Synergy is the interaction of multiple elements in a system to produce an effect different from or greater than the sum of their individual effects. The term synergy comes from the Greek word synergia συνέργια from synergos, συνεργός, meaning "working together".
It’s so sweetly summed up in the words to the song ‘Kindness’, written and performed by the band Quiet Company:
Open up the cloud, let the flood come down and wash the earth.
Carry all the dust and the dirt and the ash of what we were. And the wolves only come at night, but darlin’, you and I, we were made for the light. Open up the clouds, let the flood come down on me.
And I’ll say with all the confidence I have, if your feet are getting tired I can take you on my back, and we will carry one another as we march into the sun, saying darlin’ I will never get enough of your kindness, of your laughter, of your love.
I can hear the trees as they bend in the breeze and they call our names. Calling us forth, we were born from the earth in a golden age. And I walked all across this land looking for a love I could understand, looking for a price that a soul could pay and a blessed plot of land where our bodies lay with a stone put above our heads, it’ll mark our place.
Say that we will always be this way: always moving, always shaking, always building, always breaking. I’m gonna love you ‘til the grave: I’ll make songs of all the things we said, build a monument in the place we met, teach the cynics what it means to be in love.
I don’t care if we are soul mates, twin flames, karmic twins… None. Of. That. I don’t care if we are Lexus, Bentley, Maserati… Magnum, Le Tigre, or Blue Steel.
I care about the little things. Coffee together in the morning if we can. Yoga together any time we can. Moments of connection and kindness. Gratitude. Let’s do the little things well.
I also care about the big things. When we catch ourselves telling some old story, let’s write a new chapter where we do something wonderful and new. Let’s be interdependent, supporting one another in their highest good, no matter what. Let’s be open to helping others, and of being a catalyst for progress and change in our world. Let’s do the big things well, too.
And let’s go on adventures, and create memorable experiences by living in our unique moments.
Let’s defy the norms, the statuses, and the false idols… let’s follow our collective heart.
We get to write this story.
Let’s not be limited by trendy terms, whatever the fad name is for the best relationship ever. We can and are as transcendent and as enduring as any. Here’s to you, Susan, for being all of it.
A few years ago ‘Girls Can Blog’ wrote a fascinating article ‘Why I broke up with Ashtanga’… It’s honest, emotional and raw. The other day I saw it posted again on a social media page for a person I know who apparently has broken up with ashtanga too. This provoked a bout of introspection for me. (Also worthy of note that anytime any of us has broken up with anyone or anything there’s a period of utter contempt and dissatisfaction that was necessary to create the break.) It is a rare trait indeed for a person to say simply ‘this no longer serves me, although it once did, and I am moving in a new direction, with love.’ Instead we often rage at the situation, often creating regrettable circumstances, only later becoming peaceful and compassionate with our own evolution.
The post begins with a simple introduction related to the author’s dedication to yoga, ashtanga specifically, to having been through a teacher training, marrying a male yogi and to being vegetarian then vegan. It’s the quintessential checklist for ‘things a yoga student might do’. And a lot of it, if it being done for reasons other than ‘this is sustainable and healthy for me’ is basically neither.
The author’s first subject heading states that specifically Ashtanga Yoga is a relationship outside of your relationship, designed to be a distraction from, presumably, interpersonal issues one might be avoiding. However my first heading would be:
Ashtanga Yoga is a Quiet, Internal Practice, which uses a series of foci to help the student become an observer of the inner state…
The Mysore method is decidedly different than some other methods which I feel are more externally focused. Those may have trendy playlists, a charismatic teacher giving oratory, a teacher calling poses and cues, but do share the movement to the breath, the sense of shared energy and community. The Mysore method allows the student to take responsibility for learning the sequence, asana, count and dristi… so that the practice becomes the teacher and the teacher teaches the practice. Most of us who regularly practice have experienced that the sensations we experience on the mat are very often strong indicators for how we show up in life, especially as it relates to how we show up in increasingly challenging situations. Part of the magic that occurs is we begin to nurture ‘the observer’ within us. We start to simply observe the sensations as we learn to not be bullied by them. Overall there is a calming, and a developing sense of compassion that extends beyond the mat. I think for me, if it was not this way, I wouldn’t be coming back. There was a time I loved a variety of lead classes, and where I really connected to the chosen lesson a teacher might be weaving in, but ultimately I find the voice inside to be the one that is most compelling.
