Monday, May 23, 2016

Bending Reality

A friend wrote me recently asking me how I've been able to bend reality to my favor. The comment made me smile because I had been thinking about making this post for awhile. This was my nudge.

I put a lot of focus and effort into getting where I am, but along with that effort, there were forces at work guiding me toward this reality. And along with the obvious efforts of budgeting, saving money, and doing massive amounts of research, there were a few other factors that played into it as well. I watched miracles unfold in my life those last few years in Santa Cruz that streamlined my life into one I only dreamed about years before when I initially set my goal to travel long term. In other words, I bent reality to my favor.

The Law of Attraction

We've all been exposed to the law of attraction in one form or another--from the Secret, to the teachings of Abraham-Hicks, to the Sermon on the Mount. The basic idea is to ask for something, let it go, and you'll receive it. It's the letting go part that tends to trip people up, but it's the most essential step. Once you ask for something, don't dwell on it or worry about it, don't beg for it daily, don't expect immediate results, and most importantly, don't demand a deadline.

Along with asking* you must also make an effort to continue working toward what you want because the secret is in the combined effort of believing that you will receive what you ask for while you work to attain it. Live as though it's already your reality. The moment you begin to sink into negative thought patterns of not having what you want you begin to push it away. As I worked toward reaching my goal, I watched as my path was cleared and obstacles vanished. People and situations and opportunities began to manifest in my life that guided, and in some cases, pushed or pulled me along the way.

This isn't the easiest process or the most comfortable. Things might get a whole lot worse before they get better. It might take a long while, it might not. Trust the process, don't resist it.

*pray, create a vision board, write a letter to your future self, make lists, keep a journal, practice visualization exercises

A Course In Miracles

One of those things that manifested on my path via the incredible world of networking and social media was a lady named Gabby Bernstein. She had just written a book called May Cause Miracles which is a condensed, easy to grasp version of A Course In Miracles. The book guides you through 40 days of practices that will change the way you see the world around you. It focuses on turning fear into love, forgiving (not just others, but yourself as well), living in gratitude, and becoming miracle minded. I didn't just do these practices for 40 days--I kept practicing them over the next several years, and I still do today.

Kundalini Yoga

I discovered Kundalini Yoga in a bookshop back in early 2003 when I was living in Montana. I found the book in the store's tiny yoga section. The moment I picked it up I knew I had found my path. I didn't think about it, I didn't question it, I just knew, and I began*.

Kundalini Yoga brings an expanded awareness and consciousness to your world. It clears your energy channels, raises your vibration, creates new neural pathways in your brain, and taps into the latent potential energy stored at the base of your spine. Over time with consistent practice, you'll begin to notice the world no longer has the same control on your mind it once did. Everything you experience is from a completely different perspective--one in which the Universe is conspiring in your favor. You will harness a kind of energy that makes you feel like you're a science fiction character born 500 years too soon. Or maybe even a Jedi.

*Those first few years were all reading and personal practice. It wasn't until early 2007 that I finally found a class in Santa Cruz.


It works. But, you must do it with ease and without expecting anything in return. Give back to the source which feeds you spiritually--not just any charity, but your church, your yoga studio, a spiritual teacher. If not ten percent, give five or three percent--put it in your monthly budget. Give back with gratitude, let it go, and watch miracles unfold.

Live with Gratitude

Be grateful for everything--the good, the bad, the ugly. Believe that God, the Universe, the Force, or whatever you'd like to call It is conspiring in your favor always.* If you're going through a challenging time in life (or have a rough life in general) or you're simply having a bad day, find a few things to be grateful for. Sit in silence and think about those things. Create a happiness jar. If you make this a daily practice, you'll start to notice more and more things you are grateful for until one day you're grateful for everything. And when you get to that place, you'll look around and notice you are living a life that you love.

*I wholeheartedly believe this. I also believe in string theory, extraterrestrial intelligence, and all kinds of magic and fringe. In other words, I believe in a world in which anything and everything is possible.

All of these practices work in equal measure--they complement each other and build off one another, they overlap and bind together. We are always manifesting our reality (and only ours) whether we are conscious of it or not. These practices bring an awareness to that process so instead letting life just happen to us,* we can co-create our reality so that it bends in our favor.

*This is the basis of karma. We are all born into certain circumstances--some of it favorable, some of it not so much. We can live out our karma, or if we are aren't happy with how life is unfolding, we can take steps to change it.

Have you ever bent reality to your favor? What practices helped you? Or if you are looking to bend reality, experiment with these, incorporate the ones that resonate with you into your life, give it time, and see what happens. Expect miracles.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Auspicious Signs (or Where the Magic Hides and the Mystery Begins)

When the quirky Balinese medicine man whacked the side of my left arm really hard in the middle of my palm reading, I took it as an auspicious sign. Because this is my life--following these auspicious signs and omens on the coattails of miracles. He was a bit hard to understand and generally tells everyone the same thing anyway, but to be hit? This was for me. This was my omen. This was my firefly.

