A friend of mine has traveled to Orlando to offer free therapy to those affected by the recent tragic event that took place at Pulse. He asked me if I would make a meditation available for people struggling with their emotions in the aftermath of this traumatic event. I am honored to be of service in this way. Through posts on Facebook and watching the news I see how this act of violence ripples out to the community, the country and the rest of the world. My prayer and deepest wish is that this offering may give somebody out there a moment of peace, comfort, and a knowledge that they are not alone. That we are ALL in this together. And if one suffers, we all suffer. Please feel free to share this link with anyone who you think could use it.
Ohhh this one hurts.
Meditation dog. Never sat down to meditate without my sidekick showing up. Had her own sheepskin but she would usually crawl in to my lap midway through the set.
A little too full-figured for a lap dog. She didn’t care.
Silly dog – people would smile at the sight of her. Some would ask to take her picture. She made me laugh. Every day.
Drove to Texas with Lili to get her at 8 weeks old. She was the size of a baked potato. A baked potato with huge ears.
When she was happy she would roll on her back and make strange choking sounds.
Everyone thought she was a boy. “Don’t they see the pink harness?” I would ask myself out loud.
She loved me. My god the devotion. She would whine outside the bathroom door for me. When I traveled she would go on hunger strikes and suffer bouts of depression.
Had to stand on my lap in the driver’s side looking out the window on car rides.
Flew on the airplane like a champ. My “emotional support” dog. She would fall asleep as soon as the plane took off. Lying across my lap, occasionally farting. Nobody seemed to care.
Her breath was terrible. All her life.
She was unafraid. She would challenge the largest deer. Shrilly barking at the nonplused herd. I thought she would get brained one day by a sharp cloven hoof.
She was Mr. Magoo blind. Unaware one time that a large red fox was stalking her in our backyard. I had to run out in my socks and scare it away. Then she barked like a mother fucker.
Dare I say it, she could strike quite the elegant pose in her old(er) age.
I burn with shame to say that I don’t remember the last walk I took her on. I’ve been pretty busy the past several days. And it’s been snowing. Not her favorite weather condition.
The last two nights of her life she slept uncharacteristically close to me, up by my pillow. It was cold outside, I didn’t mind. Sweet comforting presence of her, snuffling and snorting.
Her last day, she ate a good breakfast – rotisserie chicken and kibble. She took a nap with me on the couch. I’m wracking my brain to think of what else she did. Barked at a puppy – as was her way. Not very friendly to other dogs, sorry to say. She skipped dinner – that should have been a huge red flag. She enjoyed her meals.
Last night, I came downstairs to turn off the lights. In hindsight, I do think it was strange that she hadn’t already made her way up to my bedroom. I saw her sleeping on the rug in the TV room. I called her name and she didn’t wake up. Not strange though as she’s become hard of hearing lately. I stretched my hand out. She was cold.
Linda called her “soulful” and that felt too deep to me at first. I found her subtlety dismaying. Never a licker or a tail wagger (she didn’t really have one) her face was a mystery. Poker face extraordinaire.
She was my heart companion. For ten years Ruby has been by my side. When I cried, she would charge her way to my side. Concerned. Present. A reassuring weight. Her favorite place was on me or right beside me. Always. So “soulful” it is. I can see that now.
I am chagrined to note that in all my “death” experiences of being and sitting with people and animals that are dying, I was a basket case when it came to this. I was afraid to touch Ruby and I felt totally freaked out, like I wanted to run or throw up or both, simultaneously.
Grateful to my kids for their compassion and kindness last night, to my sweet friend who stayed up until 1am with me on the phone and to my sister Linda who came over this morning and did what I couldn’t. She helped me get Ruby out of the cardboard box in the garage, set up an altar with sweet flowers, candles, oils and incense. And chanted Akals to my soulful heart companion, Ruby. Then she helped me wrap her in the same sheet we had wrapped her beloved mastiff, Juno, in just a few weeks ago and bundled me in her car, while I held Ruby in my arms, kissing her sweet nose, and drove me to the vet, where I left her to be cremated.
No way to fill a hole like this one.
RIP Ruby. You are missed. You are loved.
August 9, 2006 – April 28, 2016
Anahata (Sanskrit: अनाहत, Anāhata) the heart center – this chakra allows us to love deeply, feel compassion, and access a sense of peace and connectedness.
