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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
Mantra yourself to sleep with.
Jump now into the space
Between thoughts and
Exit this dream.
Before I burn the damn place down.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Have you ever felt like that? Life feels really good on paper, but there are no heart pangs of deep feeling; that a numbness has crawled in. As a birthday present to myself, I decided to jump into the Seattle Path of Love, to rekindle my passionate fire and wake up to my life. Again. I wanted to feel it all, the sadness, the happiness, the presence, whatever could be there as part of being human. Somewhere I fell asleep to the depths of feeling and the fire was building again to clear the dust on my own life.
In my day to day of school, work, play, business, and friendship, every aspect was going well, but still something essential felt missing. Path of Love is the strongest, most precise method by which I know how to wake up to more. It works every time, on everyone, and each successive time you participate you get even more. In the foothills of Mt. Vernon, on 250 lush acres, lies the TreacyLevine retreat center. 50 years of interfaith community building to form brothers and sisters among all people on the planet is a pretty ideal setting for our work. Beautiful scenery, sunsets, animal life including coyotes, plus all the stars that come out at night.
I had a goal, as most do coming to The Path Of Love, I wanted to wake up to all of my emotions and really feel life, deeply, authentically, passionately; with an intensity that I had forgotten, but once knew many times over. The beginning of the process started off with a bang. There was a controlled burn of a house on the property as we began our first meditation, quite symbolic of burning down the old structures so the new can have space. The intensity level during that first meditation really set the pace for the week. What took me a few days to feel comfortable doing in Costa Rica last year, exploded out of me within minutes. Perhaps it is getting easier, perhaps 5 planets retrograde helped expose what was hidden, perhaps the energy dynamics of this group helped; no matter the reason, I jumped with a sincere intensity into the work that would change my life again.
In my exploration of my feelings, a few keys needed to be returned to me. I knew these keys, I even wrote them down, and yet I still forgot the experiential essence of them. First and foremost is the presence of the superego, otherwise known as the Judge. This is the voice in our head that tells us we are not good enough. It comes in many ways, many subtle disguises, directed at others, but mostly at the self. It has a purpose, it keeps you safe, but as we grow up and become stronger, we don’t need this voice so strongly anymore, but who has ever trained us to lesson its power over us? Flexing the muscle of control over the superego is a moment to moment practice. Becoming even slightly more free of its masks of deception provides a profound sense of well being and trust in life.
My superego tells me many things, mostly how to keep myself small, but it also tells me how I should feel. Like others, it confused me by ‘telling’ me how I feel rather than allowing me to feel how I feel. This is the beginning of moving from the head to the heart. My superego told me I needed to feel a certain way and when I did not, it exerted its control over me by saying “look, see, your heart is closed, you don’t feel anything.” As tears were streaming down my face, having been touched by the deep gratitude and love of many people, I could only conclude that I was overflowing with feeling and I needed to change my ideas about what an open heart feels like. I was feeling everything, wonderfully everything, but still the Judge was there trying to tell me I was wrong, that I wasn’t feeling enough, well superego I caught you in your lies and now you can leave this mind once again.
Once I caught my superego, the real work of stepping into my power began. This week was about feeling and power; masculine power. As many who know me can attest, I hang out in the feminine, intuitive energies because I am most comfortable there. This has formed a pattern through my life of people being confused about my sexuality. Metro sexual, bi-sexual, homosexual, no one can quite pin down a male body, with feminine energy, who is interested in women and can love everyone, male and female. What I discovered this week was the core of masculine power. This is not the aggressive warrior archetype, although that is an aspect, but it came down to one mantra for me “Strong enough to be changed by love”. The feminine is a river being held by the masculine banks. The bank stays strong in what it is, while allowing its edges to be constantly changed by the love of the feminine. No more controlling life, no lack of trust, a constant dialogue between the masculine and the feminine for without both there would be no river and no bank, just a swamp land.
My experience of this wonderful dynamic came in an unexpected way; her name is Julie. From the start I took a risk to be more outgoing and assertive, this led to a lot of hilarity in witty verbal exchanges, as well as pushing the boundaries with all people. I was thankful and fulfilled by just this verbal exchange of asserting who I was and how I felt, but the universe always brings more than you ask for. In the weeks leading up to PoL the universe saw fit to bring me many examples of male/female relationships to help me better define what my inner landscape looks like. I changed my internal compass from finding a partner who I can work on my inner issues with to someone with whom I enjoy life each day immensely with. This means someone in whom I feel relaxed and comfortable, someone to laugh with all the time, someone who can meet my intensity and then keep pushing the boundaries of what is possible. This has become my new working definition and highest priority: connection. To say that I found a connection in Julie would be an understatement.
