had never experienced. I became my fathers full time caretaker, a role I didn’t know I could do so well. I learned what many parents probably already know, how to put someone else’s life before your own. I would end up having some time alone to myself each day, mostly at night, going for endless walks around the apartment complex. I am so thankful for those last months with my dad. We got to bond in an even more special way, and had many conversations while he was still present. Of course talk about relationships was a highlight. In the end my girlfriend decided to ghost me, a modern term for when someone just disappears from all forms of communication, effectively becoming a ghost. Some of my last conversations with my dad were advice about finding a loving partner that is able to form a lasting relationship.
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Harry potter for my birthday, my few days off from caring for my father

After a month of waiting and trying to reach her, I gave up and wrote an email ending whatever we had left. I wanted that closure, just a simple conversation would do, but I felt I had the answer already with understanding attachment styles and the rest was just a painful human experience. I would have loved to have shown my father that I finally found a loving partner that could embrace life with me. Having had three marriages himself, it seems to be a shared topic of how to embrace love and what makes a relationship work. Of all his advice, to find someone who adores you, seemed to be the most truthful and to the point.
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The transition of my father was really the turning point in my year, and life. The end of childhood finally set in. I never realized how much support I took for granted until it was no longer there. It was more than the constant knowing that someone had my back in every way. Energetically I used my fathers base of support to go out into the world while feeling totally free. Without my beloved father there to always turn too, I now have to learn how to create that support for myself.

 

This inner revolution is about consciously stepping away from my inner child and into my true adult. Giving up ones childhood is never done by choice. Either through initiation or by life circumstance do we finally come face to face with what makes us adults: knowing that we are going to die. As Stephen Jenkinson writes beautifully in Die Wise, it is in learning to live with the knowing you are going to die, that gives meaning to living and loving yourself and others. I came face to face with this lesson while helping my father pass through death’s door. I have always been safe and secure in my personal knowing that death is just the next step, but having it open me so profoundly into learning to love myself was a surprise. From death came life and love and I have been learning how to build a container for both. When my child was supported by my father, I could breeze through life without needing this skill set. Now I need to own my inner power by giving my playful child some adult boundaries. It has been the greatest challenge of my life so far. Nothing really prepared me for this, but I have been learning well as they say.
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Relationships became a focus topic for the year. As I learned to live without the longest and most important relationship in my life, I began a new romantic one. The passing of my father coincided with the ending of one romantic relationship, but also opened the door for Ayna to enter my life. As I needed a break from the death studies, I went to Utah two months later to learn to fly a paraglider. At a chance meeting in ecstatic dance, a beautiful Turkmen woman walked in that I had never seen before. I heard a voice in my head say something I had never heard before: “You are going to marry that woman”. Striking me immediately as someone I felt a strong connection with, as if I had known her all my life, I tried to get closer. My invitations to dance were kindly turned down and so I resolved to approach her after so we could speak. Crossing paths in the shoe room, my hello was met with more shock and avoidance than expected. I could have left then missing my chance, but decided to approach her again and properly say hello. Within five minutes not only had I spoken about Path of Love and Fasting for two weeks, but we had a tea date for a few days later.
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The view on my NYC visit to recover myself after my fathers passing with my friend Robin

In the three hours that vanished in conversation, we poured all our stories and hearts onto the table it seemed. I know neither of us intended to do this, but as the words flowed, and as our hearts connected, we both found the mutual recognition and what we had been looking for in a partner. Communication, the desire to work on oneself and continuously grow, and really wanting to know ones self and share that with another were all apparent. She had just left a partner of three years, and I had just left mine. It was a surprise for us both to even be entertaining the idea of a relationship. Tea turned into a sunny hike a few days later. Stopping to refresh alongside a stream, we broached the subject of a relationship. What unfolded was a solid YES, and a beautiful path for connection opened my heart fully toward Ayna and she I. This entailed me moving to San Francisco to jump full on into the most important and engaging relationship of my life.

 

Before we could connect any further, my travels would take me to a weekend workshop in Colorado, to learn about my inner child and what struggles he faces as I begin for the first time to let my adult run my life. My father held such a place of support that I never truly needed to grow up all the way. I could let him cover my back while I traveled the world freely and easily, knowing I would always be supported if I failed. It became time to own that power for myself and as such, my quest to become a Man began.
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The clarity that arose out of this process made it clear that I should visit Ayna in Oakland for a few days before heading to Ireland. It was excitingly wild to honor my feelings rather than follow my linear thinking and continue straight to Ireland. We shared a beautiful three days together, connecting and reaffirming our feelings. To be so spontaneous was new territory for me and asserting what I wanted felt good. We ate and explored and blossomed in our new love for each other.

 

Shane-man, as my father called my best friend, met me in Ireland in the midst of a big football game. We both had never seen this part of the world and had some exciting plans up our sleeves. Dublin, being our first stop together since traveling Iceland a few years ago, was an easy entry back into backpacking. We grew tired quickly of this busy city, but enjoyed the fun atmosphere and of course the Guinness brewery tour. Belfast was more our cup of tea, making some interesting friends for the night and enjoying a full night on the town; drinks, stories, pizza, and much tipsy sauntering through the streets.
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Every so often you get one of those perfect days where everything aligns and you feel taken care of by existence; this was our trip to Islay in Scotland. Islay is the home of Laphroaig and lagavulin distilleries which make peaty and smoky types of whisky (not to be referenced as scotch because you are in Scotland and its just whisky of course). Planning this excursion was endless hours of internet searching. We had the hardest time finding inexpensive accommodation, ultimately securing the last possible bed on the island for $200. The bus that would take us to the ferry had a cool 5 minutes gap for transfer. Then we had just a few hours to secure our spot on a tour and accomplish our mission. The ride back was even more in confusion as you couldn’t even book a bus due to a world cup event shutting down roads in the city. Trust, and with some planning, we set out early in the morning. Everything went on schedule, we hitchhiked easily, got special perks on our tour, accomplished our special mission, found a good dinner, and in the end our accommodation was top notch and felt like pure luxury. A day worth living over again and again. Blue skies, good friends, good food, and feeling taken care of by existence. What more could you ask for?

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Our special mission was to deposit my fathers ashes in the holy land of scotch making. Shane owned one square foot of beautiful Islay property that had come as part of a special with Laphroaig. We printed out the GPS coordinates, donned our mucking boots, and walked out through the golden grass to plant our flag and claim this land for ourselves. I eventually dug up a square foot of grass to place a picture of my father and I, his ashes, and to bless the whole area with scotch. Shane and I said our tearful thanks to a man who had changed both our lives, and were glad to have delivered him to a place he had never reached. For someone who enjoyed at least one scotch a day, for his whole life, I couldn’t think of a better location to leave a part of him, one we can all come back to on pilgrimage in the future.
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My father was known as the MIM (Most Interesting Man)

We rounded out our trip in Edinburgh, right in the middle of fringe month. The city was alive with performances of every kind, posters lining every wall, and tourists cramming into everything. Not really our cup of tea, but the few performances that I managed to see were all amazing. My longing for my romantic connection encouraged me to leave travel 3 weeks earlier than originally planned, and then once we tired of Scotland, I cut even shorter my travels to rush back to my new beloved. This became a flurry of flights and last minute tickets to make it to San Francisco and not waste a minute more. There were canceled planes and stormy weather, but I ultimately flew to London, visited platform 9&3/4 for a bit more Harry Potter magic, flew to Chicago, and then bought the last seat to SFO, arriving just when I wanted, but with much hassle and expense. Not my normal laissez faire attitude to cheap travel.

 

A whole new chapter was about to begin in my life. I arrived in a new city, with a new love, in a totally new place in my life. Everything felt up in the air and moving along without my needing to do anything. I felt to be in the right place and knew some deep transformation was coming for me. The next half a year would certainly bring many surprises, but much love and connection too.
To be continued in Part Two.

Osho: Uncovering the Essence


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Returning to India was inevitable, like being called back to a warm and loving home. Making the decision to invest in a new career and prolong my return to India for a year, only made the daily passion to be reunited stronger. Mother India and osho in particular, gift me such a juicy and powerful reminder of the vibrancy of daily life. The energy, connection, learning, and insight rich expansion that can be milked in a few short weeks always takes my breath away. I forgot how that potent infusion really feels by missing my trip last year, but was gently and wonderfully reminded.

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Thirty one hours of travel, enough to match my age, found me popping through Dallas on a late arrival, swankily soaring to Hong Kong in first class, and plopping across the stretch to Bombay in one of the last seats available. Arriving late, I found I had an entire van to myself to take me to my apartment at 6am where in the most orderly fashion I have ever experienced India, was shown to my room, all in one piece, fully awake and ready to begin my first day back at the osho international meditation resort.

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This years experince would turn out to be one of integration into daily life, rather than digging to the depths of undiscovered conditioning inside myself or awakening to the potential of human experince. I decided to visit as a guest rather than a worker, hoping to give myself the free time to meditate more, engage in lengthy conversations, and take extended lunch breaks. It seems that the pace of life inside the resort does not care about your work status and I quickly found that while I had a little extra time, all the rest was quickly filled with opportunities.

