Days of Solitude: Other Poems & Afterthoughts

“Let the sense faculties, full of delight, be attached to their respective objects, but may there never be, not even for an instance, any loss of the joy, of your non-duality” – Utpaladeva Shwastratovali 8:5

Inspired…

Beyond

How much do your senses,

Really sense?

When you see water glistening, do you see its magic?

A leaf, its real, distinct beauty?

A tree, the history of its enduring soul?

When you touch cotton, do you feel its story?

A stone, the grace in its shape?

Your own skin, its complexity?

When you hear a wave, can you hear its origin?

A horn, its driver?

A machine, its genius?

When you taste an orange, can you taste its aliveness?

A potato, its earth?

Bread, its labor of love?

When you smell the ocean, do you smell its depths?

A flower, its specialness?

A storm, its life?

What could happen

If we forgot

Our expectations, comparisons, prejudices?

How much

Could you senses

Blow your mind?

I bet you could see vibrancies and diversities

Wilder than your wildest dreams

I bet you could see beauty so profoundly

The word “ugly” would cease to exist

I bet you could touch stories,

Under your feet, against your cheeks, with your fingertips

& be constantly inspired

Feel the majesty of curves & a person’s embrace

I bet you could hear a breeze

& know what it caresses

Hear a sound, any sound

& know its emotion

I bet you could taste…

Can you imagine?!

The joy of sweetness, sour, salt,

Every time, as if for the first time?!

I bet you could smell history

Feel creations of time in your nose

I bet ever gasoline or cigarettes

Curiously might start to please you

Why allow reality to keep being a subjective experience,

Filtered through a narrow, bored mind?

Try to remember the first time you saw the sky,

A body, an eye, your body, your eyes

The first time the wind caressed you,

Or you were held by someone who loved you deeply

Your first taste of chocolate, sip of water

Your first experience with pineapple

Your first whiff of coffee

Or sniff of grass

Weren’t they so rich it’s hard to fathom?

So slow down, be deliciously absorbed,

Try it for a day, embody curiosity

You might just lose your mind

In the best possible of ways

Let yourself notice the intricacies of the freshness presented

In this moment…and that moment

Feel the love that appears, the ecstasy of sensing itself

Go past yourself…sense the Source

 

I Know You Have Wings

The joy & freedom of a bird

Have you ever noticed how pure?

Watch a bird spread her wings in the sunrise

Hear all kinds sing together, fellowshipping all day

& you’ll see, that is exactly what you need

How the enjoy their element, their lives

So much bliss in their flight

& how they delight in their songs

All days saluting each other & the sun

Imagine what it’d be like,

To so trust & enjoy your elements & your wings,

Your intuition, your voice, your diverse family

Let’s try life with a bird mentality

The Process

Day One: Ethereal wisps of celeste, arising from a grey heart

“Retreat is about awakening awareness, constantly coming back to presence…

Becoming brighter & more lucid, falling away from dullness happens naturally”

…but, my heart is cloudy like after pouring salt into boiling water

Shaky, like after extreme physical exertion

Sad, for feeling the heaviness of running to no avail

Exhausted…heavy…hurting, days & days of grey clouds

But I have a bug friend

Who checks on me every day!

Day Ten: Hummingbirds, laughter, sunshine & naked babies

In pursuit of understanding freedom’s true nature, call me crazy

Away finally, no swimming socially simultaneously

Only to focus on the now…of its beauty

Two steps forward, one step back

 “You can never see beyond the choices you don’t fully understand”

So let’s try to understand…oh, I see…

“Your vision will become clear only when you can look into your heart”

& “Faith is clarity of the mind”

Challenges offer us opportunity to find foundation in the Heart, to trust life as love

We are so much more than our minds…remember, again & again

It feels so good to feel…

Opening to all things…

Day Twenty: Accepting what is…oh, this is stillness?

Are you ready to search for happiness inside?

“In your Heart is only the pure feeling of existence”

“The mind is like a glass of muddy water, if you don’t stir it,

the mud will fall to the bottom”

Okay…not stirring…wow, that’s hard

But, “there is nothing to do, to learn, to get closer to the Source”

How would I live today with nothing to do?

Until when will I postpone?

When I know all I need is already inside me?

All I really need to do is to sit and be still

Day Thirty: Beingness, Naturalness,

Detaching slowly, become more conscious,

Rejoicing in Beauty

 

Hmmmm…yes…I think right now I feel a little silly. Because putting experiences into words feels a little silly to me right now. So as I read what I have shared it all feels a little silly, I feel this way when I’ve shared with more detail that just a brief account about my time in solitude with friends as well…like words just can’t touch the sacredness of the whole experience, that trying to relate it almost compromises the juiciness of the fruits received. But, at the same time I also feel quite enthusiastic, I know that many hunger for or are curious experiences of solitude, or experiences of real-world journeys of meditation and the spiritual path, and I feel some of these realizations I was blessed with or just being a real person sharing the experience of solitude could be interesting to someone. So I proceed to write with my Heart wide open, joyful to share what flows.

It has been very interesting being back in the real world, now for about 10 days. Especially during the first few days, I was experiencing so much Beauty. My Heart was just massive…so massive and brilliant, feeling Love so intensely, that my attention effortlessly was drawn there, even in situations with lots of stimulation. This was gorgeous, an incredible gift. I noticed this clarity begin to fade as at a hostel in San Cristobal I began to spend more time on my phone. Even though I was using my phone differently than before, not just mindlessly scrolling through Facebook, actually only using it to send direct messages full of adoration for loved ones or to Facetime with them, still shifting my attention to a small screen and thus distancing from the brilliance of the Heart or the world around me, even while Love was flowing…the clarity and massiveness gradually lessened. I think this is natural, and this is just an opportunity to practice non-attachment and gratitude. My Heart is still very there, and I can still bring my attention to its Realness, every way it feels is a reminder of my aliveness, of being Spirit far greater than this body-mind. So this connection and awareness of that is quite beautiful indeed.

A more real-world thing, I highly encourage all of you to garden!!! After I finished my days of solitude (it ended up being 34), I did six days of exchange at The Hermitage, making a salad garden! I spent many hours weeding, planning the layout and making signs, then planting seeds! This time in the earth was extremely healing, so grounding and peaceful, just naturally the mind is quiet and you are fully present in the moment…I highly, highly recommend!

Also, for some reason I feel compelled to share this…it has been very interesting to notice my body after a change in food intake! After having only been eating a smoothie for breakfast around 9-11, lunch from The Hermitage and then usually splitting it in half and eating some around 1 and then some around 3-4, and then not eating again, and not really feeling hungry, it was interesting to be eating more! It was actually quite overwhelming for my body! Of course back in one of my favorite cities I wanted to enjoy my favorite restaurants but because I was eating bigger portions and more often, I never felt hungry enough to enjoy food in the same way. And since now I’m back at Hridaya with deliciousness all day, it’s still the same boat. I’m hoping maintaining a weekly fast day will help and maybe cutting out meals here and there, just learning to listen to the needs of my stomach. I wish my eyes didn’t love food so much, but gradual processes!!! I’m extremely thankful for this time away from all associations with food to really notice how much I really need to survive. Maybe we can all try to be more aware of this…if we don’t take seconds or desert? Do we really feel hungry? If we miss a meal, how do we feel? Could we try a day of fasting? Hmmm….

And so now I am back at Hridaya, the community I love! Being back feels wonderful. I deeply love this place, the teachings here and the amazing personalities here…it feels delicious and some comfortable, like home! I will share more about the work I’m doing here later, it’s pretty awesome. Between work, all of the amazing activities throughout the day, and all of the amazing people to share with, my days have been extremely full of stimulation…stimulation of the most beautiful kind; but I have been noticing this longing for silence and time alone. It is especially tricky because I live at the school in order to save money and there really is no place to seek refuge in, I am constantly surrounded by people, even in times of meditation. So…how am I going to deal with this?

