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.

The End and Beginning of a Journey

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It got hazy, standing on the boundary line of beginning and ending. Wondering what defines you as the mist of doubt swirls and sprays in your eye. One foot wading into the adventure of the unknown and the other safely planted in the comfort of the known. Self doubt and fear creep in causing that first step to be questioned from every angle. A step, a leap, a jump, full force into the unknown is the only remedy in this battle between the head and the heart.
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In the borderlands of wrapping up two years of ego crushing travel, ill be honest in saying I woke up with a solid fear gripping my heart each morning. The practical life questions each of us face seemed to suddenly crash upon me in a heap. What do I want to do with my life, where do I want to live, what kind of work can I do, will I be happy and successful, and can I let go of this lifestyle and move into another? I was emotionally paralyzed each morning and it would take a few hours of meditation to settle my heart, and constant attention of my mind to stop questioning the same things over and over. Armed with those two methods I would slowly reclaim myself and be able to go about my day.


What emerged shortly after I finally got a hold of myself was a new distinction. The age old question of what do I want to DO and who do I want to BE? There are many many things in this world I want to do, and even create, but they are not who I am. Somehow I never noticed how I positioned myself to define my beingness by what I did. Creating a community or traveling the world isnt who I am, its what I do. When I listed out all the things in my life, they all landed squarely in the doing category. Where was the definition of my being?
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Suddenly and without much fanfare a new idea entered into my thinking. I cant say it was really new, but I treated it with the attention it finally deserved. In all the things I wanted to do, in all the things I loved in my life, I wanted to BE a healer in all of them. I’ve known this about myself, but never put this little fact into the box of definition called who I am. I always played with the idea (learning or experiencing various things), or thought about how I could make a career out of it (always with a mix of trepidation and excitement). Suddenly everything fell into place when I accepted this truth about myself. I am a healer and it can be expressed in many forms and many ways. I wasnt pigeon holing myself into a small box, in fact this definition opened so many doors I could finally relax. There wasnt a big aha moment, it was a quiet acceptance of what I had known all along.


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Owning up to this didn’t come easy, that’s for sure. It took all the learning and experiences of traveling the world and coming back, practicing meditation. being fearful about making money, and then being excited to turn a deep love into a lifestyle to get over the fear of just even starting. I spent literal months questioning myself, using my mind exhaustively, working myself up into fear and frenzy. I was fearful of HOW it was going to work out, but the answer is always in the doing. After all the fears and worry and doubt, there was a gift waiting for me when I finally just started acting. Every fear my mind created was easily blown out like a candle in the wind of applying yourself to action.
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After knowing what you ARE, doing easily flows from this place. A new idea to become a massage therapist struck me as quite a lovely idea. I get to be a healer in a practical and accepted field and I get to open the door into all the other healing techniques I have to offer. I can travel with this profession and there is endless learning that can be experienced. I get to help people, help myself, and it is something I am already good at and love to do. I get to BE who I am and DO something that supports that beingness. Unbeknownst to me at the time, this was the start of a new journey.
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I could have applied my new definition of being a healer in many ways mind you. I also want to do spiritual counseling and teach meditation, to do intuitive card readings and share human design. Massage seemed the most practical as it answered a very fearful question of supporting myself financially. Massage is already an accepted healing modality and I can make money with it around the world. Everyone needs to start somewhere and with my first chakra active to find stability and security this seemed the easiest way to enter my new way of life.
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When I decided to start on this path, it was like walking the yellow brick road. I am beggining at thirty years old, with all the wisdom of self knowing, and the passionate commitment to master myself in the field of massage therapy. I prepared well for this journey before I even know I had begun, and likewise did all the appropriate research with friends and practitioners in the field to make sure I was suited to this path. As I began this walk, the petty fears I had held for so long all melted away with experience and within a month, I had secured an apartment, furnished it, started school, made friends, landed a job, and was enjoying my rooted life. One month! I was truly fearful of figuring out all those things just the month prior because I didn’t know HOW it was going to happen. This is when I realized I had crossed the boundary; from thinking and fretting about my future to just living my present. One step at a time, I slowly and safely walked into a new life of being a healer.
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I am in love with this lifestyle and what I get to do each day, because it resonates with who I am. I find I am centered and calm at school, talented without any effort, because it is already who I am. Massage isn’t so much about technique as my fellow new students can demonstrate, it ends up being all about your presence. All the work I did around the world of learning about myself and deepening into my own presence has paid off in the most interesting way.  If you love what you do, others can feel that in your touch. This applies to anything and everything. If what you do comes from who you are, you will eventually be a master of it. Despite the ups and downs over the last eight years of walking the spiritual path, I can say it was all worth it, the fears and the joys, the anxiety of the unknown and the culmination of starting a lifestyle that really motivates me.


I would wish this self discovery and knowing upon you all, so that you may begin to live a life that supports itself in a complete circle. To discover and accept who you are and to pursue a life that supports your being. To set aside the fears of how to do it and just take one step at a time forward in your own direction to better yourself. This is what I set out to accomplish in uncertain terms just two years ago. I wandered in many ways that supported me and at many times felt very misaligned. In the end though I accepted something that was authentic and will continue to serve me the rest of my life. There is only one definition of who I AM and that is to be a HEALER.


As I begin a new chapter in my life it is again a new journey of self discovery. To embrace the essence of a healer and having finally found my light, but I still have work to make it shine. Getting this knowing anchored is the first major battle, but every step after that, is one of delight, bringing passion to all your efforts. The choice to be a massage therapist has given me a few hidden gifts as well as I find that my teacher aspect and my acceptance of myself as a master has come forth. Before I anchored who I Am, I certainly had doubts about my talents and qualities. As I work with my fellow students and often find myself teaching, I am owning my power and accepting the knowledge and work I have accomplished in my travels is actually needed, well explained, and even masterful in its execution.
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So it comes down to this. An old journey has ended and a new one has begun. I could never have guessed how my travels would have landed me back in Salt Lake City as a massage therapist, but standing in this new role I find myself overly content and couldn’t imagine doing anything else currently. All the efforts of the past have led me here, just as all my currents efforts will be leading me to some other greatness I cannot imagine. It is tiring to fight against the flow of the universe and worry about how life will work itself out. Begin today and just take one step closer to who you are and have always wanted to be. It makes all the difference in how you feel about each moment.
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May you all find the place of knowing in yourselves to accept the beautiful gift you already carry with you and know is your calling. May it come easier than my hard won battle, but please you all the same. In light and love may we all walk this path together.