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I first began to give massage sessions daily to keep up my skills, but also to give back to the community and see how my year of training paid off. Good word spread fast and soon every booking was taken, much to many friends dismay. I was invited to host a New Year’s Eve broadcast of the Buddha Grove dance which went out to thousands of osho lovers to spread the daily joy we all share here. I also got to Dj that dance a week earlier and host/Dj an ecstatic dance party for one of the night events. I was brought into two tantra groups to help balance the male/female ratio and got to spend 8 days going into the heart and experiencing many new techniques and experiences to heal the illusions held between the masculine and feminine. I was introduced to essence work which gave me a key insight to my own inner longing for fulfillment and will be a focus of this years future work. I was also introduced to Trauma Releasing Exercises to help heal old traumas and energies stuck in the body. This and many interpersonal issues, abundant energy, wild dancing, flirting, food, friends, and frolicking made up my first 3 weeks at osho; I was blown away by the abundance and gifts I received in such a short time, vowing once again to never miss a winter in India.

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The first major change that would affect me was so much less desire to do osho meditations and rather just sit in the silent garden with my presence. This was the first sign that this year would be more of letting the pieces fall in place rather than stir more up. I’ve been digging for years and this might be the first time I’ve even accepted the idea that real rest can be a part of the meditation journey.

 

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It was here that I realized the “White essence” issues in my life. My last year in Utah was beautiful, but plagued with a undertone of desiring more connection like I receive here in India. I tried many ways to create space for this to happen even trying to force it at times. This just led to more upset and resistance to it not happening. White essence is about support, knowing you don’t have to struggle to get it done, relaxed confidence, and being grounded. This is the essence I wanted most in my life and I struggled to get it. Obviously I can’t make it happen, but how to allow it was a serious piece of knowledge lacking in my tool kit. I learned I had to feel this lack of support, to feel the pain in me that causes me to strive for it and push it further away.

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I had to experience the “white hole”, to feel how this perceived lack of support makes me feel, what it causes me to do in life, how I change my behavior to try and get the support I fear I need. When my efforts fail to produce the support, I go into distraction; watch tv, movies, or browse Facebook rather than support myself. I distract because I wish to avoid that pain burried inside. I don’t want to feel the lack of support essence or my failure to get it back in my life. But sitting in this garden I felt it all. I allowed all the bitterness to come up, all the blame I placed on others for not “showing up” for me, and all the fear that I won’t ever feel good enough if I don’t make this connection happen. You know what I found on the other side of true feeling?

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Healing: To go into an essence hole and feel the uncomfortableness allows the essence to come back. If a hole exists it is because some hurt or trauma has happened and our ego has filled it with an approximation, a memory of true essence in an effort to bandaid this wound. No approximation will ever suffice for your true essence and this is why we always feel a lack when there is a hole present. We know our essence isn’t being used and the tricks of the mind no longer work. Out of this one experince the start of “drop the story and feel” became my new mantra. Feeling is the key to being present and antidote to a pesky mind. Just try it next time and see how much the mind keeps you from doing anything that could envoke a feeling, a feeling which allows you to become master again.

Over the weeks here the other colored essences would come one by one to show me their wounds and I would feel their pain and move to the other side. This didn’t mean I wouldn’t fall back into a hole, but when I did I could stop my protection strategies once again and feel for my essence to come back. Being one with my essence again feels like being home, like abundance of energy, that there is nothing lacking in my experience of that essence’s issue. It doesn’t mean everything is fixed forever, but it was a major piece I was missing and had been looking for a long time. Don’t be afraid to explore into feeling, the gifts of being present await on the other side.

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With my essence back in place it was suddenly time for relationship work again. Through two tantra groups, a male/female polarity group, path of love, and facing the fear of rejection with some women I shared my feelings with, I came to some hard truths and breakthroughs. I am an extroverted introvert. The best definition of these terms I have ever heard is this: if you gain energy while being in a group you are extroverted and if you gain more energy being alone or 1 on 1 then you are introverted. Likewise you lose more energy being in the wrong group. Thankfully I can do both, but it was hiding an essential truth from me. I grew up shy till the age of 18 when I went to college and like a butterfly did an about face in 3 days and became a wildly social young adult. What came to me was that I used this exteovertedness to cover the fact I am still shy. It became a very useful protection strategy.

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It’s manifestation was revealed to me in my dancing behavior at osho. I dance big, wild, sexy, and all day without end to my energy, as there are many opportunities to do so. Everyone seems to know this and appreciate it at times, but there is a pattern, like a butterfly. I come to various people for a short time, dance how I feel and the moment another feeling comes in which I must invest myself further I flutter away and repeat this process. I never go deeper, I never got invested because I was scared of any steps I would have to take next. Any steps that would involve the reality of the other person. A woman noticed this and remarked to me that I need to be more focused (in relation to gaining her affection) but it soon became apparent to me at many deeper levels the truth of this statement in general.

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In the polarity group I got to explore masculine and feminine energies and I was quite surprised by what I found. In exploration of the masculine I found I knew this energy more intimately, but used its full expression seldomly. Masculine essence is power, direction, protection, and support, but it is also the never ending expression of freedom, and must learn to walk the edge of success and failure; live and die each moment by your choices that you feel will kill you to do. The masculine grows by challenge and therefor must live life in a way that challenges his sense of self to feel alive and free. My masculine however was doing double duty. It had created a faux feminine and was using this in place of the true feminine to feel more safe.

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My first painting ever. Of Tathina at night. Thank you Meera

Had you asked me before this group, “was I in touch with my feminine?” the answer would have been an absolute yes. I would find out that all my feminine qualities I thought I used often, were in fact being approximated by my masculine. A good attempt I must say in retrospect, but not authentic. The feminine is about presence and feeling, always the need to be needed, honored and loved. Supported by the masculine, the feminine can relax. Relax, let that sink in for a moment. Only the feminine knows how to let go and relax, the masculine is always doing. With relaxation the feminine can be free to feel safe in her expression of holding space and life in her hands. The wise earth mother that is grounded in wisdom, but flowing like life itself. My masculine has been intruding into the feminine space for maybe my whole life. The feminine has been waiting patiently for the day when the masculine would truly see her and give her the honored space she deserves by his own free choice. That time was now.

A night portrait of me done by Tathina

A night portrait of me done by Tathina

When I saw the power of presence and feeling in the feminine, something I have wanted most sincerely, the masculine also finally saw it. The masculine dropped its double duty and finally knew its purpose. To be focused in its power like an arrow, not spread all over the place trying to hold the space. The feminine needs this concentrated male power to be able to fill the rest of the space with feeling and presence. When they finally saw each other there was a great understanding and mutual respect, which turned into a harmony between their functions. Each aspect can now work with each other so I can be whole. The masculine will keep working to let go and not intrude, but support the feminine space, and the feminine being honored can relax, so I can rest in this presence of feeling life. What a beautiful gift to have received so fully.

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Translating this polarity into the outer world has been a beautiful experince. One major realization came in that there are quite a few aspects to relationships I hadn’t noticed energetically before. The first layer is the physical in which people interact with each other, converse, do activities, and share the first level of connection. The second layer might be called having an open heart to the other. That the space of emotion and love is available to share. The third layer might be the realms of affection or intamicy. This can be physical, intellectual, spiritual, etc but the quality is of intimacy. What I found for the first time is that there is no order to these layers.

I found that my heart had opened to someone in which we were struggling to operate on the basic first level of spending even 5 minutes together a day (both a male and a female, so this applies to all kinds of relationships/friendships). In another case my heart had not opened, but the other layers had. This created much confusion in feeling/desiring until I saw this realization. In the first case I was struggling internally because my heart was open and wanted connection, but the physical opportunity to express it was not available. The person was on a different time schedule or working on their own issues and could not meet. In the second case someone had opened their heart to me and while I could meet them and connect I couldn’t give them what they actually wanted, which was a heart connection.

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Seeing this made me so much more aware of these layers and how interactions occur between humans. Not only am I now more present to my own truth of openness, but honoring how the other might be operating as well. Sometimes these things can be changed and sometimes they cannot. When we don’t align, especially on the heart level, it hurts to not find mutual support of our feelings, but also can be a relief in knowing the reason the other cannot meet us there. This was a mutual learning and gift for me this year and I am so thankful to have spent the time, presence, and effort to discover this, no matter how painful it was to keep feeling and digging down to the answer.

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Path of love swung through osho like a stiff breeze. Whispers landing in many ears before the fateful last day to sign up. We had a beautiful 2 hour taster that really grabbed the essence of pol and suddenly the group was full. Being my 5th experince I felt I was very prepared for this week. This was a special pol for me as this was the place I had my first experince, huge realizations, osho told me to take sannyas, I had a satori, and my life as a spiritual seeker began In earnest after this week. Am I partial to the pol process? Yes, it gave me my life back to live.

