Choose Active Love

I'm writing a book! 

I've wanted to do this for years, and after my recent experience with completing the 90 day Athlean X program, i see how to structure my time to make it a reality! I'm very excited about this and going to share my posts here. I may edit, comment or even delete them over time, but it is getting me in the practice of putting my work out for others to see. I am not going to edit much to start, and i welcome all feedback. Here we go! 





How many of your actions with others today you will be proud of tomorrow? Not only the big relationships, but also how you handled the ones that seem insignificant. Did you connect about what matters most to you? Did you avoid a challenging conversation? Did you allow the pressures of productivity to keep you too busy to respond to others?

I am fascinated with relationships, I have been since I was a child, and it has lead to writing this book. In my work I’ve met many brilliant, loving, willing people who have at some point lost their way in relationships. How do we keep them alive and growing? Why does this continue to be so challenging throughout life?

It’s not that these people aren’t having good relationships; they may even be happy and content. It’s that in “settling in” they become complacent. We start ignoring our desires. We doubt our small hunches and intuition to have important conversations. We stop sharing the feelings and ideas that could lead to profound intimacy.

Many of us have learned to sacrifice long-term depth for short-term efficiency. We have stopped seeking opportunites to have soul nourishing relationships. The cumulative challenge of maintaining a relationship may have worn you out. You may have forgotten how to be playful, spontaneous and curious. This leads to passivity not only in relationships, but in all areas of life. What if you could find time to connect? What if you could become active and engaged each day rather than passive and avoidant?

Could you have the difficult conversations you’ve been deferring? Could you setting aside 15 minutes to invest in future experiences?

Many of us adapt to react to immediate issues in our environment; our phones, our chores, our work. How many times have you used these tasks to numb out or avoid a challenging interaction? Active live requires coming out of your comfort zone. Active love means expressing the vulnerability underneath the productivity. Active love means wanting to be curious about others more than you want to be right.

In short, it means choosing not to defer your contribution to the lives of others. Every day you are building a thriving tribe that shares your values and supports you as you support them.

This kind of depth, meaning and love is essential to our survival. Not only in our most intimate relationships, but in everything we do.

It’s about deep listening. It's about sharing your emotions and opening up, even when you want to hide and close down. It's about  vulnerability, saying the truth, especially when you don't know what to say. It's about putting down your phone and giving your full engagement, no matter what arises.


This kind of love doesn't survive in passivity. It requires active engagement. I know, there are no one-size-fits-all rules for relationship, each one is completely unique. Though, I can say there is a through-line: relationships are essential to everything we do, and these concepts apply to all of them.

Unfortunately, mainstream culture isn't built for this kind of relating. We spend our finite time trying to be productive, efficient or comparing our lives to others. It seems there is never enough time to keep attention on what matters most to us.

We spend what little time we have left for relationships on upholding the status quo. This means talking about work, sports and the weather. Our culture rewards deflecting intimacy with trivia, screens and storage units. Many have lowered their sights from believing they can even have good relationships. Most of us couldn't even say where our relationships are going.  We're too busy reciting the short-term placating of phrases like "everything is great."

We may even go seeking new relationships, optimistic and hopeful, we engage again. Everything seems new and full of possibiltiy. Then we hit the same intimacy thresholds we hit before.

The good news is that we all have the ability to wake up from the Status Quo Coma. We are creating our relationships every day. It's never to late to wake up, create active love and grow a thriving tribe.

The world may be full of conflict, uncertainty, and avoidance of meaningful connection. The upside is that there is no such thing as 50% responsibility in relationships. You can choose to be 100% responsible for the connections in your life. You can not count on your past, your social media or even this book to define your next steps. I can only point you back towards yourself, because you know. You know exactly the conversations you need to have. Only you can know where your intimacy thresholds are.

It starts by choosing today to be active in your expression of love. To change your family tree and plot your own course. Love and support abounds for those who are willing to step into the heart of uncertainty and choose love. Now more than ever, we are each 100% responsiblie responsible for plotting our own path.

