Wednesday, February 24, 2016

The Fierce Grace of Arunachala

With the last drop of will, hot and exhausted, I opened a heavy metal gate and made a step outside of the compound where I am staying in Tiruvannamalai, India. I join the river of people who barefoot walking around the ancient mountain Arunachala. People regard Arunachala mountain as Shiva Lingam - the creative force of God.

Arunachala is a conical mountain that can be seen from almost everywhere in this area. Even a view of this mountain said to bring deep transformation. It has magnetic qualities and pull people from all other the world to its foothills, and that is how I got here too.

I was called by Arunachala in a vision, very unexpectedly.  I never even had any desire to visit India, I thought It was a hype, and me being a rebel, I rebel even against the idea to go to India where all the “spiritual people” go. I studied yoga many years ago, then was a meditator for many years, and all that time, when people were making their journey to “mother India”, as they would call it, I felt as my journey is not really geographical.  I had no inclination to travel thousand of miles to search for truth, I felt the search is in me, as someone I heard once said: “It is only 12 inches journey from the head to the heart”. But time came, and I too was called strongly by this mysterious mountain.

It’s December,30 2015, just passed full moon. I am in Esalen Institute in California, floating  in the tub in their famous spring water baths. Its a nighttime. I am looking at the starry sky. This I would write just a moment before. The moment after - the naked body floats in the dark of the night with the stars on the cupola of the sky. I AM. The first experience where the Grace brought this realization upon me came into awareness, and the line that came to the mind at that time is here now again: “From the closest blade of grass, to the furthest star, I AM”

Time stops. I AM. There is no looking through the eyes - it’s all encompassing looking - Seeing. Seeing is a mind state that includes the act of looking and the arising imagery without commentary of the mind. It is a state of a pure natural being, unedited by a conceptual thinking.

Suddenly the sky that was above Esalen became the sky above Mt. Arunachala. I found myself sitting and staring at the sky at the foothill of the holy mountain in India. Prayer came from me spontaneously: “Esalen Land, thank you! You gave me a place to be. You gave me a lover to whom I will return. But for now, please release me. I shall go the the land of India and walk the holy mountain. It is calling me with this vision and a feeling that I finally ready to start to write my book”.

A month and a half later I am here, at the foothills of Arunachala. The first week pass by in mental and physical turmoil. There is a certain level of acceptance here of anything that arising, even difficult emotions or physical pain, I know it is all impermanent phenomena that will pass just how it arise. There is no pushing away from it, just experiencing pain and waiting. The strength and the content of the thoughts and corresponding emotions only point to some deep release that is going on here. The mind jumps like a million monkeys and the body engulfed in a strong heat. Even though it is hot here, but the heat and burning that the body going through, is not because of the weather, I know it. I sat too many Vipassana retreats burning vasanas, mind conditioning, not to recognize what is going on.

The whole place is a retreat here. It isolated me well with the house far from the center of the town. I don’t feel desire to meet with people here, even though meeting with people over chai is one of the usual activity among pilgrims and tourists in this town. I don’t feel like going out to eat, I cook myself simple meals. I don’t read, I can’t pass through the first page of anything. I can’t write, mind is too disturbed to even think clearly. I can’t even meditate for the same very reason. So I am slowly going crazy here, that’s how it feels, except I know that this will pass, and upheaval of the thinking is some detoxification process, as I can call it.

On the February, 21 2016, a night of full moon, Girivalam starts here. It is is a spiritual practice that brings hundreds thousands people here from all over India and all over the world. It’s a walk of 14 km around the Arunachala mountain. It said that this walk burns the karma of ten thousand lifetimes, and it recommended by enlightened beings to make the journey even once in a lifetime. It is also done barefoot, mostly on the hard asphalt road, it’s not easy, especially for westerners, so many can’t complete the walk, or have to wear shoes. 