Strangely this week went so smooth and strong that it was over before anyone realized. I know the structure and way to work so well that I jumped in with both feet and popped out the other side with everyone all renewed. I didn’t know what would come up and I wasn’t expecting anything for once. A few days before I was all soft and crying due to my own work and then when it started I was all excited and energetic. I think the biggest work for me was with some darkness from my childhood where I learned to hate myself for being sexually curious. Some innocent exploration around age 5 turned into an unexplained punishment for my friend and setup a trauma for me. That got reinforced over life and a fear to be myself got ingrained. I really looked at this voice that said I wasn’t good, that it is still wrong to feel curious, felt it, and after much tears and anger came out the other side. Hopefully some conditioning was broken down and released. I at least have more awareness on this issue now and it’s subtle effects in my life.

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I also enjoyed some spiritual time off with a special experince this year as I went to the sunburn music festival for the day before New Years. Invited by my friends Amor and Madita, but feeling hesitant to go so far from the resort, I finally accepted this adventure and stepped into India. After a long car ride, but with great music dj’d by amor’s son we arrived at the hill side where the music was blasting and lights shining to heaven. Minor administrative issues with tickets and wristbands held up our entry, but finally our group descended into the not so chaotic music festival. Amazing hits were being mixed on the main stage and suddenly we were all dancing to the groove and taking pictures and letting loose. I haven’t had a good party like this because I am always hesitant to be around huge crowds. However I found it quite energizing to be here with a large group of friends just accepting the moment and dancing. We only got to dance for 2 hours due to our late arrival, but we really made the most of it.

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New Years at osho

However the after party was a main attraction and part of the Indian concert experince. Madita ushered in all the men of our group one at a time (1 man per 1 woman is needed to enter a club), and we were blasted with the loudest indoor music I’ve ever heard. Great Dj’s actually and instead of worrying about the eventual ringing in my ears I just went wild in the foreign environment. We danced till 3 am and I felt I really had a good time and that this could have been New Years for me. The following night I also danced, but wasn’t feeling it so much. I felt a little disconnected and that I didn’t need to celebrate New Years as much after such a great party the night before. Who knows how these things go in life? Always celebrate when the opportunity arises.

One final gift was waiting for me in Pune. In my apartment was another room often being rented out. One day the daughter of the woman living there started telling me about Roger Castillo, an Aussie giving teachings in Pune. Coincidently a free day opened up for me and I went. What he said I’ve mostly heard before, but how he said it transformed my life. He puts forth a framework for awareness to automatically land on suffering and stop the process. This highlights that we are infinite source, no one is doing anything and the secret to happiness is not to be found in pleasure or pain, but unbroken peace of mind, which is the end of suffering. The set of concepts he gave as the framework was like a puzzle piece for me. Suddenly I was ready for this teaching and these concepts were perfectly designed for the way my mind works. I had the most profound experince of my minds intellect catching the ego mind trying to distract me and cutting it off completely time and time again for over two hours. I had to sit and laugh because it was like watching meditation happen on its own.

I was able to see that this voice in my head isn’t me at all, but an effect of conditioning to think and put forth ideas like a machine, so that I feel like I actually am doing something and exist. I maybe had heard that before, but now I experienced it, my mind went silent, my eyes opened, and it has been wonderful ever since. Anytime suffering arises, the working mind (not a barrier to enlightenment) cuts off the suffering (suffering is only thoughts) and I fall back into peace. It’s so beautiful and works on its own once the conceptual framework is in place. Thankfully for me, it settled into place after hearing it just once.

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What Christmas looks like in India

All of this work and realizations and gifts culminated over time to give me a wonderful experience of daily life. Inside the resort an often heard quote is that this way of living isn’t real life and one must take it back to the real world where work and family and issues still exist. I often agree with this sentiment except this year I was shown something as close to my daily life at home as possible. Each day I woke in my apartment, went down on the street for my chai and talked with my new shop owner friends. Standing and talking on the street is an Indian national pastime. I would then head off to the resort for tai chi/chi gong/healing sounds or some other morning practice to wake up the body and energy. Breakfast would happen and my personal meditation in the garden. Sounds a lot like my mornings at home. During the day I would get sucked into conversations or dance or meditation before lunch. After which I would go to “work” doing massage for two hours or so. Early evening would be filled with osho and meditation or a personal night with friends, dinner, a movie etc. late night often included a dance party or some musical performance. I would visit friends for dinner parties at their apartments or something happening in the city rather than the resort. This has all the aspects of daily life especially when I included massage work each day. From my outer apartment life to my inside the resort work/meditation life, this year felt as close to fully living as I have known. I still wish to live out in the world and to make an intentional community so that myself and others can live this way, and I’m happy to keep getting examples of how it works.

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I’m so thankful for the story of my life. I am thankful I took off a year to gain a new career I love and now I can come back and recieve so much amazing learning and energy. It’s always available when you know how to trust life and boldly go forward after your dreams. It feels like it is all truly possible. So as I absorb all this goodness I head out once again from Pune to rishikesh, the land of yoga and enlightened masters, to practice all this learning first hand and hopefully recieve even more. India truly is home to this essence of spirituality and feels so tangible that you can just reach out and touch it. May you all come to know the experince of yourself where peace resides and happiness is the way of life.

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Path of Love 4: Colorado

img_4599 A Tendency to Shine

If you prefer smoke over fire
Then get up and leave now.
For I do not intend to perfume
Your mind’s clothing with
More sooty knowledge.
No, I have something else in mind.
Today I hold a flame in my left hand
And a sword in my right.
There will be no damage control today.
God is in a mood to plunder your riches and
Fling you nakedly
Into such breathtaking poverty
That all that will be left of you will be
A tendency to shine.
So don’t just sit around this flame
Choking on your mind.
This is no campfire song
To mindlessly
Mantra yourself to sleep with.
Jump now into the space
Between thoughts and
Exit this dream.
Before I burn the damn place down.
-Adyashanti

I walked into path of love ready to look at some hard inner facts. Issues of abandonment and how to love, freshly percolating in my system that needed attention.

Dropping into the space of emotion almost too quickly, tears found me before emotions, and a swirl of emotions before labels could be applied to them. If the last process could be termed strong, this one would be deep.

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I never know how the week will go, nor what issues will truly come up. I have stopped preparing my answers and sitting in the space of terrifying unknowning, something profound always comes.

A deep pain of being unseen from my mother arose in me, stretching from childhood. Realizing our communication today was not serving my needs of connection, but only prolonging the old patterns, I vowed to share my true feelings after process and I stepped into the unknown of what other issues would arise.

Being part of the staff, we witness many stories and are deeply affected by them. The first days were filled with a swirl of multiple emotions that didn’t have simple labels. I was feeling resistance to this unknown force and bouncing between head and heart. My continuing and greatest work being moving from thinking into feeling. Realizing the subtle levels of control I exercise to protect from feeling, and even finding my competence and intelligence to be an automatic form of control distracting me from feeling.

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Supporting my fellow staff members became a true bonding experience and we formed a small family in a short time. A perfect mix of masculine and feminine, full of heart and support. I had to keep working on myself to allow such deep support for the women in our group. Strongly affected by a violent outburst which triggered old trauma, we all got to live this part of our humanity and go through the healing process together. I am so thankful to have borne witness and empathized while supporting the healing between the feminine and masculine.

Last process was very much about supporting the masculine and deepening into my own, while shifting to the feminine this time. Supporting our feminine staff and working with a female participant for the first time as well.

Mid process is when the deeper work began for me. Finding my anger once again, I exploded into fiery passion. Decimating my ego voice again and burning with determination to never give up, to live with my full unlimited energy pouring into my life, to relentlessly keep digging on my journey, and never slowing down to fit in. I will live and love wildly because that is how much energy I always have and I’m tired of not expending it for fear of overwhelming people around me moving at a slower pace. I have to be true to myself and move at my own speed.

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This burst of passion fueled my prayer and intentions for living life. I hadn’t realized that my own inner voice of support and encouragement had gone silent. I placed a new task for myself, which is to speak aloud my prayer for 10 minutes each day. This shall include my gratitude, my desires and intentions, manifestations and what I want for my life. To hear my own words spoken back to me, reminding me, affirming me, encouraging me to keep moving forward is desperately needed to keep me focused and the flow coming towards me.

Similarly I found another truth about focusing on the positive. I can share my troubles, patterns, work, and issues with others easily, but to share my light, gratitude, compliments, and general outpouring of happiness requires extra focus. We as a culture share more from our dark side than our light. I find it my new task to move more into the light side, to consciously change my mind to focus more on the gifts and positive attributes of any situation or person so that the first thought in mind is one of positive encouragement rather than criticism.

