Monday, February 16, 2015

Strange wonderful drum

             I sat at the terminal in Doha after a fourteen hour flight. I was restless, tired, and excited to be almost in India. Immediately, I began to discover a variety of things that were catching my attention.  A Muslim man had a beautifully painted rug in which he performed his devotional practices; there were prayer rooms, strange music, and beautiful art everywhere. While on the layover there was a family of Muslim women and children dressed in traditional attire, the little boy came over with a beaming smile wanting to take pictures with us. He tried his best to say things in English and we high fived and exchanged cheerful smiles. I was jet lagged but couldn't help the feeling that apart from all the drastic differences as people were all really just the same inside and this little boy was a shining example that the world doesn't need to be such a violent place.

              The flight from Doha to India went much smoother. I watched some Bollywood movies which are amazingly great. They all seem to be about an Indian girl who is about to enter an arranged marriage and just prior falls in love and eventually in some hilarious way ends up with her goofy Casanova. As we were touching down I listened to Trevor’s Halls “Chapters of the forest”. A song I was deeply touched by about his time in India. He talks about his time reflecting on the Narmada which is a holy river. It is said here in India that while Lord Shiva sat in his meditation he created so much heat in his body that he began to sweat. The Narmada River is the formation of this sweat and an auspicious place. Most people have heard of the Ganges, probably the most famous holy river in the world which by bathing in her waters all negative karmas can be cleared but the Narmada one only needs to look. As we touched down I just thought of that if I ever had the chance I would need to sit on the Narmada for many hours perhaps days on end saying sorry and saying thank you. I sometimes have these panging feelings inside of me where I just need to ask for forgiveness and I need to say thank you.  

                I’ve been in India for two weeks now and its one of the most beautiful and unique places in the world. I love it here. I wake up at 5:30 am every morning because the neighbors begin their pujas and chanting which wakes me up to holy songs and Sanskrit tongues. Then the neighborhood street dogs all begin to howl and bark, vegetable carts with merchants making their presence known like hotdog vendors at a baseball game yell loudly, soon the honking begins, and India comes to life. I do all my necessities and on the way to practice I pass by cows, street dogs, birds, school children, families, and chai stalls. All of this presented with an Indian backdrop of bright colors, saris, strange sounds, mountains, red clay earth, and cow poop everywhere. It’s wonderful.

                It’s really interesting here with so many different westerners from all over the world making the sacrifice to come and practice Ashtanga at KPJAYI with Sharath. I can’t articulate it but there is no way you come here and endure all the sacrifice and craziness unless the practice has deeply touched you and changed your life. The brick like mattresses, the constant diarrhea, the power outages, the constant noise, missing home, sitting on the floor EVERYWHERE, the vegetarian diet, and mostly at least for me missing Mexican food.  I also really hate doing bucket showers and bucket laundry is such a pain in the ass, garbage fires though, they take the cake, they are the worst thing about India. But we’re all here and all these people have their own stories and are practicing with so much devotion it’s pretty great to get a glimpse into and meet them and to slip into the rhythm of living here.

              I also got insanely lucky to make the trip with a bunch of my teachers and friends from Miami Life Center back home. MLC is an Ashtanga studio back home that really changed my life and started a lot of healing for me. There’s like ten of us from MLC and it’s basically a Miami takeover. It’s a party. Eddy and I are going to get Indian tailored 305 hats or shirts or something very soon because to not would just be a travesty. Tim and Kino are here too and their just the best. I get cringe worthy shy around them cause I am kind of star struck but wow their such inspirations and beautiful people. Kino just got fifth series too I can’t even comprehend the mastery and hard work that culminated in that achievement and I am very happy for her.

                There is the social and daily living aspect to being here but there is also the intimate and internal lessons you gain by being here. I think of India as the mother, stern, strict, presses all your buttons, reveals all your hidden insecurity’s but possesses a great deal of love. I’ve only been here for a moment and have a long time to go but already she has shaken me countless times. The lessons so far have been to work on being kinder with myself and to try to open up. I can be a closed book and it’s hard for me to express who I am. I struggle with that a lot because of earlier traumas that haunt me quite a bit. I have so much going on inside and things I want to share but it feels trapped. On an asana level my body is capable of things I never thought it would be able to do but sometimes emotionally, psychologically, and energetically I feel like I can’t even touch my toes. So here I am trying to heal, live righteously, and cultivate some kind of devotion. Trying to be good with myself and trying to be appreciative of life. It’s really wild and far out, and I will forever be in gratitude. Today I was sitting on a rooftop eating chocolate cake without a care in the world looking at Indian coconut trees, enjoying the sunshine while drifting in and out of a nap with friends.

