The Real Yoga

I have been on break from writing blogs since November of 2019. Wow. So much has gone down since then. Mostly, we are currently faced with a pandemic. The biggest one that humanity has ever seen is what they are saying. Makes one wonder what else do we have to prepare for.

In unpredictable situations like these, I do not think that we can really prepare for anything as much as we would like to. All we can do is try and do our best, be our best and work with what we got.  In dire times  it is really important to follow our inner compass and hope we are making the right choices for us and those around us. We also don’t want to be following herd mentality blindly because we saw where that would get us. I am referencing the toilet paper craze that happened recently as a result of Covid-19.

The current situation sort of takes me back to the Lebanese Civil War…only back then I did not have yoga. I have been putting my yoga practice to use  these days.  When I use the word ‘yoga’ most would think of asana, stretches, and weird contortions of the body.  While those are helpful, and they are a first step. Yoga asana, or postures are not yoga.

What yoga really is:

Yoga is listening

Yoga is seeing

Yoga is silence

Yoga is breath

Yoga is stillness

Yoga is self- study

Yoga is devotion

Yoga is faith

Yoga is right living

Yoga is non-violence

Yoga is truthfulness

Yoga is non-stealing

Yoga is moderation of the senses

Yoga is giving

Yoga is self-purification

Yoga is contentment

Yoga is self-discipline

Yoga is finding peace amidst the storm

Yoga is surrender

Yoga postures are what we do to help us practice yoga. We need yoga. Yoga doesn’t need us.

I’d like to expand on each one of those things within the context of the recent pandemic in hopes that the reader gets a deeper understanding of yoga.  Perhaps this will also offer some insights on how to make this intense time a little more tolerable by applying the real work of yoga in our day to day.

Yoga is listening:

This really means that we listen to others and also listen to our soul. Really listening to others helps us understand them while listening to our soul allows us to take the actions that are best suited for us.

Listening to what people need at this time while also balancing what we need is one of the toughest things we as humans have to do.  In the case of our pandemic, listening to the truth can be tough when there are so many conflicting sources that distract us. All we really need at this time is to know what the symptoms are and how to protect ourselves if we were to contract the disease. Fearing it will not save us. The most important thing is: to know what to do.

Yoga is seeing:

Seeing is not just with the eyes.  It is with the heart mind and soul.  When you see something on a deep level you know it to be true. It is akin to intuition. You know but you don’t know how you know.  That is the true seeing. For instance with the corona virus it doesn’t take much to see how fragile our humanity is, in fact our entire existence can be wiped out by something as minute as a virus.  There is plenty more we can see by sitting with what is happening.  I am surely in the midst of that and will surely share any insights as they arise.

Yoga is silence:

Silencing not only our words, but also our mind chatter. If there is no silence, we will not know how to act or what to do when needed to act. Our system will be over taxed and that is when we will make the choices that will harm us or harm those around us.

Yoga is breath:

One of my dearest yoga teachers used to say: if you don’t breath during yoga postures you are not doing yoga.  The breath is more important than the movement. Bringing our attention to the breath several times a day is yoga. This whole pandemic thing is a high stress situation for many of us no doubt, and we are all on uncertain ground, but breathing is an asset like no other. Deepening the breath is a vital practice in stressful times.

Yoga is stillness:

We have to be still in order to listen, hear and see.  Yet with the recent pandemic everyone is doing everything and anything except trying to be still. The amount of live videos on Facebook alone has gone from 1% to 99% . It is nice we can connect on social media. I think balancing the time with connecting and taking time to be alone will really be of service in finding the answers we need about the situation and also about our life as it is today.

Yoga is self-study:

We cannot do self-inquiry without taking time to be with ourselves.  No one but us has our answers. These answers come from within us. The universe has just handed us some time to be with our own stuff, to really sit and do nothing, and yet we are still out there hoarding, buying, stocking, and distracting online. Stop the doing and just be for a day or two. It is okay to not have something to do every minute of your waking life.  Chillax people.

Yoga is devotion:

Devoting one-self to something bigger. A mission, a calling, a higher power or to that which we hold sacred.  Devotion is  also giving oneself freely to a purpose.  In this case nurses and healthcare providers are doing just that these days. Perhaps we can find something similar we can do for a neighbor, a friend or someone who could use assistance in some way these days.  Sending a note and asking how someone is maybe the best thing we ever did.

Yoga is faith:

When I use the word faith, I do not mean you have to believe in a religion.  Faith is trusting that there is a reason and a purpose for everything that happens.   Faith is knowing that we are never given more than we can handle.  The things put in our path are meant for our growth and our learning. Faith has helped many of us brave the craziest of storms in our life. With faith we are able to solve the biggest problems, with fear we crumble and fall. Faith is what has allowed humanity to achieve the unachievable.

 

Yoga is right living:

Right living is insuring we do not take more than we need, be it space, resources, or energy.  Making sure the source of our income is rightful. No one wants money or goods that are tainted with the suffering of others.

Yoga is non-violence:

This one really speaks for itself.  Violence here is that which is inflicted on others as much as that inflicted on one self. We can be violent in the way we think of ourselves as well as how we speak of ourselves.

