Osho: Uncovering the Essence


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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A night portrait of me done by Tathina

A night portrait of me done by Tathina

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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New Years at osho

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

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

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

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What Christmas looks like in India

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

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

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Path of Love: 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.

 

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.

Wrapping Up One Year Of Travel and Learning

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I find myself where I started one year ago. Looking at the same Kansas City skyline that I left after selling everything I own and heading out into the world. The view may be the same, but I have changed and along with it my interpretation of even that skyline. I touched down in 11 countries, made countless friends, deepened my understanding about myself, and learned lessons that will shape the course of my life. My understanding has shifted and thus I view the world differently, yet, I am still uniquely myself. This is perhaps the great conundrum that all world travelers experience. We go out and are literally changed by our experiences, see everything differently, and still the essence of who we are remains. You can come to a deeper understanding and acceptance of that essence, but no experience is going to just up and change you into a different person. I always thought there was going to be something out there that would flip a switch and I could become that person I envisioned inside my head with all the perfectness. The truth is much simpler, you are already that perfect person and only our thoughts and beliefs hold us back from breaking our boundaries and living the life we wish.
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*Iceland was by far the most beautiful place I visited and will be visiting again.
This was a year to find myself again. I didn’t know that I even needed finding, but when faced with daily experiences of discovering your authentic self, it becomes clear exactly what you don’t know about yourself. Meditation was a prime focus of this travel and I spent 10 silent days in a Vipassana retreat, twice, and 4 months in India with the teachings of the enlightened mystic Osho. If I can boil all the meditation down, it would be enjoy your life every moment, celebrate, be present and  alive no matter how you think you feel, learn to live with your inner silence and uncomfortable feelings moment to moment without running away. The essence of all the teachings is actually the practice in reaching that state of being, and then learning to live there. When you can stand in the place of silence and just look at yourself, you can see a body having experiences and thinking thoughts and still that isnt You. Then it becomes perfectly okay to have experiences and not cover them up or distract yourself from them. They come and go and still you remain just a step outside of it all; happy and aware.
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*Traveled the Swiss Alps by scenic train
I came home to an exciting burst of energy, seeing old friends and making new ones, wedding events, and family time, but what surprised me most was the lack of reverse culture shock. Unlike going to a new culture and being surprised by the differences, reverse culture shock is returning home to find that the world you thought you knew looks very alien. Instead, on this trip I’ve had a reverse personality shock. I don’t know where I belong anymore or what I should be doing. There is no home or job to anchor me, no meditation practice or community other than my friends, so I find myself in a city I’ve lived in for over 4 years and have no idea what defines me anymore. I attend the same events during the week with the same people I knew, but somehow this shows me most how this last year has changed me. I am looking for my place in the world and I know I can never settle for something less than what I’ve experienced. At the moment that is the delight of living in a meditation community, which I plan to return to before the year is over. In some ways it seems like I haven’t achieved much, because there is nothing to grab onto, but really the differences are all on the inside and those are the ones that really matter. Upon returning to Kansas City, everything here has moved along at its normal pace, but it is no longer my home.  I see clearly there is nowhere to go back to, only forward, to find the right place and way for me to live. After all this traveling, and traveling I am certain to do in the years to come, I am even more dedicated to finding my place and developing something amazing.
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*Climbed mountains in Germany, and could see the surrounding countries
