It may sound strange to say that I’m as happy and excited about the future now that I just sold Rishi Yoga than I was when I opened my studio in June 2014. Not even five years later, and I’m selling the studio I put so much love and work into? That’s the question I’ve been hearing for months, while the ownership transfer process was going on, so here’s a little bit of background on why and how I made the decision to sell Rishi Yoga and focus on just teaching my classes (at Rishi Yoga, of course).
The first thing to get out of the way is: This is a good thing! A great thing, really! I’ve been hearing reactions that range from shock to tears to disbelief to the occasional sigh of relief (the latter coming mostly from people who have owned small businesses). See, I never really wanted to own a business, or run one, or (gasp!) manage people. If you asked me five years ago what my worst punishment would be, being a business person and manager would have been in the top five, and I’m not kidding.
So why in the world did I open a yoga studio then?! I woke up in the middle of the night on my 36th birthday and just had the thought that I must open my own studio. I know, it sounds airy fairy, but it’s the way things started. I knew better than to ignore that call, not that it would have been possible to ignore it. When I was 30, about six months after I started a regular yoga practice, I had a similarly crazy and intense thought that seemed to come out of nowhere and practically forced me to become a yoga teacher, which I did, about a year later. Becoming a yogi and then a yoga teacher had been the most transformative and grace-infused experience I had in my life, so how could I have shut down the inner voice that told me to open my own studio? By that time, I had learned the hard way that trusting my intuition would certainly behoove me.
There was no way going around it: I had to create a yoga studio that would fit my standards of what a yoga studio should be. Because otherwise, I wasn’t going to teach at a studio at all; not because of the way the existing studios were but because of the way I am. I wanted a place that would offer warmth, compassion and friendship without the annoying new-age spiritual-sounding platitudes that more often than not turn out to be a lot of talk and not so much walk. I wanted a place where all of us, teachers and students (is there really a difference?) can be real, raw if we have to be, honest with ourselves and one another, and laugh and cry without fear of being judged or overlooked. I wanted my fellow teachers to be nothing like the run of the mill Instagram yoga Barbies and wannabe celebrities, but to genuinely care about people first, and be badass yoga teachers second. I wanted to create a place that would draw in people, students and teachers alike, who are tired of looking outside of themselves for themselves (and that’s not a typo). I wanted a studio that treated yoga like the sacred, inward looking practice that it is, rather than a new exercise fad. I knew I wasn’t going to have a trendy yoga studio, and that was exactly the point.
I have to express my endless gratitude for my husband, Daniel, my best friend and biggest supporter, without whom this whole yoga studio thing would have been much harder or, might as well be honest, impossible to pull off. Here we were, two introverts and semi-hermits, neither of whom wanted to run a business or manage people…But my heart said I had to and his beautiful heart said he had to carry me through it all.
I’m so very proud of what Rishi Yoga has become. Sometimes it takes leaving town for a week and coming back to really be reminded of the enormous amount of love that’s packed in that little space. That love doesn’t come from me or any one particular person or thing in there, but from all of us who have been baring our souls on our mats in there for the last five years, infusing the space with realness and truth. There is definitely no other place I want to go to teach my classes.
Just like the urge to become a yoga teacher, and then the knowing I just had to open a studio, it became perfectly clear to me one day during last summer that it was time to let go of the business side of things and focus on my love for and dedication to teaching. I’d be lying if I didn’t say that the business side of things didn’t wear me out…not because it was hard work but because I never wanted to spend my days doing that sort of stuff. And I didn’t want my frustration with the business aspect to affect my love for teaching yoga, so the answer was obvious. Lucky for me, the perfect person, Carol O’Brien, just came into the picture at the right time. I know Carol and her husband, Eric, will do a much better job as owners and managers than I did (that won’t take much!), while maintaining the vibe that has become the signature of Rishi Yoga.
Back to my point that this is not just a good thing, but a really great thing: How can I not be overjoyed now that I get to simplify my life by just teaching yoga, and do that in the studio that not only feels like home but IS home to me? I may have just found a way to have my cake and eat it too!
Some of the common questions I have been asked in the last six months now seem almost silly to answer, but I will do it anyway.
