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“If you think you’re enlightened, go spend four days with your family of origin.” – Ram Dass

Lately I’ve been feeling pulled in many different directions. Before I blame this feeling on the imminent arrival of my parents to stay with me and observe my current life, I’m finally sitting down to write about (and perhaps discover with more clarity) why.

After a totally blissful July of following the music that was flowing from me – bringing with it new people, new places, new experiences, and new ways of being seen – I entered August with a renewed sense of awareness that I needed to be “working” on something. “My newfound sense of freedom and joy could not possibly be the truth of my life experience”, said an ancient part of my brain. “Life just can’t be that easy for you!”

I recognized those thoughts as ones I could choose to believe or not. I saw myself as an observer. I talked it out with my coaching buddy. She reminded me of how far I have indeed come on my path toward the Core of Peace I now know is my birthright and within me at all times.

And still, as I drive from one place to the next – from home to studio to the next place on my agenda – I can’t help but feel scattered. Like my energy is more diffuse than I would like it to be. I notice that my business card has four identities – musician, life coach, writer, and speaker. I now notice that this is symbolic of the fact that in my life I have never felt that it was enough for me to be just one thing – namely, me. I had compartments where I kept my identities and developed them diligently, but rarely did the boundaries of these containers spill into one another. Read the rest of this entry »

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Ever since the movie When Harry Met Sally came out, I’ve pretty much believed that men and women can never really be “friends”. Not when one or both of them is not in a committed relationship. It’s just an unnatural state of being for both species, so why do we force it?

Facebook is a wonderful example of this. I’d prefer not to have a list of hundreds of so-called “Friends”. I know that most of the people on my list are acquaintances at best, and many of them, now that I use my Facebook account for promotional purposes, are just the product of friendly social encounters. I like them, I support them, I wish them well, but I know very little about them personally and I do not need to find out more.

Last night I had one of these friendly social encounters at a new venue I was performing at with my band. We are in a phase of doing a lot of legwork to show up at open mics, form new relationships, and scrounge up opportunities for ourselves to play for more audiences. I am in awe of the courage and talent that is showing up at these coffee shops, bistros, bars, and other locations in the community where I have never had a reason to “hang out”. Read the rest of this entry »

A video with my initial thoughts on a topic that I feel will become a vast area of exploration and focus in my work.

For part two of the video, visit this link.

And for a written expansion on the ideas in this video, see my blog post at this link.

“The quality of your life is directly proportional to the quality of your attention.”

My teacher, Silvia Nakkach, said this to us on several occasions throughout the past year at CIIS, during our journey of spiritual transformation through sound voice and music. It wasn’t until very recently that I started to appreciate the meaning behind these words, and how they applied not only to my life, but to every human being.

Have your ever stopped to consider, “What are you listening to?”

Today, two different coaching practice partners (yes, on the same day!) described to me their experience with noticing what they were listening to. I had sent a new tool several weeks ago to the first buddy – my Daily Sound Journal. The exercise was to choose a day in which you would decide to notice the sounds you hear, and to note your bodily reactions as well as thoughts that arise in response to the sounds.

I hadn’t gotten feedback from her until today, when she told me that as she consciously listened to the sounds she was hearing throughout a given day, she began to notice that there was very little silence in her days, and that she had very little choice over the sounds that she was listening to. This prompted her to make some immediate changes in her life that involved creating specific times of silence in each day, and being more proactive about choosing music to download for herself rather than accepting whatever was playing on the radio, for example. Read the rest of this entry »

Preparing my mind and body for my first live acoustic rock performance experience tonight as part of a trio. Beautiful warm weather here in northern California, and this morning I read these words from Iyanla Vanzant:

I have learned to look at my life as an observer. I stand back, look at what happened, and focus my attention on the place where the wound was inflicted. I do not look at who inflicted the wound or how it was inflicted. That it was inflicted is the essence of healing. Find what your wound is, where the wound is being played out in your life, and heal it. Only by doing the work on ourselves that is required to heal mental, emotional, and psychological wounds can we ever hope to be whole in our spirits. I chose to do the healing work because I didn’t want to be mad anymore. I didn’t want to cry anymore. I wanted to heal so that I would have something to celebrate – myself.

from Yesterday, I Cried by Iyanla Vanzant

I felt deep in my soul a renewed calling that I must tell my story. Not just for myself, but for others. Not just this part of the story, but my whole story. It’s all I’ve been trying to do, and now I know it needs to be done. Read the rest of this entry »

Last night was the final Tuesday evening class for our cohort at CIIS. Next week will be the final Monday morning call for our Martha Beck Life Coach Training. The end of the training period is nearing. And I’m left feeling, “Just as I’m starting to get the hang of this and it’s all sinking in, it’s over!”