Yoga is truthfulness:

Being honest with others is as important as being honest with ourselves.  We can be honest about the fear, and anxiety because when we are we can seek help rather than suppress it and act it out in unhealthy ways.

Yoga is non-stealing:

Stealing can be seen and unseen. We can steal anything from objects to ideas.  That is the reason we have citations in academia. I whole heartedly believe in giving credit where credit is due. Hoarding things is a form of stealing. Taking more than we need of anything causes an imbalance in the pristine order of nature and the cycle of life.

Yoga is moderation of the senses:

Moderation of what we consume with all our senses is making sure what we take in is not harming us be it food, drink, music, movies, and certain types of news.

Yoga is giving:

Giving is not just about the giving of money, resources and objects but the giving of kind words, thoughtful gestures and letting those we care about know that we care about them.  Giving is also giving one’s time to something one believes in be it an organization or a passion.

Yoga is self-purification:

Physical hygiene is a given, but what is mean with this is purifying our thoughts, our energy, and our souls by chanting mantra, or other uplifting music or sound such as drums or high frequency music.

Yoga is contentment:

This maybe a difficult one at the moment for those struggling financially, or physically or even mentally.  Finding the little things we can appreciate, a bud in a tree, the smell of grass after the rain, the beautiful scent of the soap we just purchased. All these things help us feel satisfied in ways that are simple yet powerful.

Yoga is self-discipline:

Doing the things we need to do on a daily basis be they errands , job or family obligations.  Self -discipline is also about taking control of the things we can control like our health and well-being. Learning the skills we need to learn, doing the self-inquiry required of us.  Self- discipline cannot be done for us. Self-discipline is about developing a strong will.

Yoga is finding peace amidst the storm:

Imagine yourself in boat pose, and you’re holding that pose for 15 minutes.  Actually, I want you to try this now, get up and go into boat pose and hold it. Make sure you do not hold your breath keep the breath deep and stay in boat.  After a few minutes it becomes intense: that is the storm we are in now. Use the breath and calm your thoughts, see if the breath can help ease the storm.  The more you practice the easier it becomes. Such is life.  You have to make it through some storms. It is all about how you carry yourself through such moments.

Yoga is surrender:

By surrender  I surely do not mean giving up or being complacent. I mean accepting that what is happening is beyond our control, and working on what we can actually control. The only thing we can control is our selves. Our health, our skills, the way we respond to what life hands us.

I have been face to face with my own mortality many times over the course of my life. Such moments have forced me to go internally and question every little detail about my life.  It is a form of a purge, so I have learned to use it wisely.

 

I pray that you may find the courage to change the things you can and accept the things that you cannot change.

Wishing you strength and peace in those crazy times. May you feel supported and protected.

 

Robots and Imagination

 

 

Source: pngall
Title: Transhuman                       Source: pngall

 

While researching my dissertation on creative process, one of my observations was that without imagination there can be no creativity, imagination is the playground of creativity , and the playfield of transcendent experience. Without imagination and the mind, there is no accounting for creative experiences.

Imagination and the psyche are non-local, that is they cannot be located in a specific point in the physical body.  Humanity can never recreate the human psyche, or the imagination.  It is impossible to construct something that is non-local which exists only in imagination. The purpose of this project is to demonstrate the mystery of the imagination in real time through hands on painting.  I shall be painting in an improvised manner without previous preparation and will let each moment be my guide.  Robots cannot have non-local imagination as it exists in human beings. Since it is all previously programmed a robot is incapable of improvising in this way.

I recently read an article by Kabir Helminski, in Tikkun Magazine entitled : The Spiritual challenge of AI, Trans-Humanism, and the Post-Human World.

Helminski writes that “we have lost touch of the idea of a human embedded in a divine nature” and replaced it with the human ego.  He further writes that trans humanism is impacting our humanness not only on a physical level but also on the level of the soul.

Human existence is on two levels the physical and the part we call consciousness.

When we introduce transhumanism we are removing the perception of the heart and soul from human experience and so it becomes that  instead of making robots human, we are making humans robots.

In any AI endevour, it behooves us to think of humans as more than mere data. There is no denying that we all have an inner world that is not possible to recreate in a robot.  There are some things that are part of the numinous experience that cannot be produced by an algorithm. Such examples are imagination and beauty.

 

Mandalas are Sigils

Source: https://www.pinterest.com/bomanijess/patterns-symbols-sigils-stuff/

On Saturday July 6th, that was just last month, I led a two hour workshop at Science and Non Duality Conference in Orvieto Italy, entitled: Meditation & Mandalas. This workshop began with a gentle yoga practice followed by shamanic breath work, a presentation, meditation and concluding with participants actually making their own mandalas.

Here is the abstract for that:

In this two hour workshop we will begin with a short calming and rejuvenating yoga flow followed by a visualization meditation.  I shall speak a little bit about what a mandala is and show you how to create one while infusing it with intentions. Participants will walk away with an understanding of what mandalas are, where they came from, how to make an endless amount of mandalas,  and how they can be used not only aesthetically but also as a powerful spiritual practice tool of manifestation.

The presentation portion was as follows:

Bear with me as I love to weave unrelated traditions, concepts, wisdoms and ideas.  I guess that makes me a tantrika at heart?