“Aren’t you scared the studio will change?” No. I don’t live in fear and have been actually working hard to undo fear in my mind. I do get scared by rattlesnakes, but that’s a separate point : )
“Are you going to teach yoga elsewhere?” No way. I don’t want to be owner because I don’t want the owner’s responsibilities, not because I don’t like Rishi Yoga. I love Rishi Yoga! But I think that’s clear already.
“Will you stop teaching yoga?” Not for as long as I can physically show up to teach my classes, and that’s looking pretty good for the foreseeable future!
Thank you ALL for being my teachers in the last five years (or longer). I could write another (way too long) post about how grateful I am for having made so many friends in Reno, pretty much all of whom I have met through my yoga teaching. May we all continue to grow in love and gratitude for ourselves and for one another.
On this last day of fall, contemplating confusion and clarity. On the heels of the old, at the threshold of what’s to come… Do I give in to restlessness or simply rest in ambivalence? Do I take the mind’s haziness as a mistake, something in need of fixing, or do I stay patient and trust this soul incubation process? Does the heart really care what thoughts pass by, when the heart only knows the gentle embrace of compassion and love? I’d rather wait in confusion than bask in the false glory of my fear based conclusions. Clarity doesn’t come from the mind that so fervently seeks it, but from the heart that surrenders to the end of seeking. Is clarity then really much different than confusion? The mind that separates those two is the cause of all turmoil. The mind that separates anything in two is the devil on my shoulder. But that same mind, provided it yields to the guidance of the unbound heart, is also what sets me free. I can see a coin with two sides. Or I can just see a coin. Maybe clarity is nothing but the total acceptance of confusion. What could love do, other than see through the veil of illusion and separation and love it all? What will you and I do, once we see through that same veil? What else will be there to do but let love be, no matter what form it seems to take? Clarity at last.
True to my usual style, I signed up for a five day mediumship development training six months ago. This is not a beginners training (taught by the incredible Mavis Pittilla, one of the most respected mediums in the world), although there are some people here who humbly describe themselves as beginners, but most people in the group have been giving readings and many are professionals. I never even took a class or course on mediumship and have never done any readings. Why the hell would I sign up for this training?! I don’t know, really, but I do know that trusting that inner pull to do something or not do something has never let me down, no matter how ridiculous the idea seems to my ego mind.
And the pull to learn more about this sort of thing has been in me for a few years. But unlike most people, who would probably take a beginners workshop or read books or do an online course, I decided to go for it head first. There’s a song by Moe. that goes “I always shoot first and then ask for names…” and I laughed at myself a few days ago, coming up here to the Villages in Florida because I felt exactly that way, but in a lighthearted and definitely not self deprecating kind of way.
About 10 years ago I got the same sort of crazy idea that wouldn’t leave me, and back then it was the pull to become a yoga teacher. I signed up for my nine month long yoga teacher training after less than six months of a sort-of-regular yoga practice at a gym and at home. I didn’t know Jack about yoga but that inner voice was more persistent than my ego was suspicious. And of course, these days it’s clear to me (and hopefully to my students too) that teaching yoga is what I was meant to do.
Today, which was day two of the mediumship training, I did my first ever psychic reading. I had no idea what to do because I never learned any techniques. So head first it was, and it freaking blew me away! First, how easy and natural information just started flowing. I had no expectations because I had zero experience or training, and maybe that was the best thing that could happen, at least for my type of personality, which is recovering perfectionist. I had a blindfold on and had no idea who sat in front of me but that seemed to make the inner senses wake up and go to work like it was no big deal. After the reading I was shocked to hear that most of the pretty detailed information I “saw” and felt and just knew was right on.
Maybe this diving in head first isn’t a bad idea after all. As long as the urge to do something comes from a place that’s way deeper than the fearful surface of the mind. That deeper place is the real you; the you that’s finally, even if just temporarily, stripped off of layers of fear, doubt and self shit-talking.
Appropriately, the photo below shows my view tonight and maybe I wouldn’t have noticed the mysterious and mystical way a simple lamp illuminated its surroundings had I not already chosen in my heart to not fear the darkness but dive in head first into the light, even if the beam of light initially seems too small and too weak to shine away the dark.
