Be Still and Know

Be Still and Know

“Curving back within myself,
I create again and again.”
(Bhagavad Gita)
.
Intuition will be your most important tool moving forward.
Do you believe everything you hear? Has true perception been blocked by layers upon layers of tightly held beliefs?
What is belief but a decision you made at some point in the past? That decision may have been appropriate then, but maybe it’s time to reassess your belief system.
Making a new decision now will significantly shelter you from suffering brought on by confusion, fear and cognitive dissonance.
If you ask: Whom can I trust when I get conflicting information?
I ask you to ask yourself what resonates with you. Not with your beliefs, but with you. Not with your ego, but with you. Not with your pride, but with you. Can you tell the difference?
Maybe it’s time to get still, to meditate, to pray, to leave the world and old beliefs aside for a while.
Because what’s a more reliable and reputable source of information than guidance from spirit, your true Self? Everything else is ultimately fake news.
INtuition
INsight
INtelligence
INner peace
All roads worth taking lead INward.
Be still and know.

2020: Clarity

2020: Clarity

What word would you use to sum up 2020?
For me it’s clarity.
Just like the clear blue of the sky, the pure white of the snow and the crisp fresh of the winter air on my hike this morning, on the last day of this challenging year.
Clarity may be the last word you’d use, but consider that things may not be as they seem.
Imagine you grew up in an upside down world, so all you know comes from an upside down way of thinking. Maybe you sensed something was off but the world told you in various ways that you’re the upside down one. When things finally start to get turned right side up, you perceive chaos and want things to go back to how they used to be. And no wonder you perceive chaos because the keepers of the upside down are fighting like hell to keep things upside down. You think you want things to go back to how they used to be, but the way things used to be is upside down. In short, right side up is what you actually need and want, but you may not know it yet. That’s 2020.
But forget about the world! Maybe what you think of yourself, about your true Self, has been upside down and therefore the way you see everything has been upside down too. In 2020 you were nudged and maybe even forced to question your way of thinking and perceiving yourself and the world so that you can gradually turn yourself around by turning your mind right side up.
Now do you see how great of a gift 2020 was?
There can be no clarity in an upside down way of thinking. But the moment you answer the inner call to guide yourself toward the right side up way of being, clarity is inevitable. Even in the midst of seeming chaos, even while surrounded by messengers of fear, and despite your old self’s best attempts to drag you back into the upside down way, your freedom, your salvation and your victory are certain.
On to 2021: the year of renewal. May we all stay true to Truth as we walk ourselves from darkness to Light.

Everything Still Turns to Gold

Everything Still Turns to Gold

“And as we wind on down the road
Our shadows taller than our soul
There walks a lady we all know
Who shines white light and wants to show
How everything still turns to gold.”
(Stairway to Heaven, Led Zeppelin)

As a child in Bosnia I was drawn to this song although I knew only a handful of English words back then and had no idea what the song was about. I was fascinated by “the lady” and wanted to know who she is.
As a teenager, living in Germany, one day I spontaneously drew an adult version of myself and included some verses of Stairway to Heaven in that drawing. It was odd because I hadn’t heard the song in years.
About 15 years later, while teaching a yoga class in Reno, Stairway to Heaven started playing on an electronic music Pandora station. I almost fast forwarded to the next song, but I’m glad something told me to let it play because it wasn’t a mistake.
“The lady” kept visiting me through the years but I guess I hadn’t been quite ready to hear her message until that day in 2011.
It was only then that I finally heard the lyrics of the song and understood what “the lady” had been trying to tell me since the mid 1980s!
I cried then and cry still most times now when I hear this beautifully heart opening, wisdom filled and almost otherworldly song because I know I’m taken care of and have been all along.
Since 2011 I’ve heard this song play in many “random” situations in which I felt discouraged and dispirited. “The lady” just knows when I need her guidance and love.
That’s just how the Holy Spirit works: always there, always speaking to us, always having our back. We ask for guidance and help, but do we really listen? Are we open to get our answer from unconventional and unexpected messengers?
There are infinite ways through which spirit talks to us. Whatever is going on in our life is our lesson and the answers are hidden within our questions. And, like in my case with “the lady,” we’ll hear the message when we’re ready. All is well and everything works in perfect timing. Because, like “the lady” shows us, everything still turns to gold.

