reshaping the ordinary

dance artist, jivamukti yogini, raw foodie, doula and lover, traveling to perform, create and share my light with the world.

Category: Uncategorized

CHOICE

 

this summer communication has been my primary focus. i’ve been approaching day to day interactions as a social experiment of sorts. witnessing how the CHOICES i make, in how i direct my actions in the world, my use of spoken words, even more subtly how my thoughts directly influences the situation.

if i walk in to a situation where everyone is stressed out, but i am calm and joyous, it has the miraculous power of rubbing off. the whole room becomes lighter. in this way we really can create the reality in which we want to exist. we can do and be what we want to see.

i often find myself suggesting “do what you want” both to myself and others. and then there is a pause and a moment to check in,

what do i want

(a very important pause and reflection in this time of speed and multi tasking).

recently a friend reflected back,
what do you mean by “you do what you want”? what’s the emotion/drive behind it?


probably more layers than i acknowledge, this prompted an exploration of what it means to “do what you want”

  • it’s repeating something i’ve heard said 
  • it’s a softening (of my own deep seeded desire to control) 
  • it’s freeing and sweet 
  • it’s aimed to be a reminder that in the play of your life, ultimately you are (if not the director) the assistant director.
    if you don’t like the way a scene is going, YOU have this amazing ability to change the script.
    if the play goes differently than you expected, that can be a wonderful thing,
    if you are present, if you are checking in, if you ask, is this what i want, both for the immediate present at hand as well as for what lies ahead.
     
  • it’s a reminder when we are busy making plans and choices god laughs at us for thinking we have that ability to control anything…. 
  • it’s a hope, that we will listen to the heart-mind, and act from a seat of compassion, not from a seat of anger, jealousy, or fear.

  • it’s a space from which i see limitless possibilities
  • it’s an i love YOU, not who you think i want you to be, and an invitation to be YOU, so i can meet that

my dear teacher Sharon Gannon teaches we can have anything we want in this life, if we are willing first to provide it for others.

this teaching, so rich in it’s simplicity, is the recipe for magic. whatever it is you want, create it, share it, and then there it is in the world.
if you want world peace, act more peacefully towards others, suddenly the world has more peace in it. simply, be what you wish to see in the world.

If we want to be free, then it seems we shouldn’t make a slave of anyone. If we want enlightenment for ourselves, then we must begin to see others as holy, enlightened beings. Through such purification of perception, one becomes enlightened, because ultimately, it will take an enlightened being to see another enlightened being (it takes one to know one).  -Sharon Gannon

 

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staying the path

as a Bhakti practitioner, or in general as a Yogi, or as any human being who has decided to dedicate themselves something with this precious time we are here on Mother Earth, we start by setting goals, that part is easy… and then life happens. inspiration can fizzle out like a bad romance…. 

seemingly it is so easy to find inspiration these days, just do a search for #inspiration and countless articles images and poems will pop up.
or you can be more specific about what kind of inspiration you want,, #fitspo #inspireart #yogainspo even #inspireconsciousness pulls up a few hits….

but does this ocean of inspiring words and images leave us more inspired or simply more overwhelmed.

unnamed

Krishna as seen floating from my rear-veiw mirror.

 

 

i find the great mystics, the enlightened ones who have come before us provide the greatest of inspirations, some of their texts i call upon daily, to inspire my practice, such as the  मधुराष्टकम् Madhurastakam the Song of Sweetness in praise of Krishna, composed by the Bhakti philosopher-poet Sripad Vallabhacharya, and Tulsidas‘s stotra to Hanuman-ji the  Hanuman Chalisa.
reciting texts such as these, written many years before my time, inspires, ignites and works as an access point to the divine mood (click this link to see Shyamdas-ji’s beautiful description of this bhav, divine mood).

but from there where do we go?

an idea recently presented to me (obvious though radical) is what do YOU say. it’s wonderful to learn the mantras, and the prayers, and the protocol to devotion. but as practitioners of Bhakti yoga, the lila, the play comes in with our own mood, our own ras, our own unique flavor and taste.

hanuman_yantra

Yantra to Hanuman including some of Tulsidas’ Chalisa

 

so i invite you, write your own prayer. your own love letter to the beloved one. devotion is a practice of surrendering, giving yourself completely and with great abandon to something outside of your own ego-ambition. try doing it in your own way, then let me know how it goes!