Mandalas

Most of us nowadays know about Mandalas mostly because of Asian art and spiritual practices.  However, mandalas have been used since antiquity. All cultures have made mandalas. Without exception. For all we know, humans have been making mandalas since they began to make art.  Mandalas symbolize the whole or wholeness, the wholeness of the universe that is. Carl Jung used them as part of his therapy practice and would ask patients to create mandalas which allowed him to find emotional disorders and help them work towards wholeness – or order.

 

Archetypes give birth to ArtKeyTypes

Carl Jung concluded that there is something, which he later gave the name ‘collective unconscious” which allowed each person to produce similar elements. This is where he postulated the existence of his primordial images known as: archetypes.  Which is what I have based my work on with ArtKeyTypes because I work with the creative process and Carl Jung has written a lot about the importance of active imagination and making the unconscious conscious.  I have wanted to focus on working with the archetypes, and it seemed like an overwhelming undertaking for someone who is not a psychologist by training and that is what led me to choose the focus of working with the five elemental archetypes of which everything else is made of.

There exist , according to Jung, “identical psychic structures common to all “which seem to be passed on from generation to generation and which influence the way all humans  experience the world. It is important to make the distinction here between a sign and a symbol. Every psychic product may be regarded as a symbol.  Symbols supersede conscious understanding, a sign stands for something known.

The thing with archetypes is that they are not like our physical reality, they are not an observable body with organs, blood, bones, flesh..etc…The existence of archetypes is revealed by the arrangements they produce in consciousness, namely through the manifestation of symbolic imagery.

However Ayurveda has clearly been able to observe them in the human body.  Any imbalance within the elements will create an imbalance within the doshas and therefore an imbalance within the entire body system.

Furthermore, while signs point to things which exist in the world, symbols stand for things that are in our  psyche, or in other words they are the patterns of the unconscious.

 

Sigils

Let’s take a step back  ( or many steps back ) before religions  existed and see if we can find the origin of mandalas?

Source: http://66.media.tumblr.com/bf1e807bcf4a326aca0749d7b5819e7c/tumblr_noxlww8d9P1u2wlavo1_1280.png

I learned about sigils when I began studying with the Mystic and Seer Almine back in 2012.  I have been working with and researching them for many years now and here is some of what I found.

In the Merriam dictionary a sigil is defined as: a sign that has occult power in astrology or magic. According to Almine,  sigils are carriers of light and frequency. When one moves their index finger tracing the sigil in the air, they are invoking the frequencies that this movement carries. Similar to a conductor conducting music on stage. Yet these sigils have healing properties. This works by the light attracting illusion and frequency attracting distortion. Once this takes place, the person is able to express at a higher level and release old patterns of behavior.

There is more to the sigils though. After doing a little research, I discovered that they have been around since antiquity within magical and shamanic contexts and were used in mystery schools, occultism, and magic. They are still used to this day in Kabbalah.  Sigils must not be confused with symbols. Symbols are representations of things that exist.

Sigils hold the frequency of the thing or emotion that exists. In other words, sigils hold the essence of something and are not a mere representation.

I suppose after such musings it is safe to say that Mandalas are Sigils?

Would love to hear your thoughts on this and if you have any additional wisdoms ~ do write to me!

 

Panchamahabutas In Ancient Roccamassima.

 

Image source: http://www.prolocoroccamassima.it

 

The most recent trip I took to Roccamassima left me feeling like I had travelled back in time. Believe me, that was not my intention as there was a ton of inner work to sort through that began to emerge as soon as I set foot there. Amidst the self- reflection,  I found myself living what seemed to be a medieval life- well aside from my occasional iphone usage, which to be honest, was very rare due to terrible internet receptivity.

 

The Setting

Imagine this:  a medieval castle, partially renovated, atop a mountain, on the outskirts of the city of Rome, one of the most ancient sites of the world, overcast with a misty cloud formation that seemed to have existed before time itself.   Cold and damp home interiors, due to the thick walls that were constructed centuries ago. No electricity, no water, and the closest town is a 30 min drive.  Narrow streets, lead into narrower streets that are not accessible by car.  A town secluded in the mountain wilderness and the only sound you hear is that of the forest creatures and birds.  In certain instances there is wind howling, literally saying things that I wished I understood.

This little town a short drive south of Rome seems small and insignificant, yet so majestic as it towers over the valleys with a rich and yet mysterious history that is not that accessible.  One has to dig and ask and hopefully find a few morsels of information here and there.  What I was able to find about the castle where my space is located, and about the town itself, with the help of the organ player in the church of the town, (whose name escapes me now),  was as follows:

 The town of Roccamassima  was founded in December of 1202 by decree of  Pope Innocent III.  The castle was built to defend the Church of Rome. The town palace belonged to Prince Pieter Degli Annibaldi’s, a descendant of Pope Innocent III.   It was built in the 13thcentury AD and its sturdy buttresses are still visible.  The castle rises on the highest part of the country and over the centuries it was the dwelling of the feudal noble families of the territory: the Malabranca, the Pierleoni, the counts, the Salviati, the Doria Oamphili.  Some rooms in the palace were prison cells.  In the beginning of the twentieth century, the Palace was passed to the property of the Cherubini Family, who over the years sold different portions to different individuals.  During the fascist period the palace was the seat of the Podestà. In the 1950s it became the local Police barracks.  The rooms in the ground floor where used as warehouses and horse stables.  The horses were used to bring wheat and fruit to the prince.  Roccamassima did not have its own water supply until the 1980’s. Water had to be brought from the neighboring towns.

