The Pause

Forward fold Pangon LakeOne of the final requirements I needed to fulfill the 500 hour yoga teacher certification at Kripalu was to complete “The Inner Quest Intensive”. This was a 3 day immersion program designed for participants to release the “False Self”, to shift awareness inside away from the external world of doing and connect back with the “Real Self”

Let me explain. Upon arrival at Kripalu, participants in the program were taken to a seperate registration table. We were asked to remove all jewelry, hair accoutrements, belts and shoes. We were only allowed to take in personal toiletries, a few changes of clothes, pillow and sleeping bag. Those that had physical limitations were given a mattress on the floor. All the clocks were covered. We were to remain in silence at all times unless it was our turn to speak in diades or triades. We ate as a group in silence, we slept in a large room together in silence, waiting in line during bathroom breaks, morning and evening wash times all in silence. We were all individuals yet nothing from the external world made one person stand out over another.

The goal was to strip away the Ego’s identification with external stuff and create an opportunity to enter the Silence. Silence is the only place where we can observe thoughts, sensations and emotions as they arise… to simply BE. Our ego is very powerful and believes it is in control of our experience here on earth. When we become so immersed in our external worlds the false self is created by the ego. Our beliefs, desires, habits and reactions are rooted in us by the ego. We need our egos, no doubt… they keep us safe. However, we are so much more than our beliefs, our doing, our material possessions.

We were expertly guided by a psychologist and a team of support staff to hold space for each one of us to ensure our safety. This act of silence gave each of us the opportunity to observe our thoughts. Notice sensations generated in the body when we have a thought. Observe if that sensation felt pleasant or not. Decide to hold on to that thought or change it. Consider where that thought came from. Follow it back to its roots. Was it based on a belief, on a past experience, did it come from a foundation of truth (my truth) or was it inherited from society, was it something my ego came up with so I could feel good about myself….oh so much to digest, assimilate and release!

This Corona virus is affording us all the opportunity to move into silence and begin to dissolve the ego’s controlling grip. Maybe, you will begin to embrace this “pause” as an opportunity to create a reality that feels good? In the beginning we are challenged… we don’t like to be controlled or have limitations put on us. The ego doesn’t like this and could possibly go on screaming and kicking for days. We don’t know how to be without all our doing. So many of us DO all the time we have a very challenging time with BEING.

Now is the time to make changes you’ve been longing for. Take inventory. Are you happy? Are you healthy? Are you stuck? Do you feel whole, complete, content? More to follow……

 

The Importance of Keeping a Journal

APRIORITY WHEN LIVING A MAGICAL LIFE

 Really?  How can writing down thoughts, practices and seemingly mundane occurrences in life propagate magical living?  I asked myself this same question when I was assigned the task.  The importance of a journal was taught the very first morning of study with Brian Osborn, a master in esoteric work. He launched into a lengthy discussion of journaling (as only Brian can do!)  a Magical Diary he explained is a journal to track our own progress.

The cornerstone necessary in living a magical life is to know what you want. The foundationis what are you doing to get it? What are your results?

I was amazed by my reluctance to writing a journal.  Instantly, I was resistant. I could think ofmany reasonable excuses.  I had no time,didn’t know what to write, didn’t know where to begin, knew nothing.  How important could this be, really??  Truthfully, I was scared.  I had to be brutally honest with myself.  The journal made me accountable.   

Our class was given clear directions on how to go about it.

  First get a journal that resonates with you, is esthetically pleasing, for more power design the cover yourself!  Have it be specific to one area of practice.  For example, if you are practicing dreaming have a Dream Journal.  For a meditation practice, a Meditation Journal.  Whatever spiritual practices you engage in have a specific journal for it.

         On the first page, write a prayer or intension to reveal the highest and greatest within you, for knowledge, experience, illumination and wisdom. 

         Each entry will include the date, time, and phase of moon.  For example: Monday, October 14, 2019 ~ 3:40pm ~ Full Moon (actually combust)

         From here you can describe how you are feeling before, during and after the practice.  What sensations, sights, sounds, smells were experienced.  If recording a dream, be as specific as possible recalling details including how you felt during the dream.

