Thursday, December 31, 2009

30 Days + of Gratitude ~ Day 23/24

  1. I am grateful for the power of past discipline in my practices.  In traversing the the variety of terrain and weather in yesterday's 11+hour drive from Los Angeles to the high desert mountains of Sandia Park, New Mexico, there were three snow-storms to pass through, and two additional passengers to carry safely to "the Land of Enchantment" for this weekend's retreat.  There were periods of next to no visibility of the road, the lanes, the territory ahead, or even past my windshield when dark fell and the lights of oncoming cars would turn the window into a flash of white.  In my mind's eye, I could see the candles lit on the altar in New Mexico gently encouraging my passage, drawing me to my destination.  It was in these moments that the muscles of faith and trust I've been cultivating in the gym of Spirit got to be tested out in actual life circumstances.  It's usually fairly easy to feel a sense of connectedness, wholeness, trust, and faith sitting in some formal meditative practice.  But in the circumstances of life's unfolding, to let go of the fearful controller, lean into instinct and intuition, and carry onward... these are the places where the muscles of Awareness get honed and honored for the power they carry.
  2. I am grateful for the continually deepening Trust in Love in my relationships when my ego tries to convince me that some "wrong" has been pointed in my direction.  I see myself more committed to the quiet truth of shared love, shared commitment to the relationship between myself and my relations, than the past pulls to right/wrong, good/bad, and seeking redress for imaginary trespasses.  This too, is continuing to evolve and deepen.  
  3. I am grateful for the growing willingness to rest.  Learning to deeply relax and do nothing is an art I am cultivating.  Very distinct from laziness, procrastination, or checking-out, this is a practice that entered into consciously can recharge me in remarkably powerful and efficient ways.  The pull to busy-ness, the pull to incessant activity, physically or in thinking, is the ego's lack of trust and faith. The more trust and faith I have in myself and the Universe I am a part of, the easier it is to take these periods of doing no thing.  At the end of a hatha yoga practice, there is usually a pose called Shivasana.  It's a pose done lying flat on one's back, a time to integrate the work just completed, a time to enter the Self within.  It's known among adepts as the most difficult pose for humans to master...the art of doing thought, no activity...resting in and as the Eternal Being.
  4. I am grateful for my curiosity.  It is a way I am led into wider perspectives on all matters, out of the myopic viewpoints of a contracted sense of self.  As a kid my parents nicknamed me "Curious George".
  5. I am grateful for this retreat property in New Mexico, to David Elliott for stewarding it, and to all the people, critters, and elements for supporting it.  This property is a living altar, it has been loved so deeply through countless hours of work and nurturing, and to all who come here in a good way, she showers and endless rain of blessings, rejuvenation, and remembrance.
  6. I am grateful for laughter.  Especially the kind that just won't stop...that bursts out in waves long after the original joke has been forgotten...the kind that ripples back and forth between two people until your stomach muscles scream "Uncle!!!"
  7. I am grateful for the way time expands and stretches out to accommodate everything that needs doing when I'm present and unattached to outcomes.  I mesmerized by it every time.
  8. I am grateful for conscious community.  A gathering a people who can manage their own states more of the time than not, who can come together as a powerful collective...a powerful collective that can accomplish nearly anything.
  9. I am grateful for the One Teacher revealing itSelf through all things.  May my hearing, my feeling, and my seeing always perceive You as You are...may I recognize and honor the teachings quickly in full Trust and Faith.
  10. I am grateful for travel.  Traveling changes my routines and helps me become more adaptable and agile in all ways.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

30 Days + of Gratitude ~ Day 22

  1. I am grateful for my memory being jogged.  Here I am at Day 22 with this Gratitude Project, and I was so focused on getting to bed for tomorrow's early-morning wake-up-call to drive to New Mexico that I nearly forgot about making today's entry.  This tells me a couple of things...I'm good with discipline around new things in a solid way for at least 20 days until it takes more precision with my focus to carry it further.  I also notice I don't have any judgment about that.  It's just a noticing, and an opportunity I feel for more expansion and embodiment of my intentions.
  2. I am grateful for Steve Ross at Maha Yoga.  Your humor makes room for things to reveal more deeply without getting caught on the edges of egoic seriousness in the midst of a blissful freefall.
  3. I am grateful for toast!  Yes, toast!  I love toast!  I love how it smells while it's cooking, I love watching the butter melt on it, I love how it tastes, and I love how satisfied I feel after I eat it.  There, I said it, I am now and out-of-the-closet toast eater.  I can now eat toast proudly and openly amongst all people, even non-toast-eating-people.
  4. I am grateful for satsumas...these little orange delights are like Santa, they only come once a year...but when they do, they deliver the perfect balance of sweet and sour...and one of the best parts?  They peel sooooo easily that they practically peel themselves!  A little bit of sunshine and vitamin C to boot :)
  5. I am grateful for Shri Kundalini Shakti!  She reveals and reveals and just keeps going deeper!

Monday, December 28, 2009

30 Days + of Gratitude ~ Day 21

  1. I am grateful to be surrounded by an amazing group of friends with open hearts, deep loyalty, and mad skills!  These are some of the most talented, creative people I've come across.  You know who you are, and I love you.
  2. I am grateful for my love of cooking.  What started out at age 4 as a way to be with my parents after they got home from work quickly evolved into a little library of kids cookbooks and soon a 4-part French Cooking series at the New School of Cooking in Culver City and some private training with what I'm told is a killer chef.  If you want a laugh, ask me sometime to tell one of my Mom's favorite stories about nearly averting a fire when I was 4.  My enjoyment of cooking allows me to give love without words in feeding people.
  3. I am grateful for personal evolution.  How hellish would it be if we were doomed to live as awkward teenagers till we die (I know, I know, some people do....and it's not required...anyone can grow and awaken into the person they always knew they were inside).
  4. I am grateful for the power of prayer.  Whether you use words, silence, connect through nature, set intentions...all that and more falls under the heading of prayer for me, and doing it for the upliftment of others works.  I see it day after day, and it never gets old...always moves me nearly to tears.  
  5. I am grateful for my stubbornness.  As my heart opens wider, the stubbornness evolves into deep unwavering commitment that yields great harvests over time.  "Over Time" being the key words.  Instant was great once upon a time, but more than ever, I'm captivated by the power of being committed, focused, and present over time with a process.

The Practice, The Blank Canvas ~ Wed, Jan 6, 7:30-9pm


The gift of a blank canvas is pure potentiality.  Anything can be created.  Nothing is expected.  Everything is possible.  We’ll gather for the first Practice of the New Year, calling on the power of the breath, beginner’s mind, humor, and intention.  Whether you feel like you’re still carrying pieces of past on your back, or you’re a wide open vessel, we’ll dive together into the space of pregnant emptiness, the space of creation and dissolution.  Bring your intentions for 2010, or come to discover your intentions.  Either way, arrive.

Wednesday, January 6th, 2010  7:30-9:00pm

We’re calling this event THE PRACTICE, and it’s for ALL levels of experience with the Breath.  It happens for now in the sanctity of my healing space in West Hollywood.  Reserve your space as soon as you know you’ll be coming, as it fills up quickly...

We’ll set some intention very quickly in the beginning, and then get right down to the business of the Breathwork; an ancient 3-part breathing meditation that takes you beyond the dream of the limited ego experience....into the space of GRACE, the space of KNOWING, the space of deep REJUVENATION.

This is designed to be a place to work deeply with the breath and build /strengthen the muscles for your home practice.

ARRIVE on-time or better yet, early.  No one will be admitted after the breathwork begins to honor and support the safe space created for The Work.

Wednesday, January 6th, 2010
Time:       7:30-9:00pm

Exchange:   $40

Where:  1226 Havenhurst Dr. #9
                (Havenhurst is 1 block West of Crescent Heights between Santa Monica Blvd and Fountain Ave)

Parking:    It’s best to park at a meter on Santa Monica Blvd or in the West Hollywood City Lot just South of Santa Monica Blvd behind Out Of The Closet between Havenhurst and La Jolla.  The City Lot is $1 per hour in quarters.  Other meters in the area are free after 6pm.