Girivalam translates as “giri” - the mountain, and “valam” - circling. Thousands of people day and night walk this path on a full moon, its a 24 hours window for this practice. Some people start it earlier, and some start later, so overall it's a river of people around the mountain for 3 days.

In a way, the mountain tricked me. It called me from hundred thousand miles away here to walk around it, and then it sent several people my way to tell me not to walk alone, because it is not safe. I usually feel safe everywhere I go, and I didn’t make much of a deal from the suggestions, so on the first day of a full moon I walked by myself only to stop into 3km of the path, because I didn’t feel comfortable suddenly with young Indian men peering at me. The warnings came to my mind, I succumbed to the fear, and stopped walking as I reached my place.

The place I am staying is called Golden Song. It is a beautiful garden compound with several houses for rent. It is right on the Girivalam pilgrim path, so I hear and feel the current of a human river encircling the mountain day and night, and it only intensifies my state. I already feel burning in my whole being, and the presence of even more stronger energies in the last couple of days with people flooding the town and starting walking in a circle, sends me into the fewer. 98.8, my thermometer says. It is probably the same temperature outside. I feel hot, weak and I am sweating profusely. I feel absolutly let down. Why did she call me in a first place if it does not let me write, meditate, does not let me walk, just like all other people doing it right now? Heck with the karma, let me just be here, simply just be, without sending me into sickness and craziness. But for some reason I can’t relax and write, as I was planning to do here, instead I feel as I am on a hardcore retreat that I didn’t sign up for!

Sick and exhausted I go to bed. I hear the sound of the human river passing by behind the wall, and I see it as one continuous movement of energy, as it is a copper wire around a transformer that creates a dynamo machine. At this point my mind goes into delirium, and I feel as I am in center of a ring of fire. “It is probably hell” -  the last thought in my mind before I fall into sleep.

Couple of hours later I wake up. The sound of a human river is constant, it didn't change a bit. Same intensity engulf me immediately. I drag myself to the kitchen to boil some tea. As I take a stainless steel cup with milk from the refrigerator, I feel an electric current shock. I am surprised, but I continue to manipulate with cup, pot and water, getting electric shock anytime I touch any of it. I think I might have some static, so I walk outside and stand on the ground for sometime. “This can take care of it”, I think. I am still exhausted and can’t think clearly, also I am all wet from sweating while sleeping, so I go to the shower under the cold water. As I am about to turn off the shower I get electrocuted from the shower knob so hard I lost the vision for a second. I manage to turn off the water by wrapping a dry towel around my hand. I stand there naked and delirious, I feel electric current through my body very strong, realizing that I don’t have another choice as to surrender to the call of the mountain.

I step outside the gate and merge into the human river.
“Just take me”, I whisper. Feverish and barefoot, I walk. People passing me by, talking, eating, families and individuals, hundreds of people around me. I don’t feel my feet, no I feel weak anymore, I don't know where I am going, I am a part of the river now, and I just simply walk.

I hear a chant in front of me, couple of women around a bold man who is smeared in ashes, softly repeat mantra with him. Naturally I join. I feel shy a bit at first, but by the time women leave to worship in one of the temples on the way, I am completely immersed in a chanting with the man. He doesn’t stop to worship anywhere, he pass by all the temples with a gesture of his hands together over his head, and continue to walk in a steady pace and chant. The young man, a boy about 16 y.o suddenly join us. We are perfectly aligned by the sound of our voices, all of us having the same pitch. Sometimes people join us, then they disappear, but three of us walk like a unit, and we sing.

“Om Nama Shivaya Shivaya Namaha”, we chant every couple of breaths, stepping on sharp stones, rough asphalt and navigating around the walking people, people selling stuff, siddhis, fortune tellers, fakirs with dancing cobras, disabled children laying on the side with begging bowls, some wheicles, wondering cows and flocks of stray dogs. “Om Nama Shivaya Sivaya Namaha” is the only what exist at this time for me, and a feeling of the mountain on my right side, even if it is blocked by houses or trees, I can feel the presence of a powerful Being.