There is much yearning for me to live in the heart center. If you notice, it’s right in the center of the 7 chakras. I draw upon the energy from the lower chakras and pull down the energy from the upper chakras and they all meet in the 4th to generate a warm loving pulse, a strong drum beat that I walk to. Not all the time, but as much as I can manage. It is my life practice to keep the heart chakra open.
“Love is what we are; we don’t get it from somebody, we can’t give it to anybody, we can’t fall in it or fall out of it. Love is our true Being.” Krishna Das
This post has taken me longer to write than the others in the series because I want to do it justice. Like describing a lover’s face to somebody else, I don’t want to leave anything out, get it just right. And in the realization of that, I can let go and do my best, it’s just ego setting out its trip wire.
Once, when I was a pre-school teacher, one of my favorite 4 year old girls threw her arms around me and said “I love you so much, I wish I could kiss you on the lips!” and I received the pure uncensored abandon of her love. What my 4 year old girl wants to say about the 4th chakra is: “I am in love with this chakra, with this life, with YOU, with ME and I wish I could write a thousand love poems for the heart!” I wish I could throw my arms around the world and dissolve into one million points of light and ecstatically merge with All. (Maybe that’s what death is like…I hope so.)
This full moon time, I’ve been praying to take the “next step” in my work life, the next step on the path of meaning and service. I pray to be of service in the world, in the areas of death & dying, grief healing, suicide loss, threshold passages, sacred sexuality, body awareness/appreciation – you know, just the usual stuff. And ALL of it under the umbrella of sharing from the heart, with each and every encounter, seeing others through eyes of love.
“Wherever you are, and whatever you do, be in love.” -Rumi.
So how to do that? Stay in love with the world on a daily basis…not always easy. Especially driving around Boulder at 5pm. My god I am challenged! I am humbled by how quickly I can get knocked off center. My blueprint for living these days is my beloved book: The Untethered Soul, by Michael Singer. In it, he speaks about how the heart center is an energy center and this energy (Chi, Shakti, Spirit) is unlimited and it’s our birthright. It’s our birthright! We store pain in the heart center and in order to be truly FREE, we need to commit to a practice of feeling our pain and releasing it, witnessing it as energy, nothing more/less, and allowing it to pass. This enables us to stay in our heart and not close it off anytime we think we might feel something painful. Living in fear of feeling something that hasn’t happened yet isn’t freedom. Singer says: “The only thing you have to know is that opening (the heart) allows energy in, and closing blocks it out.” The good news is that I am presented with mulitiple opportunties a day to stop, breathe and relax my heart and open it again. Which is why it is my most active, ongoing practice and it has immediate, amazing results. My life is changing before my eyes.
“There is a candle in your heart, ready to be kindled.
There is a void in your soul, ready to be filled.
You feel it, don’t you?”
I wrote about bringing Lance’s ashes to Varanasi and how powerful that was for me to release them into the river.
Now on to Rishikesh, a lotus of a place, nestled on the banks of the Ganges, in northern India. The water is cool and clean, with sandy swaths of beach and many ashrams and temples along its edge. There is something very peaceful and sweet about this small city and the slower pace is a welcome retreat.
When we arrived at our hotel, our amazing host, Govind Agarwal, had arranged for our group to have a special blessing by priests. As each of us entered the yoga room, we were given a special necklace of marigolds as the priests chanted.
Red paste and grains of rice were put on our foreheads and prayers were offered to Durga (the mother of us all), Ganesha (the remover of all obstacles) and Shiva (Destroyer of Ego and one who sits in deep meditation.) One group member said she felt “home” as soon as she heard the powerful chanting of the priests. The acoustics of the yoga room made me feel as if the mantras were vibrating through my chest cavity and opening my heart.
Have you ever said “yes!” to something because you felt it in your body, even though you had no idea what it was? Months ago, back in the US, Govind had suggested having a ceremony for our ancestors on the banks of the Ganges. Ever since he mentioned it, I became instantly attached to having it. In fact, during the entire trip in India, my intention was to cultivate an attitude of surrender in all things, which I accomplished for the most part, but I stubbornly remained attached – like a barnacle on a wooden boat! – to 3 things: the sunrise boat ride in Varanasi (which didn’t happen, so obviously I need to go back), the ceremony for our ancestors, and the dipping in the Ganga.