Jai Shri Krishna

Mr. Lonley

when someone dies, that’s

it. no 

more late night conversations,

no more shared laughs over

hard work and dedication

but you are not dead

so, come dance with me.

Venus

i often think longingly of what i would ask my brother if he were here. he listened to Mr. Lonely all the time, i reach for the phone to ask him about it and realize i don’t have a number for him, there is no magic number you can conjure up and speak to those who have past… at least not that i know of.

you see the images of an empty bench and a beautiful view and the prompt: if you could sit here for one hour with anyone, alive or dead, who would it be.

but what of those past loves, former best friends, teachers, family members cohort, whom at one point in your life you spent every moment with, in hysterical sleep deprived delirium, in random silly contests like who could drink the 2 liters of water the fastest, in all things.

those fleeting loves that were so deep and true with no regard to the duration.

often we create great walls and barriers against those who have known well in our lives and are no longer as close.

this is an invitation. this is an opportunity. remove the mask of ego that barricades your heart from singing. reach-out to those who you once loved.

for love is eternal.

ask the question you have stifled. and be prepared for the answer you least expected, or to be ignored.

after all, not everyone knows the secret.

not everyone is free.

Awakening Moon

wandering under the winter moon.
virgomoon

preparing for bed i was called, the sweet lullaby of the moon pulled me towards her. 

i slipped down the stairs and just before midnight went to wander under the Virgo full moon

the eve of Purim, and though i was not dressed as my favorite Purim deity the heroine Queen Esther, i felt as though it was a costume as i pulled on the snow-veralls my warmest coat, hat and scarf and smelling of hay and sheep i was,  perhaps dressed more like Esther than i truly realized.

though it was the middle of the night, i brought no flashlight, the moons glow guided me and i found myself following the tracks of the deer that pass by my home.

Jewish holidays generally land on the full moon, and Purim, the holiday where you are “supposed to get so drunk you don’t remember if you are the bad guy or the good guy.” this full moon provides enough light that you can stumble home drunk.

stumbling as i plodded through the iced-over pile-up of snow that remains grounded at the brink of spring, i chuckled to myself, is this the proper way to celebrate?

just as Kali is the fierce aspect of the goddess Parvati who is ever so tender, we too have many attributes and aspects.

our inner villain is simply another aspect of the hero.  maybe Haman is a misunderstood fierce aspect of Mordecai.

our personality is made up of many ingredients, the temperaments, the doshas, the gunas, mixed together and put in the oven. But as any good baker knows, it is all in the chemistry.

that temperament, the villainous side of ourselves arise when that aspect, lets call it baking soda, is not properly mixed in and a pocket of  it throws everything off. To get so drunk you can’t remember if you are the bad guy or the good guy. Really we are both, all striving to be our best, with a different scale to measure what that means. Yin and Yang, Shiva and Shakti, “Good” and “Evil”, all merely aspects of the Self combating one another, looking for the perfect chemistry, the balance.

the one who succeeds is the one who is given attention and energy.

it is a great fortune to be close to your teachers.

to see they too make mistakes. and to see that is okay. the moon does not care if you make a mistake, the moon will glow just as brightly.

living compassionately, we feed our compassionate side. live your love, and let love conquer all.

why cleanse

a friend asked:

I’m interested in trying a juice cleanse and am wondering if any of you can point me to reputable sources for tips / tricks / recipes / guides… that sort of thing.

the first reaction in my mind is, why cleanse?

i think this is the most important question to have an answer for before beginning any cleanse.

are you doing it for intestinal health? for your skin? for spiritual connection? to loose weight?

there are endless reasons to cleanse, and just as many ways to cleanse, so answering the first question can lead you towards coming up with a cleanse plan.

no matter why you choose to cleanse, here are some things to keep in mind

it’s called comfort food for a reason, we are comforted by the action of consuming. when going on a liquid cleanse (water or juice), a clean food cleanse (raw or whole foods), or even a mental cleanse (kicking TV, radio etc.) we detox, with that comes big emotional release. holding that for yourself as you begin a cleanse is HUGE and will help you maintain

sthira sukhamस्थिरसुखम  steadiness and joy through your cleanse. talking to your partner, close friends and co-workers ahead of time is a great idea, you may even find a Partner In Cleanse Screen shot 2014-10-04 at 8.52.24 AM

having a PIC can be supportive and rewarding, but also has challenges (two detoxing buddies is still two detoxing buddies).