( I need to add that I find attending my teacher’s weekly lead primary to be critically important in my learning to pace my breathing in a way that helps me bring better tempo to my Mysore practice)
In the next three sections the author discusses how many days a week one exercises, how to handle injuries, and anorexia. Coming from a sports background I can say first hand that the level of intensity and energy a person expends on exercise are both highly individualized and extremely baffling. A fun day for me in summer in college consisted of riding my bike to play soccer, running 3 miles between games, swimming a mile, then hopefully hooking up with friends for some water skiing. And it was fairly common for me for many years to run, then do any other activity. Hours and hours per day. I enjoyed this level of activity. My point is that Ashtanga is recommended to be practiced 22 out of 28 days (One rest day per week, and one moon day every other week. Less for ladies holiday). However I have heard several qualified teachers advise their students to listen to their own bodies. I would add ‘check your motives’ as to why you practice less or more.
I have certainly had injuries. In everything I have ever done. In fact it was a series of painful running injuries that initiated my movement into yoga, which I misunderstood to be radical stretching.
Usually injuries are attributable to violating one of the following: Did I go too far, too fast, too soon? Or the other — did I go for ‘one more’ after knowing I was already tired? I have found the same rule applies no matter what. However, recently I developed a muscle spasm at work. The type that takes your breath away. I showed up for practice, and my teacher worked with me closely to help me experience what felt therapeutic, and what did not. I also saw a masseuse, and a chiropractor twice. My practice was very limited, and we discovered I needed some additional stretching in another area, so we incorporated some new poses into my daily practice. Slow, thoughtful, compassionate, deliberate yoga therapy. I healed up without exacerbating my injury, and learned a new benefit to the daily practice and deeper meaning to the idea of ahimsa and how we practice.
With respect to anorexia, it is a disease, very similar to addiction, and requires outside intervention. I suppose the author may have been referencing the solar aspect to the practice, and people other than me have lost weight, but I have not. There are times I sincerely wish this would kick in. On the other hand, I genuinely feel for all my fellow souls suffering from active addictions — and am here to both assist and hold space as they come to terms with and then are released from the disease. (See ‘outside issues’… below) Once a person has had adequate treatment, then there are amazing benefits from practice, and truly innovative programs like Taylor Hunt’s Trini Foundation which can boost recovery rates substantially.
Next, the author takes on some of my favorite subjects! Chakra balancing, the rabbit hole of ashtanga, about living in isolation, and my favorite kindness to self.
With respect to chakra balancing — it really doesn’t matter whether you’re a believer in the subtle body, the nadis, the meridian system… If it exists, it will exist without your approval. Yet, in all my studies, increasingly there is merit for their existence. And with respect to chakras, I have heard it said, and I utilize this philosophy: One can bring balance to the chakras simply by bringing one’s attention to them. Additionally, if one is so inclined, one can use sound, or light, too. So really, the idea of signing and chanting does have the necessary intention to help restore the subtle energy body to balance.
I suppose the rabbit hole of ashtanga is a thing, it’s just not a thing I have ever heard of. So I will leave that alone.
With respect to living in isolation, I have to say one’s level of isolation is a choice, hopefully based upon their needs. Personally, I am an introvert, but have training to take care of people, and so have developed skills as an extrovert, yet it is not my nature. My Meyers – Briggs is INFP, but I can also test as an ENFP. I prefer a calm comfortable home life. I prefer anything over the mall. I don’t like traffic. I do love a festival, however, and live music. In my work life I literally spend ALL DAY connecting with and engaging with people and trying to give them
direct hands on care, which is quite draining. I look forward to finding the pathway to myself each day as I take practice. And, in contrast from running, where I often looked forward to getting outside my head space, I have found immensely therapeutic value in actually listening and observing the thinking as I move through the series.
If you have an outside issue, seek outside help.
A million times: YES. Although there are cases I am sure where the practice of yoga leads to epiphany and miraculous transformation, if a person is suffering from a serious problem and expecting a quick cure, I am going to have to say – use your yoga practice as an adjunct, to give you space and time to grow as you navigate issues like addiction, eating disorders, PTSD, and relationship / social disorders. There are so many useful healing modalities these days. Make use of them.