The morning of the ceremony, Govind walked us down the marble steps that literally disappear into the river. The 3 priests were waiting for us accompanied by various bathers, curious onlookers and sadhus. We took our seats on the marble, facing the river.
The priests put sandalwood paste across our forehead. We offered prayers and offerings to the river, giving thanks for those that had come before us, honoring our lineage and speaking our ancestors’ names aloud.
I had brought a small vial with me – the remains of my beloved grandparents ashes – unsure of whether I would be willing to part with the last physical remnants of them. As I prayed, I knew with an inner wisdom that in the releasing of this ash, I was surrendering to the pulse of the universe, letting energy go into the flow of the river. “Harold…Hazel” I said out loud as the priest poured milk into the jar and I tipped it into the river. For the rest of the day, I experienced an uplifting of the spirit that was tangible and a peace I usually only feel after meditating.
Days later, Govind’s lovely wife, Bindia, graciously accompanied us to an area of the Ganges where we would dunk in the river. The symbolism differs for everyone, but for me, it was an opportunity to “baptize” myself – to submerge myself 7 times, one for each chakra, in the holy river of unconditional love. To cleanse myself of my sins, and to be born anew. Returning to India, and bringing a group of women to India, had been a dream. Now it was time to recognize that I had realized a dream come true and honor that part in me that had heard the call and said yes to it. To realize that there are endings and also beginnings in a pilgrimage to India. I was consciously saying ‘goodbye’ to aspects of myself, and experiences from the past 2 years. In submerging in the river, I was also saying ‘yes’ to whatever was wishing to be born in me – perhaps aspects or ideas that I am not even aware of yet consciuosly, but the seeds have been planted.
Several of us were called to dunk in the river that morning and it was a powerful experience for all of us. Much gratitude to Bindia who held our hands (with teeth chattering!) as each of us took the plunge. Afterwards, we lit incense and made offerings to the river in thanks for her willingness to take us – the shadow and the light – and wash away our impurities and leave us refreshed and renewed.
I have so much gratitude for this journey and for all the ways I was able to be in sacred ceremony with the holiest of rivers – Mata Ganga – the Mother Ganges. Sharing these experiences with this group of women has made it more potent for me and these memories live on in my heart and mind. And oh Mother India, I will return! Deep bow.
Back when I was younger, I kept my heart under 24/7 lock down. Nobody was going to hurt me! Not surprisingly, by shutting everything down, I stayed closed off to giving and receiving love. I also had a lot of heart palpitations and irregular heart beats throughout my life. About 5 years ago I was put on beta blockers because my heart symptoms were so frequent and disturbing. Then, one magical day, on a hike to a sacred place of mine, I prayed to Spirit to “remove the shield from my heart.” At the time, it was a ‘throw away’ prayer, something I casually tossed out. I just said the words at the last minute, before I hiked back down the mountain. However, I came down from the hike and haven’t been on heart meds since. True story. There have been heart palpitations, but now when I experience them, I get quiet and ask my heart what it’s trying to say. What do I need to pay attention to? Every time, it’s been related to something emotional that’s happening in my life that needs attending to. The heart is an amazing barometer of the emotional body. Pay attention to it!
These days, I can’t open my heart fast enough. I feel like the picture of Hanuman, and I’m ripping open my own chest, saying “Here God, let me help you!”
I found a book – or rather it found me – The Untethered Soul, by Michael A. Singer. I have no idea why I reached for it at the bookstore, I think I liked the color blue and the horse…and something about the word “untethered.”
The book is small – digestible for me, and easy to read. It talks about living with an open heart, it gives directions on how to do this, it’s a PLAN (I love a plan!) on how to keep your heart open and what to do when you feel your heart closing. As soon as one becomes willing – conscious – to witness the energy shifts of their heart, they can be aware of a tendency to close the heart. The book breaks down the theory of energy centers – especially the heart center – using scientific terms within a yogic context. And did I mention it’s easy to read?! Really.
