No yoga pose means anything in and of itself. These physical expressions are forms that were all made up by someone at some point; whether a pose was invented a hundred years ago or yesterday is irrelevant because its meaning to the person practicing the pose comes from the person practicing the pose. And that meaning always comes from the mind and has nothing to do with the body.
In the same way, no moment, circumstance or event means anything in and of itself.
Kurt Vonnegut said that everything is nothing with a twist. I have no idea what exactly that meant to him, but to me, as a student of nonduality, it makes perfect sense and serves as a reminder that I alone am responsible for my interpretation of what I see.
If I add lemon to my water, I flavored the otherwise plain water, and now have water with a twist of lemon. I’m the one who added the flavor. I’m the one responsible for the flavor. The lemon just acted on my behalf because the lemon obviously can’t decide by itself to flavor my water and then do so without my agency.
In the same way, whatever my experience is of any given moment is the flavor I added to the moment. Just like I could add peppermint or orange or any other flavor to my water instead of lemon, I can and do choose what I use to flavor my experience of what I see: peace, neutrality and compassion are some of the flavors but so are judgment, anger and blame.
The very first lesson in A Course in Miracles teaches that nothing I see means anything, and the second lesson tells me that I have given everything the meaning it has for me. In other words, I am reminded that everything is nothing with a twist. And I’m the one who gives the nothing the twist, the flavor, that makes the nothing into something for me.
I know how tempting it is to discard all this as too unrealistic to practice. Seeing the world as an objective reality and perceiving myself as a victim of circumstances beyond my control is one of ego’s favorite tricks. A few days ago I found myself in anxiety over the possibility of having to live through another war. But simultaneously, I knew that I was the one who was adding the twist of anxiety to that moment. It was old trauma coming back to lead me into the abyss of fear. And I could clearly see that adding a different twist to the nothing I made into something is my responsibility and also my freedom.
The same rule applies if I actually find myself one day in a war situation again. Or any situation. Because as persons, as the separate entities we think we are, we will always and repeatedly find ourselves in traumatic and unexpected and undesirable circumstances. Just like we will also rejoice and enjoy happy moments we feel we deserve and expect life to grant to us. So is the nature of duality.
But Truth is beyond duality and is therefore the only real source of peace. If God is perfect Love, and only God is real, then it follows that everything else is made up. What we take as the objective and independently existing world of form into which we randomly get born as bodies is much ado about nothing, as Shakespeare said, because we make it into what it is by the power of our thinking. And using that same power, we can unmake what we made by taking responsibility for how we flavor what we see.
I can add a twist of spirit, which is Truth, or a twist of ego, which is illusion, to what I see and depending on how I flavor each moment, my experience will be either that of having a peaceful dream or a nightmare.
When the world seems out of order, maybe it’s time for an internal reorder.
Would we ever make radical changes to our life if we always got what we think we needed?
Has the inner void ever been filled by the temporary satisfaction of having our projections momentarily fulfilled?
Hasn’t the fear of our life’s details shifting at any moment stolen any true and lasting sense of peace and contentment?
As Led Zeppelin’s Stairway to Heaven says: “If there’s a bustle in your hedgerow, don’t be alarmed now; It’s just a spring clean for the May Queen.”
In other words, as the shit is hitting the fan, we are simply being pointed to look in a different direction for answers and for stability. There’s only one road to freedom and its direction is inward.
Maybe that direction seems upside down, but do we really know what is upside down and what is right side up?
Why continue to look for the pot of gold where it can’t be found? Why continue to seek shelter from the storm while refusing to get inside?
Instability can lead to possibility.
Chaos can lead to order.
Fear can be transformed to love because fear is learned while love is what we are. Love is what’s left when fear is unlearned.
The missing piece to your peace puzzle is not what is or isn’t going on, or should or shouldn’t be happening, in the world.