  • listen to your body.

yes, that is cliche, but they usually become cliche because they are true. i once set out to do a 10 day cleanse and on day 7, i was done. so i stopped. no shame, no guilt, you don’t know how your body will react. one of the most successful cleansers i know does her cleanse each year* she does not have a set amount of time, she cleanses until she feels that she is done.  along with the physical, energetic, emotional, spiritual changes you can gauge your cleanse by the whiteness of your eyes, and by the plaque on your tongue.

(*we all do better at different times of year, she does hers in the fall, i’m more successful in the spring, there is no rule about when is best, and no harm in trying! the only way you will find out what works best for your is by trying!)

  • do what you can to take the cleanse further

sauna, dry brush, oil pull, tongue scrape, detoxing herbs/teas. while you are in the space of cleansing, do all that you can to assist! herb combinations to release mucoid plaque, grapefruit and oils to detox the liver, senna leaf and/or salt flushing to aide in the release, enemas (with different herbs for different results), if you decide to make the commitment of doing a cleanse, do yourself a favor and get the most out of it!

when on a juice cleanse, it is amazing how much time becomes available, this is what always sticks out to me.  the time (and energy) we spend preparing food, eating food and digesting food, suddenly is put back in to your schedule while cleansing, and the social component is affected as well. As Sharon Gannon says;

Preparing food is a magical act, a potent, alchemical process,

through which one form is transformed into another form

selecting the vegetables, fruits, herbs and super foods at the market (or from your own garden or local farm), cleaning and preparing the produce, juicing, enjoying the juice and cleaning up are all important aspects to be conscious of. we so often take for granted where things come from, while cleansing, it is so important to acknowledge what goes in becomes who we are. if we are in a bad mood, it is best to stay out of the kitchen. or the adage you are what you eat. this includes thoughts (as discussed in my what do you consume blog post.  to cultivate the highest intention and clear any negativity we may feel, we can pray or chant a mantra before we start to cook, while cooking, and before we eat. 

  • take it easy

you may not have as much energy as you are used to. you may not always feel your best, but this will pass (generally the first 3 days are the hardest and then its WOOOOOwoooo energy and feeling good) but if you have clearly defined the reason why you decided to cleanse, you can take your exercise regime easy, add some yin yoga, gentle stretching and walking in place of more rigorous activities and allow your body this time to cleanse and heal.

so my advice,

first, figure out why you are feeling drawn towards cleansing, then you will be able to find the perfect fit, and if you can’t find one, let me know, and we can work on it together!

making your mind an offering

mayy eva mana adhatsva / mayi buddhim nivesaya /

nivasisyasi mayy eva / ata urdhvam na samsaya

keep your mind on me alone, your intellect on me, thus you shall dwell on me from on, there is no doubt of this.

Bhagavad Gita XII.8

Featured imagewhenever i first hear a verse of the Bhagavad Gita, i go through a 3 step process towards understanding it:

  1. first there is confusion, the verse seems bigger than me and i don’t understand what it means
  2. then, comprehension, i begin to understand philosophically what it means
  3. finally application, something in my own life happens and suddenly the verse seems to be written just for me, in my own vernacular and as clear as the sky on a summers day.

the mind is active all the time. while brushing your teeth, sitting on the subway, even while engaged in conversation, there is (or at least for me there usually is) a little part of the mind that is not present. this part of the mind is busy making a to do list, or prepping an email, or thinking about that thing that guy said that really irritated you. really this is pretty amazing, we have an incredible capability to focus on more than one thing at a time. but we get in to trouble because usually, the mind slips in to patterns of stress and “monkey mind” wanderings.  often thinking negative thoughts, this could go wrong or i can’t believe i did THAT. . .. when searching for steadiness and joy in life, having jagged thoughts surely will not aide.