The most fulfilling life you can live is one where you respond to that which calls you beyond your comfort. This doesn’t mean living a life of martyrdom or shunning pleasure. Rather, it means that to find meaning and fulfillment you commit to doing what is right, rather than what is easy. Far from being passive, responding to life asks that you give everything you've got. Doing so, I find, will lead to getting everything you want.

Start now. If you read nothing else, you can apply this today: notice one area of life where you have become passive and act. What would it mean to take 100% responsibility in that area?

One loving act at a time, we can change the world.

What To Do When You Feel Ineffective

No matter how well things are going, there will come a time when we feel stuck again. This is just part of life. 

What we do when this happens is what makes all the difference in the quality of our lives. Do we grow more and more resentful and disconnected over the years? Do our practices fail us? Or do we learn to cultivate a center, a presence, a home in ourselves that is unbreakable by the ups and downs of life? 

I spoke with a friend today. She is working through some major challenges. She has done a lot of amazing work, and now she is focusing bigger projects than she ever has before. Things aren't going as expected. People aren't following through. Agreements are being broken. Her decades of meditation experience seem to all be getting put to the test and failing. Nothing seems to work. She feels ineffective and stuck. 

Healing comes from letting there be room for all this to happen: grief, relief, misery, joy.  

Healing comes from letting there be room for all this to happen: grief, relief, misery, joy.  

When she said the word ineffective, I knew it was her masculine talking. Though she identifies as a woman, we all have these qualities of masculine and feminine in us. The masculine is concerned with results and productivity. The feminine with receptivity and intuition. In yoga (union) we are bringing them together. In life, finding that union can be a bit more challenging. This is what makes yoga and meditation so powerful, when we heal these parts and find union in ourselves, the outer world begins to reflect that.

When we don't acknowledge these parts of ourselves we stay stuck, resentful, hostile until something breaks. When we are stuck in these states we replay situations, causing further harm to ourselves and creating further separation from others. What's beers so surprising in my work like this with others is how we are often only a few questions away from unraveling these patterns. 

She and I talked more and discussed her situation. She has truly been doing her best. I can feel that. I can feel how painfully it is to have tried seemingly everything and still feel stuck. So we began this meditation practice I'll guide you through. You can follow along and use this any time you are working with similar challenges of feeling stuck, ineffective, or in any way out of balance in yourself. Masculine or feminine. The intention of this practice is come back to congruence in your mind, voicing these parts of yourself, giving space to feel them, just like you give space to feel all the sensations that arise in a yoga posture. As meditation teacher Pema Chodron says, that space is where healing occurs.

inner Dialogue Meditation

(Estimated time: 20 minutes) 

* Pen and paper or computer to journal
 * Two places to sit (chairs or meditation cushions) 
 * Optional: Ask a friend or coach to sit with you and witness your process, adding minimal feedback as you go and asking questions to help draw you out. 

This is a unique practice in that you will be talking to yourself. In step 1 and 3 you will focus on the witnessing awareness often used in meditation practices. In step 2 you'll let all the feelings, whatever they may be, speak. Similar to what happens in a dance, I invite you to lose yourself to the dialogue, not filtering or trying to say the right thing. Say whatever comes up. You'll get to digest it in step 3.


1. Feel your feelings

Set a timer for 15 minutes to be focused on this practice
Come into a still, seated posture
Open the practice space either by chanting "Aum," taking a deep breath, or setting an intention.
 Notice sensations in your body
 When you think of being ineffective, what do you feel?
Are there any words or images coming up with the feelings? Write them down

2. Have a dialogue

Choose one seat as the seat of your feminine and the other as the seat of your masculine
Sit in the masculine seat, feel all the stuck feelings, and start a dialogue with your feminine side
When you feel complete switch to the feminine seat
Feel all the feelings of your feminine side: movement, receptivity, intuition, and respond
Continue like this until the timer runs up

3. Digest your experience

Set a timer for 5 minutes to write about your experience. If you have a witness, do this as a dialogue with them. Here are some questions to consider: 
What did you notice?
What is the relationship of your masculine to your feminine?
Which part of you is more dominant?
What is one way your masculine and feminine can work together
Stop writing once the timer sounds
Close the practice space either by chanting "Aum," taking a deep breath, or remembering your intention.