I realized yesterday a way I can be okay with all of this…it will just require lots of conscious practice! So I realized in my retreat that Stillness is the same as the Love I felt, and these were the same as the Beauty I experienced, and the Joy dancing through my veins, and that ultimately all of these were God. Which is so true!!! Yet, I noticed yesterday that I was longing to taste more ‘Stillness’, this flavor I had begun to associate with being alone and quietness. I think what I can begin to do is begin to appreciate more fully the Love I feel so regularly here. As I engage in all of the daily activities or share with all of these beautiful people…I do feel this overwhelming Love, this Openness and pure Gratitude!! If I can really begin to appreciate the fullness of these, instead of letting my mind feel overwhelmed, resisting this reality and longing for something else…I think I can feel as fulfilled by these times of stimulation by Love, they may even be able to induce quiet in me…because ultimately that Beauty is also Stillness…and that Love is also God…

Yes!!! So I am back in Mexico, feeling extremely thankful, excited, inspired and calm. I notice that from this time of retreat I feel different than before…so much more calm, I think because now there is not so much searching. Of course there is still this mega aspiration to grow for the better and nix the ego when it persists and this requires effort, but it is a peaceful, grounded effort. I know it is possible to go beyond the mind and that what is there is truly breathtaking, this is completely beyond words. And this…is what is Real, what is True. And now I feel so much more connected with Truth, like I can touch it so easily…I am so incredibly thankful for this incredibly gorgeous experience of life!!!

I love you all!!!!

 

Ode to Ants

Your mountains move & kill,

Yet you still climb

Such incredible brave curiosity

Relentless courage & sacrifice

The epitome of selfless,

Perhaps the planet’s

Most honorable team

Ode to Mosquitos

Gloriously intricate poofs of stripy lines

Passion & power unstoppable

One-sighted, yet mysterious

How are you so small yet generate such a ruckus?

The percussion of your movements

Sends fear through the bravest

What would humans not do

For that level of noticeable presence?

That even the creatures least prone to noticing, notice

An existence that changes courses and mindsets…

The moment that the sense of you arises…

Maybe the itchy bumps you leave,

Can be reminders

To let our presence

Be more powerful

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Days of Solitude: Part Three

Death

We think everything in us fears & despises death

Often when faced with it, this conviction intensifies

We feel as though something was taken from us,

As though death is the worth thing that can happen

We reject the thought of anyone ever really being ready to die

Because we’re not ready, there’s still so much we want to hold on to

Maybe we’ve faced the fact that death is inevitable,

But we still hate and resist this with all our might

Therefore, the inevitability of naturalness can never really sink in

We just run & we run, thinking if we keep running we can avoid all suffering

Usually when we feel something heavy, the confusion only makes us run farther

Why?

I think there is a part of us that doesn’t fear & despise death,

That knows nothing can be taken from us

That knows that in God’s always perfect & wise timing,

Death is actually the best thing that can happen

This part is always ready to face reality, for all that it is

It begs us with all her force to stop running,

She sends infinite daily signs to notice her,

So that she can share with us deep, real peace & clarity

Slow down

If we look into our hearts instead of our minds,

There is only acceptance & understanding of all things

This wisdom is never taken from us

Not even after running for hundreds of years,

Not even in death

Our heart, our soul, is the strongest, most brilliant part of our existence

Because, she connected with the source of existence itself

When you are confused, try to feel her wisdom

She glows & beckons especially in times of great need

Hence why so many, even non-believers may pray out of desperation,

It is our human instinct to long to feel the source

Unfortunately, 99% of the time, when we are not so desperate, the mind rules

& it is her instinct to distract us from that source with all her power

But…

Maybe sometime you will feel it, the magic in your heart & in everything

Then the clarity & peace will finally start to come & comfort you

& with time, you may feel only trust & appreciation for death,

For its gift of liberation, the natural end to a cycle

& maybe, just maybe we will begin to cherish life more

Maybe we can start to slow down every once in a while

To soak in the grace that is all cycles, all beings, all actions…everything

We might realize while we run, we miss beauty, & this is what really kills a soul

So why not slow down? Take a moment or two to feel…

To feel the earth’s curves beneath your feet, the wind on your face

All of the sensations in you, so alive…

Notice

The plethora of life’s blessings

Try to recognize death as the ultimate blessing,

Leading souls, maybe even yours if you let it, home to the source

Have courage to identify your attachments & begin to let go

You are not your title, your social circles, your skills or your possessions

& you can come home to who you really are, any time

There, this home is not a glass castle, it is real

There, you will find no fear, no doubt, just pure understanding

There, you will feel the brightest of all loves

They say, “If you take one step towards God, He will take 100 towards you”

You are a very good runner…maybe try one step that way?

 

Hello all you beautiful people!!

We have arrived to the final phase of my retreat, by far the most beautiful! Thanks for staying with me this long!

So up until my birthday, Day 25, I was in the necessary process of cultivating inspiration. Some part of me still wasn’t convinced of the amazingness of God in me and around me to its full extent. To be honest, there was dryness in my prayers, there wasn’t true aspiration or fire to quiet the mind to hear my Heart in my meditations, I was letting the stubbornness of the mind rule how I spent my days. In all of this of course there were moments of depth, of surrender, moments I saw Beauty deeply, moments I praised genuinely, I allowed compassion to rule, moments I was growing, becoming more conscious of patterns, moments I was letting go, letting God. All of the information I was intaking from the topics, the lectures, and the books was incredible!! Much of it is the type of information that is past the mind…in fact, you can’t conceptually understand it, but your Heart can. I think this was feeding my Heart, waking Her up, letting Her know I was becoming more and more ready.

Until my birthday there wasn’t this naturalness…I was searching and searching, but outside of myself. I’m not sure what it was, maybe it was because I fasted for the three days before, or because the lecture’s topic of death that day really stroke a chord with me, or because the universe just knew I really needed a hug and my birthday was a beyond awesome day to offer me that gift…but finally, I could let in naturalness. That morning I was just filled with so much gratitude. The realization that on my birthday last year, I had had no exposure to these teachings whatsoever, I was celebrating quite unconsciously, I was just in a completely different place. I was doing better than I had been for sure, but let’s just say, the smile I wore then was coming from a much different place than it does now.

It is beyond amazing to me how much God has blessed me this year. How much unfathomable grace He blesses us all with if we just open our eyes!!! Truly, gratitude and feeling connected are the most natural and abundant feelings these days! I feel purpose, endless hope, peace, clarity, and really, deeply loved. I am able to let love in so much deeper to give it so much more deeply, because I know that the source of love is absolutely inexhaustible and that unconditional love really does exist. I feel unconquerable inspiration, I know what the meaning of life is and I know my direction, to just keep living more and more in my Heart, learning how to let Her celebrate, to notice God in and around me, and to share this immeasurable joy with others. Just wow…to only be turning 23, and to feel all this…to feel divinely guided and divinely loved?! To feel powerful, because my Heart is God’s?! What?!

So this morning, after my normal morning routine and letting myself floss and mouthwash and unwrap a new toothbrush…I love oral hygiene, such a great gift! I sat to meditate and the praise just rose…maybe because my teeth just felt so good…but, I think because my heart just felt so warm and full. I just melted into this admiration of God, crying of pure joy and appreciation and trust and I don’t know how to describe it…’sparkliness’ hahaha…and surrender…goodness gracious, perhaps the most beautiful time of my life! Then, my wonderful friend Rachelle had given me a letter to take into retreat, and like most things, I tend to save them until I can’t wait any longer, and I decided to open it on this day. And wow…what a gift!!!! What a gift!!! Truly, her love…just, wow. Her words just…wow. I am so blessed to be loved and to love so deeply. She encouraged me to “just rest in the smile in my heart, to feel the sun shining inside my chest”, so I did…my heart was smiling, and still is smiling so hugely, it’s utterly magnificent!