Nearly 10 years ago, back when I was living in Santa Cruz, I came upon a serial documentary in the library called Ring of Fire about these two brothers back in the early 1970s who took 10 years to explore the Indonesian archipelago and document their discoveries--they hit up all the major islands by boat and let curiosity guide their way. They met a medicine man who could set fire to paper with the energy in his hands, visited villages thriving on creating art, they befriended cannibals, and wandered the jungles searching for nomdic tribes and birds of paradise and komodo dragons. I was mesmerized, and I knew that one day I would go to this magical and mysterious place as well.

My plan for Indonesia round one was to tether myself to Ubud Village on the island of Bali for 6 weeks, explore slowly, and let magic unfold as I had back in South India. Inspired by the Ring of Fire brothers, I was going to get swept up in the mystery, I was going to follow magic.

In the past two months since I've left Arambol, I've moved every two weeks, and I've kept busy--not wanting to lose an opportunity to get everything I could out of where I was in two weeks time while still attempting to relax into each environment. That needed to change, but I had inadvertently brought that energy to Bali and I exhausted myself immediately.

Upon arriving in Ubud, sitting in stillness and slowing down did not look promising--there were volcanoes to trek, yoga classes to take, jungles and rice fields to explore, group meetup activities to happen, and let's not forget about the coast and all those beaches! This is Indonesia 2016, not 1972. It has been discovered and developed, and it wants you to know this.

I was not letting stillness and curiosity guide me. I was, as Gurmukh had told us back in Rishikesh, caught in the washing machine. The whack from the medicine man was a reminder of my intention for this year--to move slow, to not try to do everything, especially within my first week of arriving somewhere I was going to be living for the next 6 weeks. It was also a reminder of my Rishikesh lesson--to sit in stillness.

It took me a good week or so to slow down and adjust to living in this bustling little tropical jungle town, to find the hidden sleepy streets and desolate rice fields and oasis coves tucked behind the busy surface. Ubud can be a stimulation overload, but if you hone in on the stillness, you'll be led to the right spots at the right times and the entire town shape-shifts to something altogether sublime and unreal. This is where the mystery begins. This is where magic hides.

Do you tend to get caught up in life and forget to slow down and be still? What do you do to bring yourself back to that point of stillness where you can slow down? What happens when you do? What mysteries are unveiled? 

Monday, May 2, 2016

Thriving in Movement

My last week in Nepal and I feel the heaviness of the pre-monsoon heat begin to weigh on me--the heat and smog trapped in the atmosphere create a haze that hangs over everything. You can't quite see anything clearly through the thickness of it, and it makes for a terrible environment for doing anything productive. Landlocked and hazy-headed--no one can thrive in this environment. I think I might have read that in a guide book.

Moving through the world at this slow pace, I've been able to get a better idea of what environments I thrive in best--where I find that perfect equilibrium of productivity and relaxation, where I'm never too restless or bored. In the past 4 months, I have moved across India and Nepal living in six very different towns and situations, and I have found ways to thrive in each of them. I could have lingered in some places to see how long my momentum would last, and in others, I knew it was time to move on. But was it the place that I was thriving in or the movement from place to place?

"The heavier the burden, the closer our lives come to the earth, the more real and truthful they become. Conversely, the absolute absence of burden causes man to be lighter than air, to soar to heights, take leave of the earth and his earthly being, and become only half real, his movements free as they are insignificant. What shall we choose? Weight or lightness?" Milan Kundera, The Unbearable Lightness of Being

It's been ten years since I first read The Unbearable Lightness of Being, and this quote still catches up to me. I took note years ago that the longer I stay in one spot the heavier my life becomes, and over time, I stop thriving. The burden of those things that begin to weigh a person to one place becomes overwhelming, and it can really start to take a toll on the psyche.

Of course, this isn't everyone's reality. Some folks can find their niche and thrive through the heaviness. I have not been able to do this--time and experience have taught me that this way of life is not for me. I need movement to thrive. I can stay for a long while in some places, but ultimately, I will need to move on to continue to grow. I will need to shed the burden and take flight again.

Sometime we don't thrive in the place we were born, or we move somewhere and thrive for awhile, but once we reach a point, we stop and need to move on. Or we simply stop resonating with a particular place because we've grown and changed. For me, it's perfectly natural to move around in the world, to find those places I resonate with and can thrive in.

What makes you thrive? Does it have to do with place--have you found your niche where you can thrive long term in one spot or do you need movement?

Signing off from the ancient land of Nepal which, by the way, has the most incredible landscape of any place I've seen in my entire life. Tomorrow night I finally leave for tropical Southeast Asia where I'll spend the rest of the year. First stop: Bali!