I recently read an article in which the author proposed NO ONE participate in seated meditation because a) he had been using it to avoid dealing with a relationship issue for 9 years, and the b) his teacher suggested the physical practice was a meditation. As an independent and intuitive person, I took my red flag and began to ask others about this. My conclusion was this: Never in the history of humankind has a person become a worse person by engaging in peaceful seated meditation. Not only that, even Patanjali states one of the reasons FOR yoga practice is to prepare the student FOR meditation. So, just because YOU have a relationship issue and used your meditative practice to AVOID doing your inner work, it’s not okay for you to put your trauma on me. Boundary set.
The next section was about the method of getting a certification.
If a student becomes proficient at the primary and
intermediate series and wants the KPJAYI credentials – the process isn’t terrible. You need a letter of recommendation from an authorized teacher, and then need to spend a month with Sharath. It may take a couple trips and a couple of years.
On the other hand, Manju Jois, Pattabhi actual son offers teacher trainings, as does Tim Miller (the FIRST authorized teacher) and so does David Swenson. You can study with Richard Freeman, David Williams, the list goes on and on. There are many paths and not all are KPJAYI. You get to choose.
It’s really not that complicated. If you want a certificate, go get a teacher training.
Practice ashtanga IF it calls to you. Then go see a life time teacher who offers trainings. The thing about ashtanga is it takes you years to learn to teach it well — be humble enough to be the student. Take your time, ‘Why Hurrying?’… Oh I know, it’s America. We go too far, too fast, too soon, and wanna make bank. If you want to go to Mysore every year and study with Sharath, then do that. You have choices. You’re not a slave to anything. Be your own damn self.
Regarding the Arbitrary Nature of the evolution of tradition…
It’s now called KPJAYI not the original Ashtanga Yoga Research Institute. Notably absent is the term research. It seems Pattabhi was a bit of a tinkerer.
In fact, Encinitas yogis are the reason that the revolved positions of triangle and extended side angle are in the primary. How about that lift up after utkatasana? Yeah that was put in there the day before they filmed the original video. The joke was that Pattabhi would change things based on what felt right but then never admit he’d changed anything — he was actually doing research, and making changes based upon what seemed best for the most. It’s possible with the many people who now go to Mysore that it is necessary to stick to the script of primary, intermediate, third and fourth (which used to be advanced A and B).
Once you have established a relationship with your teacher, then you together can cater a practice that is more specific to you, your body, your needs and your abilities.
As far as teaching yoga being a profession…
I don’t really know what to say. I know few artists or musicians who went into it for the money and then made big money. What even is that? A career in yoga will be one that’s rich in experiential living, filled with devotion, a loving community, and maybe, just maybe the kind of financial prosperity embodied by Lakshmi, which is one of abundance, but never wretched excess. If a yoga teacher is not coming from a place of love, perhaps it’s best not to trust them when you’re in a vulnerable place, like a yoga practice.
I say, follow your bliss. And if you do follow your bliss, you fill find open doorways where previously none existed (paraphrasing Joseph Campbell).
Lastly, it’s okay to break up with anyone, anytime. Ultimately the reason is ‘because I want to’. Let’s allow others to evolve to grow, to change and to change their minds based upon increased knowledge and awareness. Let’s bring relief to the suffering and compassion to all. And let’s include ourselves in that.
“The truth can be used to harm, or to heal” ~ my erstwhile mentor, Philip Goodman during one of our many fine talks.
I am of the belief that every one of us, in fact all living beings have at the center of their being a soul. It’s the part of us that has a direct line to the Infinite. It is always about good, about light, and ultimately about love, compassion and grace. I know this in the way so many of us know things that have no empirical truth; we know. However, are we engaged in a regular and devoted practice that helps us connect to the Source within each of us? Is it or is it not each of our truest, highest purpose to do this? Or is it cool to just shoot from the hip, do and say and mimic what our parents, teachers, life trauma and experience, and authorities told us was right?