i know for myself TV shows are the alluring cure all.  i can zone out, without that pesky portion of my mind reminding me of what i have to do. this, unfortunately, does not lead very far on the path to enlightenment.
if instead of numbing out that little part of our mind that is always thinking about something else, we focus that towards the divine, presto! everything will shift in our lives.

in this verse of the Gita, Krishna says to Arjuna: keep your mind on me alone.

so we are to focus solely on Krishna, the flute playing, loveable blue guy, who represents the Supreme Being, the divine, the interconnectedness of being, love, joy, bliss, as YOU define it to be.

if we commit that busy little part of our brain, that is always thinking anyways, to focus solely on the highest elevated thoughts, rather than all the other neurotic stuff we tend to think about (i do at least, i don’t know about you guys) then it puts the mind in a very sweet place. and it actually shifts, everything. it shifts the outcome and possibilities in every situation.  it shifts weaving through a crowd of people, it shifts having a conversation with another, it shifts the food that we are preparing.  just to have that little bit of the mind (which is going to be busy one way or another) centered in a sweet and uplifted place makes everything in our lives just a bit more sweet and uplifted.

this makes me think of the sanskrit term chitta prasadanam.

chitta is your mind, mindstuff.  and prasadam, means sweetness or serenity or peace, like serenity of the mind, serene intellect. but there is the other meaning of prasad, an offering. like something that you might put on an altar. a little bit of food, or a flower or a bit of water, something you would offer to the divine. so in some ways, chitta prasadam is to make your mind a sweet offering to the divine.

in Jivamukti meditation, we also have a three step process.

  1. find your seat
  2. be still
  3. focus

by keeping your mind on elevated thoughts, we can bring the meditation practice in to our daily lives. we can let go of steps 1 and 2, and bring meditation (as Seane Corn coined it) off the mat and in to the world. this reminds me of a joke Biff Mithoefer told me the other day.

there were two bhuddist monks and they both smoked ciggerattes. the first asked their master “can we smoke while we meditate” to which the master replied “no.” but the next day the second monk said they were allowed to meditate while smoking.  the first monk was baffled, “why did our master say no to me and yes to you.” the second monk said “i don’t know, i just asked if we could meditate while we are smoking”

just the slightest shifts in perception can lead to the biggest steps of growth!

as the days get colder, lets see if we can keep that little part of our mind that is going to be so tempted to wander about and think about how we would rather be holed up at home hibernating, what you have to do later today and think about what you did last night, and lets instead focus that little part of the mind towards Krishna. towards making even our thoughts a sweet offering, chitta prasadam. let me know what changes in  your life after making this change!
keep your mind on me alone, your intellect on me, thus you shall dwell on me from on, there is no doubt of this.

first and foremost i am a dance artist.

living in community, one that is not geared towards dance, it is difficult for me to (at all times) stay on track with creating dance. as i blend more and more asana in to my daily practice, while giving nearly 50 hours a week service to the Omega Institute, teaching, holding support groups and *sometimes* sleeping, recently i have felt to be in a creative, choreographic slump.

when in the studio alone (as i have been so much this past year), i find myself struggling to focus on choreography. but, ever the optimist, as with all else, when faced with a challenge rather than slumping in to it, i search for a solution. or as master Patanjali says in chapter 2 (verse 33) of the Yoga Sutras;

vitarka-badhane prati-paksha bhavanam

when disturbed by disturbing thoughts, think of the opposite.