What strikes me most about the changes in my life is the difference between what I have to call normal life and the new way of living that I’ve experienced. Normal life is perhaps the daily routine of waking, eating, doing the daily work or effort required of one, participating in your hobbies and entertainments, and just the general things that make up life on this planet.  Almost everyone lives their variation of this pattern that hopefully brings them great contentment. I used to be content and fulfilled by my normal life, waking most mornings glad to be alive and even excited to just have a cup of tea, embrace the day, and take a morning walk before going to work. Somewhere on this journey that changed; no longer having a home I wasn’t in my groove doing those simple things that brought me great pleasure and contentment. I have and enjoy even more simple pleasures while traveling, but no routine that brings me joy.  Even now, still living a life of ease, I am missing that feeling which embraced me each day. To the best of my understanding this is the result of not having or being challenged and missing my connection to something greater than myself. Without a goal to work on, such as a job or project I care about, there is no push to grow, to learn and better myself each day. Likewise I find that without my daily personal development or global development of community and the bettering of humanity, I equally am not challenged to grow. I found a bigger expression of myself in Inida that required of me to participate with all of the people involved there. Before I could go about my day alone and was content unto myself, but once this experience of community and connection was established, going back to something less just doesn’t give me enough anymore. This is why I want to return to India so much, to grow and feed myself in this area. Then it is my hope to be able to expand this experience and grow it into my own dream of living a connected life. All human beings I think hunger in some way for this connection and we are just waking up to the fact that with our new societal development we have forgotten for a time what real connection is and the joy that comes with it.
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*Meeting beloved Osho friends in their home countries, Norway
Hindsight is a wonderful teacher, which today teaches me that the simplest decisions and the reasons for making them can change your whole world. In essence I made a simple decision in India and I am living the consequences today. One month prior to leaving the Pune Meditation Resort, I agreed to join my friends for a month in Dharamshala. This created “The Plan”, which after Dharamshala would take me to Germany for two months with a good friend of mine, then two weeks travel in Northern Europe. All of the plan was decided in roughly one moment and when the actual moment to follow the plan or change it came, I just stuck with the plan. In that moment of decision, at the end of my three months in Pune, not only was everyone and every experience telling me I should stay, my own inner voice and gut feeling was that I should stay. For fear of changing the plan and following my heart, which would have cost me money on plane tickets and a prepaid meditation program, plus the gut wrenching feeling of bailing on my friends and partner last minute, I ignored how I was feeling and followed a decision I made a month prior. Had those other considerations not been present,  the decision would have been easy, but the lesson was, can I follow my inner truth when it is going to cost me something? The answer at that time was obviously no, but now looking back over what unfolded I wont make that same decision twice. Following your energy and power is so important because it leads you to the right places and experiences that you can thrive in. When I said no to that inner voice, I lost my power and over the following three months ran dry, and life eventually became a little flat. I still enjoyed the experiences that I had, but I could have really enjoyed them with my energy intact. It is so clear to me that I was afraid to do what was best for me and energetically I paid the price. So I am headed back to Pune and I am moving away from plans, and if I do end up with a plan, I will trust that I can change it in a heartbeat without fear. I have given myself the freedom and time to honor what I feel and follow that direction. Everyone can look at their life right now and see places where they avoid what they really want. I am asking everyone to start doing what you really want, even in small ways, because the alternative feels pretty flat, pretty lifeless, and once you are there, getting back to ecstatic takes some work and effort.
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*First sun seen in Iceland after two days of rain which setup my favorite day of the year
I’ve concluded there are two types of travel experiences, loosely called 1st world and 3rd world because that is where they occur. A 1st world experience is generally Europe, organized, clean, expensive, historical beauty in buildings, and whatever experience you wish for generally is going to cost you money, from entertainment to food. A 3rd world experience is generally a bit messy, cheap, naturally beautiful, and the thought of money barely crosses your mind. Both are equally wonderful experiences, but the difference between them is vast and gets right to the core of expectations for levels of comfort and the psychological effects of money. For those with a more limited budget for travel, they find their dollars stretching farther outside of the 1st world countries and from their perspective perhaps live in a level of comfort unaccustomed. This can be a huge psychological experience, because for the first time you are allowed the freedom to experience all that you wish. If you want to eat this and that, taxi here and there, buy gifts and clothes, it doesn’t cost you mental anguish to add up the costs and then balance that against how much work you have to do to pay for it.  You might for the first time experience money as an energy source, instead of a commodity, and using it like any other energy source for the betterment of your life experience. Likewise, traveling where your dollar goes for less, has you scrambling for the cheapest options, making sandwiches at home just so you can spend another day in the 1st world experience. Both are needed to understand the effect money plays on our perception of happiness in doing the things we want in life. Personally I like a mix of both experiences, but prefer on the whole the relaxed attitude of 3rd world living, with beautiful surroundings and no stress about money. There is just as much culture, and many more smiles while interacting with the locals, and when you train your eye on how locals get by each day with so few material resources, but so much happiness, you can really experience the freedom of money and learn to enjoy every day in a new way.