                I really believe that life needs to be lived sincerely, humbly, and with much appreciation. I believe a lot of spiritual work has to be done. I believe in the power of asana practice to help you pierce through the physical to the emotional and spiritual planes. I believe in kindness and in love. I believe in being as much of a conscious human being as you can possibly be. This place helps me to do that hopefully with a little bit of help from above I am able to keep walking on my path and gain the confidence to march to the beat of my own drum, because what a strange wonderful drum I beat.


All Glory to God.  Om Shanti Shanti Shanti

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Off to the land of Gods and Saints

I have been thinking about why it is I do Ashtanga yoga and at the end of the day I realized I do it because I just want to be a good, honest, and simple man. I feel like the more I do yoga the more of a chance there is of that happening. I have faith in this practice that if I do it I'm going to be okay and the beautiful parts of me will be able to bring forth fruit.

Unfortunately a part of my life consist of me getting in my own way, being socially anxious, caring what people think, uncomfortable with myself, being selfish, I get led astray by bad habits, and I sometimes inflict pain on myself and others. It feels like the more yoga works on me the more its transcends and heals these aspects. Only I will ever know the healing it has brought me inside my soul in just a years time of daily practice. I will never be able to articulate that to someone how much better I feel inside, I am forever indebted and gracious,

Spiritual work if done with some sincerity brings lots of grace, blessings, and hard tests! Its brings forth and awakens the bodies higher intelligence and you develop some awareness about how to go about living righteously in the world. The problem is once yours eyes are opened  you can never go back, it is now your responsibility to do the work! So now you take up this responsibility of doing your work, the things no one will ever see and also probably will never understand since I am such a doofus weirdo!

I've learned just a smidgen about gratitude and about having compassion in my ten years of trying to live a spiritual life, key word trying, mostly being full of shit though. I think spiritual work just awakens a deep inner sensitivity and it teaches you life is such a blessings and you have to work very hard to not let that gift go to waste.

In India they say it takes a thousand births to receive a human body! Its an auspicious thing and to think about how many thousands of human births it must of taken to get to the point where you find yoga. Its a double blessing I would think. It also says in the Bhagavad Gita those that try very hard in this life but are led astray and don't reach the final goal that there efforts will not be wasted. In the next life Krishna says you will be born into a house that practices yoga or a environment suitable for spiritual growth so you may continue your work, Thank fucking Jesus guys.

But still I want to give it a go in this life. I want to do profound work so I can have a good heart, sincerity, and do the right things. I want to interact with myself, the people around me, and the earth in a conscious way. I just want to be a good man and then later on be a cool old guy with maybe just a little bit of wisdom. I want to be Jeff bridges is really what I am saying.

The dude abides man.

And so I am off to India on this journey, to the land of Gods and saints. I have always had a fascination with this country, its religion, and people. I am going to the source of the ashtanga lineage to Mysore, India to study ashtanga yoga for about two months. I feel like I am jumping in the deep end of the pool so to speak but I am not stressing it all. The knowledge and wisdom I'll have access to and the ability to grow will be a tremendous opportunity. I am going with a bunch of my teachers as well, little do they know how subtlety annoying I will be trying to pick there brains every single day, god help them.

Life is really far out and really beautiful, I am trying my best and I think its going to be okay. India do what you will with me, help me to become Jeff Bridges, all glory to god, I will forever be giving thanks and praise.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

All Hail the Harmony of Mind and Nature

I am fascinated by ancient cultures and traditions. I find a lot of inspiration for my own spiritual yearning from the great saints, sadhus, and souls of India. Today I must mention that one of those great souls have passed BKS Lyengar a beautiful man and someone who was a scientist, philosopher, and artist. Thank you for all the knowledge and light you brought to the world, your life is your message.

