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?
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.
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 are what makes this modern world of ours turn. We are the worker bees in the hive of the heart of beingness. We breathe, and pulse, and live together within the pranic field of consciousness.
On some level, both gross and subtle, we all have a part to play in the evolution of consciousness. If you think of consciousness as a collective energy that’s in the process of evolving from suffering to freedom, from primitive consciousness to the most highly developed consciousness, then together we are moving humanity forward as a species. Evolution to me is about figuring out how to make life better on all levels, for all beings, including nature, all creatures, and the earth itself. Not just easier through mechanistic and technological advances, but how to make life better at the level of body, mind, and heart. In essence, how to be happier.
Tom Brady Shifted Me
Evolution must include education for how to grow ourselves and nurture our body by knowing what it needs for optimal function. I heard a report yesterday about how the median age of professional athletes is rising. Tom Brady, quarter back for the New England Patriots (the most popular NFL player and the most hated), is 39 years old and still going strong. He has not shown any sign of aging or diminishing over the last decade. When asked in an interview how he does it, he responded by saying that it’s all about your diet, the amount of sleep you get, recovery time after a game, disciplined practice, right attitude, a deep desire to win, and strong genes.
The part about this I liked is that he was describing a state of consciousness that was smart. He mentioned staying away from foods that increase inflammation, i.e. sugar, fatty foods, chemicals, alcohol, and caffeine. If you’re a yogi, you already know this. Nothing new. Brady has figured out how to maintain his body to accommodate the natural aging process and slow it down to an undetectable crawl.
The other older athletes recently in the headlines were Roger Federer and Serena Williams, both champions in tennis and in their mid 30’s. They mentioned good physical habits along with stretching, resting, and bringing their wisdom of how to conserve and use their energy more wisely during the game. Again, this is a sign of how we’ve evolved using wisdom and all the advances of medical science and technology. They have evolved in the arena of sports and longevity.
Vibrate With a Higher Resonance
My insight continued. For this world to evolve and our consciousness to evolve so that we move closer and closer toward a peaceful and harmonious world where we all live together and support each other and take care of this earth, we need to vibrate all together with a higher resonance, a vision of something bigger than ourselves, that includes love and care for each other. It won’t happen with just a few of us opening our hearts and shining our light. The world will not pull itself out of the hole it dug itself into, unless we collectively choose to climb out of it. You can’t continue to maintain your beliefs, behaviors, and habits expecting a different result. Einstein’s definition of insanity is doing the same actions over and over again expecting a different result. If you keep thinking the same thoughts and holding on to the same crusty old beliefs that don’t work anymore, the world will not change.
Our Universe Is a Universe of Grace
A feeling of great love and responsibility came over me as I looked out at the people in the boarding area. These people are part of me. We share the body of the universe. When one person is sick, I’m sick. I want to be well. Therefore, the only way for the world to change is for me to try to shift the belief and experience of people. This is why I do what I do. This is why I teach an uplifting philosophy. I’m trying to get people’s attention. Every time I teach a workshop or training, I reach deep down into the dark, hopeless, confused depression I see all around me and tell people there’s hope. Not all is lost. Life is good and is meant to be enjoyed. Our universe is a universe of grace, forgiveness, love, and possibility. This is the Tantric vision.
But I also teach that we must co-participate with grace. Your thoughts, words, and actions matter. Words especially are powerful tools of consciousness. With words, you can make people feel safe and loved, like being covered by a warm blanket of support. Or your words can be hurtful like sharp arrows that puncture balloons of hope and possibility. No one is exempt for the power of words. This is an ancient yogic truth.
Education Is the Key
It’s the vibratory resonance that holds the power to shift the ‘world mind’. Yoga is one of many platforms for raising your consciousness which in turn raises the vibration of the planet. Education is the single most powerful tool to do this. Without education, we will continue to stay stuck in the comfortable and familiar. Ironically, suffering becomes familiar and when faced with changing a destructive habit, many people choose the suffering because it’s what they know. But education invites exploration and experimentation with trying new strategies, healthier habits that actually make life better, that actually heal the diseases at the source. With enough knowledge, you can get people to see beyond their prejudices and see the truth. Only when you see the truth will you shift a deeply seated belief.
The Pharmaceutical Syndrome
We live in a society where poor dietary habits are encouraged. If you eat enough junk food, you will get diabetes. Then you’ll need insulin. The pharmaceutical companies, whether intentionally or unintentionally, want you to continue your bad habit so you become dependent on their drug. The TV commercials tempt you to eat junk so you get sick and then become dependent on the drug. That’s a very effective business strategy. Good for business. Bad for your body and bad for the earth-body.
I say yes to medical science when it’s needed. That’s partly why we live longer and excel in sports. But to rely on medical science without educating yourself as to the cause of your symptoms, without being interested in changing your self-destructive habits is sheer ignorance.