The transforming experience came in a quiet moment after dinner, sitting in a deck chair looking at the landscape. I was feeling centered and complete with everything. Julie came by, sat in the chair next to mine and laid her head simply on my shoulder. The world turned and stayed incredibly still. Like the river banks, somehow I had found my center. No voice arose, no impulse to do anything, in fact I sunk deeper into myself having the feminine drape itself across me. Normally I would have gotten excited, started wondering how do I need to engage this person, what do I need to do to make this better, more, or somehow mesh with this person. Instead I stayed in my masculine center, right where I was and what I was doing, while my edges were changed. The feeling was incredible and will stay with me forever; of being myself and needing not change anything, that I was enough as myself. My hardest aspect of relationships has always been integrating this with women, and here at my deepest opening was Julie, pushing on my edges asking me if I could hold myself as a man. What an incredibly powerful and subtle experience. Perhaps true wisdom comes silently on the evening breeze, not in some flash of sunrise on the horizon.
After that experience, our energies coalesced and exploded. The connection generated was felt by all and mentioned by many. I was able to practice my new masculine power center in many ways and found that living life from this place is so rewarding. I can be soft and feminine and present while maintaining my solid masculine core of grounded-ness and commitment. It is this power center that fuels the passion of life and is a core principal experienced on the Path of Love. To be able to integrate this deeply and practice it at the same time is what made this experience so powerful.
I was touched in many ways during this process, tears falling in rivers down my cheeks from extreme gratitude, witnessing beauty, connecting with people: their pain and pleasure, and being present to the wonderful space opening in me as I continued such transformative work. Osho certainly showed up for me personally again, reaching out across the years with his presence and power. It was during this process that I received the name of my heart and that connection was not lost on me. Standing next to beautiful new friends who lived many years with Osho himself, we wept for all the gifts that have been brought to us through his life; we wept for the longing in our hearts of wanting to connect to such a beautiful presence, we wept for the courageous people at that moment who were passionately digging to find and awaken their own hearts. It takes a community of people to hold the space of the heart and to help it trust to open. I was so happy to wake up every day to meet each and every one of these people and share some connection no matter what it was. It is a strange fact of life that everyone desires this connection and security, yet we rarely live in such a way as to promote it daily.
Wrapping up such a deeply changing process is always difficult. Having built such a powerful and connected community through sharing emotions, love, laughter, and tears is hard to walk away from. Perhaps one day we can all just live together and share life in such a way, but for today we all go our separate ways and reintegrate into our societal lives. The pain of separation has always been an unexpressed surface emotion for me, but I know it affects me deeply. I put extra intention into parting with Julie; and our departure was filled with longing and tears, but also pierced by a connection that runs deep with a love mutually shared and experienced. It was a beautiful letting go into the unknown. Hugs and laughter were shared with everyone else and promises to see each other again soon. We all were deeply touched by the experiences shared in this week and I long for a way of living in which everyone can come and go as they please, but still hold this sense of connection through community. I had a reason to wake up everyday that wasn’t work; either a morning meditation or to share breakfast with friends and connect. This aspect of community and being seen continues to fuel my love of creating community. To have people around who can hold space for you, is such a beautiful gift that so many are longing for, I wonder why we struggle as a society to form lasting community.
In this sense the divine enters into the Path of Love. Through our own hearts longing, and the grace of the divine, we reach all that we desire. Bring an intensity to the search, and the divine will take over and give blessings. Osho certainly found me and brought me to this work. Through what he left behind, I was able to find myself. The deep gratitude I feel for him and all his people is beyond words and a debt beyond repaying. I am so thankful for this life and this community discovered on the Path of Love.
Find out more at www.pathoflove.net
The land of fire and ice!
This is my un-definitive guide to Iceland by car in early summer. Do you have a layover, a couple friends, and a drivers license? Then get your cameras and faces ready for some jaw dropping scenery in the most beautiful place on the planet. Finally returning after two years, this time I am armed with two best friends, an upgraded rental, and a mind blowing itinerary. Iceland isn’t so hard to figure out as there is basically one road, budget shopping (bonus supermarkets), and everything else is on the Internet (from accommodations to itineraries). Therefore this is a quick and dirty guide to hitting and quitting Iceland from my recent perspective to highlight some of the better hidden gems and to show off the beautiful scenery in photos.
Bring waterproof and warm clothing as the weather is unpredictable, accommodation is 30-40 a night, spend a few more dollars on a bigger car while getting a good deal, and pack lots of picnics.
The capital is colorful, slightly expensive, and a fun time. After doing the few local landmarks such as the church and Viking sculpture either prepare for a long first day or go out and meet some locals. They are very friendly and often invite you home.