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 Balance In Bali

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Swooping into Bali on the eve of Nyepi, Balinese new year and day of silence, the streets are packed with revelers, smiling faces, singing and loud noise crackers. Crews from local temples have hoisted large daemon statues into the air and are parading on every street corner. For the typically laid back, relaxed Balinese people I would come to know, this was quite the extraordinary celebration. Waking up the next day and being legally required to stay in your home compound and relax, I slowly tasted this new setting.

 

It’s a strange feeling to arrive in the tropical paradise of Bali and receive the knowing that after two years of spiritual journeying the desire to travel is finished. The universe has been mysteriously pulling me towards Bali for over a year now, without a promise of why, but a knowing that something was waiting for me. I have arrived and suddenly I want to run away, I am anxious and scared, and beginning an existential crisis. I want solitude and warm clothes and a cup of hot tea. That is not your typical response to landing in the lush garden of Bali, but for me will be a critical turning point in my inner world.
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After the solid support of India’s meditation, and meeting daily with enlightened masters, I find myself adrift in the laid back waters of this tropical paradise. With smiles and yoga, raw juice and food, techno nomads and water sports at every turn, I find this life of leisure a boring routine after so many months on the road. It’s a beautiful picture of a daily world, but I am lost and must be found. My ego must answer a new question that has been building in me: “Who am I and what am I going to do in this life?” Suddenly the question of practical life has reared it’s head in asking the most fundamental questions. What do I want to do to support myself? What skills do I actually have? Can I take my dreams and ideas and do something practical about them?
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I am living in a beautiful villa courtesy of my new friend Salvador. The wildly charismatic, successful, Ashtonga yogi, and restaurant builder from Los Angeles whom I met in India. He is living a perfect balance of work and play, and is an example to me in this difficult time. After slowing down an 80 hour a week restaurant life to balance his spiritual practice and work, he is flowing in the universal juices more than ever. Watching him navigate new business ideas and deals from conception to reality, making friends with yogis and strangers in cafés, and absorbing the meditation world of Osho, I’ve seen levels of synchronicity I’ve forgotten existed. It’s all just a reminder to trust more deeply, that energy flows, to live a life that you love, and embrace yourself in the mystery of existence.
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It’s hard to know the full impact my new mentor in business will make on my life, but I know that my ego took a rough couple weeks of beating before I found my balance. It’s safe to say that I’ve been living a life focused only on my inner work for the last two years. Suddenly living in this new energy of business, practical life, meditation, and creation begged me to answer the question of what do I really want to build in my life and can I overcome the fear to actually do it? The rhetoric answer has always been my sustainable meditation community and my mind fed this back to me in one hundred different ways. Despite the fact that I don’t think I have the skills needed at this moment to accomplish this entire task, I was counting on my desire and inner knowing to pull me through. I was trying to answer the question of how to do this all in my head. Plans, figures and resources needed, locations and promotional success and again and again I was driving myself into a hole of pressure and trying to answer a question that couldn’t be answered without action.

 

This is the quality of the ego my friends. It will take you to the depths of despair, uncertainty, and fear so that it can maintain it’s power and keep you from living the fullness of your life. Despite battling this exact scenario and foe on many occasions, it still gets the better of me from time to time. You have to let it all go. You have to trust yourself and life. And above all else you have to stop trying to answer unanswerable questions. There is an answer of course in your heart, but never in the vicious circle in your own mind.
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I finally managed with the help of some outside observers and patient support to settle down and put these mental questions aside. I began slowly to focus on the present moment and support myself with positive self talk, meditation, and simple daily goals. Most importantly I just stopped trying to answer these very dear and important questions when they popped up. Wouldn’t you know that a few days later I was calmed down. I could see the beauty of Bali and I could enjoy my life again. I could find my center and my authentic longing to live life once again. I could find my prayer, and my love, so that I could express my unique presence in each activity I did no matter how small. From this place, all those important questions seem so easy and simple. A matter of one foot In front of the other and remembering this is the most important remembering one can have.
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I see many people wrestling with this one issue of trying to answer some deep inner question and never finding the answer. Osho has taught me that there is no answer, but the task is to take away the question. The heart deals with how to love and express and experience life. From this place there are no problematic questions as such. There are questions like how can I be in more gratitude, how can I feel the depths and heights of this human life, how can I better serve humanity, how can I be one with the universe, God, and love? These are also unanswerable questions, but the quality is instead a deepening and expanding of the life force. It makes you feel good to wonder these things. Alternatively trying to answer, what to do, am I good enough, and can I trust I’ll be taken care of deplete this vital source of happiness and energy to the point we fall asleep in life and forget the beauty that surrounds us.
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As I woke up myself, I woke up to Bali. The food was better tasting, the people more loving, the whole situation was a pleasure to find myself in. I promptly took a vacation to the beach to surf and scuba for a few days. Out of the hustle of Ubud and the entrepreneurs, I finally relaxed into beach life and the beautiful meditation that is scuba diving. Spending my mornings exploring a vast, mesmerizing, alien world while floating in three dimensions is nothing short of meditation. Breath in, breath out, float up, float down, repeat. In those depths I found myself again and my efforts of centering were only growing more and more. I suddenly had three days left in Bali and the beauty had just found my heart.
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*Courtesy of Carolyn McDonough
Perhaps it is knowing that something is going to end that helps make it all the more beautiful. We could cling instead to what is departing and suffer the inevitable outcome or embrace the fleeting beauty of experience. My ego has a pattern that has become quite familiar to me when it is time to leave a place. It tries to have every good experience again squeezed into just the final days. This is most often expressed by trying to eat every delicious food I know of. Such a silly idea because you just create a belly ache and then none of the food tastes good anymore. This is the egos way of trying to have everything, and in reality keeping you from accomplishing anything.  I’ve settled on going completely against this notion and try to have an entirely new day of experiences on my last day. New experiences are ultimately the only kind of experience we can have and any attempt at repeating one is met sadly with lackluster results.
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Salvador, Maria, new friend Jamie, and myself took a beautiful morning ride through Bali’s rice fields and palm trees to say goodbye to beloved yogi friends and master teachers. Followed by a trip to puri nugong kawi to sample the meditation caves of monks long past. Our real goal was the secret waterfall behind the temple where we plunge into the cold waters on this bright morning and feel the power of nature and come alive in her magnificence.
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My favorite experience it turns out is the Balinese water temple. You take a prayer Into the waters and before the twelve holy spouts you dunk your head and cleanse your heart. With each successful cleansing the prayer gets deeper and deeper. More longing and truth come out and you end up with the most beautiful process of cleansing your heart and knowing you are one with God. All the things you want, all that you are grateful for, all the love you wish to experience has been felt in that cold rush of holy water. Cold and wet, but perfectly happy, I can feel why ceremony is so important to the Balinese lifestyle.
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We finish this spectacular last day with a long planned visit to mosaic. The most expensive restaurant on Bali and one of the best restaurants of south east Asia. While only moderately priced for western standards, this meal blows me away. Over 40 people have a hand in each dish, with expert execution and an emphasis on local flavors, this is easily one of the best meals of my life. Each plate has so many perfectly balanced elements to delight the senses I am in awe of how much effort went into each plate and there will be ten of them, for each of us, depending on our dietary preferences.
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During this meal a strange thing occurred, but of course was orchestrated by the universe for my benefit. Having 12 people, we were split into two tables and my preference was to sit with my new friends and a particularly interesting gentleman with sufi background that I wished to know better. As such, it turned out I would sit with Maria, Sal, and three new friends, two of whom are from Kansas City. Small talk was polite and semi interesting, but the bomb came when Maria and I finally had a talk about our time spent here and the energetic issues we could never quite talk about with any depth. Often times you need a friend or even stranger to help you see the patterns which are obvious to an outsider yet oblivious to yourself. Thus the crux of my reason for being in Bali was made known to me.