I had had a real difficult stretch of weeks lately, I’ve been in a rut and a mind trip and I didn’t know how to get out of it. Yesterday I had had enough and decided that I would do my practice at MLC like always but when I got home, I was going to really sit with myself and calm myself down and see what was going on inside and why I’ve been so crazy lately. Just with a little bit of awareness things fell into place and it was like a thousand pounds of weight off my shoulders. You go out into the world and if you don’t know how to maintain internal heights the mirror gets dirty. Thank goodness I am aware at least when my mirror is dirty, and then nights like yesterday the night that BKS died, I was able to clean that mirror a bit. When you have moments like that it shows you the energy and beauty behind consciousness and the power of spiritual practices and awareness. You have to be good to yourself and live righteously. You have to learn to listen. 

I’ve been really into reading and learning about different cultures which were steeped in wisdom. I love rituals, ceremonies, anything ancient that has been done for thousands of years. I think ritual connects you to something. I stumbled onto the mayan prayer for seven directions and I really dig it, maybe you will too.

From the East, House of Light
May wisdom Dawn in us
So we may see all things in clarity

From the North, House of the Night
May Wisdom Ripen in Us
So we may know all from within

From the West, House of Transformation
May Wisdom be transformed into right action
So we may do what must be done

From the South, House of the Eternal Sun
May right action reap the harvest
So we may enjoy the fruits of Planetary being

From Above, House of Heaven
Where star people and Ancestors gather
May their blessings come to us Now

From Below, House of Earth
May the heartbeat of her crystal core
Bless us with harmonies to end all war

From the Centre, Galactic Source
Which is everywhere at once
May everything be known
As the light of mutual love

Oh Yum Hunab Ku Evam Maya E Ma Ho
All Hail the Harmony of Mind and Nature

I will never be able to say thank you enough, all glory to god, what a beautiful life, sai ram.


Sunday, May 18, 2014

Thanks and Praise To Guruji The Shining Light.

Today was a really beautiful day. I went surfing in the morning and after crossed the street to go do my practice and take my yoga sutra class at my home away from home Miami Life Center. I walked into the mysore room to do my practice, lately I feel like I’ve been hitting my stride. The initial first months of practice were incredibly difficult. I had a lot of anger inside when I started and Jesus Christ was it exposed. The practice was really doing its work on me, purification was taking place and I was on a physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual roller coaster. I’ve talked to some other students about this and it turns out I am not crazy and it happens to most of us. You can imagine my relief!

But now the mind is calmer, the body is more open, and it’s a more meditative practice. I have really been enjoying it. I am really looking forward to the coming months. I look back and I can’t believe in just this short period of time how much this thing that is Ashtanga yoga has given me, so much health, positivity, energy, growth, and love. I am so in gratitude.

But today is a special day, at MLC we were celebrating Guruji or Sri K Pattabhi Jois’s life.

He passed away five years ago today.

This man was such a great soul. He was a shining light. I just wanted to write something short about how much thanks and praise I have in my heart for this man and what he has given me. I thank the universe that I somehow found this thing that is Ashtanga. It’s the boat that’s keeping me afloat in these sometimes rough seas of life. What can I say the man was a manifestation of love and grace, and I am lucky that although I never met him physically, he touched my life in every way.

I pray every day to give me the strength to please continue coming back to my practice, to be strong enough to do my spiritual work. I don’t know how but I know deep down inside if I stick with this, I am going to be okay.  

I shall give thanks and praise until my heart is set ablaze, all glory to god, what a beautiful life, thank you Guruji for everything from the bottom of my soul.

Om shanti shanti shanti.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Early struggles, updates, and some good stuff that's happening inside

So I began this practice that is Ashtanga back in November and started a home practice around early January. I couldn't afford to become a member so in addition to my home practice I did guided led classes once or twice a week. Just that was changing my life so out of self-love I said fuck it and finally decided to roll the dice and have faith that the finances would work itself out and enrolled as a member which allowed me to start Mysore style Ashtanga yoga.