Secret hot spring alert: Grotta Hot Pot
A cute little puddle of a hot spring. Super tiny, but I managed to fit with two people. It feels funny being in such a small space, but the view is huge. Locals even patted me on the back for stripping down in the cold weather.
This is the big one. Get some sleep unless you are a train wreck of awesomeness like my buddy Shane and stay out all night with locals in Reykjavik.
Now Iceland’s second tallest waterfall and a small adventure in itself. Strolling up the beautiful canyon you get to descend trough a tiny cave and cross a river before hiking up to the lookout point. A great place to hit first thing in the morning and even spend half a day doing the whole loop around the lake at the top.
Secret hot spring: Geothermal Hot Tub
This one was given to me by a local and it is obscure. You can drive there easy enough and with a short walk arrive, but it is hit or miss. The water is bubbling out of the earth no doubt, but it requires the piping to be working to fill the tub. On my first visit it was great, on the second the pipes were not in order, so a bust. The scenery is worth the trip and if you can soak, all the better.
The Golden Circle
This is the must see highlight from Reykjavik, whether you take the tour for 1 day or rent a car. It includes the double waterfall Gullfoss, the timely Geyser, and Thingvellir national park where the tectonic plates are separating. There is amazing history as well as shopping.
Hotspring alert: Gamle Laugin in Flúðir
Not so secret but definitely hidden and also not free. You can tour the site which is quite beautiful and see more bubbling water and bright pools coming out of the earth without paying to soak. 20$ to soak
Attraction alert: Flúðir
Tour one of Iceland’s tomato hothouses and enjoy some culture and delicious tomato soup and sandwiches.
Continuing on because you are gung-ho adventurers, we head south to the coast on our way to Vik for our wonderful Kosy beds.
Staring at you right off the main road is this spectacular waterfall. It’s loud, it’s wet, you can walk behind it! The mist is what gets you so wrap up in your waterproof gear. Time this for sunset or sunrise and you are going to get spectacular photos. Actually if the sun is shining at all you will be blown away.
You are welcome to find other nearby accommodations or booking well in advance you can stay at the lovely Kosy Vik. A renovated 100 year old hospital with two modern and comfortable rooms in the bottom floor and a wonderfully helpful host. You will be receiving a special Icelandic culinary experience here generally so be prepared. (It’s the classic fermented shark and brennivins shot, bottoms up!)
The sun doesn’t really go down so if you wandered around the small town or black sand beach you could enjoy some unwinding time. You might also have spent three days getting this much excitement into your schedule and you will be rewarded tomorrow again.
Southern Iceland Area
We start our day off by backtracking actually. If you find different accommodation then you can save some driving.
Black sand beaches of Vik
Located right around the corner is black beach. From the black sand to the unique lava rock hexagonal formations, a trip to this beach is a must. Memory making photo sessions are a quick jot from the parking lot. Easily the best beach we visited.
Just further up the coast from black beach. Known for its unique elephant shaped rock formation and the many puffins. it’s a wonderful place to visit for various reasons or a picnic spot.
Going back further still is the Myrdalsjokill Glacier. You can play around its outskirts, hire a guide and gear, or bring your own ice cleats and take a stroll. This glacier can also be hiked over with a visit to Eyjafjallajökull from the next location (although I did not personally accomplish this, just some friends of mine).
This wide waterfall is a beauty. With stairs to the top and an impressive view this is also a great place to picnic. Make sure to stop halfway up and visit the fuzzy trolls. You can also start or end a 2-3 day hike into Iceland crossing over the earlier glacier and visiting the peak of Eyjafjallajökull volcano. You also get to scope or hike through landmanlagur which is certainly off the beaten track and mesmerizing.
Crashed DC-3 plane
Have an extra hour? Drive down to a crashed DC-3 and make up your own stories for friends at home. You don’t need a 4×4 to reach here, just some good eye sight to spot the entrance sign which is tiny. Drive slowly and stay in the markers and you will be fine.
Hot spring alert: Seljavallalaug
The pool at the end of the canyon is easily accessible and frequented by many locals and travelers. The water isn’t very hot except by the vent so be aware of this. The scenery is beautiful and the changing rooms are messy, but at least there are rooms to change in. The hike is fun even if you don’t take a dip.
These attractions are some of the most enjoyable of Iceland so take your time in the area before flying off east into your adventure with a hitchhiker towards skaftafell.
Visit another glacier and svartifoss waterfall which is the inspiration for the Reykjavik church.