The question is not: am I brave enough to achieve this and that and become a better version of myself? Because that implies that I’m not good enough as I am and need things outside of me to improve me. The question is this: am I brave enough to follow the pull of my heart, even if and especially when I have no idea what I’m doing and what the outcome will be? The ego cares about accolades, achievements, embarrassment and status, whereas the soul just wants to show you that fear based thinking is just a silly misunderstanding that you can easily correct by listening to the quiet, inner voice that will always have your back.
What will happen for me in the next three days of this training? I don’t know, but whatever it is, I’ll not only take it but embrace it. And dive into it head first, of course.
I was hurt in the past. I have been betrayed. I made mistakes. Am I good enough? Am I worthy? Will I ever feel safe? Am I doing the right thing?
The constant ping pong game of the I against what is.
Exhaustion. Heavy heart. Nausea in my stomach.
But then, a sight like this: a splendor of light greeting me at sunrise, and all I had to do was open my eyes.
And suddenly, it’s game over for the ping ponging of the I against what is, even if only for this moment.
Can the sunbeam separate from the sun? Could a ray of light even exist without its source?
What is this elusive I that thinks it’s separate from life? What am I, if not a ray of light that temporarily forgets, over and over again, its untethered nature and unity with the sun?
I am an effect. God, All That Is, the Source is the cause. And the cause is unbound love.
I, therefore, must be an effect of unbound love.
This is my prayer for today:
I of myself can do nothing.
May this elusive I surrender and surrender deeper yet to the immutable wellspring of power and beauty that’s within and without and everywhere, for it is all that is and ever was.
Knowing that I’m an effect of unbound love, may my thoughts and actions reflect that truth.
The world is full of suffering. Even for those who can say that their lives have been pretty smooth and trauma-free so far, there is still at least a slight sense of unease that permeates our human existence. The fact that the body does not last forever is reason enough to live in fear. We are born to die, it seems like. And between birth and death we are trapped in a world full of violence, ignorance, poverty, abuse, war, envy, jealousy, anger, depression…There is beauty in this world, of course, but if we are honest with ourselves, we can’t ignore all the ugliness that seems to be everywhere around us, if not in our own lives.
Could a loving God have created a world of suffering? The even more perplexing question is: Why would a loving God create a world of suffering?
Traditional religion basically teaches that God created the world, but that we messed it up. This is why we spend our lives trying to get brownie points with God so that he doesn’t send us to hell. Can a life lived in this way be a life lived from love? Or is it a life lived from fear? Is a loving God happy when his children are afraid of his wrath? How can a loving God even be capable of being wrathful? And is a loving God capable of loving some of his children (and granting them heaven) but hating some of his children (and banishing them to hell)?
A Course in Miracles teaches us that God did not create this world. We did. Many Course students have a difficult time digesting this idea — because we have been conditioned by ego to think otherwise — but it is Jesus’ fundamental teaching and one that is absolutely necessary for understanding the Course and learning, or rather remembering, true forgiveness.
God created us as an extension of his mind. God, being love, can only extend itself and we are the result of that extension, which the Course calls Christ. So Christ is our true identity, and Christ is not separate from God or different than God. The course calls this non-dual state Heaven: perfect and complete unity with God, where there are no degrees, levels or hierarchies, and where there is no individuality, but only endless love that is beyond our limited human comprehension.
Residing in this perfect state of oneness, the Son of God (which is all of us) had a thought that he could separate himself from God and create unlike God creates. The Son of God basically wondered what it would be like to go out on his own and play God, much like children sometimes think they know better than their parents.
But how could that happen? How could a part of eternal, perfect love just cut itself off and become separate? Does that mean that the Son of God has more power than God does? God had no say in this and just let it happen? How could the impossible happen?
It didn’t. The thought of separation had no consequence whatsoever. But the Son of God thought that it did. We forgot to laugh at the silly and impossible thought that we could separate from God. We basically took this ridiculous idea so seriously that we’re still trapped in the illusion that it happened.
