The Innocent Heart: How to Bypass the Mind and Access Peace

Have you ever been plagued by the anxiety bugs? Wondering what people thought of you, fretting over your new job or how hard your new diet was going to be?

If so, I completely identify, these things can get out of control. If not, you are either very lucky or in for a surprise when you start a mindfulness practice.

These bugs can become more apparent the clearer we get in our practice and in doing so, sometimes, we begin to focus so much on the parts of us that are chattering and worrying that we forget the purpose: to reach that calm center that actually exists inside of each of us. 

What if you could just cut through it all and access the part of us that is playful, that  is calm, that has no notion of hard, of criticism, of criticizing others, of just being in self? It’s a lot easier than it seems I assure you.

The truth is that the meditating and journaling and sharing our thoughts and feelings with others is an essential part of self discovery but our bodies hold the truth that we’re looking for. Most importantly while we’re going through the process of discovery we can find respite in our bodies and the heart contains the panacea for anxiety. It’s something that I think people have called inner peace or unconditional love, I just call it a beautiful state of being.

Start by putting your arms behind you and taking a deep breath. Interlace your fingers with your palms facing in.

Taking a deep breath, see if you can explore what is going on in your chest. Are you tense, do you feel feelings of love, peace, anxiety, hope, something that you have no idea how to label? This is where the journey begins.

Lean forward with your hands interlaced, taking deep breaths in and out. Feel the blood moving through your arms to and from your chest. You may not feel things this clearly yet.

Follow the blood as you lean forward, legs hip width apart. Lower your head. You’re now practicing yoga mudra. We want to bend from the hips and keep our back as straight as possible. Once we do this, we can curve down.

The most important part of yoga, is feeling strong, safe and at ease. It’s important to adjust your poses in any way that serves you. What we’re doing right now is exploring our innermost feelings, opening the heart, literally opening up our chest. We’re physically opening and bowing to the heart so that we can explore the feelings here.

Over time we will find a peaceful lake. There may be volcanoes and landslides but all of this is part of the practice. Part off the journey. You can definitely do it.

This was written spontaneously and turned into a yoga practice, I’m definitely not offering medical advice, only what works for me. But I am growing in my practice and feel called to share. I would love any ideas or comments on the format and content here. Thank you!

How I Beat Chronic Pain

Bruce-Lee-jump

“Knowing is not enough, we must apply. Willing is not enough We must do”.

– Bruce Lee

 

We all have a nemesis. That thing that just takes you down when you’re about to do your best. That part of your life that holds you back. For me that was chronic pain.

It took me 15 years just to be able to face it. I had to work through things like PTSD, bipolar disorder and so on. Those were easy to face and look at compared to this. But 15 years ago, my body went completely numb. I couldn’t meditate, I couldn’t do yoga. I felt completely disconnected from myself, other people, my emotions; it felt like my soul was trapped in a box and couldn’t get out.

I think that we all have things that keep us from feeling life fully, from feeling refreshed in a beautiful morning or appreciating the warmth of a loved one.

The problem, for me has always been internal.. I’m very good at fighting and not so much at nurturing myself. Chronic pain was one of those things.

First I had to do a lot of research in terms of what diet I needed, and started juicing and making smoothies filled with fiber, plant-based protein and fruit. Then I experimented with jogging, yoga & weight training to see what would work best. It turns out exhausting yourself when you’re already tired isn’t very effective. Slow stretching while in burning pain is torturous. So I have to let go of some ego and accept that the elliptical is where my body needs to be.

Next I found an interesting article about the fight response and how it creates a buildup of lactic acid when we live with people we have very tense relationships with…I live with my mother. Enough said.

So I had to forgive her! I, for my own sake had to do everything that i could to fundamentally change my relationship with her. After forgiving her I realized how much I judge other people and let it go…I physically felt the anger leaving my body. I was now able to meditate for what seems like hours.

With this peace I realized that I had to change my thoughts about pretty much everything. I decided to focus on a mantra that my body was healing and I was feeling great.

When we focus on something positive we start noticing the things right in front of us that we didn’t notice before. I looked and in front of me was a bottle of pills that stop neurological pain-I hadn’t opened them because they were prescribed for something else. Long story short in 3 days I went from chain-smoking, drinking ten cups of coffee a day, being (relatively numb and bitter) to energized, exercising, living a primarily vegan diet and regularly meditating.

They say that sometimes the obstacle is the journey. This was very much the case for me. I realized that my goals in life, while wonderful, were really aimed at what I thought would make me feel the way I’m beginning to feel now.