so i have been developing more and more tools to lead towards success and satisfaction. i find, when collaborating, sharing ideas and inspiration with others, having some external reliability, suddenly i am inspired. being able to discuss ideas brings a further richness to them.  suddenly there is a fire under my feet and a push to create.  despite me feeling as though i am in a slump, when i look back over the past seven months of the Omega season, i realize i have created two new works. both have been collaborations, (my undergraduate degree was Interdisciplinary Dance Studies after all)ascendance

the first piece i created this season was

Ascendance: an exploration of the ups and downs of life and aging

this was a site specific work choreographed and performed with Julia Suave. we worked in collaboration with the terrain, a forrested hill with the theme of fighting and giving in to gravity as a metaphor for the struggles of aging and the beauty of passing on our dance lineage.  finding the time to meet and work was the only challenge with this piece, once we set our rehearsal times, the inspiration was flowing and the collaboration was delightful.

the second work of the season, which will be filmed in the coming week is;

which came first, an interdisciplinary collaboration with composer Benjamin Whitenack & filmmaker Giacobazzi Yanez.

first

this piece lives in the surreal world of Ben’s haunting hopeful and expansive sound-score and Giaco’s beautiful world of imagery. shedding light on metamorphosis, the constant change of our lives and reality and a sense of being, held, contained.

 

 

i have had many role models, mentors and teachers in the world of interdisciplinary dance arts. some of the artists who have had the greatest impact on my creative process include;

ever imaginative and reality shifting Mary Armentrout, precise, direct, clear and beautiful Molissa Fenley, gravity defying and out of the box thinking Joanna Haigood, eclectic, elegant, deep and at times goofy Claudine Naganuma and the technologically ground breaking Sheldon Smith.

recently, i have had the pleasure of working on a project with a visionary artist outside the world of dance (well, i was dancing, but working with artists from other mediums). Sarah Fimm, an endless recourse of imagination, creativity and beauty along all realms of the arts created a beautiful music video with filmmaker Heyrick Chassé. the entire experience was inspiring.

Sarah lives in an island of her own creativity. we spent a full day working on the project, long in to the night, but rarely did it feel like work. laughing, doing makeup, eating grapes. as a choreographer often rigid with rehearsal times, i learned such valuable lessons from the laid back, while organized, schedule and style Sarah & Heyrick have developed. the fruits of our work have just been released, the beautiful music video for her newest single, I AM.  here is the link to the video please take a look and let us know what you think!

Sarah Fimm I AM

so now, as the Omega season ends, i realize, i am not in an artistic slump.  things just do not look the same as they used to. my work continues to grow and develop, and as nutrition, holistic lifestyle and yogic philosophy seep deeper and deeper in to my consciousness. the opportunity to grow and expand in my own art making expands as well.

 

find your sangha, no hang-over necessary!

people often speak of falling off the wagon that shameful act of doing what you said you would not do (or conversely, not doing what you said you would do).  as yogi’s this line gets a bit blurry.  does success lie in doing all of your practices, all of the time, sitting in a cave alone? we set out with a lot of practices and protocols and if we fail to meet these self imposed expectations, then what?

despite popular belief yogis are not aiming towards monastic life of rule following and route living.  yogis are aiming for Enlightenment, for Samadhi, for our sādhanā (the wagon we hitch ourselves to) to lead us towards satchidananda—existence (sat), knowledge (chit) but really mostly bliss (ananda).

yesterday i was able to sit in on a lecture touching on the Bhagavad Gita with Pranotthan Yoga Teacher Devarshi. he asked the question, what are you afraid of. the responses were varied;

losing my job, being perceived as other than i am, my children being abused. . .

to each reply he posed a question;

why is that scary?

this question was most often met with a blank expression;

it just is, i don’t know, it’s a feeling, how can i answer that, because it is. . .

finally an answer emerged that everyone could agree with;

because i am not in control.

are daily practices just a way to feel in “control”? personally speaking, if i go a day or two without practicing (for me this is referring to mostly yoga asana, meditation and ballet) or if i eat cooked foods outside of my ordinary realm of eating, falling “off the wagon” i feel it in my body and mostly my mind. it is my thoughts that are most affected, almost as though there is something blocking my vision. my thoughts are muddled, i get headaches, feel lethargic and bothered.  my practices of being appreciative  and of helping others in every moment of Enlightenment, become more and more difficult. this feeling lasts for quite some time, much longer than the action that created this reaction.  according to Newton, every action has an equal and opposite reaction, falling off the wagon, is no different.

