Tuesday, July 4, 2017
Be Your Own Damn Guru
Funny enough I’m writing this on the US Independence Day…a day synonymous with freedom. Freedom has always been one of my highest values in life. I seem to keep putting myself in situations where I experience the exact opposite just to once again realize how very important it is to me, and hopefully to you as well. How else could I be the Maven of Moksha? (Moksha means freedom, btw)
So I didn’t come on this journey or to this ashram to find myself, discover inner peace & happiness or seeking the answers to any of life’s big questions like most people do. I’ve done all that in my past 36 years of endless seeking, study & practice. I came to this ashram to immerse myself in the culture as a life experience, first of all. I also came for the regimen of yoga, meditation, and believe it or not, the healthy vegetarian food. I also enjoy kirtan and chanting and have that music playing wherever I am most mornings and often throughout the day. I just wanted to immerse myself in “real ashram” culture along with many others I intend to explore.
I have incorporated, adapted and integrated many aspects of the yogic lifestyle into my own for decades. In my OWN way. In a very personal way, that after all of my PREVIOUS seeking, I have put into practice, modified and adjusted to suit MY Soul.
From the beginning, the extremely regimented schedule that begins at 5:20 am and concludes at 10pm, with attendance taken at each satsang, meditation, prayers, yoga and lectures felt quite extreme to me. Along with having to get in essence a ‘hall pass’, just to walk down the road for chai. On this schedule there is barely enough time to write a few notes to Self, let alone a full blown blog, or have a real conversation with someone from your homeland. Or even time to think and assimilate this new lifestyle you may have voluntarily put yourself into, unbeknownst all the rules.
Since one of my Jedi Spirit Hacks is arriving at no thought in about 30-90 seconds, I’ve often used some of my meditation time to contemplate and ponder various things, from what fascinating place I want to visit next, my last smoking rendezvous, wondering what spices were in the tasty curry tonight, and how I would have taught the last lecture differently. I think about how I would improve this place, if I were running it lol. I’d definitely shake it up a bit, (Osho would be proud). I often wonder how the director of this place, who I find to be a very intelligent and spiritual man and an excellent yoga teacher, can do this same schedule day after day, after month after year! How?!?
Tonight was about the last straw for me. It was movie night. I had forgotten and was kind of excited when it was announced. The movie (if it can be called that) was on the founder of this ashram called Swami Shiva-Something-or-other. I thought, cool I’m finally going to see what this guy is all about! Apparently the entire staff of devotees, didn't share my same enthusiasm because when they heard what I heard, everyone one of them got up with their things and walked straight out!! After the first 2 minutes I understood why.
Wanting to give it a chance, I stayed for about 12 more. I rarely walk out on the worst of movies because I’m an eternal optimist and my rose-colored imagination thinks at some point something super redeeming is bound to happen. I was already clear that would not be the case tonight.
I knew it was going to be pretty pathetic when the entire intro was nothing but this Swami having his picture taken, half naked with his belly and boobs exposed and in a big overcoat for the rest of the endless pics. It showed him in various places being photographed ad-nauseam. The last portion was filled with mindless followers pandering and offering prostrations to this man, accounting for about 90% of film, as if this were to somehow validate him and make up for his extremely remedial and often misguided teachings. This is when I walked out, went to my dorm, got a bottle, walked down to the same area to get some clean drinking water where I could see more of the same guru worship on the big screen.
The other 10% (which is truly a stretch) was about 5-8 minutes of the most remedial spirituality I have heard and seen since kindergarten of (insert your religion of choice) studies/brainwashing. The film extolled “HIS PHILOSOPHY” in horrible graphics, in these basic words: Serve. Love, Give, Purify, Meditation, Realise.
One of the things that made me chuckle was seeing them shoot video of Swami X giving out what I’m sure were nothing more than pennies/rupees, after just having taught to give selflessly, humbly and in secret. Oops!!
After one of the words encompassing his profound philosophy is flashed on the screen, (not sure if it was Give or Serve), a clip is shown of Swami X in which he appears to be wearing sumo-wrestler-like-garb (aka robe wrapped up like a diaper) and barefoot, gathering water in two pails, from a river and then hacking at the dirt with some hoe/rake-like tool. Obviously attempting to show that the Swami actually did manual labor as opposed to just being pandered to, though his large size begs to question the truthfulness of that fact. It was a 100% staged Hollywood scene. In a similar contradictory scene, he is shown with his feet on top of a man kneeled on hands and feet.