 

I don’t know what the center of my power and identity of self is. Maria, thankfully a master in her own sense of identity, let the axe fall so to speak and gave me a strong dose of truth. It takes a strong person to deliver that kind of truth and be comfortable doing so. It is true that when I arrived in Bali I could not find my support, the base on which I could stand and be relaxed in my self. In India, Osho holds that place of support which I now understand more fully why I feel so comfortable there. This lesson is about being out in the world and finding my own inner support that doesn’t waver. Maria needed support as well and when we turned to each other in Bali and couldn’t support the other, problems arose. Our mutual support turned out to be Salvador who was a rock of joy and enthusiasm for living life each day in paradise. While I was struggling to find myself and battling my ego I did learn a few things.
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Trying to answer a question in your head, for example brooding about something, is useless as the answer cannot exist there. If it did, you would have answered it, but since it isn’t, that is the egos way of running you in a circle to assert its importance and generally just tire you out. Remedy; put aside that thought entirely and replace it with action or positive self talk or prayer.

 

Laziness comes in many forms. If you cannot constantly apply yourself in your own life, slowly a type of sleep begins to master parts of your life. I was living more in thoughts and dreams than being active in creating the life I wanted. I needed to be more myself and take some risks. For fear of upsetting another person or some imagined status quo, I lazily placated myself and everyone by being “the good boy”. Sometimes you just have to stir the pot and be a bit crazy; upset some people, say something daring, be exciting. There is no need to be mean, but without poking people or yourself at times, you become lazy to your own growth and fall asleep.
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What is your base of support and are you in control of it? I mean, is your base located inside or outside of yourself. Mine has been an external support, that of meditation and community. To bring that locus of control inside, to an internal support is a self growth exercise. Finding out what you can stand on is vital to branching out while being in your authentic power. This is where the confidence to support yourself, emotionally, spiritually, and materially comes into play. With that deep knowing, you are able to rest in your natural self and apply yourself in any endeavor.

 

I have struggled with this area of personal identity. With so much meditation and letting go of attachments, my cunning ego also found ways to exist with this new spiritual mindset. When you let go of excitement, curiosity, wonder, preferences, new ideas, and expansion, you begin to live a flat life, not a real life of non-attachment. Non attachment is a very positive state, you can delight in all things, especially the small things. Somewhere I forgot this state of being. The spiritual journey is full of dangers without any guarantee of being found. Which makes the process of being found such a wonderful experience. The more I wake up to the fact I was sleeping, the more I enjoy my own process of waking up.
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That is the whole trick I believe. Once you start on the road of waking up one step at a time, everything will find its own place. Allow the beauty to be your focus and put all the concerns of the mind to the side. Bali was a wake up call, ripe with hidden teachers and lessons. It doesn’t take traveling halfway across the planet to learn these lessons, you can wake up to your life right where you are. It takes a little focus, it takes a little effort, and in the end you keep taking it one step at a time.
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Bali was about finding balance between the internal and the external. It started a new dialogue that will move me along the path. I am thankful to all the teachers and strangers who stepped on my path to show me the way. Those that help remind me to keep waking up, to keep moving forward, to keep shining my own beautiful light, because one day I will realize myself and that will make all the difference.

 

Many blessings to you and your journey. May you find your way happily.

 

Life with the masters in Rishikesh

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Leaving an Osho community is always a strange and powerful experience that one must inevitably conclude their trip with. Whether you jump right back into what you knew as life before or simply move to another experience on your journey, the shift can be quite surprising. Thankfully this year I have a more balanced plan of action. I will take a pause from life inside the resort to learn Ayurvedic energy massage while still visiting once a week, followed by a trip to the beach in Goa, then to be continued with a month in Rishikesh sitting with enlightened masters in satsang. This feels like it might be enough of a step down to mellow out the sharp effects of leaving the Osho community this year.
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*Got to do a little advertising with my face

 

I take my high on life energy from completing the Path of Love course and gently turn its open heart energies into learning hands on massage. From the first day, first lesson, first touch, I am in love with this practice. I have known my teacher for only a year now, but his presence and energy was overwhelming from the very first meeting. The beauty of Shikha’s massage technique, besides being completely relaxing, is to take the recipient into their own space of inner silence. The first time he laid his hands on me in the middle of the massage and suddenly dropped into a deep space of “I don’t know where I am anymore”, I was hooked. When I asked what he did at that point he only smiled as if to say, “isn’t that magical?”

 

