Osho: Uncovering the Essence


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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A night portrait of me done by Tathina

A night portrait of me done by Tathina

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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New Years at osho

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

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

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

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What Christmas looks like in India

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

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

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Path of Love 4: Colorado

img_4599 A Tendency to Shine

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The Beauty and Urgency Of Leaving

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Path Of Love: Finding Love Inside and Out (Round 3)

pol seattle“Im driving a really nice car, but im still asleep at the wheel” -Premraj

Have you ever felt like that? Life feels really good on paper, but there are no heart pangs of deep feeling; that a numbness has crawled in. As a birthday present to myself, I decided to jump into the Seattle Path of Love, to rekindle my passionate fire and wake up to my life. Again. I wanted to feel it all, the sadness, the happiness, the presence, whatever could be there as part of being human. Somewhere I fell asleep to the depths of feeling and the fire was building again to clear the dust on my own life.image

In my day to day of school, work, play, business, and friendship, every aspect was going well, but still something essential felt missing. Path of Love is the strongest, most precise method by which I know how to wake up to more. It works every time, on everyone, and each successive time you participate you get even more. In the foothills of Mt. Vernon, on 250 lush acres, lies the TreacyLevine retreat center. 50 years of interfaith community building to form brothers and sisters among all people on the planet is a pretty ideal setting for our work. Beautiful scenery, sunsets, animal life including coyotes, plus all the stars that come out at night.image

I had a goal, as most do coming to The Path Of Love, I wanted to wake up to all of my emotions and really feel life, deeply, authentically, passionately; with an intensity that I had forgotten, but once knew many times over. The beginning of the process started off with a bang. There was a controlled burn of a house on the property as we began our first meditation, quite symbolic of burning down the old structures so the new can have space. The intensity level during that first meditation really set the pace for the week. What took me a few days to feel comfortable doing in Costa Rica last year, exploded out of me within minutes. Perhaps it is getting easier, perhaps 5 planets retrograde helped expose what was hidden, perhaps the energy dynamics of this group helped; no matter the reason, I jumped with a sincere intensity into the work that would change my life again.

In my exploration of my feelings, a few keys needed to be returned to me. I knew these keys, I even wrote them down, and yet I still forgot the experiential essence of them. First and foremost is the presence of the superego, otherwise known as the Judge. This is the voice in our head that tells us we are not good enough. It comes in many ways, many subtle disguises, directed at others, but mostly at the self. It has a purpose, it keeps you safe, but as we grow up and become stronger, we don’t need this voice so strongly anymore, but who has ever trained us to lesson its power over us? Flexing the muscle of control over the superego is a moment to moment practice. Becoming even slightly more free of its masks of deception provides a profound sense of well being and trust in life.image

My superego tells me many things, mostly how to keep myself small, but it also tells me how I should feel. Like others, it confused me by ‘telling’ me how I feel rather than allowing me to feel how I feel. This is the beginning of moving from the head to the heart. My superego told me I needed to feel a certain way and when I did not, it exerted its control over me by saying “look, see, your heart is closed, you don’t feel anything.” As tears were streaming down my face, having been touched by the deep gratitude and love of many people, I could only conclude that I was overflowing with feeling and I needed to change my ideas about what an open heart feels like. I was feeling everything, wonderfully everything, but still the Judge was there trying to tell me I was wrong, that I wasn’t feeling enough, well superego I caught you in your lies and now you can leave this mind once again.image

Once I caught my superego, the real work of stepping into my power began. This week was about feeling and power; masculine power. As many who know me can attest, I hang out in the feminine, intuitive energies because I am most comfortable there. This has formed a pattern through my life of people being confused about my sexuality. Metro sexual, bi-sexual, homosexual, no one can quite pin down a male body, with feminine energy, who is interested in women and can love everyone, male and female. What I discovered this week was the core of masculine power. This is not the aggressive warrior archetype, although that is an aspect, but it came down to one mantra for me “Strong enough to be changed by love”. The feminine is a river being held by the masculine banks. The bank stays strong in what it is, while allowing its edges to be constantly changed by the love of the feminine. No more controlling life, no lack of trust, a constant dialogue between the masculine and the feminine for without both there would be no river and no bank, just a swamp land.image