As with all practices, writing in a journal is only aseffective as you are.

Now for the rest of the story….  Struggling with being stuck, approaching the tipping point to action ….  Day began with my morning ritual of sitting, meditating, praying in silence with a cup of coffee letting my thoughts run as I observe restlessness take over.

Whenever I am really stuck and in need of answers I visitmy parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles all “resting” in the cemetery.   From grave to grave, spending time inconversation, expressing gratitude, reflecting on things passed, finallyspilling the beans with what’s up.   I feel all their energies with me and we walk.

 We walk through a large field silently observing nature. Suddenly a large marsh hawk swoops down from above heading toward the opposite end of the field.  The raucous caw of crows grows louder until all at once unleashed from a giant maple crows take flight to fend off the hawk’s advances.  Neither the crows nor the hawk are afraid.  The hawk flies alone fearless, the crows band together as an army of fighter pilots each taking a turn to swoop on the hawk.  The hawk lands in a nearby pine. The crows eventually retreat, acutely aware of the hawk’s presence. 

I’m struck by the scene which played out before me, no doubt for my benefit.  I resonated strongly with the hawk, alone and fearless.  The hawk knows its power and strength.  The crow too is a fearless creature, although much smaller than the hawk. By working together as a group, crows defend their space.  Which one am I?

End of story……

Getting back home I needed to journal.  I picked up my journal for Magical Practices,although it may not appear as a magical practice, the mundane act of visitingdeceased family members, after morning meditation and prayers, on a Monday,while the moon is in a powerful state, is.

My journal opened to a past entry and behold, as I read, it confirmed my decision to make now, was in process two years earlier! What I entered was the result of a tarot spread I made after performing a hermetic ritual. The information I received was accurate. I needed time, life’s a process, my human self needed to catch up to my spiritual self. Amazed and thrilled I headed outside eager to contemplate my previous entry, reflect on all that has occurred taking me to this point, and write about my experience of the day.

Before I could sit a neighbor called out a hello.  I asked how her class was going.  She responded timidly, part of her assignment was to journal and was not going well.  I almost laughed!  I invited her over to chat about journaling.  She left excited and enthusiastic with knowledge and understanding of how the power of journaling assists us magically on our paths.

Discovering my past entry has reaffirmed my decision to move forward. The information I wrote almost 2 years ago needed time to manifest. I wasn’t ready then….I am now.

My Initiation to Trust

path in India

Being in the spiritual community, I’ve often heard phrases like “trust that you’re exactly where you need to be,” or “trust that there is support all around you,” and “trust what you’re feeling and let that guide you.”  It’s easy to feel trust when things are going well, but how about when you’re alone in a foreign country like India, don’t speak the language, and have to ditch your unreliable guide? That’s exactly where I was at when I experienced my very own initiation into Trust.

This story begins as a bit of a romance.  I met a young man in the village of Khajarou in a previous trip to India while traveling with colleagues as part of a Kripalu yoga lineage tour.  I’d completed a puja ceremony – an offering to the Divine Mother – on the Ganges River one morning, asking for blessings of love.  That same afternoon I met a young man from the village, and he began courting me immediately!  I was cautious, but took a risk and enjoyed taking tea with him the following two evenings. We had a wonderful connection and time, getting to know each other as the sun set behind the mountains in the distance. When I returned home he continued to contact me, and convinced me to return to India. Eleven months later, I went. I arrived on a Thursday and he met me at the airport.  By Saturday, I knew it was a mistake to continue traveling with him all over India for the next two weeks as we’d planned. He was drinking a lot and would disappear to meet up with friends, leaving me stranded. Fear began to set in.  I knew no-one in Rishikesh other than him. I asked God/the universe “What do I do?” and said “Please answer loudly as I’m having trouble hearing!” How would I get around India on my own without a local guide?

The next day, as I was walked back to my guesthouse after a yoga class, my answer appeared in big black letters on a white stucco wall: T R U S T.

