Everything is Nothing with a Twist

Everything is Nothing with a Twist

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.

Falling is not Failing

Falling is not Failing

Growth is usually
not linear,
not chronological,
not organized,
not planned,
not pretty,
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.

108 Sun Salutations Spring 2020: New Way of Continuing our Together

108 Sun Salutations Spring 2020: New Way of Continuing our Together

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

Savasana

Aad Guray by Deva Premal

Kindness is my Superpower

Kindness is my Superpower

I am grateful
today and every day
for the choice to be kind,
and for the daily reminders
that kindness is my superpower.

Everyone here on this earth
shares the same struggles, pain, hardship, longing.
And everyone shares the one unified interest: to be loved.
Seeing past the mask of person, the choice for kindness becomes easy:

Whatever I give to you,
I give to myself.
Whatever I withhold from you,
I withhold from myself.

I am not perfect in my practice of kindness,
but I am perfectly committed to the practice.

So I bow in gratitude to everyone whose love reminds me that kindness is the way back to love.
I also bow in gratitude to everyone whose lack of love reminds me that kindness is the way back to love.

It’s not the Moon, my Dear

It’s not the Moon, my Dear

It’s not the moon, my dear, that gives you any power or takes it away from you.
It’s not Mercury, whether in retrograde or not. Nor any of the planets or stars.
It’s not the government, not your boss, not your ex, not even your parents.
It’s not the people you cling to or push away from you.
It’s not your past lives.
It’s not the world, or anything that appears in it.
Any power you think these people and things either give you or rob you of is the power you put there.
It’s been you all along, my dear; you just forgot.
But the beginning of your remembering that it’s all in your hands is the beginning of your freedom.

What I Cannot Love, I Overlook

What I Cannot Love, I Overlook

“What I cannot love, I overlook.” (Anaïs Nin) 

This is it! This is exactly what A Course in Miracles teaches, “To forgive is to overlook.” This is the prize I’m keeping my eyes on. The gist of the practice, the jewel of the lotus, the way back home.

It doesn’t escape me how contrary to our conditioning this way of thinking and being seems. But from experience, I know that the conditioned ways of thinking and being can only bring about suffering. And I don’t know about you, but I’ve decided long ago that living in a self-imposed state of a lack of peace will not get me to peace.

Ask yourself this: If only love is real, then what are all thoughts, perceptions and actions (yours or someone else’s) that are not based on love? If only love is real, it must follow that anything other than love is unreal, and is therefore an illusion, a dream, a hallucination.

Now it makes sense to overlook what we can’t (yet) love because why would anyone in their right mind invest in illusions, dreams and hallucinations?

The first step is to recognize and admit to ourself that we’re clearly not in our right minds most of the time because most of the time, we do invest, and heavily so, in illusions. We do this by attaching to and analyzing and judging and condemning and worshipping so many things, ideas and beliefs, none of which come from love and none of which have any substance because they don’t come from love.

For the sake of experiment, try overlooking what you don’t love and would by default react to with anger, judgment or self-righteousness. Overlooking what we don’t love means forgiving which means we’re in our right mind. Doing the opposite means staying stuck in the familiar and wrong mind.

I could have taken this photo by letting everything be in focus. But overlooking most things in the frame, and focusing on one tiny part, I find the photo more beautiful. 

What if we could see only love and automatically discard the rest as illusion? The road to that point seems long and strenuous but not taking that road is certain hell, as we all know if we’re really honest with ourselves. 

Luckily, there is a better way.