The method of this massage is using Ayurveda to touch the energetic and emotional blocks in the body and gently dissolve them. I felt that I wasn’t really receiving instructions so much as directly receiving the information from the body and wisdom directly from the heart of the master. On quite a few occasions deep energy blocks were touched an healed with accompanying tears, laughter, shouting, or other surprises. The depth of our attention and intention was the most important factor in this learning, as if we were just becoming channels for the healing energies through our bodies and hands. I know that often two hours of time would just disappear into massaging my partner and I would finish with more energy and love than I had begun with. I have found massage to be a healing outlet for my hands in which I can share all my talents in both giving and receiving. Wrapping up training with many compliments and love all around, and after a wonderful day of happy goodbyes at Osho, I left for the beach with a song in my heart and a dance in my step
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Goa rushed into my experience in the dawn light of waves crashing on cliffs. I found accommodation as one does, and began running into familiar faces from my first 10 minutes. Goa is filled with sandy beaches, lively hippies, Russian families, artists and musicians, as well as the yoga and meditation crowd. I ran into my good friends Kimberli and Ben on the main road on a whim. They were meeting me in India for the first time from Europe and of course just bumped into each other on the street. We spent our days watching the waves crash onto the rocks, reading books, mid day siestas, walking the beach at sunset, and long conversations over dinner right on the beach. Somehow nine days disappeared into memory so quickly, but we all had a small issue with the energy here.
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My mornings were the best, waking before the sun and greeting it with my daily stretching. Meditation followed and from here the day went downhill, ending with sleeping the middle of the day away and slowly coming back to enjoy sunset and dinner. I thought this was perhaps my issue having just left Osho, but both my friends were similarly affected. Granted it was hot in the middle of the day, but our energies were just depleted in this lifestyle. There are many people who enjoy the daily pace of drinking, mingling, and generally having less direction as beach culture usually dictates. For me, this was pure torture and I could never settle into aimless beach life. I tried some of the classes there, but only my circus arts, dancing, and good conversation carried the day. I came to the conclusion that the energy of Goa is such that it is very surface oriented. The depth is missing, and for me, the quest for depth is all that matters. I could have continued to live out some more days in this easy life, but that underlying pressure I couldn’t identify just kept derailing me. So a few days early we decided to jump ship and travel north to Rishikesh, my next and final destination in India; the birthplace of yoga and hub of enlightened masters giving daily teachings on walking the path to enlightenment.

 

We took the train. The 48 hour train. Sitting in general seating sometimes, but otherwise getting a real taste of Indian culture. From cramming people in train cars like we were escaping a war zone, to the lack of public sanitation, making friends and being invited over for dinner along the way, we experienced it all. It could have been done faster, but we booked all our tickets last minute and were lucky in this sense. We only had to sit in over packed general seating for 8 hours, sneak 3 people into two bunks for 12 hours, and besides sharing our paid for seats with loads of free riders, chai whallas, and train performers we enjoyed our long journey.
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We witnessed an interesting event of Mumbai guards forcing Indian passengers to queue for the train. Normally in India people have never heard of a line. If you can make your way to the front then you do so. Sort of an external affirmation of getting ahead in life. This also happens to be the most common excuse for why everyone tries to cheat you with a loving smile. So watching these poor people stand in line and board one by one, the agonizing pain in their faces of waiting, the desperate bid to push the guy in front of you, or cut line when no one was looking; just to get seated a bit faster and feel you accomplished something was the most interesting cultural experience.
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We arrived in Rishikesh on a drizzly evening and I knew at once I had arrived home. The beautiful Ganga river splits the colorful village of Laxman Jhula in half with a back drop of tree filled mountains. We crossed the foot bridge and stopping into every place of accommodation managed to locate acceptably unacceptable lodging for the first night. We located a wonderful bakery which became our standard daily haunt and with warm ginger-lemon-honey drinks, breathed a sigh of relief.
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Rishikesh, the birthplace of yoga, was holding an international festival to this now popular method of self discovery. Besides being home at this time to enlightened masters such as Mooji, Prem baba, Shantimaya, and Swami Atmanada, I felt quite blessed to be surrounded by such a collection of people with dedication and insight into the nature of being human. I would settle into a comfortable schedule of sitting with the masters and listening to discourse, discussions with friends, and enjoying the local food and scenery. I have taken it as a good sign of being in your place when you happily rise with the sun and are energized to begin your day with yoga, meditation, a cup of tea, or any other ritual that brings a smile to your face and heart about the coming day.
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*The real holi festival, celebrating the colors of the heart

It is here, surrounded by many friends from around the world and Osho, that I feel most at home energetically in a long time. I have a purpose in meeting the masters each day. I have found the wonderful practice of kirtan, chanting holy mantras or devotional songs, and often cry with gratitude singing from my heart. The crisp mountain air, the pale blue waters, and the easy life in Rishikesh all appeal to me and is now my home outside of Osho. It feels somehow cleaner here and that may have to do with the mountain air or the recycling programs which were started not to long ago. No one hustles you into their shop, instead allowing you to peruse at your own speed which ironically leads you to purchasing something. There are waterfalls and beautiful hikes to explore and yoga classes everywhere.

 

I came here to spend time with the masters and experience what being in the presence of an enlightened being is like. I wanted to know what it felt like to be near such a person and what their message was. I found out quickly that my expectation was far off the mark, as an enlightened person is as normal a person as anyone. They ride scooters, go shopping, talk with people and share their breakfast table with you when the restaurant is full, as happened with Mooji and myself. They also speak to a handful or thousands of people a day to share one message of unity. Each has their own way of sharing this message that is colored by the life they have lived. Not everyone speaks the same way and I feel that is a wonderful blessing. Just as there are many ways to the truth so are there many teachers who’s message will appeal to certain people. I’ve heard this message, I know this message, Its good to hear it again, but I also know all that is left to me is to find a master to devote myself to and to practice the message each day. I will share a few bits of wisdom gained in my time here, but one incident is worth pointing out.
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Darshan, or meeting with the master, often happens after the discourse is finished. People line up to be touched by the master, or to give thanks, or receive a blessing of some sort. On my first day in Rishikesh I managed to meet Mooji in such a line. His eyes were sparkling, moving gracefully and slowly through this ever thickening crowd, I wondered if he would see me one row back when he turned right to me, placed his hand full on my forehead and then over to my cheek and moved on down the line. I was a bit dumbstruck at my good fortune, but more by the presence of his touch. There was a weight to his touch and hand that conveyed his message as much as his words. He seemed to touch everything, either with his gaze or touch, with the compassion that you were of the utmost importance and worthy of the full attention of the universe. It filled me with the wish that I could touch everything in my life with such a presence, such totality. It was a great gift and reminder of the power of presence and attention mixed with pure love. It was worth the whole trip.
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Most of the teachings I listened to, Mooji and swami atmananda, were of the Advaita school of non duality. A process of self inquiry into the nature of the self to discover the unity of consciousness through awareness. Asking “Who am I?” or “Who is having this thought/experience/feeling?” is a good way to begin this process. If some object can be seen or some experience felt then something must witness it and thus you are not what is seen. This witness is ever present and the realization of such a state is the liberation of the self. These kinds of discourses were somewhat belonging to the mental realm, but effective in their goal. Other methods such as bhakti (love), which focus on loving devotional practices like kirtan, prayer, dance, and pure devotional ceremonies was a new and wonderful experience for me. Embracing my new moniker of Premraj (ruled by love), I found the bhakti practices deeply touching and a straight connection to the divine. I suppose one needs balance even in the way of meditation.

 

Here are a few quotes from my time in Rishikesh along with quotes from Osho whom I was also reading.