Doing this practice brought my friend to the feelings driving her anger and frustration. She voiced the pain and hurt and was able to cry. Doing the dialogue gave space to feel understood and be kind to herself. Regardless of what happens next externally, the situation has shifted for her internally, and that's where she has the most influence.

Thinking the Program Instead of Working the Program

I'm walking to yoga now, and I don't want to go. The voices are loud. So I'm typing this on my phone to let them speak.

The first voice was calm, quiet and inviting. Something I heard someone say on my UA call this morning. She was sharing about a bottom in her recovery. She slipped into old patterns and stopped doing the work. She said "I was thinking the program instead of working the program."

Before I keep going, I need to celebrate something here. I remembered this. That is amazing. I started to spin out and I remembered what that woman said. Thank you. Sometimes that is enough.

And.... There are other voices. Many of them. Spinning. Loud. Persuasive. Seductive. They want to hit the brakes.

Maybe I don't need to go to my mentor today.

I feel fine, right? Im already pretty strong and flexible. I feel happy. Life is good. I feel fine.. Yeah. I'm fine. Maybe I should use this time for catching up on work. After all I've been doing so well with my boundaries. I used to have no boundaries and work all the time. So I'm way behind now. One hour of work instead of practice couldn't do much harm, right?


This is my conditioning talking. My mind. My ego. My saboteur.

The vulnerable truth is it's hard to believe I could be this consistent and taking such good care of myself. I usually drop it by now, what happened?

All I know is I'm still walking to class. And I still hear all the voices

* I don't need to go again

* I've done enough practice for today / this week / this month / this year / my life

* I should do other work, it's more important

* Why do people even do yoga anyway?

* I can't forget I am behind on work now that I have boundaries

* People will be mad at me and think I'm greedy and lazy for doing my practices and not working harder

* No, it's none of that stuff, it's that I'm being too controlling and need to just go with the flow of life and not be such a tight ass

* And I can't afford it, I am in debt, no time for self care

* I have been doing so much, I should take a day off from everything and just do nothing. I never get to do that anymore

And now I'm going into class. I hear all the voices. Feel all the feelings. And I'm following my commitment and going in. I will see how I feel on the other side.



And now I'm out of class. Of course, Angie spoke to what I felt.

Before class a student asked if we could "Just lay on the floor and twist around" for the class. After a few minutes of challenging poses, Angie said to her "Somehow this turned into a core power class! Not quite what you wanted... And sometimes it turns out what you want isn't what you need."

What I wanted was to quit and what I needed was to keep going.

The voices that spoke so loud before the class are hard to hear now.

I am not going to just pretend they weren't there and I'm all better now. The truth is they are a part of me and will likely keep visiting. So it's important to acknowledge these voices, they have a message too. As I reread them now I see how tender they are. They want to protect me, and that's a beautiful thing.

With greater growth comes greater uncertainty and stronger pulls to sabotage it all. The voice of protection sees all change, at some level, as a threat. In this way I have so many times protected my comfort. Argued for my limitations. For certainty. For scarcity and a false sense of control.

The voices that spoke during class were not the same.

Those voices were not loud or persuasive. They were calm, quiet and inviting. Much less noise and chatter. What I did hear was to the effect of:

* You are doing what your teachers would have done.

* You are becoming like the people who have come before you

* You are becoming like the people who guided you to the growth and peace you've found in your practice.

* The truth is you reached a level of practice that is a long way from where you started, and satisfying

* The truth is deep down you know you have so much more to give now. 