The missing piece is you, and the question is: Will you continue seeking outside of yourself, convincing yourself that you’re content with scraps that lead to nothing but heartbreak after heartbreak? Or will you finally heed your ancient longing to remember your true identity and start walking yourself home?
The 108 sun salutation practice is the epitome of togetherness, the glorious mental and emotional reset and in many ways the triumph of love over fear. A room full of open hearted yogis who courageously leave their ego armor at the door and move, sweat, breathe and sing their way to freedom and do so together.
Less than a week ago, when this ever-unstable world got even more unstable, all classes, including the 108 practice, had to be canceled. I was going to do my own thing at home, but the together part is what makes this practice the magical experience that it is.
And just like when there’s a will, there’s a way, when there are open hearts yearning for healing through togetherness, nothing can stand in the way. We got together today, maybe not physically, but full heartedly all the same. And we moved, and sweated, and breathed and cried and sang and healed – together.
Thank you, my yogis, for joining me in this new way of continuing our together. We would have all preferred to share our practice in the same room to joining virtually but we joined, and that’s what matters and what heals.
This too shall pass.
Real hugs will return.
I love you ❤️
Many of you asked me to share the nine dedications that precede each round of 12 sun salutations, as well as the playlist. The dedications, and the songs I chose, start off very “human,” pained and dramatic even, although carrying an invitation to change our minds about the purpose of our pained and often dramatic and traumatic human life.
To make a choice for peace, we first have to look at the inner conflict. To rise, we first have to acknowledge that we have fallen. And to say no to the ego, or the fearful self, we first have to open our eyes and hearts to the presence of that fear inside of us.
As we continue this moving meditation (and it is definitely moving in more ways than just the physical), we gradually loosen our attachment to the little self, the part of us that feels insecure, trapped, fearful and alone. Because we have turned toward the fears of the seemingly separate “me,” we have diffused the power of that false self to reign over us. We slowly detach from the mask – the person – and move toward presence, the spirit and unbound love that we are in reality. Having remembered our true Self, we rejoice in the connectedness to the home we never left, even if that joy seems very temporary.
Truth is always true, just like illusion is never true, so even the tiniest moment of Self-remembrance is enough inspiration to move us forward on our way back home. As we continue to navigate the uncertain waters of this human experience, we find that we meet life’s lessons with a little more grace, trust and openheartedness.
This is the purpose of our practice of 108 sun salutations: looking at and moving through the changeful as we remain grounded in the changeless, ultimately remembering that we ARE the changeless and that the changeful has had no effect whatsoever on our reality as spirit.
Here are the dedications, followed by the songs I played for the respective round of sun salutations:
1 ~ I open my heart and offer my light to my human, imperfect self. Deep in my gut, I know that achieving perfection as a human being is not only impossible, but an unnecessary burden that keeps me stuck in fear and self loathing. Deep in my heart, I know that as a soul, I am progressing on my path just as I planned and that every experience I had and am yet to have is a perfectly chosen piece of my soul’s mosaic. I am a perfect expression of my divine nature in this imperfect human form. And so it is.
Superman by Rachel Platten
Heroes Fall (feat. Essa) by Hidden Citizens
2 ~ I open my heart and offer my light to all my fears, and all the aspects of myself I consider dark and negative. Remembering my own choice to experience the full spectrum of human emotion — the so called positive as well as the so called negative — I’m now making a promise to myself to own all the aspects of my personality that I have disowned out of fear of being seen as unworthy of love. In the name of love, which is what I am, I allow every fear, every feeling and every thought that arises to be fully integrated in my experience, so I can live with integrity, knowing that darkness is simply unawakened light and fear is nothing but a confused expression of love. And so it is.
Land of Confusion (Epic Trailer Version) by Hidden Citizens
Nothing Is As It Seems (feat. Ruelle) by Hidden Citizens
3 ~ I open my heart and offer my light to every obstacle yet to appear on my path. As I look back on my life, I can see that every seeming hurdle eventually provided impetus for my own growth and was therefore a gift. Bravely embracing my fear of the unknown — not pushing it away — I fully trust that whatever hardship and pain are yet to appear on my path are simply part of my path, remembering that ultimately, all of life is the path. And so it is.