I’m really not here to judge anyone. Ultimately, we have to meet each other exactly where we are, and go from there. And I think we have the ability to do that. We have a strange world political situation going on at present — and it seems to have had almost everyone digging in their heels and saying I am right, and you are wrong, and I am willing to fight about it. I was in Miami last summer studying ashtanga yoga with Paramaguru Sharath Jois. When he was asked about social media, he simply said ‘Everybody has comment.’ And so it is.
In my previous post, I suggested that ‘what if there was a virus that infected all of us, and it’s outward manifestation was to cause us to ‘think’ in a certain combative way?’… Wouldn’t we want to treat our illness first? And wouldn’t we stop rampantly stating what was on our mind once we had our diagnosis? And lastly, wouldn’t we follow a prescribed course of care to heal our self of the virus?
In my experience, and using the metaphor / mythology of warriors and healers, we begin our early adult life as warriors. We battle adversity. We fight corruption. We rail against the relative inequities in life. We rage against the machine. And we learn. We gain in experience. We become wiser. We soften. We learn compassion. Grace enters. We transition into healers. We see how our experiences and accumulated awareness can help others. By helping others we see first hand how lives are transformed. We witness light entering into areas where once only darkness existed. We are affirmed.
I was given an intuitive piece to the puzzle of my own soul’s purpose years ago. I found myself in a position to speak publicly, becoming vulnerable in a very public way, telling the truth of me, and it was my hope to bring healing to others so that they could begin to lay down some of their own weaponry. That piece was this; if even one soul is reached, your purpose is served. That soul may even be your own. And like that all pressure to perform and be ‘somebody’ was lifted. Simply by tuning into the inner healer, and sharing from that perspective, by being a hollow bone or conduit for that which is Universal, I could serve the highest good. It was no longer about me. Or about being right.
In the west, we have evolved into a largely compartmentalized tribe. We sit in our metal boxes trying to get somewhere by a certain time so we can do a certain thing. We use the metal box to defend our space. We sit at our desk, and are unable to make eye contact with the outer world, and are unable to feel the subtle energy of others, and are unable to hear the intonation of a voice. We suffer from disconnect. And boy do we have comments.
We comment about who should or shouldn’t drive in the left lane. We comment about patriotism, sexuality, politics, ad infinitum. Always a comment. But have we checked in? Have we checked our motives? What is our intention? Is it on purpose? Or are we just spreading the disease?
I am not saying there are not battles to be fought or that our warriors are very active right now. Many an enlightened soul has had to face immense struggle,
Gandhi comes to mind, as does the Bhagavad-Gita in which Arjuna still has to endure both the inner struggle and the outward struggle with that which he loves and has formed attachment to.
I am saying — what will serve all the one world — is for each of us to be responsible for having a practice devoted to finding, getting acquainted with, and more easily accessing our own soul. In this way, we all serve the one world.
I consider myself an independent individual. I’m not a registered republican or democrat. I sometimes lean liberal, other times conservative. I’ve been on both sides of the libertarian / socialist debate. Mostly, I align with those who take a global view, are humanistic and compassionate and strong on the issue of global ecology. I favor a thriving middle class, and prefer people following their heart and soul; their bliss, over any of the preferred mythologies of our times. In fact, I’ve dedicated this year to being clear about stating what is I DO WANT, instead of complaining. I can not say I have been successful, because honestly there are so many things being done I do not think are good for our planet, and they are being done in such a unilateral way — the soil is ripe for complaining. I have fallen prey to what feels like a virus, a sickness, which turns us all into zombies of a bickering nature. Everybody is right and nobody is sorry, as the song goes.
Occasionally I get an email that gets my attention, sort of slaps me in the face and makes me say ‘Wow, these people are hurting. They’ve been traumatized. They are afraid. At some level they’re ashamed, in a toxic way, and are lashing out.’ I feel for them, and at the same time, I see great error in their conclusion and decisions.
Here’s the email below and after if you read on, you’ll find what I think is an appropriate and factual response. I wonder though, will we ever progress toward unity? I sometimes have my doubts about the human species and it’s destructive tendencies:
“The 89th showing of the Academy Awards are coming up on February 26th. It is important that we, the deplorables, show the likes of Meryl Streep, Jennifer Lawrence, Alec Baldwin, Cher, Ashley Judd, Whoopi Goldberg, Joy Behar, and the other arrogant hypocrites, that we, the backbone and decent people of America , are more united than the bitter, unhappy, angry, divisive people of the entertainment industry.