* By doing your practice you are choosing to stop blocking your growth.

* You are growing beyond the know and safe into the unknown.

* Yes doing consistent practices is growth, not mindless repetition, because this practice asks all of you to show up, every time, and you are capable. 

* Little by little, this is how you advance your peace of mind, your strength and flexibility.

If I would have listened to the beliefs before class, I would have strengthened those beliefs. I would have been "thinking the program instead of working the program."

There is a certain kind of freedom that comes from making a commitment. I feel that freedom now. I didn't feel it before class. What I wanted was to retreat, and it turns out what I needed was to surrender.

Angie ended class by sharing this quote: 

"If our only prayer in this life was to say "thank you," that would be enough."

Thank you, Angie.


Success vs Value

"Try not to become a person of success, but rather try to become a person of value." - Einstein

Focusing on success tends to put your attention on yourself and what you can get. It may not, but I find it more helpful to think of value. 

Focusing on value immediately puts your attention on your impact on others. Is what you're doing now offering value to others?

In my daily success journals, I could list things such as "changed the colors on my website." That is a valid success, but it doesn't add a whole lot of value to other peoples lives.

When we feel fear of failure or taking a risk it can be real seductive to focus on success. How valuable it is to others, you can't actually control, but you can know that you offered something, and that is a success.

Mentoring Circle Starts January 17th, 2016

The mentors in my life have been essential to my growth as a teacher and even more as a person. I have had incredible support and guidance from many amazing people and I wouldn't be who i am without their support.

So now I want to give back.

I am announcing a new in depth mentoring program that will begin in early January. This will bring together all that i've studied, practiced and taught over the past 10 years with my mentors and teachers. My intention is to share the immense wealth of healing and experience available from yoga, meditation, sound healing and shamanic practices. 

The mentoring circle is currently closed for enrollment.

If you'd like to be the first to know about the next round, send an email to

Everything can be a practice

One of the things that makes yoga so effective is the ritual of it. We set up a safe space to focus on the practice. It has a definite start and end. We don’t try to get anywhere, we just show up and do the practice. I have found this effective in other areas of life as well. In work, relationships, money, any goal. Setting a start and end time, an intention, and being mindful of the process. Step by step. One breath at a time. And then when you’re done you’re done. Close the space, and move on. Everything can be a practice. 

How I stopped burn out

I just finished attending a yoga class, then leading three. 9 hours of yoga, and I feel great.

It wasn’t always this way. When I began this schedule I was burnt out and unable to even know how to care for myself at the end of the day. Was I hungry? Tired? Did I need a bath? My energy was too diffused to even know what I needed. So much energy moves in a yoga class, it was a lot to process. Having all that energy from myself and others just swimming around my field was a disorienting place to be.

I began to fear this is what it was like to teach ‘too much’ and I would have to cut back and find other work. I feared I would no longer love doing what I loved to do. Voices of seasoned teachers echoed through my mind “I can’t teach 10 times a week anymore, it’s just too much.”

So I acknowledged the fear, the concern, the energy and asked the universe for support and guidance. I was willing to see another way. Then, just last week I began an amazing mentoring program. It is exactly what I have been calling into my life, and on day one my mentor said exactly what I needed to hear.

First of all, she said something I want to emphasize for anyone reading this on a similar path. This is even more important than the other part. She said the most important thing she takes away from trainings is the thing she already knew deep inside. In other words, I already knew all this. I was just being witnessed in my process and gently reminded of what I already know to be my deeper truth. That almost sounds like a let down, but it is much more empowering and all I could ever ask for in a teacher. Someone who points me back towards myself rather than towards them or something outside of myself.

So back to the topic of burn out.

I was getting burnt out because I am human. I was trying to hold more than a human body can hold.  Someone’s injury, marriage stress, work stress, everything that shows up in a yoga class. Along with all that goes into teaching an intelligent, intentional class. I could handle that for an hour a day, but teaching more has shown me my limits. I can only hold so much.