Looking back on what the film portrayed, it never showed him doing yoga, he certainly didn’t look like a yogi, nor did it even show him meditating, though his teachings said it was the ONLY way to God realization, the ONLY way to inner peace and happiness. I don’t know about you, but I’ve been around the ‘spiritual block’ a time or two or three, and when somebody tells me their way is the ONLY way or the ONLY truth, I head in the opposite direction.
If you have really done your homework, you will find that there are as many ways to God/The All/Source/Universe, or simply your Higher Self as there are people. I will save my prostrations for the Sun, the greatest life-giving force in the galaxy, other celestial bodies, my deities/angels/ancestors of choice, and most importantly my own Higher Self.
I am an eternal being on an expansive, evolutionary journey. Know ThySelf, Love ThySelf, Thou Art God. The day of the guru is on its way out. It’s fine to have people to look up to and find teachers that resonate with you, you can learn much from others, from spiritual texts like the Bhagavad Gita, Bible, Rig Veda, Kabbalah, Zohar and many others. As you seek, certain philosophies you encounter will feel good to your Soul…keep those until they don’t. Don’t get too attached to your own dogma. Hold it lightly. It is not who you are, nor is it the truth of you. You are not your beliefs.
You are on an evolutionary path—it is not meant to be static. To paraphrase a quote from the Bible, ‘When you are a baby, you drink milk, when you are old/more mature in your understanding, new and greater truths (solid foods) will be revealed to you. If you are so attached and egoically identified with being this or that religion or belonging to this ashram or that particular sect, you may dismiss something that could change your life and move you forward in your own evolution. When you understand, that you are not your religion, or even hard-earned beliefs, you can easily put the old teaching down to embrace the new. Just like graduating from kindergarten or out-growing your clothes when your young. You don't say that kindergarten was stupid, or that it was the wrong clothes…they were perfect in that moment—and you’re here now. Open your eyes. Learn to trust yourself and your own-heart. Don’t ever put your spiritual evolution in somebody else’s hands, not the priest, rabbi, swami, bishop or even your own parents. Train your ears to listen and your eyes to see. Meditation is good for that…but so is a walk in nature, spending time alone and in silence, dropping judgement and labels and being true to yourSelf. It is your life, it is your Soul. Follow your heart, it knows the way.
**I want to state that I am sure all ashrams are quite different, and while I’m not a fan of the regimented schedule or some of the less than profound philosophy, I haven’t spent much time researching any more of this Swami’s teachings. I’m sure he has some good things to share…but so do you & I. And I’m sorry, but for the entire staff to walk out before the movie began, was sooo telling. If The Secret were playing, they’d have no problem watching it over and over…just saying.
I also have no doubt that for people with a lot of questions, stress, hectic lives, and hectic minds get a lot out of this type of routine, call it a re-set of sorts. It’s also great for someone, that wants to eat healthier and get used to how to eat for a vegetarian. One thing I’d do if I were running the place is have a cook book of all the different food they make here because it’s pretty good.
Funny, it’s a 2-week program, starting on the 1st and ending the 15th. I’m a finisher, a completer, though for some reason I only paid through the 6th, although I got the rupees to pay for it all—inner-knowing, I bow to you!
Needless to say, It’s waaaaay past my curfew now, just after 1 am, I won’t be going to Satsang at 6 am to bow to Swami-Something-Or-Other. And—I’m sure you’ll be shocked to know, I snuck off to swim in the crocodile infested lake with about six other female rebels earlier today…sporting a nice tan and feeling more like mySelf, ha! I think I’ll roll out of bed for yoga at 8am!! My days are numbered here. Woot-Woot
Saturday, March 11, 2017
Our whole purpose in this moment— and in life, (simply being a string of moments strung together over years), is to simply say yes to life. Say yes to what life is requesting of you and yes to what the human experience is presenting. Both blessing and loss are contained in the above. Saying yes to your gifts and special talents, and accepting life when it is not only less than your ideal but when it is fucking devastating and tragic. Accepting what is with grace. With no why me or victim mentality. To quietly be ok with whatever is. The Divine Within, has an understanding, even an appreciation,(however deep that may be), that this Earth School has lessons for your Soul that can not be bypassed.
In the background of our resistance to certain events, circumstances, and situations, there is an inner knowing that life is always happening for us and forging our Souls with every heartbreak and joy. Like the blooming flower or a singing bird, there is in us and our humanness an imperative to thrive and offer our own brand of beauty and magnificence to the planet. It is in our nature and DNA to be all that we were created capable of being, complete with all of our unique passions, and talents.