These arrogant, pompous, pampered soulless individuals declare that half of Americans are racist, sexist, and bigoted for voicing our political choice through Donald Trump. Yet there can be no doubt that the entertainment industry does more to exploit, degrade, minimize, and stereotype women than Donald Trump or any other industry ever has. From Madonna and Miley Cyrus parading on stage with little to no clothing while grabbing their crotches and allowing fans to do the same, to movies that depict women as whores, sluts, and gold-diggers dependent on their bodies for survival, to the deplorable speeches of Madonna and Ashley Judd talking about their periods in a vile manner and talking about blowing up the White House, we must send these evil hearted people a strong and distinct message that they do not speak for the women of this country and they are not the role models of our young daughters. The wearing of pink does not negate the black hearts that these people have for our country and our Constitution. Nor does it negate the disdain and contempt they have for the American people and our political process.
In recent social media threads, the good people of this nation are calling for a full boycott of the entertainment industry for this unwarranted and outrageous display of petulant behavior. Some in the entertainment industry are mocking us saying, “Go ahead, we don’t need you trailer trash racists.” That may be true, but these people do need our green dollars. It is important that we send a strong and powerful message to this group telling them to stick to their make believe jobs and to leave the politics of this country to the people, just as our wise and forward thinking forefathers designed.
The good people of this country are not asking you to give up movies. We are asking you to take two simple steps. First, refuse to support these groups by refusing to watch the Academy Awards on February 26th. Simply change the channel or go for a walk with your family members and tell them how much you love them. Second, forward this request to as many friends as possible and post it on social media to get the word out. This will only be effective if we show the same unity we exhibited during the election. Yet how powerful will it be when the ratings for the Academy Awards fall in the toilet. It is only for a couple of hours and requires very little effort. When this happens, the arrogant entertainment industry will understand just how insignificant and powerless they are.
I am so proud of my fellow Americans who stood up and said, “Enough is Enough.” Michelle may have only been proud of this country once in her life, but we the patriots have never lost our love and pride in America. The left is now up to their old tricks trying to bully the rest of us into feeling guilty. Let them know that their selfish, vulgar, and unpatriotic behavior over this past week will not be tolerated. Let them know that we will not be silenced and that we are no longer going to be shamed for what we believe. We must continue the fight! We must shut them down now! We must show them that America will be great again no matter how filthy and disgusting they become.
George Clooney the actor and human rights campaigner criticised Trump and his supporters for taking aim at Meryl Streep after she gave a speech condemning the president earlier this year.
Trump accused her of being part of the “Hollywood elite,” but Clooney said, Trump himself is part of that “elite.”
“Trump has 22 acting credits and earns $120,000 a year from the Screen Actor’s Guild’s (SAG) pension fund. He is a Hollywood elite and Steve Bannon is a failed film writer and director,” Clooney told interviewer Laurent Weil.
“That’s the truth, that’s what he’s done. He [Bannon] wrote a Shakespearean rap musical about the LA riots that he couldn’t get made. He made a lot of money off of Seinfeld. He’s elitist Hollywood, I mean, that’s the reality.”
Trump has appeared in various movies, most notably “Home Alone 2,” and is most known for playing himself on the TV show “The Apprentice.” Those various appearances make him eligible to receive a pension from the SAG. Bannon invested in the show “Seinfeld,” and is still getting payments due to syndication of the show.
Clooney was also asked whether he could draw any parallels between his movie “Good Night and Good Luck,” in which he plays a journalist during the McCarthy era, and what is happening in the US now. “We have a demagogue in the White House,” Clooney said, adding that journalists were needed to check his power.
But Clooney was also hopeful, saying that one thing he was proud of as an American was that even if “we do some pretty dumb things … we are pretty good at fixing them too.“
As we look at these 2 items side by side, we get to weigh in. Do we want to be a part of the fight? He said, she said, I am right you are wrong, we are good you are bad… or can we find a place that says ‘I hear you, and I understand you are frightened.’ Or what if we took it a quantum leap further and said ‘what if there actually is some sort of virus or infection… something that is effecting everyone’s thinking in a way that leads to exactly this division?’ I know that’s a radical idea, but hear me out. The first step in this is saying ‘okay, I have become ill. I have become ill in a way that affects the way I think and react.’ This is a most difficult tenet because if I can not trust our own my own thinking due to this virus, then instead I must focus on healing.