RSVP:      Due to size of the space, please RSVP to hold your place.  If need be, we’ll start a waiting list. 24hrs cancellation by phone. (310) 922-4890

BRING:      A folded blanket and/or yoga mat to lay on for the breathing meditation, water, and a smile!


30 Days + of Gratitude ~ Day 20

  1. I am grateful for Avatar (the movie).  Took me even deeper into the experience-space of the connectedness of All.  
  2. I am grateful for the writings of great beings...breadcrumbs left behind on the path to nowhere/everywhere.
  3. I am grateful for being nudged by life in the direction of letting go...letting go of the unnecessary, the needless, the things that pretend to be love and aren't...
  4. I am grateful for the people that are opening and awakening, you give me hope for the rest of Us.
  5. I am grateful for seeds of all kinds.  You show me that size and volume at first perception don't matter, only intention...that one tiny seed contains universes...that with attentive, expectation-free presence, every seed can be nurtured into full expansion over time, and in the perfect time.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

30 Days + of Gratitude ~ Day 19

  1. I am supremely grateful for the 4 new tires on my car, and the alignment job today...and to Chris Doggett in LA (also from Rochester, NY) for referring me to 7 Dias Tires in Koreatown for the whole job.  They gave me great service, excellent tires, and are clearly committed to doing the right thing at affordable prices.  I'm sure I'll be back.  The amount of energy I was leaking in concern about the longevity of my previous tires and the safety of my passengers is now complete!  The whole process happened outside of my intellect...through invoking Grace, asking for leads/support from friends, and trusting Intuition to guide the process.
  2. I am grateful for the new acquaintances I made at Christmas Dinner hosted by good friend Jason Harler.  A stunning chef named Lisa Hall showed up, and looks like we'll be trading healing work for culinary training, with Scrabble games sprinkled in along the way.
  3. I am grateful for my bed for giving me a comfortable cozy place to let go into deeper rejuvenation with each passing night.  I'm looking forward to having new pillows come my way that do that same thing for my neck :)
  4. I am grateful for my neighbors Wayne and Paul who are like guardian angels, both when I'm traveling and while I'm here.  They've taken in my mail, watered my garden, opened their abundant hearts over and over again, and treated this building like a sanctuary.
  5. I am grateful for the row of trees outside my windows, lining the space between my building and the next.  They give a home to the hummingbirds, squirrels, swallows, and other critters that keep me company and punctuate my intuition.  They provide a beautiful buffer between the two buildings, and add a sweet silence that everyone feels when they come into my building and apartment.  

Friday, December 25, 2009

30 Days + of Gratitude ~ Day 18

  1. I am grateful for Christmas.  While the doorways for me to enter more deeply into the Presence are infinite, it's one holiday that always flings wide the doors of my Heart.
  2. I am grateful for the United Methodist Church.  You gave me a home growing up when I needed a community of Spirit, a community free from judgment, a place to begin birthing myself as an open-hearted leader and man, starting with Asbury First United Methodist Church on East Avenue, Rochester, NY, and the United Methodist Youth Fellowship (UMYF)...the mission trips, the Sunday nights, the friendships, the awakenings.  You made it possible through scholarships and loans for me to get through University.  Then last night you brought be back and opened my Heart wider on Christmas Eve at the Hollywood United Methodist Church....thank you....deep love...
  3. I am grateful for Chanting!  Yep...while I've been a gatherer of knowledge most of my life, my real path is that of a Bhakta (the path of divine love and devotion to the One Heart)....since I first discovered chanting the "names" of the divine, I fell in love.  And it still takes me deeper into that One Heart every time I'm willing.
  4. I am grateful that for all of the testing of my faith, I've never once been left high-and-dry!  Thank You...
  5. I am grateful for the Writer's Group founded by David Elliott that gave me a place to get the wheels of my writing greased and moving for the last two years...into this place where I look forward to writing every day...where it's rarely ever a chore anymore.  And even on the days where it may "seem" like a chore, once I get writing the Presence comes into the foreground and I love the writing all over again.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

30 Days + of Gratitude ~ Day 17

  1. I am grateful for the moments when I question my value, as they let me know where the next opening within myself has become available and ready to approach through telling myself the truth, opening my Heart, and letting go of the illusions.
  2. I am grateful for all the love in my life.  I am surrounded by it everywhere I look.  When I'm loving myself, it's easy to see that it starts with me.
  3. I am grateful for clean sheets!  No matter how many moments, days, and years of getting into a bed made of fresh-from-the-laundry-sheets, that first moment of skin-to-sheets contact is bliss!
  4. I am grateful for all the smiles I see on people's faces, especially when they're unsolicited and arising for no particular reason.  They're contagious, courageous, and beautiful!
  5. I am grateful my eyes.  They have crisp, clear vision, and show me life in new and amazing ways each and every day.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

30 Days + of Gratitude ~ Day 16

1. I'm grateful today for the power of Faith. Like my garden, the more attention and nurturing I give it, the stronger it grows...and in turn, the more fuel I have with which to nurture it ever deeper.

2. I'm grateful for my Vita Mix's like a blender on steroids...most days I make an live smoothie made of some type of dark greens like spinach, fresh fruit like bright green Granny Smith apples which are lower in sugar, and fresh purified alkaline water (see #3 for more on this!)

3. I'm grateful for my water purifier/alkalizer. It gives me fresh clean living water without having to put used plastic water bottles into the ground, and needs next to know maintenance....not to mention the money I'm saving.

4. I'm grateful for the space in my schedule that this Holiday season is giving me to take my personal practices deeper than I remember going in the past, to hold a loving steady focus on releasing any and all attachments from the past that no longer serve the Truth of what I am and what I am here to demonstrate through how I walk through life.

5. I am grateful for the new shoots popping up all through my garden...they inspire me to open my heart wider each and every day, and to notice and have appreciation for all of the new growth being birthed within and all around me in the people I know and am meeting.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

30 Days + of Gratitude ~ Day 15

1. I'm grateful for the deepening capacity to feel and intuit more refined subtlties in my awareness. As I trust this sensing/knowing capacity more, it in turn reveals ever more specificity a about anything. I look forward to continuing to deepen this relationship.

2. I'm grateful for my Grandma Webb! She's my last living Grandparent, and a perennial source of practical wisdom for me. Her Love is so tremendously healing, her laughter infectious, her humor deep, and she's a an all around firecracker. I treasure our phone calls, regardless of what we discuss.

3. I'm grateful for becoming more open to Nature as one of the primary teaching relationships in my life...I can be anywhere and learn from all her expressions when I am in a place of Trust within mySelf.

4. I'm grateful for the power of forgiveness and all the freedom it reveals. As I forgive and love me deeper, I'm free to love you and not reach for judgment. I trust me more and more each day to Love and Trust myself in your presence...and this makes it a heck of a lot more fun for everybody!

5. I'm grateful for all the closet space I'm excavating to store everything I have in my care in easy ways, and free up more of my living space.

30 Days + of Gratitude ~ Day 14

1. I'm grateful for my Apple Care warantees. This morning when I went to wake up my MacBook, the screen stayed black. Thanks to apple care, the needed parts are on order and it'll be up and running better than ever very soon!!

2. I'm grateful for the Trust I'm deepening around recognizing and expressing truth, the truth of a situation, and the Presence of Truth itSelf.

3. I'm grateful for Peter's burritos at the West Hollywood Whole Foods...he puts a lot of love and care into my food, and my body and heart recognize it! Plus they're super tasty!!

4. I'm grateful for the power of repetition in the things I'm practiing. With each repetition, my awareness around the practice deepens, guiding my approach to the next practice period.