We all have our limits. How much can you purify after all? I’ve been doing purification practices for almost four decades. However, it’s a never-ending journey. I’ve had eczema (a skin disorder, rashes, dry, itchy skin) since I was a baby. It’s partially hereditary. We’re all born with a miasm –a physical compensatory weakness. Some come in with digestive issues, some are prone to diabetes, and some have mental issues. We can’t escape that. But many issues can be healed through lifestyle.
What is lifestyle? Habits and patterns of self-care. Some people have never learned how to take care of themselves, how to eat well, or how to exercise. They lack education (and opportunity).
Resonance of Universal Cells
The resonance of universal cells happens through communication, transmission, and experience at the level of body, mind, and heart. Anything you do that introduces education at any of these levels will begin to shift your consciousness. When I teach yoga, I see my role as speaking into the heart of the student to open their heart so they can get a glimpse of their true nature, which is joy. My life shifted when I came to yoga. This shift happened through the effective communication of my teachers. My teachers were able to transmit the vibration of their consciousness to me such that my consciousness shifted. I began to vibrate at their level. They raised my octave.
They presented the information to me in such a skillful way, that through doing the yoga, my body naturally felt lighter and freer. When you feel that in your body, your experience is undeniable. You will be changed. But that change mysteriously comes from the inside. That’s effective education – when you can get someone to change a belief or habit because they want to.
What I’m saying is that as cells in the body of the universe, only when we all shift our consciousness will real change happen. Until then, we will be at war with each other’s opinions. It’s a shame that in the US today we are fighting with each other around our approach, rather than tackling the deeper problems of vibration. We are still in the dark ages of conscious evolution. We are cavemen and cavewomen when it comes to raising each other’s vibration. Instead, the norm seems to be that we pull each other down to the lowest common denominator rather than lift each other up.
The Sixth Mass Extinction Is Upon Us
Democracy is the hope for dialogue. Without dialogue and the sharing of different views, we won’t be educated. But if our views do not share the same intention of freedom and the restoration of the planet, then we will all go down with the ship. It’s not too late now to save the planet. But this would require a global shift of vibration of consciousness. Is it possible? Yes. I am a believer and an idealist. The sixth mass extinction is upon us. But it’s not a species that’s going to die off, it’s our old ways of thinking and poor lifestyle practices that must die and change. This is the next evolutionary step of mass consciousness. This is possible because of the nature of what it means to be human. I believe in us and the unstoppable resiliency of the human heart.
Heaven On Earth
One of my earlier visions of life on the planet, early in my yoga career, was the vision of bringing heaven to earth. This is still my vision. I’m getting clearer about how this has to occur. It’s through education, communication, each person being courageous models of hope, and being fearless in changing ourselves and living from our heart. Choosing love in the greatest of challenges instead of fear. Choosing life. Choosing health. Understanding how the body works and how life works. It’s not just about money and making it big so you have a big retirement so you can afford your assisted living. It’s not about quantity of years on the planet. Medical science can keep you miserably alive for a very long time. (Read Being Mortal by Atul Gawande) It’s about quality of life and expanding your vision to include every being, all cells in the body of the universe.
Cancer Cells Live In Gangs
Cancer cells suck a lot of energy to stay alive. They gather together in communities or gangs of cells in order to bully and feed off the healthy cells. They don’t offer more life, they offer death. It will kill you. We’ve come such a long way in fighting cancer and many other diseases. But there’s so much more to do. There are so many people suffering today. We need to vibrate with them and raise them up. Our work is not done until we all raise everyone’s consciousness. This is the Bodhisattva view. A Bodhisattva is a free being who returns to earth to help others get free. This is what teaching yoga is about. But it’s not just through yoga. It’s through all traditions, ways, and means of raising our consciousness.
We have so many unhealthy patterns of self-erosion including harmful physical habits and self-limiting mental/emotional habits. The body will naturally erode and diminish with age. This is not something you should try to stop. But yoga and other paths of consciousness will slow the aging process. I want to age gracefully as best I can. But I’m never going to prevent the eventual experience of death. Death is just the next step in life. You will die in the same consciousness that you have lived. Then, as taught in many yogic traditions, you carry the consciousness you had in this life to your next life.
When I looked out over the boarding area, I saw so many overweight people and those eating airport food, i.e., Dunkin Donuts, coffee, and McDonalds breakfast. These are the kinds of foods that increase your inflammation. If we, the cells of the body of the universe, created a demand for healthier foods like organic eggs, vegetables, gluten free whole grains, and fruit, locally sourced, spiced according to the season and your dosha (constitution), guaranteed there would be the supply. Instead of donuts for breakfast, you’d have wholesome food choices everywhere, including airports.