And that’s really what this entire situation is about. Humankind is being given an opportunity to heal. To heal it’s thinking, it’s speaking, it’s actions. To define it’s own existence as either veering off of it’s path of rapid expansion and destruction, or of choosing a whole new way. A way that says ‘Our past has lead to expansion and destruction, division and growth, irresponsible and reckless, with little respect for others, for the planet, and out of harmony with life – that is the myth we must abandon.’
There are those of us who believe that given the chance to turn inward, we discover the Universe. We discover that inside us shines 1000 suns, and that there is a wise soul who understands. We carry inherently the capacity to forgive, to empathize, and ultimately to love. My recommendation is we all develop a method to establish a well worn path from the logical mind which says we are separate, to the heart, which recognizes we are all connected and part of one amazing, powerful, symbiotic God.
So, count your rosary, say your our Fathers, recite the Shemah, chant, sing, ho’oponopono… re-establish your inner life first. Heal the spiritual sickness.
As I drove out of my driveway this morning I was treated to the sight of hundreds of blackbirds in my neighbors yard. As I approached, they took flight and immediately began to murmurate, I, once again, couldn’t help but take notice and interpret on a spiritual level. There are those of us who can connect to spirit in a timely and meaningful way when we experience a resonant moment with animal guides. For those of you not open to or who do not connect with this mythology, you may stop reading now.
Intuitively, I picked up on a) that there was a message from ascended guides and masters contained within, and b) this was a time where I should ‘look up the meaning’ and my answer would quickly be revealed. And so I pulled over and did that. Here is what came up immediately:
Blackbirds Animal Totem Symbolism: As a dark and mysterious creature, blackbirds are associated with lunar symbolism. Also, the flight of the blackbird is symbolic of the quest for higher knowledge, a valiant journey that always leaves us better off than when we started.
The reminder here for me is that a) I am a seeker of higher knowledge and b) Higher knowledge leaves us better than before. Over the past few months I have been experiencing a very strong net negative inner condition by using Facebook. There has been so much discord and division, largely brought about by the recent US election process, along with the boiling over of so much fear and anger from the millions of people who’ve been feeling disenfranchised. The daily reading and interactions do not leave me ‘better than I was before’ and now I know, therefore this is not the pathway of higher knowledge.
As I sat with this information came the awareness that I used to blog as a way of refining and expressing my clarity with regard to almost anything, but that I had stopped doing this, because I too had gotten caught up in the Facebook fray.
Upon reflection I am once again aware that this venue is the perfect place for me to organize and express my views on many subjects such as politics, the Earth and ecology, energy production, birth control, race and gender equality, human sexuality, regressive politics, love, yoga, fitness, adventure, and my soul’s purpose. Here it’s is just my ideas, away from the place where everybody is right and nobody is sorry. Facebook has become the equivalent of a car. Everyone ‘hides behind the wheel’ and are able to ‘rage’ without consequences.
Groups have evolved on Facebook which significantly cut down on the social media road rage, and I do participate in those. I am grateful I have connected with many truly open minded and loving souls in these groups. Those of us concerned with healing the global disease can connect, share ideas, and grow seeds of change. In those I participate with my inner most thoughts, and I am met with sharing, compassion and feel grace enter.
If you are reading this, thank you for allowing me to freely express myself.
In the past 6 months I have allowed myself the opportunity to move through some changes. It meant letting go of some things I was holding onto. I was aware of a few, while with some others I was not, but as the clarity came, I truly wanted to make room for the new, the sustainable, for love, service and adventure, and the kind of abundance that goes soul deep. “And I am fulfilled” is my affirmation. I see this kind of housecleaning as a vibrational act of allowing.
I noticed that some other things were changing, dropping off, as well… mostly financial in the form of debts accumulated in the past few years while I was going through perhaps the deepest transition I have ever felt. Not the sudden swift epiphany, but the waiting, trusting, occasionally doubting kind of patience that can be so humbling.
Much is written about letting go, it’s a good thing.
Let it go.
That relationship that hurts? Let it go.
Those words that upset you? Let them go.
Let the words go.