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My love and gratitude for Osho of course came pouring out at the right moment. I was again surrounded by his people and doing the work he saw we needed as human beings. Making new friends and sharing in the beautiful stories of the past, I was deeply touched at all the ground work that was laid by the generations before me so that I might be able to easily slip in and find my true self. I have great gratitude to all who engage in this work at any level and am personally thankful for the ways in which I have been transformed.

The week ended with a powerful and beautiful full moon. Completing and anchoring many truths and experiences for everyone. Personally experiencing a transforming dance under the full moon and howling with some coyotes, my heart full and overflowing. Awakened again to myself and emotional body, singing loudly in my car and shouting my excitement to the high heavens I departed from my family to travel again into the unknown and carry this torch with me. Paving the way for a deeply rewarding experience of life, I left transformed with a tendency to shine.

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The Beauty and Urgency Of Leaving

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A remarkable and beautiful experience happens when you decide to leave and go travel the world: Your current life becomes so rich and full of beautiful experiences that you consider, even if just for a moment, not actually leaving.

This is a certain test everyone must pass when they decide to give up their known life for the unknown rewards of a new adventure.

This test has only one question: Can you give up the remarkable things you have, for the possibility of something even more wonderful? Even if your life is not that remarkable at this moment, the instant leaving becomes a real reality, awesomeness will ooze out of every corner to test your willpower and decision to give it all up.

Having consciously left many wonderful living situations in my lifetime, I have seen this pattern emerge almost without fail. The life you have been living morphs into the most perfect example of how you wished it would be.  What had been lacking is now overflowing, every activity is more engaging and fulfilling, friends show up for lunch dates and beautiful conversations, you may even start a new relationship or fall in love; but all at this beautiful last moment. For the impending departure creates an urgency to live life the way you wished each day.

At the peak of synchronicity is when you are handed this test. Can you leave when everything is going right and gamble it all on the uncertain journey you have chosen to go upon? Your resolve will be tested because if you choose to stay things will continue to be nice for a while, but the urgency will fade again and while a bright period it was, your life will revert back to its common denominator because no new growth has occurred.

Ultimately it is a test of trust. In some way you were not being nourished or fulfilled enough and leaving became the best way to refresh your life. There has been a call to travel, explore, and leave the comforts of home so new growth can happen in you. Can you trust this urge to leave, develop trust in yourself, and return again, wiser and more centered? It takes courage to risk the safety and enjoyment one has for the uncertain possibilities that await.

Personally I had been asleep for a few months, enjoying a steady pace of life, unaware of course that I had fallen into distraction. I had been waiting for my community to support me, come to me, and give me what I wished to experience. I stopped waiting and started acting almost immediately. Things as you can expect began to change just as fast.

I had been wanting more interaction with my community, more food nights, conversation, and connection. The instant I decided to just give myself these things, even if alone, my energy changed and suddenly my community responded and showed up. The lesson in waking up of course is to be self empowered and give yourself that which you need to be nourished. In being self empowered others are attracted to this energy and follow in your steps. So instead of waiting for it to come, create it in yourself and it is impossible that it wont arrive swiftly.

Now a month before I had scheduled to leave, due to my own desires to travel, the whole world was exciting again. Suddenly I had all the encounters, dinners, dancing, and unexpected events I could wish for. I felt empowered and happy, and my leave date was suddenly approaching. I have a theory that impending departure begins to move a strong energy in all people, not just you personally.

In yourself, you know acutely that time is running out and thus you begin to add emphasis and energy to all you wish to accomplish before leaving. I engaged more people to meet up for a last goodbye, I created more events and showed up more often. In essence I began to do the things I had always needed to do to achieve the results I wished. It took the impetus of “the end is coming” to really get moving at the correct speed.

Likewise my community showed up at the same speed because they understood it would be the last time for many months. Friends who I couldn’t get to show up for lunch or to hangout suddenly made time. Everyone has busy lives and families, but sometimes you need to break up the routine of work and play and relaxation. Suddenly my energy had spread to their lives and they began to make choices, beneficial to them as well, because of my leaving energy. They had wished to connect and do new things, but life’s distractions got in the way.

This ultimately is what happens to us, we know what we want and need to do to nourish ourselves, but we find simple excuses to be comfortable. When one is leaving, the energy is enough that we decide to do more, experience more, and push ourselves a little more to accommodate; and what happens? Everyone benefits and begins to live the life they wished they could more often.

It raises the question of how can we utilize this energy more to our benefit without having to leave all the time? Going on adventure is certainly needed, but living more fully in our own lives is so much needed right where we live. The problem is that most people rarely get the chance to stop their lives and leave it for a while. A two week vacation is not nearly enough for people to change their behaviors as going away for months or moving to another state. Most people develop families or careers that cannot be put on hold and so how can this feeling of urgency be created? The adage “no one lives forever” simply doesn’t have enough immediate urgency, because we all feel like we are going to live our routine for years to come. The feeling that we have plenty of time is sadly what keeps us moving so slowly.

An idea came to me at breakfast. What if weekly there was a way to have a support group that focused on how urgent and precious our time is to live this very moment? A group in which exercises that help each person pay attention and create a feeling that their is no time but now to act and not waste a moment longer? I feel this takes a group so there is accountability to each other and support to be pushed and reminded that potential dies each day if it isn’t utilized. I feel that so many people would rather live a life of presence and urgency, filled with experiences that enrich the soul and bring happiness, but for lack of a better word, we all fall into laziness and distraction. Without urgency its so easy to spend too many nights watching netflix rather than reaching out for connection. It is too easy to balance the desire to expand with the availability of comfort. I know I struggle deeply with distractions, knowing full well what I would rather be experiencing.

This is why I always decide to leave and go travel. The distractions diminish when in a foreign environment. Suddenly life is all around and available. New people to meet, languages to overcome, daily necessities even take on the hue of a challenge. This sparks the energy to live life more present and alive. Just going to the supermarket in a foreign country is an adventure while only basic routine at home. When a certain degree of distraction based comfort is removed, life is suddenly there to be lived in the smallest of encounters.

So would you pass the test? After finding some urgency to live the life at hand, after each day becomes more exciting and filled with wonder, could you still leave it all in search of something beyond description? I choose once again to travel and discover what there is to be found. But when I return, even I will have to remember this lesson and live with urgency each day. If possible, I wish to awaken to a life where I feel excited to start the day, engaged in my work, play, and passion fields, and comfortable with a little bit of the unknown. I feel that true happiness can spring forth in daily life by living with this urgency and I encourage you to find what it takes to create that urgency, to light a fire in your temple to show the way into the beautiful possibilities of life.

Stay connected and keep reaching for what you deeply desire. With enough motivation and urgency, the whole world can change. Blessings to your journey as well my friends.

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Travel and friends in Europe