Into eternity, where all is one, there crept a tiny, mad idea, at which the Son of God remembered not to laugh. In his forgetting did the thought become a serious idea, and possible of both accomplishment and real effects. (T-27.VIII.6:2-3)
The separation never happened, but we got so entrenched in that idea that we’ve been believing ever since that it did happen. The Course tells us that “illusions are as powerful in their effects as is the truth.” We have been dreaming a dream of separation. The instant we had the thought that we could ditch God, we also felt an enormous sense of guilt for abandoning God and fear that God would punish us for having such an evil thought. So to escape God’s punishment for our “sin,” we thought into existence this world in which we would hide from God. This “tiny, mad idea” in the mind of the Son of God was the birth of the ego. The ego is nothing but a thought that separation from God is real and that return to God would result in God’s wrath.
What could God give but knowledge of Himself? What else is there to give? The belief that you could give and get something else, something outside yourself, has cost you the awareness of Heaven and of your Identity. (T-18.VI.1-2)
We dreamed this physical world into being so that we can “prove” to ourselves that our “tiny, mad idea” actually worked, although, of course, it didn’t. In this dream, we have created a world unlike God would create: it’s a world of time, where things are born and die, and where, instead of perfect oneness, there seem to be separate beings living in their private little worlds (bodies) and having their own separate interests. Jesus calls the idea “tiny” because it’s inconsequential and “mad” because it’s impossible. How can a dream ever affect reality?
Are you telling me that this life I’m living is a dream?! It’s seems so real! This is where many people reject the Course. But consider this: When you’re having a dream at night, you never doubt that what you’re experiencing is real. You may fly, or maybe you’re 20 years younger, or maybe you’re even speaking a foreign language — and you never, for even a moment, doubt that what you’re experiencing is real. Until you wake up, of course. Then you see that the experience, however real it seemed, was just a creation of your own mind. This is why self-realization, or enlightenment, is also called awakening or waking up.
Dreams show you that you have the power to make a world as you would have it be, and that because you want it you see it. And while you see it you do not doubt that it is real. Yet here is a world, clearly within your mind, that seems to be outside. You do not respond to it as though you made it, nor do you realize that the emotions the dream produces must come from you. It is the figures in the dream and what they do that seem to make the dream. You do not realize that you are making them act out for you, for if you did the guilt would not be theirs, and the illusions of satisfaction would be gone. In dreams these features are not obscure. You seem to waken; and the dream is gone. Yet what you fail to recognize is that what caused the dream has not gone with it. Your wish to make another world that is not real remains with you. And what you seem to waken to is but another form of this same world you see in dreams. All your time is spent in dreaming. Your sleeping and your waking dreams have different forms, and that is all. Their content is the same. They are your protest against reality, and your fixed and insane idea that you can change it. In your waking dreams, the special relationship has a special place. It is the means by which you try to make your sleeping dreams come true. From this, you do not waken. The special relationship is your determination to keep your hold on unreality, and to prevent yourself from waking. And while you see more value in sleeping than in waking, you will not let go of it. (T-18.II.5)
Do you wake up from a dream in which your friend is mean and call your friend to tell him that you don’t appreciate his behavior? Of course not. You know the friend didn’t do anything in reality, but you dreamed he did. Understanding this is the basis of true forgiveness. The Course does not teach ego forgiveness, which it calls “forgiveness to destroy,” (I’ll forgive you because I’m a better person than you are), but true forgiveness, which releases your brother and you as you realize that what your brother seemingly did to you was just a part of your own dream. Forgiveness, in a true sense, is the remembering that this world is just a dream the Son of God is dreaming for a while, until he remembers that he never left God because his “tiny, mad idea” never happened.
As lesson 14 tells us: “What God did not create does not exist.” (W-14.1) This is a statement of release. This world of suffering is not real! How can that not be great news? And there’s a real world beyond the one we think we have created, one that was created for us out of perfect love, rather than fear, which is what we dreamed we built this world upon. We never left our true home; we have been safe with God this whole time.
You dwell not here, but in eternity. You travel but in dreams, while safe at home. (T-13.VII.17:6-7)
In each one of us there’s a sense of longing to connect with a reality other than this world we seem to experience with our physical senses. Ever since I was a child, I felt a longing to go home, never knowing where that home was. This section from lesson 182 is a beautiful description of that longing, and the sense of unease we all feel despite the material things we accumulate in vain hopes to build ourselves that perfect home.