Let it all go, even the people if necessary…
I am all for that. Grieve as necessary, do the inner work, evaluate your role, make amends and set boundaries…
Get clear and then take your desire to Spirit.
Let. That. Shit. Go.
It’s highly likely I don’t do nearly enough letting go. In fact I would like to suggest that we only let go when something is really uncomfortable, proven false without a doubt, or in emergencies. For the greatest part, me included, don’t actually pay much attention to our attachments. We run in a sort of ‘neutral’, used to the noise and weight of our attachments like so much white noise. They are part of ‘normal’. But they’re not. Attachment, it is said, is the cause of all human suffering.
I would now like to tell you a story. It’s a true story and it’s about the subtlety of not letting go. It all revolves around a matted and framed trio of photos gifted to me by a former friend. The framed pictures appeared somewhere around 1998, I think… And I still have them.
This is the back story. My 2 best friends at the time, Mike and Pete decided a nice long weekend trip to Tsali Recreation Area in North Carolina would be a fun adventure. We loaded our bikes, jumped in my giant SUV and headed up from Jensen Beach. We camped, we rode mountain bikes, we did some trail running, we ate catfish while listening to live bluegrass, and we even took in a local dirt track car race. I was the photographer and documentarian, as always… lugging my big ass 35mm Canon A1 and various lenses in a backpack.
On our 3rd day of riding these 3 photos were taken. it had been a typical day on the trails; lots of fun, beautiful scenery, lung scorching climbs, flowing fast downhills and catching air on some pretty big bumps. Pretty much what a mountain bike road trip should be.
It was so great, that near the end of the ride, I asked Mike to wait at the bottom with my camera, and get some motion shots with me flying through a section of whoop-te-doos… He said yes and I trudged up to the top.
I made the turn, clipped in, and took off! As I landed, I knew I was in trouble immediately. I thought I had cased the landing because it felt like I hit hard on the front wheel, and it felt like my arms were being ripped off the bars. Over the bars I went, pitched high and hard, landing with all of my weight on the left side of my head and the back of my left shoulder. In terms of yoga, the pose ‘fallen angel’ comes to mind.
When I sat up, Mike asked if I was alright. I knew immediately I was not. I couldn’t quite tell what was happening, but I did recognize within my body the need to move, and the onset of shock. I had one singular focus: get back to the campsite before I pass out… My left arm felt like it was dead it was all mushy in the shoulder area. This was not how I pictured the end of my day and now I just was running on adrenaline.
We rode the 3 miles back to the campsite and then without hesitation I jumped into the truck. Mike drove me to the ER at Bryson City, and after xrays I was given the diagnosis of a stage 3 Acromioclavicular separation. I think because that was so obvious, they never even bothered to xray the ribs or wrist… until later in an MRI it was discovered I had twig fractures in the ribs… I opted out of the ‘bone scan’ for the wrist…the treatment seemed worse that the injury, but I had to heal up some sort of wrist injury as well.
So the next 8 weeks were a real bitch for me, physically. It hurt to laugh, sneeze, cough… My orthopedic doctor suggested I get in the pool and one day at a time begin strengthening the separated shoulder by lifting up out of the pool. Gradually it strengthened, although it has never been the same. Fortunately I had a heated saltwater pool, unfortunately even with rehab this is a permanent injury.
Getting back to the story — Mike, to his credit, had actually taken photos as we had discussed. He had no idea I was going to become injured, he was just being a great friend. My intention was to have some shots of me catching some air on my bike, but instead the photos would document the moments leading up to the injury. In fact the cause of the flip is evident too, a perfectly placed rock catching my front wheel on an otherwise smooth trail…
Mike, strangely, decided to take the film from the camera, and acted very defensive about getting them developed. I told him I wanted the film, and I would handle the developing. But no.
Months later, I received the framed trio of pictures as a gift from Mike. They were nicely framed and matted, and it was a thoughtful gesture even if bizarre in my opinion.
I did not like them. At all. To me they were a gruesome of a serious injury and were definitely not reflective of the overall elan of the trip. I questioned Mike as to why he would do this, and he never really answered. He isn’t a mean, nasty guy, and I am sure he wasn’t trying to teach me some lesson. His intention was never revealed to me.