After hours of gorgeous meditation, I practiced my favorite asanas and just really enjoyed the gift of yoga, then I broke my fast and ate two mangos! And wow…that is a great way to break a fast…with a heart full of love and with a mouth full of mangos! I had some almonds, some raisins, some coconut and some superfoods too, and was way too happy, then I headed down to the lecture on death. My mind of course thought it was rather strange that I was attending a two hour lecture on death on my birthday, but my Heart was celebrating. Opening to the beauty of death helps you appreciate more fully the gift of life, I think. And as I have recently experienced death of loved ones, this was an particularly juicy topic for me to dive into. Everything Claud shared was beyond beautiful, the last portion was especially extremely inspiring…that ultimately, you, everything you know yourself to be has to be cut away…has to die, in order to really become one with God, which is why we are given this gift of life in the first place. You can still be in your body, but you can be beyond your body, completely beyond your mind, beyond all attachments, you can live and share and be…but really just be God, really just be living in and expressing your very nature….that’s a possibility, and that’s the goal of life. And really, the first step on the spiritual path, once you are past dabbling and experimenting, is to take that step, to start actively seeking out your anchors and courageously detaching from them, because you know that your ultimately anchor is Supreme. I felt it was quite auspicious that I was hearing this on the first day of a new 365 day cycle in my course of life…so this 23rd year, and probably all years after it…while to those that don’t get this yet this might sound very strange…is devoted to death; death and surrender.

Like the poem that I placed with Part One…there is something in us that knows how to celebrate, how to live, how to love, so much more profoundly and wisely than we do. Life is about stepping aside to let Her lead!

So my last days of solitude were about this…learning how to just come into this immensely vibrant feeling of existence. This “I am” feeling, that is so much huger than what my minds thinks I am. Learning how to just enjoy, how to unclog my mind so my ears could really hear the beauty of the birds and of the waves of the lake, how to un-fog my eyes so they could really see the Beauty around me, and of my own body, how to unclog my taste buds and nose and all this skin that can feel the world’s gifts so intimately…

My meditations evolved from something rather forced, thinking things like “crap…I’m not detaching from these thoughts” or “ugh…I suck at this” or “mind…why are you so selfish?”, to really, just being entranced with that smile of my Heart as Rachelle put it. Of course there are times the mind is more agitated and I would employ other strategies to calm it, but I could finally just sit in this Beingness, this Naturalness…this Love, this Sun in my chest…I could be Still…

I realized something that really changed how I meditate. I had previous pursued most frequently two focal points—either Awareness…what I am when there are no thoughts? Coming to see this as what is Real and from here Witnessing thoughts and sensory perceptions…or I would focus on the Heart, how it was feeling then, often stimulating Love to make it a tangible sensation. These two paths are still what I would recommend to those that are interested in meditation, because they are the most direct paths to what is Real, completely beyond the mind, and they are also very accessible and tangible. What I realized that has changed meditation for me, is that actually, whereas before these were separate sensations, is that actually that Peace I feel when I surrender myself to abide in them…is the same in both…that actually Awareness and the Heart are the same, and that those tangible feelings overlap quite clearly actually. And this made meditation all the more fascinating for me! The feeling of Peace, the “sparkles”, the clarity and joy experienced beyond the mind just grew and grew…mmmmm…such a blessing it is every time we come to recognize new faces of God!!!!

Let’s stop here for now and I will add some afterthoughts later 😊

“There is nothing to do, nothing to learn to get closer to Self. If you really believe this, how could it change the way you live? All you need to know is already within you, only become open and still…until when will you postpone?” – Luna

Days of Solitude: Part Two

Ode to Feeling

Such a refined wonder

An enhancer of every moment

A reminder of the fullness of being alive

Why did I avoid these beautiful subtle gifts?

I thought I couldn’t feel for so long…

But they were here all along…

Just my ability and willingness, was clogged

Now I can feel the brightness of feeling inspired,

The blue of feeling confused, deeply sad, discouraged

The freedom of silliness, relief, amusement, peace

The pang of annoyance, attachment, detachment

I can feel the fullness of the opposing:

Focus & distraction, honesty & denial

Nourished & needy, vibrant & dull

Lonely & loved, graceful & unsteady

Beautiful & ugly, foggy & clear

Passion & downheartedness, weak & strong

Humble & selfish, energized & lazy

Comfortable & dissatisfied, hungry & full

Compassionate & harsh, meaning-full & mind-full

& all of these…are pure blessings

I am alive,

The source of all these is Divine,

Without a negative, there could not be a positive,

“Nature does not hurry yet everything is accomplished” (Lao Tzu)

To feel…feels so good

Spend a moment, a few, an hour, a day,

Noticing…how infinitely complex,

Is this gorgeous experience called life!

 

So we left off in Part One, of after having gone through a process of intense purification, on the note of inspiration to dive into meditation. This thought had come to me, and I was open to exploring it:

“The best way I can serve God, the most I can do to show my adoration, dedication and surrender, is to go deeper, get closer to that force through meditation, breaking through the veils of illusion of the mind”

                How did that go?

Well, the very next day the topic I picked was The Uncommon Path, a book written by my old boss. On my kindle I was about 90% done with Gandhi’s autobiography (if you haven’t ever seen it in hard copy…it’s a monster! Well worth reading, and definitely a time investment!), and I felt that in order to start a whole new pretty big book, I needed to finish the one I was already in. So, I dedicated a whole day to finishing My Experiments with Truth, and then three whole days to reading Mick’s book. So, right after having this flash of inspiration to meditate, I was meditating for about an hour in the mornings (and not very successfully), doing about an hour of yoga (and not very wholeheartedly), eating breakfast, then hopping my mind straight in a book for the rest of the day. I felt this contraction, like “I have to do this so I can take more topics!”.

I have no regrets of reading these books. Gandhi soaked me in truth. His openness, authenticity, passion and thus power, inspired me like crazy. Mick’s book, was a really good experience for me! It was really cool to have the experience of knowing an author of a big book like that (The Path of Awakening Authentic Joy!) personally, because it really challenged me to stay open, to not bring my experience of him into the knowledge he passes. There were many good points. It is definitely an extremely well-researched book; he compiles the work of Ken Wilber, Andrew Cohen, Eckhart Tolle, the Big Mind Project, and many others into a very easily digestible package. Some quotes I really enjoy:

“The greatest evidence of awakening is the ability to come together with other people in absence of personal conflict”

“If you find that you are obsessing over positive or negative qualities in another person or situation, it is likely a snapshot of denied or repressed aspects of yourself” (“Shadows”)

The compulsion of, “My story needs to be heard and received with a hug” is purely reinforcement of ego

More than anything I benefitted from his enforcing of the importance to shift from transient to eternal goals. Thus, the importance of recognizing the roots of intentions…is it to awaken more deeply? For the development of awareness? Or to create/avoid an emotional state? Or to support self-image? There was a whole 60 or so pages dedicated to an evaluation of how your values reflect in how you spend your time, with 9 different exercises I think! This helped me realize that how I wish to live is definitely different than how I do live. So, it sent me towards realizing, yet again, that I need to be spending much more time meditating and working towards my spiritual evolution. That is what my priority is, so all else needs to learn how to be subordinate to that.