 

“The seed cannot relax, only the flower can relax. The seed is trembling, whether it will become actual, will it find the right soil, right climate, right sky, or will it simply die without being born?” – Osho

 

“Your mind wants enlightenment and to feel the experience of it. Enlightenment isn’t a feeling. It is the self before the mind existed and thus can never be experienced or grasped by the mind.” – Swami Atmananda

 

“Lack of attention dies up the personality like a plant with no water. Naturally.” – Mooji

 

“You need nothing to be happy, you need something to be sad. Make space to be happy for no reason.” – Mooji

 

“After a state of tasting the honey of life comes a change and suddenly the taste is gone. Now you must become the honey without the taste of honey. Let go of the desire to experience and taste, just become the awareness. It is a growth. The flower isn’t attached to its own smell. The peace you felt may be gone, but you are that peace itself. If there is one that is still enjoying the experience, even with full awareness, then there is still duality. Try to move to the pure awareness and become that awareness only.” – Swami Atmananda

 

“The bee of life is not attached to any flower. It simply moves where the flower invites it. It has freedom.” – Osho

 

“Surrender and effort. When you see that all effort is in fact an acknowledgement of duality, then non doing happens and surrender begins as the way to inhabit the presence.” – Swami Atmananda

 

“To abide in the heart, the presence, the watcher. If you find a way there, keep it and keep practicing it. No need to keep searching for another method.” Swami Atmananda

 

“Be together with her, the commitment is towards love, not the woman. When happiness is gone say thank you and move on. The moment something is no longer appealing, has lost the quality of allurement, of enchantment, is no longer magnetic, then don’t cling to it. Feel grateful for the past and move on.” – Osho

 

“There are two birds sitting in a tree. The first bird is very busy building a nest. The second bird is above on a branch watching the first bird be so busy. This is the mind and the meditative watcher. Then there is a presence which isn’t a bird at all, watching the whole scene unfold. That is your unified essence, your pure consciousness.” – Mooji

 

“Even once enlightenment has occurred, it can still take time to drop the mind, personality, and habits. You see them as powerless as each arises, but still they arise until full integration happens.” – Swami Atmananda
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These were just a few samples of comments that struck me. Listening to the masters is like constantly being reminded there is more in life and you already have it. There is nothing to do because you are already that which you seek. Only recognizing is possible, only realization of this truth. That is not to say that effort isn’t needed to create the situation where realization can occur, but no work is needed or can be done on your ultimate self. These satsang helped center me each day on the remembrance that I am not my environment, thoughts, feelings, and problems. I am the essence behind all that watching it unfold. Watching is certainly the right word, for when you can watch yourself move through the ups and downs of life and really just watch it happen as if to somebody else, there is a contentment and happiness that arises which cannot be taken away.

 

Abide in the heart and experience the truth. You are the force of love, in this moment and always. Finding and being reminded of the way and truth will always bring a clam knowing that you can walk your path. Rishikesh was a wonderful culmination of spiritual traditions and practice among friends and strangers all drawn to this wonderful community. It has become a must stop on the road to enlightenment with so much packed into such a small shining city. May you be fortunate enough to taste the essence of a living master who can help show you a way to truth.
Blessings on your journey.
premraj

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/

Transformation of the Self: when life has lost its juice

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Beloveds,

Have you ever woken up one day to find your interest in life lackluster? Have you looked around and found the feeling that there is nothing worth living for? No passion to do anything, no life force left to fight, a numbness blanketing everything and a burning question of what and why is this happening to me again?

Personal development isn’t always the bright light we find at the end of the journey. Often the biggest changes and growth come through the pain of resistance. We long for a change to come, even understanding sometimes what is blocked, but for the strangest reason some piece of our being just won’t let go and move into love. I have always been interested in this process because it affects me so often and somehow I never remember what’s happening to me until I remember what’s happening. I hope you may benefit by my experience, sparking a remembering and alignment, in your time of need.

Pressure. Overwhelming pressure. Blocked. Strained. Drained. Resistance. Lethargy. Lost. Up, down, and sideways. Confusion. Depressed. Feeling no juice in life and that it may never be bright again. No reason or energy to do anything. Just plain dead, before death. Hopeless.

Take a deep breath, you have been through this before and even though it feels like the first time, like it won’t end, like you will never find anything worth living for, you still know, at least intellectually, that it will pass and you will be better for it. The feeling however is very real and no self talk, cheering up or distractions are going to fix this immediately. To quote rumi:

“Hold me in the fire,
And although I die,

I know for whom and why”

This is the physical transformation experience. After the decision to change was made deep inside. After the conceptual ideas and feelings about change happened. We have reached the last step, the slowest and most dense plane, the physical body, which now must catch up with the faster energetic plane. These changes may have been from months ago which explains the disconnect from your thoughts and the physical changes taking place. The need for the mind to understand what is happening is so strong, but so useless, that we fight this process to the bitter end and wonder why this misery has befallen us.

This is the epitome of spiritual practice, and a perfect time, in light of this formidable resistance, to discover more about yourself and your ability to transform. This is the moment when all those spiritual self help books and blogs are needed most, but least likely to be heard. The question is “can I embrace and make friends (become neutral, resistance free, dis-identified) with this pressure, this anxiety, this fear, and ultimately a feeling I don’t want to be experiencing?”

This is time for trust, for patience, for deep breathing. Ultimately this is out of your control, like a roller coaster that just crested the top of the main climb, there is no turning back; only how much you want to fight the ride. Once you realize you are on a ride, at least you can stop wondering whats going on. Try to find that comforting, because at least you are no longer lost.  Like birth, you decided many months ago to bear a child and now on one day this incredible pressure and feeling is in you. You must finish this decision for there is no turning back. In an instant a transformation of self will be and everything will change. You will give birth to your new self, but you must go through the trial first.

It is this very trail by fire we call suffering. Human nature is to suffer, but we don’t have to get upset about it. Once this process has happened a few times, it is likely that you know at some point it will pass, as all things must, but of course the immediate feeling is something we humans dislike greatly and depending on your inner level of calmness, perhaps hate and rage against. You can literally fight this transformation process until it finally finishes and suffer greatly or in an instant of true realization help the transformation take place and viola! You pop through the other side.

The steps for this process are generally similar, starting with your inner awareness and communication. The feeling that shows up is generally the same but a different scenario each time and thus confuses us greatly until we identify what is happening. The first few days something just feels off. Perhaps less energy, an un-explainable lethargy while feeling physically fine, accompanied by a growing desire to know and figure out just “what” about this feeling is off. If you are coming up with continual new ideas of what It could be and not settling on one, it is probable you are in the middle of a transformation process. Another signal could be a slight nagging somewhere in your body with a sore point, like an ache, to which no physical counterpart actually exists. This signal is often the clearest yet most misunderstood device. Something from your unconscious depths is rising to the surface looking for the light of day. Often a knot in your back, shoulders, chest or neck, although it can show up anywhere. You may rub this point as much as you like but it never eases the source. At this point you can begin to make the connection. This is energetic, something trapped inside is ready to release and is climbing the metaphorical hill to ride the roller coaster. Whether you catch on here or when you crest the hill, you will only realize when you realize this transformation process is what’s happening to you.

