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.
“My heart was split and a flower appeared; and grace sprang up; and it bore fruit for my God.
You split me, tore my heart open, filled me with love.
You poured your spirit into me; I knew you as I know myself.
Blessed are the men and women who are planted on your earth, in your garden, who grow as your trees and flowers grow, who transform their darkness to light.
Their roots plunge into darkness; their faces turn toward the light.
All those who love you are beautiful; they overflow with your presence so that they can do nothing but good.
There is infinite space in your garden; all men, all women are welcome here;
All they need do is enter.”
(The Odes of Solomon, Ode 11)
Maybe our hearts have to split over and over again until we choose to have the flower appear and grace spring up. The ego’s false kingdom has to start crumbling before we can choose against it.
More than a decade ago, my heart had split, yet again, and out of pure desperation, exhausted by my perpetual war with myself, and deflated by my arrogant attempts to command life to bend the way I wanted it to, I silently waved the white flag by declaring that “there has to be more to life than this.” That echoing thought was the invitation for the Holy Spirit, hidden all along in the sane part of my mind, to finally enter the chaos of the person I thought I was and slowly and patiently lead me back to the light that I’ve always been.
Since that day, my life has been a pilgrimage toward only that which is true, eternal and beautiful. Which is not to say the journey has been without hardship, human drama, sadness, confusion, anger and judgment. My heart has split many times since then but it has split more open so that flowers can continue to appear and so that grace can keep springing up. It turns out that a simple shift made a profound difference:
Whatever pulls me back into the abyss of the ego, where I identify as the separated little me, at effect of the cruel and uncaring world, is just fertilizer for more flowers to grow as long as I step back and let Him lead the way, as A Course in Miracles teaches me. I replace ego with the Holy Spirit as my teacher, my guide, my parent, my best friend, and I’m never disappointed because I’m never left without the love that I had craved my whole life and had never found through the countless and vain attempts to walk myself home.
My heart and my life are devoted to God, which means that they are devoted to YOU, because the only goal I find worth pursuing is to see you as the perfect light that you are, no matter what the world seems to think of you and no matter what you think of you and, most of all, no matter what I, as the person, thInk of you.
“Because all those who love you are beautiful,” as this Ode of Solomon so beautifully expresses. Once we turn our faces to the light, the light reciprocates.
We keep trying to meet in the jungle of the world; the fragmented parts attempting to come together but insisting on keeping our cherished fragmented selves. But when we meet in His garden, which is infinite, we see that there is no you and me, or us and them, but just light meeting itself in eternal blossoming of the One.
I choose God’s garden.
All are welcome here, and the happy fact is, all are already here.
All we need to do is enter.
Growth is usually
and definitely not comfortable.
But is that so looking from the vantage point of the seed or from the perspective of the plant? What does the legless tadpole know about the hopping frog, although it is destined to become one? The fall of the caterpillar is the rise of the butterfly, yet is the one separate from the other?
Who knows what miraculous shifts would happen if we let ourselves freefall into the fire of growth? It is an inevitable process anyway. Only our courageous yes or our fearful no determine whether we fall freely or fight the fall.
Falling freely, we lose the fear of falling and remember that we’ve always known how to fly. The seed already contains the future plant, after all.
Fighting the fall, we also eventually remember that we know how to fly, but not until we see that fighting the unavoidable transformation only hurts us because we’ve decided to delay becoming what we already are.
I love the fallen angel yoga pose and the prep for it, which I made into a variation (see the photo) I found more challenging balance wise than fallen angel. Both look graceful, strong, fun, break dance like and joyful, AND both look like a yogi just fell and laughed about it and the whole thing became a beautiful pose.
What a lesson in itself.
Falling is not failing.
The outer does not always accurately represent the inner.
The temporary hardship is not an indication of your path to come.
The struggles of the person can in no way dim the perfect light that you already are.
Whatever breaks and disintegrates during the fall is not what you are, but that which remains intact is and always has been.
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.
Stairway to Heaven by Led Zeppelin
Aad Guray by Deva Premal
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.