So, I woke up on Day 12, ready to try again! Then, for the next 12 days, all the days leading up to my birthday, I was starting to get my feet wet in this. My mornings were being spent in a way I liked better (I decided that the feeling of guilt of not adhering to my tapas wasn’t good, so I made a different, less constrictive tapas, and this was much better, sometimes I still struggled to prioritize it, there just aren’t enough hours in a day, are they?! But I was happy to be more tapped into following the flow). I was finding I was gradually able to sit for longer and longer. I had days of really enjoying moving, I even started to exercise and to dance many days! On these days my yoga asana practice was very beautiful, I could just enjoy and relax. And then I had a few days where I didn’t feel as much like moving, so I sat for longer and longer, trying to meditate, sometimes writing poems or opening my eyes to enjoy the incredible world outside. It was becoming easier to slow down. After my morning sessions, so between 9-11, depending on when I’d started between 5-7 (some days I’d use a timer to make sure I was sitting for at least 90 minutes or so), I’d make my breakfast smoothie and pick my topic.

One day I decided to count my topics and I realized I had way more than the number of days I had left (I had added some more), then I had the thought: “Oh gosh! I’m never going to have any time to just be! I better do multiple topics a day so at the end I can not have any!” So thus we set into this phase of spending the afternoons doing.

This of course wasn’t all bad, I certainly enjoyed myself and learned so much. Maybe now is a good time to integrate some amazing quotes:

 

“Cultivate the natural instinct not to settle into complacency but to question, to strive, to know who we are, why we are and what this love in the heart is for” – Sahajananda

“With enthusiasm obstacles become obsolete, hard work comes from place of joy” – Sahajananda

“This fire is the very nature of the universe. Once we realize that Divine Presence is everywhere, we start feeling that nothing is too small or impure to be excluded from it. Everything starts to have a secret meaning-a falling lead, a bird call, the shape of a cloud…all start telling us poems of beauty and share with us this same love. The world starts speaking to us in the language of the Heart and this is how we cultivate awe” – Sahajananda and Psalms says the beginning of wisdom is the awe of God…

“Surrender invites us to be active participants in our life, totally present and fluid with each moment, while appreciating the magnitude and mystery of what we are participating in” -Deborah Adele

“Find out what pleases the Lord” -Ephesians 5:10

“This amazing simplification comes when we “center down,” when life is lived with singleness of eye, from a holy Center where the breath and stillness of Eternity are heavy upon us and we are wholly yielded to Him. Some of you know this holy, creating Center of eternal peace and joy and live in it day and night. Some of you may see it over the margin and wistfully long to slip into that amazing Center where the soul is at home with God. Be very faithful to that wistful longing. It is the Eternal Goodness calling you to return Home, to feed upon green pastures and walk beside still waters and live in the peace of the Shepherd’s presence. It is the life beyond fevered strain. We are called beyond strain to peace and power and joy and love and thorough abandonment of the self” -Thomas Kelly, Testament of Devotion

“The eyes of the soul were opened and I saw love coming towards me. And I saw the beginning, but I did not see its end, only its continuation. And of its colors I can tell no comparison. And forthwith I was filled with love and an inexpressible contentment which, though it contented me, yet created the greatest hunger in me. I am so filled with that love that I do not believe I could ever do without it again” -Angela Di Foligno, Ecstatic Confessions

“I see you by desiring, I find you by loving, I love you by finding” -St. Anselmi

“Ah, come, come! Without You, not a day is happy, not a single hour! You are my happiness; without You, there is no one to share my table” -Thomas á Kempis, Imitation of Christ

“Longing is like the rosy dawn. After comes the sun… &

The kitten knows only to call for its mother crying “mew mew,” that’s all it knows. But as soon as the mother hears this cry, where she may be, she comes to the kitten” -Ramakrishna

“He who loves God consciously in his heart is known by God (1 Corinthians 8:3), for to the degree that he receives the love of God consciously in his soul, he truly enters into God’s love” -St. Diadochos of Photiki, Philokalia

“If we aren’t able to experience divine consciousness it is because we consider that it will manifest through common means of body and mind…maintain openness of the Heart and purity of intention and it will never disappear” – Sahajananda

“If maintain constant wish to benefit others, the power to do so will come by itself, as naturally as water runs downhill” -Dilo Khyents

“All my thoughts are sacred” – Luna

“Keep observing the heart, how does it feel as reality passes?” – Sahajananda

“Imagine living in a place that is alive and aware of sacredness…we do!” – Claud

“I realized that a vow, far from closing the door to real freedom, opened it. Up to this time I had not met success not because the will had been lacking, but because I had no faith in myself or the grace of God and therefore my mind had been tossed in the boisterous sea of doubt” -Mohandas Gandhi

“Your vision will become clear, only when you can look into your heart. Who looks outside dreams, who looks inside awakens” – Carl Jung

“In emptiness, the light of awareness shines” – Luna

“Here there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian or Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all and is in all – Colossians 3:11

“Faith expressing itself through love” – Galatians 5: 6

“Faith is clarity of the mind, like a good mother it protects the yogi, he who thus has faith and is intent on discernment acquires energy, he who is endowed with energy gains mindfulness, and when mindfulness is present, the mind becomes undistracted and concentrated, and he whose mind is concentrated attains discerning wisdom by which he perceives reality as it really is” – Yoga Bhashya

“Only your soul clad in silence can lift the veil that separates Him from your embrace” – Ramakrishna

“All love is expansion, all selfishness is contraction” – Swami Vivekananda

“My director, Jesus, doesn’t teach me to count my acts, but to do everything for love, to refuse Him nothing, to be pleased when He gives me a chance to prove to Him that I love Him, but all in this peace, in abandonment” – Saint Therese of Lisieux

“Through love one acquires renunciation and discrimination naturally” – Ramakrishna, reminds me of Jason Gray’s Christian song I used to love, “It’s gotta be more like falling in love than something to believe in, more like giving my heart than pledging my allegiance”

“We become what we love” – Saint Claire of Assisi

“Opening to things as they are is what it really means to be still, quiet, in a state of meditation” – Adyashanti

“If pleasure is serving to amplify ego and not consciousness, it could be an obstacle” – Sahajananda

“I have not earned it, I was given the chance” – Osho (the whole universe coming together to provide this exact moment for you!)

“Why steal from ourselves the right to be natural, free, and happy with what is?” – Sahajananda

“To go beyond the body, you must be healthy, to go beyond the mind, you must have your mind in perfect order, you cannot leave a mess behind and go beyond, the mess will bog you down. ‘Pick up your rubbish’ seems the universal law” – Nisaragadatta Maharaj

“Liberation does not come from doing” – Luna

“Let the pilot fly the plane” – Babaji

“Duality and non-duality are merely concepts of the mind, you have never done anything good or bad, form and formless cannot exist separately” – the Song of the Avadhut

“Vain intoxication of the ego is dying a thousand times a day” – David Hawkins

“Being loved deeply gives strength, loving deeply gives courage” – Lao Tzu

“Compassion is the highest phenomenon: your love isn’t yours anymore because it is beyond need or desire, it is just the open force of universal love being shared freely and generously” – Sahajananda

“Self-awareness requires noticing our reactions to things…we must know our impulses and beliefs…is this reaction coming from non-acceptance?” – Sahajananda

“Are great things ever done smoothly? Time, patience and indomitable will must show” – Swami Vivekananda

“As long as your mind is contaminated by gain-loss, pleasure-pain, praise-defamation, fame-obscurity, no amount of study, contemplation or meditation will ever leave to liberation” – Dilgo Kyentse

Whew! That was a lot! And I could share so many more from the Tao Te Ching, the Bhagavad Gita, Be Here Now, the Interior Castle, Dark Night of the Soul, and the Holy Science…but I will let you read those on your own! To really enjoy these quotes, maybe write down or take a photo or copy and paste the ones you like…there are so many I know they are probably getting lost…but they are so amazing…try to find a few that really speak to you!