The next step is to acknowledge the pressure, energy, stuck-ness, and make friends with it. This is where all the spiritual self help comes in handy. How to see this unwanted feeling and be friendly with it? We don’t question joy when it visits us; asking why has it come and when it will kindly be on its way. But for pain and suffering this is the only question we repeat over and over. What did I do, why is this happening, how can I fix this, how do I get rid of this, okay if you go away I’ll do this, if I could just figure this out ill be okay! But none of these questions will ever resolve it, but only make it stick around because it is not a question and there is no answer. You are fighting with your self, your ego, and that is a circle that can continue for as long as you have energy to fight. We have become so identified with the physical feeling that we have forgotten a simple truth: we are not this feeling. We are the inner awareness that is watching this feeling and process unfold. Being friendly means stepping back into our centered awareness and just watching the feeling be there until it leaves on its own; rather than madly questioning why we have become this overwhelming feeling.

“This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice.
meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.

Be grateful for whatever comes.
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.”  – Rumi

A different approach must be taken. This is tricky because human beings want to be cunning and cleaver at this moment. We devise some method of bargaining to alleviate the pain. A this for that strategy which is really telling your unconscious I don’t have any power, but please be merciful as I still fight you. We have one recourse, friendliness, non attachment, neutrality, let go, compassion for the self. These are all the same thing in respect to this phenomenon so choose what feels best. We acknowledge that this feeling is present. Perhaps with playfulness say “Oh, isn’t that interesting. Look what showed up today”. Tell it that it is a welcome guest as long as it likes and to do whatever it needs, because we know at the end of their stay our life and feeling will be better for it. To do this truthfully is the only thing you ever need to learn. This is the same knack in every spiritual practice on earth. To honestly befriend the reality of life with no restraint, no cunningness, no bargaining and just let it be there with you. To watch with awareness while not becoming identified with the feeling. In that exact moment, a switch flips and you are on the other side. Pressure gone or on its way out. You are transformed.

Learning how to truly let go, to be honest, is very difficult and yet the simplest thing. It happens all the time, but to participate with it knowingly is a different task altogether. You can’t deceive your own inner self. Next time you can’t just say “oh let’s be friends”, I’ve done this before and don’t have time for you now, and wonder why it didn’t resolve itself and get upset. The true let go is a subtle and fine art of embracing the suffering and even finding joy in the process because conceptually we know it’s for the best even when everything tells us we feel like we might be dying.

Even if you honestly let go early on in the process you may need to ride the metaphorical bus for the duration and reach the destination. Of course it will be an interesting ride all the same, but as we ride that bus from the beginning to the end many aspects of your inner being will try to drive the bus. I like to have my spirit as the conductor. He knows the destination and will lead me there gently and without delay. However when my fear gets a hold of the wheel, this bus be rocking left and right as fear tries to flip the bus over, turn it around, or do anything to not reach the destination. It is in this moment, when some aspect wants to hold us back that we kindly acknowledge that we have a new driver and ask our spirit, or whoever you like driving your bus of transformation, to step back in and take over. Trust once again that we are headed to a destination of our choosing and that we will reach there without that other idiot crashing the bus.

Coming out of the transformation process is a beautiful thing. Either suddenly or gradually you begin to see beauty again in the world, a passion and energy for living again. You begin to wonder why you ever felt life to be so dull and lifeless when this new thirst for feeling alive is growing. Just as you can’t see the beauty from the depths of resistance, you can’t see the dullness from the energy of being alive. We go back and forth as humans on this pendulum, unless we learn how to stop in the middle; which is enlightenment. Try at this point to remember that just recently you felt so alone, so tired, so out of juice and that life was almost not worth living anymore. So when it visits you again you know how to come out of it quicker and easier.

To truly take the time to invest in your self development, and grow your awareness of yourself around the healing/growing process is a sincere undertaking. It means putting everything aside, sometimes utterly stopping your world, to address the most important and life changing experience that is happening. Waiting is utter foolishness, for in the end, postponement is to continue to suffer. It’s often a challenge to pit the importance of our inner world against that of the outer world and it’s requirements or distractions. At the end of the day though we will still be living in our bodies and every moment given to cleaning house will lessen that anxiety and ultimately lead to a more joyful life experience. I wish upon everyone the awareness to watch this process when next it springs upon you and to traverse it with grace. Make friends with your new strange guests and they may just leave you with the greatest gifts of all.

The Essential Man, Watching Your Life Unfold

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Greetings beloveds,
I’ve recently found myself living in a state of continued joy and wish to share many realizations about being in this state of vibration and alignment.

“All private goals are neurotic. The essential man comes to know, to feel, “I am not separate from the whole, and there is no need to seek and search for any destiny on my own. Things are happening, the world is moving -call it God…he is doing things. They are happening of their own accord. There is no need for me to make any struggle, any effort; there is no need for me to fight for anything. I can relax and be. ” the essential man is not a doer. The accidental man is a doer. The accidental man is, of course, then in anxiety, tension, stress, anguish, continuously sitting on a volcano. It can erupt any moment, because he lives in a world of uncertainty and believes as if it is certain. This creates tension in his being: he knows deeps down that noting is certain. ” – Osho

What is the essential man? How does one move in the world without struggle, without doing, without wanting something for oneself? I have read this quote on many occasions referring to many different situations. It was not until recently that I experienced acutely the essence and the meaning was finally clear. The difference between an essential man and an accidental man is between watching your life unfold and trying to unfold it yourself. Watching your life unfold is like watching a movie, many things happen in the movie, but you are watching from the theater, along for the ride, knowing perhaps the direction of the story, but not actually what will happen. Trying to unfold your life is watching that same movie and trying to help change the plot and in so doing, losing sight of the overall direction. Yelling at the screen, throwing popcorn, and getting all in a huff over a simple story. Our lives are those simple stories, beautiful and special, being played out on the biggest screen we call reality. We are the actors as well as the watcher in the theater; like the movie star watching his own films. If one is relaxed while watching it unfold, enjoying whatever experience is coming, painful or joyful, then one is an essential man, in harmony with the world and oneself. An accidental man is a fighter, trying to change the script in mid sentence, upset to find out that life doesn’t work at that speed. The scene is set, the actors in place, please remember your role and try to enjoy whatever movie you find yourself in. This is the essence of peace and harmony.