I think a lot of us come to this practice and are looking for transformation and the practice does indeed provide transformation in a very short period of time, at least for me it has.  I now wake up at 5:30 am most days, drive to the beach to the shala, I arrive and the usually sunny and loud south beach streets are dark, quite, and very peaceful.  

I enter the shala, greet the front desk lady, and grab a towel. I walk in to the Mysore room, my teacher points to my spot. I set up my mat, try not to step on anyone in the packed room. I still can’t believe how many people wake up this early to do this and I just think these people must be fucking nuts and then realize I’m there too most days with them, so go figure.

I do my opening prayers to myself, and then jump right into it, there’s always a feeling of oh Jesus here we go again. Then I just try my best not to get frustrated, sometimes a sense of unworthiness creeps in, anger and ego poke their heads in too most of the time. I also get very hard on myself and compare myself to others. These are the negative tendencies of my personality that have been expressing themselves lately in my practice.

This is also what sometimes gets expressed when I am going through really difficult situations in life if I’m not being conscious and aware or otherwise just being a shitty person. So I believe you can use your asana practice to help you become aware of how you react to things when you’re being tested. Then you can try and be aware of those emotions during your practice. Then try your best not to get stuck in the same loop of emotions and instead of reacting to them respond with equanimity and just accept yourself.

 To me this is all about being becoming stronger inside. It’s about developing your character, integrity, and equanimity. It’s about doing the work you need to do to transcend and let go of the bad stuff in you so you can become a better person with more happiness, joy, and peace inside.

That’s why yoga is a spiritual practice, a very strong one at that. It breaks you down. I have faith that eventually it’ll build you back up but I don’t know yet I’m still being broken down so well see.

Lately I've been getting stuck in all my bullshit though.

Every single day I fall out of Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana and get pissed off, I get frustrated in backbends, I hate Janu Sirasana C on the right side, and my shoulders fight with all their might to bind in anything. I do a good job at not getting distracted by all the incredibly cute girls, just looking at my drishti minding my own business, but who am I kidding it’s a distraction. My right lotus in marichasana D, god damn you my ankle hates you. Oh and my nose leaks like the hoover dam and I have to blow it like fifty times so none of the cute girls see snot hanging off my nose. I am about to do Sutra Kriya I swear to god.

I don’t know how this works but this practice just reveals all your bullshit too you. It’s really amazing and it’s really hard. I have a lot of admiration and respect for longtime ashtangi’s and I often wonder if this is easy for them or if everyone is going through their own unique struggle in their practice. Am I the only crazy one I can’t be, I think?

The strangest thing though after only a couple months of daily practice and a month of mysore I feel really good inside, like really good, like fat kid eating cake good. My sleep schedule is better, waking up early although hard in the beginning is the best and sometimes I go to La Carreta after practice and get French toast, bad yogi I know but I digress.

Side note sitting down for breakfast after practice with my book about Guruji and fresh squeezed orange juice is insanely amazing.

Besides the French toast my diet is a lot better, my anxiety gone, I don’t feel lazy or lethargic at all, and I feel more alive.

I feel really happy and joyful, cracking more jokes than usual, and it really helped me to heal from a breakup a couple months ago in a really healthy way. I really hope she’s doing well by the way universe, she was an awesome and beautiful person.

My spiritual self-study time has been so much more focused and I am really loving the Yoga Sutra class being taught by my teacher Patrick and getting to hang with all the amazing people at the shala. Just being around positive people that you look up too it makes you stronger and gives you something to strive for cause you see the fruit of the work and its inspiring, everyone is so awesome at MLC.

Tomorrow at Mysore I am going to try and go slower tomorrow, maybe just take it all in, smile a little more and not be so intense tomorrow, see how that works out for me. 

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

The Practice, Sincerity, and The Mind

I heard a great quote once that unfortunately I completely forgot who said it; it went something like “the mind is a wonderful servant, but it is a horrible master.” Who ever said that hit the nail right on the fucking head.

What a sticky, tricky thing this mind is, most of us don’t know how to use it, and so suffering is on its way my friends.

This is the reason we practice yoga, the goal is the cessation of the fluctuations of the mind, or so I have heard in my Yoga Sutra class but don’t claim to actually know what that’s means at all. Guruji famously said practice, practice, practice, and shanti (peace) is coming.