I’m sleeping better, not perfectly, I have much more energy, it’s not perfect but I feel a hope and a power inside a renewed connection with life itself. It wasn’t about pain or numbness, for me it really was a journey of personal transformation.

It turns out that applying the things that I’ve been studying my entire adult life actually served a purpose. But in the end I feel kinda badass. To quote Bruce Lee

“Knowing is not enough, we must apply. Willing is not enough We must do”.

 

 

 

Coming into Reality

There’s this funny phase after you recover from something like alcoholic infused bipolar disorder: You have to live like everyone else!

I swear, in 24 years since I had my first episode, the debauchery, thrills, life or death scenarios, I was never nearly as challenged as this.

I have to clean my room now. I, apparently, have to finish college and find some sort of employment. This is odd.

Life was a blur of living in altered states of reality, ones that demanded that either the unreal were happening or reality was so impossible that it was so impossible death was a valid option.

It’s not like that, it’s utterly boring but the stability and predictability of it all is unreal. It’s like I’m stepping into a portal of an alternate universe that everyone else has been living in my entire life.

I’m actually pretty excited. As I get acclimated to this monotony of existence, I’m thrilled because for the first time I feel a semblance of power over my life. The things that I have lived through may have been because I wanted them, but what I wanted or what I did were never really up to me.

Having mental illness is like being possessed. I really understand the phrase “the devil made me do it” instead it’s more like “my dopamine and serotonin receptors were on overload” or “I was so completely and utterly devoid of all energy so I couldn’t do [fill in the essential but inane task]”

What’s funny is that today, there are more people who understand the concept of possession than neurochemistry.

Funny world we live in.

Inverted at Burning Man

I’m upside down dressed only in glitter. Playing guitar. Behind me has assembled a group of backup dancers, a fiddler and what I think was a vocalist.

We’re in the middle of the nevada desert. I’m on the main stage at burning man. I had just changed my name to Ravi; it’s the first week of classes at the only Buddhist college in the US. The day before my therapist told me that I should have some fun. Leaving his office a woman I met the day before asked me if I’d like to tag along.

So naturally I accompanied the hari krishnas to the greatest party on earth in the middle of the desert. Upon arrival it was about ten minutes before I was dressed in glitter riding atop a solar powered triceratops with “The Burning Milfs” a friendly group of mothers who made sure that everyone had enough condoms and rolling papers to ensure that their trip was encased with the appropriate wrappings. A genius idea…

…”you know this stage is only for professionals” one of the workers yelled to us. Strumming my guitar that had played both naked parties in new england blizzards and naked festivals in a nevada sandstorm I reply “We were asked to fill in for the main act.”

The funny thing is that I was dead sober. If it weren’t for that car crash, lord knows where I would have wound up.

Car crash into sobriety

Facing the jersey barrier, the speedometer hit eighty. I was in the passenger seat, hands clasped, praying to my namesake. My friends in the back begging me to grab the steering wheel. Karl’s face turned into a caricature of an evil mastermind realizing his plans for armageddon.

I had never driven a car before, nevermind wrestled a steering wheel from a clearly insane man, but fuck it. I grabbed the wheel pushed it to the left. The immovable concrete screeched against the door inches to my left.

We were now in traffic. It was the first times John or Kai had worn seat belts in years. It was the first time I had driven a car. In the passenger side, no less. Karl was mad. He was mad that my girlfriend wouldn’t sleep with him. He was mad that money couldn’t buy friends. Quite frankly, he was a madman.

“This is what happens when I’m mad!” He shouted. I noticed a rest area ahead. Made for sleeping truckers, I’m still convinced the patron saint of hung-over idiots put it there for us. I grabbed the wheel and pulled it to the right. He didn’t fight it. We made it to the truck stop.

The sky was blue that day. Clear, puffy white clouds, surrounded by trees by the side of the highway. As beautiful as a near death experience could be I suppose.

Karl stopped the car, and in true Mad form, he took his pipe and ran into the woods.

“Let’s start walking” said John. John came from a lineage of independent business men. I was great at getting into and out of trouble. This was mostly because I had people like John around. We listened.

Walking down the highway for miles, Kai, the resident goofball and magician begged to stop for water. I, the engine behind adventure weighed the pros and cons. John, with a head on his shoulder said we wouldn’t stop until we got home. We listened, put together enough between the two of us for a pack of second rate cigarettes.

The next day I got sober.

Relationships & The Law Of Attraction

love and relationships

I’ve come across several of friends suffering from relationship issues this week so I decided that there was need for this post.