I have been living in a special place since arriving in Japan just a short time ago. Before arriving, I was reintroduced to watching my own movie with a smile. I was upset because my story was going slow, so I tried to make it different and was failing miserably. I was moving frantically about trying to think my way out of my own situation. Wondering why each day I didn’t feel my best, why were the good feelings and understanding of my path I usually experienced not present with me now? Feeling lost in my direction, I wanted to do anything to get back on track or shift my experience of feeling lost. I would DO anything to have my life feel better, to release the fear and anxiety of not knowing why, except just accept the fact I was living a story and be okay with that. I had an energy reading and thankfully that nudged me back into place and my ability to see my own movie became clear to me again. How can each of us be reminded of this simple fact – to spend our energy watching our movie rather than trying to change it? Meditation has always helped me step back and see what is and be at peace with that. This time my reminder came from an energy reading which can be highly helpful. Other ways can be a change of environment or having a great conversation with a friend in a time of confusion. Taking a retreat into nature, yoga, meditation, mindfulness, a relaxing bath, exercise, or getting body work are all ways to help create a gap in our tunnel vision of trying to actively change our lives.

This is the essential point of being an essential man or woman; don’t do, try, or struggle to make your life experience that which you think you want it to be. First this indicates that what you are experiencing isn’t what you would like. This means the mind is actively trying to change the script, something is off from our general understanding of joy in our life. Deep down we are lacking in trust, fearful for our direction, because we feel we are not in control. So what to ‘do’ when doing is the wrong action? The goal is to reach a state of being where suddenly you can see that your life is just a story playing out from decisions made before hand. You want it to be different? That is perfectly okay and within your power. We have to stop the fighting of ‘doing’ because it will never change the script. The script is like the direction of your life, point yourself in the right direction and the script writes itself. This is the law of cause and effect, manifestation, and intentions. The script is your current state of affairs and to change that, you must change your direction before hand. The essential man decides his direction and then watches the movie play out. This is the essential difference, knowing and being your direction versus trying to change the experience of the moment. When you know where your movie is heading, the process of watching it unfold is fun and the joy of life. Even if your movie is heading towards a cliff, at least you can relax into the direction and like every movie you have seen before, you watch the movie star go over the cliff. You are no longer trying desperately to skip the scene with the cliff, you can even be excited about that cliff, even if your death is coming with it. Nothing is going to change the script in the short hand so we should relax and just be. Things are happening and there is no need for us to do anything.

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This doesn’t mean just sitting on the couch all day. Like the actor, you still need to respond to your life story as it is happening. Non-doing, responding, is participating in life, whatever shows up, while doing is trying to be the director. The truth is that in each moment you know who you are and will make the best decisions available to your awareness in that moment. There is no need to plan, to do, to prepare for what is coming. Live what is coming right in the moment. Try to see when you desire something to be different and again relax, and experience what is. Thinking about what to do, is exactly the opposite of the essential man. I am in fact promoting not thinking about your life or future. Thinking is using the mind to decide before hand what you want and how you want it. Responding, is using your entire essence of being to apply yourself to the situation at hand.

I recently had this hit home deeply for me. I have been enjoying Japan each day for the new experiences it brings me and simply letting show up what has been scripted for me, by my own desires and my guidance. My new direction of volunteering in a cafe with a Japanese host, has to be, simply put the most amazing experience of my life. In the small town of Yaizu there is a special community of friends that fuel a wide range of daily experiences, including my personal experience of watching life unfold where each day feels like blissful eternity, daily realizations about my own nature, feeling content with every aspect of my existence, and the special feelings growing in me for my host. Letting each day happen and accepting whatever new experiences were offered is being an essential man. The moment that I, the accidental man, decided he wanted to develop a relationship with my host on his own timescale rather than enjoying each day which had been happening with such delight, came the crash and this realization.

When you have your own private goals, something off script, secret, held back, you become and accidental man, trying to make what isn’t, so. Something as subtle as this, deciding to make a relationship happen, when before it was already happening of its own accord, took me completely out of the space of grace. How often has some simple private goal, some desire unexpressed, kept me from the relaxation of watching my life unfold? This is the real lesson of the quote above, can you distinguish when an aspect of you, ego or mind perhaps, has jumped in and started to fight the existing script rather than watching it unfold. It is such a soft difference that I never saw until now that this was the whole point. Letting go of all goals, all desires, all attachment and only setting the direction your life, is the control we actually have and should exercise. You want to have that relationship? No problem, but please watch the script unfold and don’t make any effort to create one yourself or rush to the scene where a relationship fits in perfectly. Please do set the intention and direction of your life so that a relationship is included in your movie, but leave all the actors and extras and surprises to the director of the universe. As the saying goes, let go and let God.

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The feeling of letting go of worry and control is one of deep relaxation and contentment. It is such a paradoxical idea the mind has trouble ever doing it for long periods of time. However, just like speaking and listening are different aspects of the same energy so is doing and watching. When you are speaking, you only say what you know, and when listening you can learn something new. This state of allowing something new, allowing creation to happen is the essence of watching. When you do, you are trying to make what is known continue to be known, effectively using it as a barrier to new experiences and the unknown, uncertainties of life. When we watch our life unfold, new things happen, as if by magic, and our innocence and childlike joy can run free in this type of environment. If you can have even one taste of what true watching feels like instead of doing, the whole pattern becomes clear. Once you know the essence you can always find it again. When you see that everything you want will come to you exactly when you stop trying to make it happen, the wonderful paradoxical nature of our universe opens to you.

“For once, relax a little and simply become an audience to your mind’s play.
Just look with a little detachment. Observe for a bit, but don’t spend too long in that cinema.
Then at some point, you may just come to recognize that you have watched the show many times before, and so there is no longer a need to spend any more time and money there. You will forget about it entirely.
And quite unexpectedly, you may find yourself walking along a path of unchanging joy, light and wisdom.” – Mooji

I am here to tell you as many have before me, that everything you want in life is reached when you can develop a level of awareness, in such that you know when you are watching and when you are doing. All mystics and enlightened beings continually preach awareness for this reason. They have understood that the more awareness you allow in your experience, the more you will be able to notice the essential truths of life. Practice everyday some awareness, be constantly vigilant, and without fail you will see clearly, all in one instant, the difference between watching and doing, your essential nature and the mind. When that happens, a joy will be yours that cannot be taken away, a playfulness will enter your life, a deep relaxation that all is well and taken care of. This essence is what all human being seek and often times call happiness among many other positive attributes. To participate in the unfolding of your life is the greatest freedom and yours by the nature of existence.
May you come swiftly and easily to this understanding.