5. I'm grateful for the massive power in cleaning. I've been cleaning my home and all the crevices and corners for days now....this deep deep cleaning I helping me to release old attachments to the past that had the power to take me out of the present.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

30 Days + of Gratitude ~ Day 12

  1. I'm grateful for this list to keep bringing me back to gratitude every day.  Everyone (just about...) has circumstances.  And a number of us have emotions around circumstances.  Even me.  This list is one of many practices I'm deeply engaged with that are helping me stay clear, and become clearer than ever.  The process of cleaning out the illusions doesn't always feel so tidy or beautiful, but seems like it always looks amazing in retrospect.  So here's virtual glass raised to all who choose to walk through the illusions, no matter what it takes, and become clearer.
  2. I'm grateful for all the people out there I know about, and the ones I do not, who're choosing to clear the clutter, see through the noise, and choose Truth.  Your work, even if you feel alone, impacts me and everyone else who's making this choice....keep walking!
  3. I'm grateful for the rich conversation with my Dad this morning on the phone.  While there are areas where we don't see eye-to-eye, there's one we do, and that's Love.  I love him, he loves me, and neither one of us needs to use cards and presents to prove it anymore.  Now cards and presents are gravy.  Thank you Dad....I love you!
  4. I'm grateful for all the hard work my Mom did to raise herself and me all these years...most of it, I may never know about.'re a hero to me, and I love you!
  5. I'm grateful for all the ways Spirit finds to creatively get my attention onto what matters.  Tonight it was finding all the old receipt books for healing products (oils, sage, etc) clients have bought from me over the last couple of years.  In sitting at the shredder with them, I was able to feel gratitude for each and every one of you and all the lessons, love, and growth we walked through together.  Thank you!  

Love, Clarity, and Support through the Holidays

Also, a little extra information to support you on your way through the next 30 days:

Along with the strong energy that moves in so many people during the holidays, Mercury goes into retrograde on Dec 25th until Jan 15th.  In the middle of this there will be a Full-Moon (second one this month, known as a “blue Moon”) and the same day there will be a partial Lunar Eclipse.

What does that mean?

It’s a perfect time to slow slow down and minimize distractions while driving, to slow down in conversations and perhaps listen more carefully, to engage in things that nurture and uplift both you and the environments you’re spending time in, to write and play with some form of creativity, read books that remind you of the Truth of who and what you truly are, meditate, engage with the breathwork, do some selfless service, do a deep cleaning and clutter-clearing on all the spaces you spend time in..

If you engage with things along these lines, it’ll keep your energy moving.  When your energy is moving and being expressed in positive and creative ways, it’s less likely to get stuck inside and trigger the downward spiral.

If you need some more support?

I’ll be staying here in Los Angeles up until Dec 29th when I head to New Mexico to retreat with David Elliott.  I’m happy to schedule in-person and phone sessions to support your intentions.

Keep choosing to LOVE yourself, when you love yourself, you’re likely to take good care of yourself and express that same Love and care for all those around you (without having to carry anyone else’s “stuff”)’ll be able to let people have their process, and in-turn have more space for your own.

Have a great, nurturing, safe Holiday celebration in whatever ways most lift you up!


Scott Schwenk

Saturday, December 19, 2009

30 Days + of Gratitude ~ Day 11

  1. I'm grateful to Linda Casto for inviting me to my first performance of the Gay Men's Chorus.  They did this awesome and hilarious rendition of the Nutcracker (though I haven't ever seen the Nutcracker).  Got me in the Holiday spirit...
  2. I'm grateful for the nectar still flowing through my Heart from chanting with Steve Ross at Maha Yoga tonight.
  3. I'm grateful for this week of warm, sunny weather.  While I have a whole romantic relationship to colder weather, everything softens more in me in warmer weather.  
  4. I'm grateful for friendships that weather time, storms, relationship changes, and so so many things...revealing the profound love and joy we share between us.  You all know who you are, thank you!  Some of you might not...yet ;)
  5. I'm grateful for confidence.  Not that it's ever a done deal, always expanding, a deep expression of Trust itself....nonetheless, uber grateful for the palpable depth I keep seeing in my own.

What are you Investing in? Wealth Pt.2

Picture by Gregory Colbert from the Ashes and Snow series

How do we price goods and services if the metric is no longer scarcity and uniqueness?  Can we still seek to thrive through short-cuts?  Will we have to be more conscious of everything involved in an exchange at an awareness capacity beyond mere industrial 1950's linear rationalization?  Are we willing to be as clear and grounded as that type of economy would require for fluidity and mutual benefit to all involved?

These are just handful of the many questions coming up for me as I study the money system alongside my exploration of Self-Love and Exchange.  As I write this last line, it's just fallen dark outside and a hummingbird is poking his beak through the screen at my window repeatedly, and buzzing in his characteristically George-Jetson-car-like way.

After my last blog piece on Wealth, my Mom emailed me, commented, "Losing our way with financial discipline does not get resolved by bartering, as we still must deal with the history of making financial choices that hurt us." 

I let her know that I wholeheartedly agree.  One of my biggest concerns with the various local currency systems and barter groups that are proliferating is with the repetition of the same dysfunctional self-images re-creating similar patterns around exchange.  Rules can only do so much to guide the unfolding of a project.  The awareness of all the people involved intimately shapes the emergence from and through the group.

Number one ~  I must know myself.  Not just my address, or my favorite kind of cheese, but who and what I really am; independent of thoughts and emotions.  Who and what am I?  I if I don't know myself, I'm liable to be unconscious at the wheel of life and make blind decisions detached from their impact on the world I am integrally a part of.

Number two ~ I must honestly value myself as a beingness.  This is where the self-love comes in.  Self-Love stems from true Self-Knowledge.  Self-love doesn't come from a number of standing ovations from large crowds (though it can help break up a person's distorted negative self-image by having his gifts witnessed and appreciated).  Self-love comes from intimately knowing that I am not my past, I am not my psychological wounds, I am not the thoughts in my mind.....moving into the realm of knowing ~ I am Nothing, and I am Everything, and I am right here.  I am perfect, whole, and complete in every moment.  Nothing I can do, say, think, or feel can change what I truly and already Am (though these things can hide it from my conscious awareness).

Number three ~ I must value You!  And see that you also are Nothing, Everything, Perfect, Whole, and Complete.  I can't do number three fully without first deeply engaging with numbers one and two.  If I try to value you without knowing and valuing me, my perception of you is only a projection.  As soon as you do something I don't like, I'll withdraw my valuing of you.  What about that makes sense?  Either you're valuable, or you're not.  

Number four ~ I must consider the impact of every footstep I take on the whole of which I am a part.  I'm not suggesting shredding your mind with a infinite number of new thoughts for policing your actions.  I'm suggesting that when you begin to know yourSelf as you Are, you won't have to go to the mind for that kind of Awareness.  It'll arise spontaneously in the moment, fed by your intent and willingness.

In a competitive paradigm driven by scarcity and uniqueness, someone must lose.  Someone goes hungry and without clean water.  We have the resources on this planet, for every human to have enough to eat and clean water to drink.  In an "accumulation" paradigm, the competitors have no time to look out for the welfare of anything outside their sphere, unless it's a public relations attempt at throwing a "glamour" over their image to gain more resources through a short-cut.

It's time for what Buckminster Fuller calls a You AND Me world....a world where everyone matters.  But if this paradigm is imposed it won't last long.  Resistance will buck that like a mechanical bull on rocket fuel.  For a real and grounded You AND Me world to emerge, awakening must dawn in more humans.  A powerful pathway?  Self-Love.  It's only a matter of time and focus before Self-Love reveals Awareness of One-Self....even if it's like a flower fluttering open and closed throughout the day, a little goes a long way.