What I learned is that I don’t need to hold anything. All I need to carry is the 28 grams that escapes when I die. Instead of trying to grasp on to things that can’t be grasped, surrender. Surrender is actually the easy part. The hard part, as a normal human being with an ego, is to stay there. Surrendered. Undefended. Trusting. But that’s where all the true power lies.

In that state of surrender, the right words come through at the right time. The class reveals itself to everyone, including the teacher. There is an effortless flow. It feels right. When I close that space at the end of class, it feels complete. I can return to my life. Not so much recharged as much as healthy, whole and complete. Ready to be present to the next moment, then the next.

My teacher said if I could practice the yoga sutras teaching of surrender, everything else will fall into place. I may not be fully there yet, but I am at least willing to surrender to that possibility.

I’m especially curious to see what happens when I take this practice off the yoga mat, and into my life

How I followed my heart and found work I love

"You don’t have to have an interesting life, but you do have to have an interesting story.” - Libby Cox (/Douglas Brooks)

10 years ago, I was working overnights at a window factory in Minnesota. Everyone said it was the smart thing to do. Good pay, benefits, etc. I had my whole career ahead of me and they were the ‘safest’ company to work for. If I did well and stuck with it, I might even get to celebrate my retirement at a team meeting and see my picture on the break room TV.

The day I turned 18 was the day I got hired at the factory. It was also the day I walked down the street to check out the local GNC for the first time. I thought it might be convenient to have one so close to my new job, since, at the time, I was so into supplements. I loved the place. I felt like a kid in a candy store. I was so confident from just landing my ‘secure’ job I asked if GNC happened to be hiring. I was nervous, doubtful and sure the answer would be no. I just knew I had to ask. To be honest, I had no interest in windows, I had no interest in factories, and I certainly had no interest in window factories.

It turned out there were only 2 employees at this GNC, so my chances were slim. There was the manager and the sales guy, and the sales guy had just quit. The manager asked me a few questions and told me to come in on Monday. I followed my heart and said yes, and on Monday, I got the job.

The thing is, GNC was a 20 minute drive from home, and I didn’t even have a car yet. I had a definite carpool to the factory at night, but I would have to make my own way to GNC. Every day I had to ask for rides, for 3 long months while I saved up money to get my first car. I didn’t even have a cell phone then.

The universe was testing me. I had to definitely want this.

So I worked days at the job I loved, and drudged through nights at the job I had no interest in. This was peak season, so overtime became mandatory at the factory. Some weeks I worked 90+ hours at the two jobs. 

I was often exhausted and one night I nearly fell asleep sawing 2x4s. I wasn’t the only one. One morning, I was driving home when my manager walked in front of my car and pleaded, “please, kill me.” I didn’t feel like he was joking. Then, a wave of layoffs began.

This seemed like a good time to quit. I called my boss and said as much. It was the most frightening, liberating moment of my adult life at that point. I quit the “safe” job and kept the job I loved. It seemed foolish at the time; it was so much money. I didn’t know how I would make it work without that job, but I didn’t care. Immediately, I felt a 10 ton weight lifted off my shoulders and I felt a strange new combination of fear and excitement. I went with it. Over the next year I learned security, happiness, and contentment come from within, not from money or a job or a picture on a break room TV.

This story reminds me to trust myself and follow my heart. I knew one next step towards doing work I love; I never could have dreamed how much it would open up and how much I could love my life. It all started there, with one small step -- asking for what I wanted. Followed by another, and another.

Meditation Q&A

Q: Can I meditate while lying down or do I have to be sitting? Why do people sit cross legged while meditating. What is the best time to meditate? For how long when I start? What if I can’t get my mind to shut up? For years I’ve started & stopped practicing because I usually end up just thinking about stuff I need to do & it becomes a time I make lists. It’s also why I have insomnia but that’s a whole other ball field. Anyways I was going to google these & then I realized I know a guy who’s pretty smart about this stuff. And then when he was busy I thought I’d ask you.   - Carrie D.