i’ve grown to think of straying from the path as a helpful tool in bringing an awareness and deeper understanding of WHY i have chosen this particular wagon to take down the path with me. when i stick to the practices i have found positive for me, i feel unbounded energy, joy and insight.  if you make your life your sādhanā (conscious spiritual practice working towards the awakening of cosmic consciousness). if you don’t stray from the path every once in a while you forget the potency of the path.

but there is a better way to be reminded! without the side affects of falling off the wagon.  the best way i have found, across the board to remember why i’m doing what i’m doing is by surrounding myself with like minded individuals!

to surround ourselves with like minded individuals, we don’t actually need to be in physical proximity. as mentioned in my previous blog what do you consume? the online groups, the movies we watch, even the blogs and books we read create our satsang, our community. if you need a good nudge along your path i recommend Simple Recipes for Joy more than just a cookbook, this book serves as an expression of how compassionate spiritual activism can be put to practical use. in the book Sharon Gannon shares insight on personal practice and walking the path of Enlightenment through compassion for all beings.

The most courageous act any of us can do at this time is to dare to care about others—other animals, the Earth, and all beings. To be more other-centered than self-centered is the first step to happiness. Choosing vegan ingredients and cooking them yourself with a pure intention will not only help you create tasty meals but will help you start your own radical movement of peaceful, joyful coexistence with all of life.

Sharon Gannon, adapted from the book, Simple Recipes for Joy, September 2014kindness

to note, when you pre-order the book, Sharon will generously include additional classes and teachings, all aimed to re-hitch that knot keeping you and your wagon happily connected!

when surrounded with others, i work towards bringing their existence towards knowledge and bliss (satchitananda), eventually, but inevitably this brings me closer as well.  one way i have created this satsang in my life is through the Vegan Power Hour, both an online presence and a group that meets weekly to eat together and discuss ethical vegetarianism, health and lifestyle. in hosting this group, i am submerged in questions from all sorts of perspectives. i invite you to join the discussion, from near or far. find ways to stay devoted, but take your practices (even the rigorous ones) less seriously. let them take themselves seriously! the fairies and the bees know, the only way to fly is to take yourself lightly. in the simple act of taking the time to talk about these issues, i find myself completely dedicated and inspired. find your sangha, no hang-over necessary!

 

genetic identification

Chandogya Upanishad taught tat twam asi meaning, you are that.

you are what?

we are comprised of so many things:

  • you are your thoughts.
  • you are a result of your decisions.
  • you are the summation of your actions.
  • you are a mashup of all the souls you have ever encountered.

or

  • you are what you eat.

and clearly from my last posts we eat so much more than just food!

in the words of Ralph Waldo Emersoni cannot remember the books i’ve read any more than the meals i have eaten; even so, they have made me.

but even with that in due consideration, why do we eat what we eat?

as a child correct answers at school were rewarded with tootsie pops and hard candies. birthdays and other milestone events go hand in hand with cake. holidays are associated with rich heavy meals as the cornerstone to creating a “special” occasion. in this way we reinforce the perceived value and comfort of these foods. we entertain ourselves with food when we’re bored, we compromise quality of our food sources, of our lives, to accommodate the clutter of overbooked events and overstimulating iScreens, losing track of the circadian rhythms to fall into the Standard American Diet (SAD) and lifestyle. sinve i’ve gone raw, i actually had someone beg me to eat a doughnut at their birthday celebration saying please, eat it for me, its my birthday. what has happened that food, deeply processed foods, are such an integral part of our cultural climate. i did a google search of comfort food . . . check out the results. how are these items contributing to obesity, pollution, global warming, deforestation etc etc comforting to us?

we have to consider what consumption we were raised with, tv shows, living environment, lifestyle and of course tv dinners and happy meals that actually reward you with a toy for the way you are eating.  and in looking at what consumption we grew up with, this begs the question, how much of it is genetics. we can work to resolve karma’s, and change our diet, our actions. but is there a certain amount that is hard wired in us?

 please take a minute to check this video out, it is heartwarming, and difficult, but such a great reminder of how this plagues our society. Standard American Diet.