Somewhere along the line, for many of us, we lose ourSelves and our true nature. Whether it be the challenges of life, the banality of the day to day existence, or the distractions of modernity (including but not limited to: electricity, the internet, and busy-disease), something has caused us to feel removed and separate from nature. We believe we are different than nature. Because of this, we no longer trust our own natural cycles of dying, birth and re-birth. David Whyte says it best, “We are the only species that can refuse our own flowering”.
Unlike the flower that just blooms and fulfills the measure of its creation effortlessly and with no self-doubt, we look at our talents and we judge them as not good enough, and ask, “Who am I to be, do or have x?” We may also realize that we have to die to what no longer serves our highest good and is no longer genuine, in order to birth a more authentic life that awaits us. It can be terrifying. We may allow the lower emotions of shame, guilt, insecurity, fear and grief to creep in and paralyze us.
We are afraid of what we may have to go through to fulfill our destiny, we get scared and flat out refuse our soul’s request. And that refusal haunts us. Deep down, we know it is our destiny. We know if we don’t follow the path of our heart, we will leave this world hating ourselves and being disappointed that we lacked the courage to do the thing we were born to do. How many lifetimes have we chosen to play a small game? How many more will you choose to do the same?
I think that now more than ever, people are starting to wake up and desire more meaning and significance for their lives. They are feeling the gaping hole in their soul of a life unlived and embraced. Some are also feeling the hollowness of living a life to please others, i.e. parents, partners, children, church, community, etc. So much so, that you don’t even know who you are anymore.
It’s time for a rescue mission. Time to plunge the depths of what is authentically true for you. What lights you up and what makes your heart smile? Time to dust off those dreams and talents and emerge with a new commitment to yourSelf and your Soul. Erin Hanson said, “There is freedom waiting for you, On the breezes of the sky, And you ask "What if I fall?” Oh but my darling, What if you fly?”
Mary Williamson asked In "A Return to Love" "Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be?
She says that “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear our presence automatically liberates others.”
When we free ourSelves from our own fears and start living a life of full expression, people around us are inspired and feel liberated to do the same.
In these words, we can hear a solution to our own refusal and smallness, and that is saying a big fat yes to life. We remember and realize that the gifts that we are born with are certainly not ours to horde. We get to stop being greedy with our magnificence. Stop refusing your own flowering. Allow yourself to unfold. Trust and have patience with the process. Allow your Light to shine brightly. Share your gift unabashedly. Find the compassion and courage necessary to be the you you were created capable of being and just say yes to what life is requesting of you.
“And the day (has come) when the risk to remain tight in a bud (is now) more painful than the risk it (takes) to blossom. “(Slightly paraphrased from Anais Nin). Now is the time. “What are you going to do with your one wild and precious life?” (Mary Oliver) Just say yes beautiful peeps, and Shine On, Shine On!!
Wednesday, March 8, 2017
I believe it is the greatest desire of the romantic human Soul to be ‘seen’ by the other. To be known. To have the right somebody really want to know you. To have the other see inside the machinery that is you and wonder why it all works and runs the way it does. To wonder why the pieces are connected the way they are and just what makes you tick in the particular way that you do. And once they have taken a long, hard look, realize that they don’t know you at all and that you are so much more than what they initially thought, and are seeing with their physical eyes.
The truest mate, will see your glory and your dysfunction and cherish both equally. He will not confine you to the limited walls of your past, present or even perceived future. He will just allow, watching with love, offering water when you’re weary and sunshine when you deserve a lil extra sparkle. Holding the space for you to dance in the world with him by your side.
****There's more to this, but I'm keeping it to mySelf for now.
Thursday, January 19, 2017
Then there is this other place I go, that this may very well be my last life on planet Earth. Deep breath. I lose it every time I have that thought. Most people won’t get it…but it is as real as anything gets for me. The knowing that “this is it.’ Crushes me. To my knees. I have lived my whole life in awe of this planet’s beauty. Everywhere I have every been. From India and Detroit to Bali and Bora Bora and everywhere in between. I have a vivid memory of being a child in Maine, high up in one of my favorite trees, just watching how the Sun danced playfully from leaf to leaf as the wind gently blew. Noticing how it made the green of the leaves different hues depending on which angle the Sun was hitting it. I tell you then, what I consciously know now, that I was imprinting that beautiful memory into every fiber of my being, Soul, and DNA so that I could carry it with me into whatever incarnation next awaits me. This is what I have been doing for my whole life as Laurie Frazier and I have no doubt many others. Taking visual notes of my Beloved. How she feels in summer, how she smells in spring, her many colors of fall, and her heartbreak and purity of winter. I feel her heartbeat within me. I feel her strength and energy course through my blood. I feel her vibrancy in my unwavering health and her exuberance in every Sunrise. I feel her peace at sunset as she dims the Light.