May all being be happy and free.
Blessings and love,
The Wandering Monk, Scripted by the Universe

An Invitation With My Guides

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From the first moments I knew I was in uncharted territory. I have just had an Akashic record reading, an energetic storyline of my life, being told to me by a very talented, albeit kind stranger.  I am no stranger myself to the unseen energies and mysteries of the divine world, but being human, I still get expectations that someone can hand me the definitive keys to my life and I’ll feel safe and secure. This reading pretty much handed me the next step in my life and I am feeling a level of contentment rarely experienced. I received exactly what I needed too, with clarifications on expected answers and the surprising information which has delivered a state of grace into my life. Such is the mystery of a stranger clearly explaining your life to you.

“What are the elements, practices, and places that support the experience of my greatest joy, in manifesting an integrated experience of my life’s purpose, including the physical, spiritual, and emotional aspects, and what does that look like in daily life, to bring it quickly and joyously into continued physical manifestation”

This was my question I wanted answered and just reading it is a doozie. This question stems from a lack of concrete movement in the direction I know my life is heading. Basically, like most people I feel a bit lost and coincidentally I have the ability to go anywhere and do anything practically on the planet and that just makes it harder to choose anything. So I was looking for the answers of where to be, what to do, and how to go about it in such a way that I feel fulfilled and happy as it manifests. This question was asked to a wonderful woman who reads the Akashic records. Like all non-local information systems this one contains all the information, in a giant book per-se, about every life, past, present, and future. So you ask a question, and you can get very direct or even surprising answers. You have free will of course to do as you like, but knowing the why and perhaps the how is very comforting. I work in these records myself and wanted as a sub question to know how to get better and clearer information for myself and others. The answers I got were thankfully much what I was expecting, meaning my own intuition and feeling about my life was correct, but I also received some interesting tidbits that have changed my life fundamentally for the best I hope.

“You are experiencing where you are because you have lived two similar lifetimes, while being very talented in the physical world, couldn’t bring your spiritual purpose into your life experience and the difficulty of that caused you to leave the planet early, oddly enough at age 29.”

This was the first statement made and set the context for the rest of the reading. As my current life experience was spelled out to me, I knew that this downturn I’ve experienced over the last months fits this storyline. I’ve always known what I wanted to do in this life and was wondering why I felt such a lack of movement towards pursuing it. The depressive pull from these past lives has been so strong that of course I am going to feel a bit out of place, directionless, with a bit of my joy diminished, but after the dust clears and I reach 30 the jets are on and the work of living my purpose really begins. In short, I am here to help raise the consciousness of myself and anyone truly interested in that endeavor. I’ve known this was going to come in the shape of a meditation community which was confirmed and thus the direction for action was set. I was given some time frames and a bit about how this will begin to unfold, but like all things, I must choose what to do and then follow the energy through. I am to begin with what I have and who I know, to get the energy started and moving, and then the rest of the steps will easily follow. So expect a happy house of meditation with beautiful friends and lifestyle to come in a relatively near future.
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I have some personal development to work on as well of course, particularly around my healing work and putting myself out into the world. I had the choice to be a monk and retreat, but that ship sailed, I am here to be in the world and help people live life with a higher consciousness. Specifically I have three things to work on, feeling inadequate, taking on others responsibilities, and wondering am I good enough? This accurately sums up my internal world of trying to justify and legitimize my own knowing, abilities, and wake of transformation I cut in the world. Putting yourself out in the world, to be vulnerable, to do great works and also to be humbled when you fail or falter, is self work everyone can understand and embark upon. It’s scary and transformative and much needed, but having your personal guides step in and lovingly explain it really changes your perspective of actually doing it. So I’ll follow the advice and start doing my healing work in earnest with friends and those seeking guidance. I’ll bring the information which is my responsibility, and let the outcome be the recipients responsibility, and leave the doubt and worry up to my guides and masters. I was given practices to begin and I’ll enjoy that process as my communication gets louder, clearer, and more helpful.

I have an amazing 6 months of experiences ahead of me as I head to Japan, Bali, and India to receive new gifts waiting for me in each place. I will begin to wake up in new ways and expand my own consciousness, love, and healing. Letting go of the worry about my direction and trusting my guides who said that I never need to worry about that again has already opened me up to living in the moment more fully. I am excited and calmed in knowing that all is well, and while I felt lost and directionless, it was all part of a plan and the why has been delivered. That why and storyline puts our human minds at ease so we can best get on with the real work of living joyously. I need to go through these kinds of dilemmas so in my own service to the planet I can better help those receive the healing and alignment of knowing the storyline and thus being at ease.

I find it awe inspiring that I am being guided to Bali for some major transformation work. This also completes my Eat, Pray, Love journey and like Liz Gilbert I too may have a major expansion of love force brought into my life. Not a romantic partner, but continuing the wonderful expansion of opening my heart to ultimate compassion seems to be part of the culture of Bali, of which I’ve never experienced. Bali is the only place on the planet right now I can say I am definitely being guided too. It is like a bright light in the distance and although Japan and India also glow currently, this is like a moth to a flame. I eagerly await this new experience and look forward to the realizations and transformations I can write about after having visited.
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Sometimes it takes a direct line to your higher self and guides to get the message through, and sometimes just some courage to do what you know in your heart to be true. I hope I can help bring more resources and information to people interested in getting aligned in their life. When you are feeling a bit lost, the comfort of knowing all is well, just makes life worth living in utter joy.

The surprise gift came actually after the reading was over. Over the rest of my day and the next, this overwhelming sense of relief was present. A sense of non-worry, because for the first time in a long time I was letting my direction unfold, instead of trying to make it happen and fighting against the motionlessness of my dream. Suddenly I knew where I was going, how it was coming about and that I just needed to watch it happen. This is the essence of non-attachment, non-doing, just being. I will unravel this delicious thought more in a following post, but to let what is just be, and to truly be comfortable with that, is a gift. This is something I have experienced many times before, but when you forget, you just forget. Having my guides near to me and having delivered this wonderfully calming information has given me the sense of purpose and clarity I was really seeking and didn’t even know was missing. For this one thing I am the most grateful; to be content with the unfolding of my life rather than trying to make it happen. Love exists when you let go of all the effort and playfully participate in creation.

Wishing everyone the experience of such contentment and calm knowing. Life is a present to be unwrapped slowly.

The wandering monk, wandering hand in hand.

I will more formally announce my upcoming offer to work with others in a clear and distinct way, but for questions or contact information about others who do this work currently you can privately contact me if interested.