My experience of this wonderful dynamic came in an unexpected way; her name is Julie. From the start I took a risk to be more outgoing and assertive, this led to a lot of hilarity in witty verbal exchanges, as well as pushing the boundaries with all people. I was thankful and fulfilled by just this verbal exchange of asserting who I was and how I felt, but the universe always brings more than you ask for. In the weeks leading up to PoL the universe saw fit to bring me many examples of male/female relationships to help me better define what my inner landscape looks like. I changed my internal compass from finding a partner who I can work on my inner issues with to someone with whom I enjoy life each day immensely with. This means someone in whom I feel relaxed and comfortable, someone to laugh with all the time, someone who can meet my intensity and then keep pushing the boundaries of what is possible. This has become my new working definition and highest priority: connection. To say that I found a connection in Julie would be an understatement.image

The transforming experience came in a quiet moment after dinner, sitting in a deck chair looking at the landscape. I was feeling centered and complete with everything. Julie came by, sat in the chair next to mine and laid her head simply on my shoulder. The world turned and stayed incredibly still. Like the river banks, somehow I had found my center. No voice arose, no impulse to do anything, in fact I sunk deeper into myself having the feminine drape itself across me. Normally I would have gotten excited, started wondering how do I need to engage this person, what do I need to do to make this better, more, or somehow mesh with this person. Instead I stayed in my masculine center, right where I was and what I was doing, while my edges were changed. The feeling was incredible and will stay with me forever; of being myself and needing not change anything, that I was enough as myself. My hardest aspect of relationships has always been integrating this with women, and here at my deepest opening was Julie, pushing on my edges asking me if I could hold myself as a man. What an incredibly powerful and subtle experience. Perhaps true wisdom comes silently on the evening breeze, not in some flash of sunrise on the horizon.image

After that experience, our energies coalesced and exploded. The connection generated was felt by all and mentioned by many. I was able to practice my new masculine power center in many ways and found that living life from this place is so rewarding. I can be soft and feminine and present while maintaining my solid masculine core of grounded-ness and commitment. It is this power center that fuels the passion of life and is a core principal experienced on the Path of Love. To be able to integrate this deeply and practice it at the same time is what made this experience so powerful.

I was touched in many ways during this process, tears falling in rivers down my cheeks from extreme gratitude, witnessing beauty, connecting with people: their pain and pleasure, and being present to the wonderful space opening in me as I continued such transformative work. Osho certainly showed up for me personally again, reaching out across the years with his presence and power. It was during this process that I received the name of my heart and that connection was not lost on me. Standing next to beautiful new friends who lived many years with Osho himself, we wept for all the gifts that have been brought to us through his life; we wept for the longing in our hearts of wanting to connect to such a beautiful presence, we wept for the courageous people at that moment who were passionately digging to find and awaken their own hearts. It takes a community of people to hold the space of the heart and to help it trust to open. I was so happy to wake up every day to meet each and every one of these people and share some connection no matter what it was. It is a strange fact of life that everyone desires this connection and security, yet we rarely live in such a way as to promote it daily.

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Wrapping up such a deeply changing process is always difficult. Having built such a powerful and connected community through sharing emotions, love, laughter, and tears is hard to walk away from. Perhaps one day we can all just live together and share life in such a way, but for today we all go our separate ways and reintegrate into our societal lives. The pain of separation has always been an unexpressed surface emotion for me, but I know it affects me deeply. I put extra intention into parting with Julie; and our departure was filled with longing and tears, but also pierced by a connection that runs deep with a love mutually shared and experienced. It was a beautiful letting go into the unknown. Hugs and laughter were shared with everyone else and promises to see each other again soon. We all were deeply touched by the experiences shared in this week and I long for a way of living in which everyone can come and go as they please, but still hold this sense of connection through community. I had a reason to wake up everyday that wasn’t work; either a morning meditation or to share breakfast with friends and connect. This aspect of community and being seen continues to fuel my love of creating community. To have people around who can hold space for you, is such a beautiful gift that so many are longing for, I wonder why we struggle as a society to form lasting community.image

In this sense the divine enters into the Path of Love. Through our own hearts longing, and the grace of the divine, we reach all that we desire. Bring an intensity to the search, and the divine will take over and give blessings. Osho certainly found me and brought me to this work. Through what he left behind, I was able to find myself. The deep gratitude I feel for him and all his people is beyond words and a debt beyond repaying. I am so thankful for this life and this community discovered on the Path of Love.