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The call of adventure springs upon me again. Heading to Europe for what was going to be a week road trip around Iceland has turned once again into a friend visiting escapade. The joke in Europe is to invite people in neighboring countries to visit because it is so close, but they never come because the distance is too far. Well in the states, an 8 hour drive is a small road trip and with Iceland only a few hours flight away, I accept a friends polite invitation to Germany. Word gets out quick and friends in Paris and Ibiza soon find destinations on my itinerary while only missing an extra trip to London. A fresh reminder of enjoying friends and food and adventure.
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imageSunny and vibrantly green southern Germany is my first destination. Lahmo and Abhivan, dear path of love friends from India, invite me to share their beautiful life in Lindau. Amazing musicians and artisans as well as meditators, my arrival ends up starting a mini vacation from work and enjoying each day by the lake. Lindau is a small island of tourist envy, enjoyed for its history and lake views. Escaping WW2 bombing completely for aiding Switzerland in food delivery, Lindau is architecturally stunning with a vibrant waterfront. We spend our days with local friends playing music, picnicking, light sports, swimming, and playing with the children.
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I get to visit Austria and Abhivans cabin, see a sailboat race, dance wildly in public and practice tai chi. I saw many beautiful green spaces, the view from the mountains, ate cheese spaetzle, saw a hand of God sunset, and tried to change social stereotypes by getting Germans to dance in the street to the live music being played. It was a beautiful week of enjoying the outdoors, conversations with people I love, and a remembrance of how simple and enjoyable life can be settled down in one place.
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I fly off into the midnight sun, Venus and Jupiter glowing brightly out of my window seat, to enjoy a night layover in Oslo. I am heading to Iceland to participate in an impromptu road trip. After having visited Iceland at the beginning of my world tour I vowed to return to the most beautiful place on earth and do it right. Shane, my long time roommate and fellow world traveler is starting his 1 year around the world tour and Iceland is the kick off. Once declared he was going, our friend Jlynn jumped aboard, and in similar fashion to our south east Asia travels I had to attend as this would be a major reunion. Oh twist my arm universe, lets do Iceland!
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Arriving to a radically colder environment I get my layers on and adjust to the beautiful landscape. Rolling up in the rental from a visit to blue lagoon my friends scoop me, hugs and hellos and land ourselves in Reykjavik. We are relying on my expert travel skills and knowledge of Iceland to get us by. It serves us perfectly and helps Shane learn the ropes of traveling in this day and age of smart phones and wifi. We settle in, take a small tour and prepare for our early morning hike by having drastically different adventures. Jlynn and myself retire early and end up making friends with our hostel mates receiving free wine, while in true Shane style he parties all night with local friendly Icelanders. Arriving just in time for a short nap before we head out for our longest day of exploring Iceland.
imageTouring Iceland by car is the only way to really see it. Everything is conveniently off the one ring road that circles the island and breathtaking views come right to you. Every 10 minutes the landscape somehow changes drastically from mossy rocks, to shrubs, black sand beaches and grassy sheep farms, to volcanic steam, all dotted with more waterfalls than you can shake a stick at. Bring extra space for all the photos you will take, being overwhelmed by so much beauty.
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We find moderately priced but memorable accommodations along the way. Sleeping in a 100 year old hospital, two farm houses, a marina warehouse, and a couchsurfer to boot; everything was cozy and inviting. Seeing as the sun never sets, you get a sundip rather than a sunset, your body always wants to be awake. Many late nights were had wandering the twilight hours of Iceland playing guitar and meeting locals.
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Some highlights of Iceland, to be explained fully in its own post, were to walk on my first glacier, visit a crashed airplane from WW2, hot spring cave, volcanic Mars landscape, snow capped fjords, waterfalls you can walk behind, eating fermented shark, picking up hitch hikers, many hot spring baths, jumping into the North Sea, and the many jokes and antics of spending days driving around with best friends rocking to music.
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Iceland was an overwhelmingly beautiful spectacle shared with dear friends and new ones. A good reminder that traveling with friends is hilariously fun and vastly different than traveling alone. Playing off each persons unique personalities and energies creates a new dynamic environment that being with only yourself cannot possibly experience. I am happy for that and all the laughter.
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One long day of driving and fly off to Paris, which seems to now be my old stomping grounds and most comfortable city for me to visit. I know the ropes and speak enough French to sail easily into the heart of this beautiful city and meet up with Robin. He is figuring out professional life of an international lawyer living in Paris. Long hours but delicious food and a city that seems different from the time spent in school here.
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I readjust to the perfect weather and stroll around these familiar streets eating familiar foods. It’s like being at home in many ways. I’ve been to Paris now perhaps 10 different times and know what I want to see and eat with the little time I have. I enjoy my time with Robin catching up and sharing our lives and art. Pastries and walks and poetry is how one absorbs Paris in pieces.
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We thankfully are in Paris for summer solstice which means that everyone comes out to play music to celebrate summer. It seems on every corner there are buskers and performance groups. From marching bands to ethnic song and dance you can barely turn a corner without some new cacophony assaulting your ears. We dance to soul gospel and Brazilian, teenage bands and accordion players, and finish with a major performance by Ibrahim maalouf the trumpet player and his band. Mind blown with the amount of energy and big band music he brought to the palais royal.
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That was a pretty great farewell party as I head to Ibiza Spain. The world famous island for electronic music and parties, as well as a collection of meditative and conscious people living in the north of the island. It is in the more laid back and less drunk group that I find my friends Adam and Kim, also path of love friends, who open their home and life to me. Beautiful blue waters and sandy beaches greet me in this Spanish countryside of purple flowers and white washed walls.
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Adam is my dear soul brother from PoL and spending any time with him is like looking at myself in the mirror. We share on all topics of the heart while enjoying the never ending sun and sea of Ibiza. The atmosphere is light and jovial with people enjoying themselves and the idea of siesta has never been more real to me in the mid day heat.
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We enjoy local paella, the hippie markets, and a wonderful night of ecstatic dance. Walking around for long strolls in the perfect evening weather, life is well rounded and easy going. I suppose I could enjoy myself in these easy days of friends and ocean play. Not sure what I would do with my time that is of much importance to me but a beautiful place to visit. Adam and I share our connection and love in many ways and remind ourselves of the beauty of the world and our connection with Osho.
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We share a special connection in this world of being of the same soul stuff. I say this because never before have either one of us found someone who is exactly like our inner selves. This boggles my mind as we think and experience the world in the same way. Never before have I so truly seen two people cut from the same cloth. For this reason we share and connect on a special level that makes us brothers in every sense that matters.
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Flying out of Barcelona, there is one last gift for me. My dear friend Tate and Ashley happen to be in the airport, in my very wing, at the exact same time on their way to China. We have enough time for hugs and photos before flying off in different directions. I am heading back to the states for an unknown adventure and they are off to the orient. Florida and family here I come.

  

Path of Love: PachaMama

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Welcome to the jungle!

 

Wild beasts, strange noises, burning heat, lethargy, fear, exploration of the unknown, sweat, tears, and breakthroughs. Yes I am talking about the inner landscape of the mind, which is strikingly similar to this beautiful Costa Rican backdrop. Another group of hungry seekers have descended upon PachaMama, an intentional spiritual community, to participate in The Path of Love. I have left the Asian tropics for the Central American tropics to staff this process and remind myself of the love and beautiful essence I carry in myself. Barely having time to integrate all the realizations I carry from my process in January, I am jumping into a strong remembering of the truth I hold so dear.
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Having gotten a little lost in Bali and wishing to return to the truth of my essence, without the minds filtering and lies and masks, I have come to Costa Rica to touch that space again. I carry this truth with me, along with the presence of my ego, which seems to have grown several sizes since my PoL. It hasn’t really grown any bigger, just my awareness of its true size has become apparent. This is my challenge and my mastery: To overcome this harshest of critics and live my life from a place of love and gratitude. At times this takes an extreme physical effort to realize that not listening to the lies of the ego and comfortable habit patterns is the only way to continue moving forward and to inhabit all the beautiful joys of my life. Only this one barrier is left and could be with me in its many ways and forms and subtleties, quite possibly my whole life. I wish to find pleasure in not feeding my ego any more attention and to begin mastering the expansion of my life. This means facing my fears each day, being proactive rather than reactive, no excuses for laziness, and to find the passion for my life each day no matter how I feel or what I think. Choosing to move forward despite every anxiety and fear is the only choice that can heal this wound we all carry.
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*Our beautiful group room & a sample of our vegan diet

 

Having the loving support of PoL members in which to share and deepen your search is the gift of being a staff or participant. The daily reminder of connecting and growing with a beautiful support system helps master the egos presence, which opens the space to find the courage to live your life according to your truth. Often times this very simple issue gets glossed over by the ego and the small truths that should be spoken are left silent. The compliments you wish to give, the hurts you wish to acknowledge, the small risks you could take, and all the times you could step out and be seen for who you are, are simply passed over and the opportunity to grow is missed. It is the courage to know and live your truth, moment to moment, no matter the costs that lets your unique light shine. So many things get in the way of this, particularly old habit patterns and the rules of society and politeness, but the truth is no less real. My whole work this week with the Path of Love came down to these two things. Stay awake, alive, juicy, and passionately on fire for my life while not listening to that liar of an inner judge called the ego. Practicing this, despite all the difficulties and unknowns, I can stay with my passionate self.
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Courtesy of PachaMana and Ankati Day

I gleaned many wonderful experiences as a staff member, where our main job is to hold the space and be present for all the participants. This presence becomes a prayer and I know what angels must feel like. To silently watch a human being struggle through life, and lovingly remind them unceasingly and with great love that they are watched over, loved, taken care of, and going in the right direction. As I practiced this I had to laugh at the perfectness of this situation in reverse. I am always watched over, loved, guided, and cared for. Just as I couldn’t interfere with the participants directly, my Angels cannot interfere in my life. I must make my own choices, but I can trust. In that trust I can know God and silence and be happy without knowing where my journey ends. Choosing to live with ever present guidance rather than despair, struggle, or fear is certainly a more powerful choice to improve how I feel about facing the struggles and challenges of each day.
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I once again have made many deep friendships and connections from across the world. New inspirations and resources in the quest to build a sustainable meditation community and hope that I can manifest it with loving effort. My partner Lindsay during the process became a dear friend and close confidant. She is on a similar path and is starting a small retreat center focusing on yoga, healing, and detox called Samara Soul Adventures. This was such a synchronicity and inspiration to me that I feel my idea is not so overwhelming, but that only the first step is the hardest. I found so much love and support from the staff and community in which we were living. PachaMama is a community based on self development, meditation, and sustainability, and living here has only added to my experience and trust in my own future. Many people here have their own retreat centers or healing practices and the more I travel the more I feel this idea I carry is spreading. One day small centers will just blossom around the world and everyone will be able to enjoy their local sustainable communities and transformational processes without traveling so far.
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Courtesy of PachaMana

The finishing touch of this adventure was an all night forest fairy party. Tyohar, the spiritual leader of PachaMama, is also an accomplished DJ and nature photographer who wowed us for 17 hours of amazing rock music while the whole community danced and brought the jungle to life. Dressed as forest creatures, from children to well advanced souls, everyone dug deep and found the blissful energy to dance all through the night and into the next day. I personally had to find the energy and commitment to have fun rather than listen to my ego who clearly said we need sleep and to retreat from this environment because that’s what we do every other night. Of course I ignored it firmly and managed not only to stay awake for the party, but found so much energy that I continued on for many more hours, 36 in all before a nice night of sleep and arising again at 5 am with the sun for my morning routine of stretching and meditation. New friends were made this night and other relationships deepened. The connections of community and oneness were shared amongst all, in the spirit of dance and love. I can’t imagine a more amazing experience to finish this already powerful process.
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I leave PachaMama with a full heart. One of deep gratitude and joy, but also sadness and longing. To honor the sadness of leaving such deep connections is just as real as the joy of having met in the first place. Thankfully we live in an international world with the convenience of technology and ease of travel. Deepening into the heart, I only find more and more to love in this world and those with whom to share it. May you find your own path of love or just enjoy this wonderful process for all the jewels it can bestow into your life. May Gods blessing and the passion of life be with you always.