Friday, December 18, 2009

30 Days + of Gratitude ~ Day 10

  1. I'm grateful for all of the reminders, both the ones I reach into and the ones that are reaching through me, that everything is truly whole, perfect, abundant, enough...
  2. I'm grateful for my love of cooking.  It's a way for me to connect beyond words as love with food as the conduit.
  3. I'm grateful for everything unfolding for me around Patience; my interest in gardening it ever deeper, the direct ways it reveals the connection to Trust and Faith, and the opportunity it reveals for abiding in the peaceful, silent, Present.
  4. I'm grateful for the new gummy bears sweetened with agave (***oops!  They're actually sweetened with real fruit juice...see Liane's comment below!) made by friend Liane Weintraub's brilliant green company, Tasty Baby...they specialize in organic frozen baby foods.  However the awesome gummies are for kids of all ages. 
  5. I'm grateful for all the ways these hummingbirds at my house interact with me, catch my attention, make me smile and laugh, and punctuate my intution.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

30 Days + of Gratitude ~ Day 9

  1. I'm grateful for the deeper spiritual strength being awakened in me, through Grace, to release all attachments to the past.  I have committed to the discipline around this, and promise to keep bringing fun, imagination, and curiosity to the process.
  2. I'm grateful for the good friend who gifted me a French Cooking series at the New School of Cooking starting in mid-January.  It's part of my Cross-Training plan, and I love to cook for friends, so this'll help me expand my range and depth.
  3. I'm grateful to have dropped off all the donations at the Jeff Griffith Youth Center (part of the West Hollywood Gay & Lesbian Center) which gives these clothes to homeless gay kids they're helping to build lives of full-expression.  Going to the center and meeting some of the kids = huge bonus :)
  4. I'm grateful for all of the music in my life.  It's mind-blowing how quickly a song, a note, a voice can immediately shift my experience of nearly anything and everything.  Big love to all of you courageous enough to make your music and share it with anyone who'll listen.  Right now, the change-makers on heavy rotation on my iPod ~ Dave Matthews, Tiesto, Jason Mraz, Jack Johnson, Michael Jackson, and Krishna Das.
  5. I'm grateful to David Elliott for saying "Yes" over and over again, ever deeper.  Thank you for being present with every step and letting it be seen, heard, and felt.  I love you...

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

30 Days + of Gratitude ~ Day 8

  1. I'm grateful for all of the mirrors in my life, predominantly through people showing up in my life...always giving me a deeper opportunity to recognize the one Reality or the illusions, conscious and unconscious, that I've held onto in some way, and which cover this one Reality.
  2. I'm grateful for my car.  It's been so gracious with all of my agendas, routines, and all the time when I've pushed its limits in my own rushing around.  I promise to be more attentive to you going forward!
  3. I'm grateful for Paulo Santo wood, and the strong resins cached in it's fibers.  It's smell reminds me to "let go" and Trust Life.
  4. I'm grateful for becoming more and more coachable, teachable, and malleable.  The impulse to open in the middle of challenge has become and is emerging as stronger than the impulse to close and guard and protect.  
  5. I'm grateful for all the opportunities to give!  Last night it arose in my closets and on my shelves, looking for all the items I haven't worn or interacted with in the last year and bagging them up to give away.   (***Bonus Gratitude tailgating on this last one:  Getting to the place I plan to donate everything and finding it had closed early.  I got to see my attachment to the act of get a lift from the giving, rather than to just give simply.  So I'm grateful that the Center was closed so I could see this and work with it before I drop it all off tomorrow.)
The picture above is of a former home-away-from-home for me over many years, known as Elixir.  I miss it like a person who has passed away.  It was a very special place for so many people, birthing more relationships, projects, creativity, businesses, much.  Thank you to Elixir and the Garden that hosted you for so many years....may you receive new Caretakers/Stewards who see these gifts and make them available to the public once again.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

30 Days + of Gratitude ~ Day 7

  1. I'm grateful for my friend and Tattoo Artist, Damon Meuli at True Tattoo on Cahuenga in Hollywood.  Every sitting with him is the experience of passing through new territory within myself, and on the other side is more of the brilliant art he so passionately and skillful pulls through creation. His abiding self-love, humor, and Kiwi wit are a deep well for anyone willing to open their heart and play big!
  2. I'm grateful for all of the "You Are Loved" artwork from Cafe Gratitude placed all over my house as reminders....entry points every morning, noon, and night into remembrance - remembrance that I am Love itSelf.  
  3. I'm grateful for Swiffers!  Yes, you read that right...Swiffers!  My apartment is mostly uncarpeted...swiffering the floors daily keeps the energy clear and moving in here, and is a simple yet powerful way for me to exchange gratitude back to this great home and all it brings to me.
  4. I'm grateful for the impulse to share...contacts, relationships, ideas, effort, grace.  As a recovering-only-child I have learned to share.  Mom always said it would serve me well in life...thanks Mom! ;)
  5. I'm grateful for all the creative visionaries in my life who happen to be awesome friends as well.  You inspire me to excavate all the best and let shine through even when I'm don't wanna.  Shout outs to the likes of Lori Goldstein, David Elliott, Elena Brower, Pam and Steph Katch, Hugo Cory, Katrina Rivers, Cameron Burgess, Kris Nelson, Adam Garcia, Jai Greenlee, Sarasai Yutuc, Lauri Ashworth, Jenny Miller, Jane & Jimmy Baldwin, and the Writer's Group, to name a few!

Monday, December 14, 2009

30 Days + of Gratitude ~ Day 6

  1. I'm grateful for my Heart.  Despite years of being lodged in my intellect, it has been supremely patient with me, waiting for my readiness to trust the Love in my Heart and let it open.  
  2. I'm grateful to my roof-garden.  In the 9 months since building and planting the garden, it has continued to teach me more than many of the hundreds of books I poured through over the years looking for secrets to happiness.  It teaches me about patience, faith, and trust.  It teaches me about the power of simple disciplines over time, how the small act of carrying water up to the roof each day pays off in bright splashes of green plants and shimmering flowers as the plants go to seed.
  3. I'm grateful to live in a neighborhood that has nearly everything I need in walking distance.  I intend to walk more and drive less in 2010.
  4. I'm grateful to We Care Spa in Desert Hot Springs for being a consistent home for this work on Mondays for over 2 1/2 years.
  5. I'm grateful to Equinox Fitness on Sunset for being my gym, my church, my practice ground for everything I'm working on internally and physically.  Along with being a spectacular place to train my body, it continues to be an invaluable place to train my mind and attention as well.  I consider working out to be one of my main spiritual practices.  More than just the physical returns, all that can come up in my consciousness being surrounded by people from all walks of life, in all sorts of moods and dispositions, is fantastic fodder for my real actual in-the-moment work with myself and how I view myself and others.  It's a huge opportunity to practice neutrality, compassion, and open-heartedness regardless of the circumstances. 

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Winter SOULstice Breathwork @ The Hub - This Friday 12/18 8-9:30pm

Winter SOULstice Breathwork ~ Excavating The Light

This Friday night, December 18th I’ll be leading the breathwork at The Hub in West LA.  This evening is for all levels of experience with the breath.

Winter Solstice is a time when the Sun is furthest from the is a time great for connecting more deeply with the Light of your own Awareness within.  Take a break from the busy doing-ness of the holidays to recharge your connect through the Power of breath and Awareness to the Truth that’s always inviting you deeper Within.

When:       FRIDAY night 12/18/09  8-9:30pm
                    ((Arrive early to avoid being late))

Exchange:       $25

Where:      The Hub (
                    2001 S Barrington Ave, Suite 150, Los Angeles, CA 90025-5363 US
                    { S Barrington Ave between LaGrange and Mississippi }
                    Entrance for the Hub is located on street level at the ground floor of the
                    parking structure located on South Barrington Avenue.
Bring:          Yoga mat and/or blanket-we'll be sitting on the floor at first then lying down
                     for the breathwork.