All of this resonates for me and makes sense. It’s like reading things I already “know” on some level, but having it in this simple format has really clicked for me. I have been spending my past few days in my open heart, watching the tendency to shut down and close up when I experience an emotional trigger. So far, it’s been pretty easy and even fun. Until today. Today I got “blind sided” by an interaction with someone. It triggered all my stuff – my “good enough” stuff, my “scarcity” stuff, my “alone” story, etc. I could literally feel my energy body wanting to spin out and keep all my stories alive. It was all I could do NOT to fan the flames in my head. Instead I went and danced for an hour. But like a tongue poking a sore tooth, even with the book, and my meditation practice, and the physical exercise and conscious breathing in the heart, I still had to check several times on my stuff to see if was still there (it was.)
Tonight, after a long day, I am feeling more at peace. I am feeling more ‘free’ – truly. I have successfully stayed in an uncomfortable place and kept my heart open. I’ve felt some pain and fear and have passed through some fire. Having the feelings of fear or insecurity don’t make me pure or impure. The trick is not getting drawn into that energy, and to simply relax and release as the energy appears. “And no matter how many times you’re pulled, that’s how many times you relax and release. Your opportunites to grow are endless.”
You will get to a point in your growth where you understand that if you protect yourself, you will never be free.
Michael A. Singer.
In this beautiful song by Nirinjan Kaur, Aud Guray, she is singing the words “Protect Me, Open my Heart, and I’ll be Free.” I like to think she is giving her will over to Source, God, Spirit, and saying please protect me (so I don’t have to!) and open my heart and in doing this, I will be free. A’Ho!
I’m home, kids are home, dog threw her back out, I have some weird virus that has settled in my inner ear, causing some hearing loss which “may or may not be permanent” says my doc. I feel like I am going deaf, have water in my ear, or 5 cotton balls wedged in my ear canal. Ruby’s on pain meds, I’m on steroids (which have a “30-50% chance” of clearing up my ear and restoring my hearing) and baby girl got her wisdom teeth out yesterday. Her percocet and viocodin are sitting on the kitchen counter singing their siren song. Got some hilarious video of #3 (Lili’s nickname since we have 5 kids combined) just after her surgery – where her mouth is gaping open, stuffed with gauze and she’s saying “I fink there’s sumfin in my mouf” – good times. But as soon as we got home, I realized she was going to be a big fat handful, needing meds round the clock, ice, gauze, no falling asleep until the gauze comes out, she’s falling asleep! tv blaring…needs assistance walking because she’s woozy. #5 needs dinner, and there’s three (three!) piles of cat barf on the carpet (of course) in my bedroom. And my husband is still at the beach in CA. Fuck-it-all.
Meanwhile…I am making homemade custard (the kind you make from scratch and pour into buttered ramekins and bake in a hot water bath), doing laundry, getting scrips filled, carrying the dog up and down the stairs to go potty several times a day, hosting playdates, making late night runs to Whole Foods for mashed potatoes, etc. All this time, as I’m trying to take care of all the characters in this play, I am feeling bad about myself. I am feeling guilty approaching a level of self-flagellation that I skipped my meditation practice. I’m feeling ineffectual and like a Loser (with a capital ‘L’) that I am just walking around in a daze with no motivation to write a blog post or go for a run – not to mention I’m eating all the homemade custard that my kids decided didn’t taste as good as Kosy Shack’s rice pudding. Go figure.
Anne Lamott talks about practicing Radical Self Care and jokingly refers to “keeping the patient comfortable” about herself when she’s struggling emotionally. For her, it means curling up in bed with a book and her dogs and a bag of M&M’s. “Whaaaat?” I say. “Self Care?” (Imagine me cocking my head and saying this in a Yoda voice.) “What is this ‘Self Care’?” Hmmmm. Where can I get some of this I wonder? The kicker is…I have to do it! After a good cry (after the dumb cat jumped up on my lap and missed, leaving 5 puncture holes in my leg) I was sufficiently beaten down enough to surrender (key) and let all expectation of having a “productive” day go. Making lemonade people!
I decided to take all “shoulds” off my list today. I’m choppig wood/carrying water re. the kids and animals – i.e. everyone is entitled to have food – as much as I wish everyone could just make their own cheese and crackers and we’d be done with the whole thing. All pets will be let in and out and carried down steps. Medicine will be dispensed. Maybe I will do some yoga, maybe not. Maybe I will watch the entire season of a reality show, maybe I will try and take a nap. I’m giving my inner critic the day off. I’m upping my caffeine level for today. I’m going to try and show up for myself even just half as much as I am willing to do for my kids. Let’s see how this goes…
I have a prayer. My prayer is to be of service. Time feels like it is speeding up. The planet is experiencing huge shifts, people are stressed and technology bombards us with shocking facts daily.