Here We Stand by Hidden Citizens & Svrcina
Awake My Soul by Mumford & Sons
Believer by Imagine Dragons
4 ~ I open my heart and offer my light to all those who have ever shown me love. Every expression of love, no matter how small or infrequent it may seem to occur, completely imbues my being with the totality of All That Is, which is love. I give thanks to each and every being whose love fills my heart with the ancient song that reminds us all that love is all there ever was, is and will be. May we all be overwhelmed with love. And so it is.
Carry On My Wayward Son by Kansas
Carry You (feat. Fleurie) by Ruelle
5 ~ I open my heart and offer my light to all those who have hurt me, including myself. I know that every act that doesn’t come from love is simply a disguised call for love. Lack of love is evidence of the hurt we all carry in us, the hurt that stems from our ignorance of our true nature and the forgetfulness of our joint source, which is love. I ask love to show me the way every time I’m tempted to believe that I can be hurt. And as I give love and forgiveness to others, no matter what they have given to me, I know that I’m graced with love and forgiveness. And so it is.
Sigh No More by Mumford & Sons
Man In the Mirror (Acoustic) by James Morrison
6 ~ I open my heart and offer my light to the uncertainty every day brings. I give up whatever illusion of control I think I have over life, and instead choose to courageously surrender to the gifts of grace that abound in each moment. Knowing that who I am in reality can never be hurt or damaged, and that I can’t possibly ever fail or fall short, I allow life to come to me as is does. Expecting nothing and welcoming everything, I now promise to stop fighting with life and instead fully cooperate with what is. And so it is.
We Get By (feat. Ben Harper) by Mavis Staples
Carry On by Crosby, Still, Nash & Young
7 ~ I open my heart and offer my light to the eventual death of this temporary human form I inhabit. I open my mind to the possibility that any fears I may have regarding death are fears of my ideas of death and not death itself. As I listen to the whisper of my soul, which constantly reminds me that I have been on many such journeys countless times before, I remember that reality is infinitely larger than my human side can ever perceive. As a brave soul who chose to temporarily forget its immortality, I celebrate life and embrace my fear of death until that fear itself dissolves into my timeless recognition that life does not start or end, but simply changes form. And so it is.
I’ll Fly Away by Rising Appalachia
Down to the River to Pray (feat. Sonia Isaacs) by Wanda Vick
Sun is Shining by Bob Marley & the Wailers
8 ~ I open my heart and offer my light to all teachers that have appeared on my path and those yet to appear on my path, knowing that everyone and everything that teaches me about myself and helps my growth is my teacher. My heart is full of gratitude for those who have taught me through love as well as for those who have taught me by withholding love. How blessed I am to have been graced with teachers in human form and beyond, those born and unborn, and even those only my subconscious can perceive. I now can see clearly that this earth life, which seems full of suffering, is a school and that teachers and teachings abound in every moment, and I choose to learn as much as I possibly can, ultimately remembering that the only lesson to be learned is that love is all there is. And so it is.
Bring Me to Life (Synthesis) by Evanescence
Light of a Clear Blue Morning by Maggie Thorn
9 ~ I open my heart and offer my light to the ultimate source, the divine creator, infinite spirit, God, All That Is. How can I possibly live in suffering if I choose to connect to that which I’m never disconnected from? How much longer do I want to live in ignorance of my true nature, seeing myself as a separate little body when all the glory of God has been inside me all along? Once I was blind, and I forgive myself for that, but now I have opened my eyes and I see that I am That which I seek. My search for God has always been my yearning to know myself, and now that I realize what I am, I can’t help but lift my head and laugh at the sky. And so it is.
This morning on my hike, I asked for help with a situation that has been giving me a lot of anxiety because I didn’t quite know how to handle it with kindness, compassion and grace.