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*The best apple pie in Amsterdam, a new favorite city of mine
While traveling with a lot of free time, you can always find something to do, but just being present with yourself is a wonderful gift. On the many trains, planes, and waiting rooms I found that I wasn’t putting in my headphones for music right away or checking Facebook. I would just sit and be patient and enjoy my own presence; not needing something to do or a distraction just to “kill some time”, instead enjoying just being alive in that moment of waiting. The interesting thing is the correlation between how present you are and the urge for distraction. I notice most acutely when the time to meditate arises and some urge also arises to check anything on my phone for any distraction. Why this postponement? A surge of anxiety arises over being present with myself as if the ego knows its being removed from its throne. It is a battle with my mind each time, and the more present I am, the easier it is to take a few moments and reach that place of joyous centeredness. The paradox is that meditation brings the real joy, but the hurdle is to forgo the distractions and entertainments that falsely promise happiness to simply reach it. Upon reaching that presence, you can enjoy those distractions even more so, if you choose, because you come from the place of presence and not of using the distractions to cover some feeling of emotion. Vipassana taught me that when we desire something, it usually isnt the object itself, but we desire the sensation of desiring itself, and we think the object will bring it to us. So when a feeling arises we chase after the externalization of that feeling to satiate it instead of seeing the truth of just being with the feeling and seeing it for what it is. This is the hurdle to doing almost anything in life, be it meditation or going to the gym. So more than anything, I’ve learned when this feeling of not wanting to meditate exists, I am overdue to sit down, meditate and reach my calm once again to see the world clearly. There will always be a multitude of interesting and entertaining things vying for your attention, but it fundamentally comes down to how do you wish to spend your time on this earth? Once you taste the beauty of your inner world, any worldly distractions begin to pale in comparison to really living life. Just like cutting sugar out of your diet leads to everything else tasting incredibly delicious, removing these other distractions leaves you with more time and space to enjoy your own delicious presence of being.
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*Meditative dancing in India, also used for a promotional photo seen by thousands of people, which surprised me
I have had to remember this myself after leaving India. After a daily schedule of meditation, going back to doing it all on your own takes some serious discipline.  Traveling once again brought many distractions and riding that excitement I left my meditation practice a bit behind.  This led to a bit of confusion and feeling lost in my direction of life which is one of my biggest challenges.  As I find myself a bit of a fish out of water, I have to trust that I always carry the keys to my own happiness and they are but a few silent moments away from being with myself. It is a lifelong practice to be who you are and do what you love. Finding out what really excites you is the first half, then learning how to live that life each day is the rest of the task. The more truth we can experience about what really speaks to our hearts, what really lights up our faces, and makes us jump for joy, the closer we are to living a meditative lifestyle. I hope everyone has found at least one thing that has that flavor for them, because once you know the taste, there is no going back to a bland life. Blessings and joy to everyone on their journey and may all beings be happy.
 
Torey
The Wandering Monk
 
A special thank you to everyone who hosted me in their homes, couches, hearts, and lives.  Without your support and encouragement I never would have had the year I did and all of the new experiences. I love you all and it still brings tears to my eyes remembering what it feels like to be so taken care of instead of the other way around.
 
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*Being silly with my best friend Tate in Germany, “Up all night to pet puppies!”
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*Amsterdam round two with friends this time
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*Met Mo and David on my first workaway experience in France, a new beloved mentor
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*Seeing good friends and new loves in Belgium! Plus waffles and frites
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*Our beloved cheese master who treated us like family and introduced me to my new favorite cheeses, bare kase from Switzerland
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*Went under the knife of brave friends in Switzerland when my hair got unruly
1467470_981566286421_920741569_n  *Explored the beautiful canals of Venice, and checked off the first part of Eat, Pray, Love10177435_10100144038717341_8551906736441433225_n   *Visited the Taj Mahal at the end of India, and another check for Eat, Pray, Love10406955_10100170838470421_2633856899521643109_n
*Jumped into the freezing waters of Norway!