Dreamwork: Fighting the Smoke Dragon

Tree adorned with shoes, somewhere along HWY 50, the "loneliest highway in America"

In November 2010, I decided to drive across the country to start a new life out in California. True to form, things weren’t going so well with the relationship I was in for the last three years and I just felt like it was time for a change – a big change. My plan was to volunteer at the Sivananda Yoga Farm in Grass Valley and start looking for an apartment and a place to work, with the ashram as my temporary home base.

Back then, I didn’t really have a smart phone or GPS, so I was using my trusty U.S. map and my boyfriend’s recommendations during our telephone calls about the best routes to travel. He had been across the country a couple of times, so he knew where I wouldn’t get stuck in the middle of the night with nowhere to get gas if I needed it. I’m sure those of you who live out West totally understand what I mean!

This trip came with a lot of doubts. Was I was doing the right thing? Should I leave my family behind on the East Coast? Was I even going to make it to California alive by myself? Could I make it work once I got there? Life is never black and white; it’s always full of unknowns. So every day I pushed through my worries, my self-doubt, and my fears. And just drove. Some days twelve hour stretches at a time.

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Being Forced into A New Paradigm

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One of my friends posted this today on Instagram. I really love it. For so long I’ve wondered why humans behave the way they do, preaching one thing while doing another. And why it always takes a cataclysmic event for us to get a clue and work in harmony together with the Earth.

And so here we are: COVID-19. Forcing us to work together to ‘save the economy’ and implement ‘social distancing’ simultaneously.

I felt the desperation and anxiety over not having our basic needs met when I was out over the weekend, triggering a bit of my own. And as days pass, I see via social media that ‘social distancing’ is not going well for many. I find it to be another interesting phenomenon, another kind of ‘mental pandemic’, a constant need to be distracted and the fear of not having enough.

As a self-proclaimed loner who much prefers my own company – and that of my pets – I thought I’d dive a little bit deeper into this topic and maybe help someone along the way.

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Past Lives & Cellular Memory

I’ve been sleeping on a mat in the barn the last couple of nights and, physically, I am feeling better than I have in months. It reminds me of dreams and visions of other lives I lived here on this planet. Does my body remember how ‘things used to be’ and crave those days of austerities: living simply, not eating much, etc.? And when I don’t live this way, I literally become sick from too much food, too much comfort, too much sitting, too much sleep. JUST.TOO.MUCH. It seems I may not be alone in this either. 1

. . .

Flashback to February 2010

One night during the yoga teacher training course in the Bahamas, I had a very vivid dream where I recalled a number of lives I previously lived on this planet. I was also shown the purpose of a few significant relationships I had up until that point, including the contracts we had signed before incarnating this time around. Contracts that were meant to cause growth through emotional pain. 2 It was incredibly eye-opening.

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Fire Walk with Me

Around 2004/05, shortly after I was introduced to meditation, I had quite a profound vision. On that particular evening, as I was listening to the guidance of my Kadampa Buddhist instructor, I floated out of the room and out of my body, where I met two “light beings”. These beings were formless orbs of pure light who seemed to be waiting there for this particular point in time and space to meet with me to give me a message that would change the course of my life.

These beings, who I still refer to as my “real parents” or my “Star Family“, carried me up above the Earth and showed me that we are all connected, All One. Every action performed – no matter how big or how small – affects everything on Earth and beyond.

They also filled me with a sense of love and acceptance that I had never felt in my entire life. They reminded me that this Love is All That Is.

And then there was fire. A Great Wall of Fire filled my vision and quickly brought me back to this reality in a most disturbing way. WTH?

After class, I tried making some sense of this vision with my teacher. He assured me that nothing I witnessed could have happened because nothing like that had ever happened to him. (?!?) So I left there feeling very confused and almost ashamed about my experience – the same feeling I had after my near-death experience. Go figure…

And so I tried to forget.

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Trust Your Treads

Tonight I walked out to the barn to turn down the heat since an event I was supposed to hold the next day wasn’t going to happen. As I walked, I realized I was walking down our driveway with ease and without fear – without a flashlight in the dark pretty darn near the new moon – knowing it was covered in snow and ice in spots. Once I realized what I was doing, my truck-driving-farmer-fiancé’s voice came to me: “Trust Your Treads”.

Those simple words hold so much meaning, don’t they?

The first time he spoke them, he was driving quite fast through a snowstorm. I was nervous. And that’s what he said because he had years of experience “trusting his treads”.

I made it to the barn safe and sound because I didn’t really think about it. I was enjoying the crisp air, the clear starry sky, and the crunching of snow under my feet as the dog pranced along happily beside me. I was present, in the moment.

On the way back… a whole other story: I thought about it. I got nervous. The ‘what if’s’ got to me and I tensed up, losing my footing a couple of times.

It always amazes me how the mind can play tricks! So like my wise man says, you just gotta “TRUST YOUR TREADS”!

Breathwork as a Pathway to Samadhi

After conducting my last breathwork class, I realized that the #1 reason why I love breathwork is because it can give the practitioner a taste of samadhi in a very short time. Samadhi is, generally, a state that only seasoned meditators experience after many years of practice and a whole lot of grace. In Hinduism, this is the ultimate goal of yoga – the final stage of meditation – at which union with the divine is reached. For many of us, this state will only occur at death.

According to the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, there are two main types of samadhi: “with seed” and “without seed”.

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What is Breathwork Therapy?

Pranayama (control of prana or life force energy via the breath), is one of the 8 Limbs of Yoga, and as such has very ancient healing roots. However, the more modern version of therapeutic breathwork was born in the 1960s out of LSD research. When the government banned LSD, Stanislov Grof turned his attention to something that couldn’t be outlawed: breathing. Grof went on to trademark “Holotropic Breathwork“, a non-drug alternative to reaching altered states of consciousness.

Today, there are numerous styles of therapeutic breathwork. At the core, all breathwork therapy has benefits similar to other “psychedelic therapies” (such as Ayahuasca, magic mushrooms, and LSD) in that, as oxygen builds up in the blood, the breather experiences a mild sort of trip with the aim of promoting transcendental, ecstatic, religious or mystical peak experiences. Types of experiences usually fall into one or more of several categories:  sensory, biographic, perinatal, and yogic sleep states.

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Reflections on 2018

I have to say that 2018 was one of the most difficult years I’ve had in some time. My depression and anxiety were at a level I haven’t experienced in over a decade!

And at every turn I was forced to ask, “Who Am I?” Who am I when I’m not being a ‘graphic designer’? Who am I without the identity of a ‘yoga instructor’? Who am I as I relate to my significant other and as an identity outside this relationship? Who am I as a mother? As a grandmother? As a friend? Who am I in relation to it All?

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Retrain Your Brain While You Sleep

I’ve been using Kelly Howell’s Brain Sync meditations off and on for years now.

According to the Brain Sync website, the binaural beats they use in their recordings help to “balance right and left hemispheres to achieve remarkable mental states. Precision engineered sound waves tune your brain to ideal states of consciousness for meditation, learning, creativity, healing, sleep, goal achievement and behavior modification.”

During the first few months of testing this stuff out, I  used the Secret Universal Mind meditation nightly. After some time, I began to hear myself thinking in ways just like Kelly Howell! For the lack of effort, I thought the result was very cool and it definitely re-patterned my thinking for the better.