Daily images haunted me of what it would be like living here in the middle ages, keeping watch over the surroundings of Rome day and night, and also what it might have been like for the Prince who lived here.  I am sure his family lived a luxurious life by comparison to the rest of the population. But was it really that luxurious by our standards?

 

Is this my Imagination?

You see, I was trained to try and piece together history from potshards, and other remains.  Although I did not go on an archaeological dig in Roccamassima this May, I did receive visuals, and flashbacks into what seemed to be the past as I walked the town.  As I lay there on the newly installed terracotta, I had brief and sudden glimpses into the rich past. Perhaps it was only my imagination wildly at play. Perhaps they were open doorways that when silent and still enough, one can hear and see.  Regardless, it was a moving experience.

I was waiting to encounter spirits of those who lived here, and instead on one specific night, I found myself communing with the spirits of horses that are said to have inhabited the space I currently renovated.  I could sense that they seemed to have been well cared for and extremely content.

As I further explored the streets of Roccamassima, I noticed there used to be a communal oven where everyone in the town came to cook their meals. I began to imagine the women of the town meeting three times a day,  perhaps to share stories and gossip as they prepared their meals.  I recalled my own grandmother sending loads of food to be cooked at a similar oven in my home town of Tripoli, Lebanon.

Living like this for two weeks, I could really sense what it was like to live back then. Especially because of the harsh weather, and the lack of electricity and water in my place.  It brought back the realization that I had had over three decades ago, that we are so privileged to be living in these times. To live in these times means to realize the inequality, the discrimination, the horrors and atrocities that still inflict human kind today.  Turning a blind eye and numbing our self will not make things change.

Déjà vu

This experience took me many years back, back to living and witnessing some intense times during the Lebanese civil War.  A part of my life I usually do not talk about with much detail.  During this war, we lived with barely any of the comforts of everyday life.  We had no electricity for days, no for months, and years.  Showers were taken in small buckets of bottled water that we warmed up over a gas stove. Sometimes just icy water would do.  Studying for exams by candle light until the late hours of the night…

Yes, all these things may seem like hardships, but you know what? I have come to see that there is so much beauty in such simplicity.  This simplicity is what helps us appreciate nature and her cycles. It helps us tune into the elements and understand them.

The Summoning

My Goddess! I called this in. When I decided to focus my work, my yoga, and psycho-somatically informed creative trauma work on the elements, I called this in.  I wanted to focus on working with the five archetypal elements and I summoned them all to me on top of this mountain.  It feels like this was merely an introduction, a beginning of the work that will follow.  Earth, Fire, Water, Air, and Ether stopped by, each in their own special way to let me know they heard the call. They also made sure I know,  it is on their terms, not mine.  I quickly surrendered to this truth and am humbled they showed up in this way.

My yoga teachings and flows will be specifically focused and informed by these elements from here and on. In Ayurveda they are referred to as the panchamahabutas. It cannot be any other way. It was on top of this mountain, overcast with misty clouds, wind howling, rain pouring day and night, and the stove burning where I wrote the curriculum for my hopefully soon to be certified yoga school offerings.  There is so much depth to this and I have only just barely began to scratch the surface.

Journey to  Roccamassima one day? The five elements will be there waiting.  Are you in?

 

 

My first retreat was a Disaster!

 

My first retreat was a disaster

 

No a catastrophe…

 

In fact the more I sat with this, the more I realized that it was the biggest success!

It actually was the best learning experience that I totally needed to have. The nature of retreats right?  You know that saying: anything that can go wrong, will go wrong? Well, that is pretty much how I have been rolling  since I arrived here.

I know, I must have called this experience in, because honestly, I could go into the coulda, shoulda, woulda, but I refuse to.  It is all in divine order.  All I know is that if you are not ready for this work, you will find a million excuses not to do the work.

This stuff is not for the faint of heart. Putting together a retreat and a retreat space are too much for one person alone.  I really needed more support, I also needed to know a little more about my students before they signed up. Lessons learned, in no specific order:

 

Things will go wrong- you can feel sad, but don’t react.

YOU are the only one to help bring things up the stairs – there’s your daily workout ! Ha!

YOU will forget many things and have to drive to the nearest town like 10 more times – enjoy the scenic drive.

Things will break – you can curse, but don’t stress.

There will be nights you can’t sleep because of cold weather, weird sounds, too many thoughts…- stay with it.

The weather will go bad – accept.

The 5 elements will mock you – laugh with them.

The fire will not start – befriend it.

The water will not cooperate- go with the flow even if it means no shower for four days.

The electricity is controlled by Enel – just have the whole town, including the mayor calling them.

The wind will howl and slam the shutter- lock that damn shutter!

The students will not be ready – send them home, perhaps they will be back when they are ready.