As we start to approach the center of the town, the human river goes around some barriers, police cars and buses full of people leaving the town. My priest, as I named him, slows down, I feel he cares about another two from the unit not to be lost. Even though he barely looked at me for hours that we walked together, and I never saw his face, walking behind him, I feel so much love circulates between three of us. He cares about us making together to the finish line. I can feel he is surprised by me walking barefoot, he glanced at my white feet several times. Together we comprise a very uncommon unit: a half naked man in ashes, an Indian teenager, and me, a caucasian woman - apparently, perfect trinity to carry a chant together through hours of time and kilometers of the path, not pulled out to temples or vendors to stop.

We walk into the ancient Arunachaleshwar temple. “Om Nama Shivaya Shivaya Namaha! ”, by this time we sound like a professional trio. Its full of people, but the sound of the chant makes people part and give us a way. Suddenly the priest stops chanting, turns around and prostrate himself on the ground. I turn too, and I see the pyramid over my head: the temple, built from stones in a form of the pyramid is immense in the dark of the night. It towers over me in its magnitude. I put my hands over the head in respect. I feel that the size of the human being and the temple’s parameters are in a perfect harmony. I turn to the priest, he turns to me. This is the first time I see his face, with the ashes streaks of different colors on his forehead and his cheeks, and he sees me. He put his hands together in front of his chest, I do the same. Our eyes meet and we say goodbye silently to each other. I leave. He finished his Girivalam by the temple, since he started there, and for me it is another couple of kilometers chanting the mantra I was spontaneously initiated in. 

This is unedited excerpt from the book I am writing: "Complete Humanity: Integration of Awakening into Human Experience"

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Thursday, June 4, 2015

Transformation of sexual energy and the value of equanimity

There are many workshops on Tantra here on this land I live, and sometimes I meet people in a baths who take one workshop or another on this very subject. They all are sexually active, and Tantra for them is mostly an enhanced and prolonged lovemaking. Originally Tantra is not really about lovemaking, but about transcending desire. I never was trained in this subject, but it always fascinated me.
I had a lot of passion and desire in me from the times I was a young woman. It would arise so quickly and felt like a fire, and I though there should be another use for this fire, besides releasing it in a sexual way. 

As I became a seeker on a spiritual path and started to meet teachers worthy to ask, I asked every one of them how to use sexual energy for meditation and transformation. Every teacher/master had his own answer to this subject. One of them was a senior in a Forth Way path, and he said that Gurgieff usually told people not to try to manipulate sexual energy without knowledge. He suggested spend it instead of holding it, so it "won't become sour".

Yoga ashram, that I went often many years ago, held another view on sexuality, and mostly promoted bramacharya - abstinence from sex while practicing yoga and living in ashram. I am not sure how it worked for those guys, but what I remember they didn't look to me as they have vitality and vigor in them.

Then I met a female master on my way who told me I don't need a man at all. She said she was 10 years celibate, and the desire does not arise in her. Though she had vitality to her body, she looked very stern to me, almost like a dry twig. But one thing that caught my attention that it is possible to "have a circulation of energy without release", she said.

Tibetan Buddhist monk in his 50th I met a little later was actually more fascinated by me, and suddenly asked me to be his consort.  In his robes and with his big bold head he looked like an alien to me, and I couldn't see myself being slightly aroused by a little man in robes. He pointed to me Tibetan bronze figurines of dakinis and men intertwine in the intercourse. He told me I am a dakini, and he saw me in his dream. Tibetan monks take their dreams seriously, he said, and he explained that we together can pull the energy upward and unite in meditation. This sounded very interesting, but looking at him, I knew I might be a dakini, but not for this very man. 

So for some more years I read some classical tantric texts and some modern teachers, like Daniel Odier and Mantak Chia. And nothing really worked for me. "Pull the energy upward" didn't resonate with me. It sounded like hard manipulation, and I couldn't understand how is that so sensitive subtle energies can be manipulated in this way? 