RSVP:        You can reserve your spot through The Hub  310-575-4200


30 Days + of Gratitude ~ Day 5

  1. I am grateful for Shri Surya, the Sun!  After several days of much needed rain here in LA, the Sun was out this morning.  Every morning I do about an hour or so of practices, and today, got to do them in the Sun once again.  Wow!  What an enormous unstoppable force of Grace that gives unconditionally to everything.  
  2. I am grateful for the previous days of clouds that magnified the depth of my appreciation and gratitude for today's Sunshine.
  3. I am grateful for my morning practices, consisting of chanting, breath, meditation, and writing and my dedication to them.  Chanting the ancient stanzas of the Guru Gita (a profound conversation between Shiva and his wife Parvati (or Shakti) about the True nature of the Teacher/Student relationship...exposing through direct experience, the Teacher within) clears my head, my body, my throat, and energizes my capacity for Awareness-in-action.
  4. I am grateful that I like and love myself.  This was hard-won, and a commodity that cannot be priced and brings appreciation and value to everything I engage with.  I'm not always present to it consciously (hence my practices for remembering), but it's always there when I look within to see.
  5. I am grateful for my Macbook Pro and the Internet.  The list of gifts from both these items to me is nearly endless ~ research, writing, connecting with amazing beings all over the planet.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

30 Days + of Gratitude ~ Day 4

  1. I'm grateful for my Twitter feed.  Nearly every day, at least one tweet or more gives me a new perspective on something; a fresh point of view.  Of course I'm following people that are more likely to post that kind of thing...and I'm still deeply grateful for all the Collective Wisdom.
  2. I'm grateful for the West Hollywood Gay & Lesbian Center and all of its private and corporate donors making truly valuable services available to people who might not otherwise afford them, like free health screenings.  I decided out of sheer internal integrity and the desire to confirm my sense of health in writing, to get a full battery of STD testing done (truth be told it had been way too long).  The sense of peace I slept with last night was immeasurable. 
  3. I'm grateful for my apartment.  It's warm, inviting, just the right size for my needs, and the moment I walk in the door, each and every time, I feel myself soften deeper into my Heart. (note, there's actually a unit available in my building...a rare occurance...I'm putting it out there for an awesome person or couple to move into that unit)
  4. I'm grateful for the unseen force that keeps encouraging me to turn ever deeper within and viscerally feel my faith through my Heart, this palpable sense of All Is Well...especially when the mind-dragons are doing their best to tell me another story.
  5. I'm grateful for Water and all the lessons it continues to teach me about abundance, exchange, being a conduit, flexing my style between strong and soft based on the needs of the moment, and so much more.  And for a real eye-opener on Water, check out FLOW: For The Love Of Water.

Friday, December 11, 2009

30 Days + of Gratitude ~ Day 3

  1. I am grateful for the sound and smell of rain so gently escorting me through the layers of sleeping, dreaming, and waking last night and extended morning reading in bed.
  2. I am grateful for remembrance, in particular, this morning finding myself automatically remembering, connecting with the feeling of Flow in, through, and as me this morning under the covers.
  3. I am grateful for the reflection of the hearts of people around me reaching towards mine as it continues to trust it's own new expanded opening.
  4. I am grateful for openness to being supported and guided, in particular this morning through the guidance of trainer Griffin White who's gotten me to start eating breakfast every morning (even though I still fight through not wanting to, lol) as I'm feeling stronger and stronger in my body/mind and in my workouts.  It's making a huge difference through a small act.
  5. I am supremely grateful for all the teachings coming my way about a world where there truly is enough through the book "The Soul of Money" by Lynne Twist.  It's reorganizing me ever deeper towards a fully expanded, trusting, world of Plenty for You and Me.  It's got me looking at money as a current that can be a reflection of my deepest core values, and an expression of my appreciation.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

30 Days + of Gratitude ~ Day 2

  1. So grateful to spend time with one of my 'spiritual' nephews this afternoon...River Greenlee, age      1 1/4 years old.  Looking at life through his eyes helps me be more simple and get out of the past and future into right here.  If I'm not, he lets me know immediately!
  2. I'm grateful for the rain that just started outside my window.  While I give my garden really awesome treated water and lots of TLC, getting it directly from the rains is a whole other level of nourishment.
  3. I'm grateful for commitment, without which I wouldn't have written this tonight at 10:00 when I'd rather be lazy and listen to the rain.  This commitment keeps taking me outside of the guy I've been into the guy I've always known I am, and who continues to emerge with each step outside the "known".
  4. I'm grateful A Course In I am on Lesson 291 (of 365) and I'm someone who's finding exponential ease in letting go of the ideas of the past in favor of the Love in the present.
  5. I'm grateful for people continuing to share the things in their lives that are making a difference, even if I can be a little slow on the uptake with some of it.  I'm a work in progress, and if it's something great, I always come around when I'm ready.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009


I am one of the wealthiest people I know.

I have unlimited access to Abundance.

My Abundance can not be even minutely reflected by a number in the current monetary system.

"Contemporary European author, Bernard Lietaer, former senior officer of the Belgian Central Bank and one of the chief architects of the Euro currency, in his book, Of Human Wealth, says that greed and fear of scarcity are programmed; they do not exist in nature, not even in human nature. They are built into the money system in which we swim, and we've been swimming in it so long that these shadows have become almost completely transparent to us. We have learned to consider them normal and legitimate behavior. He concludes that Adam Smith's system of economics could more accurately be described as the allocation of scarce resourses through the process of individual greed. The whole process of Smith's "modern" economics actually has its roots in primitive fears of scarcity, greed, and the implementation too -- the process by which this became real -- was money."
~ from
THE SOUL OF MONEY by Lynne Twist

I have an abundance of time, Love, Awareness, and Healing...all of which are valuable commodities that can be exchanged without limit. On more directly observable levels are all the skills and talents I have been blessed with and continue to uncover, develop, and expand.

As we inch and perhaps eventually sprint into what will be the new economy of Exchange inside of a circle without beginning or end, you and I will have an ever expanding community with which to exchange our abundant resources for food, clothing, shelter, learning, entertainment, health & fitness, and so many other commodities.

This form of exchange requires that I develop and expand Self-Love, which allows me to clearly recognize, honor, and value the abundant resources I steward and share. As I have authentic awareness of the value of these gifts, they become recognizably valuable in the marketplace of Exchange.

When I let the status of my debt-to-income ratio in the current monetary system become the metric for my self-worth, I can not and do not perceive my innate abundance and the profound abundance of the natural world, and reflexively obscuring this value, rendering it unable to be exchanged within the world at large.

Perhaps this is in the direction of what Jesus meant by teaching his students to "Be in the world but not of it." For it's not about pretending the current monetary system doesn't exist. At the moment, I can't walk into Whole Foods and ask the cashier to exchange a cart full of groceries for a healing session. That, however, doesn't confine the scope of exchange solely to the current monetary system.

For example, there may be one or more people who have services I would need or want, and who see great value in experiencing my work. By exchanging outside the monetary system, money I would have spent on those services now becomes available for purchasing that cart full of groceries from Whole Foods.

So I'm not presenting an "either/or" scenario. Rather, a complementary relationship between the two systems...a way to think, step, and act outside the box that so many of us have found ourselves at one time or another confined by.

As I have more and more successful exchanges in this type of barter system, where all parties are uplifted by through the entire process all the way to completion, each of us leaves these exchanges with a deeper awareness of our innate Abundance, Value, and Worth...bolstering the whole system.

I do believe that developing the musculature for these types of Awareness and Exchange is crucial if we are to thrive in the times ahead. My intuition tells me that we've only seen the beginning of the crumbling of the current economic structures, an appetizer for a potentially very unpleasant meal for those dependent on the current system.

And let me be crystal clear here; I don't think this crumbling is some form of retribution or punishment for past deeds as such. I am being shown that it is part of our collective Awakening to the Truth of Who and What we Truly Are.

In the process of Awakening, illusions are exposed. Any and all illusions. The current monetary system is no longer backed up by gold. It is mere printed paper based on indebtedness. There is very little, if any, reflection of the true abundance of the natural world, and what you and I truly are. This neither makes the monetary system good or bad. It is simply a reflection of our collective conscious awareness. We are growing and realizing more expanded levels of consciousness, so our systems will mirror this phoenix-in-the-flames movement.

What's the key? The main key I see for myself is to deeply, viscerally know what I am, to honor, value, and steward This in myself, and all of life through the ways I take each and every step in my life.

