On the process of moving forward.

This morning, as I helped my daughter with her violin home practice, we had a conversation about the process of learning and ‘improving’.  In order to reach the next level/phase/step in any process of learning, you must practice and ‘master’ the skills associated with the level you are at.  Then, through a variety of techniques, you move on gently pushing yourself forward through practice, repetition and focus.  Parts of this process are challenging and quite frankly, boring.  Parts of this process feel effortless and exhilarating.  All of it:  the tedium, the joy, the frustration, the fun…. are necessary components to development.

As far as I can see, this is true of all artistic processes and maybe most everything.  We know it in music, art, dance, martial arts, creative writing, etc.  Knowing its truth does not make it easy or desirable. I’ve known many who simply give up or walk away when they reach one of these points of transition that are especially difficult or frustrating.  And perhaps that TOO is an appropriate response.  After all, timing is everything. And we can’t possibly expect to be experts at everything.  At least not all at once!

Interestingly, there is one place in my work that I am perhaps most motivated to “succeed” where I see other drop off or plateau regularly. That is in the process of self-discover or awakening.  Many claim to be on this path towards wholeness and ‘enlightenment’, but few are willing to really push through the places of resistance and engage in the difficult work that it takes to get there.  Many find a place along that path that feels good/comfortable and simply remain there without much resistance.  This is also true in many other disciplines.  My daughter could choose to stop progressing in the violin at the point she is now. She would still be able to impress her friends with her playing, bring out the violin at Holiday gatherings to play for family, teach the basics to kids and perhaps play with a community orchestra.  This would be a fine place to stop.  Or she can continue and aspire towards something else.  The choice is hers and we talk about this choice frequently.

Spiritual development follows many of the same patterns.  We can use our practices (meditation, yoga, energy work) to move us forward OR we can plateau at a place we feel cozy and choose to stay here.  Both are viable options especially when chosen consciously. There is a vital difference though here from other practices.  This ‘self awareness’ piece is something we all are engaged in whether we are consciously working on it or not. The same is not true of the violin, for example.  Because we are all human and in the process of evolving both individually and together, the self-work we do effects not only our personal existence, but our collective experience as well. Every single one of us on the planet. And where we choose (if you believe its a choice) to plateau has a profound impact on our world.  Its a spectrum, of course, and knowing where you are on that spectrum represents a key element of our awareness.  Understanding the reasons and necessity for moving forward is also a key part of this awareness.  Its not just about YOU.  In this one area of our life, we truly are all connected.

In my work, I guide people through the process of moving to that next level. Whatever it is for them. Wherever they are in the moment.  That process, by its very nature, involves intricate detail and subtle awareness around where it is easy to get stuck, give up or plateau.  Especially those deceptive places that make think you have arrived, when really you are still in the process itself.  Its a tricky  balance that I see as a kind of dance.  But this is my specialty and I work invisibly.

Knowing and expecting that you will get pushed, that there will be resistance, that you’ll have a natural tendency to want to reach for the practices and places that represent “escapism” in its many deceitful forms when the going gets tough.  And then, being willing to take a deep breath in and take the next step forward….  anyway.   This is the process of living and learning and evolving.  And when we are able to see that our spiritual development requires the same kind of learning process that ever other “skill” we have every attained requires, we’ll slowly begin to understand both the process of AND the necessity of this work. This vital component to the well being of our present moment and all future generations on this beautiful planet.

May you find the courage, strength and support you need to bravely and boldly take your next steps forward in this moment, today, this week and this life.




Where or where is “yoga”?

October 27, 2017
A conversation I had recently went something like this:
“Oh, you are doing art & meditation & sound healing, but no ‘yoga’ for the workshop?” 
 How is THIS not yoga?  How is all of THIS not yoga?  Have we forgotten what yoga IS? Did we ever know in the first place?  Everything is Yoga when Yoga is understood.  There is no separation between not yoga & yoga.  As I write, I am practicing my yoga.  As I sit, I am practicing my yoga.  As I plan my day, I am practicing my yoga.  These are not just words to say and repeat robotically. This is not just a script I have been trained to recite. This is not just a theory or exercise. This is the most profound truth I have ever known.  Yoga is “Union”. These are not words to be taken lightly. Not a phrase to be gently smiled upon as you nod in agreement.  Saying it is not enough. Reading it is not enough.  Printing it on a T-shirt, is not enough.  Telling others is not enough.
Understanding it, is everything.  Let is sink in.  Let it inform every aspect of your life. 
Yoga Is Union.
Sometimes I think studios and the studio culture has completely ruined yoga by cultivating the culture that yoga is something you can pay for.   Something you can go to and experience for an hour and then go home or back to work or wherever.  Something you can read in a book on or have printed on a bumpersticker. Something you “Do”.  Something you can call/label yourself.
Yes, I am aware of the counter arguments regarding making a living and money as an accepted and valuable form of exchange.  And I am in no way against any of that. Still, I find myself asking all the time:  What have we lost, what are we in the process of losing, as yoga becomes increasingly commodified, “studio-ified”?   Its a big question.  Perhaps it is too late.  But asking it will help us as other spiritual paths (shamanism, meditation) go mainstream and are in danger of walking this same slippery slope .
I wonder how many of us really think about this, sink our teeth into this question and engage it fully?  Really consider, 10 years out, where does this path I am paving lead?  What are the pros and cons of the choices I am making now,  to the future collective awakening of this world, this consciousness?  Am I helping, or hurting?  Can I be honest? Can I even know?  Does that make it OK?
Is Beer/Cat/Glitter/Naked (fill in the blank) Yoga truly guiding us to awakening? (assuming thats everyones goal, which is a big assumption, I know.)  If it is now, does that make it a good idea?  What even contributes to our understanding of what is a ‘good idea’ or not? Thats the bigger question.
Before I started teaching “yoga & sound”, I went first to my Yoga Guru and asked him if this pairing was in accordance with the yoga lineage that I am a part of.  I then went to my Sound Healing teacher and asked her what she thought about it as well.  Both gave me their blessings, their feedback, their assurance that this was an appropriate use of both these tools.  Only then did I design the ‘curriculum’ and start teaching “yoga & sound healing”.
When you’re not sure if your work is ultimately contributing to “the greater good”, ask your teachers, your guides, your gurus, ask the Divine.  And them be willing to listen.
I am a humble vessel for the Divine and respectfully tread very carefully anytime I create a “new offering”. This is tremendously powerful work.
  • Its time to stop being so aloof with the term “yoga” and how it is applied.
  • Its time to practice better discernment as we come up with new ideas and how to apply them.
  • Its time to not just judge whether something is a good idea or not by how many people show up or come through the door.
  • Its time to be willing to live and breathe “Eyes Wide Open” instead of just saying it.
This is my wishlist at this time.  Its a personal wishlist, not meant to be coercive, judgmental or derogatory in any way.  Just one persons vision of what is happening now and one persons dream of a better tomorrow.
“May you see clearly the path before you. May you  understand fully the path behind you.  And may you walk with Grace, truth, equanimity, compassion and focus, in the here & now.”