Then one night when I was in a Vipassana retreat I woke up in passion, in so much desire. I laid on my bed and I didn't know if I can make it through it. Entering this retreat I took precepts, and one of them was to abstain from sexual misconduct. For some reason it stuck in me that it is about abstaining from sexual release altogether while in serious meditation in a retreat. So I just laid, burning from desire, and I breathed. The desire was so strong it engulfed me completely, and I couldn't focus on anything else besides feeling it ripping me apart. I laid flat on my back, my feet and hands apart, eyes closed, in a dark room. It felt if I could touch my body even with one finger, and I will explode. I was filled with the fire and emitting the fire, it was really scorching hot! It lasted for a long while, but I noticed that the heat wave started to subside. Suddenly it felt liberating. This was the first time I didn't orgasm on the rise of the sexual energy. I was in awe. I realized what will work for me is the way Vipassana works: awareness, which is applied attention, in this case, to sensations, feeling, and equanimity - non-reactiveness with arising phenomena, non-doing. 

After the retreat some time passed without rise of the passion. That night in a retreat surely retrained the mind, but then passion started to creep in again. This time I knew what will work for me instead of "pulling the energy up", as all the books said. 

Since I was meditating on body sensations very seriously for many years in vipassana retreats and every day consistently, the sensitivity with the body sensations spilled out into my walking state and even in my sleep. I always slept on my back, flat, mostly without any movement for the entire night and all night, even the body was sleeping/resting, the mind was aware of the body sensations. The sleep was mostly lucid dreaming or half awake dream state that included feeling sensations.

One evening I laid in my bed, and felt a rise of the passion in the lower part of the abdomen. I contemplated on it for a while, mostly which way to go with it: to release it or to abstain from it. I was trying to feel how strong the passion is, so I put my attention on it and felt the wave strongly, calling me to ride it. The pull of the sexual energy is so magnetic, everything else fades in it’s presence. But my inquiry is stronger force at the moment, and I manage to unglue my focus from the abdomen area and put my attention on the solar plexus. I lay there for a short while resting from the strong grip of sexual energy, I feel the relief, as I broke from the cage. Equanimity downs on me.  In no time I see how the energy that just a second ago felt like sexual in a pelvic area, is now fully in a solar plexus, and it doesn't feel sexual anymore! The sexual flavor subsided completely, I feel a little excited to witness what just happened. I feel empowered. Manipura chakra, the name came to my mind from all the yogic studies years ago. The center of gathering of the power. Now I really can feel it, I do feel strong and capable, I no more feel as I am a slave of the passion. In that empowerment I switch my attention to the chest, and lay there in equanimity. In no time the energy travels fluidly up and fill my heart. My chest rises and expands. I feel warmth and love to all beings. Anahata - the the space of compassion, the space of love and warmth. As much as I want to be with this warm feeling, I switch the focus to the throat area. I feel love in my heart, but my attention now focused on the throat, and I lay in this seeming division of attention for just a short moment. The energy rise. The space of expression. I feel the inspiration to share this. There might be more people who are looking for what I was looking for so many years, and now I found, and I want to share. But my journey continues. Switching to the area on the forehead, waiting patiently, equanimously. I can see where I wait with agenda, and when it is equanimity. Agenda creates a little tension, almost microscopic, but it's enough resistance to create a wall for the energy to rise. Trying to 
‘letting go” of agenda is also "doing" on my part, and it doesn't work. Only total equanimity, non-doing, makes a space without resistance where energy can flow freely.  As the equanimity establish itself for just a split second, the energy immediately rise in a distinct movement, traveling on the orbit in the scull and lands on my forehead. It feels very focused and visionary. Then attention travels to the area above my head and rests there. I feel a shower of high vibrational energy over me, very tiny oscillations. I am engulfed in sensations of bliss, and it is just a rest in the beauty of it, innocent and natural.