So yes, I spent almost two weeks in absorption mode. I was reading a ton, going to some amazing lectures, and reflecting a ton. I think the quotes speak for the variety of matters I was contemplating, I almost knocked out my whole basket of topics!

I think the most perhaps relatable part of this process that I’d like to share has to do with compassion. For four days this was the theme, first choosing ahimsa (non-violence/compassion), then the attitude of compassion, then the lectures of compassion and the practice of tonglen, then the topic of “History with men”. I’ve written about this same process before, probably around last October so I won’t go too in-depth with it. But I think last year I had more of an mental understanding of it, and this year, I feel I can actually recognize, maybe, what compassion really feels like and is.

Compassion is really, really, really, wanting what’s best for yourself and for others. It is not about pity or guilt, it is really believing that the way you/I/he/she/it/they are/am/is, and always have been, perfect. It does not matter if you embody this compassion for others, or for God, because they are the same, the point is that you are opening yourself completely, going past all the mind’s identifications with victimhood, hate, superiority or inferiority, blame or judgment, to allow the naturally comforting and all-knowing and all-embracing current of universal love and compassion to flow in and out of your heart.

Sound crazy? Try it…take someone you really feel some resent for, try letting some of your attachments to whatever conflicts there were, to just fade away (not superficially…really, let them go, everything has always been happening perfectly, doing what is for the highest benefit of all involved…think about it, would you be where you are now if it wasn’t for them?). Once kind of doing this process mentally, really accepting them and the situation, allowing yourself to fathom what it might be like to really want goodness and love for them in their journey…maybe try sitting and closing your eyes. Breathe into your heart and feel it enliven, breathe out and feel the natural joy of sharing that naturally vibrant force of love…do this, breathe in and out until you can really resonate with this, I swear you can. Then if you wish, envision this person, or envision yourself (or one now and a few later? 😊), and try to feel them, what it’s like for them right now, and just keep breathing, inhaling that crazy generously amazing breath of love and exhaling that force to them, really wanting to share it. Maybe some opening happening?! If you liked this, google tonglen, it’s a step further and you may like that too!

Yes…compassion…mmmm. So with this theme and the explorations I was doing with it in my heart and mind, I decided to finally write to someone. This was someone who I really loved who one night really did something that for a long time caused me a lot of pain. Like I said, last year when I was first exposed to understanding what compassion is, I had worked with him and others, but more at a mental level. This time, opening my heart, allowing my heart to really feel and acknowledge his and others’ sufferings…this gave me gentleness, tenderness, understanding beyond words. This was feeling compassion. This is feeling compassion, right now. Wow…it’s truly amazing, my heart and the universal force of love has softened my mind…it’s so beautiful!!! So I wrote a nice long letter to him and this letter also represents my process with others and what I would say to them if I had a means to contact them. I’ve read it again and again and it just makes my heart swoon…to really, deeply love…so, so, so beautiful a feeling!! Then the next day I chose the topic of love, and that night we had a vigil for Tara, the Hindu goddess of compassion, so we stayed up all night meditating on compassion until we watched the sunrise from the dock…and it was ridiculously beautiful and powerful…mmmm!!!

I think I will stop there for Part Two…

“We see what we believe” – Luna

Days of Solitude: Part One

Just Maybe…

There’s something in us,

That knows how to celebrate

Far better than we do!

In fact, that may be Her very nature: delight!

Possibly, She is so wise, She only sees Beauty;

So interconnected, She only feels Love…

There might be a radiant relisher inside of us?!

How can we celebrate with Her?!

Well…

Your mind doesn’t like Her,

In fact, it spends all its time distracting you from Her;

With your attention of Her Joy, it has no power.

So…are you ready to step away from the chief?

Or what thinks it is the chief of all your forces?

If so…

Let’s notice what hides Her Bliss!

Let’s clear away…but not as a bulldozer,

No, no, this isn’t about demolishing nature,

For one, if you tried, you couldn’t,

And also, all that is has a purpose.

But what we will do, is begin to notice

What isn’t here to celebrate,

What is distracting from this Sacred Party,

You wish to feel insidenyour chest.

We can always ask it to come back later…it will

Now…

The first time you invite Her to the festival of your reality,

She may be quite shy.

Imagine having never been asked out before,

And then all the attention waiting on you to be awesome…

Would you bust a move?

So, you might have to practice that horrible thing called ‘patience’,

Because after a while, I promise She will dance;

Once She believes you really want to know her…

And it will be extraordinarily worth it.

A few times seeing after seeing Her brilliance,

You might even fall in Love

And want to dance

All the time

 

So…these days were about learning how to yield to That…that Force inside me that is, by nature: always content, trusting, curious, playful, wise, calm, hopeful, loving, joyful, supremely radiant…and there.

Now, this was no easy task. I know for myself and for many, yielding has never been a strength. I think one of the most reoccurring thoughts or subconscious patterns in my 23 years has been, “Oh…so and so of such and such authority says to do or not to do something…that’s funny, let me do my own thing!”. So, yielding to something so reputable that I couldn’t even see or hear…well…let’s see…

 

I’m going to cut this blog into 3 Parts (the first by far the longest), because if not, my enthusiasm to share all these processes that could, just maybe, relate to or interest or inspire someone, entails that I write obnoxiously long entries and that even in 3 Parts, they will all be unfortunately lengthy.

 

I started off pretty mystified that this opportunity for me to do this, to spend 30 days in solitude, even arose. I realized one of the first days that I had thought to myself last year that I would love to do a long retreat this May, I knew of the 30 Day Silent Retreat at The Hermitage and thought “I’d love to do that!”, but after I signed on with Integral Heart, I didn’t think there was any possibility. Somehow…because God is crazy amazing like that, I ended up here at The Hermitage for all of May. I felt much more called to solitude than the group 30 day retreat but questioned my readiness, I have after all only been on the spiritual path for a little less than a year and in Guatemala I felt I lost steam. But, when I talked to the leaders of the group retreat, Luna and Claud who I absolutely adore and respect, they encouraged me and felt I was ready. And somehow, last minute, The Hermitage’s most isolated cabin was available. And, they invited me to come to any of the lectures or sessions I might feel intrigued by, it was only a walk down the hill after all! What!! And check out this cabin…


Truly, the place (this cabin and the incredible energy of the lake), the timing (the chapter ending nicely in Guatemala, being here for my birthday and at the same time as the 30 day because I could participate in their orientation, opening and closing circles and come to their lectures, being able to do a work exchange to help make this experience affordable and to help with the integration process at the end, and then still having a week before needing to start my job in Mexico), and the content of the whole experience could not have been more perfect.

Somehow, despite this intrusive fear of being alone I had felt for years, I think the most consistent emotion I felt was…calm. Somehow, it all just felt so overwhelmingly natural.

 

Now of course, 30 days is quite a long time, and I definitely was not prepared or open to spending my days ,“dancing with Her” at the beginning…no, no, that poem came to me on the 27th day.

Coming into this I was under the impression that “Going deep will be so easy, instead of there being many people, tasks, ideas to pour my energy into…there will be only two: God and myself (one in the same, no? 😊)”. I wrote this! Ha! I never imagined how much energy ‘myself’ would lobby! Sure, we are one in the same…but like in the poem, the mind is a big-leaded chief fighting with all its might to distract from what is so much greater than it can fathom.