Find out more at www.pathoflove.net

 

On Turning 31

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*and sometimes you get to dress like a cow and go skiing
 
Glancing back over the last year it’s easy to get lost in what is happening day to day. As my 31st marker of life quickly approaches, I like to remind myself of all that I have accomplished in this year. As if my current experiences in life are not enough to occupy my mind, I want to remember and honor what happened to me this last year and by normal standards, get excited over what new joys await next year. So where to begin?
 
I turned 30 without much hoopla. A nice dinner with my family in the midst of my comedown experience from traveling for almost two years. Even though some major traveling was about to commence days after my birthday I was already feeling the impending anxiety of deciding what to do after my travels ended. I can say with confidence that the biggest thing I learned this year was how to let go of “what I do” and to define myself by my being-ness. I got lost in the how’s of living my life and lost the end purpose. In the midst of an anxiety breakdown, fearful of how to ease back into society, I was gifted the clarity of an answer I had long known but resisted accepting: that I was a healer. This simple definition of my inner self would settle and define all the choices of the rest of my life. I finally had a metric by which to judge my choices in life and it was a rock solid one. I often council everyone I meet with a question. What is it that you do in every situation you find yourself in without thinking about it and without fail? The answer to this question could just lead you to what you are instead of what you do. I attest that everyone knows the answer to this question, but for whatever reasons, is not ready to accept it as their rock upon which to stand. I knew I was a healer for maybe 8 years and still hadn’t accepted it in reality. Of course I was afraid to push myself to embrace this definition and more importantly to try and make a living from this definition. That was my personal fear, perhaps yours will be different.
 
So four months after I began my thirties I had this new definition and promptly made a choice. I wanted to become a massage therapist. It was practical, it aligned with my definition, and I could make money at it; solving my greatest anxiety of how to survive. Three months from graduation at this point and I couldn’t be happier with this decision. It has changed me and my comfort about how I will go about a career and paying for my lifestyle. The fact that I am awesome at my job and love it, is just the natural outcome of lining up with my definition of being a healer. This is the how of my why.
 
Still in line with my definition of being a healer is my current project of becoming a meditation teacher. I’ve said I’ve wanted to do this for years but never got up and made anything happen. This was a year for moving closer to my authentic self and bringing it into form. From complete fear of how to do this, to now being weeks away from my first big class, I am amazed at the transformation. It may have taken a year to get going, but now that it’s here I couldn’t be happier. This in fact is my mission for the next year of life. To find a deeper and more practical expression of myself as a practicing healer. As the positive reinforcement continues to arrive and as the money begins to flow into my pockets, I can relax and smile that I am finally becoming the person I imagined myself to be for so many years. I still had to put the effort in, but actually practicing my definition of being “a healer” has made the biggest difference in my happiness.
 
Going to school for massage therapy broke my streak of avoiding winter and I missed a season with my meditation community in India. Despite being stuck in school for the winter I managed some travels this year. I started off with Costa Rica, then visited friends in Germany, road tripped in Iceland, more friends in Paris and finally Spain. I also visited some coastal states in the United States and had a brief but deep relationship with a powerful and beautiful woman who helped me grow in many ways.
 
I will be ending this year as I did the last in many ways. Right after my birthday I will be participating in the path of love. This intense and powerful process has changed me in so many ways for the better. Last time it was in Costa Rica, this time it will be in Seattle. To be able to help others along this process and to be reminded of the deep and profound shift that waking up your emotional body can do for your life has become one of my favorite things to participate in frequently. I am in need of a wake up call. Life is great admittedly, but without the depth of my meditation community and frequent meditation, a piece has gone back to sleep. Path of love and India are my wake up calls and I have both planned for next year.
 
As spring arrives so do my plans and excitement for life sprouting into being. So many things seem to be coming together after this long winter that I am almost overflowing with things to do. I am just managing this amount of energy, but every activity brings me more and more of everything. More confidence in my life path, more friends and loved ones into my life, more money, more art, and more beauty. This year has been transformational and in hindsight I am glad for the intense fear my thirties started with. Without that burning desire to discover something that would work best for my life I might never have made some of the decisions that I needed to make that finally got me started on this path. I know better now than to judge the hard parts of life because they really re align you with your true purpose. Embrace the challenges, and make the hard decisions, because there is a beautiful life waiting for you on the other side. Thank you to all the people who helped me along the way. For all the encouragement and hand holding and listening to my fears when I felt lost; your support was needed and crucial to helping me reach the happiness I enjoy today. Thank you thank you thank you.
 
Here’s to the rest of my thirties being even more amazing!

 

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.

 

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.