Upside Down

Upside Down

In one of my yoga classes last week, I guided my students into a headstand. After about 15 minutes into the practice, that is. I guess I broke a whole bunch of yoga rules by doing that (and it wasn’t the first time, I confess). As every yoga teacher knows, we are taught to incorporate inversions at the end of class. I don’t break rules just for the hell of it; I understand that there are reasons behind most dos and don’ts, and I do my best to at least know those reasons, whether I believe in them or not. I teach what I practice, and when I practice, I tend to listen more to how my own body feels, rather than going by some never-to-be-deviated-from script. The latter makes me cringe, actually, because who wrote the script and why should I blindly follow it?

Let me make something clear before the yoga police gets up in arms: The 15 minutes or so leading up to the headstand contained an appropriate warmup, and of course, I gave my students other options to invert (because it’s never about a particular pose, anyway). The intention of the practice that day was to expand, and using the first 15 minutes to come into a pose usually reserved for the last 15 minutes was one of the ways we could notice how stuck we may be in a belief that something should be a certain way. I loved seeing the shock on everyone’s face when I offered the headstand. But because I expected that reaction, I acted like a good parent would act when their toddler fumbles into a harmless fall: no big deal. And I watched my beautiful yogis come into their headstands like it was no big deal at all. I could feel their confidence and power, and what’s even better, I could sense that each one of them had a little breakthrough as they bypassed their minds’ rules for a moment and experienced pure freedom and joy.

After class, the excited chatter was all about how strong everyone felt in their inversion (because they weren’t tired like they would have been at the end of class) and how surprised they were that being on their heads felt easy and just good. And that was exactly the point of the whole practice (which involved a lot more than headstand): expanding our idea of everything, including who we are and what the world is. Within each of us lies this innate aching and yearning for the breakdown of all contraction and limitation, which we ultimately realize was put in place because of a simple and silly mistake we took way too seriously.

When it comes to so many rules we follow in our lives, whether we follow them consciously or not, we tend to stay in the state of contraction and do all we can not to scratch the itch for expansion. And we wonder why living life often seems like pulling teeth. How can we expect to maintain any sort of flow when, out of fear of leaving our familiar cocoon, we continually squash every opportunity to spiritually grow? When a bird hatches from an egg, it cracks open the walls of what until then provided protection and safety. But if the bird decided it wouldn’t crack the shell because it was too scared or it would be too risky to do so, the shell would no longer bring protection; it would bring destruction and would end the bird’s life.

How much of what you perceive is simply unquestioned belief? And most beliefs we cling to like our life depended on them are not even based on truth, but are simply uninvestigated fear reactions.

Like I said earlier, I don’t break rules just for the hell of it, and I certainly don’t break all rules. That would not be empowering but just stupid. We don’t become spiritually or intellectually emancipated by blanket rebellion but by a devoted practice of discernment. We learn to separate the wheat from the chaff not by adopting someone else’s gospel about what constitutes wheat and what constitutes chaff, but by finding out for ourselves. Each one of us has been equipped with the same superpower: intuition, which is simply intelligence that’s much vaster than the puny human intellect. It’s sad how little we use and trust that superpower and instead just believe everything we think, see and hear with our physical senses, or were taught. Haven’t we had enough of the blind leading the blind?

Speaking of this idiom, how many of you yogis knew it came from one of the Upanishads? “Abiding in the midst of ignorance, thinking themselves wise and learned, fools go aimlessly hither and thither, like blind led by the blind.” (Katha Upanishad) And how much of the yoga world is all about following “tradition,” without even asking who decided on whatever supposedly became tradition? Most of the physical yoga practice, the asana practice, developed in the last 100 years or so and is a result of calisthenics, gymnastics and people making stuff up. I make up moves all the time in my practice and my teaching, and to me, that’s what makes yoga an art. As Pablo Picasso said: “Learn the rules like a pro so you can break them like an artist.”

Please don’t be one of the fools going aimlessly hither and tither, as the Upanishad says. Don’t be what you were never meant to be. Be an artist; make up your own rules, without any aggressive defiance or fanfare. If you don’t know how to do that or what is true for you, go to your superpower, your intuition, and listen to the artist within your heart. Intuition is not something we were taught in school and it’s not something we see promoted in the mainstream, but guess what: even those rules may eventually change.