So I realized on Day One, after organizing all my things and arranging the furniture how I liked (photos). that a routine would be helpful for me. So, I created what’s called in the yogic tradition a “tapas”, a daily commitment for the purpose of furthering practice. Before doing so, I read about tapas in a book from Hridaya. Some of these ideas inspired me:

 

“The optimal state of inner experience is when there is order in consciousness-when attention is invested in realistic goals and when skills match opportunities for action…tapas is letting the ego die by intelligently frustrating its wrong wishes, bad habits and improper developments…spiritual discipline is necessary to bring stability and efficiency to practice”

“I kindle the flame within myself…my heart is the hearth, the flame is the taming of the self” -Buddha

“What would it take for me to develop the vigor and courage to feel I could maintain my spiritual ideals and beliefs in walking the path of the Heart even in the most adverse conditions?”

I knew I needed fire, becoming too flowy or stagnant had been my challenges. So, I knew I needed to do some practices that would stimulate and challenge me on many levels, especially physically. So I created a tapas consisting of several hours of meditation minimum, several hours of physical yoga with some fiery parts required, some specific breathing (pranayama) techniques, some specific meditation techniques to conjure up things in my subconscious, waking up with the sunrise, fasting once a week, doing vamina dauhti 2-3 times a week, drinking my urine a few times a day, and sending someone love each day. When creating these, I realized that my mornings would definitely adhere to a nice structure and I wanted something to also propel me deeper throughout the day. So, I created this:


All of these little papers contained a different topic. 6 were books of the bible my grandmother had recommended I read (Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 John and 1-3 Revelations); 5 were dedicated to the yamas and niyamas of yoga (the ‘do’s and ‘don’t’s from Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras-there are 5 of each-I did one of each per one little paper)—ahimsa (non-violence & compassion), satya (truthfulness), asteya (non-theft), brahmacharya (control of the senses), saucha (purity), aparigraha (non-possessiveness), svadhyahya (self-study), tapas (the practice of austerities), santosha (contentment), and ishvarapranidhana (devotion to God); 7 I dedicated to the 14 values of Hridaya yoga (pure intention, love, humbleness, courage, generosity, goodness (kindness, forgiveness), sincerity (honesty, truthfulness), patience (tolerance, forbearance), perseverance (diligence, discipline), aspiration, gratitude, enthusiasm (joy), wisdom and compassion; I also dedicated one of each of the seven chakras; several to contemplating various things like my relationships with my family, especially my dad, my relationships with friends, my experiences in Guatemala, death, my history of sexual abuse, etc.; I did some for books I’d been wanting to dive into (The Gospel of Ramakrishna, Be Here Now by Ram Dass, Dark Night of the Soul by Saint John of the Cross, Interior Castle by Saint Teresa of Avila, finishing My Experiments with Truth by Mohandas Gandhi, The Uncommon Path by my old boss Mick Quinn, The Holy Science by Sri Yukteswar Giri, the Supreme Gift by Pailo Coelho, the Tao Te Ching and the Bhagavad Gita); I also did some nice random ones like “Meditate all day” or “Go into darkness” and for things like Yoga Nidra, Spanda, Abyhasa & Vairagya, the Witness Consciousness, the polarities of masculine and feminine energies, and several others.

When establishing this regiment for myself I was a little conflicted because I knew my mission was to mainly practice “just being” and I wasn’t sure if these topics and my hours a day of tapas would take away from this, but as I remembered that part of what made my ten day silent retreat so deep is that each day we were exposed to a new topic and that having a bare-boned daily structure was recommended by various teachers, so I decided I liked this system I’d created. Many of the topics were things to just be with and embrace, I knew I’d still have a lot of time each day for just being and praying and feeling. Plus, in making these, I got extremely excited for all the days to come, completely avoiding the phase of weariness!

As I started taking the topics each day, I realized how magical this system was. Every day, I was picking exactly what I needed. In picking at random, I was going past my mind and opening up to Divine wisdom…it was extremely beautiful. If anyone feels attracted to this idea, even if it’s not every day, I think creating little papers like this and picking at random is a really awesome way to explore God’s wisdom and love for you (or if “God” is too a polarizing term for you, you could call it fate or serendipity also) as well as topics that interest you, or in seeking help to make decisions! I also used “Yes” and “No” papers several times!

For the first eight days I was purifying. Before coming here I had learned the parasites I had been battling for months still weren’t defeated, after various antibiotics and treatments. So the doctors recommended I take the strongest antibiotic which is administered through three injections in the buttox-the first two the nurse was able to do, the last my amazing friend Susanna gave to me the morning before I bussed to the lake!! As all antibiotics, they are strong, taking a lot out of your literally and figuratively. I had two days at the lake to be with some friends (crazily, my best friend from Mexico, Rachelle met me here!!). In that time I went to see an Ayurvedic doctor (I won’t get into Ayurveda now, but it was an amazing consultation…I really resonate with this ancient medicine). It was such a blessing of timing to be able to speak with him before going into retreat, he gave me so many ways to help me come into balance.

One of the things we spoke of was detoxification, I really wanted to do whatever I could do get my stomach (and he recommended the kidney and liver) and mind in a clearer state. Amongst many herbs and diet recommendations, he recommended that I accompany this time of antibiotics with activated charcoal. I had never tried this before but had heard many great things about it. So for my first four days of retreat I was taking these tablets and eating just watery rice, on the fifth day I had lentils and recovered a little, and on the sixth day I attempted a light salt water cleanse to flush everything out. Either because I didn’t drink enough salt water or because my body was just too confused, instead of the salt water running through me as a flush, my body absorbed it. Thus, I felt pretty horrible for two more days, even though I had started to eat normally. During this time I alternated between diarrhea and constipation for days of each and felt extremely weak, shaky, achy and exhausted. I wanted to be waking up early to meditate and to pray and to practice yoga, but when I got out of bed I knew I couldn’t. Throughout the days I would try, sometimes feeling better than others, but found it hard to sit still without pain and becoming shaky and hard to move during yoga because of stomach weirds and achiness. Each day I tried, trying to stay true to my tapas, trying to convince myself I felt good enough to keep going, but ultimately I would end up doing my topics, which at the beginning were mostly to read various texts, and then go on to read more, so I was consumed by reading for most of the days.

In these eight days I was also cleansing emotionally. I think feeling physically weak and in turmoil is a pretty big trigger for emotions. I felt extremely discouraged. I had come for all these intentions but couldn’t summon the strength to even spend much time in prayer, I had created this amazing tapas but I felt couldn’t do it even a quarter or half as well as I’d hoped, instead of going into the darkness I was feeling, I was reading…I felt completely unworthy of this experience and of God. I was gloomy, sad and hurting. I had a nice breakdown on day 4, I realized “this might be how I am when I’m alone. When I don’t have people to ‘be’ for, am I this blue? Sure, I know I’m an extrovert and receive a lot of energy externally and that’s a factor…but have I been running desperately into social isolation because this is my real state inside? How long have I been avoiding my internal misery and covering it up with external life? Is my well of happiness really so superficial?” It was nice to cry. And scary as hell.

The next day, I noticed myself trying to convince myself that I was okay. I was trying lie to myself about my experience the day before, trying to twist the truths in it so I could feel superior and independent to that darkness. Yet, those stupid arguments were convincing and I couldn’t decide what state I was in. So, I decided to use the “choosing-papers-at-random” method, creating one with “I’m okay” and one with “I’m not okay”…the truth hit me as I chose “I’m not okay”. Bam…another blow to the illusory stability I’d created for myself…“what do I do?”

Of course, the topic of the day was perfect. It was “Experiences in Guatemala”. When I picked it I thought, “no, universe, I am not ready for that,” but actually, it was exactly what I needed to do. I needed to spend time understanding my last chapter in order to move forward. In doing so, I realized how mixed up my priorities had gotten. I first was putting my jobs above my spiritual practice and when I started to face challenges at work (which I analyzed and the processes they evoked), instead of turning to God, I turned to social isolation, not spending hardly any time alone to process things. I realized a huge thought loop I was in was “I’m unable…I’m unable..” The methods I chose to potentially resolve issues were not working, thus “I’m unable…I can’t,” which in turn meant that things did not get much better and ended on a slightly strange note, while perfect in its own way. But I did end my job at IHF with this huge feeling of, “I failed.”