Thanks for asking. I will do my best.. I’m not sure who this guy is you’re talking about but he must be the most wise, handsome, and interesting man you know. ;-P

Q: Can I meditate while lying down or do I have to be sitting?
I meditate lying down all the time. That’s how I started. I came across some guided meditations, listened to them after work, and they helped me sleep. I didn’t care if I was doing it right or if I was lying down when they said to sit up. I just knew it was relaxing and a healthier coping skill than the pot i used to smoke.

Now, if you can sit up, that has all sorts of benefits. Your body and mind are inseparable, so a focused, calm posture in your body cultivates those same qualities in your mind. At first, your body may be restless and need to move. Acknowledge it and let it go for now. You can use the Buddhist phrase “this too will pass.” as a reminder that everything changes.

Lying down is great too. . If you lie down to meditate but you fall asleep every time, you’re likely not getting enough sleep. This is a great barometer of your sleep quality, so if you end up taking a nap, a nap is exactly what you need. Most research says to keep naps short, though. 10 to 30 minutes, to avoid disrupting your circadian rhythms.

So, sitting up or lying down, which is better? The one you that you are willing to do!

Q: Why do people sit cross legged while meditating
This is “lotus pose.” Old texts say it “destroys all disease and awakens kundalini.” Most people can’t sit like that though, so sitting on a blanket is fine. The most important thing is you want your hips higher than your knees. This helps relax the hip flexors. The point of the pose is to get a lot of surface area on the ground. You want a firm, stable base for the spine to lengthen, stimulating all the nerves along the spine. Once you’re set into the pose, it becomes more difficult to tip over or slouch. Which is important when your entire finite being dissolves into oneness and merges with the infinite. :-)

Q: What is the best time to meditate?
The time that works for you! Starting out, any time is good. Consistency is even better. Morning is ideal. Everything in nature works in cycles, so the more routine you can make it, the easier it will be to sustain and notice benefits. One of my teachers would put a card on his pillow that says “meditate,” and he wouldn’t move it until he did his daily meditation. 

Q: For how long when I start?
Traditional texts say 2 and 1/2 hours of yoga and/or meditation before sunrise. And i’m just saying that so the next numbers sound a lot smaller and doable; start with 5 minutes. It'll seem like an eternity at first, (that’s how you know your mind needs it!) Work up to 15 minutes. Go higher if you want, but 15 minutes a day is plenty and will have profound benefits. There have been some fascinating studies that if you meditate 15 minutes a day for 6 weeks, you recode your DNA (!) for more positive expression of your genes. 

In short, turn off distractions, set a timer for 5 minutes, sit and focus on the meditation until the timer goes off.

Q: What if I can’t get my mind to shut up?
Keep breathing. Be patient. The mind is just trying to do what it does best; generate thoughts. How do you get a baby to stop crying? If you ignore her, it often just gets worse. If you give her all your attention, you begin to reinforce a habit of crying to get attention. There’s a fine line in the middle. You can be present and accepting of the crying child without trying to ‘fix’ her. Love her and see her. Be curious. If you sit with anything in that way, what happens? It changes. The mind is the same way.

The mind just wants a task. Put it to work. Give it a job. In meditation, the task is often ‘focus on the breath.’ or chanting a mantra. This helps the mind relax. It's doing something. 

Outside of meditation, put it to work on your tasks and to do lists. One. Thing. At. A. Time. And it’ll be much more focused and effective thanks to the work done in meditation.

Also, it sounds like your mind likes to make lists. That’s nice. Thoughtful even. It’s like a cat bringing you a dead bird. It thinks it’s doing something helpful, but you’re trying to focus! So use your mind’s gifts and make those lists. BEFORE you meditate.

If the list is already written out before you meditate, it’s off your mind. If it comes up in meditation, just remember you can write it down later after the timer goes off. 