If I leave anything of myself behind, may it be my eyes, that you may see the all-encompassing beauty of this Big Blue Marble, Spaceship Earth. There has never been a planet like Her, I am sure of it. There will never be another like Her, just like there will never be another you. See Her. Appreciate Her. Teach your children to appreciate and enjoy Her many wonders. Don’t miss Her show. Please care for Her. She needs you.
Let Her in and She will give you comfort in your darkest hour. She will nourish your Soul, not only with oxygen from her verdant forests, water from her powerful seas, and ambrosia from her bounty but with breath-taking beauty. For humanity can not live without any of these things. Beauty has been more sustainable than bread for me at many times in my life. I completely get Sun-gazing. Nature heals on the very deepest level. I dare say, there is nothing that can’t be healed by simply inhaling Her. Deeply. Into every fiber.
If this were your last life here, how would you treat your sacred human existence? You don’t have unlimited time here…our days are indeed numbered. What will you do to ensure that your grandchildren get to enjoy her like you have? What will you want to see before you leave here? Will you be more present when you do? What is it that you will miss most? What can you do before you leave so that you will have no regrets? What do you want to know and experience in this sacred human temple? Seriously, I really think you deserve to ponder these things. Because what if?
Just some random thoughts on a snowy winter eve….
Thursday, January 12, 2017
My dad died last night. I never knew him very well. I saw him maybe a couple of handfuls of times in my life. I heard he had brain cancer just two weeks ago. Then yesterday that he was in a coma expecting to die, as I was returning home from a trip to Hawaii. I had a moment on the plane,—hoodie up, tears running down my cheeks, looking out the window, as to to hide them from the friend I was flying with.
I began the drive home, up my mountain in blizzard conditions only to turn onto my dirt road in treacherous conditions. At least 6 feet of snow had fallen since I left and things just looked different. I pulled into a drive-way I thought was mine, and after doing the 6 point turn to get into it, realized it was not my house. The safest thing for me to do was to back-up all the way to my house. When I arrived, seeing snow half way up my front door and 100 yards down to get to it, I just started laughing and laughing. I had an overweight 52 lb suitcase, heavy carry-on and 6 bags of groceries to get into the house. And lil me, all by myself.
I laughed again at the absence of the masculine in my life. My father, never having fathered me, on his way out, and 4 months earlier a man I had moved half way across the country for, expecting to build a life with, having utterly dismissed me after a month with no real reason. And about three months earlier, ending even a friendship with a long-time lover and friend. Not to mention, leaving my son to live with his dad when I moved. Major losses of the masculine presence for me.
And there I was, in the middle of a blizzard, looking at my snow-engulfed house, just me, myself and I—oh, and the big snow, wind and darkness. I smiled. Proud of myself for even making it home, in a blizzard, backwards…getting stuck once and getting myself unstuck without even getting out of my Subaru. I thanked Archangels Michael, Gabriel and Raphael for the safe passage I had requested. And my lil heart expanded again in that moment. Feeling my utter physical aloneness, feeling my own courage and with an inner-depth of knowing that I am never really alone. That the unseen is as present with me as the seen, that my trees and mountain, which I’d already greeted hello, were as aware of me, as I was of them. My lil girl heart believes that they were also just as happy to see me again as I was to see them.
You HAVE to know, attitude is everything. I just accept and often laugh at it all. Not withstanding the broken-heart, btw. I just simply TRUST, that whatever is happening, is for my highest good. Then I SURRENDER to the moment and ACCEPT it just the way it is, with no complaints. A simple, “So this is what is happening now…” often goes through my head. And I say, “Ok, now what?” And wait for the answers to come as they always do. I also ALLOW my feelings to be felt about whatever the situation has brought up without shaming, judging or criticizing mySelf. Sometimes it’s feeling alone, sad, broken-hearted, angry, or frustrated. I OBSERVE what my lil human-self is experiencing. I am also con-currently aware of the real truth of my Soul which is my big joy, gratitude, humility, and reverence for this sacred human experience. That's the feeling that has been so over-riding within me for some time now. It’s the BEST!! Seriously. I am always just laughing at my life. Often when most would be crying and/or pissed.