30 Days + of Gratitude

I was scrolling through iPhone apps last night out of curiosity as to what's out there for self-development, and came across one called "Gratitude Journal" that's apparently a big favorite for Oprah. Well, if it's good enough for Oprah, it's good enough for me!

For at least the next 30 days, each day, I'll post 5 new things I'm grateful for, and anything outside the box that shows up from doing the practice.

1. I'm grateful today for my healthy body.
2. I'm grateful for the two hummingbirds living in the trees just outside my windows who keep me company day in and day out with their songs and antics (sometimes it's like watching the old Tom and Jerry cartoons the way they chase each other around).
3. I'm grateful for the breathwork. It's given me a career I love, and helped me and so many others to heal and awaken ever deeper to Self-Love.
4. I'm grateful to David Elliott for his mentoring, friendship, and love.
5. I'm grateful for the amazing king-sized afghan my Mom crocheted for me over something like four straight days. I wrap up in it and feel her love.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Celebrating Plenty! Breathwork ~ Sunday, Dec 13, Noon-1:30pm

This Sunday, we’ll CELEBRATE (a close cousin to Gratitude)!

At a time of year when there can be too many moments of feeling “not enough” (not enough time, money, sleep, sunshine, etc), it’s no wonder people get depleted and sick. So we’ll gather to CELEBRATE ABUNDANCE, to recognize, mark, and breathe into all the areas where there’s plenty, where there is FLOW, and we’ll watch them EXPAND through awareness, impacting every other area of life.

~ Sunday, December 13th, 2009 Noon-1:30pm ~

We’re calling this event THE PRACTICE, and it’s for ALL levels of experience with the Breath. It happens for now in the sanctity of my healing space in West Hollywood. Reserve your space as soon as you know you’ll be coming, as it fills up quickly...

In this workshop, there won’t be much talking. We’ll set some intention very quickly in the beginning, and then get right down to the business of the Breathwork; an ancient 3-part breathing meditation that takes you beyond the dream of the limited ego experience....into the space of GRACE, the space of KNOWING, the space of deep REJUVENATION.

This is designed to be a place to work deeply with the breath and build /strengthen the muscles for your home practice.

ARRIVE on-time or better yet, early. No one will be admitted after the breathwork begins to honor and support the safe space created for The Work.

When: Sunday, December 13th, 2009
Time: Noon-1:30pm

Exchange: $40

Where: 1226 Havenhurst Dr. #9
(Havenhurst is 1 block West of Crescent Heights between Santa Monica Blvd and Fountain Ave)

Parking: It’s best to park at a meter on Santa Monica Blvd or in the West Hollywood City Lot just South of Santa Monica Blvd behind Out Of The Closet between Havenhurst and La Jolla. The City Lot is $1 per hour in quarters. Other meters in the area are free after 6pm.

RSVP: Due to size of the space, please RSVP to hold your place. If need be, we’ll start a waiting list. 24hrs cancellation by phone. (310) 922-4890

BRING: A folded blanket and/or yoga mat to lay on for the breathing meditation, water, and a smile!


What To Do When Nothing Seems To Be Working...

We all have these moments at one point or another. A situation, relationship, inner experience that just won't seem to yield to any of our best efforts at change.

The first thing is to take stock. What's the reality around what I'm dealing with in the situation at hand. Let me put all the facts on the table, so I can see what's the fabrication of insecurity either as a projection of fantasy or an attempt to solidify doubt. This is a really great thing to do in writing.

Next, getting clear about what my unmet needs and wants are about it...and being truthful about what I may be avoiding doing, looking at, and acknowledging that would get some flow moving. AND immediately doing, looking at, or acknowledging fully. OR, what am I doing that is a dis-service to my intentions, where am I leaking energy by engaging with the "unnecessary".

For many things, these steps will get things moving in a healthy direction, create more expansion, and open deeper clarity.

What if they don't? What if I really go for it, and am still feeling like it's "stuck"?

At this point, my intuition tells me that its probably a major life lesson, and that I'm being offered an opportunity to grow exponentially based on how I show up for myself and any related elements and people in the midst of the "stuckness".

When something like this pops its head up (mine seems to usually be around finance so far), the normal trend is for it to bring up insecurity, fear, and doubt...with a layer over it of anger, resentment, and frustration. These emotions, while having a sort of reality, can be a way of staying distracted from the best path of action and being. They can take on an overwhelming life of their own. One that seeks to involve other people's energy and attention, and none of it making any difference, only adding to the emotional turmoil, the emotional drama.

Example ~ my finances continue to expand and contract and expand and contract. When the finances appear to be contracting, it can trigger massive insecurity and distrust in the Universe having my back. Along with the insecurity and distrust, comes fear of very bleak ego-imagined future. If I let these feelings hang around, unquestioned, unexplored, and if I don't do the work of connecting with self-love....oh brother! Watch out! This is the place where I'm likely to stub a toe, forget things, run late, rush, get irritable with customer service providers, make poor nutritional decisions, etc. Sound at all familiar? And then, top it all off with some frothy self-judgment...if you've been walking the spiritual path, you might hear the voice that says, 'You should know better by now. Maybe you're devolving,' or something fairly close.

"You'll have much less drama with money in your personal life if you hold your value more."
~ David Elliott

I can't suppress those voices, as that'll only give them more fuel for their next appearance. And ignoring them is fruitless as well. PRESENCE.

I've got to get present. There are likely more ways of getting present than there are humans on the planet. So this isn't about the "right way" to get present, it's about trusting your common sense and doing what you know to do, and doing it NOW.

So back to the example around finance. Let's say I've already done everything I know to do around my finances and my work for the moment. Bills have been paid and/or explicit agreements have been made with all bill collectors. And let's say there's no real sense of where the next chunk of money's going to come from, or when. Then what?

PRESENCE. First, I get to cleaning. Physically cleaning all the spaces I occupy. Even if I just cleaned the day before. There's always fresh dust to clean in a place with hardwood floors and lots of surfaces. Point being, there's always something that can be cleaned. It's a way of honoring and expressing gratitude for what I have (why give me more if I'm not appreciating what I already have?). This usually yields immediate insight or intuition about what needs my focus next to engage more flow.

PRESENCE. How am I showing up for EVERYTHING? It might seem daunting, but it yields a rich harvest. Every footstep, every breath, every word is an opportunity for me to birth something into the world. Even if I'm feeling like crap on the inside, I can still choose to reach into compassion, service, gratitude, and self-love in the presence of people and activities. It may be a longer growing cycle than say microwaved popcorn, yet the amount of love, attention, integrity, and authenticity I pour into this garden will produce great fruit, and SEEDS to share plant for future gardens.

OBSERVATION. My willingness to observe myself without judging while doing the above will bring even more awareness of what needs my attention next.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Cross-Training for Freedom

Ever get in a rut with routines? Maybe it's not a rut as such, as much as a plateau. There's a part of me that can crave the familiar through routine, ie; eating the same foods, doing the same tried and true exercises at the gym, eating at the same restaurants, etc.

While routines are a great way to cultivate a certain aspect of discipline, it's equally valuable to shake things up a bit, to go into brand-new situations and find my "legs", as-it-were, in a new environment.

Athletes regularly cross-train their bodies across a vast spectrum of exercises and disciplines to train balance, agility, strength, and Awareness. English Theatre actors cross-train their capacities as actors by studying things like fencing, dance, singing, and writing.

Zen students often cross-train in Archery, Flower Arranging, and Gardening as well as deepening through classical practices like seated meditation, solving koans, and doing self-inquiry.

As I've been spending more time focusing my awarenes in Los Angeles lately, I've been drawn to learning new skills and expanding others...and all as a way to sharpen embodied agile Awareness across a broader spectrum.

It's easy (mostly) for me to be aware of the Presence when meditating, doing breathwork, teaching, writing, and other "active" spiritual practices. I'm endeavoring to widen the birth for Truth and Spirit and Self-Love by engaging in things where I'm more of a beginner.