Q: What about insomnia?
What I often do is practice a "digital sunset." All artificial lighting goes off when the sun goes down. Same with food. Consider eating only when the sun is out. Think about how our ancestors lived and evolved.

In short…
Meditation reconnects you to the infinite, loving source of all creation that we all came from and all return to. Our modern lives keep us out of touch with this inner truth, believing that love is somewhere outside of ourselves. This is why meditation is hard. We're turning the whole system we were born into inside out. 

Marketers and advertisers know this. They invest billions of dollars to study the mind. Their job is to  get their ideas into your head 24/7. Especially when life gets hard. Success for them is when you unconsciously associate them with being able solve your problems. 

The truth is it’s all made up. Some people in the past figured out some things and made some decisions and now this is the world we live in. We can choose to take part or not. 

We’re lead to believe that if we slow down for a second we might miss something. We might lose our spot in the race towards fame, success and happiness if we don’t know about the next gadget or celebrity. The truth is, if we slowed down, we would realize we don’t have to take part in any of that. We can wake up. 

All that noise is drowning out our deepest truth. Everything we are seeking outside of ourselves can only be found within ourselves. 

Life is the game of forgetting this.

Meditation is the practice of remembering this.

And you can practice anytime, anywhere. Sitting on a cushion with your eyes closed is just one practice. It gets most interesting when you bring into every day interactions. That's the real practice. And for that, no amount of teaching or preparation can prepare you. It's all about you being present. And being present is the greatest gift you can give yourself, and others. 

What I Took Back From India

My entire time in India, I was with other people. 

I went with a group of 10 westerners. For 7 days we stayed at an ashram, a spiritual community. Every morning we did yoga. Every day we piled into a 6 seat taxi to serve at the Bhatti Mines school. Every night we went to markets, schools and temples. And the whole trip, at every meal, we ate together.

Cut to America one week later.

I have my own room, my own car and the freedom to do anything I want. And I realized I have used that freedom to do things that isolate and separate. It struck me buying groceries. Walking through the store with a whole cart of food for one person. A whole week of meals that I was about to eat by myself. How did this happen?

I  used to believe I needed to isolate myself. The world felt invasive. I needed more time to process and integrate. India was good medicine for this. In India the smells, sights and sounds are everywhere, all the time. What helped the most was allowing time for solitude. Time to go within, reflect and come to realizations about what was happening. Every morning we practiced yoga, and, to me, it was the most essential part of the trip. If there is an opposite of isolation, it would be engagement and presence. Which is exactly what i mean when I say "practicing yoga."

Now, there is  another kind of yoga to practice. To find the engagement in presence in my relationships at home. To find connection, community and service. While still finding solitude, reflection and integration. This trip showed me that it is not only possible, but essential. 

I used to want to help people...

I used to want to help people.

Last year, at the Global Youth Peace Summit, something changed. 

My role was counselor to a cabin full of young men 14 to 19. Boys from all walks of life brought together to connect and support each other. It’s as much for the adults as it is for the youth. Everyone goes through major processes during the week. 

There was one youth in particular I felt driven to “help.” I could see great potential and possibility and I wanted the week to be amazing for him. The previous year, he came out to the group. I had chills when he talked, and I can still recall that moment like it was yesterday. This year, many of us wanted to see him open up more and know we loved him. We knew he was a gifted ballet dancer. One of his dances would be perfect to share with the morning Sacred Circle. He was shy and humble, though. I wanted to be the best counselor I could be, so I began trying to push him in the direction of what I saw in him. By midweek, I could see it wasn't working. He went from excited and happy to quiet and reserved. I was trying to help and it wasn't helping. 

So midway through the week I sat with my teacher Vanessa. I told her where I was at and how it didn’t seem to be working, no matter how much I wanted to help. She listened and reflected. I said I just wanted to help him grow and express himself. She heard me. She held space for my process. Then she asked the most obvious question I wasn’t asking. “Will he grow and express himself without me interfering?” 