Relationships are great as soon as you don’t need them. It’s simply the way it works. When we have discovered ourselves to the point where we’re simply not looking for them, the relationships will come, but what do we do?

We grow.

Relationships, like water, seek their own level. We’re simply not going to find the person we’re “looking for” unless we’ve grown to the point where we’re not looking. Or we can settle, which is absolutely fine. In fact, most of us do this, it’s just that we’re settling at a level that is perfect for us for a period of time. 

I’ve done the whole manifest a relationship thing and while it worked, every time, I continually found one thing in common: the relationship was as healthy as I am.

To quote Mooji, “If you’re (single and) looking for the love of your life, you don’t know how lucky you are…” “Finding the love of your life can become a life sentence.”

I’m sure that this isn’t the advice that anyone is looking for. But the hunger to find the perfect person simply arises out of a feeling of being incomplete. Perhaps there’s something deeper that you’re actually craving; a connection, not necessarily romance that is out there.

Romantic relationships are a tool of growth, of happiness and can be incredibly awesome. But they will  challenge you to grow. They will challenge you to even examine your desire for relationships, and that is beautiful.

But like all of life’s beautiful things, they are ultimately transient and more importantly demand growth of some sort and growth is uncomfortable at times. So, I highly suggest a smoother transition. Let go of what doesn’t work and dare to be single. Perhaps you’ll find something deeper and even more fun!

I mean, the point of life is definitely much more blissful and enjoyable than struggle. Why not enjoy yourself and take the easy path until fun finds you?

I don’t intend for this or any of my posts to be definitive truths. I’m actually more interested in what other people have to share than my current truths. I dare to share my perspective to see what other people have to say.

 

 

Let’s talk about Chi.

obi wan blog

I never really like to talk about this, but I was kind of born feeling seeing and simply have a knowledge of what’s referred to as chi. For some reason prana seems to esoteric, life force seems to woo woo, but we all know what chi is. It’s much more concrete, mapped, established, and codified in chinese medicine, disciplines such as kung fu and tai chi, chi has always been a tangible part of my reality.

I took this for granted for most of my life. Everyone else just seemed blind. When I was a very little (precocious) kid, I thought I just saw atoms. When I was a punk teenager I thought “duh there’s a universal energy field connecting all things; everyone else is an idiot.” When I had a profound manic episode, I was convinced that everyone was energy vampires. In later adulthood I realized that I just had a gift that probably way more people had than those who spoke about it.

I never wanted to be one of those people who you’d meet at yoga retreats who would go on at lengths about their connection with angels or something similar. Often times (by all means, not always) these people seemed to be making up for some unexplored side of their ego with their spirituality. I decided that being more reserved was the proper way to relate to the most intimate parts of my life. In general I think that is a pretty reasonable way to relate to most things, although I by no means have always lived this way.

I’m writing about this today because I’m realizing that I am in need of energy healing. I’m a certified energy healer, which is funny, because I hate doing it. I actually have a lot of resentments about growing up being generally energetically aware. Most people who are sensitive to energy are not as sensitive as I am, making me feel lonely amongst those with whom I wished I could relate. In this sense, I’m sensitive about being sensitive.

The beautiful part of the journey has taken hold. I’m particularly empathetic, I understand myself and relate to others particularly well, in general. I’m in awe of the beauty of the universe. My day to day involves a connection that I pray our president could experience for like, a billionth of a second. That’s great.

But I’m in pain. I’m not sure if it’s the isolation that this has caused me. The irony is not lost on me. I don’t just sympathise with people but I vividly see and feel what other people are going through. Connection is very real for me. And because so few people experience the world to this degree of intensity and connection, I feel as though I lack peers with whom I can relate.

I can relate to people. I very seldom feel that I relate with. 

With that said, I have built a beautiful network of humans who sincerely do care and listen. I have chosen my friends very carefully. They are numerous and, while we are all beautiful snowflakes these people, even those with whom I haven’t spoken in years are incredibly special.

I guess I’m in pain because these people are so amazing, and this world is so amazing the overwhelming connection almost gets in the way of enjoying them. In any event, I need to take care of myself on the level of someone who perceives chi. I’ll go to acupuncture and receive some more reiki, go back to tai chi or kung fu…I’ll take care of myself.

I guess I just wanted to share that I have felt so lonely for so long publicly. I’m by no means complaining. It’s the very thing that makes me feel connected to life that makes me feel very alone. It’s a fair trade. But in acknowledging that, I realize that I’m sure I’m not alone.