 

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Visit PachaMana yourself and experience the transformation firsthand!
They have many different programs and classes to choose from, including Path of Love.

 

Finding myself in The Path of Love

Beloveds,

I have something to share with you

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I am a self-critical, judgmental, angry, emotionally repressed, pretender. I have lived my life with a mask of being a good boy, peaceful, spiritual, grown up, with an air of having it all together in an effort to keep everyone happy and slightly removed so I would not have to feel any real emotion, commitment, or fear; to live life all on my own without any support. I lived as if this was the truth, that my mind had all the answers, that I didn’t need to change and I conveniently pushed all this to the side and kept it hidden from my consciousness. Until now; the ego can’t live forever after all.

Stepping back in time a moment, we can watch a beautiful process unfold of the universe stepping into my life to shine light on these wonderfully true aspects of myself, then stepping into the space of love, and being reborn into the beautiful essence I have always been, while dropping this mask of a personality.

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I find myself once again in India, at the Osho International Meditation Resort, working as part of the staff to extend my visit. I am struggling again slightly with the money and bureaucracy issues while enjoying tremendously the meditation community of people and self-development. I am having special difficulty and insights about this thing called mind. For the first time I can clearly see the mind as a separate entity, completely it’s own thing, and wildly the most insane, ADD child, I have ever met. It picks up anything it can get its hands on, plays with it for two seconds and throws it in the corner the instant it sees something new. Not only is this really annoying, it is getting in the way of everything I love because I have no control over this tiny monkey.

Flash forward a month and a half into my experience here: I am in a high stress job, feeling burnt out on working, missing out on connecting with many friends due to no time, missing out on opportunities, and I am putting a smile on everything because that’s what I do. Suddenly, Sambhavo walks into my office, a group facilitator and friend who says:

Sambhavo: “I’ve been looking for you”

Me: “I know, you need to pay for your program”

S: “No, no, no, I am holding a spot for you in the Path of Love”

M: shocked a bit

M: “Why did you just say that to me?”

S: “I don’t know why, it just came out!”

My mind was absent, or in shock, and suddenly there were just a few steps before me. The universe just quietly pushed me along without any resistance; check the program costs, check the requirements, see if they will let me off work, fill out the paperwork, have an interview, pack up my room, find a new place to live, get cash, pay, take a breath and jump into a 7 day intensive, super secretive, most money I’ve ever spent on myself in one go process called The Path of Love.

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*That’s what commitment looks like

Leading up to this huge, yet deceptively easy decision were many friends approaching me and sharing their own stories about Path of Love. I hadn’t been inquiring mind you, but many people in just a few days told me how transforming and wonderful the process was. A few good friends of mine were also going to staff on this PoL and shared their input. Somehow the universe just prepared me, without my awareness, so that when the moment came I couldn’t think about it, but rather just act out of instinct. It became the most important decision of my life and I didn’t really have to decide very much.

When you look back at your life, all the most important decisions and events aren’t planned; they just happen. It’s hard to see it at the time, but hindsight is pretty good. I felt in the moment that if I thought about what I was doing I would talk myself out of it. Instead I just walked the path laid before me with trust and knowing it felt right. 7 days later I walked out into the sunlight a new person, quite literally.

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While I cannot talk about the process itself, I can share all of my realizations; the biggest being the birth of my heart centered self. Through the work I came quickly to the understanding that I have been wearing a mask my whole life. A pretenders mask of being the “good boy”, so that I might hide my authentic emotions of being angry or sad, for fear of upsetting others and not knowing their reactions. A mask aimed to keep the status quo and people at an emotionally safe distance so that I wouldn’t have to feel any pain of separation, aloneness or any of my self judgement/criticism. My biggest question going into this process was a distinction between non attachment and being shut off emotionally. I could never find a concrete answer to this difference until this course. I realized that I have lived my whole life without awareness of the depth of my emotions. Surely they exist and I experience them as I am not a robot, but my experience of them, being overpowered by them, using them, allowing them to the surface, really tasting each emotion, was completely shut down. This started as my coping mechanism from 6 years old when my parents divorced. I decided right then and there to be a grown up, to solve any problems that arose, to be a good boy and cause no trouble, not to ask for anything, and to take care of myself. Well all those things are backwards, as no child or even adult knows how to do all that, and yet I lived with this belief and strategy for 24 years, strengthening it each moment.

There came an experience in this process where after accepting these facts at a deep level and understanding how and why I behave like I do, the mask suddenly dropped. I saw myself for the first time without pretending to be something. My face was radiantly alive with joy and tears. My tension was gone. I felt as if I finally saw myself like God sees me; as a perfect creation, alive, good, full of love and peace, and that there has never been anything wrong with me ever. In that moment I knew the mask known as Torey was finished and my pure essence had begun it’s new life. I jumped into a state of newborn ecstacy, where every look, touch, taste, and thought was new. I explored everything with an aliveness and newness I’ve never known. It was so beautiful and transforming to know this energy exists in me always, along with every range of emotion, and that this is what it means to be embodied and what a gift that truly is.

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Through a deep sense of longing and prayer, I also knew it was time to dedicate myself to walking this path of truth. Before, being spiritual was easy, a few meditations, reading some books, acting good and nice, and spouting off whatever lessons I had learned. Walking the path is much more difficult actually. It is a constant re-commitment to truth. To finding out who you are and how to let the divine into you. It is so much effort and courage, to burn with a passion and longing to always know the truth. The mind’s whole effort is to make life easy by putting us into the sleep of comfort. Walking the path is a constant stirring of the pot so that in fact no comfort exists for the mind, no room to take control and become master again. The heart, feeling, and pure essence are king here and the mind a tool to be used surely, but not ruler of the kingdom. To recommit yourself everyday is a true effort, using the intensity of your physical, emotional, and spiritual practices, but one I am happy to make now that I have seen the difference.

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For this reason I decided to take and was given sannyas on the last day of this process to anchor this knowing. Sannyas for me was always a dedication to walking the path of truth, mediation, and awareness, but contained a special emphasis on letting go of the old and starting a new commitment. PoL gave me exactly that experience, as the personality I had carried for so long died, and my essence was born as Premraj. This new name, meaning “king of love” or “ruled by love”, serves as a constant reminder of my true essence, a guide post that will always be a reminder when I do fall asleep, to keep my heart awake, alive, and full of love. To feel the radiant spectrum of emotions that exists in me and keep digging deeper and deeper to awaken the Buddha in me. Both prem, meaning love, and raj, meaning king, would never have been names I took for myself. When I was given this name though, it was like music being played on my heart. I was given this name by someone who could see into my essence and called forth what I am. A wise and just leader, who is strong yet merciful, one who has great treasures to share, and is able to balance himself and the kingdom he overlooks with ease and with love.

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*Pre Path of Love photo

After being out of the process for a few weeks I came to a new understanding of what I really gained. I’ll have to be honest first; coming back to the world from this depth of being with oneself was at once explosively amazing and slightly crushing. I exited my silence and confinement into a world of friends and loved ones who immediately saw a deep transformation in me. My presence, feeling, hugs, power, sexual energy, masculine energy, and open eyes blew everyone away. Sometimes it was too much for them, and sometimes too much for me to take a whole person so totally into my being. The very next day I had my sannyas celebration before the whole community. The crowd to hug and support me was the most anyone has seen in a long while. I had to be lifted onto the shoulders of my dear friend Adam and really feeling like a king, accept all this love and joy, to honor who I have become. This was the high followed by the low of retreating back into myself and my own space. With each new encounter, I was able to explore how I responded to the world and people. What I found, what changed in me, turned out to be only one thing. I learned how to trust myself. Suddenly I found that the fear of living life was gone. Situations where I normally would have avoided, or shut off emotionally, I could face head on without feeling scared. I could step into that space with my power and emotions intact and experience it. All my pretending and avoidance was gone and each time I kept surprising myself by doing something new.