For couple of months, almost every day, I practiced this meditation, until I noticed that rise of the energy happens by itself. I started to have it in my dreams too. In daily life I completely lost interest to sexual encounter and became naturally celibate for several years.

Until the next chapter of my life...

This is unedited excerpt from the book I am writing:
“Complete Humanity: Integration of Awakening into Human Experience”

Dakini of Space by Alma Dankoff

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Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Personal Development and Enlightenment. What's the difference?

Most of the work we do on a spiritual path is the work to  improve the character, what we call personal development.  We step on what we perceive as a spiritual path out of dissatisfaction with ourselves and life as it going for us. We start with trying to change others for some years, then we move to another long period of time when we start to fix ourselves. We do all kinds of personal development workshops and we go through tons of self help books. We move into the world of chakras, yoga and we become vegetarians. After some years we move into more hard core stuff like serious meditation, retreats or some shamanic practices of strong mind altering herbal medicines, and etc. 

The whole spiritual search  is based on dissatisfaction with what we are and how we feel at the moment, and we seek a relief, we seek resolution. We secretly feel that the resolution will be what we call an enlightenment. We don't really know what enlightenment is, but we think it is something that will fix all our dissatisfaction, and we reach for it. We strive on the path, trying to accumulate more and more knowledge, insights and trying to become less reactive and more mindful. We think that the more spiritual practices we will do, more knowledge we get - more chances we will arrive to that place where enlightenment is. 

If we look at the phrase "personal development", we see that it is some work that pertains to the person. Person is a dream character that works on him/herself in a dream that Consciousness dreams into existence. Enlightenment is realizing that there is no person, that the world, inner and outer is a projection, there is nothing to strive for in a future, it's already is all complete as it can be.

Of cause, for the dream character personal development is the only what he can do to try to relief the discomfort that he feels. Enlightenment in a dream won't fix our discontent, it would be dream state enlightenment, and as any dream, it is imaginary. Personal development and personal enlightenment are some of the possibilities of Consciousness to mask itself as a dream to explore itself in endless varieties. 

There is no chance for a dream character to become enlightened. Enlightenment is a disappearance of the dream character by waking up from the dream completely. There is no one even to wake up. The dream just stops projecting itself, and the enlightenment, Consciousness itself is revealed to itself. 

After a while the dream constructs itself again, and the dream character continue to exist, but the dream become lucid. The dream character and all its adventures and troubles  are not taken seriously anymore. The striving for personal development falls away. The striving for improving oneself or fixing the circumstances falls away. The striving for spiritual experiences, insights, revelations, and enlightenment itself falls away. What is left and what is driving the dream to continue is a joy of exploration. 

Imagine you wake up lucid in a dream. Would you be devastated to loose your job there or your house to a fire? 
Lucidity in a dream gives a different perspective. It is not less or more suffering, it is no suffering. Pain can be a part of the dream if you stepped on the nail there, if you lost your loved one; suffering is only part of the dream if the dream is unconscious, and one totally identifies oneself with a dream character and a pain. 

Lucidity is the ability of Consciousness to participate in a dream as a dream character and at the same time know itself as a dreamer, the dream itself. 

Lucidity is enlightenment, and it is not the property of the person, a dream character,  it is a property of Consciousness itself. When Consciousness is ready to peek through the character, we get some insights into true nature of being. When Consciousness ready to stare through the character, we get revelations and spiritual states that open up the new perception. 

There is nothing really to strive for. We do not exist apart from Consciousness, and we are Consciousness itself. To realize this nothing needed from our part, only continue to live as we are, doing tons of personal development or none of it. When the time is ripe, the dream reveal itself before it's own eyes...

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Sunday, May 24, 2015

I am not ready!

Sometimes I would be asked to help with inquiry to realize selflessness, but I would feel that this was a misplaced asking. I would probe if this person is really ready for realization of no self, because they are totally exhausted of the spiritual search, or they are looking for improving their quality of life.