The practice might consist of a billion lifetimes of work but hey peace is coming right so that’s good. This is why we show up to our mats every day or do our sadhana or whatever it is that you do. So that in the next second or perhaps a billion years from now we may achieve SAT CHIT ANANDA or Samadhi or CHRIST CONSCIOUSNESS for my catholic brother and sisters or really just my grandma, my Jesus loving psychotic grandmother.

So back to the peace that is coming if we go inwards and do our work. I don’t know why I have faith in that notion but thank God I do, that’s the grace I've been shown so far. Someone is looking out for me up there and I am in gratitude. It almost feels like you take one step toward your practice, God, Shiva whatever you want to call it and it takes three steps towards you. You don’t have to do a single thing just show up every single day and it’ll evolve, even if the work for you is as simple as lighting a candle or smiling at a stranger every day, it doesn't have be a two hour long asana or japa practice.

I feel in gratitude that although asleep in a dream most of the time, being strung along by the senses and my mind, constantly getting caught up in comparing and contrasting myself to others while trying to strike the perfect pose, and worrying about what cute girls think of me. Even with all the anxiety ridden thoughts, insecurities, lower nature tendencies, this never ending loop of pleasure and pain, at least I see this for what it really is, a mind trip and the most important part that I am NOT the mind.

You see this when you start to play with the mind and go inward, it’s really interesting.

An asana practice or sitting meditation practice will really reveal to you on an intimate level just how bat shit insane your mind is. Then you’ll be terrified because you’’ll realize you've been living in this your whole life. Metaphorically speaking, it’s like you have just accepted a ride from an insane cab driver and its prime time traffic in Miami, you’re in Hialeah on Le Jeune and Jose has a bumper sticking saying he is “El Caballo De A Tila” this will not end good and so naturally we do our practice so our minds can be transcended and so we can experience peace and have joy and love in our hearts instead of always getting caught up in the mind trip or in the cab ride with Jose and the extremes that come with it.

This is what I am after, peace and love. I believe it’ll come from my Sadhana one day. I’m trying my best to be a sincere practitioner, I don’t even know if I have a sincere heart yet or a courageous one at that to be honest. Sometimes I’m scared I won’t be able to be strong enough to complete the work or what if I quit and don’t follow the path and stay true to myself, but I've been surprising myself a lot lately and realize I am really strong inside and I think I am going to be okay. I just want to be a good, honest, simple, loving, and joyful man and my practice helps me to do that and so I do it, every day.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

The Ashtanga Yoga Method

The Ashtanga Yoga Method: My life preserver.

I have had such an intense spiritual yearning in my heart for as long as I can remember and thanks to some good karma and luck that thirst has always been quenched because of the beautiful people around me. I owe everything to Omphale and Soham they gave me the gift of unconditional love and the ability to at least sometimes open my eyes and go inward in a world that is sleeping and going outwards.

Although I was learning and experiencing many things spiritually I never felt ready to start my sadhana. I didn’t feel rooted in a practice until I discovered the method that is Ashtanga Yoga.

Ashtanga yoga where do I begin, how do I even describe what the practice is doing to my soul. From the moments I heard OM VANDE GURUNAM in the opening invocation I knew I had found my practice. Ashtanga yoga asks you to throw yourself into the practice sincerely and I am doing my best to do just that. I feel lighter, happier, at home, and grounded when doing my very humble practice. I also encounter much struggle and it can be intense at times. No matter what happens though I know I have my practice, somehow in a way I can’t comprehend all the answers are present in the practice, I just have to show up for  many lifetimes maybe billions ha.

When the mind is really acting up in my practice I just think of Guruji. What can I say about this great man, every once in a while you encounter a being that just opens you up effortlessly and you can’t do anything about it, you’re just along for the ride. 

Here is my teacher Kino speaking on Sri K Pattabhi Jois or Guruji

YogaSutra:1.1 atha yoga anushasanam
Translated into now, after having done prior preparation through life and other practices, the study and practice of Yoga begins.

I now become the student. I pray for grace, courage, and strength to have the ability to use this life to do the work and get to know myself and the beauty of all this.