Scoot over to the most amazing spot in all of Iceland and a personal item on my bucket list Jokulsarlon Lagoon. Ive always wanted to see icebergs on a black sand beach with the waves coming in and out. I was not disappointed nor will you be. Take some time for photographs.
Spend the night at the quaint farmhouse Stafafell. Lovely sheep and a small cemetery compliment the large kitchen and many couches of this guesthouse. It was a nice place to rest after such a long day.
Despite the amazing scenery from the car and the many fjords, I didn’t see much else in the east worth mentioning. I know there is much more, but southern Iceland seems positively packed comparatively.
The third highest waterfall in Iceland and walking up to it feels like walking through a fairy glade. Best when the sun is out, the red rock formations from the Iron cooling in hot magma are impressive.
This was certainly the highlight of eastern Iceland. Driving over the snow line and down into a beautiful fjord was breathtaking. Spend the evening in this quaint town and book a room at Nordursild (north marina) Guesthouse. The rooms are smaller but clean and incredibly comfortable. The main room of this old converted dock house is full of spectacular nautical furniture and artifacts.
It snowed on us! Driving over the black wastelands of north eastern Iceland the winds picked up and so did the weather. We arrived at a geothermal plant with bubbling gasses spewing from the earth where just yesterday there was a lake, there is now ice skating. We were freezing so much we had to move on quickly.
Haverarond mud pits
Just across the road literally from the geothermal plant is this wonderful place that looks like mars. Bubbling mud, white hot steam, tourists walking around. Whats not to love?
This is a must stop on the road trip. The lake is absolutely beautiful whether you camp out here or just take a picnic. The only accommodation that was available for us was a nice little room at a working farm just past the lake: Guesthouse Stöng. Beautiful property, they serve their own homemade meats and salamis for breakfast, and have hot tubs to use.
There are so many things to do around the lake just take a look (Hverfjall hike for instance), but not to be missed is Grjótagjá. This underground hot spring grotto is mesmerizing and beautiful. There is a wonderful splitting of the earth here you can walk along, and if you ignore the signs and go to the little cave next door (to the left), you can get away with some bathing.
Myvatn Nature Baths
The blue lagoon of the north! Spend a few hours in this milky blue hot spring and watch the weather move across the landscape. Rejuvenating waters and saunas for the weary traveler. By this point you certainly need a break as too much driving and beauty can wear you out.
*Pro tip: Tell them you are a student and save 10$, they dont check either way we noticed.
We back tracked due to weather, trying to land a good time at Europe’s most powerful waterfall, dettifoss. There are two roads to get there, east and west. West certainly has a better view and walking around, but if you are going north then the road might not be open all the way and you will have to drive a long way around up the east road. Check first with the government website. We ended up driving on both, but it was still worth the drive.
The beautiful city of the north. After driving around beautiful stretches of the north coast we arrived in town and found a room at the backpackers hostel because they are in the middle of downtown (which happens to be one short road in length) and because we were hoping to land a couchsurfing host (which worked out the next day). The houses are quaint and worth a few hours of walking around, and the nightlife is bubbly since the sun is up all night. We couldn’t find any locals to tell us what fun there was other than drinking and winter sports, so we did just that.
Here we had to say goodbye to our outrageous friend J’Lynn at the little airport. The laughs were wonderful.
Hot spring alert: Grettislaug
The hot springs of legend! This is worth the drive to visit. Two quaint and surprisingly hot hot springs are well maintained. With rising mountains and the black sea for a view, this was the highlight of our last day. We jumped into the freezing north sea a few times, building up to 10 seconds and then went to warm up in the pools. Our version of the polar plunge.
I may have been a little over zealous for our last day, driving from Akureyri to Reykjavik, but we spent an extra day in the north so this is what was left to us. I wanted to see Snaefellsnes peninsula for its beauty and a particular photo opportunity. However it was rainy and overcast. Even still it was beautiful. We crossed a mountain obscured in cloud and couldn’t see 5 feet in front of us. For the adventurer with more time, grab the Snaefellsnes map from the tourist office and visit some black beaches and small towns, I would make this a priority visit on my next tour.
We got back to Reykjavik in the evening and spent some time in a cafe bar with locals. It was the eve of summer solstice and the city was alive with revelers. We enjoyed the mayhem in the streets till late and then made our way to the airport for an early departure. No damage to the rental and with a huge sigh relaxed into a comfortable seat at the airport. We could have slept, but as our adventures were about to go in different directions we spent the time with each other, and all the beauty of Iceland. Its amazing to think that by the end we could barely enjoy one more perfect waterfall, or another picturesque mountain. It just goes to show Iceland can be too much of a good thing for one visit, so plan a second trip, you wont be disappointed.