Several years ago I received a letter from a professional golfer who was saying that his life is, in most part, what he dreamed of: family, relationship, career. He does what he likes the most: plays golf, and gets paid for it. The only issue in his life that made him write to me, was his teenager son. He was having much stress from communication with his son. The golfer asked to be guided to see no self, expecting it to fix this problem. 

"This inquiry leads to total shift of perception, and there is no garantee that what feels good in life now, existing structures that are working well, will stay for you to feel good, and what is not working, will be fixed", I wrote to him. I asked if he is ready to dive into unknown, trusting life to re-arrange itself. I received the shortest email I ever got from anyone: "No". "Wow, that was easy", I thought. I appreciated the clear evidence of the example of  Consciousness not ready to see itself yet, it's enjoying the game of being hidden, enjoying exploring itself in a way of a life it's living.

Dan The Man

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Friday, May 22, 2015

Get your shit together first

Human life design is very efficient. Everything that is needed to sustain life and procreate life embedded in this design by very strong conditioned thoughts/believes and therefore, certain energetics. These conditions motivates one to do what one needs to do for their own survival and also for coming together, making family, building a structure around that and taking care of it. This full load of human responsibilities seems to be necessary for most of us before we step on the transcendence path. If we fully dipped our toes in a householder life, the wish for freedom arises strongly in some of us, since householder's life based on so many structures that are rigid and limiting to the human's mind possibilities. If we never tasted it in it's fullness, how we can have a wish for something else? We always will be doubting what we really want and be pulled in all the different directions with our attention. For the path of transcendence one has to be completely ready, with all the attention gathered together in all its fullness. 

Sometimes it is happens that we dip into different perception, then we are back into the world of our responsibilities. The perception change, and energetics relaxed.  Now we are back to our job, 3 kids, a wife, and a mortgage. We lost motivation for pushing forward with all that "human stuff", and life start to slip under our feet. This is exactly what is happening: ungroundness, loss of motivation, loss of interest, nihilism toward life, when one actually is not ready to release the ground yet. Our family and responsibilities: old parents that need care, young children that needs food and grown ups that needs us to pay for their college, wives that needs attention, and jobs that needs almost all our daytime time and focus - all are roots to keep us stable and going as a good householder….until our garden is fully grown, the harvest time is done well, and now we can sit by the hay bail and close the eyes...In the East people recognize these different stages in a human life, and don't really mess with them, or play unresponsively, out of curiosity.  There is a time for a family life, human responsibilities life, and there is a time when one can renounce it all and "leave to the forest". 

There was a famous teacher of Vipassana meditation in India who's life can illustrate this perfectly. Her name was Dipa Ma, she was a teacher of many, including some of known western teachers. When she married her husband she was a teenager. She always was interested in meditation, but her husband suggested to have a family first, and then she can go and learn meditation. He was supportive of her, but he was that ground that kept her stably rooted in life first. Years passed, and there she was: sitting in deep  meditation right in the middle of her kitchen between making meals, with her grandkids running around, and people from all over the world coming to see her, learn from her, and pay respect to her. 

As much as transcendence states looks alluring, they are also dangerous in a way that they take our attention and energy away from the human responsibilities. Unless one lived life fully, one needs to be careful, and not go with the hype to renounce it, and be free like someone else he admires. This renunciation will not be complete, and there will be no freedom, mostly confusion. 

Let's see our families, our jobs and our engagements in everyday life as a gift that gives us natural groundness, stability, that focuses our attention in the way it is perfectly natural at this moment. Even though mind can say to us that we want something else, but the whole weight of our being right now is in the groundness of our human engagements. Notice that weight, and instead of resisting it, thank it for keeping you on the path of beautiful human rite. This whole article comes down basically to one phrase: "First, get your shit together!". When the time is right, the weight of life engagements will be lifted, and you can fly! 