Of course, this is just the beginning. That’s what feels so delicious about it. At the same time, I want more. I want the community to continue, the relationships to deepen, the sharing to become even richer.

At other times when I’ve approached a graduation from school, I thought, “Yay! I’m done!”. This is the first time in my life where I’ve actually wanted the learning to continue. It’s not that I long for a student’s life. I actually am looking forward to putting this knowledge into practice in the real world. I’m eager to find ways to share what I’ve experienced and to be an example of transformation for others to witness. Read the rest of this entry »

What a day of listening to my life!

This morning (in my daily inspirational reading ritual) I happened to flip open Rolf Gates’ Meditations from the Mat to an entry on brahmacharya, the fourth yama or foundation of yoga practice, and it had to do with a broader interpretation of the word to mean “moderation”. Rolf talked about how we often attach to doing our yoga at a certain studio, with a certain teacher, at a certain time, using a certain mat, in order to feel we’ve accomplished something in our practice. He suggests that the observation of moderation in our approach to yoga could mean greater flexibility in our practice. He also related brahmacharya to the concept of vairagya or non-attachment.

Interesting, I thought. Then I went about the rest of my morning, and when it was time to leave the house for my normal yoga class at 10:30, I did. I remembered that there were some slight schedule changes since the studio moved recently, but I was already driving and didn’t want to pull over to check the internet on my Blackberry. I just went with it to see what would happen.

Turns out the schedule DID change, and in “my” class time slot, there is now a “Beginner’s Yoga” class, taught by a new instructor. It also started 15 minutes later. The owner, knowing I was a regular at the old class, said, “Oh, I’m sorry, you know we changed the schedule, right? I’m so sorry.” Part of me was thinking, “Oh, should I leave then?” but the other part of me felt like I had created the space for yoga, I had already driven down here, and I should just stay. I was debating this in my mind as I walked through the studio. The instructor, sitting in meditation, looked up and started talking to me. Something clicked in that moment that YES, I was going to stay. Read the rest of this entry »

I’ve started a new morning ritual that is working amazingly well so far. Instead of indulging in the idea of “winning the war” with my alarm clock, bargaining for a few extra minutes to myself before leaping out of bed to start chipping away at a “to do” list, I now look forward to getting out of bed for a totally different reason. I spend the very first part of my day connecting in to my body, my gratitude for the heavens, the earth, the beauty that surrounds me every day, and the nature of my true heart. I stretch gently, I breathe, I sit, I sound, and I take the time to notice where I am right now. I realize that where I am is not the story my mind is constantly constructing, saying “What if…?” or “Should I…?” or “Isn’t it…?” but right now is just this breath. When the next breath comes, a new “right now” has already been born. Read the rest of this entry »

In the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, practice is addressed in three ways:

abhyasa – repeated practice performed with observation and reflection

vairagya – detachment

sadhana – discipline in pursuit of a goal

From BKS Iyengar’s translation and interpretation:

Abhyasa is a dedicated, unswerving, constant, and vigilant search into a chosen subejct, pursued against all odds in the face of repeated failures, for indefinitely long periods of time. Practice implies a certain methodology, involving effort. It has to be followed uninterruptedly for a long time, with firm resolve, application, attention and devotion, to create a stable foundation for training the mind, intelligence, ego and consciousness. (14)

Vairagya is the cultivation of freedom from passion, abstention from worldly desires and appetites, and discrimination between the real and the unreal. Proficiency in vairagya develops the ability to free oneself from the fruits of action. (14)

Non-attachment is the deliberate process of drawing away from attachment and personal affliction, in which, neither binding onself to duty nor cutting oneself off from it, one gladly helps all, near or far, friend or foe. Non-attachment does not mean drawing inwards and shutting oneself off, but involves carrying out one’s responsibilties without incurring obligation or inviting expectation. It is between attachment and detachment. Detachment brings discernment: seeing each and every thing or being as it is, in its purity, without bias or self-interest. (15)

The dynamic balance of practice involves both the vigorous, zealous, devotional pursuit of consistent practice, and the detachment from the fruits of one’s efforts. This means giving it all you’ve got, pouring your heart and mind into your practice every day towards a goal, AND being OK with whatever result you get from that effort.

Most of us are willing to do one or the other – we’ll put in the work, but only if it means we’ll get something out of it. Or, we’ll say “I don’t care”, and use it as an excuse not to go after our dreams.

Balance isn’t a destination to reach, or even a goal to achieve. Balance is a state of coordination achieved through constant attention, effort, AND letting go in order to surrender to change. It’s being open and inviting, while remaining unattached to outcome.

Headstand, for me, is the ultimate practice in dynamic balance. You must feel it, do it, and think it, or you will fall out of the pose. Read the rest of this entry »

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