Today I dragged myself to a grappling class led by a friend who's something like a 5th degree blackbelt in Bruce Lee's Jeet Kune Do. In this arena, I am a beginner in a class of students who've been at it much longer than me. Oh, and I say 'dragged myself' as I had a tremendous amount of resistence to class come up in the hour before it was time to go. Meanwhile, I was looking forward to it all week long. Anything like that ever happen to you?

"How you do anything is how you do everything."
~ David Elliott

I'm looking at taking a cooking basics series at the Epicurean School here in LA. While I've cooked since about age 5 (there're some great stories about nearly averting fires, lol!), as I've been cooking more and more for myself, I've notice that the box of ideas I cook from is a lot more limited than I'd like.

And jumping into a cooking program, or martial arts, or the video dance jam classes I've been toying with at Equinox...all these are venues for me to be brand-new, to be a beginner, and to bring conscious Awareness into blind-spots.

These are practical ways for me to play with my edge around the unknown. To see what comes up through my ego about not being perfect in the first class, to digest some of the competitive energy I still carry, and to see how intuition works with and through me in these situations outside my familiar comfort zone.

I love it! I'm always glad, walking out of one of these classes or new situations, that I go for it. I trust myself to ask questions, to make mistakes and learn through experience. And where insecurity arises...that's great! It points out where I can bring more self-love, trust, and faith. It lets me know where my work is with myself.

There's a difference between what I'm working with around all of this, and say shopping the "spiritual buffet". How do I know? I was a busy consumer on that buffet for a number of years. Shopping the spiritual buffet would be like reading and trying little bits of a lot of different things without focusing deeply enough on anything to realize the fruit of the practice. Usually it comes along with seeking peak experiences more than burning off of tightly held illusions.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Deepening Trust

On a scale of 1-10, how much Unconditional Trust do you have that all your needs will be cared for even in the face of no evidence? Mine varies. I'm actively working with deepening it. And on the whole, I rarely judge myself for my level of trust. I know I'm a work in progress, that my work isn't about perfecting my human-ness, rather recognizing the perfection in everything as it is.

"Anyone can be enlightened in Heaven, can you be enlightened in Hell?"
~ Adyashanti

How do you find out how much Unconditional Trust you have? On the mat of real life. Life brings circumstances that appear beneficial or challenging. How I see them depends on my point of view. My emotional experience often lets me know, usually quite quickly, what my prevailing point of view is in the moment, often surfacing a buried (albeit potent and active) point of view for me to see and work with. If I'm experiencing any sort of contraction or suffering, I've learned to recognize that I'm invested in some sort of illusion.

In all actuality, there is never a problem. (This goes back to yesterday's entry on "Let It Go, Rise Up" where I mention finding a "good" tree and "bad" tree in such thing.) The idea of something being a "problem" presupposes something going south...and usually the feeling that something is "wrong". These are all ideas.

A racoon on the hunt for food and not finding any, doesn't need to call a therapist for meds to deal with survival anxiety. It relies on instinct and intuition to navigate to the next food source. It doesn't think of itself as a "bad racoon" for not finding food within a certain fabricated time frame. AND, it lives in harmony with the seasons. (Leaving aside climactic changes, etc.. This is an analogy, lol!).

Point being, pain may come and go, suffering is optional. Suffering is always based on investment (known or unknown) in some form of illusion.

Remedy? Truth.

How to find the truth? Ask yourself really good questions.

How to learn to ask really good questions? Trial and error. By doing it.

A GREAT starter question? Can I know for certain that "x" is the Absolute Truth?

Great questions, the ones that create the most space in mind and being, are the ones that don't necessarily have answers. They create a shift in point of view.

Around a two-dimensional circle, there are 360 degrees, or points of view (at least). If I have a particular point of view, especially one I am adamant is "right", it's useful for me to remember that there are at least 359 other points of view that could be equally right. Letting myself explore these other points of view can "unhook" me from my original point of view, and give me some spaciousness in my mind, my emotions, and my body.

Having right answers isn't all it's cracked up to be. Having Trust is.

It's a journey. This is just one of millions of points of view on Trust. : )

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Let It Go, Rise Up!

I was preparing to lead a breathworkshop at my healing space here in West Hollywood yesterday, and got inspired to download some new (new to my current iPod) music to to use in the Work. And I ended up creating a playlist, which I haven't done in about four years...a rockin' playlist that hit the core of the evening's focus ~ Releasing the Past as we wind down 2009.

Two of the Artists I called on are Michael Jackson ("Earth Song") and Whitney Houston ("I Didn't Know My Own Strength" & "I Look To You"). This inspiration that's moving so deeply for me around their work goes beyond the music and into their actual lived lives. Both of them have struggled intensely with insecurity and addiction fueled by and fueling the insecurity. Both of them have brought tremendous doses of inspiration, insight, and LOVE to millions through their work. Both of them have been under nearly insurmountable public scrutiny.

I wholeheartedly assert that the public scrutiny is a reflection of the insecurity and the energy of no-possibility, no self-love attempting to cultivate more of the same, both in these artists as Messengers, and in the listening public to keep things mired in illusion.

I am committed to setting the Artists and Messengers free, those who are willing...starting with myself.

Anyone can criticize. This doesn't take much intellect, reasoning, self-development, or self-awareness. It's ordinary, boring, and pointless.

"People judge what they are and rarely what they're not..."
~ David Elliott

Who are You? Remember that feeling, that knowing, maybe not so far away...the one that gave you the sense that there is something for you to step into in this life, something that would call on all of your gifts, that might wake you up further in the process, that could bring immense possibility and real actual Love into the World?

Have you failed at anything? Are you carrying the feeling of that failure around anywhere in your body, emotions, or mind? Even if it's not in your conscious experience, do you sense this resistance, this bit of stuckness that reigns you in, that pulls you back from birthing ALL that you are into your work, your writing, your Art, your Loving, your relating, your Living Fully?

What if failure is just an "idea"? What if there's not something in stone called failure?

Look out at the trees....find me a "good" tree and a "bad" tree. No such thing in nature.

These designations of good and bad are projections of the human ego arising out of fear and insecurity designed for one thing and one thing only, to keep inner division alive, to keep you and I feeling separate from each other, separate from our Source, separate from Love...and seeking wholeness, but not finding it.

I've had thoughts about Whitney Houston pop up in my mind on and off for about a year now; ever since I heard she was returning to music and in the studio recording, wondering how her voice would be after all the drug use and suppression.

Cut to last week. I had my Mom visiting for Thanksgiving week. She's obsessed with that TV show, Dancing With The Stars, and the finale was on while she was here. Whitney sang two songs for the finale. She reminded me of a video I once saw of a freshly born calf wobbling attempting to use its legs for the first time, with sheer determination to do it, no matter what. Tears were streaming down my face as I watched and listened, not because of the music itself, but because of the love moving in my heart for this women who's been through hell and back in full public view. A woman who's music stayed alive in her and brought her back to her feet. A woman who is a messenger, and whose message is stronger than the energy of no self-love, of addiction and shame and guilt. A woman willing to pick herself back up and sing again.

Before I started downloading music, I googled "Whitney's voice", and at the top of the list was a blog post by a self-styled critic who named himself after a well-known heiress. The blatant self-hatred projected as acidic attack on this women's re-awakened voice was nothing short of darkness and suppression.

Can she hit those same high notes with pristine clarity right now? Not yet. Maybe not again. But is technical skill the message of her music? Do I need to wait to write until I've gotten several PhD's in English and Writing before I let myself paint with words?

Creativity and Skill are not the same. Art conveys messages of so many flavors and degree. Artists have always been the forerunners of change and growth. Some have had well-developed technical skill, others have not. And who defines skill anyway? What's the set-in-stone metric for that? There isn't one! It's fabricated and agreed on in the public without much if any reflection on the Truth of it. It's used to suppress the Voice, to close down conduits for messages of hope and Awakening. Like so many great and powerful medicines, it's quickly co-opted and twisted by the human ego.