Feeling alone on top of a mountain in the middle of nowhere- facetime your entire family.

People will be weird – be weirder.

The dance floor you ordered goes missing in Aprilia – dance on the terra cotta!

Only 2 out of the 10 cushions you ordered arrive- message the German vendor on amazon.it,  in Italian ?

 

And just when you think everything is working fine, you suddenly just cannot sleep because the tile is a bit too terra cotta-ish for your tender back in your sleeping bag- get up and write your next blog  😉

 

Keep the hope,

keep the focus,

pray,

surrender,

thank the helpers in human form and otherwise,

and know there will be a fresh new retreat real soon

Some day it will all work out.

My biggest take away: so many people are afraid of their shadow, and most are afraid to paint.  I am sure there is a connection.

Signing off…until the next post…

Sex in the 21st Century

 

The conversation usually goes something like this:

 

Them: You are writing a book?

Me: Yes

Them: Wonderful, what about ?

Me: Sex

Oh! Wow! (eyes widen, big smile happens),what about sex?

This is not what you are thinking…I begin to explain,  I am not a sex therapist, I am an artist. I am writing this book from the experience of having lived in both an Eastern culture and a Western culture.  I write about the patriarchy, misogyny, repression and oppression. I also write because of epiphanies I had while researching creative process.

You see, creative energy is really that which the yoga world calls  kundalini energy.  This same kundalini energy is actually the same energy used for creating all kinds of things in one’s life, a meal, a book, a painting, or even a beautiful living room.

Be the Master of Your Kundalini

Mystics have continuously spoken of how we can be the master of our own kundalini energy rather than allow it to become our master.  This is called the use of the will. We humans have this amazing capacity, that which distinguishes us from the rest of earthly creation.  When we meditate, do yoga, fast or do any other sort of spiritual practice, what we are really doing is strengthening our will.   Mystics, spiritual teachers, and prophets throughout time have known this truth.

What inspired me to write such a book is that I have seen two very conflicting and extreme world views on sex. What is more, in the Western culture that prides itself on sexual liberation, sex is still as taboo as anywhere else. In addition to this, women are still treated like objects, used to gratify a man’s sexual urge under the pretense that there is more.  I know, this may seem like a general statement, however there is solid research that has been done.  Although honestly, we really do not need this research as we have evidence in the form of the  me too movement that took hold of the entire globe just last year.

 

Sex Education Crisis

In November of last year I came across an interesting article titled The Sex Ed Crisis.  This was validation to me that this book that I am taking my time producing is very much needed in our times.  On the other side of the spectrum, to this day we hear stories about honor killings in countries such as Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.  Women whose lives are taken because they shamed the family name as a result of engaging in some sexual scandal.

This book is about my own experience with a seventeen year marriage which looking back could have been completely different had I even had the relationship and sexual literacy I have today.  I bring attention to scenarios that could have been avoided without the social programs that we are fed as children, and the taboos that we are handed down from our mothers, fathers, grandfathers and beyond.  Those are the things I wish every young adult can have access to and work with.

Let’s Talk about Sex

You see, dear reader, I do not claim to have the answers, however I feel like this conversation needs to be happening within conscious communities around the world. If we do not begin this who else would? When I say conscious conversation I do not mean that we are to encourage it either.  From my learning and experience I believe in finding a happy medium.

I also do not think the problem is solely the women, nor is it solely the men.  It is something that we co-created eons ago. We must take responsibility for this culture of misogyny, we (humanity) created it with this default mentality that women are less than men and that men can get away with everything, while women cannot.

I have come to the conclusion that gender is a distraction! Why is gender a distraction? Because it is another way we bypass our common humanity, in essence we are all the same underneath our skin, masks, and gender identities that we are taught as children. Few of us have the courage to break free from such things.

Clearing up Myths

Some of the questions I ask and attempt to answer in this book are, will we ever be able to bring the masculine and feminine to the same level? Why was Lilith cut out from the story of creation? Is there a different creation story that would better serve us?

I also clear up some myths around sex. Did you know that the myth of the virgin is a big lie the patriarchy concocted to control women? The hymen is not a what the patriarchy has taught us. No one ever told us that the hymen is actually like a scrunchy.  Yes, that unfortunately was vital information that was left out in our sexual education.

The part I find humor in really is that no matter the great lengths that we have  taken to control sex or to sweep it under the rug, sex still happens!  Wouldn’t it be better if we actually educate our children to view sex as a completely natural thing, which it is, and not bring in fear, shame and guilt into the equation?

What we  really need to fear is people passing on their wounding and abusive behavior to others when engaging in sex .  Many of us parents, myself included worry about our children ending up in highly abusive situations.  There is no avoiding this as the world is replete with psychopaths.  We need to educate our young adults about what healthy sex is -not that sex is bad.  Teenagers would benefit from learning to recognize unhealthy relationships, to protect themselves from disease, from harm and to be discerning in choosing partners.  Some countries are already teaching children about everything sex related at an early age,  it has to be the entire world.   If we keep the old programming about sex we will never get out of this vicious cycle.