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Friday, May 15, 2015

Her Beautiful Old Story

The dance was freeing, it was a celebration. Yesterday first time I returned to 5 Rhythms  with Lucia. I was dancing with Lucia every week in Brooklyn, where she and her partner started to have their own themed version of the dance that her half brother's mom Gabrielle Roth invented couple of decades ago.

The dance felt like home, like New York City, like vitality, joy and community years ago. Same Lucia, same lightness, same freedom and heart opening. Sweat was dripping from my forehead just like before. My tank top, my skirt, my bra and my panties - all familiar wet. I don’t remember I ever sweat anywhere else so profusely. The breeze from the open door touching the wet skin, the almost giving up feet travel through the dance floor, wet hair sticking  to my face, long silk skirt in the constant circular movement, and the overflowing joy in the whole am not sure where I am really...I am traveling through time... and space... I am spaciousness itself.

Stillness. The last of the 5 Rhythms. I slow down. I open my eyes. There is a framed picture of dancing Gabrielle and her simple chain necklace lay there. Suddenly I feel overwhelming sadness and I stop, fixed on that necklace, tears rolling down already wet face. I feel drowning. The feeling came down on me like a waive crashing the shore. The body totally open to receive slides down to the floor and melt. I am floating in the pool of my own tears. Very quietly I make it outside and in the darkness of the night, feeling safe and held by the land, I wail. The sound of deep grief merges with the sound of the ocean.

I bow to the ability and willingness of the human being to dive deep into the raw feeling to allow complete alchemy.

Last time I was dancing with Gabrielle I was with my husband, in my city, living in my house, with my son, my cat, my creek, my backyard. Walking in the darkness of Big Sur I wailed in grief and loss for my life. My house and my cat gone to the fire, my husband gone to the other woman, my city and my son I had to leave, my friends, my family as I knew it - all gone.

Life is a cinema. The movie has ended and the new one continues: a sensing woman in her late 40th in a long silk skirt walking in the darkness of the Esalen land, in freedom and clarity of the ground of her being, leaving behind her beautiful old story.

Photo from Esalen by Denae Thibault

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Tuesday, April 28, 2015

I am an introvert!...The stories we tell ourselves.

Morning just started to reveal itself through some splashes of light across the sky. Stars still so bright over the darkness of the ocean. Water crashing the shores in the melancholic movement. Even birds still sleeping. Slowly I walk down the gravel road. Quite. This is why I love to wake up early and tip toe in the dark through our small room, careful not to wake up my roommates, pick up my backpack ready from the night before, slip in my boots and head to the baths. I probably look too exotic for some, little crazy for others, or totally normal Esalen-ish for the old-comers in my blue and pink flowers pajama and cowboy boots. I like my little routine where I head first to the dining room where I pick up a cup of freshly made coffee by some compassionate soul who gets up before everyone to make us our morning fix, I say hi to the community cat and walk down to the baths. At this early hour most of the bathers are those who work at Esalen, guests have luxury to sleep a little more before breakfast starts. I love the quite and pristine view from the baths at this hour. I appreciate neutral faces here and there in the water, just like mine, unable to speak at this early time. So we sit in the hot water like snow monkeys, silent and motionless, peering into the waters of Pacific ocean and some light on the horizon. It is the morning just like any others, except there is unusual noise from the baths. I go there, in my morning zombilike way, sit in the water and I hear the dialogue from the neighboring tub in a full daytime voice: “ I come here for 30 years several times a year, but it’s so much talk here for me, so much conversations, so much just everything. Believe me, I am an introvert, yes I am an introvert, and I really like silence. I like quite. I like to sit in this very corner and just be quite”. “For God’s sake, just be quite”, I say to myself, but he is on the roll, and he is laud like a thunder, so my snow monkey rise and go dress herself to head to work in the kitchen.

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Born in June 2011 out of inspiration to share how to end life long spiritual search, drop the observer, and return back to naturalness we are.


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