That’s when my initiation began. I told my companion that our arrangement wasn’t working for me, and cut ties with him as I prepared to continue on my journey.  The next day I began a five day trek to Gomuk, the source of the Ganges river. The hotel had found me a guide and a driver who spoke very little English. As he drove, I silently named him Speed Racer.  We sped past cars, trucks, cows, and herds of sheep as we careened around hairpin curves with 400 foot drops on the side. My head was spinning, and so was my stomach. I kept picturing that word, T R U S T – and I prayed. We made it!  That evening my guide arranged for the hotel….no heat or hot water… 40 degree temperatures outside. TRUST popped into my mind again.  We enjoyed a couple of rum and cokes, courtesy of my guide, and watched the sun tint the sky pink and purple behind the Himalayas. My nerves began to soothe.  I communicated to the driver that I trusted him, but my body, however, was nauseous from our drive.   We laughed about how I almost put a hole in the car floor from the countless times my foot hit the brake! After that he showed more compassion in his driving. To my delight, after dinner I soaked in an outdoor bath continuously filled by steaming hot spring water. An amazing experience!!  The next few days were magical – the scenery, culture, and a connection to the divine that I had never experienced before. I had a private kirtan with a Swami in his hermitage alongside the Ganges as the stars sparkled like diamonds in the sky! I was beginning to have a deeper understanding of TRUST as I let go of my fear.

Sunset in India

Returning to Rishikesh I had no place to stay, nor did I have a way to get my luggage to the travel agent on the other side of the river.  Once again, I was called to TRUST. I accepted a lift on a motorcycle from a stranger, which meant leaving my luggage on the side of the road so that someone else could pick it up and deliver it to the travel agent. I parted ways with my things and hopped on to the motorcycle. Would I get there? Would my luggage get there?  My driver wound his way through the village, showing me each decent hotel until I selected one. Shortly after checking in, my luggage appeared on the back of another motorcycle, driven by a young boy.

I really wanted a yoga class on Sunday morning, so I woke up early to look for one. What I discovered is that yoga isn’t practiced on Sundays. Disappointed, I returned to the lobby of the hotel.  TRUST. At that moment, I met a young yogi in the hotel lobby. Self-taught and truly gifted, he is one of the most authentic yogis I’ve ever met.  He welcomed me and agreed to practice with me over the next two days, teaching me asanas and chanting prayers. His devotion in his yoga practice not only helped me open my body in new ways, but brought my heart to tears. He had such purity in his practice.

From there, I had no plans other than wanting to see the Taj Mahal. My taxi driver stopped on the outskirts of Rishikesh to wait for his boss. TRUST TRUST TRUST rang in my ears, my new mantra. After their discussion in Hindi, his boss offered to drive me to the Taj, arrange for a guide, then take me on to Jaipur and arrange for a hotel and guide there too. From there, I’d go on to Pushkar, where he’d also find me a hotel, then bring me back to Delhi where I had booked a flight to Kerala. Everything unfolded as planned, and as a single woman travelling alone, I felt protected and supported. That week was the experience of a lifetime, one I will cherish forever.

Lastly, we went on to Kerala.  After struggling for a few years with a health issue and looking for healing alternatives, trusting my intuition, I’d chosen an ayurvedic hospital on the internet. I had no way of knowing if it was the real deal before I got there.  I was not disappointed! I spent two weeks there on a strict diet, receiving healing treatments and drinking a lot of ghee.  The pancha karma treatment was authentic, and so was the caring of the staff and doctors.  During my stay, I completely let go of control and TRUSTED that this was exactly what my body needed for healing.

Two weeks later, as I boarded the plane to leave India and return home, I thought of all the ways that I had been challenged on the trip to trust people, situations, and treatments. More than anything, it was about trusting God/the universe – and my own instincts. It was not the relationship I’d come to India to explore, but it’s one that will last me a lifetime. As of this writing, I’m still feeling healthy and clear from the treatments, and the trip!  More on that in another blog post.

Trusting you are well,

Michelle