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*Post Path of Love photo

This truly was the gift I received. To trust myself, trust the guidance of the universe, to trust love and the support of all human beings who want only my highest good. A strong realization came to me during PoL, we all have fears, hurts, longings, desires, hopes, needs and while the story might be a little different we really are all the same in essence. The fact that as a species we aren’t openly talking about how we really feel is perhaps the saddest thing I have ever come to know. Such a simple, yet terrifying effort to expose ones true self, and the whole world would come to know that your neighbor is the same as you. That everyone is just as scared as you, as hurt as you, as hopeful as you, as longing for love and support as you. I look now at everyone with such compassion because I know everyone has a deep wound that they carry, and they may not know anything about it, but I do, and I can interact with them in such a way as to share great love and caring and hold a space of compassion for their being.

To be seen is what every human being really wants. To be seen with eyes of truth and be accepted for who you really are is a foundation of love. To see a person at their core and accept them for their humanness and in turn be accepted, contains all the spiritual effort one needs to practice. I saw into people and ended up making lasting friendships because nothing can shake the truth of what was witnessed. We may all slip back into being the personality we have carried for our lives, but nothing can take away the truth of seeing another clearly.

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The depth of being that was experienced, the limitless amount of energy, the overwhelming support of the staff and growth in love was enough to turn me in a new direction. Understanding that this inner place of truth can be called out and touched, I want to dedicate my work to helping bring it out in myself and others. This is what holds value between human beings and has touched me as it touches every PoL participant. The effort is ongoing and once the taste of the possibilities are known, your life is changed forever. May clear communication and love flower amongst the hearts of all, until we realize we are all one essence. Love and blessings on your personal journey.

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Check out the Path of Love for yourself:

http://www.pathoflove.net/

Divine encounters and workaway

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There is a great opportunity going on in the world and I would not like anyone to miss it. Volunteer your time around the world doing various work experiences and earn a free place to stay and food to eat. Sound like a good trade? It did to me, and I have gained more than I expected. In my three years of travel around the world I plan to utilize this method to extend my time and experiences in the world while costing me only travel expenses.  Experiences fall mostly into the gardening work, nannying, or handy man type, but can vary into marine biology scuba diving  and chocolate making. For five hours a day you get a wonderful experience and can really take time to explore the local culture.  You also get the added benefit of living with a family and can practice another language.         France house
Getting started on my first experience was difficult in the sense that I couldn’t decide where I wanted to apply to. There were so many opportunities in France alone, I could hardly decide on one to add to my travels, so I didn’t. However, once I had traveled for two months, I was ready for some quiet life and being in touch with nature.  I looked up some hosts again and one immediately popped out. Close to Lourdes France where I wanted to visit, was a couple who had retired from running a spiritual retreat and needed a bit of help in the garden. Not more than 10 minutes after sending an email, I had a reply and a destination, where once was only the open road. The universe had stepped in and answered my request in full.
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I spent 20 hours on various trains over two days traveling from eastern Italy to western France. On the mid point in Nice, my roommate for the night was Chris, the first traveler I’ve met on a two year journey traveling this volunteer lifestyle. He had just finished work on a vineyard harvesting grapes and learning about making wine. Admittedly hard work, but he had loved it. A teacher and chef, on break from working life, sitting in my room to encourage me on the eve of my first experience. The universal positioning of this meeting is incalculable, and thus is a perfect sign that I am exactly where I need to be at this moment. We hit it off and swapped stories about how great traveling like this is and our perfect encounter. I pull myself away to visit the ocean, watch the stars and love how perfect life is right at this moment. I am reminded that I asked for all this and I am grateful to recognize its arrival. Watching it unfold, having let the universe drop all the physical pieces into place, even I couldn’t have written such a perfect script.
 me and david
The moment I meet David at the train station and step foot into their lives, I know this meeting was scheduled. It looks like I am here to help with the garden, but I am really here to meet David and his wife Mo. When a complete stranger steps into your life there is usually a small or rather large adjustment period. No such thing was present, I seamlessly stepped into daily life as if a son coming home for holiday.  A wonderful life of gratitude, blessings, mutual understanding, spiritual work, and work in the garden awaited me. It seemed to be that a gathering, lunch, party, or other event was always happening and that I had come at the perfect time to enjoy the last of an Indian summer and meet this wonderful group of people. For what I consider a small French town, I was amazed at the diversity of interesting people and English speakers living here.
 France garden
We started our days with family breakfast and a blessing over our meal. Then proceeded to read a chapter from “A Course in Miracles”, followed by a group hug, which officially began our day. Garden work and large lunches were the theme. Mo is a potter and I got to see the kiln be fired twice. She started her spiritual journey in India by jumping in the deep end. Joining an ashram and shaving her head, she experienced her transformation moment to moment and it gives me great excitement to hear her stories. David does wonderful work with wood and examples of both their works adorn the property.  Before retiring from their spiritual retreat they taught sacred geometry and the flower of life courses. David and I broach a wide variety of spiritual topics and conversations about the spiritual journey which keep us up most nights with eager enthusiasm.
David’s spiritual path looks so similar to mine it almost stuns me in the simplicity of story line. Young man becomes disillusioned with life prescribed by society, seeks spiritual path, is called to start a center and teach from the heart, lives this way and finds great peace and joy. David is the first male role model in my life to have done anything similar to what I am trying to attempt. From the general vibe of daily life and being 40 years my senior I am in for a wonderful ride. The fluidity of changing minds is so much easier today than it was 40 years ago. I can only guess at what leaps of consciousness and love can be achieved during my lifetime. It is such a pleasurable thought to have been called to this path, and while I don’t know the particulars of how my story will unfold, I trust in the same source that brought me this far, and to this experience, to provide the rest of the amazing story line.
 Vesica Pisces from Space
*A 55 foot Vesica Pisces cut into their grass as seen from satellite, sacred geometry
David’s passion is the theme of sacred geometry, in that all of life is connected. After having been exposed to the material it is quite amazing how all of life comes out of this simple and powerful principal. From plants and flowers to fertilized eggs, all of life works with these principals and follows the patterns of sacred geometry. There is also a meditation associated with this knowledge that sets up an energy field around you so that you may interact and experience your connection to the oneness of life. It may just be that I arrived here under such perfect conditions just to learn this one thing, but I would say that I learned and experienced so much more.
 france garden 2
The loving compassion in which David and Mo welcomed me into their lives and shared all that they have goes beyond words. The pure feeling of waking up each day, knowing that I was taken care of like a young child with loving parents is indescribable. I have been working hard to allow myself to be taken care of, whether by friends, strangers, or the universe itself. I have always been happy to take care of others and in the end I turned it into a shield against experiencing the same in return. To return to the knowing and feeling of being totally safe and with loved ones is a remembering of our true nature. We are always taken care of and this flow comes to us unrelenting and in abundance if we but learn to allow it. The shape and circumstances may always be different, but with the loving intention to flow with life, is to experience the love of life. I will be forever thankful for this gift and seek to be an example of it so that others may know this feeling.
 castle kitchen
The coincidences during my stay are beyond number, but one must be mentioned. I got to visit a real chateau and was amazed in the beauty and charm this building, older than the United States itself, held in its walls. During lunch in the village though, everyone greets fellow customers, and I made the acquaintance of Robin, a local healer and I am sure a very interesting person. In our short 3 minute introduction he gave me a litany of recommendations for India and offered to put me up in a house of his in northern India inhabited by Tibetans. I just have to laugh at how easily opportunities show up where available to help you along. It had been my strong and hourly intention to bring amazing experiences, people, music, resources, and food into my life. Of course it’s going to show up and sometimes what looks like a dramatic and wild offering seems simply perfect from one seeker to another. Releasing the resistance to universal source showing up in your life allows strangers to offer you what you desire. Only a short time ago this scenario might have been met with hesitation from myself, but I am in gratitude that I am evolving into a receiver of the intentions I make no matter what form they arrive in.
 mo and dacid
10 days have disappeared in a blink and yet each moment was lived fully and with great joy. I have a day at Lourdes for prayer and meditation, followed by my second Vipassana course and then off to India. As David confirmed, I am not going to India to learn anything, just to experience a way of living so that I may better manifest into my life that which brings the greatest joy. You reach a point where you don’t need to learn anything anymore. At first you pass a stage of gathering as much information as possible. Everything is novel and excites that deep place of knowing within you that recognizes truth. Another stage arrives where one goes quiet and must practice and experience this knowing. When something is needed you will know it when it is needed or be led to the knowing. One need not strive anymore to gather knowledge around oneself, but understands that all things  show up at exactly the right moment. I am entering this stage and I must say from the few experiences of this principal, it is true and beyond amazing. The stuff magic and dreams are made of, but accessible at every moment. We truly live in a miraculous reality
 france barn
I finish my experience in southern France with my trip to Lourdes. This was the source that set the previous experiences into motion and it doesn’t fail to delight either. Upon reaching the church grounds I can already feel my vibration raising to the level of healing. Old patterns forcing their way to the surface to flee this pureness. I arrive at mass and participate, even taking the body of Christ as I learned as a child. A symbolic act of aligning with the vibration of experience. I meditate and pray for around two hours as peoples faces and words of blessing form easily in my mind. I am alone in this great cathedral and the silence is amazing. I explore my interior space as well in light of my new merkaba energy field that is energizing me and my intentions.
  spring
On my break I stroll the grounds and find that the grey rain clouds have turned to sunny blues. How many times will I write about such experiences before they begin to bore my readers I wonder? I find the famous grotto with the healing spring. I pay my respects with the few others here on this perfect fall day. I then wash my face, jewelry, and fill my bottles with this holy water. It tastes fresh and crisp when I bring it to my lips and radiates a pleasant vibration from my stomach. I continue my leisurely stroll sipping holy water and relaxing into the peace of mind and body I have come to know as my daily experience. As my vibration continues to rise to match this water, I am healed. Healing being a state of being that expresses itself without resistance. I watch as little unconscious thoughts or habits come to the surface and are washed away without a second thought. Just being here is enough, the experience of a higher vibration is the healing, and above all else I choose to see things differently. Bless you all and may you find your way to perfect peace and harmony.
 france buddha
Resources for traveling:
Workaway
Also
Woofing: only for organic farming