This world you seem to live in is not home to you. And somewhere in your mind you know that this is true. A memory of home keeps haunting you, as if there were a place that called you to return, although you do not recognize the voice, nor what it is the voice reminds you of. Yet still you feel an alien here, from somewhere all unknown. Nothing so definite that you could say with certainty you are an exile here. Just a persistent feeling, sometimes not more than a tiny throb, at other times hardly remembered, actively dismissed, but surely to return to mind again.
No one but knows whereof we speak. Yet some try to put by their suffering in games they play to occupy their time, and keep their sadness from them. Others will deny that they are sad, and do not recognize their tears at all. Still others will maintain that what we speak of is illusion, not to be considered more than but a dream. Yet who, in simple honesty, without defensiveness and self-deception, would deny he understands the words we speak?
We speak today for everyone who walks this world, for he is not at home. He goes uncertainly about in endless search, seeking in darkness what he cannot find; not recognizing what it is he seeks. A thousand homes he makes, yet none contents his restless mind. He does not understand he builds in vain. The home he seeks can not be made by him. There is no substitute for Heaven. All he ever made was hell. (W-182)
How many of our present moments do we actually spend in the present? Most of our now moments are colored by our memories of the past. We’re seeing what is not here because the past is not here. When we mentally wander off into the future, all we are doing is project our past experiences into the future. Again, we’re seeing what is not here because the future is not here. We’ve created a double illusion: we use something that is not real (the past) to create something else that is equally unreal (the future). Where is the present moment in this whole mental maze of illusions?
I see only the past because everything I see now, I am seeing through the filter of the past. From Lesson 7:
Look at a cup, for example. Do you see a cup, or are you merely reviewing your past experiences of picking up a cup, being thirsty, drinking from a cup, feeling the rim of a cup against your lips, having breakfast and so on? Are not your aesthetic reactions to the cup, too, based on past experiences? How else would you know whether or not this kind of cup will break if you drop it? What do you know about this cup except what you learned in the past? You would have no idea what this cup is, except for your past learning. Do you, then, really see it? (W-7)
Let’s say you see someone today you have not seen in 10 years. Your picture of that person will be based on what you know about him from 10 years ago. But is this who he is now? How do you know who he is today if you see him through your filter?
Now let’s say you see a stranger, someone you’ve never met before and know nothing about. But she looks just like this other person you know! Your evaluation, you picture, of this new friend will be colored by your experience with the woman she reminds you of.
How many times have you judged someone wrongly by assuming he was just like an old friend of yours because he looked like your friend, was related to him, or was from the same country your friend comes from? What is your current evaluation of people who have hurt you in the past, or those whom you remember as being kind in the past?
Every encounter we have with someone else is colored by our own judgment, by our own evaluation, of that person. This is why we only see the past, and do not see our friends as they really are. The instant I see someone, whether I know him or not, I color him in with my own opinions, beliefs and judgments. How can I see him as he truly is when I do that? I can’t.
We always evaluate people based on how they were at some point in the past, and not how they are now. The ego’s favorite thing to say is: “Of course they are the same way now as they were back in high school because people don’t change. I don’t trust anyone.” Or, another one of ego’s favorites is: “I don’t care if she’s saving a million babies from starving every day. What she did to me way back then was horrible!”
‘Now’ has no meaning to the ego. The present merely reminds it of past hurts, and it reacts to the present as if it were the past. The ego cannot tolerate release from the past, and although the past is over, the ego tries to preserve its image by responding as if it were present. It dictates your reactions to those you meet in the present from a past reference point, obscuring their present reality. In effect, if you follow the ego’s dictates you will react to your brother as though he were someone else, and this will surely prevent you from recognizing him as he is. And you will receive messages from him out of your own past because, by making it real in the present, you are forbidding yourself to let it go. You thus deny yourself the message of release that every brother offers you now. (T-13.IV)
Everyone you meet offers you an opportunity to release yourself from the past by seeing the other person as he is now, and not how he was then. Your release of him is your release of yourself.