At that time, just like in the moment I was processing it, I was not okay. I realized after a little while…

“Of course I’m not okay…I’m trying to do this all on my own. I can’t. God can.”

This realization, the realization of the infinite grace eager to hold me if I sought it, changed me.

Sure, the past few months have had quite a bit of heavy stuff. It makes sense why I was struggling so much to carry it all…I was trying to do it all on my own! I was trusting in the flow of life and that is why my head was staying above water for the most part, but I wasn’t really acting on that trust. Which was a cool realization as well, that surrender needs to be the effect of trust. I realized that I could maybe actually do that thing called “letting go”. That I could stop carrying these weights, that even if I wasn’t looking at them dead in the face, they were there weighing on me, and that I could release them. So in all this…I cried, I cried and cried and I prayed for help in letting go of all this mess.

And grace held me. There I was light.

This was my first big lesson in the retreat, learning I need to learn to catch myself doing things by myself or for myself, because I will fail, miss the bigger points, or be unsatisfied every time. After this, while I would still (and unfortunately may for a while, I don’t think surrendering is such an easy habit to acquire), battle for control and do things purely for the purpose of fulfilling my own desires (eeep, I realize that even right now, writing this, is probably purely serving the mind who wants to avoid just resting in stillness, but I also feel this passion and excitement to share…so wah, I guess I’m letting the mind win this battle) there have been times that I could let go. That I could just stop and realize how trivial all the little things I was thinking of or thinking to do were, and that I could actually just rest in something greater than myself.

On Day 9 I woke up and actually felt pretty good!! Physically and emotionally things were being worked through and liberated me from their grasps and also, the topics (ishvarapranidhana, Ephesians, brahmacharya, aparigraha, spanda, pure intention, aspiration, the witness consciousness, and Gandhi’s autobiography) I had been reading were really inspiring me. I realized a pretty awesome thing in my first nice, long juicy meditation that morning:

“The best way I can serve God, the most I can do to show my adoration, dedication and surrender, is to go deeper, get closer to that force through meditation, breaking through the veils of illusion of the mind”

Later that day I read that “if your intention is to give the best help to humanity for greater enlightenment…there is no better help than that of an awakened person.” Thus, I went deeper, knowing that for my two greatest passions in life…God and humanity’s more conscious progressions, sitting and meditating was the best thing I could do.

So I began to attempt this…

There is Always Light in Darkness

So, this chapter ends. I walk into the next more aware of my needs, my strengths and my weaknesses. I have learnt how strong my heart is in sending me signals, how much I can trust my emotions-those that come from my heart and not my ego. That is quite a nice lesson…knowing to value all feelings, even those that are more difficult, because I can recognize them as part of my intuition, part of my heart and God trying to care for me.
One of those feelings that I have finally listened to, is a longing for solitude. I recognize the need to know myself, to learn how to be with myself and to love myself, to heal in solitude and stillness, to fall in love with being alone for the first time, to learn how to fulfill my needs and wants on my own, to explore my depths that in daily life I can easily distract myself from, the longing to feel God’s pure presence in me and around me, the call to meditate and to pray…
So off I go, for the next few days I am wrapping up this chapter in Antigua, taking advantage of living in the non-profit hub of Central America and talking with many awesome young people I’ve met who have started their own projects! Then, starting May 1st, I will be entering into solitude for 40 days! Yes…for 40 days I will be entirely with myself!! I am so so so grateful that there is a place open at a place called The Hermitage, a retreat center connected with the yoga school I was working at last year on the beautiful lake Atitlan. I will be staying in a sweet little cabin in the woods, learning my depths and how to love them…feeling and loving God…it is going to be intense, definitely extremely challenging and so extremely beautiful!! I will pass my 23rd birthday in solitude, and for very extroverted me, this should be interesting!! But I know I am ready…even though my mind tries to tell me “you are too new to the spiritual path”, my heart calls me so strongly towards this, I know I have what I need.

Then…afterwards, in mid June, I start what is my dream job but way better than my mind could’ve ever fathomed!!! I am going back to Hridaya, this yoga school in Mexico, the spiritual community that changed my life, to start a new project for them!! I will be working as the Community Outreach Leader, this means I will be following my heart to discover any openness, any needs or wants from the community and what our hands and hearts can do for them!! Being a bridge, exactly what I feel I am here for in this life!!! 60% of people in Oaxaca live under the poverty line, but as we know, poverty is also much more than physical. My mission will be to see what the people that come to Hridaya from all over the world can do to lessen physical hardships and also to plant seeds of emotional, intellectual and spiritual awareness in a non-polarizing way!!

Truly…all of my life passions in one project!! I thought it would be years until I was ready to be entering into a community to do this type of assessment, to bridge the barriers and create these initiatives, but somehow…at 22, this opportunity has come to me!! I also imagined I would be alone doing this, and now I will be doing this supported by an incredible community that I entirely fundamentally agree with. Especially after the loneliness of the last chapter, I feel so so sooooooo thankful for this opportunity. This is a new project for them so I am extremely excited to see where the wind takes us, but I see this being something crazy beautiful!!! Creating connections, breaking barriers, exploring our hearts as catalysts…so much!!! I feel Christ consciousness will be sparked in many hearts, including my own!! One day, years down the road, I could be starting a school…maybe many…maybe some orphanages, all founded on the heart. Wow!!

I could not be more thrilled by this opportunity. This may very well be years of my life!!! I will be living my passion and supported by a community that really loves me and trusts me! I am ecstatic to be believed in!! Not to mention I will be back in an environment perfect for going deeper in my spiritual practice!!! And back at the beach, able to jump in the sea whenever I wish! Such a blessing!!! Life is way too good!!!!

So…here I am. There have been some bumps, but through all of the loneliness and confusion, God’s presence came through so so so brilliantly. I have so much trust for all that is happening, all the time. This was tested when a few nights ago at a hostel in San Cristobal, I woke up at 4 in the morning to a guy trying to touch me. This aroused my PTSD as well as many other emotions in me, feeling violated felt way too familiar. For a day I felt extremely confused and extremely sad. Then, after a deep meditation and talking with some beautiful friends, I found peace with this. I know that there is wisdom and love behind every situation, I trust that this was what was best for the creep and for me. Somehow, I feel I really needed the fire that comes from this. But, I suppose we shall see what arises in my 40 days of solitude!

Mmmmmm…so many light in every period of darkness!

All of the above are shots from beautiful San Cristobal de las Casas!! I had a wonderful time there exploring this magical city. It felt so good to be traveling alone again. When traveling alone, you are so in the flow of life, you are so open, so available to where the flow wants to take you. I met the most beautiful people, and encountered the most amazing things…mmmmm!!! Afterwards I headed back up to Oaxaca’s coast of Mazunte to my family at Hridaya…this was absolutely amazing!!W

Moments

So this chapter of my life has come to an end. There was much sweetness…getting to know amazing kids, living in an incredibly beautiful place, befriending some lovely souls, super enjoying my Saturday job at the Montessori school and feeling very appreciated there (I even won Teacher of the Month!), and learning sooooooo much.

And in this chapter I also have to acknowledge that there was some sourness…loneliness and confusion have been very present with me the past several months. I never really found home here. I craved that understanding, that connection, that support and love that home brings, a home which I have found in so many places. And here, in the environments I was in, I struggled to find this. My work environment posed challenges, and this being the reason I came here, what I was pouring my heart into, was disheartening. I felt confused and hurt at times. But I stayed for the kids and for the vision and this I do not regret at all.