 

Belgium Wanderings

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I arrive in Belgium today because of so many other little decisions and guidance received on my path. In addition, my good friend Kimberli is also in Belgium by way of Alaska. I am here on this day to rendezvous with her and catch up on life as we experience it. Kimberli and I met under similarly unusual experiences in SLC and have been best friends since. Sharing our spiritual journeys and seeking inspiration and guidance from each other. So it is with great joy that we can meet while in the midst of greater exploration.
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Kimberli finds herself in Brussels at this particular time by her own magical interventions on the camino de Santiago pilgrimage she partook of last year. A friendship has turned into an international relationship, and thus I make the acquaintance of my new friend and gracious host, Ben. Kimberli happens to be one of those special people who are just a part of your life without any effort, who you can talk with for days and never run out of things to say and likewise spend years apart and make it feel like only yesterday . On this overcast trip to Brussels with its shining display cases of chocolate and waffles, she is the bright sun who reminds me that other people go around having amazing experiences, manifested with the help of the universe.
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We catch up on the major points over tea and a few snacks before meeting with Ben to try the best Belgian fries in the city. If you are unaware of the history of “French fries”, they actually come from Belgium and during the war, some Americans didn’t know where they were and since Belgians speak French the misunderstanding was easily made. We are meeting with other friends from their pilgrimage last year. I get to relive the amazing coincidences and experiences of a group of young people walking across Spain for two months and the exciting situations they found themselves in. This is what journeying is about. Not reaching some end, for there is none, but deciding to go and the experiences along the way. That’s life in a nutshell, just enjoy the journey and make some friends along the way.
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New friends I continue to make here in Belgium, not least being Ben’s parents. They take Kimberli and I out for a day of sightseeing, including the atomium (the Iron atom for the 1958 world expo, and like Paris’s Eiffel tower never took it down), and then a Chinese buffet with the whole family. I’m still working on letting others take care of me, but this one is a bit harder. I can understand them taking Kimberli around, but also the new guy? Well obviously I can be taken care of, but I spend my time making sure to be an interactive guest and in some way earn the kindness I am being given. It takes me a while to see this as silly and just relax into having two doting parents take care of me and my pseudo sister. I have a great time and get to practice my French along the way. It reminds me of being with my Japanese host family, always taking care of me and myself trying to learn the language as quickly as I can so that I can converse and express my gratitude at just having this opportunity. Ben’s whole family is exceptionally nice and I always feel at home with them. I am thankful and look forward to a time that I may greet them again.
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I also get to meet Ben’s best friend, wife and new baby. Murron is just the cutest little squishy I’ve seen and we all get to take turns holding and doting on her. Her parents are really cool and artists to boot. I’m sure this one will grow into an interesting and talented person. Since we stayed up really late, we took the rainy day slowly and I decided to stay another day before heading to Bruge. I am glad I did because it was much more relaxing this way and the highlight of Brussels came that night.
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It started off with Kimberli showing me a pendant she got from her father. A mixture of metals and minerals that are quite pretty. However when I held it in my hand to feel its energy it was radiant and beyond happy and I burst into giggles. This started the sharing and feeling of all the stones and crystals we carried with us and transitioned into card readings and a practical demonstration of muscle testing for Ben. I got into that immeasurably happy space of teaching what I love and watching others open to a truth they had not remembered yet in this lifetime.
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Some notable experiences from this night including Ben going from untestable for muscle testing to testable. I had never met someone I couldn’t test who had given me permission to do so. I had no idea what to do other than say sorry. He looked up an answer and found out that being dehydrated can cause problems and had not drank any water all day. That solved the problem and allowed us all to learn something. The next experience was when I opened up Kimberli and Ben’s energy fields to test. Kimberli’s I was more familiar with which is always quite happy, but Ben’s was an explosion I had not experienced in a long time. It took me a minute to recognize what it was. Love! Their relationship had just begun and I have totally forgotten what it feels like to be in a new relationship where everything is alive with purpose and attraction. What a pleasant and unexpected gift for all.
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I headed for Bruge the next day. A quaint medieval town in the north of Belgium known for its picturesque buildings and canals. More recently known for the film “In Bruge” starring Colin Farrell as a gangster who hides out in this tucked away village to lay low. I think most travelers come here now for having seen this movie, myself included. It was indeed beautiful and with only 20,000 inhabitants, quite small (3 million people visit this town a year). I covered the main points and most of the city twice over in my two days there. More important to me was the remembering and putting into practice of choosing my experiences with the law of attraction. I had just listened again to “Ask and it is Given” by Esther and Jerry Hicks.  Reminding me in its wonderful brilliance to ask clearly and often for what I want in life and then accept the appearance of it. The trick is to raise the request to the level of positive emotion, be clear, acknowledge the appearance, and don’t let unconscious habit patterns keep bringing you what you’ve already been experiencing if you want something different. So about every hour or when I could remember I restated what I wanted and every time something shows up, I thank it for showing up and restate again if I realize I would like the experience to be better or different in some way I hadent noticed before. This helps expand and create the experiential wisdom that whatever desired experience one wishes for in life continues to show up. It’s been showing up constantly, but now you recognize the process and work with it for change.
 choco display
I have recently been asking for something like this in general. “May I continually bring experiences to me of meeting people in which to expand my consciousness, share in deep spiritual conversations, and provide new opportunities to enjoy life. May free resources flow into my life including money, delicious food, music, performances, entertainments and great deals. I stay perfectly happy, healthy, and growing in awareness and equanimity. May my experiences and gifts also flow into the lives of all those I encounter and share in joy.” I would add anything specific I felt I needed at the time such as all transportation will be perfectly on time.
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As I practiced this walking around Bruge it started showing up so quickly. I wandered into a violinist and said wow free music. Thanks for coming into my experience. I enjoyed it and then restated that I would also like all my favorite instruments to show up. Not 3 hours later at the end of my free walking tour of the city (thanks again) the same guy was in a different place and had picked up a cello and an accordion player. Wow that was super fast! Thanks for honoring my new desire Universe. It also happened that across the street was a free musical performance of a local harpist and I took my two new friends from the tour with me. Not only did this wonderful man play two types of harp he played the Japanese koto and the Hang. I love the Hang and it’s still relatively rare to see one as it’s the worlds newest instrument. It was amazing to see what I asked for show up in such abundance and so fast. I had no plans and could allow it to easily flow into my experience. Travel helps one to expand quickly because the normal daily routines are destroyed and new encounters can occur. The law of attraction is always working, but depending on what you ask for, you have to allow it into your life. If you are stuck in a pattern that makes it hard for you to acknowledge receipt of your request then it could take some time to recieve what you ask for. Of course the more I see this happen the less my doubt exists that all my thoughts are extremely powerful. Once you start living the experiential wisdom you cannot deny its power. If you leave the law of attraction as intellectual wisdom, never putting it into practice, it will never work properly for you.
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There continued to be many more small and large examples of this power increasing in my daily experience and awareness and it fills me with joy that I am growing on the path of enjoying happiness and harmony with the flow of energy in the world. Likewise I have received a message from a couchsurfing friend I overlooked in Switzerland to come visit. Now at the speed of light I have a flight and am on my way to Switzerland. Obviously my quieter desires and thoughts have been answered as I now get to include in my experience the Unesco scenic train ride through the Swiss alps and due to the way transportation works I get to visit venice for a few days. Both these thoughts had been lingering around and now I can seize this opportunity offered. Also I get to check off Italy on the Eat, Pray, Love tour. It’s shaping up to be a great way to travel with no plans. I may end up paying a bit more in Europe, but I get to say yes to everything!
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Here’s to enjoying all the opportunities that knock on the door.
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The wandering monk is off to Switzerland
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*Brussels also happens to be the home of The Smurfs and the Famous Manneken Pis statue.
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