Creative Process Research

After about eight years of research on creative process, I have come to see that engaging in creative process regardless of what the medium is must be something that every human being is able to do on a daily basis. Being in touch with this aspect of our self is a way to manage, heal and clear our sexual energy.  Through the research I found that creative process is the safest, and simplest way to individuation.   Carl Jung recognized this many years ago and it surprises me that it has not been widely implemented yet.

Allow me to add that creative process is not enough alone, neither is sex education.  We must include a spiritual, mystical education,  that sex is sacred and I expand on such a notion within this book, attempting to answer the question what does sacred sex really look like in these times?

I hope this book will become a reference, mostly to young adults as within it will be some helpful information that I draw from my experience, research and the guidance that led me to write such a book.

 

 

 

 

The Origins of ArtKeyTypes

*image source : Pinterest

Origins

I have been feeling like sharing a little in depth about the origin of ArtKeyTypes and where the format and idea came from as I have had several people asking for a little more information on what this is all about.

Most of us yogis and yoginis who have been practicing for a while, know that for any yoga practice to be successful we must incorporate an understanding of the five archetypal elements: ether, air, fire, water and earth.

When we understand the function and characteristics of each element it becomes easier to apply this in our practice. There are a lot of resources and ayurvedic books on this subject and so I will not go into a lengthy discussion of each element. By all means if you are not familiar with the elements as discussed in ayurveda, I highly recommend checking out some of Dr. Lad’s , and  Dr. Frawley’s writings, otherwise, you can also attend a retreat with me to get the lengthy details! I do draw from other sources besides ayurveda as the elements are not exclusive to ayurveda.

What I would like to share in this post is a little more about  how to embody the elements during yoga practice in hopes of highlighting how such embodiment can be used beyond yoga practice.

Embodying the Elemental Archetypes

Embodying the earth element is when we ground ourself before beginning the practice.  Connecting with the earth element in every asana, feeling the earth and how it supports us as we move on the mat.

Embodying the water element is when we flow gracefully, slowly without sudden halts and breaks in our movements. This is especially important in any vinyasa style practice.  Flowing helps us avoid injury and requires a complete surrender and relaxation of the entire body.

Embodying the fire element is really engaging the bandhas, and especially the root lock. It is also feeling deep into the movements and practices especially those that offer cleansing such as fire breath, and a faster paced practice, as well as asana that targets working the core.

Embodying the air element takes place by paying attention to every breath we make and insuring that our breath and movement are coordinated.  Shallow and choppy breath will always indicate that we need to back out and slow down our practice until our breath becomes stronger.

Embodying the ether element is what makes yoga a transcendental experience.  Paying attention to the space we are moving in at all times and at the same time being in our body.  It is literally having the capacity to have multiple vision or the ability to watch ourselves from the inside as well as the outside at the same time.

ArtKeyTypes, or the painting experience that I have developed from this understanding is really applying these concepts to the painting process, and literally becoming the elements through visualization, movement and embodiment.  ArtKeyTypes is meant to be dynamic and ever changing, evolving and growing.  This is not a method or practice and will become what it needs to in any given moment. It is personal to each individual. Because it has to do with creative process and creative process are by nature infinite, this process will have infinite ways of being and becoming.

I just submitted an expanded version of this writing  titled: ArtKeyTypes: Bridging Jungian Psychology with Tantra, Ayurveda and Shamanism,  for peer review in an art therapy journal and my heart skipped a few beats- I am excited to be sharing ArtKeyTypes for the first time this May!

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Journey Into My Womb. The Myth of Menopause

Lucid Dreaming

In April 2017, I had a lucid dream, surely not the first time I have one of those. It was the first time I had journeyed into my womb. I was on a silent retreat with Aisha Salem in the Valencia area in Spain.  This dream felt like real life and as I went around I was awestruck. I was walking about in this luminous and yet dark cave, which was my uterus, and really carefully trying to understand every cell of it. It seemed like I was looking at and admiring every ovule that my body had ever made. I was counting the ovules one by one, like precious gems that I needed to understand their dimensions, roundedness, size, and health.

When I awakened I wrote the dream down in my dream journal in hopes of greater insights as to what this dream was telling me.  I wondered if it was about the retreat I had led in Costa Rica at Philia Center in January of that same year, as the retreat was titled “Womb Healing”.  I really could not understand this dream , aside from the fact that my womb is such a precious part of me.  To behold it from the inside was way beyond fantastical. The timing was strange and yet here it was me walking around in my uterus inspecting my ovules. Soon after I returned home I painted the painting  which I titled Womb Awakening,  featured below in this blog.

In this dream where I visit my uterus, it seemed that it was my unconscious thanking my womb for all the creations it had bestowed upon me, the two beautiful beings who are my children and all the millions of ovules that had such potential. It is okay that these ovules never made it to human form. It is enough that my uterus was actually able to produce them. What miracles. What mysteries.  Thanking it for being so fertile, healthy and giving. For standing strong in the face of many storms. For forgiving me for all the times when I forgot my no was sacred. For gifting me so much creative energy to combine with my wild imaginings. For understanding that sometimes I had other priorities and responsibilities than to care for her. She has been the nourisher of my dreams. She has helped me manifest this life.