my mother was just with me for a few days visiting. there is so much of myself that i see when i gaze upon her. so much of her voice that i hear in my own opinions and views. and beneath that, so much of her personality in how i organically react in different situations.

at around the same time, my mother and my second aunt (her cousin), were told they had all the pre-diabetic signs and needed to do a major overhaul regarding both food and exercise habits or they would be getting progressively more and more ill. my aunts reaction was oh, diet and exercise works for some people, but not me. my mother, with similar news reacted the opposite way; drastically changing what she ate, did, and how she lived.

my mother went on a sugar free, nearly grain free, heavy on the turmeric simple foods diet. her intake is quite different from my own choice of raw fruits and veggies. but holds many similar tenants and facets, and the similarity lies in our approach. yet despite the changes, there are things she is up against inherently, just from the pool gene she was given.  the same pool i was then born into. even after 16 months of nearly completely pure raw living, tendencies are slow to go.

i’ve found that patience and time are the key for any changes. as my guru Sharon Padmaji Gannon teaches, joyfully sit with something again and again. each time will bring fresh perspective, give in to the repetition and through this again and again, a gain is made. slowly, but inevitably, i am finding even the seemingly “hard wired” patterns in myself can change, be they sugar addictions, trigger responses or thought patters we change over time like the shape of an iceberg. for now, i work towards steadiness and joy for all sentient beings.

through repetition, magic is forced to arise.

Sharon Gannon

what do you consume?

almost daily it seems people ask me what i eat as a raw vegan.

generally, they are referring of course to food, and as an vegan activist, environmentalist and holistic health coach i am driven to answer those questions, to communicate all that is possible and inspire positive change.

so i set out to create this blog assuming a day in the life of a raw vegan . . . would be the focal point for my first post. yet i found, in trying to put it in to words, what i consume on a daily basis that it consists of so much more than just my super foods, veggies, fruits, nuts and seeds. writing this out proved to be a bigger task than i imagined.

what i consume is so much more than just food.

in Jivamukti Yoga the month of july has been focused on Sex, Death, Sleep, Love, Magic and Pratyahara. the term pratyahara is composed of two Sanskrit words, prati and ahara. prati here translates as against and ahara literally means food, but this term for food in Sanskrit this can be taken to mean anything we take in to ourselves from the outside.

i love this view on food being all that we take in. i had the opportunity to sit with Daniel Rechtschaffen last night, and he pointed out that education is often seen as cramming knowledge in. but the fascinating component, is pulling out what is already inside.

looking “in-to-it” or intuit

combined the term pratyahara is usually translated as “withdrawal from the senses,” allowing space for internal knowledge to emerge. by quieting, or controlling the senses, energy, actions and mind we are able to achieve a heightened state of health. what we eat, is all that we surround ourselves with, through those we interact with, our environmental situations, the music we listen to, the tv we watch, even through what we read create impressions on our being.

ancient Indian practices of Ayurveda recognize that the inappropriate use of the senses as one of the main causes of disease. all mental disease is connected with the intake of unwholesome impressions. turning inwards, therefore is an important first step in treating all mental disorders. similarly it is very helpful in treating nervous system disorders, particularly those that arise through hyperactivity. most of the time we overly express our emotions, which loses tremendous energy. Pratyahara teaches us to hold our energy within and not disperse it unnecessarily. this conserved energy can be drawn upon for creative, spiritual or healing purposes as needed and can provide the extra power to do the things that are really important to us.

physical disease mainly arises from taking in unwholesome food. Pratyahara affords us control of the senses so that we do not crave wrong food. when the senses are controlled, everything is controlled and no wrong or artificial cravings can arise. through proper use of the senses as one of the most important factors in right living and disease prevention.

while focusing on nourishing my body, i recognize i must also nourish my mind and soul. my daily consumption is a deep and full practice that begins upon awaking. each moment leaves imprints and my aim, in the “food” i eat and the situations i place myself in all aim (not to say they all succeed) towards my happiness and freedom, which leads to the happiness and freedom of those around you and eventually but inevitably leads to the happiness and freedom for all.