together as ONE.

Today we got some harrowing news. My first reaction was fear and sadness. I felt betrayed by my country. But this isn't about me. This is about all of us together. Those who voted for Trump voted out of fear. Many Trump supporters may be racist, or sexist, or xenophobic but I guarantee not all are. It's not okay to just group them all into one basket, we all have our reasons. Many of these people have experienced economic hardship and they don't know what to do. They look to him for change because they are afraid. I can't pretend to understand it fully and I certainly don't support it but I do see where it comes from. I'm afraid too. Afraid for what the future will look like. It's as though we took two steps (terms) forward, and now we're taking ten steps back. How many more steps backward will we blindly take before falling off the edge? 

We have to remain hopeful. We have to believe in love and keep our faith in humanity. It's hard to see the light, but we have to trust the process and trust that the universe has our back. Maybe it's time for a total revolution? Who knows? 

As a woman, a Latina, first generation immigrant, and a sexual assault survivor, I took this news pretty hard. My grandparents left Cuba as political refugees with my infant mother. They left the country before it turned to total communism. Many people supported Castro when he was first coming into power. They were led to believe that they would have democracy. He was very persuasive at first. I believe many people are swayed by Trump in the same way. Hitler captivated people who were afraid as well. These leaders spoke to their fears and their blind patriotism. I believe Trump is speaking to that same part of people. I'm not saying he's going to become a totalitarian leader or start another genocide, I'm only saying that he's used similar tactics. 

Trump is just a symptom of that fear. We have to treat the root cause. What are we collectively afraid of? And what is the remedy? The only cure I know for fear is love. Unconditional, boundless love. The political party system separates us. Countries separate us. Religion separates us. We need to come together as a global community. 

A few years ago  I  was in Barcelona in this park called Parc de la Ciutadella.  I was climbing around and playing on this cool art installation that I thought was probably meant to be climbed on since it was in a park. This homeless woman was nearby making these giant bubbles, like human sized ones using two sticks with a string tied between them. She came over and yelled, "See, now you're breaking the law!" She told me how ridiculous it was that I could be fined for climbing on this structure. I think she was also probably trying to warn me a bit assuming I didn't realize I could get fined. We started talking about everything from politics to religion to how countries divide us. My friend asked her what nationality she was, she sounded British but we weren't sure. She got very animated and exclaimed, "I'm Globish!"

I loved that answer. And honestly that's all we all are. What country we comes from means nothing in the end. This Universe is vast and ever expanding. We are one global community, whether we act like it or not. I believe we will come together and I believe that the future is brighter than it appears right now. 

Today I am imagining a better world. I'm imagining a world where we come together as one... "Imagine there's no countries. It isn't hard to do. Nothing to kill or die for. And no religion too. Imagine all the people living life in peace."

 

 

Christiania, the free town in Copenhagen. 

Christiania, the free town in Copenhagen. 

stop building that wall.

What would it take for you to strip down your walls and just be you? Totally uninhibited. Authentic. You. 

At one point none of us had these boundaries and barriers around us. Children are born wild, carefree, and totally uninhibited. It's only as we grow older that we learn insecurities. How many years has it taken for you to build that fort around your heart? How may years did it take for you to install a filter between mind and mouth? Some forts and filters are good, no doubt. I'm talking about those filters that stop you from speaking the truth from your heart. The ones that make you stop chasing your dreams and settle for the logical choice. How many years will it take for you to knock them back down? 

Think back. Way back. Back to the very first time someone you loved hurt you. That day that you experienced your very first heart break was the day you laid down your first brick. And each time you experienced suffering, you laid down another. Each time you felt rejected, you laid down another. And each time you avoided pain by not speaking your mind or following your heart, you laid down another brick. Some of us are expert builders and we hide behind cold stone forts. We forget that inside that fort lives in our inner sunshine children, our innocence. 

When did we stop being wild? Trade your security for the rush of spontaneity. Just once. Do something for you - something absolutely ridiculous. Something that lights you up inside. Go explore. Travel. Go skydiving. Make art with every once of your soul. Take a trust fall. And know that the Universe will catch you. 

exploring pain.

There is something really liberating about realizing other people struggle just like you. Have stress at work, just like you. Have off days, just like you. Have days when they feel grumpy for no reason, just like you.

No one has a perfect life, though social media may lead you to believe they do. Everyone has ups and downs. There is value in the downs, maybe even more so than the ups. Very seldom have I learned a great lesson from a perfect day. It's always the moments of pain that teach us how to attain peace - if we're willing to listen. When we lean into the pain, explore it, really allow ourselves to feel it and be in it, only then can we unravel it. I've never heard of someone solving a puzzle by pushing it far away from themselves. And I've never heard of someone truly recovering from suffering by bottling their pain. 

