Violence is Natural

What a terrible thing to say, but it’s true.
In the Tantra, there is a teaching that everything is eating everything else.
The universe births itself, then grows itself by eating itself.
In order to survive, life eats life. I suppose humans are no different.
But we have consciousness.
We have discrimination and the capacity to think ahead and go beyond
our instinct to kill as the first reaction.
That is a choice.
We can get angry, step back, slow it down, consider the bigger picture, and then choose to act with diplomacy. But if your life or your loved one’s life is truly threatened, we are all wired to kill out of self-defense. This comes from the deepest primordial instinct to stay alive. We are part of nature. It’s a good thing. But when your ideology is rigid, narrow, and fanatical, there will be trouble. This kind of violence is a crime and is unsustainable.

In Tantra, violence is not seen as something separate from us. Ahimsa (the yama of nonviolence, or kindness) is still practiced in Tantra, but violence is embraced as a reality of life. Violence is integrated into the fabric of reality. Life eats itself in order to grow itself. Tantra embraces the acts of nature that could be considered violent, as in a violent tornado, the stalking of a mouse by a hawk, when you hit a deer on the road with your car, or even giving birth.

When I first heard these teachings, I was mortified. But then I began to understand. I was able to expand my heart wide enough to include violence as a natural part of life. This helped me understand the goddess Kali, adorned in the shadow, with her necklace of baby skulls, holding […]

Need for Certainty and Uncertainty

When your head and heart are lined up and going in the same direction, you gain the favor of grace. Your heart awakens and you return home to your center. You have coherence and resonance with the universe. The Heart Math Solution talks about aligning with your heart to get all your systems online, in harmony, and in coherence, where all parts – body, mind, and heart, talk to each other.

But most of the time the mind is going in one direction and the heart is going in another, which places the burden on your body. The body is the repository of the split between head and heart. You may have the desire to express yourself as an artist, musician, or writer, but you don’t follow through because you’re full of self-doubt, insecurity, or fear of failing. The desire to express yourself and create comes from your heart. But your head tells you that you can’t do it. You’re not enough. You’ll never be able to support yourself. It’s not the right time. You’re not talented enough. You will fail. Out of fear, you lose steam and never really fulfill your dreams or your life’s purpose. You end up dying with a dream unfulfilled.

The head represents our need for certainty. Certainty is a necessary “vitamin” of the psyche because if fulfills our survival needs to have shelter, food, and clothing. But too much certainty can lead to monotony and predictability. Every day is the same. Soon boredom, restlessness, and negativity creeps in.

The heart represents uncertainty. For your creative juices to flow, to reach for new ideas, and new passions, uncertainty is needed. Uncertainty represents the unknown and is another kind of “vitamin” necessary for […]

Faith as Confidence

I have a devotional practice I do called “puja”, which is a practice of gratitude for the blessings of life. It’s the heart’s expression of its innermost experience. It’s an expression of the longing for freedom and the awareness of the vastness of the universe that lives inside of you. It’s a way of expressing thanks for the gift of life, the blessings of love, and the opportunities of growth and awakening that come through a conscious lifestyle.

Puja is the awareness of the beauty and vastness of life assimilated into an artistry of offering. Puja can be very simple or as elaborate as you want. The offering is to yourself first and then in whatever ways you choose to share. I usually light a candle and incense and offer symbols of the five elements: earth (by offering rice), water (by offering water), fire (by offering a candle and lighting camphor), air (by offering incense), and space (all of the elements combined).
“In India, the reason why people go to the temple to be part of the puja is to meditate with eyes open. We’ll also get to close our eyes to see what we can see.  But the reason for puja is to collect, to archive, and then to create an outward presence that places intention into forms.  That’s just the beginning of it.  Puja is “ritual” because it marks the threshold, enters into worlds of conscious and unconscious reality, because it can stir the soul and conjure the unknown that lies within. Like the best rituals, it makes its point that there is an incongruity, a space between the way things are and the way we wish they were.” – Dr. Douglas Brooks
Today while I stood before my altar […]

30-Day Change of Lifestyle Challenge!

As I was waiting to board my flight from Hartford, CT to LAX, I looked out over the crowded boarding area at all the people. There was a beautiful variety of beings, all different shapes, sizes, ages, colors, clothing, and hair styles. I asked myself, “Who are these beings?” “What are they doing? Where are they going? What do they think about? What do they believe? What is in their consciousness?
Click here to view the 30-Day Change of Lifestyle Challenge.
Of course, I had no answer to these questions. But one thing I knew for sure was that each person was a great being with a history of life-changing experiences. The truth is, I’ve never met a boring person. Everyone has a story to tell, a hero’s journey of overcoming challenges, loved ones lost, amazing successes, failures, moments of grace, ecstatic joy, pain, and heartbreak. Every person has a family or set of relationships that have influenced their life. I wondered which of these people were Trump supporters and which were not.

The truth is no matter what side of the aisle you’re on, we all long to be free of suffering. It’s just that we have different views on how to get there. What unites us all is the notion of our shared humanity.
Cosmic Insight
Then it hit me like a ton of bricks, like I was suddenly dunked into a tub of cold water. A sobering and complex insight came. I witnessed this perspective from a distance high above the earth, as if I were an alien looking down on the buzzing planet earth. I realized that we are all individual cells inside the body of universal consciousness. We are thinking cells. Together we […]

Purpose is Power

I just swam the US Masters 1-Hour Swim which is a national annual event to see how far you can swim in 1 hour. This year, our coach, Bill Meier, who created the Swimming Saves Lives Foundation, invited us to make this year’s swim a fundraiser to support Swimming Saves Lives which offers swim lessons to adults to get parents to inspire their kids to swim. Thanks to all those who donated to this event! I swam 3475 yards which beat my distance last year by 105 yards!

I sent out the invitation to pledge late in the game. I’ve been super busy writing my book and honestly, I didn’t want to hassle with the logistics of the fundraiser. But at the 11th hour I said to myself, “Oh, what the heck.” I sent out the email on Friday afternoon. In less than 24 hours I received a total pledge of $1275.00 and donations are still coming in. As the emails began pouring in with enthusiastic responses like, “What a great cause”, “Go get ’em tiger”, and “Give it your all”, I was overwhelmed with your love.

Whether you pledged or not, I felt all your support and made the swim about the cause rather than myself. I felt grateful for all of you, the good work my coach is doing, the team, and all those who chose to make a difference. I can’t tell you how freed up I felt swimming for a cause. I tuned into an energy bigger than myself and it sustained me throughout the swim. It was as though I wasn’t swimming. Something else was swimming me.

Do I hear the yoga of swimming here? Do I hear an Ashaya theme? Yes.

How […]