But I digress…I was going to write about the weird feelings that my virtually unknown, absentee father’s death has spawned within me. I think i was feeling a re-triggering of his abandonment from my childhood. I think the most painful part for me is that I felt so sad that he did not want to know me. His own biological creation. Why doesn’t he want to know about my good grades? Why doesn’t he want to know that I’m running half the clubs in school and president of my youth group? Why doesn’t he want to know why I’m majoring in Theology at Boston College? Why doesn’t he want to know that I’m married, have kids, divorced, married and had another kid? Why doesn’t he want to know if I'm ok…if I have what I need, if I have food and a roof over my head? Why doesn’t he want to know how awesome I turned out in spite of his absence?
I may never have the answers to those questions. It is what it is and what it was. And…I’m here now. I may always feel that abandonment, that lack of interest, that feeling of something being missing in my life. And…I’m ok. And…I wouldn’t change a thing. I am who I am today because of his absence. It made me strong. It made me independent. It made me self-reliant. It made me seek outside of mySelf and then back in, to the only love I will ever truly need. My own. So my resourceful, “I can do it, mySelf.” attitude hiked that little purple sled up to my car and put my very large, red suitcase on its side on top of it as I laughed all the way down to my front door.
I got a message that my dad had died at 2am, just a few hours after I’d arrived home safely. I like to think he’ll be one of my angels now and that what ever prevented him from being with me in this life, will no longer be an issue for him from the other side. I love you, Dad. Forever grateful for all that you were and all that you weren’t to me, for both have forged my Soul.
Sunday, October 2, 2016
So as many of you know, I moved to Detroit the end of August. I moved because I felt it was the right thing for me. In fact, I had no doubt about it. I left a life that was really great. I left my home, the Enchanted Cottage, that always felt like a soulmate. I was in love with the views of the mountains, all the trees, deer, birds and other critters that I fed religiously. I had the best friends here that most people would envy. Not just acquaintances, though I had many of those, but true, deep, tribe/family kind of friends. I also left several teaching/training positions and clients that i absolutely adored as well. I left it all without regret, with total gratitude for everything that I had here. I left with no back door—nobody sub-leasing my place, no stuff stored to come back to in case things didn’t work out. I gave everything away and left willingly and joyfully to embrace the next step on my journey.
On September 21st I moved back. Yup. I’ve had some people ask me if I were embarrassed or did I feel like I came back with my ‘tail between my legs’, like “wow, I sure mis-judged this one”. The fact of the matter is, no. Not for a minute do I feel bad or regret my choice. I listened to my heart and I followed. I had no doubt about what i was doing and I went willingly. I am proud of mySelf for having the courage to make such a bold move. I am proud of mySelf for being willing to leave and let go of everything I held/hold dear. I am happy with myself for how I behaved, how willing I was to merge my life with another, and though most would say, “oh, it didn’t work out,” I say that it worked out perfectly. I don’t feel like I could have done anything differently or better. I feel like I gave it my total attention, made adjustments without compromising or complaint and remained true to myself.
Even though I lived at the zoo, the one room I claimed and spent most of my time in, over looked the freeway, and I would occasionally see a turkey vulture fly overhead. I didn’t have the same kind of views and there was very little space for me and the few things I didn’t give away, which consisted of my books and a portion of my clothes. I did put out one of my Buddha statues and the other 25 sat on top of a single shelf in the one room I called my own. I was ok with that because that’s not why I went there. I went to experience partnership. I did my best to immersed myself in that. I told myself, it is the person that I am with that is most important, not the space or the location. While there is truth to that, I’m quite clear that for myself, my personal physical space inside and what I see out my windows are really important to my highest happiness. I got even more clear about some of my preferences when I moved.
Although I have always made any space I have work for me, to really thrive and be creative, I much prefer to be immersed in nature. Being the homebody that I am, I do much better with trees and wildlife out of every window. While I’m doing life, writing, cooking, cleaning, showering, meeting with clients, etc I want to be surrounded by nature. I prefer to not be near a lot of traffic or high density population. I prefer to have nature’s beauty within my eye’s reach. You all know I’m that person that says, “Squirrell!!!” only every time I see one :)
As nice as it is to have a partner, I kinda prefer to be the boss of me. I prefer working (which is my passion and dharma) to staying home cooking and playing house. I prefer having a few good friends around. I prefer living close to my kids. No matter what anyone else says, I actually like/love my free-spirited, strong-willed, free-thinking, non-conservative, smart, savvy, sometimes messy Self just the way I am :)) Thank-you very much.