Precious Gifts

This is my 50thyear and despite this,  she keeps offering me precious gifts. The gift of feeling and knowing. I can feel my ovaries turning around, returning to their origin. I feel when I will be bleeding and when I will not. I am in tune with my body so much so that I can sense the slightest shift.  I have also been experiencing insane physical pain in my abdomen that has not received any medical diagnosis.  When the pain hits, it feels as if my sides have flaming hot coals in them.

Every test I have done so far has returned negative. Is it because I am that sensitive that I can literally feel this menopause thing as it takes over my body? Is this a past life karma? an archetypal karma? No one ever prepares us for this.  I surely was never prepared for it. I have heard about it and never realized that it will arrive one day in this way, and this quickly. Could it be that I am feeling on behalf of those who cannot feel it? Regardless, the intensity has been real for an entire year now.

I have to let you know my dear sisters, it is one of the most mystical experiences you will ever have. It is sacred time. Whatever you do, do not disown it, fight it or ignore it. Be in communion with this season of your life, dedicate your self to understanding it for that is how it will gift you several wisdoms.

Have you heard of andropause?

I have an intuition this goes for men too. I am sure they experience such growing pains as they approach the prime years of their life.  This makes me feel so much compassion as most men have no way of expressing or addressing this let alone dealing with it. They can’t walk into the doctor’s office and say please help my hormones are helter skelter!  So, yes it actually happens and it is called andropause. Now can someone please explain to me why we only hear of menopause and not andropause? I mean seriously, what misogyny is this? What discrimination, and racism!

Menopause or andropause are not the end of the road as society would have us think.  In my experience so far, it actually is a literal re-birth. It is not easy I have to admit, there are physical symptoms that accompany it that are different for each one of us. There are days where I literally feel like I am dying. Society would have us believe that when we reach this stage we no longer desire physical intimacy, that our life is over and we might as well be dead.  Some of us will go to great lengths in the hopes of preserving our youth. There is nothing that can preserve it. The harder you try, the more difficult it gets.

Energy is Energy

What if you just let it be? Let it happen? What would it be like to relinquish control and let nature take its course?

It helps to recall the words of Albert Einstein: energy cannot be created or destroyed, it can only be changed from one form to another. Each form has its blessings and gifts to bestow upon us if we learn to harvest them. Instead of lamenting the loss of something, we can rejoice in the birth of what is new.

I am still in the throes of it believe me, and there are days where I have to drag myself out of bed.  As a result, of this learning adventure,  I have decided to concoct a retreat for women of all ages to learn ways to support and nourish around this season of life.

This retreat will take place in September of 2019 at Rocca Massima.  Since this has to do with our creative power, the sacral chakra, svadhisthana, which is also the sexual center you bet I have some juicy creativity stuff up my sleeve. From tips to relieve symptoms without a single hormonal patch, harnessing your creative energy, what to eat, when to eat, treating injuries, and being your own best healer,  to planning your new chapter in life.  Look for more details as we get closer to September on the FB page under Journey Into the Womb.

Wishing you many seasons of beauty.

Eve of Silence

This Eve …

Around this time last year  I did all I can to run away from my feelings. Yes, I resort to such patterns as well.  I wanted to disappear,  and not feel what I was going through.

As if by leaving the space I am in, the feelings will stay behind and I would not have to feel them.  I was in disbelief that this breakup thing was happening to me yet again.   I decided to drive thirteen hours to see a friend I had not seen in over twenty years. While that was a gift in so many ways, the running away was not. The feelings I was trying to escape drove thirteen hours with me.

I have had two years now to process the resolution of this fated relationship.  A person I opened up to and let into my heart, my home, and my soul, suddenly walked out of my life as quickly as he had walked in. I know I am not alone and  many can identify with this feeling.  As difficult as this was, I finally found closure in the course of this year. The gift of 2018 to me.  A closure that I have had to source from deep within my soul.

How did I find closure?  I spent a lot of time in solitude, and naturally in silence.

The more silent and alone I was, the more I was able to see things I had not seen before.  I saw my shadow so clearly, I saw his shadow as clearly.  I understood my role and the part I played in the outcome, and I understood his role as well.

I am not writing this post as a lament or to play victim. On the contrary, I wanted to say that if I did this, anyone can! I share this incase any of my readers are going through something similar, I highly recommend solitary confinement. Ha!

Jokes aside, really I recommend spending a lot of time alone. I mean really alone.  I am actually planning a silent solo- at home retreat for myself this New Year’s Eve.    Incase you wanted to try this with me here is an idea of what my day will look like.

I will be avoiding human interaction of any kind, and sitting in meditation for most of the day and evening.  I may end the silence towards late evening and get together with a friend, and I may not. If not, I will sleep while still in silence. I am just going to flow and see how my day turns out while holding the intention of silence.