What's the remedy? Drop the criticism and get creating, cheerleading those who are brave enough to step out and create.

What inspires me more than skill in Whitney's latest album is the transparency in sharing her ongoing journey through darkness into expansion, into embodying self-love. It's the same thing that inspires me about Michael Jackson's music and message. And the energy of no-self love, fueled by public flaw-seeking, and very public shaming, ultimately ended the life of a leading edge visionary who's messages, while uplifting, were inconvenient to fully live by the same critical public.

We can never know the full truth about the life of another, particularly those in the public eye. After getting behind the curtain where the little wizard orchestrates the world of entertainment and media while I was working for Creative Artists Agency (CAA), my eyes were opened to the reality of these businesses. There is very little about the entertainment business that is not a business, and one HIGHLY invested in controlling, molding, and manipulating public perception. Public perception IS it's commodity, and he who controls perception controls the purse strings.

Just because something is on TV or in a magazine, doesn't make it the truth.

But how many times have you and I been led to believe something we saw in the media and create an opinion, maybe even an opinion with a great deal of emotion around it, about a particular artist? Can you know for certain that it's True?

Let It Go, Rise Up! Create! Share! Don't let the voice of the critic within stifle your creativity. Don't let lack of skill around your gifts keep you from sharing them. Skill comes from discipline; working with the tools of your craft consistently enough that your creativity moves effortlessly through them. That happens through time and effort. And it's completely worth it! The voice of the critic (and there are plenty out there if your looking for them) will always attempt to suppress this Flow.

The more you and I Create, and choose to create regardless of the voice of the critic, we will and ARE out-creating the suppression, ARE embodying and spreading the wings of Freedom.

These seeming "falures" of the past are the very medicine for awakening and freedom NOW. By engaging with the energy of these experiences that dot my past, free from judgment, in the willingness of self-love, I heal. And I heal not just myself, but all of my relations. These places I've fallen down in the past are the places that I teach from now. As I bring more Awareness to these places, they become fuel for Creation, for Love, for anything and everything.

"That by which we fall is that by which we rise."
~ Kularnava Tantra

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

NYS Senate, Equality, and Walking the Talk

News came out about the NYS Senate shooting down legalization of Gay Marriage for New York State today. There's a lot of shock and anger shooting around the world through those invested in this latest outpost to raise the bar on Equality. I get it. I'm gay. And I'm not interested in shock or anger as they're just as likely to breed judgment in me that is aimed at the people who are against Equality.

How would me going into judgment further the cause of equality? How is going into inner division going to lift anyone up from ignorance to a place where giving equal rights to all beings is a natural expression?

The only thing I have to give this world is my state. Everything I think, feel, or do is infused with my state.

As challenging as it may be for me to release judgment around those who would condemn me for living authentically, it's the only path I know. My number one commitment in life is full liberation, moksha. Each time I indulge in my "right" to be angry, there's a cost to me, and a significant amount of effort and time to release all the tendrils of heavy divided ego that it stimulates.

For those of you reading this who were and are invested in the outcomes of the NYS vote, know that I'm not telling you how to be or feel. I'm sharing my choice, my commitment to me and what I'm willing to bring into the world.

The level of awareness that would vote against equality for all only knows judgment and division, and would pull for more of the same from anyone in earshot through negative emotions like anger, fear, and sadness. I'm unwilling to be a puppet for others to magnetize disapproval. I choose Peace. And not idle peace either, peace that moves through my thoughts, words, and actions.

I choose Love. And not love that is limited to those whose actions I approve of, or who give me what I want. Am I perfect with expressing this 100% of the time? Not yet. And I'm willing to keep plugging away at it, releasing any and all resentments, judgments, anger, fear, and sadness? Absolutely.

As I find more freedom within, there's more freedom moving through everything with which I'm involved. That is how I see change happening. Freedom is contagious, and so is hate.

So let all my being become infected with the Unconditional Love virus and infect everything/everyone that is willing. the way, homosexuality is not contagious. By offering the same rights and freedoms to all, you're not going to catch it. But you might just wake up to Love.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Turning Poison Into Nectar

"That by which we fall is that by which we rise."
~ Kularnava Tantra

In times of increased energy; during a Full Moon or Eclipse, at the height of great emotion, on the heels of a powerful spiritual experience or awakening, when something we believe to be greater than we thought to be possible these times, not only the light in us, but also any illusions we're carrying (known or unknown) are also magnified. And when illusions are magnified, it can feel painful, even like everything we know is falling apart. What is true North during these moments? How do we meet them productively without giving in to the ego's convincing chatter that something has gone horribly wrong and is only going to get worse?

How can we turn these experiences from poison to nectar? What can we look to for real, palpable support?

Don't get mad...'cause I'm going to say the 'd' word again. Discipline. The tendencies for the mind to look on the dark side are a form of discipline, habit turned to conditioning. Pavlov's dog; ring the bell, and the dog salivates after many times of ringing a bell and then giving the dog food, the dog then associates bell-ringing with impending food delivery.

So we've got these two forms of discipline or conditioning...the ones that have disciplined the mind to be invested in illusions and create suffering of any degree, and the ones that avail the mind to Truth.

When Socrates says "Know Thyself", he's not offering it out for the heck of it. How well do you really know yourself? How clear are you about the bells that consistently get you to salivate, even when there's no food in sight? Are you ready to unhook from the puppet-strings that make you act, think, and feel in ways that are wholly unproductive to your Freedom, to living fully in the present moment, and able to choose, really choose the best option for all concerned in the moment, rather than being led around by your conditioning.

For years, my sexual energy led me around like a dog on a chain. Something would trigger this sexual energy, and I would go on the hunt to act it out. Sometimes immediately, sometimes working out a plan. And I was never satisfied by the experience when it was arising in this way. Physical intimacy is only satisfying for me when my Heart is open and I don't need it. When I'm sharing it from a place of contentment.

Sure, I've been able to have a truck-load of peak-experiences, but most of them were merely spikes of adrenaline, and once over, left me feeling empty, unfulfilled, and like I still had a tremendous itch that not only could I not scratch, but didn't even know what the itch was.

It's Love. Self-Love. Self-Love which opens me to Universal Love.

When I'm connected to Self-Love, everything is fulfilling, because I'm already fulfilled. So anything I engage with becomes an expression of my fulfillment, rather than a futile attempt to get some person, experience, or place outside of me to lift me up, to complete me, which by definition, it cannot.

I have had to develop the discipline to Love myself. No Guru, holy book, sacred vortex, or special diet can do this for me. And when I'm connected to Self-Love, I can feel and be further uplifted by the Truth through various scriptures, amazing meals with friends, long silent meanderings through nature, the hummingbirds outside my window, or anything else that shows up in exchange.

This past Saturday night, I went to a puja, an ancient Indian ritual with powerful chants honoring and invoking the Truth that is already here through direct experience. On the drive over to Maha Yoga in Brentwood for the puja, I focused on feeling the breath moving through my body, the sensations of it, and all the ways I Love myself. This was my preparation. And I continued it throughout the puja.

Over and over again during the puja, I was amazed at the intense, expansive currents of palpable energy I felt moving in wave after blissful wave through my body and my Heart. These currents were emanating from within my Heart in response to the chants. And having been at this spiritual path business for a couple of decades, I've been to a number of chants and other rituals. And always from a place of looking to the ritual to give me something, something I wasn't finding within.

It's this ridiculously funny irony (at least to me)...until I find what I'm looking for on the inside, I'll never find it on the outside.

How does that apply to turning poison into nectar?

When I'm connected to Self-Love, I don't see or experience anything as poison. I experience it as no different from anything else. Another moment in time with choices to make, or not. And actions to take or not, knowing that what I am doesn't change either way....what I Truly am. From this perspective, I can meet any circumstance with what it needs.

Do I always do this? No.

Am I developing my capacity to live this way all the time? Yes. That's discipline.

So the places where I feel like I'm falling are the places where I'm being shown my next exercise to develop Self-Love in the Universal Gym.