In a subtle act of not letting go, this framed series of 3 pictures which captured a moment I would rather let go of and move on from stayed. I never hung the photos. They sat in a closet, in a box, stayed with me through several moves, in the garage… finally, the other day I spied the picture and took the question into my journeying practice; ‘Why am I holding onto this”…
Here’s what the answers were that came through that meditation:
1. Although you do not like the pictures, you do like and respect Mike. You were willing to put the idea of his feelings in high regard, above your own.
2. You place a value on framed art — whether it’s of value or not.
3. You have been forgetting to let it go. It’s one of a thousand tiny little rubber bands to your ‘story’ — like a tangible reason why you ‘can’t’ or why ‘you’re afraid’…
And so, there are the pictures of me removing the photos, and letting them go symbolically burning them… and then installing 3 new pictures that remind me of the beautiful adventure that is this life… Now, what remains to be seen, is will I still see those pictures when I see this frame, or will it blossom into something new… Who knows, maybe I will have to let go of the frame too.
I want to look at all things with some discernment. Is this something I want? Need? Is it pulling me forward, higher? Or am I using it to weigh myself down and to create a story of ‘can’t, won’t or don’t?
I was recently asked to list 10 Amazing Places… and I love this sort of retrospective / introspective challenge. So, as I settle in to write this I already see it will be 2 lists: Amazing Places I have Been and Amazing Places I would like to Go (or so I think).
A few years back, I radically changed my point of view about travel. I shifted from what, to me, felt like an uninspiring log of places ‘other people have gone to which are famous’ to ‘being open to new, amazing experiences’… and let me tell you, the vibe of the 2nd intention in and of itself makes me smile. While still a novice traveler, in my own opinion, I no longer think too much about planning an adventure – I just sense it, and follow that inspiration.
I know the United States pretty well. And parts of Canada and Central America… but I have not been to Europe, Asia, South America, or Australia. On the other hand, I have had some amazing adventures to beautiful places where I have experienced an array of memorable events. From Yoga Festivals to Concerts, from the Concours D’Elegance to camping. From Shamanistic retreats to Yoga retreats, to mountain bike festivals, you name it. Well, I don’t mean you name it, because there are a lot of things I haven’t done, I just mean, the only common thread is to experience a memorable adventure with some like minded individuals.
So, first, where would I like to go / what would I like to do?
Cinque Terre — with it’s colorful cliff-side dwellings and complete absence of cars…
Dean’s Blue Hole — (or other Blue Holes if you have a better one) for the sun, the sand, the swimming and the yoga.
Bali — to practice yoga and explore the 11th century temples
Thailand — to immerse myself in the culture — fresh local foods, commuting on scooters, a myriad of yogis
The Greek Isles — including a few days on a boat
Denmark’s Inland Waterways — travelling by day on bikes, and moving through the canals at night on low boats
Tim Miller’s Mt. Shasta California Ashtanga Retreat
Swimming with the Pigs in Exuma
Alaska, The Lavender Fields of Washington, The Rise Festival, Envision Fest,
Next, what were / are 10 of my favorite places (In no particular order)? Places that took my breath away, captivated me, or where I had life altering experiences.
The Old Churches along The High Road between Santa Fe NM and Taos NM (think Santuario de Chimayo)
Sedona. Not the town so much, but the places nearby… Slide Rock, Red Rock Crossing, Amitabha Stupa,
Big Sur / Esalen / Julia Pfeiffer Burns / Carmel ~ Sunset Park / Sycamore Canyon Beach
Costa Rica (Anamaya Resort / Montezuma / The Osa / Uvitta)
Nicaragua (Morgan’s Rock Beach)
Georgia’s Mountain Lakes… (Nottely, Blue Ridge, Burton, for example)
Downtown Chicago – The Miracle Mile
Glen Lake, Michigan
Miami Life Center
Tie! Laguna Beach / Santa Monica and the surrounding areas.
Of course compiling a list like this really is not in alignment with how I manifest adventure, so there’s not really any telling where or when I will go… I just trust that I will.
My advice is let go of the notion that you have to stay put, or that it won’t work out, or a hundred other self created obstacles. Allow grace to enter, and your heart to soar, a smile to embrace your face as your intuition shows you exactly what adventure would be so on your soul’s purpose.