…the Silence

As soon as I arise on December 31, 2018,  I will meditate and do a few simple stretches. Nothing too intense, just enough  to get the blood flowing.  I will have a simple breakfast of kitchari ( I have come across many recipes over the years and my favorite remains the one by Doctor Blossom) and proceed to meditate until I feel I have digested my food.  Next I will do a full yoga class that lasts at least an hour long. I will include a variety of poses and make sure I have toned and stretched  my major muscles.  This I shall follow with more meditation and perhaps a cup or two of tea.  I will play and chant mantras for the remainder of the day and use some of this time to prepare food, organize, clean or paint.  Anything that does not require me to use my brain.  Lunch will be kitchari followed by more meditation.  Just before dinner I will do a full body abyangha (self-oil massage).  Each person can use the oil best suited for their dosha. If you are not sure what your dosha is, check out this quiz from Banyan Botanicals. After the oil massage, I will most likely stretch a bit more depending on what my body needs.  It could be 15 minutes to half an hour.  I shall have kitchari for dinner. After dinner I will meditate, reflect, and write in my journal and set intentions for 2019.

This can be done for several days, not just one day. One can also disperse such days throughout the entire year.

The benefits you ask?

Aside from extreme presence, multiple insights, and stress release your New Year’s Eve party will have more color, flavor and texture~ guaranteed!

May we all  reap what we sow this coming year!!!

Death to Taboo

I have been toying with the idea of a post about death for several years now.  I wrote one earlier this year and never posted it.  It ended up being a personal revelation I had which I do not wish to publicly write about at this time. However, I am sure you will hear a thing or two about it if you were ever to go on retreat with me.
Death is all around us whether we choose to see it or not. We can turn a blind eye to it, or embrace it just as we embrace birth.
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Fear of Annihilation

So many of us , in-fact the majority, grew up fearing death and dying.
What if we took a few steps back and looked at it from a different perspective? What if we approached it in a different way?

We spend our life trying to preserve ourself staying healthy, fit, doing check ups. Some of us may manage to live for decades and others may not be as lucky, or so we think. No matter what we do no one has managed to stay alive eternally.  Isn’t this telling?  Isn’t this a phenomenon worth noting?

We begin to die the moment we are born.  In other words, there is no birth without death.  There is something in us that we shed and something new emerges in its place. Death is a renewal. Even the cells in our body and all our organs renew completely every seven years. We are never the same person from moment to moment as even our psyche is constantly shifting and changing, constantly in flux.

What is this fear really about ? I have been asking myself this question for sometime now and I believe I finally have some sort of an answer.

It is the fear of the unknown. That is it.  Combined with the ego, she, the ego, does not like to be ‘nothing’. Our ego fears annihilation. So if we manage to transcend the ego before we die, we have conquered death.  Imagine that?!  Isn’t that what mysticism is all about?

 

What an Idea: A Death Manual?

If someone handed us a manual that listed the steps of what will happen after we die, most likely some if not all this fear may dissolve. If you knew exactly what to expect, wouldn’t that put you at ease?
I personally would appreciate that very much. We have to learn to be okay with not knowing. The sad truth is we aren’t. We want to know now.  In an age where google, and SIRI have all the answers, perhaps they can help us out on this a bit? Ha!
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The Pain

I mean yes of course there is pain. I am not bypassing this whatsoever,  and yes there is an aspect of sadness and grief for the loss of our loved ones.  I am not proposing we do not feel the pain.  I am proposing we change the story from a fear based myth to a more integral wisdom.
We don’t know anything until we experience it, it may serve us well to understand at a very early age that there are some things that remain  mysterious in life, no matter how much we want answers to them. It is the mystery that makes life such a magical place.

Taboos Must Die

When I was a little girl I was told that if I’m good, when I die my grave will expand and I’d be in the company of angels until judgment day,  and if I’m bad I will burn over and over for all eternity. What a story to tell a child. Right ? Even if there was truth to it, why does a child need to hear this? This is fear mongering. Every which way we turn we are fed some taboo story that does not serve our development, growth and evolution. It is high time we change these stories into more honest, truthful stories steeped with integrity and wisdom. Yes we need wisdom not superstition. I see an overlap with the stories we tell our children about sex. How can we expect not to have sex addicts, juvenile sex offenders, rapists and abusers in our world when we keep feeding them such lies? Why not tell them the truth?

It is time we re-write these taboos that have not served us for millennia. I sure have taken it upon myself to do just that. I am doing my share with my soon to be completed book on sex.  My focus is mainly sex as in the actual act. I have witnessed two extremes in two different cultures,  and I am looking for the balance.

Where can we find the balance with the stories about death and dying? Where can we help ease the pain of the beloveds left behind? What can we do to make such transitions simpler so that the grief can be experienced without the need to push it away? How can we be at peace with the way things are?

Celebrate the Gift of Life

My grandmother always said when her time comes she does not want anyone mourning her passing. Absolutely no one is allowed to wear black, instead she wanted us to wear white.  She wanted us to celebrate. As a child it was not difficult for me to understand what she was saying. Her words resonated with me on some level and yet I could not quite understand it as I heard two conflicting stories. Today I feel like I know what my grandmother was saying, at the end of life, celebrate that you had the chance to live. Celebrate the fullness of your experience rather than mourn the loss of it.
What a gift it is  to be able to be live even for one day.
What a gift to die to our ego.
What a gift to die to the things we do not want in our life.
What a gift it is to be given chance after chance at being alive.
What a gift it is to be recycled for some grand purpose or to become a tree or a rock.

As I write these last few words on this page, part of me cannot help but wonder about Jesus’s resurrection, a metaphor for the life of every single human being alive today.