Giving Up Caffeine
All this is to say that hearing a radio interview with Tom Brady inspired me to give up one of my self-eroding habits – caffeine. I started drinking coffee about 10 years ago because I started to feel tired in the morning. I never liked coffee in my younger years. I was exhausted until I started drinking coffee. Some of you know my story. But one time before teaching my morning session at a workshop, my host, who loved coffee, was drinking it at breakfast and offered me some. I said, “Okay. What the heck.” I loved the smell. While teaching, I noticed my mind was thinking incredibly clearly. I had a constant stream of ideas. I was witty and funnier than I’ve ever been. I loved the feeling of being fully energized and full out in my expression. It was exhilarating. This was the best class of my life! The next day, I tried a cup of coffee again and the same thing happened. I was sold. My class was superb. I no longer had any fatigue. My lethargy was gone. I was on fire with inspiration.
But lately I’ve been relying on coffee for my energy more and more. I have a few cups in the morning and then I have green tea in the afternoon. I can still sleep at night. It doesn’t affect me in that way unless I drink coffee or tea late in the day. The point is not how much caffeine I have. Everyone has their own threshold. The point is that instead of exploring why my energy level is so low in the morning, it’s just easier to have coffee. It’s fast and it works. End of problem.
Inflammation Is the Culprit
I’ve known for a long time that skin issues originate in the gut. If your digestion is weak, you can get skin symptoms. I was also diagnosed last year with severe osteo-arthritis in my hip. Skin issues and arthritis are both caused, in part, by inflammation. I’ve cleaned up my diet a fair amount such that I don’t think the foods I’m eating cause much inflammation. But coffee and caffeine in general, even though it has some healthy benefits, is highly acidic and causes inflammation.
Tom Brady raised my consciousness because after hearing him speak about his diet and that he doesn’t have any caffeine, zero, I felt deep inside my body that I want that. So, my plan is to slowly over a couple of weeks, reduce my coffee intake until I can get it down to just tea and perhaps I can get it down to no caffeine.
My consciousness shifted. I’ve known for a long time that drinking coffee is probably not optimal for me and it might even be a large cause of my skin or osteo conditions. Either way, I think it will be a worthy experiment to see if my health improves and if my skin issues resolve. I am on a mission to find a new energy through change of lifestyle such that I can slow down the self-erosion that is inevitable with aging. I’m not trying to beat the odds and live forever. But I think I will have less suffering if I control the things I can, like what I put in my mouth. However, I choose to do this, not just for myself, but in service to the bigger energy of the universal body. I choose to do this for all the people in the boarding area. If I make myself healthier, you’ll get healthier too, and so will the body of the universe.
A 30-Day Lifestyle Change Challenge
Choose one food or one habit that you really want to drop. If it’s a real habit, it will be difficult to give up. But you have to get bigger than your habit. You have to make it worth it for you to go through the withdrawal in order to get to the other side. I know I could stop coffee cold turkey. But when I tried that in the past, I got really sick. I had a migraine for days. I need to gradually reduce it over a couple of weeks. Use your wisdom. Don’t make this a fast/binge challenge.
If you can’t think of a food habit to drop, here are a few examples of foods that cause inflammation in most people – sugar (in all forms including honey and maple syrup), dairy, caffeine, tomatoes and all night shade vegetables, bread, muffins, cookies, cakes, bagels, gluten, crackers (it’s the baked oils that can cause inflammation), fried foods, alcohol, chocolate, to name a few.
I would love to find others who wish to let go of a self-destructive habit. Company is stronger than will power. Use the Ashaya Yoga Facebook page to receive support, connect with other like-minded people, and share your experiences, victories, and challenges.
Instructions For the 30-Day Challenge
- Choose one food or one habit to change.
- Choose at least one supporting habit to make it easier for you to let go of your primary habit. For instance, I’m going to substitute hot lemon water first thing in the morning which helps cut the coffee craving and makes the body more alkaline (less inflammatory).
- Declare your intention to a friend or on the Ashaya Yoga Facebook group page
- Write in your journal as a way to tune into your process and channel your energy
- Remember your purpose. See if you can do this for a purpose bigger than yourself. Do it for the greater “body of consciousness”.
- Remember that this is only for 30 days, not a lifetime! You can choose to go back to your habit if you wish once the challenge is over.
Date of Challenge:
Wednesday, March 8th – Wednesday April 5th
Consciousness Tips for Success
- Do it with a friend. Find a habit breaker buddy.
- Forgive yourself if you fall off the wagon, just start again.
- Be compassionate with yourself.
- Keep your greater intention in your awareness.
- Affirm the health benefits of your choice every day.
- Remember you are part of the body of the universe. Help yourself and you help the universal body.
Thanks for listening and for being a healthy cell in the body of life! May the healing life force be with you! Good luck!