If you have read my blog before, you know that one of my favorite quotes from Yogi Bhajan is that in the Aquarian Age, one third of the population will die, one third will go insane, and one third will be left to deal. Pretty grim for a favorite quote, eh? Some days I wonder which third of the population I qualify for (har har.)
But seriously…what I like about this quote is that it confirms what I’m feeling – that things are intensifying in the world – I’m not just imagining it. It also reminds me that I have tools I can use to feel more grounded and supported. I would love to share these tools with those of you that might like some extra support.
I am offering a drop-in meditation class every Monday evening in the month of June. It will be at my house, from 7-8:30pm. We will start on time and end on time. There will be a time for sharing, and then we will do some gentle stretches and breathing exercises and practice Kundalini meditation together. This group will be for men and women, and all levels of ability and experience. The drop in fee is $10. If you are intersted, please email me for my address. I’d love to have you join us.
Please read what astrologer Eric Francis has to say about the media and this intense time we live in:
Our senses were never intended to extend this far, or to perceive from this point of view — especially for those who are empaths or sensitives. They are more practical, intended to provide information about our local surroundings and the people with us in any given moment. Now we’re subject to incursion by anything that happens anywhere, and most of the time what we hear about is painful.
So a couple months ago, I called Kirsten Boyer to see if she would be open to taking a photo of me for a flyer to use on the India trip. I’d seen her work and thought she does lovely things with light and I was thinking possibly she could take a nice, professional head shot of me. As we were brainstorming on the phone, Kirsten asked me if I had any interest in making a short informational video for my website – something for people to watch and get a better feel of who I am. “Oh…like a virtual business card?” I asked. “Yes!” Kirsten exclaimed. “Sure, why not?” I answered. And that’s how a phone call with Kirsten about a head shot for a flyer becomes an entire website with 5 (five!) videos and some of the best pictures I’ve ever seen of myself.
I’ve been wondering what is going to come of this…why a website? Why now? The noticing part of me is watching…observing…curious to see what will evolve. Kirsten was my midwife. She might be uncomfortable with that title, but I’ve thanked her all along for inching me along, seeing a bigger picture (no pun intended.)
Working with Kirsten is a special experience. She has an amazing eye – she can take a cloudy day, a clump of weeds and a self-conscious model and get this:
One of the best parts of working together was getting to hang out with Kirsten. I miss her now that the project is done. I’m busy cooking up new ideas so we can hang out. Maybe I can carry her camera equipment 🙂
Don’t be fooled by her gentle demeanor. It’s a tribute to Kirsten’s personality that she is as approachable and mellow as she is, but she knows what she is looking for in a picture and she’ll direct you. Your best bet is to enjoy the ride and trust her eye. It was creatively inspiring as well as heart opening to work together. She modestly claims that we “co-created” this project. Not so sure that’s how I would describe the long hours we spent with me blanking out in front of the camera and her coaching me to talk about why I’m so great. (aargh) There were definitely edgy parts for me about being the subject matter of all of this – a website about Me, starring Me, all about Me! Kirsten was just the right mix of support and heckler; reflecting my gifts and believing in them, and also helping me laugh at myself.
Kirsten put many hours into this project and I think the videos are amazing. When I die, you can play them at my memorial as a tribute – they’re that good! When I watch the “Spirit” one, I always cry and I have to remember that I’m still alive.
I really do feel like Kirsten saw a better ‘me’ – and captured it on film. The Me that I want to be – that I’m striving to be. She raised the bar and I want to be that person that I see in her photos. I’m becoming…evolving…into a brighter self. I am forever grateful that she was part of this unveiling in me. It feels alchemical.
I wish I could gift everyone I know with a session with Kirsten. She’ll take photos that will make you feel beautiful, she will put you at ease and you will get to banter with a fine, saucy wit. I hope there are things in her life that make her feel as beautiful and radiant as she is.
Today, in The Morning Blessings, I read: Life here is precious, for we are love and light evolving as beauty and joy each and every moment. Today you can begin to feel this divine Selfhood by being who you really are. Each time you look into the mirror, go beyond your personality and see the divinity that is within. Make it a point to see yourself as Spirit in all you think, say and do.