Then, it seems as I was searching for this feeling of home so much externally, the external presence of feeling misunderstood, unappreciated, and lonely also became my inner reality. I started to fall slightly back into depression, I lost my motivation and I turned to my old coping mechanism of social overdrive. This only distanced me from myself. For some weeks I was in quite a dark place, I was struggling to keep my head above water. Finally, I realized I needed to face some things. I talked to one of my incredible mentors and he posed the question, “Do you feel you are being pushed out? Or are you pulling out?” I sat with this for a few days and realized after one really difficult day at work and becoming sick with parasites for my fifth time here, that I was being pushed out and that it was my time to leave. When I decided to leave my job, their reaction was very confirming. Now it feels amazing to be free.

To know I was leaving and feeling so unsure of where to go, I spent about a week in another bout of confusion, feeling like I had quit and let myself down and wasn’t worthy of the jobs I was thinking of applying for. Then, for Semana Santa, I knew I needed to come home to my family at Hridaya in Mexico, and there…so much clarity and trust resurfaced. I found myself again and also learned to see the beauty in everything that had happened in Antigua. Now, there is so much wonder ahead of me, appreciation and understanding in my soul, and I could not be more excited for the opportunities ahead of me!! These I will share in my next post!

A quote that I wish I had seen in my darkness-

“Fearlessness is not avoiding the ups and downs of life; it’s sitting with them, listening, feeling, bowing to them…then moving forward” – Waylon H LewisA river called El Cantil about 45 minutes outside of Antigua, extremely beautiful and the fresh water is divine!!

Some of my precious students!

Some shots of Semana Santa (Holy Week-the week (in Antigua…months) before Easter. There were alfombras (these beautiful sawdust and rice masterpieces) and processions (huge parades) everywhere!

My girls!!! Susanna (the beauty I met in Ecuador in 2014!) and Kim (a crazy crazy blessing to my life, an 18 year Texan who has inspired me infinitely!)

Some shots from the beautiful Lake Atitlan!! I spent the weekend in an amazing little spiritual town called San Marcos, definitely a huge highlight of my time here!!

This is Marco, I mentioned him in my last blog. He has been such a blessing in this chapter of my life. I will miss him!

A few shots of my hike of Acatenango! This was an incredible experience. Both the day’s climb and the day’s downhill were extremely hard. But, I did it alone and it felt amazing! I mentioned last time I’m living with a girl who I met in Ecuador in 2014! Her boyfriend is an adventure guide of the volcanoes around here and he lent me his great gear and advice and I was able to go solo! It was extremely powerful. I felt so strong to set up camp and make fires and cook my food alone. That night I watched an amazing sunset and laid under the stars, enjoying the quiet and Fuego’s (the neighboring extremely active volcano) explosions. At one moment in the middle of the night, a gorgeous shooting star flew across the sky. This happened at the same moment I thought “it would be amazing to see a shooting star…”. One of the most spectacular moments of my life by far, I felt so connected, so heard by the universe. Extremely special.

And some more shots from in and around Antigua!!

 

Soooooo much love from Guatemala,

Sunny!

Communication, Health, & Open-Mindedness

Hello beautiful people!! I hope everyone has had an awesome week!!!

This week was really exciting for me because in the English classes with the teachers in training at the school I work for in Antigua, we’ve gotten to dedicate a lot of time to exploring and discussing our values. This included really interesting conversations about purity and selflessness, as well as just what it means to be “conscious”. In our spirituality class this week, we also had a super interesting discussion turned meditation exercise, focused on our ability to tap into consciousness…can we feel it? How do we get there? What does it feel like? What is it? Incredibly awesome and it leveraged a few kids into really nice meditations, one of them for his first time! Plus as we have these juicy conversations together and realize that we all have interest in exploring what it means to live consciously, we are able to encourage each other in all we do at school even outside of class (the guys are at the school 8-6 every day, so they are always there even if we are doing different activities)! I cannot put my joy into words for how fruitful my time here seems to be and how excited I feel in general!

Now, I would love to share with you my thoughts on communication, health and open-mindedness!

Communication

The natural flow between people…the bridge of understanding we form between us depends on how consciously we communicate. This requires being conscious as we speak and as we listen. When speaking, we must keep in mind how our words may be received. This requires thinking about their meaning…what do the words carry? Is there compassion? Openness? Humility? Personal experience? Wisdom? We must also be mindful of the tone we relay and where the words are coming from in us…is the origin the ego’s need to be heard, praised, or feared? Or do they come from the heart’s longing to share, relate, or inspire? Most importantly, and perhaps most difficultly, we must be wise in deciding if the words should be spoken at all. Could thoughtful or attentive silence be better than filler words or words trying to fill egoic needs?

So thoughtful words are extremely important, we could call them the walkway of the bridge. But I think the foundation of the communication bridge is listening, which is ultimately what makes a navigable walkway possible. Conscious listening requires our full attention, but attention focused on the other person/people, not ourselves. When we listen, there is no need to be focusing on responses or creating judgments, we just need to hear. We need to hear the other’s words, their meaning, their tone, and where they are coming from. In this process of opening to really understand someone, we create deeper and more fertile connection. Communication can unite us or divide us, this is true on an individual level as well as on a bigger scale. Consciousness and compassion are key.

Health

The foundation of all capacities. Thus, it must be a center point of our lives if we wish to be capable humans. Living healthily means something different for everyone because we all have different physical, mental, emotional and spiritual needs. What is important is that we strive to discover our needs and learn to meet them in ways that are truly fulfilling for us. Oftentimes this requires doing things that challenge us, which is why many times many aspects of health go neglected.

For me personally, I tend to neglect what I know I need to really be healthy emotionally, time alone. I neglect it because it kind of freaks me out, it is something I struggle to enjoy, especially when I make myself just be instead of doing something. I can be alone for a little while each morning and night, write in my journal, read, do yoga and meditate…but just being and thinking and feeling…yikes! But it is a challenge I know I will keep striving to embrace because I know I need it to really feel healthy and balanced. Mentally and spiritually as well as physically and emotionally require great discipline for most people I think. We have time each day to allot to each aspect, we just have to choose to do so. This means picking reading interesting material versus reading Facebook, being active versus being lazy, making time to feel our emotions and work through them, and be available to explore whatever God may be for you. While it may not feel like it most of the time, I think it is possible that this discipline can come from joy, it can be a celebration to strive for balance!

Open-mindedness

I think it’s actually quite powerful to really experiment with what these words mean literally. What does it feel like to really unload our minds from all the junk that’s constantly swooshing around in there? When we make time to think about what we think about…what do we discover? I find my thoughts are mainly focused on the future-I create scenarios, lists and plans that may or may not happen and will never happen exactly as I imagine…thus probably 60% of my mental content is pretty useless. And even more sticky than thoughts are our opinions and beliefs, these constructs we create to be interlaced with our identity. These more than anything can prevent open-mindedness because of how attached we can become to them.

And why is being open-minded so important? Because life is constantly giving us so many diverse opportunities to learn and grow! We miss so much when we are closed and unable to recognize the plethora of doors presented to us on a daily basis. Entering situations truly open…without mental junk, without expectations or preconceived judgments, creates space for sharing and growing. How different would many situations feel if we were able to just be, to embrace and appreciate what is?! What could the commute to work look like in the morning? Or a meeting? Or even time alone? Have you ever sat back and just watched yourself? Doing everything so crazily each day? What could it feel like to just be…

After all, we are human beings not human doings J

So, those are my really quick thoughts on three really big topics, but hopefully they sparked some interesting thoughts for you!!

Mucho amor from Antigua!!

Sunny

My four older students! (Saul, Felipe, Juan Carlos, and Conal!)

Some of my little babies!!