I ask often, and every time I ask, I get my answer. And whatever the form of the answer, the content of it is always similar, if not the same.
Today my answer came as the beautiful and majestic red tailed hawk that came out of nowhere and effortlessly flew circles right above me a few times before it disappeared again. I was immediately reminded of this powerful section from A Course in Miracles: “There is no safety in a battleground. You can look down on it in safety from above and not be touched. But from within it, you can find no safety.”
The problem, the question, the confusion and the anxiety always happen at the level of the person, the ego and the seeming outer world, which is the battleground. But the solution, the answer, the clarity and peace always await at the level of spirit, the real Self, the higher perspective, the above-the-battleground point of view.
The question or the problem may seem different each time, but each time I ask for help I get the same answer: rise above the battleground of the false self and you will see, know, trust and love without reservation.
And just like the answer is the same every time I ask, the relief is also certain every time, no matter what the problem seems to be, as long as I listen to the answer I get (and already know) and actually apply it on the level of the battleground, or the daily life.
I’m grateful for the happy fact that the road to freedom, ultimately, is not only a very simple process but a guaranteed one, and that no matter how cruel and unfair the battleground seems, I always have the option to fly above it.
Why do we so fervently fear the experience of a broken heart?
The way I see it, we must fear it because of the fear. In and of itself, what’s so horrifying about the process of grief?
Can the heart, and by heart I mean the symbol of spirit or true self, actually be broken? How can the unlimited and unbound be anything less than perfectly and eternally free? Free of pain, free of breakage of any kind, free of grief.
“Whatever suffers is not part of me,” A Course in Miracles reminds me.
So I, the human, let the waves of grief come and go, without analyzing, fighting or resisting. I keep dancing despite the limp. I filter the grief through love, rather than through fear, by asking love to show me the real meaning and purpose of grief.
And as I keep dancing with the limp, love shows me that nothing real can ever be broken, lost or separated from itself. It only appears that way, only in the dream, or nightmare, of individual existence that we, hypnotized by fear, value so much.
Fear takes me to hell, while love grounds me in truth.
So whether I laugh or cry, whether I gracefully glide or stumble with a limp, I ask and keep asking love to have this dance. And the next. And the next. And love always, always, always gently whispers…yes.
Today I swam 108 laps without stopping, and rather than being exhausted, my heart feels as big as the sky and full of love.
I have been doing 108 sun salutations, along with my yogis, for every solstice and equinox for eight years, and since I swim now too and today is summer solstice, I figured I’d swim 108 laps and dedicate my swim to six people who I know could use some extra love right now (but also to anyone whose heart may be heavy today, for whatever reason). I wrote their names on my arm so that in moments of my ego bitching and story telling I could just look at my arm and remember the love that was fueling this challenging practice.
I have found long ago that anything powered by love and a devotion to that which connects us all easily erases all doubt, fear and whatever other assorted aspects of the ego. I have also found that this world is full of suffering and is so by design, and that no one is immune from human suffering, as long as we mistakenly take ourselves to be just human. Finally, I have found that the only way out of suffering is the way inward, into our hearts, and one of the most effective ways to live from the heart is to give and keep giving and continue to give from the heart.
My body may be sore and tired but my heart is full of love because I decided to give love. What we give, we also keep, and the more we give, the more we keep. Such is the way of reality, which is completely contrary and foreign to the ego. But the ego is contrary and foreign to our true nature, so no paradox there.
This Sunday (June 23), I’ll guide my yogis through 108 sun salutations at Rishi Yoga. Imagine one person dedicating a challenging practice to all that’s true, real and eternal, like I did today, and add just one other person joining in, and you’ll get a sense of why such a practice is so powerful. As A Course in Miracles teaches: “Yet when two or more join together in searching for truth, the ego can no longer defend its lack of content.” And all that’s left is what always has been and what we always have been: love.