When we hold onto the past, we choose to do so. It’s not an automatic or natural response, but a conscious choice. It is, however, a conscious choice of the ego, which is not the real you. But as long as you identify with the ego, you will think that the ego is you, and you will keep listening to its insane reasoning.
Does holding onto past grievances make you feel liberated and at peace? No? Then why do you do it? We justify holding grudges by this insane idea that we deserve justice and that this person needs to pay for what he did. But what he did is not real now because whatever he did, he did in the past, which is not here anymore. You are bringing this hurt into the present and therefore making it real for you now. The only question you need to ask yourself is this: Does bringing the past into the present bring me peace?
The ego has a strange notion of time, and it is with this notion that your questioning might well begin. The ego invests heavily in the past, and in the end believes that the past is the only aspect of time that is meaningful. Remember that its emphasis on guilt enables it to ensure its continuity by making the future like the past, and thus avoiding the present. By the notion of paying for the past in the future, the past becomes the determiner of the future, making them continuous without an intervening present. For the ego regards the present only as a brief transition to the future, in which it brings the past to the future by interpreting the present in past terms. (T-13.IV)
We mentally live in the past, while, in reality, we can only live in the present. By using the present to stuff it with past experiences and future anxieties (and all anxieties are projections of the past into the future), we obliterate the present and are ultimately residing nowhere, since now is the only time there is. Why do we wonder, then, why the future turns out to be just like the past? We made that choice by bringing the skeletons of the past into the future. The ego will say that history repeats itself. Of course it does, because we allow the ego to bring history into the future.
The shadowy figures from the past are precisely what you must escape. They are not real, and have no hold over you unless you bring them with you. They carry the spots of pain in your mind, directing you to attack in the present in retaliation for a past that is no more. And this decision is one of future pain. Unless you learn that past pain is an illusion, you are choosing a future of illusions and losing the many opportunities you could find for release in the present. The ego would preserve your nightmares, and prevent you from awakening and understanding they are past. Would you recognize a holy encounter if you are merely perceiving it as a meeting with your own past? For you would be meeting no one, and the sharing of salvation, which makes the encounter holy, would be excluded from your sight. The Holy Spirit teaches that you always meet yourself, and the encounter is holy because you are. The ego teaches that you always encounter your past, and because your dreams were not holy, the future cannot be, and the present is without meaning. (T-13.IV)
Love is ever present because love is the only reality. But by seeing the present through the filter of the past, we can’t see love because our filter obscures it. Since all of our judgments are based on the past, we can release all judgments by being in the now. By holding a grievance, we bring the past into the present and ensure that the future will be like the past. But the past is not even real, so we’re making ourselves a future that is based on illusion. Who can find peace in an existence based on illusion?
Heaven, therefore, is a letting go of the past entirely. Once we let go of the past, we let go of all judgments and grievances, since they are always tied to the past. The past is the barrier to the love’s presence, which is our natural inheritance, as the Course says. The past is an illusion, and is therefore nothing. It is only a perceived barrier. There is actually nothing that keeps us from experiencing Heaven, or our true nature, right now.
The now moment is the closest we can get to eternity while we are still believing in time. Eternity does not mean infinite time, but no time. Eternity is a state beyond time. Time is a device of the ego, set in place to keep us tied to the past, ensuring that history will repeat itself. Remember that the ego is not your friend, but a parasitic fear thought that can only survive if you believe in it. The ego can only live in the past or in the anticipated future (which is an extension of the past) because the ego, being not real itself, can only reside in time that is not real. The Holy Spirit, which is your true self, teaches you to be in the present moment because the now moment is the closest you can get to eternity, which is your true home. The Holy Spirit uses time to reinterpret it, showing you that time is not a linear phenomenon, existing independently of you, but simply a teaching device. Once we have removed the barrier to truth (and the barrier is the past), time, like any learning device, will become unnecessary.
If you accept your function in the world of time as one of healing, you will emphasize only the aspect of time in which healing can occur. Healing cannot be accomplished in the past. It must be accomplished in the present to release the future. This interpretation ties the future to the present, and extends the present rather than the past. But if you interpret your function as destruction, you will lose sight of the present and hold on to the past to ensure a destructive future. And time will be as you interpret it, for of itself it is nothing. (T-13.IV)