I thought of an Alan Watts talk I had heard many times. A story of a farm where a boy come in late to dinner. His parents ask “where have you been?” He says “i was outside helping the garden grow.” The next morning the family goes outside to find all the plants dead. They ask the boy what happened. The boy says “I just wanted to help. So I pulled up on every plant to make it grow taller.” 

It was so obvious in the story, it was less obvious when it was happening in my own life. I didn't have to try so hard. He didn't need me to help him, just like i didn't need her to help me. She just listened, held space and was curious. No agenda. “Will growth happen without my interfering?” Of course it would! My idea of potential and possibility was getting in the way of letting him be him. Or even letting me be me. 

The next day I stopped trying to help him. There was no agenda. I relaxed. I could be myself again. He could be himself. At the end of the day when we checked in, he shared that he had had “one of the best days of my life.”

The next day, he danced.

Do you have the patience to wait?

When I was in high school I thought i had the funniest group of friends. Every time we hung out I would be laughing to the point that i couldn't breathe. It was so good, i wanted someone to record it. For months I talked about the awesome things we would record. How successful we would  be. All our problems solved if we only had a camera. Life was always just a step ahead of me. “If I just had this, then I could ____.” Then... We got it. Now, we had a camera everywhere we went.

Only it was different. It felt staged. Every time someone hit record, we froze. We stopped being ourselves. Now we wanted to live up to all the expectations we put on ourselves. We could no longer just be  Actually being ourselves was spontaneous and funny. Trying to be funny was not funny. That whole thing fizzled out. 

Fast forward 10 years. I’ve been practicing meditation and yoga for 8 years. I feel inspired to share it online. Back then we were renting bulky shoulder cams. Now everyone has a camera in their pocket and on their computer. I’ve learned and grown so much since high school that I realize it just wasn’t time yet. The urge to share and express is the same, it’s from a much clearer place now. Connected to Source, rather than seeking success. I could do this or not, either way I am still myself. Here is my first video:

Or, as the Tao Te Ching says:

Do you have the patience to wait
till your mud settles and the water is clear?
Can you remain unmoving
till the right action arises by itself?
The Master doesn't seek fulfillment.
Not seeking, not expecting,
she is present, and can welcome all things.


I am willing to lean into my edge

"My intention for the week is to lean into my edge." I shared this with my men's group. The intention is to notice where I feel most alive, especially if there is fear, and go that way. I've noticed most of my growth and insights happen when i'm willing to lean into my edge. 

So the next day, when my mentor asked me to sub four of her classes, I knew my answer would be “yes.” Even though i felt a contraction in my chest and a sinking in my gut. This was exactly what i’d invited in. Foggy, half baked fears and doubts started to cloud my mind. It seemed my nervous system would do anything to avoid the uncertain or unfamiliar. To avoid the potential of new pain, I was recreating old ones. Not fighting. Not flighting. But freezing. 

All this happened in about a minute, and I said “yes” anyway. Immediately, my body began to feel different. The contraction released and my chest felt light and spacious. My stomach felt warmer, like a fire had been lit, thawing out my frozen “yes” to life. I felt like I was waking up. 

The fears and doubts were still there, and still valid. There are challenges involved, and I would like to serve others to the best of my ability. I listened to the voice with compassion and care. Can I replace my mentor and do exactly what she would do? Of course not. Can i please everyone? Of course not. Can i know what the outcome of all this will be? No. 

What I can know is this: i am not body and i am not my mind. I am the awareness that sees all this happening. My body and mind exist to express that energy.  My True Self. Beneath the masks. Beyond fear. Beyond contraction. From that awareness, I know that I don't need validation. I don't need anything I don't already have. When asked to serve, everything I need will be there, at the right time, in the right place. I might fall on my face. It might not work. Though I trust it will be exactly what it needs to be. Because it is much more painful to repress myself than it is to express myself. And all i need to do is be willing to show up. Willing to lean into my edge. Willing to say “yes.”