In so many ways, our afflictions are like a puzzle. There is always a solution, and there is always a lesson to be learned. It may take years, decades even to learn what we need to learn. But each time we realize something, we grow a little bit. Have you ever felt upset about something and then laughed at yourself because it was so trivial? What if every time you experienced suffering, you later realized that it was just trivial? I'm not enlightened, but I imagine enlightenment must feel like this major realization that nothing needs to be suffered over. Every time you start to feel upset, ask yourself, "In one year will I still be upset about this?" Ask again, "In 5 years will I still be upset over this?" "What about in 10 years?" Create some space around it. And maybe you'll realize that it's not worth the stress. But if you find that in one year, this problem will still be causing you suffering...it's time to find a solution. 

So, how do you find a solution to suffering? Is this the part where you push it deep down and try to forget it exists while it slowly eats away at you? Hopefully not. Hopefully this is the part where you lean into it. Explore it. Go deeper. Depending on what you're dealing with, this might be the part where you admit that there's something wrong, and you seek out help from a professional. It might be the part where you decide it's time to talk about it, maybe just with a friend. The brain processes thoughts differently than it processes conversations. Which is why sometimes just saying something out loud can give you fresh insight and help you to create a soltuion. There is no perfect answer for how to stop suffering. But if you're willing to do the work, if you're willing to dig deeper, then you may be able to find some inner peace.  

In the end, only three things will have mattered: how much you loved, how gently you lived, and how gracefully you let go of things not meant for you.
— The Buddhe

transform.

Today someone asked me about hot yoga. He didn't see how it could be meditative or spiritual. Thought it was just exercise.

This is what I told him - We live a life of comfort. We are constantly changing the temperature in our cars and homes to be more comfortable, we listen to the music we like, watch whatever we want, even our social media/news source is tailored to be more interesting to us. We rarely experience discomfort, and when we do we usually run from it or change our surroundings. Hot yoga is not comfortable. First of all, it's hot. And when you're moving and getting sweat in your eyes, or trying to hold a balancing posture but there's sweat running down your face, all the while being reminded to stay aware of the breath - this allows you to experience discomfort. Learning to be present through it, I feel, can be truly transformative.

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healthy & happy.

Lately I've been on a little health kick (and by lately I mean on and off for pretty much my whole life). I just made the switch to a plant based diet and I've been feeling pretty amazing. It's gotten me thinking about the way health care is handled - or not handled - in the states. For the most part, western medicine treats diseases, not patients. We go to the doctor when we're sick, not to keep us healthy or prevent us from getting sick. We have all of the information about health and wellness we could possibly need at our fingertips. There have been incredible technological advancements in the medical field that are constantly getting better. And we spend an immense amount of money on health care each year, possibly more than any other country. So you would think we would be one of the healthiest countries on the planet. But on the contrary, we're one of the sickest. Everyone has to die someday, but why do we live lifestyles and eat diets that send us into an early grave?

I think there's a huge disconnect between the health care system and actual human beings. This is a for profit system with making money as its number one goal, and that may not be changing any time soon. So who is responsible for our health? In my opinion it's the responsibility of the individual to educate themselves about what they're putting into their bodies. We have endless resources in the form of documentaries, books, and articles online that can give us great information as long as we use our discernment when taking it in.

So if we're not sick yet, why do we have to worry about our health? If it's not broken, why fix it? If you put shampoo in the gas tank of your car, will it run? Not for long. And if you just top it off with a little scotch instead of changing the oil, will the engine last very long? Of course not. Cars are simple. So is the body - however we have the added benefit of adaptability and our bodies do their best to adapt to their environments and they work with what they're given, until they can't. 

So let's stick with the analogy of the car and let's pretend that your body is the vehicle of your soul for this life. You want this vehicle to last you a long time, and you also want it to run well so it can drive you to exciting new places. You also need to take care of your car to avoid expensive trips to the mechanic every couple of years. So what do you do to optimize the health of your vehicle? Well, that's up to you. You know you need nourishment to keep it running. You also know you can't just stay sedentary or your battery will die. You have to take care of all parts of this body - including mind and soul - because nothing in the body functions separately from anything else. It all works together in perfect harmony - or dissonance depending on how it's being treated.

I don't have an answer for what's right for any one person's body. But I can tell you what fuels mine and I can speak from my experience. I know I feel best when I do yoga or practice some type of movement every day. I know I need lots of fresh fruits and vegetables every day to feel energized. I need human connection, not just small talk but actual connection. I also know I need to get some rest. I know when I'm feeling stressed, I need a few hours of self care and I have that ritual down to a science - I make myself some tea, use my neti pot, and spend about 15-20 minutes doing abyangha which is the Ayurvedic practice of self massage - I use coconut oil with essential oils, then I lay around in some restorative yoga poses for maybe another 20 minutes. That's pretty much my cure all, repeat daily until stress free. And whatever can't be resolved with that ritual, I treat with a heavy dose of nature.

I think it's important to find out what you need. What fuels your body? Find out what will make you feel healthy and happy. What does optimum health look and feel like to you? What habits do you think you need to break and what habits do you want to cultivate in order to achieve your version of optimum health? I think it's important to find out what that is and do it.

Astavakrasana at Red Rock Canyon

Astavakrasana at Red Rock Canyon